posts on Theophilus the high priest

Steven Avery

[TC-Alternate-list] peer review in Bible textual analysis, Theophilus and peer-review
Steven Avery - October 31, 2013


[/URL]Here I skip some peer review related intro, you can see that at the url above.

Please look at these two verses.

Luke 1:3
It seemed good to me also,
having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,
to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

Acts 1:1
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus,
of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

The possible identity of Theophilus has a lot of bearing on a large number of Bible variants.
It can help us understand the :

a) target audience of Luke and Acts

b) knowledge of the writer and his sources

c) purpose of the writing

d) dates of composition,

e) accuracy of historical writing, complementary to the writing of William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939) and others who wrote about specific historical facts and even the variants in the texts related to those facts.

The discussion of many variants, whether by Burgon or Metzger, Richard Bauckham, Peter Head or Maurice Robinson or Jan Krans, can work with this information. Most today will simply not work with even the possibility of an early date and identity of Theophilus, since late dating paradigms rule the roost. John Arthur Thomas Robinson (1919–1983) and his Redating the New Testament, 1976, being the type of exception that proves the rule.(cringe) Even the evangelicals usually want to have decades before the gospels, although there is no innate or compelling logic behind late or ultra-late (post-70 AD) NT dating.

e.g. Was Luke a gentile writing 30 or 50 years after the events, whose eyewitnesses:

Luke 1:2
Even as they delivered them unto us,
which from the beginning were eyewitnesses,
and ministers of the word;

were distant from the events? (As implied even by Richard Bauckham, with a quasi-evangelical viewpoint). Or perhaps Luke was a Hebrew right on top of the events, one of the eyewitnesses.

One theory of the first century history says that Theophilus was the high priest Theophilus, who was the most excellent high priest in 40-41 AD and the former high priest around 60 AD when Acts was written.

And that Luke was very well informed, personally, on the inward workings of the priesthood. Thus knowing well techie issues like the scripture readings of Zacharias of the course of Abia.

Luke 1:5
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea,
a certain priest named Zacharias,
of the course of Abia:
and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elisabeth.

This is one example. Also Simeon and Anna at the temple, the priests who came to faith

Acts 6:7
And the word of God increased;
and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly;
and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

and much more, such as whether the Luke-only Joanna (Luke 8:3 and 24:10) might be the archaeologically confirmed Joanna, granddaughter of Caiaphus. And we are only scratching the surface.

Now ... peer-review.

There was a fair amount of discussion in the 1700s and 1800s that got lost in the shuffle. Even though the learned Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791) weighed in solidly for the Theophilus as high priest identification, which came out of a paper by Theodor Hase (1682-1731). Note: this paper has not been republished, afaik not even a picture of a page, the reference is from the 1725 edition of the Bibliotheca Historico-Philogico-Theologica, perhaps by Theodor Haseaus.

Ok, so no peer-review back then.

Richard H. Anderson wrote a peer-reviewed paper on the topic, in 1996, in the:

Evangelical Quarterly, 69:3, (1997), 195-215. I. Howard Marshall, Editor
Theophilus: A Proposal

With Ian Howard Marshall as the editor, it had to pass some muster, or cut some mustard. (And Richard Anderson has additional papers that touch on the topic, see the Hurtado blog url that I reference below.)

After that ... silence.

So do we have to wait?

"before one makes any further claim about them."

Or do we simply move on in discussion, as has occurred in an edifying manner frequently on the internet? Most potential acceptable peer reviewers are likely late daters of the NT text, so they would be virtually forced to reject the theory due to a priori positions. Incidentally, another book came out on a related topic. Luke the Priest by Rick Strelan in 2008.

How does peer review help such a discussion?
Critical review, surely.
Discussion iron sharpeneth, definitely:

Proverbs 27:17
Iron sharpeneth iron;
so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Where does peer review fit in?

