Under the headings of "are you crazy" and "failures in the making," I read Luke 1 in Greek today. Chuck Davis had the idea of a chapter a day starting Friday, a Facebook group called Spring into Luke.
I was looking for interesting things (to me) in chapter 1 and here's what I noticed:
1:6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless.
The New Testament knows nothing of "I'm not perfect, just forgiven." For one thing, blamelessness did not mean absolute moral perfection of the sort we now seem to picture. Good grief, what were the sacrifices for then. It did mean that, both for the OT and NT, there was a sense that a person could keep the Law to God's expectations, which entailed the possibility for repentance and sacrifice if necessary.
1:30 Gabriel tells Mary that she has found grace.
The word is usually translated favor, and rightly so. However, it points to an inadequacy in the way grace is usually conceptualized. We so often speak of grace as getting off the hook when we deserve to be skewered. But here, grace is not in the face of Mary's explicit undeserving. It is an extra, an above and beyond. She has done nothing to unsuit her for this grace, even though she has done nothing to merit it either. Grace is simply a gift rather than something that one has earned or paid for.
1:55 to Abraham and his seed forever...
Hmmm. Sounds like something Paul argued over... and Tom Wright... although I think Luke is thinking of ethnic Israel here.
1:59 they circumcised the child [John the Baptist]
A Christian writing seems here to endorse Jews circumcising their children, certainly before Christ, but not a word denies it afterword, nor does Acts or Paul.
1:68 redemption for God's people
Luke very much sees the sequence of John-Jesus as the redemption of Israel. You will not find any ultimate replacement theology in Luke, even if we are currently in his paradigm in the "times of the Gentiles." This redemption was meant to be political (1:71). If I were to go all the way through Acts, I would argue that the turning from the Jews in Acts 28 is not permanent in Luke's mind, but that Luke is giving us an implicit explanation for the destruction of Jerusalem.