PROPHET AND WITNESS IN JERUSALEM: A Study of the Teaching of Saint Luke by ADRIAN HASTINGS. First published Longmans, Green and Co Ltd., 1958. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2014.
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4. JOANNA, THE WIFE OF CHUSA, HEROD'S STEWARD

A less renowned but not less valuable source for St Luke than those considered in the last chapter was, I feel, Joanna, the wife of Chusa, a certain eye-witness of the Gospel events. We know little about her—only two brief references in the third gospel (8:3; 24:10). Even this is significant. Why did Luke bother to mention her? Her name was ignored in the earlier gospels, and Luke's apparent anxiety to name her in his would be well explained if she was one of the sources of his information. This, which has often been suggested before, is far from an airy hypothesis, for Joanna was certainly in a position to provide much of that special information which Luke did actually come to possess from some unnamed source.

Here then are the passages which tell us about Joanna:

Then followed a time in which he went on journeying from one city or village to another, preaching and spreading the good news of God's kingdom. With him were the twelve apostles, and certain women, whom he had freed from evil spirits and from sicknesses, Mary who is called Magdalen, who had had seven devils cast out of her, and Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered to him with the means they had (8:1-3).

Immediately after describing the Crucifixion and death of our Lord, Luke continues:

All his acquaintances, with the women who had followed him from Galilee, watched while this happened, standing at a distance. And now a man called Joseph came forward. ... He it was who approached Pilate, and asked to have the body of Jesus. This he took, and wrapped it in a winding-sheet, and laid it in a tomb fashioned out of the rock, in which no man had ever been buried. It was the day of preparation; the next day was the sabbath. And the women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was buried; so they went back, and prepared spices and ointments, and while it was the sabbath they kept still, as the law commanded.

And at very early dawn on the first day of the week they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared: and found the stone already rolled away from the door of the tomb. They went into it, and could not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were still puzzling over this when two men came and stood by them, in shining garments. These said to them, as they bowed their faces to the earth in fear, Why are you seeking one who is alive, here among the dead ? He is not here, he has risen again; remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, the Son of Man is to be given up into the hands of sinners, and to be crucified, and to rise again the third day. Then they remembered what he had said, and returned from the tomb bringing news of all this to the eleven apostles and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women that were with them, ← This most important phrase is unaccountably omitted in the Knox translation. who told the apostles this; but to their minds the story seemed madness, and they could not believe it (23:49-24:11).

These texts tell us three things about Joanna:

  1. She was freed by Jesus from diabolical possession or sickness, and was subsequently one of those women who ministered to him during his public life.
  2. She was one of those who witnessed the Crucifixion and went to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection.
  3. She was from Galilee, and was the wife of Herod's steward, Chusa.

I will take these one by one.

1. She was one of those who ministered to Jesus, and hence most certainly heard much of his teaching. The apostles apart, the holy women must have been the most continuous, and surely assiduous, witnesses of Jesus' public life and teaching. The angels tell us that the holy women had themselves heard Jesus' predictions of his Crucifixion and Resurrection (24:6), and these predictions were part of the more secret teaching of Jesus; they were then reliable witnesses of the whole public ministry. Now it is precisely such a witness that we seek as source for the information contained in Luke's central section, 9:51-18:14, describing events and teaching which seem to have had little place in the original apostolic catechesis. The first two gospels were chiefly concerned to give a written version of that oral teaching, but St Luke, in contrast, was writing a biography, for which the established catechesis was only one source. Maybe the events and teaching peculiar to his gospel happened mainly while the apostles, or at any rate St Peter, ← The only mention of St Peter in Luke's central section is in 12:41, which is common to Matthew. were absent, perhaps on the Palestinian mission. But the holy women are not likely to have left Jesus for long, and they—Joanna in particular-—may well be Luke's source for at least some of the facts recorded in his central section.