From my discussion on the topic with Lawrence Hurtado:

Why did the Gospel of Mark Survive?
February 22, 2013
[/URL]Lawrence Hurtado:
Your claim about the Theophilus to whom Luke-Acts is dedicated being a priest likewise has no basis. You’re entitled to your opinions, but in scholarship opinions have to survive the critical review process. When you’ve survived that, by submitting work to refereed journals, publishing work that is reviewed by scholars in the subject, let us know. ...

When the papers were referenced to Professor Hurtado, he simply showed no interest:

Lawrence Hurtado
In any case, there have been numerous suggestions about who or what “Theophilus” refers to in Luke-Acts, with many scholars thinking that he was perhaps a Roman official of some sort. It appears that he had been taught about Jesus and early Christian faith, and was probably a convert. That’s all we know. The name appears in ancient literature, inscriptions and papyri, so there appear to have been numerous individuals so named. Anyway, to be treated as having any import, research must go through the scholarly publication process.

So is the issue really peer review?

[TC-Alternate-list] Theophilus the high priest - dating the NT and noting Luke's Hebraic precision
Nov 9, 2013

Theophilus the High Priest

Looking more at Theophilus, not everybody is establishment TC is hopelessly in the fog. Here are some fascinating comments from strong scholars, a bit on the fringe. These authors were recommended by K. Martin Heide for their section on Acts 8:37 (separate post planned).

Please note that while these two fine authors connect Theophilus with the Codex Bezae text of Luke-Acts, the same arguments generally hold 100% fine for canonical Acts. Due to the unfortunate textualcriticism indoctrination, they do comparisons with the decrepit Alexandrian Text (AT) of Acts. Perhaps the strong Hebraic component is an argument for Western-Byzantine readings against Alex and also for Western readings contra Byz and Alex. However all that would be a separate discussion, and quite unnecessary in terms of understanding Luke writing to Theophilus around 40 A.D. (In the section below, the authors don't make an explicit point about the date of Lukan composition and authorship, however that is when Theophilus would be "most excellent", so we do the math.)


Our most recent post on the topic:
[TC-Alternate-list] peer review in Bible textual analysis, Theophilus and peer-review
Steven Avery - October 31, 2013

No attempt here to do a full review, not even of the supports for the Theophilus proposal, simply an introduction to two fine new contributors. Nor will we discuss the (rather immense) significance for textual analysis and apologetics and Christian Bible understanding from these connections. Note that even in these sections we are bypassing important issues like the identity of the eyewitnesses. Nor am I going into the Codex Bezae differences.


Two Principle Scholars Added to the Theophilus Proposal

Jenny Read-Heimerdinger

Josep Rius-Camps

Note that Rius-Camps is the author of The Pericope of the Adulteress Reconsidered: The Nomadic Misfortunes of a Bold Pericope.

We add these two to Richard H. Anderson, as primary resources, however there are a number of additional major players in helping with the Theophilus identity.

This post will simply look at one section.


Most Excellent Theophilus

Luke's Demonstration to Theophilus: The Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles According to Codex Bezae (2012)
Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, Josep Rius-Camps

8. Most Excellent Theophilus

Luke gives very few explicit indications about the identity of the person he is writing for. The name 'Theophilus' (
θεόφιλος) is repeated at the beginning of each volume, a Greek name that could have been used anywhere within the Greek-speaking world so it does not tell us anything about his nationality. The meaning of the name, 'God-lover' or 'loved by God'. suggests a person at the very least in sympathy with Jewish and/or Christian tradition and teaching; its symbolic meaning is taken by some to indicate that it does not refer to an individual but more probably to a community, or even to people in general who love God/are loved by him.

A second clue is the adjective 'most excellent' used with his name when Theophilus is addressed in the prologue to the work overall (
kratiste Lk. 1.3). Luke otherwise uses this title when the Roman tribune Claudius Lysias writes to the governor Felix (Acts 23.26), and likewise when the orator Tertullus addresses Felix (24.3); it is also found when Paul speaks to the governor Festus (26.25). In all cases, it refers to people of considerable importance and authority. 24 On the basis of the AT. it is often thought that, supposing Theophilus to be the name of a real person (rather than a symbolic one), he would have been a Greek speaker of high social standing, perhaps even a person of an upper rank in the Roman army. That he was of a Gentile background is principally deduced from the belief that Luke was a Gentile author (on which sec ?3
above) and that they both have Greek names.

