Lectionary Year B
December 29, 2002
Step IV: Cross-Section
A. Primitive Christianity
(JFC) Devout Jews, like Simeon, were plentiful in Jerusalem, according to Paul's
Romans 2:1. When Paul was defending himself (Acts 26:1-23) he referred to his worshipping day and night, as did Anna, and he mentioned doing so in Jerusalem. Matthew 2:22f identify the Holy Family's going to live in Nazareth to escape Herod's son, Archelaus' rule. Doubtlessly, the story in this pericope at hand was transmitted repeatedly among earliest believers in Jesus' maturing and being Messiah. Mary kept these stories in her heart and her pondering the parts of these days were hardly unique, surely. Acts 1:14 identifies her as a member of at least a prayer group in Jerusalem.
B. Old Testament and Judaism
(JFC) This week's Gospel Lesson has many Old Testament citations. For example,
Leviticus 12:2-4 sets the schedule for circumcision and birthmothers' purification. And, Exodus 13:2 specifies the consecration of the firstborn. Then, the doves and pigeons are established in Leviticus 5:7-11 and 12:8. Simeon's poetic praise of God, in our text's verses 29-32, comes from Job's eyes seeing in 19:27 and 42:5, and other eyes seeing spectacular sights of God in Psalms 98:2 and 67:3 and Isaiah 40:5 and 52:10 and as the light for the nations in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6 and where Israel is called God's "glory", Isaiah 46:13. Then God's Spirit and grace are upon righteous men, according to the early writ of Joseph and Aseneth, where they are enumerated to be worshippers of God, who have self-control, virginity and are powerful in wisdom and experience.
C. Hellenistic World
(JFC) Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament, by Boring, Berger and Colpe,
says, "Luke stands astride the biblical and Hellenistic worlds, and pictures Jesus and the early church as belonging to both." They cite 3rd century BCE Herondas' statement, re: being hospitable, characteristically enough, despite having limited resources, e.g., less than adequate amounts or abundance of water. Perhaps these philosophers would appreciate that Mary and Joseph are pictured here as less than well supplied with larger animals to sacrifice and therefore rely on the stipulation that less fortunate people can sacrifice doves or pigeons so all, equally, can make such traditional sacrifices. Surely, also, they would celebrate with Simeon and Anna their awaiting the salvation of Israel.
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