Posted on February 24th, 2010
Happy St. Matthias day, dear reader. I’ve been looking over the second reading for this feast, from the Acts of the Apostles, 1:18-26. I was particularly struck by one very explicit reference to the parameters for choosing the successor to Judas: He is to be a witness to the resurrection, he is to have been with the greater company of disciples from the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist to the Ascension, and he is to be a “he.” “So one of the men who have accompanied us…” reads the ESV of 1:21. Looking at the Greek, it is the form of ἀνήρ (I’d transliterate, except I’ve never learned how to do the macron on my computer) and not the generic anthropos (man, person, human being). If these post-Ascension Apostles wanted to be inclusive, this was their opportunity. But among the notable women in their company, none was included to be numbered among the Apostles and take the office left vacant by Judas. Perhaps this has been noted in other writings on women’s ordination, but I was not aware of this. It seems extremely significant to me.
A puzzle is in this pericope as well – Peter changes the text of Ps. 69:25 when he quotes it in his speech on replacing Judas. “May his (αὐτός) camp become desolate,” where the LXX has the plural αὐτῶν (their). (The Hebrew text is also plural.) So far The Lutheran Study Bible and the one commentary I have (F.F. Bruce) doesn’t want to address that problem. I’m going to fire up Logos now and see if any of the commentaries there contain an explanation. It certainly seems the Apostles played fast and loose with the text of the Old Testament, which has always bothered me a bit.