Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is Peter "Cephas"?: A follow up

Image of Peter wondering who this "Cephas"
fellow is. (Just kidding)
So the person who sent in the email asking about whether or not Peter and Cephas are one in the same person wasn't apparently entirely satisfied with my answer.

In a charitable response, the following arguments were brought up. First, I was criticized for not considering the possibility that Mark, Paul's companion, is the "pillar" named "John" in Galatians  2.

The reader then writes:
And more significant, the article glossed over the evidence from Acts, specifically on three points: (1) Acts never says Peter went to Antioch; (2) Acts makes it clear that Peter stood up boldly to the Jews, never caving into Judaizing; and (3) Act 15 shows Peter as the star witness at the Council of Jerusalem, which makes no sense if he was a hypocrite, nor does it fit with 15:1-2 where it says "certain persons" were opposed by Paul, and 15:24 says again "certain persons without our permission," which can hardly be referring to Peter.

If you believe Acts 15:1-2 is speaking of the Galatians 2 incident, then everything changes because identifying Peter as the "certain persons" becomes very untenable.
Let's take these one at a time.

Normally, I wouldn't offer such a detailed response but, since it's the feast of Peter and Paul, I think it's appropriate to spend some more time thinking about Petros. 

1. The John who is a "Pillar" could be "John Mark".
The emailer writes: "the article didn't even take note of the possibility that 'John' mentioned in Gal 2 as a 'pillar' was likely to be 'John-Mark,' which Acts frequently puts as Paul's companion."

I'm still not quite sure how this proves that "Cephas" is not Peter. Either way, let's be clear: it is
incredibly unlikely that the "John" in Galatians 2 is Mark.

First, nowhere outside of Acts is Mark ever called "John" in the New Testament. That the references to him in the Pauline corpus (Philm 24; 2 Tim 4:11) never identify him as "John" should also be pointed out.

This highlights an irony. We are supposed to think that Paul's use of two different names, "Peter" and "Cephas", points to there being two different people involved. However, when the Pauline corpus refers to the same figure in every case by one name--"Mark" (Philm 24; 2 Tim 4:11)--we are supposed to believe that a figure named "John" in Galatians is suddenly a reference to someone else.


Although Acts identifies Mark with the name John, it does clarify for us that this figure went by two names. It obviously does this because John the apostle was clearly the more important John (see below) and Luke was apparently concerned that calling Mark "John" might lead to confusion. He makes it clear therefore that there are two Johns--John Mark and John the apostle. The latter is clearly the more prominent figure.

That the pillar identified as "John" is not John the apostle but “John Mark” is just too hard to believe. Yes, Paul knew John Mark. But it is just too much of a stretch to think that he was more important than John the apostle. John the apostle and Peter are clearly the spokespersons for the apostolic college (cf., e.g., 4:13, 19; 8:14). John is also mentioned with Peter as among the most prominent oft he apostles in Acts 12:2; he is the brother of the first apostle to be killed.

To think that the reference to the pillars somehow includes John Mark and not Peter or John the apostle is far fetched in the extreme. First, the only other author who identifies Mark as "John" makes it clear that he is doing so because John the apostle was the more famous figure with that name. Again, that “Cephas” is a different figure—i.e., that it is more likely that a figure other than Peter is in view here—is especially difficult to believe given the fact that Paul is explicitly proving his authority in Galatians 2 by comparing himself to Peter, not a different figure named "Cephas" (cf. Gal. 2:8)!

Peter is the important figure here--why wouldn't he rank among the "pillars"? One might come up with an unlikely scenario to explain this but that's just what any such explanation would be: unlikely.

2. Acts never says Peter was in Antioch. 

Peter doesn’t go to Antioch in Acts--so what? Acts shifts from focusing on Peter to focusing on Paul’s trips. In fact, we know that Peter left Jerusalem. Acts 12 tells us that after Peter was delivered from prison he went to "another place" (Acts 12:17). There is no reason to believe he couldn’t have gone to Antioch.

In fact, we’d almost expect him to go there since that’s where the largest Christian community was after Jerusalem. In fact, in Acts 11 we know that after Stephen’s death many left for Antioch (cf. Acts 11:19). If others left Jerusalem for Antioch when persecution arose, why wouldn’t we suppose that when Peter left Jerusalem he first went there?

Moreover, Acts doesn’t give us every detail of what the apostles did. It doesn’t for example, tell us about Paul staying in Jerusalem for "fifteen days" and chatting with "Cephas" (cf. Gal 2:18).

So the fact that Peter doesn’t go to Antioch in Acts is not a serious argument. There are too many reasons to think that we can’t read anything into that!