A final piece of information is deduced from Luke's reference in the prologue to his purpose of enabling Theophilus to be sure of the information he had heard (
peri wn kathchqhV logwn, Lk. 1.4). As explained in the note to Lk. 1.4, the verb kathcew is sometimes used to speak of Christian catechism, and for that reason Theophilus is usually assumed to have been a new Christian convert, a candidate for baptism who had received some elementary teaching about the faith. However. Luke uses this same verb elsewhere (Acts 21.21, 24) with its more ordinary meaning of to hear news/rumours' about a person, and there is nothing to say that the Christian meaning is the one he has in mind when speaking of Theophilus.

In short, as far as the addressee of Luke's work in the AT is concerned, Theophilus (in so far as he is thought to be a real person) is understood to be a Gentile, an important person of high social standing and a Christian convert who has received some instruction in a church community. With regard to the AT form of Luke—Acts there may be no need to challenge this understanding. With regard to the D05 form, with its Jewish perspective and its wealth of allusions to Jewish traditions and teachings, often made in a subtle and intricate way, it is much more probable that the author, an educated and highly sophisticated Jew (sec ?3 above), was writing for a fellow Jew, one sufficiently cultured and trained in the Scriptures and the methods of Jewish interpretation to be able to understand what he was hearing or reading. In other words, it is reasonable to suppose that, in writing from a Jewish point of view, the narrator expected his intended reader to pick up the clues to the underlying message of his writing, the more since most of his evaluation and comment is not made overtly but by implicit means.

Although the name Theophilus was quite common in the Hellenistic period, the only Jewish person with this name in the 1st century CE. according to the available sources, was the third son of the High Priest Annas, who held this post from 37-41 CE. Appointed by the governor of Syria, Vitellius, he was relieved of his post by Agrippa I on the latter's accession to the throne of Judaea. It is possible that Herod Agrippa's ferocious opposition to the Jewish Jesus-believers, and his wish to please the non-believing Jews in this matter (cf. Acts 12.1-3, esp. D05), had something to do with Theophilus' substitution by a member of another family. If Theophilus had sympathies with the apostles and the other Jesus-believers (he was in a position to have known many of them personally), he would have been opposed to Agrippa's attacks on the Judaean Church.

As far as the D05 text is concerned, we have adopted the working hypothesis that the intended reader was the High Priest Theophilus,
25 to whom Luke wrote in order to answer his many questions about what he had heard (cf. Lk. 1.1-4), but which he had not been able to fully understand, taking account of the Jewish teachings and expectations debated at the highest levels. It may be imagined that Theophilus was looking for someone to answer the questions raised in his mind both by the numerous contradictions between Jesus' teachings and traditional Jewish doctrines as well as by the opposing points of view existing amongst Jesus-believers, questions that would have been all the more urgent after the fall of Jerusalem. What would have led him to take this step was not mere curiosity: on the one hand, he had witnessed the atrocities committed by his own family, beginning with his father, Annas I, and his brother-in-law, Caiaphas, and ending with his younger brother, Annas II, who ordered the assassination of James, the brother of Jesus and the leader of the church in Jerusalem, in the Temple in 62 CE; and, on the other hand, he knew about the activities of Jesus' Jewish followers who promoted some radical (and sometimes contradictory) teachings and acted in disturbing (and sometimes conflicting) ways.

