David Lewis Allen - 1987 dissertation - Lukan Authorship of Hebrews

Steven Avery

The paper by Bloomer indicated that Allen considered Lucan or Theophilus authorship on p. 327. However, Allen has the two discussions, the identity of Theophilus and the authorship of Hebrews, in different sections.


Lukan Authorship of Hebrews
by David L. Allen

1 This work is a substantial revision and expansion of my 1987 doctoral dissertation on Lukan authorship of Hebrews. I argued that Luke was Jewish, that he wrote his Gospel and Acts to a converted former Jewish high priest named Theophilus, who served AD 37-41, and that Luke wrote Hebrews to a group of the converted priests mentioned in Acts 6:7 who had fled Jerusalem after the Stephanic persecution (Acts 8:1) and who had relocated in Antioch of Syria.

p. 327
At least two names have been proposed to identify the recipient of Luke-Acts. Jerome suggested that a certain Theophilus (who was an official in Athens and convicted of perjury by the Areopagus) may have been Luke’s recipient. Others have proposed that Theophilus of Antioch (who is mentioned in the Clementine Recognitions and is said to have donated his house as a meeting place for the church) may have been Luke’s addressee. Neither of these individuals lived during the time frame necessary to be considered as Luke’s recipient.

There was a third individual prominent during the first half of the first century who has rarely been defended as Luke’s Theophilus, namely, the high priest who served from AD 37-41.14 Given the emphasis on priestly matters in Luke-Acts, we must consider that Luke may have written his Gospel for a Jewish high priest—perhaps to confirm his knowledge of Jesus and the early church, or to convert him to Christianity.

Theophilus was one of five sons of Annas, the high priest mentioned in the New Testament along with Caiaphas, son-in-law to Annas. Annas ruled from AD 6-15, and Caiaphas ruled from AD 18-36. All five sons served as high priest in Jerusalem before AD 70. Their names and years of service are Eleazer (AD 16-17), Jonathan (AD 36-37), Theophilus (AD 37-41), Matthias (AD 42-44), and Ananos II (3 months in AD 62).

Even after his reign, Annas seems to have wielded great authority, for he is mentioned along with Caiaphas in the New Testament as high priest (although Caiaphas was ruling at the time). This is because the office of high priest was hereditary and tenable for life, at least in the eyes of the people. Even a deposed high priest had considerable authority over the people.

The name of one of Annas’s five sons is interesting in that it is Greek rather than Jewish. “Theophilus" means “lover of God" and is a Hellenized Greco-Roman name. The appearance of Greek names among the later Hasmoneans and the priesthood is not uncommon. For example, Jason the high priest changed his name from “Jesus.”15 Several studies have shown the appearance of Greek names among the later Hasmoneans and the priesthood. Because of their Hellenistic outlook, the Jewish aristocracy often followed the practice of having two names. The New Testament reveals this practice. If Theophilus is a Hellenized version of some Jewish name, what could that name be? Robert Eisler proposes that Theophilus was also known as “Johannan” (John) for the following reasons:16

First, Theophilus is the Greek translation equivalent for the Hebrew “Johannan." When a non-Jewish name was adopted in addition to a Jewish one, it often had some connection, either phonological or semantic, with the original. It is probable that Jewish names lie behind some of the Greek and Latin names in Acts.17

Second, in Acts 4:6, Codex Bezae has “Jonathan" instead of “John” in a reference to members of the high priest’s family. Since Josephus mentions Jonathan son of Annas in six passages, this variant in Acts 4:6 has been explained as a correction, since no “John" of the high priest’s family was known. But such a correction would be unnecessary since a “John” son of Annas and an Alexander are both mentioned by Josephus. This John is introduced as Ananiou Ioannes, “John (son of) Annas,” and Josephus describes him as a commander of the Jewish forces at Gophna (where many priests lived) and Acrabetta around AD 66. Could this John be the son of an otherwise unknown Annas? One answer may be that an unknown leader would probably not have been introduced as “John, son of Annas," but as “a certain John, son of Annas.” Since Josephus tells us that all of Annas’s sons served as high priests (Theophilus was deposed and did not lose the office through death), and if “John" was Theophilus’s Hebrew name, it is
conceivable that these references apply to the same individual.18 Even if this identification is mistaken, it would not preclude that Luke was writing to Theophilus, the former Jewish high priest.