2. Joanna was one of the holy women who witnessed the Crucifixion and discovered the empty tomb on Easter morning. Luke, it is true, only names her explicitly as a witness to the empty tomb and the vision of angels; but there is clear continuity between 'the women who had followed him from Galilee' standing on Calvary (23:49), the women from Galilee ← Perhaps this stress on 'the women from Galilee (23 :49 and 55), so effectively faithful to the Lord, is in implied contrast with the 'daughters of Jerusalem' (23 :28) whose affective weeping was rebuked by Jesus. who saw the tomb where Joseph laid the body of Jesus, and who then prepared spices (23 :55-6), the women who came to that tomb with the spices they had prepared (24:1) and there had a vision of angels, and finally the women, among whom was Joanna, who brought news of this to the apostles.

Joanna was a witness to the Passion and the Resurrection, and with Mary Magdalen she brought the good news to the apostles themselves. She witnessed to the witnesses, evangelized the apostles.

Between them, the four evangelists name four of the women as witnesses of the angelic apparitions on Easter morning: Mary Magdalen (all four gospels); 'the other Mary', the mother of James (all three synoptics); Salome (Mark); and Joanna (Luke). But according to Luke's explicit statement there was an unspecified number of others, unnamed. If, in the third gospel, Joanna leaves the group of the unnamed, it is because she had for Luke some special importance, and if not in the events themselves, then probably in their narration. The different accounts which we have of the events of that morning can be in part explained as deriving from different women; in which case, Luke's narrative may enshrine Joanna's account of the Easter morning events and contain her contribution to the gospel of the redemption.

3. The hypothesis which makes of Joanna one important source for Luke's special information seems of most value when we come to consider his knowledge of Herod. Luke was very well-informed about Herod, far more so than the other evangelists; it is more than likely that he is dropping a deliberate hint about the source of this information when he tells us that Joanna was the wife of Herod's steward. Knowledge of this possible source is the more valuable to us on account of those critics, among them Loisy, who deny that Jesus was ever taken before Herod at all.

Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great, was tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea from 4 B.C. until A.D. 39. In the latter year he was deposed by Rome and retired into exile in Gaul. Apart from chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew, where of course his father, Herod the Great, is spoken of, all the Gospel references to Herod are to Herod the tetrarch. His name appears four times in Matthew, ten in Mark, and thirteen in Luke. It is worth considering these references.

Matthew and Mark both tell the story of John the Baptist's imprisonment and martyrdom at length (Mt. 14:1-12; Mk. 6:14-29). This accounts for all the references to Herod Antipas in Matthew and all but three in Mark. ← Mark's other three references to Herod (Mk. 3:6; 8:15-16; 12:13) are to 'Herod's party' and to 'the leaven of Herod'. Evidendy these refer to a group of Jews comparable with the Pharisees and the Sadducees; these passages tell us about Jesus' ministry and the factions he had to face, but nothing about Herod himself. Luke on the other hand only mentions Herod's dealings with St John in passing in 3 :19-20 and 9:9. While the first two gospels treat of the Baptist's martyrdom as something of importance and interest in itself, St Luke is only concerned with it as throwing light on the relationship between Herod and Jesus, with which the first two evangelists were not concerned. This fits in with Luke's whole treatment of St John. He starts with a detailed account of the Precursor's birth and preaching; then suddenly after 3:20 John fades out of the picture. It is not even explicitly stated that he baptized Jesus. Luke's interest in John is wholly due to his function of prophet inaugurating the messianic age. Herein lies the significance of John's preaching, hence its solemn dating. In this Luke may be much influenced by his source; but the interest of the third gospel in John, as in Herod, is clearly not historical or biographical: John's theological function performed, he is ruthlessly removed from the picture. Luke's treatment of St Peter in Acts is worth comparing.

As the facts of John's martyrdom were certainly well known, the passages referring to it do not suggest any particularly close knowledge of Herod himself, nor any special interest in him. They are focused on John, not on Herod, nor on the relations between Jesus and Herod. With Luke it is quite different. Nine of the thirteen mentions of Herod's name in the third gospel give us new and interesting information about him, ← The other four are: Lk. 3:1; 8:3; 3:19-20. and must now be given in full, together with one passage not mentioning Herod, but of importance for our subject.

9:7-9. And Herod, who was prince in that quarter, heard of all his doings, and did not know what to think, some telling him that John had risen from the dead, and some that Elias had appeared, and some that one of the old prophets had returned to life. John, said Herod, I beheaded; who can this be, of whom I hear such reports ? And he was eager to see him.