Luke's explanations about the early Church take on a special character if the recipient was indeed the High Priest Theophilus, above all regarding the authority of his own interpretations or those that he put in the mouths of the people in his narrative, This is illustrated by the authority adopted by James when he gives his judgement on the Gentiles and bases himself on the interpretation of the Law made by the High Priest, Simeon 11 (Acts 15.14-18 D05). It is seen more than anything in the authority assumed by Luke himself in portraying the reversal of the expectations of the restoration of Israel (e.g., in Acts 12 D05). (p. xxv-xxvii )

25 Arguments advocating the identity of Theophilus as the High Priest were first presented by R. Anderson, '? la recherche de Th?ophile', in Saint Luc. ?vang?liste et historien (Dossiers d'Arch?ologie 279 (2002-2003). pp. 64-71 ;

On the identity of' Theophilus as the third son of the high-priestly family of Annas, brother-in-law of Caiaphas and High Priest himself from 37-41 CE, see Introduction, ? 8. (p. 640)

Allow me to add that we have in other places shown the fascinating analytic Theophilus history back in the 1700s and 1800s, involving Theodore Hase and Johann David Michaelis and others. Afaik these histories were not known to the authors at the times of their original papers.

Luke 1:1-4 (AV)
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration
of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Even as they delivered them unto us,
which from the beginning were eyewitnesses,
and ministers of the word;
It seemed good to me also,
having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,
to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things,
wherein thou hast been instructed.

Acts 1:1-4
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus,
of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
Until the day in which he was taken up,
after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs,
being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,
but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

Acts 12:1-3 (AV)
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
And because he saw it pleased the Jews,
he proceeded further to take Peter also.
(Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

Acts 15:14-18
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles,
to take out of them a people for his name.
And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down;
and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles,
upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.


kratiste == most excellent

Acts 23:26
Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

Acts 24:3
We accept it always, and in all places,
most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

Acts 26:25
But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus;
but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.


There is more that can be shared from Jenny Read-Heimerdinger and Josep Rius-Camps, however this should be a good chunk for one post tonight.

From this one post, even if we have not read the superb and wide-ranging material from Richard H. Anderson -- and supporting and related writings from Rodolf Puigdollers i Noblom, Lee Thomas Dahn, John Lupia, Rick Strelan and yours truly (one special emphasis on the 1700s and 1800s history) ... it should be easy to understand that the evangelical leaf has turned.

The thinking Bible history students, those who believe the first-person connections and assertions within the Bible are truthful and accurate, should most definitely consider the possibility of the early dating of Luke and the Gospels, with Luke and Acts written about 40 AD and 60 respectively.


Psalm 119:140
Thy word is very pure:
therefore thy servant loveth it.

[TC-Alternate-list] Theophilus the high priest - Ruis-Camps and Read-Heimerdinger spot-on
Steven Avery - Nov 12, 2013

For Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger Theophilus as high priest is a fundamental truth, (or at least the proper paradigm of interpretation). A fulcrum for understanding Luke-Acts.

In this post we will take extracts from distinct sections where the identity of Theophilus the high priest fits perfectly for understanding the Bible text. Note: There is some, yet little, duplication with the last post, from a different book. I've decided to include the text of much of the scripture that is referenced in the sections.

Yes, these are unusual posts. They could be a part of a web-page or a web forum discussion. I am leaning heavily on two co-authors. This info is shared here first because of my very high regard for TC-Alt readers, even under neo (note the url at bottom "ARCHIVE" to the post below to help it be refound online). Some may appreciate, some may puzzle, some may grumble, some may feel that this qualifies for iron sharpeneth. Personally, I consider all of this a primary part of NT dating and apologetics, synoptic issues, integrity and accuracy of the text and more. As such the impact on textual analysis is huge.

For those really interested in the Theophilus connection, there is a lot more from Richard H. Anderson and many others. These books have flown under the radar, they were not designed for the Theophilus proposal, they are Codex Bezae Luke-Acts textual analysis books. The purpose here is to extract some very fine work on the Theophilus topic.


The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae (vol 2): A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition (2006)
Josep Rius-Camps, Jenny Read-Heimerdinger


Acts 1:1
The former treatise have I made,
O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

My vol 2 section 2 - Theophilus in depth
....It is our contention that this insider understanding and concern is reflected in the narrative of the Bezan text of Luke-Acts, and is the basis for the relationship between Luke and Theophilus....

