Recently, I became acquainted with the blogs of Lee T. Dahn (found HERE) and Richard Anderson (found HERE). Although they do address other subjects, their blogs seem to be dedicated to the works of Luke with the identification of Theophilus, Luke’s addressee, as a key concern.
What if I were to write: “Mr. President, pertaining to the affairs of which you have been informed, I have decided that it would be in your interest to know how these things developed from the beginning…” Wouldn’t the contents of my narrative be weighted by the identity of the person to whom I am writing? Wouldn’t analogies therein also take on a meaning according to the identity of my addressee? For example, what if I was a college student writing to the president of my class or the president of a speakers club? What if I was an executive of a large commercial industry writing to the president of another large industry, wouldn’t otherwise indistinct analogies that I might place within my narrative take on a meaning different from what one would ordinarily read into my words, if I were simply writing to another college student who happens to be the president of my class or college group? What if I were writing to the President of the United States about a particular group of which I was a member? Wouldn’t’ my narrative take on even a different meaning than these others, especially when I might be speaking of analogies or indistinct parallels? So, the identity of Luke’s addressee, considering these circumstances, could be very important, and the meaning of Jesus’ different parables would take on new meaning, if Theophilus could be shown to be the High Priest who governed Judea from 37-41 CE—and the son of Annas who was so influential in the crucifixion of Jesus! Wouldn’t this be so?
I have decided to take a closer look at Theophilus’ identity and consider more closely some of those things Mr. Dahn and Mr. Anderson have discovered and written about already. I may not be able to add anything to their work, but perhaps the Lord will enable me to do so. Time will tell. I am honestly intrigued by this whole idea of Luke’s Theophilus being the High Priest and son of Annas, and I simply cannot make myself lay this idea aside for another time. All that is within me wants to know more and the proof, if it can be shown, that all this is true.
Many scholars reject the idea that Luke could be writing to Theophilus during his tenure as governor of Judea, because his second work, Acts, could not have been written before 62-63 CE. It has the internal early date limit of Paul waiting to be heard by Nero. A two decade time span between both works seems out of the question for some scholarship, but is it? Notice that Luke addresses his Gospel to “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3), but he addresses Acts to “O Theophilus” (Acts 1:1). Why is the greater respect expressed in his former work? Could it be that the Gospel narrative was addressed to Theophilus while he held the high office of his people, but Acts was addressed to him long afterwards, showing the results of his failure to heed the call of the Gospel to repent and lead his people away from the course they were on?
It seems to me, seen in this light, Luke begins with an authentic account of the life and ministry of Jesus, which generally calls for repentance and submission to the Messiah in order to save the Jewish nation from the Gospel’s internal warning that, if unheeded, the Romans would make war upon their nation and the outcome was bleak. Finally, Luke offers the book of Acts, which narrates what had occurred due to Luke’s unheeded offering to the Theophilus priesthood years earlier. By the very nature of Luke’s purpose, a considerable passage of time is demanded between both his works, sufficient enough to show how Theophilus’ family had responded, and to allow certain implied prophecies within some of Jesus’ parables to take place.
I don’t know how many posts I’ll end up offering to this subject, but I am looking forward to studying this idea and its possibilities. I hope it will also be interesting and rewarding to those who happen to run across this blog, but this I have left in the hands of Jesus, whom I seek to serve. Praise his name.