Exploring Our Matrix
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
Follow PatheosProgressive Christian:
I apologize that the very start of the recording was cut off. Not much was lost, but it makes the beginning a bit abrupt. But with the title provided, hopefully those few introductory words are not really necessary.
WAS LUKE’S ARRANGEMENT OF JESUS’ GENEALOGY BASED ON HIS EXPECTATION OF AN IMMINENT FINAL JUDGMENT?
“One of the five parts of 1st Enoch is the so-called ‘Book of the Watchers’, which was written in the 3rd century B.C.E. It describes the fall of the angels and their punishment:
‘And the Lord said to [the arch-angel] Raphael: “Bind [the rebel] Azazel hand and foot and throw him into the darkness!” And Raphael made a hole in the desert, which was in Dudael, and cast him there. On top of him, he threw rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered Azazel’s face in order that he may not see light and [...] may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment. [...] And to Michael the Lord said: “[...] Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment is concluded.”‘ (1 Enoch 10.4-6, 11-12; tr. E. Isaac)
“In other words, the day of judgment was to take place seventy generations after Enoch. Now this patriarch, ‘Enoch’ was recorded as having lived in ‘the seventh generation from Adam,’ and we may therefore conclude that the author of the Book of the Watchers assumed that the end of history would be in the ‘seventy-seventh generation from Adam,’ or the seventieth generation from Enoch.
“Back to Luke. By making Jesus of Nazareth the ‘seventy-seventh’ of the list in his genealogies, the author of that Gospel [Luke] is obviously playing with these Enochian thoughts. What he is in fact saying is that… the last judgment is very, very near. After all, when Luke composed his gospel during the persecution by the emperor Domitian, there were only a few survivors of the generation of Jesus.”
– Jona Lendering, “The 77 Generations”
Since Luke plays down or even outright reject the expectation of an imminent end (in transforming the material in Mark 13, Luke makes saying “the time is at hand” a sign of being a false prophet, rather than something that Jesus himself had suggested), I doubt that this was his point.
Follow Patheos on
Copyright 2008-2014, Patheos. All rights reserved.