Jesus First Trial: Messiah and Son of God (Luke 22,66-71)
J. J. Kilgallen
Scholars are divided about the possible source(s) of Luke 22, 66-711; perhaps the best
judgment in this matter of sources is that of J. Fitzmyer: "Ascription of vv. 66-71
to "L" [material proper to Luke] seems to be a better solution than a mere
redaction of the Marcan parallel, though one cannot be apodictic about it"2. But, whatever one
identifies as Luke"s source(s) for this episode, if one follows the Modified
Two-Source Hypothesis, one cannot but assume that Luke made a number of decisions about
what he found in Mark regarding the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. In particular,
Luke had to know that and how Mark presented the Sanhedrin"s concern about
Jesus" being Messiah, Son of God and he must have determinedly chosen not to
duplicate the Sanhedrin"s phrasing in Mark; "Messiah, Son of God".
Luke"s separation of the two titles for Jesus is a deliberate choice, not the
unintentional result from use of a source other than Mark; it was a choice taken for a
specific reason, and it is to suggest and to discuss this reason that this essay is
If one looks at the structure of Luke 22,
66-71, one is first struck by the absence of certain factors that are found in other
renditions of this trial, e.g., false witnesses and the charge that Jesus opposes the
Temple (Mark 14,56-58) (and the claim of blasphemy [v. 64]). Luke has reduced the matter,
from that point of view, to a focused concern only about the two titles, Messiah, then Son
of God. The Sanhedrin"s purpose in pressing Jesus about these titles and nothing else
comes clear in Luke"s episode just after the trial: the core charge there against
Jesus before Pilate is that Jesus says he is Messiah, a king (23,2). The centrality of
this accusation in the second trial helps make clearer why Luke concentrated on this title
in the first trial.
But not only does Luke reduce his focus
solely to the Messiah-Son of God question. Luke, knowing Mark"s story, intentionally
separates the question about Messiah from that about Son of God3. Now, with one"s attention on the structure
Luke has chosen for this trial story, and aware that Luke has chosen to present only the
Christological question, one recalls an earlier structuring along the same lines as we
find here, in the Annunciation story which opened the Gospel description of Jesus. There
as here, Luke has presented a three-stage procedure by which to stress the Messiah-Son of
God aspects of the identity of Jesus. The comparison is noteworthy.
1. In the Annunciation story, there is first presented a description of Jesus as
Messiah of Israel (Luke 1,32-33). This description parallels the Sanhedrin"s opening
gambit, "If you are the Messiah, tell us".
2. Then, in the Annunciation story, Mary offers a statement which will provoke a second
response from the angel (Luke 1,34). So in this trial, Jesus will prophesy about the
future and so will lead the Sanhedrin to a second intervention in the form of a question.
3. Finally, there is, both in the Annunciation (Luke 1,35) and in this trial scene, the
key reference to the title "Son of God", placed intentionally at a distance from
the title "Messiah".
(As a minor comparison, one may note how in
each scene there is structurally the same type of alternation of voices: 1. the lead; 2.
the reaction; 3. the lead again.)
That these three steps structure both the
Annunciation and the trial scene before the Sanhedrin is clear and surely intentional. Is
the purpose behind these two examples of the parallel structures the same? Consider the
point of the double identification of Jesus in the Annunciation scene. It serves to
condition the title "Messiah": to give the title a sense it never had in
Tradition before, while at the same time assuring a definition to Jesus that exceeds the
usual meaning of Messiah. The double identification by the angel also serves as an ongoing
abiding interpretation of the adult Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, again with the
understanding that Messiah and Son of God are quite different in what each says about
Jesus. Considered from the point of view of literary device, this double identification serves as an introduction, with all that "introduction" means,
as the rules of narratology would indicate.
In a similar, though not identical way, the
repetition of the Annunciation structure in the trial structure suggests the following.
First, since we are at the beginning of the legal process which will bring Jesus to death,
this structure is meant to prepare the reader for the fuller appreciation of the identity
of the one to be condemned. Second, the identifications of this person as Messiah and Son
of Man should be clearly maintained; they are not synonyms, and are not to be exchanged
one for the other without clear understanding of their irreducible differences. Third,
while Luke suggests that the titles are not synonymous by his very separating them
(contrary to Mark"s style), the three-step procedure of the trial, in that it is a
conscious imitation and repetition of the Annunciation structure, indicates that the
reason the titles are not synonymous is to be found in the introduction to the entire
Gospel identification of Jesus: the Annunciation. Because of the repetition of the
structure regarding Messiah-Son of God, we are forced to look back to the first example of
the structure in order to bring forward the teaching of its story to the story in which we
find the structure repeated.