13:1-3. At this very time there were some present that told him the story of those Galileans, whose blood Pilate had shed in the midst of their sacrifices. And Jesus said in answer, Do you suppose because this befell them, that these men were worse sinners than all else in Galilee ? I tell you it is not so; you will all perish as they did, if you do not repent.

13:31-3. It was on that day that some of the Pharisees came to him and said, Go elsewhere, and leave this place; Herod has a mind to kill thee. And he said to them, Go and tell that fox, Behold, to-day and to-morrow I am to continue casting out devils, and doing works of healing; it is on the third day that I am to reach my consummation. But to-day and to-morrow and the next day I must go on my journeys; there is no room for a prophet to meet his death, except at Jerusalem.

23:4-12. Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, I cannot discover any fault in this man. But they insisted, He rouses sedition among the people; he has gone round the whole of Judaea preaching, beginning in Galilee and ending here. Pilate, upon the mention of Galilee, asked whether the man was a Galilean; and learning that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, remitted his cause to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at this time. Herod was overjoyed at seeing Jesus; for a long time he had been eager to have sight of him, because he had heard so much of him, and now he hoped to witness some miracle of his. He asked him many questions, but could get no answer from him, although the chief priests and scribes stood there, loudly accusing him. So Herod and his attendants made a jest of him, arraying him in festal attire out of mockery, and sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate, who had hitherto been at enmity with one another, became friends.

We have here a very interesting sequence of information in which the earlier passages quite plainly lead up to and prepare for the account of Jesus' trial before Herod. The historicity of the latter is further supported by an interesting reference in the Acts—4:23-8.

Now that they were set free, they went back to their company, and told them all the chief priests and elders had said. And they, when they heard it, uttered prayer to God with one accord; Ruler of all, thou art the maker of heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. Thou hast said through thy holy Spirit, by the lips of thy servant David, our father, What means this turmoil among the nations; why do the peoples cherish vain dreams? See how the kings of the earth stand in array, how its rulers make common cause, against the Lord and his Christ. True enough, in this city of ours, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel to aid them, made common cause against thy holy servant Jesus, so accomplishing all that thy power and wisdom had decreed.

If this passage well confirms Luke's gospel narrative, its own historical character is vouched for by the really archaic character of the whole prayer: it is a perfect example of the most primitive Christian thought and spirituality.

The source of our first passage 9:7-9 is clearly the parallel passage in Mark 6:14-16. But what is significant in the Lucan version is the last line (no parallel in Mark): 'And he was eager to see him.' This obviously links up with 23:8. 'Herod was overjoyed at seeing Jesus; for a long time he had been eager to have sight of him.'

If this was one aspect of Herod's attitude towards Jesus—one of patronizing, suspicious and superstitious curiosity (his approach to John was much the same, cf. Mark 6:20)—Jesus' attitude to Herod was one of sheer rejection and indifference. ' Go and tell that fox, Behold, to-day and to-morrow I am to continue casting out devils, and doing works of healing; it is on the third day that I am to reach my consummation.' Hence faced with Herod's questioning Jesus would not answer a word; 'that fox' was representative in Jerusalem neither of Caesar, as was Pilate, nor of the Old Law, as was the High Priest. In the curiosity of John the Baptist's murderer Jesus was not interested: ' He asked him many questions, but could get no answer from him.'

As for the reference in 13:1-3 to the massacre of some Galileans 'in the midst of their sacrifices'—evidently then in the temple of Jerusalem: Galileans were Herod's subjects, and their slaughter by Pilate while on pilgrimage to Jerusalem must surely have angered the tetrarch. At least the incident goes to explain the enmity which Luke tells us existed between the two (23:12). But it also helps us to understand other aspects of Jesus' trial.' Pilate, upon the mention of Galilee, asked whether the man was a Galilean; and learning that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, remitted his cause to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at this time.' Pilate's recognition of Herod's jurisdiction over a Galilean, entirely ignored in the previous case, may well have been due to a desire to disembarrass himself in an awkward situation, and perhaps also to set Herod and the priests in conflict. But Herod was nevertheless pleased by this act of deference. And though he did not care to involve himself in the case—John's death had surely already earned him sufficient unpopularity—he clearly sympathized with Pilate and the two, as Luke tells us, became friends from that day.