IV. Theophilus
In view of the strongly Jewish perspective of Acts in Codex Bezae, it is most probable that Theophilus was a sophisticated Jewish person with an intense interest in what he had witnessed taking place among the Jesus-believers. The High Priest of this name, third son of Annas and brother-in-law of Caiaphas (Jn 18.13), appointed by Agrippa I to serve between 37 and 41 CE, could have been that person.
5 As a Hellenistic Jew who had had close contact with the people and events of the early Church, it is plausible that he should have had questions about what he had seen and heard and that Luke should write to inform him about everything from a Jewish point of view. It is, meanwhile, also possible that the addressee of the AT was a Roman officer of high standing or some other eminent Gentile, but whether or not it was him that Luke wrote for is another question. (p. 3-4)

5. The case for Theophilus being the High Priest has been made by R. Anderson, '? la recherche de Th?ophile', in Saint Luc. ?vang?liste et historien (Dossiers d'Arch?ologie 279 [2002-3]). pp. 64-71 ; see also R. Puigdollers i Noblom. ' Els grans sacerdois jesus des de l'epoca d'Herodes el Gran fins a la guerra jueva'. RCatT 30 (2005), pp. 49-89 (67-69).

The Rodolf Puigdoller paper is here, please feel free to skim, read and review:

Els grans sacerdois jesus des de l'epoca d'Herodes el Gran fins a la guerra jueva (2005)
Rodolf Puigdoller

John 18:13
And led him away to Annas first;
for he was father in law to Caiaphas,
which was the high priest that same year.


Acts 7:1
Then said the high priest,
Are these things so?

My vol 2 section 2 - identity of Theophilus

[a] 7.1 The High Priest Invites Stephen to Answer the Charges
7.1 The High Priest speaks as the president of the Sanhedrin. Since the exact date of the incident cannot be determined, it is not possible to be sure who the High Priest at
the time was. The choice can probably be narrowed down to two: either Caiaphas, Annas' son-in-law, who had presided over Jesus' trial and remained in office until 37 CE; or Theophilus, Annas' third son, who took over the high priesthood in 37 following his brother Jonathan's two-month period in office (cf. 4.6 D05). Clearly, if the High Priest was Theophilus, who may be identified as the addressee of Luke's work (see General Introduction, ? IV), this whole episode is of especial significance for him. However, the similarity between the question the High Priest asks here of Stephen and that asked by Caiaphas of Jesus (cf. Mk 14.60-61) perhaps indicates that it is the same person who is involved on each occasion. (p. 68-69)

Mark 14:60-61
And the high priest stood up in the midst,
and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing?
what is it which these witness against thee?
But he held his peace, and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him,
Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?


Acts 9:1
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,
went unto the high priest,
His intention is to seek out Jesus-believers among Jews outside Israel for which he required the authority of the High Priest in Ierousalem. The date, which can be ascertained approximately from the date of Saul's conversion, was around 37 CE but as it cannot be established more exactly it is not possible to know who would have been the High Priest in question: Caiaphas was replaced by his brother-in-law, Jonathan son of Annas in 37 but only held power for 3 months before Annas' next son took over. This was Theophilus who, given the Jewish perspective of the Bezan text, could well have been the person to whom Luke addressed his work (see General Introduction, ? IV). Theophilus was High Priest until Agrippa I, after being appointed king of Judaea in 41, installed a member of another high-priestly family in his place. But whether or not Theophilus was actually occupying the position of High Priest at the time of Saul's persecution, he would have been well aware of the events of this time and Luke writes, too, knowing what he knew. (p. 172)


Acts 11:27-30
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Herod Agrippa I was the fourth or fifth generation to have descended from the Edomites who were forced to convert to Judaism in the second century BCE. In addition, his ancestors on his mother's side were of the ancient high-priestly and royal Hasmonean family. At the same time, he had grown up in Rome where he had been close to Caligula and especially to Claudius. Consequently, he was well-placed to represent the Roman Emperor among the Jews, having an understanding of the values, beliefs and customs of both peoples. The fact that it was he who, on coming to the throne, removed Theophilus (son of Annas, brother-in-law of Caiaphas) from the office of High Priest (he had been appointed by the legate Vitellus in c.38 CE) is of no little significance for Luke who addresses his work to this same Theophilus, at least in so far as Codex Bezae is concerned (see General Introduction. ? III). (p. 336)