The Beginning is the Trial
I have assumed that the two examples of
parallel structure described above are both "beginnings". It is easy to see that
the Annunciation can be called a "beginning", for it is the first scene to
define the person Jesus. Can the trial before the Sanhedrin be rightly called a
"beginning"? There are a number of points in the Gospel at which one learns that
Jesus is to die. Perhaps the clearest beginning point is Luke"s rephrasing of Mark:
"They were filled with rage (= foolishness) and began to discuss among themselves
what they might do to Jesus" (Luke 6,11). Other moments which alert the reader to
Jesus" death are certainly Jesus" own prophecies (Luke 9,22.44; 18,32-33) and
his ominous words to open his Last Supper, "I have greatly desired to eat this
Passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22,15). And one usually includes in the
story of Jesus" suffering such stories as Jesus" agony in the Garden and the
denials of Peter. But, if one really wishes to point up the formal, legal beginning of
Jesus" journey to death, one must go to his trials, and specifically to the first,
that before the Sanhedrin. From this point of view, the trial before the Sanhedrin is a
true beginning, and can be looked upon as analogous to the Annunciation scene, which itself is the beginning of the attempt to identify Jesus. And, in accord with that
first attempt, the scene before the Sanhedrin is, as Jesus" life is decided upon, the
right place to reaffirm the identity of the one about to be condemned to death. In this,
Luke is drawing from the earlier Annunciation scene the meaning he wishes his reader to
give to the one judged and condemned by the highest authorities of Palestine. The formal
beginning, the trial, is the proper place to repeat the three-step procedure which reminds
the reader of the revelation that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God, as related in the
Messiah and Son of God
By his first verse (1,1) and by the question
he has the Sanhedrin put to Jesus (14,61), Mark may give the impression that Messiah and
Son of God (Mark"s "Son of the Blessed One" in the trial of Jesus) are
interchangeable titles. While Luke intends to remove this impression, in the Annunciation
scene and again in this trial scene, the matter demands a distinction4. The distinction is
between what the Sanhedrin meant when it asked, "So you are the Son of God?" and
what Luke means when Jesus carefully answers, "I am".
The Sanhedrin and the Son of God
What did Luke"s Sanhedrin understand
when it asked Jesus if he was the Son of God5?
From the telling of the story, it is clear that it is Jesus" saying about the future
sitting of the Son of Man at the right hand of the Power of God that gives the hint as to what the Sanhedrin
understands the meaning of "Jesus, the Son of God" to be6. But why would reference to "the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power" lead the Sanhedrin to think about Jesus as Son
of God? To understand the Sanhedrin in Luke 22,70, the statement of Jesus about the Son of
Man seated at the right hand of the Power must be studied, even if briefly.
These words of Jesus are noted in modern
copies of Luke as a citation from the Old Testament. Specifically drawn from the Old
Testament is Psalm 110,1, and only these few words from the first verse: (The Lord said to
my lord,) "Sit at my right hand¼". What
Jesus said is not only a rephrasing of the psalm"s direct address, but also an
interpretation that the one to whom the Lord is speaking is the Son of Man. Since a number
of Son of Man statements are recognized by most scholars as attributable to Jesus himself,
it is reasonable to think that it was Jesus who knew this composite7 interpretation of the Psalm, namely that it would
be the Son of Man who was seated at the right hand of the Power8. My contention would be that the Sanhedrin, intent
on the title Messiah, would ignore the specifics of a Son of Man reference
ultimately because it was not interested in Jesus" exegesis of the "my
lord" of the Psalm9
to concentrate on the crucial words it knows to be from the Psalm, namely that "my
lord (David"s lord)" was "to be seated at the right hand of the Lord".