A third reason for this identification of “John" with “Theophilus" is also drawn from Josephus. In his Jewish Wars, the name Theophilus does not occur, whereas the name John does; in his Jewish Antiquities the name Theophilus occurs, but “John, son of Annas," does not. Perhaps Josephus uses his Greek name in one volume and his Hebrew name in the other. A similar situation is found in the New Testament, where the names “John Mark,” “John,” and “Mark” all refer to the same person.

A fourth argument, not mentioned by Eisler, can be marshaled in favor of the possibility that Theophilus’s Jewish name was John. The names of the Hasmonean sons were Judas Maccabeus, Jonathan, Simon, John, and Eleazer. Two of these five names correspond to two of Annas’s five sons, namely Eleazer and Jonathan. But in the Hasmonean dynasty both a Jonathan and a John are found. Theophilus may have been given the name John as suggested above, then three of the five sons of Annas had names equivalent to the sons of Hashmon. It is altogether probable that Annas named some of his sons after the great Hasmonean line of a century and a half earlier. We know that the Sadducean high priestly family of Annas looked upon the Hasmonean dynasty as heroes of the faith, and at least two of Annas’s sons bore their names. Studies show a high incidence of Hasmonean names from first-century Palestinian Jewish onomastikon as well as in Acts. This probably is indicative of the broad sympathies of the Jewish people, as Margret Williams notes, proven by their willingness to risk everything in AD 66 “in a Maccabaean-style fight for freedom.”19

It cannot be maintained that a “John” and a “Jonathan” would be names too similar to appear in the same family; the Hasmonean family had sons with both names, and Jer 40:8 mentions the sons of Kareah—Johannan (John) and Jonathan. Clearly Theophilus also had a Hebrew name, and Johannan is a plausible suggestion.

If John, son of Ananias (Annas), mentioned by Josephus as commander of the Jewish forces in AD 66 is the same as Theophilus, who formerly served as high priest, then we may suggest the possibility that Luke knew him and wrote either to convert him to Christianity or (more likely, based on the prologue to Luke’s Gospel) to instruct him as a new Christian. Conservative scholarship tends to date Luke-Acts between AD 61 and 65. Furthermore, the honorific title “most excellent” was used not only for Roman officials but also for high priests, at least in the second and third centuries.20 We learn from Josephus of the important role played by the priests as guardians of the

p.330 not in Google
p. 332-333 has an Acts 22-23 analysis that the high priest may be Theophilus!
p. 334 missing
p. 335 - compares to Richard Anderson
E. C. Selwyn had the 40-41 date for Luke also
2 Cor 8:18
p. 336 - DLA disagrees with Anderson on Luke being pre-Pauline
........... Anderson does not see Luke as Hebrews author
p. 341 .. DLA dates Luke at 61, Acts at 63

14 I argued the ease for Theophilus in 1987 in my Ph.D. diss. and again in articles in 1989. 1996. and 2001. Also, the ease has been argued by R. Anderson in two articles appearing in EvQ (1997. 1999).

15 J. Jercmias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (Philadelphia: Portress, 1969). 377.

16 R. Eisler, The Enigma of the Fourth Gospel (London: Methuen & Co., 1936), 39-45.

17 See H. Cadbury, The Book of Acts in History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955), 90.

18 F. F. Bruce attests to the possibility of this identification by Eisler, but thinks it is “more likely” that the text refers to Jonathan based on the delta text. F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles, The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdinans, 1951), 119.

19 M. Williams, “Palestinian Jewish Personal Names in Acts,” in The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting, ed. R. Bauckham (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 4:109.

20 F. Foakes-Jackson and K. Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1942; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 505-8.
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