motif of ignorance

Steven Avery

In 2010, I shared this with Richard H. Anderson, and he agreed.

Hi Richard,

The "motif of ignorance" that runs through Luke-Acts looks to fit the Theophilus concepts very well.
Dunno if you have written on this, it came up now because of the new paper, below.


Luke 23:34
Then said Jesus,
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do
And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Acts 3:17
(Peter speaking)
And now, brethren,
I wot that through ignorance ye did it,
as did also your rulers.

Acts 7:59-60
(Stephen speaking)
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God,
and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice,
Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 13:27
(Paul speaking)
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers,
because they knew him not,
nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day,
they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

Acts 17:30
(Paul speaking)
And the times of this ignorance God winked at;
but now commandeth all men every where to repent:


"A Disconcerting Prayer: On the Originality of Luke 23:34a"
JBL 129, no. 3 (2010): 521-536
Nathan Eubank
(anyone can request a copy to Nathan, the article is pretty good, albeit understated in points)

Steven Avery

I referenced this post from Richard Anderson, with the chiastic issues, when we were having this discussion.

Saturday, April 01, 2006
The Lack of Understanding of Theophilus

My exposition of the Gospel of Luke would focus on the lack of understanding as the theme presented by Luke in his writing to most excellent Theophilus who must have expressed his lack of understanding to someone to have been the lucky recipient of this masterpiece. Who might have suggested that this work be addressed to Theophilus to help him understand? I suggest it was none other than Johanna. As previously noted the name of Johanna occupies the position of prominence in a chiasmus that introduces the Emmaus periscope where two disciples come to fully understand the gospel message because Jesus had “opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”

The Gospel begins with Zechariah, the priest, in the Temple and chapter two ends with Jesus in the Temple. Zechariah is so incredulous that he is sanctioned by the Angel Gabriel but nine months later he delivers in 1:67-80 what we now call the “Benedictus.”

Mary believes the message of the Angel Gabriel but twelve years later, when she and her husband find Jesus in the Temple, “they did not understand” nor did the disciples understand. The two Temple stories of Zechariah the priest and the boy Jesus stand by themselves yet frame the four pairs of stories in between about lack of understanding.

Yet throughout the complex narrative Luke provides clues so that Theophilus might understand. This lack of understanding appears throughout the gospel [2:50; 8:10; 18:34 and 24:45; Acts 7:25; 28:26-27], and is an important theme in the presentation to Theophilus. These passages are directed to most excellent Theophilus.

Johanna is introduced together with two other women who had been healed and are now traveling with Jesus. Johanna, who I believe must be someone important to Theophilus, if her name occupies the position of prominence, is in fact introduced by two stories which are a pair but have not been recognized as such because they are not next to each other. Theophilus must want to know what kind of person has healed Johanna. In the one story, the unknown women enters the house of Simon the Pharisee and Simon wonders to himself is Jesus aware what kind of woman is pouring oil on his feet. Simon’s question is not answered. But in the second part of the story, which appears after the first mention of Johanna, the woman who has been bleeding for twelve years touches the fringe of his garment, and Jesus says, “Some one touched me for I perceive that the power has gone from me.” This story answer the question Simon asked himself. Yes, Simon, Jesus did know who had entered the room to pour oil on his feet. These two stories envelope the very brief mention of Johanna and answer the question for Theophilus, what kind of person is Jesus. The stories in this envelope include, inter alia, the storm stilled, demons cast out, and Jairus’ daughter raised.

Breck can say that the key to understanding is chiasmus but it is still necessary to properly determine the beginning and ending point of each individual chiastic structure. One problem, is that diagramming has been “confined” by the chapters and verses artificially imposed. Most diagrammers have implicitly accepted the chapter and verse outlook created in the 12[SUP]th[/SUP] century as the beginning point of their organization of Lucan material. In looking at one possible structure, described above, I realized that it probably begins at Lk. 7:36 in Simon’s house and ends at 8:48 but this leaves hanging the ending of the story about Jairus and his twelve year old daughter! There must be a term for this dramatic “hanging” effect created by Luke with his “unbalanced” literary structure!! For the lack of a better term, this appears to be an interlocking structured literary form in that the two halves of the story of daughter of Jairus are interlocking with the story of the woman who bleed for twelve years. However, I am unaware that any scholar has suggested that Luke has employed interlocking literary structures although Bligh has diagrammed interlocking literary structures for Galatians.
My exposition of the gospel is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2006
Last edited: