Connections in Acts to the initial events leading up to the Maccabean revolt are more extensive than is generally recognized, and these challenge the view that Acts narrates a transition from Judaism to Gentile Christianity. The parallels between Acts and 1-2 Maccabees fall into two contrasting patterns. On the one hand, Jewish opponents of the Gentile mission appeal to the Maccabean revolt to paint the practices of Jewish Christ-believers as a threat to Jewish identity, just as the “renegades” had been during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. On the other hand, Luke reverses the polemic and asserts that it is the Jewish leadership in Judaea, as well as other hostile Jews, who resemble Antiochus and the “renegades,” and that Jewish Christ-believers, by contrast, correspond to the faithful Israelites who endured Antiochus’s persecution. Faithfulness, for Luke, now requires faith in Jesus. But the law remains important. Instead of triumphantly moving beyond Judaism and the law, Luke employs “reverse polemic” to try to show that the messianic claims of Jesus and the Gentile mission championed in Acts need not undermine the law or threaten the Jewish identity of Jesus’ Jewish followers.When I got back from Ottawa, I intended to spend my remaining summer research time revising this and one other paper. I turned to the other paper first...and it promptly fell apart in my hands. I didn't want to leave the pieces scattered all over the floor, but picking them up and puzzling over where I think they now belong has required delving into an area (Greco-Roman political thought) in which I can claim no expertise, and has taken longer than I hoped. But that's how it goes. At times like these, I try to remind myself to breathe, relax, and enjoy the privilege of being able to study and learn new things. They say that quality can't be rushed.
In other news, it did rain today. When I went outside this evening, I found the remains of a robin's nest washed down the downspout on our garage, which just goes to show that even in a drought you shouldn't put your egg basket in a rain gutter.