Thursday, December 08, 2011

Simon the "Zealot"

I'm intrigued again this morning by the epithet in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13 that one of Jesus' core disciples is called Simon the "Zealot."  The majority position is that this term was used specifically of a group of the populace that played a key role in the Jewish War, not least taking over the temple (contra Hengel).  It seems to me that it is not enough to argue that Simon had this epithet when it did not have this connotation because 1) the word had the connotations of the revolutionaries at the time when Luke wrote (post AD70) and 2) Luke specifically edits his Markan source with this word.

Why would Luke choose a word that specifically referred to a revolutionary party and do so at a time when that would have been the primary connotation unless Simon had been one?

8 comments:

Masaj erotic Pitesti said...

Simon Zilotul.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

More and more I am seeing that one judges something from some perspective, situationally, or philosophically.

Those that were comfortable with their state in life would judge those that werent' and were trying to change the status quo as "revolutionaries". Revolutionaries challege the expectations and experiences of life as "A-OK". These bring into the picture another view, opinion or experience.

But, I'm not sure about the question of Luke because I'd always thought of the book of Luke as more revolutionary toward women and the "Spirit". Possible that the "Spirit" is the human spirit....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Simon as a revolutionary was zealous for change and his cause! But, revolution doesn't have peaceful results.

Revolutionaries could be a paradigm shift in science, as Kuhn proposes.

Revolutionaries could attempt to bring about a "socialist State" such as Marxist ideology.

Revolutionaries could bring about social change such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandella, etc.

The question should be; is revolution what is really needed, or is such thinking, "Utopian dreams"? These are practical, and political questions, which the Academy needs to understand.

I think that Revolution is most of the time too radical and idealistic to be practical for peaceful resolution of conflict. This is why our Constitution allows for diverse views and opinions about many issues. America is not nor should it have a uniform view about issues.

Robert Brenchley said...

Josephus uses the term 'zealots' for a specific group which came into being partway through the First Revolt, not of revolutionaries in general. The term is used elsewhere in the NT of zeal for good things - God, good works, 'the good'. Above all, it refers to zeal for the Law. I'm not sure when it began to be used as a general term for the revolutionaries of the time, but I think there's some way to go to establish that this was its primary meaning when Luke wrote.

Ken Schenck said...

What I'm saying is not zealot as revolutionary but Zealot as the group during the Jewish War.

Robert Brenchley said...

But was that the primary meaning of the term at the time Luke wrote? How far would Josephus' 'War' have circulated by then?

Bill said...

Right, Ken. Great question. Have you read Rhoads on the evolution of 'Zealotry' from 6 to 74 AD?

Circa AD 30, imho, the most Simon could have been was a sympathizer.

Circa AD 58-62, when *I* believe Luke wrote, the term was becoming more well known.

But even post-70, I think there's one very good reason for Luke to say "Simon the Zealot" - as a point in relief.

Since *only* Simon was called that, it shows the Jesus movement as a whole was very much NOT.

Robert Brenchley said...

Luke's painting a Roman-friendly picture of the movement, so if he does intend us to understand Simon as anti-Roman, he's likely to be minimising such tendencies. At the very least, it would mean that there was room for anti-Roman politics. But as I said, I'm not at all convinced that this is what's intended. Simon could be nothing more than a zealous observer of Torah.