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#134200 - 03/01/02 05:47 PM The phenomenon of parallelism in the Gospel of Luke
Joe T Offline
Member

Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 2927
Loc: Ohio
It has been noted that there is a lot of similarity between the account of John the Baptist and Jesus as their dear mothers learn of their pregnancies (Luke 1:5-38). I would like to establish some correspondences within the first chapter of Luke that have been made over the years:


Lk 1:5-7 // Lk 1:26-27
We are introduced to the parents of John the Baptist and Jesus; Elizabeth and Zechariah for John, Mary and Joseph for Jesus.

Lk 1:8-11 // Lk 1:28
An angelic messenger shows up; the father of John (Zechariah) and the mother of Jesus (Mary) are the recipients of the news.

Lk 1:12 // Lk 29
Both recipients are troubled with such news.

Lk 1:13-17 // Lk 1:30-33
Zechariah and Mary are told not to be afraid; names are given for the two sons; both Zechariah and Mary express their joy with a hymn-like proclamation.

What are the two hymns that Zechariah and Mary sing?

When do we proclaim these hymns of proclamation?

Lk 1:18 // Lk 1:34
Zechariah doubts and gives reasons for doubting; Mary is amazed and gives reasons for her amazement.

Lk 1:19-23 // Lk 1:35-37
The angelic messenger responds to Zechariahs's doubts and Mary's amazement.

Where do we sing in the Byzantine Church about Mary's “wonder?”

Lk 1:24-25 // Lk 1:38
God's action is considered in relation to Elizabeth and Mary's speeches.


So far, we see something of a parallel relationship between the events in Luke 1:5-38. The accounts of John and Jesus' conceptions are similar in many ways, almost like a diptych. What would be the purpose of Luke doing this? I think it is a sign of a genius whoever authored this Gospel.

Can we see further parallels between John and Jesus in the accounts of their births?

Read Luke 1:57-2:52 and try to determine if this pattern of parallels (or correspondences) is maintained in the accounts of their births. I would love to read your observations.

What do you think was the purpose of Luke giving two similar accounts like a diptych?

Bonus question: Do these conception/birth accounts have any correspondences with the Old Testament?


Cantor Joe Thur
Deacon-student

[ 03-01-2002: Message edited by: J Thur ]

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#134201 - 03/03/02 06:22 PM Re: The phenomenon of parallelism in the Gospel of Luke
Our Lady's slave Offline
Member

Registered: 11/03/01
Posts: 6479
Loc: Glasgow, Scotland
This has been a most interesting excercise !

I have found the same phrase being used on more than one occasion when looking at these similarities in the two accounts eg:-
a) In the announcement to Zechariah he is told, by the Angelic messenger "do not be afraid" and the self same words are also spoken to Mary
b) and again when both are told the names of the infants "you must name .. "

I was a little puzzled by your question about the hymns that Zechariah and Mary sing, since I understand Zechariah's Hymn to be the Benedictus - which comes later in these accounts - 1:67-79- though I have no doubt about Mary's - the Magnificat 1:46-55.

I don't know when you proclaim these but I do at Lauds [the Benedictus] and Vespers [ the Magnificat].

I'm afraid I cannot answer the question as to when you sing of Mary's "wonder" as I do not know your Liturgy to that extent.

What was the purpose of these similarities - again I had to think long and hard about this but I see them as linking John and Jesus --- John was acting as the Herald leading people to Jesus.

You asked for further parallels - How about the naming of both John and Jesus ? Both were named on the 8th day in accordance with Jewish tradition and both were given , what then were considered strange names since they were not connected with the family. Remember the Angel had said "you must name " and told Zechariah that he would be without speech until afterwards and indeed his speech did not return until he had fulfilled the condition about John's name.

I don't think though that Luke's account giving similarities stops there at the birth - I believe that it continues with the Hidden life and the time in the desert.

Now to your "bonus question" - for an answer how about
The Magnificat - this has strong similarities with Hannah's Canticle in 1Sam.2: 1-10 and also Psalms 103,111,98,107 and also Job and Isaiah
The Benedictus - again similarities with Psalm 41 and Leviticus and Isaiah

[ 03-03-2002: Message edited by: Our Lady's slave of love ]

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#134202 - 03/04/02 05:00 PM Re: The phenomenon of parallelism in the Gospel of Luke
Joe T Offline
Member

Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 2927
Loc: Ohio
Angela,

Thank you for your response. You are truly a woman of God who sees the value of the Scriptures.

I remember praying the Magnificat and Canticle of Zechariah at the seminary with my Latin brothers. T'was beautiful when they did it in Gregorian Chant. In the Byzantine Church, these two serve as the Ninth Ode (or Canticle) during the Canon at Matins.

