22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
1901 ASV Translation:
22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord),
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Textual Issues:In 2:21-24 there are two textual differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26. The first is the spelling of the name "Moses". The Textus Receptus omits one letter. The second is in the phrase in 2:24 "in the Law of the Lord". The Textus Receptus omits the definite article "the".
I. In the paragraph of 2:21-40, it seems to be Luke's intention to address the characterization of the newly born Jesus by two elderly saints in the Temple.
II. The content of Luke's record breaks down into these parts...
A. 2:21 -- the "Name" given
B. 2:22-24 -- the occasion for the comments made by Simeon and Anna
C. 2:25-35 -- Simeon's character and comments
D. 2:36-38 -- Anna's character and thanksgiving to God regarding His redemption
E. 2:39-40 -- Luke's conclusion of this part of his record: the departure to Nazareth and the subsequent growth of Jesus
I. The Issue(s) Involved in the Purification Rituals.
A. First, there is the issue of "having been banned from the essential issue of life": the access one has into the 'fellowship-presence' of Yahweh, Elohim of Life.
1. The "illustration" was of Yahweh in the Sanctuary and the "unclean" forbidden to enter there -- "picturing" the "distance" in the face of which relationships cannot survive.
2. The fundamental impact of "uncleanness" was its "wedge-driving" in respect to being able to interact with others.
3. The fundamental fact is that a "wedge" driven between a person and God is a barrier to life.
B. Second, there is the issue of "the fundamental inability of the 'shadow' to accomplish the reconciliation": the blood of bulls and goats and turtledoves and pigeons cannot take away sin [Hebrews 9:13 and Hebrews 10:4].
1. The "ritual" addressed the "outer man", the physical realm person.
a. Just as "physical uncleanness" could not really keep a person from fellowship with God (physical distance is both 'unreal' -- Yahweh is omnipresent -- and 'immaterial' to the issue of fellowship with God), so also "physical cleanliness" does not really recommend one to God for fellowship.
b. There is a very real "ritual failure" when what is addressed to the "outer man" is directly applied to "inner man" realities without any transition from one level to the other. In other words, washing a body with water has no significant impact on the state of the soul/spirit in terms of real 'cleanliness' [Note that even 'cleanliness' is an "outer" state that needs 'transitioning' to have meaning regarding the "inner" state].
2. There is a "disconnect" between what happens to the outer man and what is going on with the inner man.
C. Third, there is the issue of how the physical-level illustration was supposed to get into the mind of a person as a "lever" to address the soul/spirit issues that are where "life" really gets "lived".
1. There is an inordinate dullness in man's heart/mind, spirit/soul that disallows the perception of the true inner reality. It is caused by the presence of Death as It has created a sense of "all is well" by administering its spiritual Novocaine. Jesus called it a "waxing of the heart" unto "grossness" and a dulling of the ears' ability to "hear" (Matthew 13:15). Paul (and Jesus) called it "hardness of heart" (Romans 2:5 and Ephesians 4:18) and made an analogy between an "uncircumcised heart" and the physical state of being "uncircumcised" (Romans 2:29).
2. This inordinate dullness is not resolvable by physical-level illustrations because it is rooted in a kind of blindness that is imposed by the stifling presence of deep darkness. For this cause, it is only resolved by God's command to "let light shine out of darkness" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
3. Thus, the physical-level illustration couldnot get "beyond" the darkness; it could only "help" a "believer" to understand...i.e., it could only be a "lever" for one who already had a sensitized heart for truth; i.e., one in whom the light of God was already shining. Thus, the "Law" was only of "profit" for those who had begun to see it as an expression of the light of God unto doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; i.e., a helper. It could not "help" those who saw it as an instrument of condemnation.
a. The ability of the illustration to "help" depended upon the participant's ability to identify with it. In some form or another, the offerer of the sacrifice had to "sense" the "sacrifice" issue at a level beyond the material cost(s) involved. In some way or another, the offerer had to "become" the offered.
b. On the Day of Atonement this "identification" issue was addressed by the laying on of hands upon the scapegoat while confessing the sin(s). In some sense, this "contact" was to communicate a "oneness" between the one with the hands and the goat upon which those hands were laid. Interestingly, in extremely ancient symbolism (which enables us to understand how the ancients thought) a "goat" was the equivalent of "unredeemed man" [See Hislop's TheTwoBabylons, page 311].
D. Fourth, there is the issue of the choices of God in respect to the physical-level illustration.
1. In what respect was a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons "like" the offerer so that that offerer could identify with two birds?
a. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament has an extended article on "doves" and in it shows that "doves" have always been identified by humans as having a "bird of the gods" identity (even the Spirit of God descended 'as a dove' upon Jesus and all who witnessed it knew that He was being given a divine sanction for His task). The article goes on to reveal that "doves" are particularly identified with that part of man that has to do with his most significant level of life (the soul/spirit levels) so that the pictorial representation among Judaism of physical death was that of a dove departing the body. If we take the Spirit 'as a dove' text and relate it to James' "the body without the spirit is dead" comment, we can easily see that the divine intent for the imagery of the dove was its connection to the spirit of man -- the essence of his life.
b. Anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of this imagery would easily be able to see in the sacrifice of a turtledove or a pigeon that it "represented" themselves at the level of the inner spirit. The death of the bird signaled the death of the offerer.
c. However, there is another issue that is just as significant: the "offerer's identity with the priest". In the case of the offering of birds, the "offerer" did not "do" the actual work of the sacrifice (Leviticus 1:15-17). It was a "priest" who killed it by wringing its head off. But, if we understand the "dove" as a "bird of the gods", the imagery is of a man killing God. There is no way to defuse this imagery; it is at the heart of the Gospel of Christ. There, men killed God and His death at their hands was the "sufficient sacrifice" to make reconciliation possible.
d. So, when we put these two issues together, what we have is "man killing God" and "man killing himself". This is the heart of Life: in order to live, man must come to grips with his antagonism toward God so that he is willing to "kill Him"; and he must also come to grips with his desperate need to "put to death" his own ambitions, fears, and appetites in order to live. Jesus said it this way: Take up your cross and follow Me. Paul said it this way: Present your bodies a living sacrifice.
2. And why the ambivalence -- either turtledoves or pigeons?
a. This is not really an ambivalence. It is, rather, the allowance of either of two types of the same genus of bird. The point is the same, regardless of the type of dove selected.
b. The so-called "pigeon" is just another variety of "dove"; or we could say the so-called "dove" is just another variety of "pigeon". The words, according to Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, are pretty much interchangeable.
3. And why "two"?
a. Leviticus 12:8 tells us that one was for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.
b. In the outworking of Truth, there are two sacrifices required by God: one has to do with the "problem" of Justice and its resolution; the other has to do with the "problem" of rebellion and its resolution (man's deliberate mis-definition of the method of life as "dominance" rather than "service"). Thus, one sacrifice is the sacrifice of the "self" as a "dominator" so that one "dies to himself/herself in order to live to God" and the other sacrifice is a sacrifice of the innocent God in the stead of the guilty man so that reconciliation can actually take place between God and man.