The Sanhedrin, upon hearing this reference from Jesus, would sense that Jesus was claiming
to be the "David"s lord" called to sit at the Lord"s right hand. Aware
that Jesus is making an elliptical claim to be this "lord of David, to be seated at
the Lord"s right hand", the Sanhedrin knows that Jesus is thereby claiming to be
Messiah of Israel. How they know of a connection between Messiah and David"s lord is
most immediately and simply explained by Luke"s Gospel. The dispute read in Luke
20,41-44, mirroring Mark 12,35-37, reveals that the common teaching of the time
("they say", v. 41) had identified the "lord" who was to sit at the
Lord"s right hand as the Messiah of Israel. Thus, the Sanhedrin thinks it hears, in
Jesus" referring Psalm 110 to himself, a claim that Jesus is Messiah.
But where in the Sanhedrin"s
understanding of Psalm 110 and Jesus" claim to be its "lord" arises the
term "Son of God"? The usual answer10
would likely be to note that the Messiah (David"s lord, according to the Psalm) was
understood to be God"s son elsewhere in Tradition: such did God call David"s
royal descendant at 2 Samuel 7,14; (in part Psalm 89,27). But one can add that Psalm 110
itself suggests that "David"s lord" is son of God. At verse 3 it is said
(admittedly an unclear text in the standard Hebrew version, and made clearer through the
"Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; before the daystar, like the
dew, I have begotten you". This particular verse, a part of a Psalm which speaks of a
favored "son" of God, was easily linked to another Psalm (2,7): "The Lord
said to me, "You are my son; this day I have begotten you""12. This matrix of Old
is sufficient here to suggest that, in response to Jesus" hint at Psalm 110, the
Sanhedrin thinks he is implying that he is the Messiah, son of God14. Hence, one can more readily understand that, for
the Sanhedrin, Son of God is a synonym for Messiah.
The Messiah: the Concern of the Sanhedrin
I have already earlier referred to the fact
that the way Luke presents the matter, the Sanhedrin is intent on presenting Jesus to
Pilate as claiming to be Messiah King. This intention explains in part why the concern of
the Sanhedrin is only on that title when it stands Jesus before itself. Whatever else
Jesus may say about himself, then, is immaterial to the Sanhedrin15. Actually, in this vein, one notes that this
"trial" is no true trial at all16.
The story seems to say that the present goal of the Sanhedrin is not an unbiased or impartial determination as to
whether or not Jesus is Messiah or has made that claim at an earlier time; rather the goal
seems to be to get Jesus to admit now that he is Messiah. Nothing else matters; "the
high priests and scribes were seeking how they could bring Jesus to death" (Luke
22,2) apparently they had decided that the key to bringing him to death was his
condemning himself "out of his own mouth". In any event, they themselves were
not ignorant of the Messianic/Kingly claim about Jesus; they had heard the shouting:
"Blessed is the one coming, the king, in the name of the Lord" (Luke 19,38)17.
The Messiah, The King the Sanhedrin
is looking for Jesus" word by which he condemns himself according to this title. The
first demand, that Jesus say if he is Messiah, fails to achieve its goal. But18, when Jesus describes
himself as David"s lord seated at the right hand of the Power, the Sanhedrin realizes
that it has heard the claim to Messiahship19.
To repeat and to finish, the Sanhedrin uses the term Son of God as a synonym for Messiah;
it understands no more exalted meaning in this title, and so does not accuse Jesus of
Luke and the Son of God
But, if the Sanhedrin understands Son of God
to be synonymous with Messiah, what does Luke understand by the title20? First, as argued earlier, the very structure
of this trial hopes to make the reader remember the structure of the Annunciation, where
one moves from the revelation about the Messiah to the revelation about the Son of God; by
virtue of this structure the reader is asked to bring this sense of "Son of God"21 forward to this
beginning point of the death of Jesus22.
By this literary structural device Luke means to have the reader recall the fundamental
revelation about Jesus, that he, Messiah (1,32-33), is at the same time significantly
other than Messiah by dramatically presenting Son of God as a separate issue in the
Annunciation of God.
Thus, the structure invites one to think of
Son of God in its individuality, as this is described in the Annunciation. And what the
Annunciation offers as content for this structure is the revelation that Jesus is Son of
God, not by adoption, but after the manner of procreation23. Sonship is only adoptive where the Tradition
about Messiah is concerned; thus, the meaning of "son of the Most High" (1,32)
when the Angel means to identify Jesus as Messiah according to the Tradition. With
Luke"s dramatic presentation of a second revelation, that of Son of God, Jesus is
described as a person beyond all the meanings and expectations of Messiah which the
Tradition over centuries had developed. The Messiah, when in the Third Gospel called Son of God,
is for Luke engendered in the womb of a woman by a mysterious action of God"s Holy
Spirit and power24.