The use of parallelism between sections of Scripture (as in the case of Luke's first chapter) doesn't stop there. I would like to reflect on the genius of Luke – and the other Evangelists – in their writing of the Gospels. The complexity and depth of their words has been fuel for proclamation, prayer, personal reflection and study for centuries. When we detect “parallels” between sections of text, it should stop us and make us think. Why would Luke use such a literary device in his accounts of the conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus? How does the presence of these biblical structures aid us in doing a better interpretation of Luke 1?

Let me throw in another observation. How do the narratives of John and Jesus share similarities with the sons of Abraham, Esau and Jacob? What was so unique about Sarah and her having a child? What was similar between the selling of the birthright between Esau and Jacob and Jesus becoming greater than John when John was the original one on the scene? The parallels between the New Testament and the Old Testament are usually called “correspondences.” What would be the NT author's intention when using a biblical passage from another event? How would the correspondence between the OT event help endorse or shed understanding on the NT event?

Aside from the parallels and the correspondences, there are those “chiasms.” This was a popular literary device used by the Hebrew authors. It's very Jewish. Please refer to my thread on chiasms for some explanation. Luke's Annunciation scene with Zechariah is a case in point. Found below is my analysis of Luke 1:6-25. Like all chiasms, one only has to match up A with A' to see similar content and even choice of words. In A, Elizabeth and Zechariah were considered “righteous before God,” in A' Elizabeth's “reproach among men” was taken away be God. In B, Elizabeth was “barren,” in B' she conceived (the undoing of B). In E and E' the people are outside praying at waiting for Zechariah while he was in the Temple. Verses 15 and 16 become the X, or crossover point, of the whole passage. It tells us the main focal point. Since there is no single X-verse, we can expand the focal point to include the verses 14 thru 17.

What is the "focal point' of this passage if we consider the help of the chiastic structure? From a purely literary approach, Luke 1:14-15 tells us of the joy and gladness from a son who will be born (John); behind 16-17 is him turning people to God and making them prepared for the Lord. Isn't this the theme or main point behind this biblical passage? Isn't the miraculous event of Elizabeth's conception and Zechariah's visitation serve as a frame around the points made in vv. 14-17? Behind all of this are echoes of Abraham & Sarah and their sons, Esau & Jacob.


LUKE 1:6-25

Luke 1:6-10 (Elizabeth and Zechariah)
A 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
B7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
C8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
D9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
E10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.

Luke 1:11-13 (Zechariah and Gabriel)
11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechari'ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Luke 1:14-17 (John the Baptist and the Spirit of God)
I14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth;
J'15 for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.
J'16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
I17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli'jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

Luke 1:18-20 (Zechariah and Gabriel)
18 And Zechari'ah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."

Luke 1:21-25 (Elizabeth and Zechariah)
E'21 And the people were waiting for Zechari'ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.
D'22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb.
C'23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
B'24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying,
A'25 "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."


Now, Isaiah.

Isaiah 14 presents us with another chiasm. Some Bible versions do not indent the poetry part of a biblical passage, thus making it more difficult to detect when an author is being poetic or using poetic literary structures.

A The Lord shall give Jacob relief from bondage (Isa 14:1-2)
…B The Lord gives relief (Isa 14:3-4)
……C The rod of the wicked is broken (Isa 14:5-6)
………D The land is at peace (Isa 14:7-8)
…………E The grave meets them (Isa 14:9-12)
……………F YOU SAY I WILL ASCEND TO HEAVEN (Isa 14:13-15)
…………E' Cast out of your tomb (Isa 14:15-25)
………D' Burdens removed from their shoulders (Isa 14:26-28)
……C' The rod is broken (Isa 14:29)
…B' Lie down in safety (Isa 14:30)
A' Afflicted people find refuge (Isai 14:32)

Unfortunately, today's Isaiah reading is only 14:24-32. The one's who decided the lections only give us the second half of the chiasm from Isaiah 14, thus omitting the crossover point of the whole chapter, Isaiah 14:13-14 (NASB), which reads:

A "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven;
..B I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
….C And I will sit on the mount of assembly
….C' In the recesses of the north.
..B' 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
A' I will make myself like the Most High.'

What exactly is the focal point or message Isaiah is saying here? It is the kernel of the “taunt” to be made to the King of Babylon (cf. Isa 14:4), but we are told something about someone sitting “… on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.” What does this mean?

What does the point made in this chapter relate to the first up-leg passage (Isa 14:1-12) and the down-leg passage (14:15-32)? Why would the Byzantine lectionary for today's reading only be interested in the down-leg of the chiasm?

There is one more part of Isa 14, which is very important, and it is verse 12:

A How you have fallen from heaven,
…B O star of the morning,
…B' son of the dawn!
A' You have been cut down to the earth …

Who is this “morning star?”



ntor Joe Thur
Deacon-student

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