Acts 12:20
And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon:
but they came with one accord to him, and,
having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend,
desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.
The role of Blastus seems lo have been to serve as intermediary in order for the people to gain access to the king
(Herod) so that they could ask for peace. Like other people who are named by Luke as associated with the household of Agrippa I or of other Herods, he may well have been known to Theophilus the High Priest.76

Pic of footnote with Greek refs (the following references are relevant) for Luke 8:3, 23:7-8, Acts 4:27,13:1, 25:13, 25:22

Luke 8:3
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna,
and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Richard Anderson also pays special attention to Joanna, archaeologically connected as the granddaughter of Theophilus, and at the tomb of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:10
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James,
and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

ossuary - Aramaic inscription
"Johanna granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest".

Luke 23:7-8
And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad:
for he was desirous to see him of a long season,
because he had heard many things of him;
and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

Luke 23:12
And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together:
for before they were at enmity between themselves.

Acts 4:27
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed,
both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles,
and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

Acts 13:1
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers;
as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger,
and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen,
which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 25:13
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

Acts 25:22
Then Agrippa said unto Festus,
I would also hear the man myself.
To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

Theophilus would have a better understanding of:

Acts 6:7
And the word of God increased;
and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly;
and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

(Rick Strelan wrote a book, Luke the Priest, that posits Luke as one of the priests who came to faith.)

Some additional refs in the book - p. 120, 197 254 and p. 367-368


We have immediately available superb information from two of the four volumes.
Library time for the other two.

The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae (vol 4).: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition, Volume 4 Acts 18.24-28.31: Rome (2009)
Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, Josep Rius-Camps


My vol 4 section 1 - Intro and review of high priest family involvement
Furthermore, there is an increased abundance of evidence in Codex Bezae in both volumes of his work - that Luke had detailed knowledge of Jewish ways of thinking. Taken together with his ability to reproduce accurately complex scriptural exegesis in the speeches he puts in the mouths of his speakers, these factors are indications that he was himself Jewish and not Gentile. The ease with which he uses Greek and his admiration for the Hellenist believers indicate that he was at home in a Hellenistic Jewish setting (and from Antioch of Pisidia, according to 13.14 D05). That being so, he may well have known personally not only Paul but also Stephen, Philip and other Hellenists, disciples or not, including, of course, Theophilus the High Priest to whom it may be surmised his work was addressed (see ?IV below).

IV. Theophilus his Addressee

The case for identifying Luke's addressee of Codex Bezae as Theophilus the third son of Annas, the High Priest of 37-41 CE, has been made in the General Introduction to the previous volumes.5 The primary factor that suggests him as the intended audience is the extensive dependence of Luke in the Bezan text on sophisticated Jewish exegesis and a network of Jewish oral traditions to present his evaluation of the apostles and his explanation of the message of Jesus; this implies that he was writing for someone with an equally high level of education and knowledge, without which large pails of his account are meaningless. Indeed, this is precisely one reason the Bezan text is so difficult for readers today. It could also have been why the text had to be modified at a very early date, in order to remove the obscurities because they made no sense to people without a thorough Jewish training in the use and interpretation of Scripture, and/or in order to delete references that caused the roots of Christianity to be too firmly anchored in Judaism once the Church had become predominantly made up of believers from a Gentile background.

(snip paragraph on Alexandrian Text)

The scant amount or detail with which the trial scenes in Jerusalem are related, at the same time as the particular selection of detail, are additional clues that the narrative was written for someone who was familiar with the workings of the Sanhedrin and the people involved in the trials of Paul. Even though no members of the family of Theophilus were active as High Priest between 44 (his brothers Matthias, and Jonathan briefly) and 63 CE (his youngest brother Annas), the role played by his family in the death of Jesus (cf. Lk. 22.47-53 esp. 50, 54) and their opposition to the apostles (cf. Acts 4.5-22, esp. 4.6 D05; 5.17-40), as well as his own years in office at a time when Jews were becoming followers of Jesus, would have given him a keen interest in finding out what happened to Paul, a fellow Hellenist Jew, and what was the truth of his teaching. His former position would have made him especially aware of the prominent part played by the High Priest (possibly his brother-in-law Caiaphas. if not himself) in authorizing Paul to persecute the believers in Damascus (9.1-2; 22.5, esp. D05; 26.12), and of his role among the leading priests who were the accusers of Paul (cf. 22.30-23.5; 24.1-22) and who were involved, if only indirectly, in the plot to kill him (23.12-22; 25.2-3).