The non-sexual, creative intervention of God accounts for what is born of the woman, and
leaves one with the logical conclusion that Jesus, her son and David"s progeny, is
Son of God. Generated non-sexually by God, Jesus has no other cause of his physical being
than the God who acts upon the womb of the woman so that a child be produced25.
Because of this intervention, the woman can
describe herself as virgin. Because of this intervention one can explain the peculiar,
mysterious, unique relationship occasionally glimpsed in the adult life of Jesus, a
relationship expressed by Jesus in Father-Son terminology. Such a remarkable relationship
it was that would lead him to say that only he, and those to whom he revealed his
knowledge, knew the Father (Luke 10,22). This relationship, Luke insists through his
Annunciation story, makes clear that the Father-Son terminology of Jesus" adult life
cannot refer to adoptive kinship: Messiah in the Tradition would mean that, but, for Luke,
it no longer means that.
Thus, when one reads a description of the
opening "trial" of Jesus in Luke, one can be and should be very clear, with the
help of the literary signals Luke gives, what Luke understands is the meaning of the
question, "You are then the Son of God?" Leaving aside what the Sanhedrin meant
by its question, the author wants his reader to remember that it is the Son of God, the
one not adopted but engendered by God, who is experiencing now the decision that will
bring him to crucifixion. It is the Son of God in this Lucan sense26 who falls prey to the plan of the priests and
scribes, to have Jesus put away.
Son of God as Part of an Introduction
Is it realistic to say that a word spoken in
Chapter 1,35 influences the meaning of what we read as far along as Luke 22,70? Sometimes
it is noted that what is said about Jesus at Luke 1,35 is never stated again, in the
Gospel of Luke or in Acts. The statement is true: there is no explicit reference in
Luke"s works, nor a recalling by any character in his story, of what was announced at
Luke 1,35. Should one make a distinction and say that explicit reference is lacking, but
that leaves open the possibility of implicit reference? But still one would say: there is
no place where, even implicitly, the text suggests a generation of Jesus as Luke 1,35 describes27. Indeed, faithful to the reports about
Jesus" public life wherein no reference is made to his conception, Luke does not
tinker with the stories of the public life, but overcomes any misunderstanding about Jesus
the adult and his relationship with God by giving his reader the Annunciation story. But,
still the persistent question: how is it that one, gifted with this story, is to carry its
meaning forward throughout all of Gospel and Acts?
The answer to this question is that the
Annunciation story is part of the introduction to Luke"s Gospel, and that the
introduction has as one of its chief characteristics to alert the reader to the right way
to interpret what will be said in the body of the narrative. Exegetes give witness to this
literary principle when, for instance, they remark that the descriptive title "light
for revelation to the nations" (Luke 2,32) will be applicable to Jesus, to varying
degrees, as Luke-Acts develops. One obvious reason that they are right to say this is that
this descriptive title, though never used again of Jesus in the Lucan works, is part of
that introduction which, even if never repeated again in its details, is to be read into
all that Luke wrote28.
Who does not see that "light for revelation to the nations" is a proleptic guide
to the identity of Jesus? Who then cannot see that Son of God, in the sense explained in
Luke 1,35, is as well a proleptic guide to the identity of Jesus meant to influence the
entire reading about Jesus?
Assumed here is that the beginning chapters
of Luke are introductory to the entire work; specifically, the introduction runs from Luke 1,5 (after the prologue of 1,1-4) to 4,13. This essay is not concerned to
treat this matter of introduction exhaustively, but a rehearsal of the basic reality is
worthwhile, when we speak of Luke"s introduction.
The limit of the introduction is set at the
point where Jesus begins his public life; in Luke, that beginning point is at 4,14. The
reason for identifying the beginning of the public life as the end of the introduction is
rooted in the perception that the material which explains the death of Jesus is only the
public life of Jesus, never the material which anticipates his public appearance in
Galilee. With the public life, the Jesus who has admittedly appeared already for
temptation and baptism this Jesus becomes finally the dynamic personage of the
drama unfolding in public to his death. What then preceded that public life is meant
literarily to be a help to the reader who, while on the one hand proceeding with others
(like Peter, Pharisees, Herod, the sick, the sinner) through Jesus" life in search of
his identity, on the other hand knows infinitely much more about Jesus, thanks to the
introduction, than anyone who met him ever knew about him during his public life.
