by Jared Compton
John Rhoads argues in a recent article that it was Josephus, not Luke, who misdated Quirinius’s census. The gist of his piece is that the Judas whom Josephus associates with a tax revolt in A.D. 6 (Ant. 18.4–23) is the same Judas whom Josephus says was killed a decade or so earlier by Herod the Great (Ant. 17.148–67). Rhoads offers two main arguments in support of this thesis. First, he argues that the slightly different names given both Judases (Judas, the son of Saripheus, and Judas the Galilean) are actually two ways of referring to the same individual. Second, he argues that Judas’s tax revolt occurred during Herod’s reign, not following it. Rhoads’s arguments are a bit complicated, so I’ve tried to sort them out below. If he’s right, then many recent attempts to exonerate Luke are largely unnecessary, since Luke doesn’t need to be harmonized with Josephus. Whether or not he is right, however, is a question I’ll have to leave for another day (or, more likely, someone else).
Argument #1: Judas the son of Saripheus = Judas the Galilean.
In Ant. 17.147–67, Josephus describes the activity of Judas, the son of Saripheus, while in the parallel accounts in Wars (1.648), he’s called the son of Sepphoraeos. Alternate readings of the Antiquities account, however, lead Rhoads to conclude that the Wars account is the more accurate of the two. This suggests that Judas, the son of Saripheus/Sepphoraeos was likely the son of a well-known inhabitant of Sepphoris, the capital of Galilee (cf. Ναζωραῖος in Luke 18:37)—perhaps the Galilean bandit Hezekiah, who is identified as Judas the Galilean’s father in another place (Ant. 17.269–85; cf. cf. Schürer 1:381). In short, Judas, the son of a well-known Sepphorian in Ant. 17.148–67 is, plausibly, Judas the Galilean in Ant. 18.4–23 (cf. Wars 2.118). What further adds to the plausibility of this identification is the fact that in both accounts Judas is described as a teacher, surrounded by disciples, and aided by another rabbi.
Argument #2: The tax revolt occurred during Herod’s reign.
Coponius. Rhoads argues that Josephus incorrectly assumed that Coponius’s presence, alongside Quirinius, meant that Quirinius’s census took place in A.D. 6, since that was when Coponius became prefect of Judea (see Ant. 18.1–23; Wars 2.117–18). The problem with this, however, was that Coponius could not have been prefect at this time since Josephus’s narrative presents him as subservient to Quirinius. Quirinius, e.g., is said to have been of consular rank, whereas Coponius, along with others who were sent with Quirinius, was of the lower, equestrian rank. Had Coponius been prefect, he would have answered only to the governor of Syria, which Quirinius was not. Quirinius, rather, is described as a special imperial envoy, in something of a complementary role to Syria’s governor (a legate juridicus; governor = legati pro praetore). What’s more, Josephus says that in his administrative capacity Coponius had “dominion over the Jews,” which would overstate his jurisdiction in A.D. 6, since it did not include Antipas and Philip’s territories. If Coponius was indeed active in Judea prior to his prefecture, then this probably also explains the otherwise anomalous reference to his presence at the trial of Herod’s son Antipater in 5 B.C. (Ant. 17.134 v.l.).
Sabinus. Rhoads argues that Sabinus, who was present in Jerusalem at the time of Herod’s death, is another name for Quirinius (see Ant. 17.221, 18.1–2; Wars 2.16). Both were special envoys of the emperor, both were of consular rank, both were concerned with Judea’s tax revenue, and both were in charge of settling Herod’s estate. Rhoads suggests that both names may have been cognomens (i.e., an extra name—often a nickname—given to a Roman citizen), since such names were often ethnically based. Quirinius, e.g., may have been what the Romans called Publius Sulpicius, as a result of the deity associated with his Sabinian heritage (i.e., Quirinus), a heritage Rhoads infers from the fact that Quirinius was born in Lavinium, a city SW of Rome that had a significant Sabine population. Sabinus, on the other hand, may have been how he was known among the Semites of Herod’s court.
Joazar. Rhoads argues that the high priest removed immediately following Herod’s death is the high priest Joazar who was removed by Quirinius immediately following Judas’s tax revolt (see Ant. 17.164b, 206, 339b; 18.26b). Rhoads suggests that Joazar was appointed high priest by Herod after Judas’s armory raid, not after his eagle incident, as Josephus assumes. This means that Joazar was high priest during Judas’s tax revolt and eagle incident/execution, which followed. Rhoads then notes that the high priest deposed during the time of Herod’s funeral and at the behest of Judas’s followers corresponds with Josephus’s reports elsewhere of Archelaus’s removal, shortly after Herod’s death, of the high priest Joazar and with his report of Quirinius’s removal of a priest with the same name following Judas’s tax revolt. In short, Joazar was priest during Judas’s revolt against the tax administered by Coponius and Sabinus/Quirinius during the latter years of Herod’s reign.