6. It may be posited that the reported unwillingness of Theophilus to co-operate with Agrippa I, who notably persecuted the Church leaden: in Jerusalem (cf. 12.1-24), could have been associated with a certain sympathy with the disciples of Jesus (see Safrai and Stern. I. p. 294).

All from p. 2-4


"the role played by his family in the death of Jesus"

Luke 22:47-54
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.

and their opposition to the apostles"

Acts 4:5-22
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

Acts 5:17-40
Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

the prominent part played by the High authorizing Paul to persecute the believers in Damascus

Acts 9:1-2
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Acts 22:5
As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

his role among the leading priests who were the accusers of Paul

Acts 22:30- 23:5
On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them. And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

involved, if only indirectly, in the plot to kill Paul

Acts 23:12-22
And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would inquire somewhat of him more perfectly. But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

Acts 25:2-3
Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.


My vol 4 section 2 - Paul's earlier position as persecutor and appeal to the high priest

Acts 22:4-5
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

He (Paul) appeals to the witness of none less than the High Priest, whom Luke also mentioned (cf. 9.1b) but with whom he also includes the whole of the council of Israel, to endorse his testimony. The name of the High Priest in question is uncertain since it cannot be known for sure to what years Paul is referring. In any event it would have been a member of the family of Annas (cf. 4.6), either his son-in-law Caiaphas (c. 15-37 CE), or his second son Jonathan (3 months. 37 CE) or his third son Theophilus (37-41 CE). The text of Codex Vaticanus indicates that at the time the High Priest together with all of the council was endorsing his activity (see Critical Apparatus). Codex Bezae reads the future tense, 'will bear witness', implying that the High Priest of the time continued to be active in some sense.

Acts 9:1
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

Acts 4:6
And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander,
and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest,
were gathered together at Jerusalem.

At the time of Paul's speech (probably 57 or 58 CE, cf. Commentary on 20.6), no member of the family of Annas was currently serving as High Priest (cf. 23.2; 24.1, Ananias [47—59 CE])

Acts 23:2
And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Acts 24:1
And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders,
and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.

but it is inevitable that they continued to take a close interest in events and likely that it would have been possible to approach the man who had been High Priest in order to make the necessary enquiries. In so far as Luke addressed his work to Theophilus whose knowledge and qualifications, according to the textual features of Codex Bezae, make it possible to associate him with the third son of Annas, Paul's comment is particularly meaningful.

Acts 23:3
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall:
for sittest thou to judge me after the law,
and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?


My vol 4 section 3 - terminus ad quem consideration - zealots murder Ananais
Luke's addressee, Theophilus, would have known that Ananias was murdered in the Temple by the Zealots for his collaboration with the Romans in 66 CE, the same year that his own son Matthias was murdered (see General Introduction, ?IV).

That is assuming a late date for Acts, which very likely was composed before 65 AD. The very fact of not mentioning, in any manner or form, the death of Ananias, helps to give a terminus ad quem.

Acts 23:26
Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
23.26 The tribune's name is mentioned here for the first time although he has already been active in the narrative for some time. His address of the governor is formal, and includes the title
kratiste , 'most excellent', which Luke also applies in his address to Theophilus (cf. Lk. 1.3). The shared use of the title is an indication of the high standing of Theophilus. possibly a Greek or Roman leader addressed by the Alexandrian text, but a Jewish leader of considerable status addressed by the Bezan text (see General Introduction, ?IV).

More at p. 25, 131, 181, 191, 193, 204, 269, 307

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