The limit of Luke"s introduction is
also determined, for those who follow the Two-Source Hypothesis, by the extreme likelihood
that Luke fashions his introduction according to the structure of the introduction in
Mark"s Gospel. The introduction of this latter work extends over the first thirteen
verses of Chapter 1, and is divisible into four parts or testimonies about Jesus: 1.
Mark"s witness that Jesus is Messiah, Son of God; 2. John"s witness that Jesus
will baptize with the Spirit of God; 3. God"s witness that Jesus is His beloved Son;
4. the desert"s witness that Jesus is the Messiah. This fourfold witness is the
structure behind Luke"s introduction. His hand is obvious in the development of these
four points, and in the addition of Jesus" genealogy. But it is clear that Luke
limits himself by the four-point introduction used by his source Mark. Thus, as in Mark,
so in Luke, the introduction ends with the appearance of the adult Jesus in Galilee, when
the major player steps onto the public stage as catalyst who begins the work for which he
is destined. Luke has an introduction, then, and his introduction has the characteristics
of an introduction, a major characteristic being that it represents the author"s
intent to present here what he expects the reader will carry with him throughout the work
in this instance, that Jesus is Son of God in the sense of that title Luke reveals
* * *
In his effort to focus the reader"s
attention on the identity of the one who is condemned by two authorities in Palestine and
thus sent to death, Luke reminds his reader that Jesus is Son of God in a mysterious and
unique way, that Messiah of the Tradition must be understood through the reality about
Jesus" sonship from God. He means to establish this reminder successfully by
separating the two titles, Messiah and Son of God, which he saw joined together in
Mark"s presentation of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. The structure he followed in his
own presentation of the trial of Jesus is that of the Annunciation, a three-step procedure
by which he hoped to alert the reader that the revelation given in the Annunciation story
should be recalled in this trial story. One can imagine that Luke, by presenting Jesus as
Messiah and Son of God in Luke"s sense, hoped to accomplish a number of things. One
thing he hoped to accomplish is that the status of him who now suffers the final
condemnation is clear: mysteriously related to the Father, it is the Son who, born holy,
dies in obedience to the Father. Once again, the reader catches a glimpse of a
relationship which remains, for all of Luke"s efforts, finally mysterious; Luke 1,35,
however, is a precious guide to approaching this mystery correctly and it is by its
guidance that one understands, in a way the Sanhedrin did not, what it means to call
Jesus, the Messiah, Son of God.
Luke, according to the Two-Source Theory, read Mark. At the first trial of Jesus, that
before the Sanhedrin, Mark has together: "Messiah, Son of God". Luke has
intentionally separated the two titles. The present essay finds the explanation for
separating Son of God from Messiah in the Annunciation scene of the Gospel. It is
Luke"s intention that the reader understand Son of God in a way that admittedly the
Sanhedrin did not. The laws of narratology indicate that Luke 1,35, a part of the Lucan
introduction, be used by the reader to interpret Son of God at Luke 22,70.
1 Cf. D. BOCK, Luke II
(BECNT; Grand Rapids 1996) 1776; I.H. MARSHALL, The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC; Grand
Rapids 1978) 847-848: "¼the evidence suggests that his
[Luke"s] account of the trial is based on a separate tradition which is more
primitive than that in Mk"; G. SCHNEIDER, Verleugnung, Verspottung und Verhör
Jesu nach Lukas 22,54-71 (München 1969) 105.
2 J. FITZMYER, The Gospel
According to Luke X-XXIV (AB 28a; New York 1985) 1458.
3 FITZMYER, Gospel,
1492: "These questions¼echo the double angelic
announcement in the infancy narrative¼What was foreshadowed in
the infancy narrative¼reaches with crescendo its climax in
this scene". This essay looks to explain this affirmation through use of a
consciously repeated structure and to draw out some of the implication of Son of God at
this climactic point.
4 BOCK, Luke, 1798:
""Son of God" in this context is ambiguous and, without the additional
remarks of Jesus, could have been taken to mean "Messiah""; but the
additional remarks of Jesus do not spell out for the Sanhedrin any figure other than the
Messiah it is impossible to claim that Jesus is defining, by his future exalted
status, a relationship with God that, on the one hand, explains his unique relationship
during his public life with his Father and, on the other hand, says anywhere near as much
as does Luke 1,35.