As I noted earlier, I’ll leave off a full-scale review for the time being. I did, however, want to conclude by noting a handful of lingering questions that I suspect will need to be part of any fuller engagement of Rhoads’s thesis: (1) Why does Josephus say Joazar was succeeded by two different persons if Joazar was appointed and deposed just once (see Ant. 17.399b and 18.26b)? (2) If Joazar was, in fact, the priest deposed by Archelaus to satisfy his followers’ demands (Ant. 17.206), why does Josephus’s other report of this incident, which explicitly mentions Joazar, say Archelaus deposed him for “having risen-up with the partisans” (Ant. 17.339b)? (3) Why does the catalogue of disturbances in 17.269–85 fail to mention the eagle incident, especially if, as Rhoads argues, it followed the armory raid incident?
For some reason it seems to have started earlier than usual this year. Naïvely perhaps, I’ve always thought “Black Friday” referred to the day after Thanksgiving (i.e., Friday). The reality is that we’ve all been receiving emails and seeing print ads about Black Friday and pre-Black Friday sales for a couple of weeks now.
It has been estimated that last year Americans spent more than $59 billion during Black Friday weekend (Thurs–Sun). Assuming a U.S. population of 315 million, that works out to about $187 spent per person (every man, woman, and child) in the country during a single four-day weekend. Incidentally, total holiday spending for 2012 came to about $580 billion.
There is nothing wrong with purchasing gifts for other people and even spending money on one’s self. But somewhere along the way, we as a nation seem to have crossed the line from enjoying God’s good gifts and displaying generosity toward others to blatant consumerism and greediness.
Many biblical principles come into play when considering how much to spend on gifts and such during the holiday season. One of the first to come to mind is “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Prov 22:7). Admittedly, the Bible nowhere forbids borrowing altogether, but the Scriptures do repeatedly warn us about the dangers of debt. Browse the ads and enjoy some holiday shopping, but don’t let Christmas spending become an entrée to the realm of slavery.
In Gal 3:10–4:7 Paul gives two reasons why works will not justify. One the one hand, he says that justification by works would change the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham. And, Paul adds, one simply isn’t allowed to do that sort of thing with an established covenant (see Gal 3:15–18). On the other hand, he says—or, at the very least, implies—that justification by works is impossible, since one would have to perfectly obey the law in its entirety to be justified (see Gal 3:10). Some think this second point misrepresents Judaism. After all, Paul’s insistence on perfect obedience fails to take on board the law’s own provision for imperfection: the sacrificial system. Has Paul (deliberately?) misrepresented Judaism or did Judaism, as Paul implies, actually require perfect obedience from those who wanted to live (Gal 3:12)? Tom Schreiner nicely slices the onion, noting that “[p]erfect obedience was not required under the Sinai covenant, for the law provided via sacrifices for those who transgressed. In Paul’s view, however (see Gal 3:15–4:7), the Sinai covenant was no longer in force. Therefore, those who observe circumcision and the law to obtain justification (Gal 5:2–4) are turning the clock backwards in salvation history” (Galatians, 213, emphasis added; cf. also n. 65), and are doing so without the benefit of the now-fulfilled sacrificial system. Thus, to borrow E. P. Sanders’ famous (and reductionistic) line, “This is what Paul finds wrong in Judaism: it is not Christianity.”
Note: For Schreiner’s resolution to the tension his solution creates with Paul’s first observation noted above (i.e., inheritance not through obedience but promise), see his comments on pp. 231–33, where he distinguishes between the promises (inheritance) of the Mosaic covenant (see, e.g., “land,” 233) and of the Abrahamic covenant (i.e., “final inheritance,” 231; salvation, 233). One came through obedience; the other through promise (233).
by Bill Combs
I received a phone call from a pastor in Florida a few weeks back who was going to be speaking in his church from the book of Ephesians. He wanted my opinion as to what I considered to be the best commentary on the epistle. I quickly told him to look at Harold Hoehner’s Ephesians, published by Baker, and Peter O’Brien’s Letter to the Ephesians, published by Eerdmans.
This is a question that we often get at the seminary: “What is the best commentary on ______? In order to help students, pastors, and others answer this question, a number of years ago we created what we call the Basic Library Booklist. You can find a copy here. The Booklist has been specifically designed to answer the question of which books are the best on a particular book of the Bible or theological subject. In the case of commentaries, best means those that are the most helpful in exegesis and exposition, as well as understanding the overall argument of a book. The books are listed in order of importance. The first book listed is the one that should probably be purchased first, though it is doubtful that one commentary would be sufficient for adequate sermon preparation.
Besides commentaries the Booklist also rates books in systematic theology, historical theology, and practical theology. Check out the Booklist and let us know what you think.
Theologically Driven features insight on Scripture, the church, and contemporary culture from faculty and staff at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. DBTS has faithfully prepared men for gospel ministry since its founding in 1976. As a ministry of the Inter-City Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan, it provides graduate level training with a balance between strong academics and a heart for local church ministry.
Contributors to the blog include:
John Aloisi, Assistant Professor of Church History
Bill Combs, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament
Bruce Compton, Professor of Biblical Languages and Exposition
Jared Compton, Assistant Professor of New Testament
Sam Dawson, Professor of Systematic Theology
Dave Doran, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology
Pearson Johnson, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology
Bob McCabe, Professor of Old Testament
Mark Snoeberger, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
To find out more, visit Theologically Driven.