Women And Angels… When They Speak, It’s Time To Listen! -- By: Timothy L. Chafins
ATJ 22 (1990) p. 11
Women And Angels…
When They Speak, It’s Time To Listen!
Rev. Chafins is an M.Div. graduate of ATS.
A Study of the Structure of Luke 23:50–24:12
Parts of Scripture have proven troublesome to human understanding over time, with richest meanings deeply buried under shallow attempts at study. In some cases the attempts at understanding have caused scholars to jump to false conclusions about the intent of the author or the veracity of the text. This can be seen in the early writings of Christianity, where textual variants were sometimes created by well meaning scribes attempting to clarify a difficult text.
Luke 24:12 is a good example. It is a textually difficult verse in that it is missing from some of our most dependable manuscripts (e.g. D, Marcion, et. al.). As a result, some translations have simply removed it from the text and placed it instead in a footnote, suggesting that it was a later interpolation (e.g. RSV). Curtis argued that Luke 24:12 “stands uneasily in its context … has the appearance of an appendage,” and “breaks the transition from the Easter morning story to the Emmaus Road story.”1
On the other hand, Neirynik has argued for its textual authenticity and has suggested that “for all recent commentators, the verse is a genuine part of the text.”2
The authenticity of the verse is further strengthened by the form of the passage in which it is located. Luke’s choice of form was a fundamental method of writing which was popular in both the Roman and Hellenistic worlds and was “in use at least as early as the writing of Homer and the Iliad.”3 The form he chose has been variously termed inversion, inverted parallelism, chiasmus, or ring composition.
Ancient Greek pottery illustrates the method. Circular friezes were arranged above and below a panel, on which a scene was depicted, in the center of a vase. “The circular friezes both framed the scene and gave balance to the whole.”4 In literature, closely related statements were used at the beginning and end of a section to help frame the elements in a single “ring”.
While there were many variations of this form of writing, Luke chose one wherein lines were inverted in an A B C D E D’ C’ B’ A’ pattern. His focus is found at the center of the inversion, between t...
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