5 While I am not in total
agreement with all that M. Gourgues says about what the Sanhedrin understands in this
Lucan dialogue, his opinion is very worthwhile, M. GOURGUES, A la droite de Dieu
(Paris 1978) 147: ""Fils de Dieu" connote alors l"idée
d"adoption, d"intimité et de protection particulière de la part de Dieu. Dans
notre passage, le titre doit être compris à cette lumière. Il y a peut-être un sens
équivalent à "Messie", y ajoutant cette idée que celui-ci est objet de faveur
et de protection de la part de Dieu. Il faut noter cependant que, dans le judaïsme
antérieur à l"epoque chrétienne, aucun texte ne témoigne d"une application
nette du titre "Fils de Dieu" au "Messie". Aussi bien est-il
préférable d"y reconnaître le sens de "roi"".
6 The saying of Jesus is
generally regarded as being due to redaction, because as MARSHALL, Gospel, 850,
notes, from the point of view of historicity, "¼the
question of the Son of man [especially as Jesus puts it in Luke] did not play any part in
the Lucan tradition of this trial"; on the other hand, MARSHALL, Gospel, 849,
notes that "¼it is highly probable that the question of
Messiahship came up at the Jewish investigation".
7 Significant is Stephen"s
exclamation that he saw "the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts
7,56). This formulation reflects the identity of Jesus as one other than the Messiah; that
the two figures are brought together there is need, in the minds of some (including
Jesus), to link compositely the standing "at the right hand of God" with the
sitting of Psalm 110 "at the right hand of God".
8 Son of Man and The Power
signal a Palestinian context for Jesus" statement; also, The Power appears to be a
reverential avoidance of the classical Hebrew title for God (cf. Psalm 54,3; Jer 16,21;
Exod 9,16); Cf. G. DALMAN, The Words of Jesus (Edinburgh 1902) 200. This last point
gives rise to the suggestion that "for the benefit of gentile readers Lk adds tou= qeou=", M. ZERWICK M. GROSVENOR, An Analysis of
the Greek New Testament I (Rome 1974) 275; cf. MARSHALL, Gospel, 850.
9 Cf. C. EVANS, "The
Twelve Thrones of Israel", Luke and Scripture (eds. C. EVANS J.A.
SANDERS) (Minneapolis 1993) 156: "The "son of man" of Dan 7:13-14 was
apparently understood in a messianic sense prior to Christianity"; 190, n. 75:
"There is evidence that this psalm  was understood messianically prior to
Christian usage (probably beginning with the Hasmonean rulers)". That these two
pieces of data could be put together to eventually create the thought that the Psalm was
to be understood to promise a Messiah who would be the Son of Man and who would be
commanded to sit at God"s right hand this seems both to be reasonable and to
be an exegesis reached not only by others but also by Jesus. That Luke would not be the
creator of this exchange of Son of Man and Messiah (contra, e.g., H. TÖDT, Der
Menschensohn in der synoptischen Überlieferung [Gütersloh 1959] 96), but the
inheritor of a tradition rooted in Jesus" own understanding of the Tradition, makes
it easier to see why, in the same chapter (24), Luke would speak once of the Son of Man
and then twice of the Messiah always in the same context of suffering and
10 Another possible answer
draws on the use of o( e)klekto/j, at the cross, subsequent to
this trial (23,35) and placed on the lips of the "leaders". The similar
description, o( e)klelegme/noj, appears as with ui(o/j mou at Luke 9,35. Thus, there seems to be a certain affinity
between Son of God (in the Messianic sense) and Messiah through "the Chosen
One", and this affinity could account for the interchange of Messiah for son of God
at Luke 22,66-71.
11 My literal translation of
Psalm 109,3 from A. RAHLFS, Septuaginta II (Stuttgart 1935) 124: "With you is
dominion in the day of your power in the splendor of the holy people; from the womb,
before bearer of light, I have begotten you".
12 In line with what we know
of Rabbinic rules of exegesis of the time (in our case: gezerah shevah), one would
legitimately interpret Psalm 2,7 with the help of Psalm 110,3 by the shared phrasing: e)cege/nnhka/ se (Psalm 110,3) and gege/nnhka/
se (Psalm 2,7).