Herod then hoped to avoid responsibility for Jesus' death. At first sight this might seem hardly in accord with what we read in 13:31-2: 'Some of the Pharisees came to him and said, Go elsewhere, and leave this place; Herod has a mind to kill thee.' But this statement probably revealed much more the mind of the Pharisees than the mind of Herod. Moreover the latter was not ruler in Jerusalem, and was probably only too glad to see the high priests and Pilate earning disfavour with the people through their treatment of the latest popular prophet. He at least would rather mock than condemn. This accords with all we know of Antipas; he only reluctantly consented to the Baptist's execution, while the character that Josephus draws is, in Lagrange's words, that of 'a prudent ruler, friendly to everybody, when not led astray by his wife or besotted by wine'. ← Lagrange, Gospel of Jesus Christ, I, p. 218.

But did Herod then avoid his share of responsibility for Jesus' martyrdom ? Hardly. The day of the Crucifixion was the day he became friends with Pontius Pilate. Like the latter, he was one of the princes, one of the kings of the earth, who conspired together against the Lord and His Christ that day in Jerusalem. And this is very much part of Luke's theme. Pilate too, no doubt, had his good points, but that does not excuse him from being part of that Jerusalem which was 'still murdering the prophets, and stoning the messengers that are sent to thee' (13:34). They were both part of the generation that 'will be answerable for all the blood of prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world' (11:50). And this because Jesus was himself a prophet, the prophet, and 'there is no room for a prophet to meet his death, except at Jerusalem' (13 :33)- But at Jerusalem it was fitting that Herod of Galilee, murderer of the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, should be present to join with Pilate and the chief priests in doing to death Jesus the Galilean. The early Christians had no doubt of Herod's guilt, for when they summed up the enemies of Jesus they put him first of all: 'In this city of ours, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel to aid them, made common cause against thy holy servant Jesus.'

Thus Luke's series of passages forms a unity; the early ones explain the later, and the whole gives us a theme running through the gospel. This theme in its turn links up with the much bigger and more important one of Jesus as a prophet, the heir of the Old Testament prophets, and destined as such to meet his death in Jerusalem where all the murderers of the prophets came together to destroy him.

We must return to the question of sources. There is no reason to suggest that all Luke's Herodian material came from Joanna: as already seen, much of one passage is a borrowing from Mark. Yet it seems very likely that at least the facts concerning Jesus' interview with Herod are owed to Joanna. Evidently the apostles, while aware that Jesus was sent to Herod by Pilate, knew little of what had occurred during this interlude; otherwise it would surely not have been ignored by the other gospels. This is not surprising: it was not a public trial, not strictly a trial at all, and the apostles were not likely to have been present. Information on what had happened would come most naturally from one within the circle of Herod's court, and who then more likely than the wife of his steward ? ← B. H. Streeter has already suggested this, cf. 'On the Trial of Our Lord before Herod: a Suggestion' in Oxford Studies in the Synoptic Problem (ed. W. Sanday), pp. 229-31.

It is possible that Luke did not receive Joanna's story from her own lips: she would have been very old, if still alive, by the time he was making his gospel notes. But Luke came from Antioch and among the prophets and teachers of the Church there was Manahen, foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch (Acts 13 :1). Dom John Chapman suggested that Joanna was Herod's foster-mother and Manahen's mother ← Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, p. 173.; it is anyway probable that her information came to Luke through Manahen, and was perhaps as much his as hers. This would be just another instance of Luke's debt to the elders of the Church at Antioch.

Once he was provided with accurate information about Jesus' appearance before Herod, he could emphasize their earlier relations in order to throw light upon this final scene. How he obtained the various pieces of information does not matter much; what is important is his use of them within the key themes of his gospel. Thus considered they assume a real significance, and are far from being mere snippets of additional information almost unconnected with Luke's central preoccupations. If Luke owed much of this Herodian material, together with other information, to Joanna, the wife of Chusa, and to Manahen—and it is highly probable that he did'—then we owe them a debt which the briefness of their explicit appearances in Holy Scripture must not allow us to forget.