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MET Thesis

[This blog is a replacement or extension of my MET Blogspot. The old will remain as is, and I plan to transfer posts from there to here over time.]

The working thesis of this blog is that Luke’s addressee Theophilus was the high priest of 37-41CE. This Theophilus was the son of Annas, high priest of 6-15CE. Theophilus was brother to four other first-century high priests: Eleazar, Jonathan, Matthias, and Ananus. His brother-in-law was Caiaphas, high priest of 18-36CE. This family filled the office for 35 years between 6 and 43CE.

Theophilus had (at least) two sons: Matthias, who served as the second-to-last high priest before the fall of the Temple; and John, evidenced in an ossuary found approxiimately 7 miles from Jerusalem. This ossuary names Theophilus’ granddaughter, Joanna. Luke mentions this Joanna twice in his Gospel (8.3; 24.10). She bears the place of prominence in a chiastic structure in Luke resurrection account.

Identifying Luke’s Theophilus as the high priestly son of Annas sheds great light on Luke’s story of Jesus and his followers. Many of Jesus’ parables take on new significances. Luke’s citations and allusions to OT passages are found to color his narrative in very specific, unique ways. Pericopes cohere with one another, eliminating any seeming randomness or wooden-ness of Luke’s telling of Jesus’ and his followers’ actions and teachings. Definition of Luke’s purpose in writing Acts emerges.

(This thesis needs to be tested by Synoptic studies, for it implies an early date for Luke’s Gospel.)


1. Martin Philipps - February 23, 2011

very interesting. I am only quite sure that your Theophilus would not “need” Luke’s Gospel… He knew Palestine, Jewish culture, traditions, religion and certainly the story of Jesus much better than Luke, because he was in many ways probably an eyewitness!
It is very unlikely that a Greek Christian, who joined Paul’s travelling team relatively late, would even attempt writing to your Theophilus!

2. Lee - February 23, 2011


Thank you for reading. I have not maintained this blog as well as I should, but am intending to get back into the swing of things.

You make some valid points. I am certain that Theophilus was an eyewitness to several events. I am certain that Annas was quite familiar with this Jesus (most probably serving while this young inquisitive 12-year-old visited the temple). My thesis does not rest so much on whether Theophilus was familiar with Palestine, Jesus, etc., as much as on the corruption of Theophilus’ family in contrast to the legitimate Jesus movement. After all, Jesus was performing those duties normally relegated to the temple priests (i.e., declaring the infirm clean, forgiving sins, offering cleansing via ablutions/baptism, etc.). While Theophilus may not have “needed” Luke’s Gospel, these actions “needed” explanation if this Jesus movement was to gain a hearing from the priestly establishment. Annas’ priestly family would hardly have considered themselves illegitimate servants of God. Thus, Luke has subtly presented Jesus as the eschatological high priest.

And I am not so certain that Luke was “a Greek Christian, who joined Paul’s travelling team relatively late”. I believe he was Lucius of Cyrene (Ac13.1). There is some evidence of a once fairly large Jewish community in Cyrene during this period.

So much more I would like to share, but this is hardly the forum. I’ll try to keep the blog current with my present studies.

Thanks again.


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