13 Luke"s is not the only
writing which suggests a reading of Psalm 110 to clarify the significance of Jesus. The
Letter to the Hebrews represents a tradition which has woven together the descriptions of
the One seated at God"s right hand, the Son of God, and the High Priest all
appellatives to be found in the verses of Psalm 110.
14 E. LOHSE, "ui(o/j", TDNT VIII, 360: "[Israel] employed
"son of God" only when quoting the Messianic promises and elsewhere avoided this
term for Messiah".
15 FITZMYER, Gospel,
1467: "Jesus" declaration asserts the exaltation of himself as the Son of Man
and of his investiture with power". While Jesus" session at the right hand of
the Lord can be imagined as an "investiture with power", one must, given the
Lucan framework, distinguish this moment from the moment of the investiture of that power
experienced in the public life of Jesus since the time of his baptism. Indeed, essentially
that power during his lifetime included forgiveness of sins, raising the dead to life,
expulsion of demons; how is one to distinguish this power from that with which Jesus is
invested at his session at God"s right hand?
16 Contrary, J. NEYREY, The
Passion According to Luke (New York 1985) 71: "[Luke 22,66-71] serves Luke"s
purpose to describe a solemn, valid and formal trial of Jesus by Israel"; yet he will
admit that there is "no capital sentence" (75).
17 Apparently it is Luke who
has adjusted the Marcan report about the continuous shout about Jesus" being
"the blessed one who is to come": Luke prefers the shout to be: "Blessed is
the one coming, the King, in the name of the Lord" (Luke 19,38 drawing upon Psalm
118,26; such texts as Zech 9,9 and Zeph 3,15-17 seem to have had their influence in this
matter of the "King", too).
18 Cf. FITZMYER, Gospel,
1467: "The conj. oun does not merely repeat the former question, but draws a
conclusion from Jesus" answer to the first question".
19 J. NOLLAND, Luke
(WBC 35b; Dallas 1993) 1112: "Son of God" is an exalted status and relationship
to God experienced by the messiah, but for the interrogators there is only a heightened
repetition of their probe about messiahship in v. 67".
20 Cf. MARSHALL, Gospel,
851: "It is unlikely that divine Sonship is regarded simply as a metaphorical
attribute of the Messiah"; FITZMYER, Gospel, 1463, is still clearer: "The
title huios tou Theou is not to be understood as a mere equivalent of christos;
more is implied"; cf. also H. TÖDT, Menschensohn, 96-97: "Dabei erhalten
die verwendeten Würdenamen der Christus, Menschensohn, Sohn Gottes so verschiedene
Bedeutungsnuancen, dass von einer sachlichen Identität nicht zu sprechen ist".
21 SCHNEIDER, Verleugnung,
184-185, prefers to interpret Son of God in terms of Jesus" obedience to his Father,
"Jesu Verbundenheit mit dem Vater, "Christus Gottes", ¼der
[Titel] den Gesalbten auf seinen heilsgeschichtlichen Weg leitet und begleitet".
Certainly, a facet of Sonship is obedience to the Father, as the answers of Jesus to
temptation show; but, for Luke in the final analysis, it is the holiness of Jesus that
accounts for his obedience, the holiness (like Jesus" Sonship) which is spoken of in
the angel"s revelation to Mary at Luke 1,35. "In Stage I [which represents the
time of Jesus] of the gospel tradition the question [v.67] would have been asked in the
political sense. But in Stage III [the time of Luke"s writing] Luke obviously intends
the question to carry a deeper christological nuance as well", FITZMYER, Gospel,
22 One might make the same
observation when confronted with an earlier combination of these same titles at Luke 4,41,
a text wherein one recognizes once again a Lucan redaction of Marcan material: it is Luke
who again brings these two titles into a proximity which can only make one aware again
that he has carefully distinguished them in the Annunciation scene. A glance at
Luke"s Acts of the Apostles reveals the same phenomenon: Paul proclaimed that Jesus
was Son of God (9,20) and "proved" that Jesus was the Messiah; the
differentiation of verbs here is crucial to begin to point up that for Luke Messiah and
Son of God are quite different in meaning. (Cf. the apposite remarks of J. FITZMYER, The
Acts of the Apostles [New York 1998] 435).
23 Cf. J.J. KILGALLEN,
"The Conception of Jesus (Luke 1,35)", Bib 78 (1997) 225-246.
24 MARSHALL, Gospel,
851, would rather find another key to explaining the Sonship of Jesus: "For Luke,
sitting on the right hand of God is tantamount to divine Sonship"; cf. TÖDT, Menschensohn,
96: "Diese unmittelbare Folgerung [Messiah, Son of Man at the right hand of God]
setzt voraus, daß die sessio ad dexteram dei ein Charakteristikum der Gottessohnstellung
ist". I would prefer to think that, for Luke, the session of Jesus at God"s
right hand is an indicator of Sonship, but that the explanation can only be found in the
Annunciation scene. The resurrection-ascension of Jesus, according to Peter"s
Pentecost speech, produced justification for the titles Messiah and Lord; there was no
mention there of Son of God. Later, in Paul"s speech at Antioch, Psalm 2,7 is used,
by which a connection is drawn between being "my son" and "begetting
today". This "begetting today" refers to the resurrection, but, given the
sequence of statements in the Psalm, sonship seems to be the reason for the
"begetting" or resurrection, rather than vice-versa.
25 Cf. LOHSE, "ui(o/j", TDNT VIII, 360: "¼sonship
was not construed as physical descent in these OT sayings, but rather as expressing the
ruler"s validation by God"; but E. SCHWEIZER, "ui(o/j",
TDNT VIII, 382 does apparently not see any distinction between this OT view and
Luke"s view: "Since Luke was not interested in the biological question¼". Certain elements of biology are not in the Annunciation
story, but that the birth caused by God is biological is the Lucan claim.
26 D. CATCHPOLE, The Trial
of Jesus (Leiden 1971) 197: "[H. TÖDT, The Son of Man in the Synoptic
Traditions (London 1965) 101-103] argues that Luke has a different conception of the
christological titles mentioned in Mk 14.61f. But this is not so, for Luke"s own view
emerges from the redactional activity at Lk 4.41, as well as from Acts 9.20-22, and it is
exactly that of Mk 14.61f. In Luke 4.41, Luke is redacting Mk 1.34¼This
shows irrefutably the equivalence of the titles in Luke"s own mind". That Luke
rewrites Mark 1,34 with the combination of titles, Son of God and Messiah, does not mean
that Luke thinks the titles are equivalent. Rather, one can say, as I am arguing
analogously in this essay about the use of the titles in Luke 22, that the demons, like
the Sanhedrin, used the titles interchangeably. The demons here see that the powers of
Jesus, the powers of the Messiah, are also the powers of the Son of God; but that demonic
perception, based on such mighty powers, in no way means to exclude or even include what
Luke and his reader know about Jesus from Luke 1,35. (That the demons speak of
"the" [ho] Son of God is curious and interesting.) One might also note
the view of NOLAN, Luke, 1109, given many years after that of Catchpole, "Luke
is not known for creating parallelisms, so the parallelism here [Luke 22,66-71] is likely
to be from a source". This would mean, pace Catchpole, that Luke is not
strictly speaking "redacting" Mark, but turning to another source (cf. NOLAN, Luke,
1109). This in turn means that Luke, at 4,41, implies that he wants a source with a double
reference to Jesus and not Mark"s phrasing. And why does he want to change Mark?
Simply to convey twice, through different titles, the identical meaning for Jesus?
27 One might take exception to
this statement by citing the story of Jesus" being found in the Temple, specifically
by citing Jesus" question, "Must I not be in the work of my Father (in my
Father"s house)?" (2,49). Certainly, this question does not repeat verbatim what
is in Luke 1,35, but its assertion of Sonship is based totally and only on that text;
moreover, the activity of Jesus in the Temple is the point of proleptic affirmation of at
least a major part of what it will mean to be Son of God (1,35) in Jesus" public
life: teacher to Israel from God.
28 Cf. J.-N. ALETTI, Il
Racconto come Teologia (Roma 1996) 20: "In tutti questi racconti [included in
this group is Luke 1,26-38, p.17] gli interventi divini fanno parte del tessuto narrativo
e la loro importanza non dev"essere minimizzata, perché hanno una funzione programmatica¼". J.-N. Aletti is usually here referring to divine
interventions which result in action, but it is clear from the Annunciation scene that the
ruler of the house of Jacob is not only announced, but identified and defined: the Messiah
from the house of David, known to be the adopted son of God, is in reality, to be known by
the reader as mysteriously the result of the Power and Spirit of God within the womb of a