3. Peter probably wasn't perfect. 
Just because Peter defended the Gentile mission in Acts 15 doesn’t mean he never acted like a hypocrite. So what that Peter defended Paul at the Council? Why is it unlikely that Peter failed at times to practice what he preached? I just don’t see any problem here. 

In fact, the very reason Paul was upset with Peter is because he says that before “men came from James” he had “ate with the Gentiles”. Cephas (=Peter) did not insist at first on keeping kosher. He was not a Judaizer. That’s consistent with what happens with Peter in Acts. Paul condemns Peter not for being wrong about that but for being a hypocrite—he backed away from what he knew was otherwise right.

In conclusion, you can always find a way to make a “possible” objection to the Peter=Cephas identification. On the whole, however, the arguments separating the two are too problematic. Given all the considerations, it is far more probable that Peter=Cephas. 

“Possible” is not “probable”—and you can’t choose the latter over the former. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Is Peter "Cephas"?

I received an email from a reader who asks question whether or not Peter is the figure also identified elsewhere in the New Testament as "Cephas".
You said that Paul saw Peter as a "pillar" of the community. But in AD 200, St Clement taught that Paul rebuked not Peter but one of the Seventy, another guy named Cephas. As support of this, Paul uses the name "Peter" in Galatians 2:7-8, but shifts to "Cephas" in 2:9 and following. Why use two names in the same breath if the same person is meant? 
In short, the answer is, "No, these are not two individuals."

Bart Ehrman advocated the view that Cephas and Peter were different figures in an article in Journal of Biblical Literature in 1990. Dale Allison persuasively rebutted his arguments in a follow up piece in 1992 (available here).

Here, as a kind of supplement to the reading reflection I have already offered for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, I'd briefly like to look at this question and highlight some of the arguments Allison employs.

The text of Galatians. First, however, let's take a look at Galatians 2:
And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; 7 but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), 9 and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship. . . (Gal. 2:6-9)
So, does Paul's shift in the use of names point away from the idea that Peter and Cephas are the same figure? Was Clement conveying historical information here?

I don't think so. Consider the following. . .

1. Clement isn't the only source that relates this idea. In fact, in some ancient sources "Cephas" is said to be one of the Twelve. There seems to have been a great deal of confusion on the matter.

2. We know Clement's view only through the later writings of Eusebius. Actually, Clement's original source has been lost to us. We know this was Clement's view only because it comes to us through Eusebius: "Clement, in the fifth book of his Hypotyposes, in which he mentions Cephas, of whom Paul writes: 'When he came to Antioch, I withstood him to his face,' says that one who happened to have the same name as Peter the apostle was one of the seventy" (Hist. eccl. 1.12.2).

3. It is easy to explain how the alternate tradition emerged. As Allison shows, the tradition probably sprung up in response to embarrassment over the passage in Galatians 2 where Paul condemns "Cephas" for hypocrisy. Indeed, this is precisely the context in which Clement/Eusebius introduce the Cephas/Peter distinction.

4. The shift in names is not at all unsurprising. Important Jewish figures often went by more than one name (e.g., Jacob/Israel). In fact, in the work Joseph and Aseneth, the shift occurs in the space of a single verse: "And Jacob heard about Joseph his son, and Israel went to Egypt" (Jos. Asen. 22:2). Likewise, in the Testament of Jacob the Patriarch is identified as both "Jacob" and "Israel" alternatively, as Allison notes, "even in the same paragraph".

In fact, Cephas appears to be an Aramaic form of "Peter".

Moreover, Paul himself shifts in using other names. See, for example, Romans 8:9-11 where Paul refers to "Jesus", "Christ," and "Jesus Christ", apparently intentionally offering a variety of names for the one he recognizes as "Lord". Moreover, Peter himself went by yet another name: "Simon". In some places other New Testament writers offer alternate names for him, describing him as both "Simon" and "Peter". See Mark 14:37: "He [Jesus] came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, 'Simon, are you asleep?'" The shift from Simon to Peter also occurs prominently in the Last Supper narrative in Luke where Jesus goes from calling him "Simon, Simon" (Luke 22:31) to warning him, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow. . ." (Luke 22:34). If writers could do this with the name "Simon", why couldn't Paul do the same?

Other examples of figures going by two names could also be mentioned. In Acts, we have one person who is sometimes identified as "Mark" (cf. Acts 15:39) but he is also known as "John" (cf. Acts 13:13).

In short, given these examples, is it really likely that the shift in names in Galatians 2 really points to the identity of another disciple?

5. Jesus calls Simon Peter "Cephas" in John. The author of the Fourth Gospel apparently thought Simon Peter was "Cephas": "Jesus looked at him, and said, 'So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas' (which means Peter)" (John 1:42).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Working document for Pope Francis' Synod on Family: The Bible is the heart of transforming family life

The Instrumentum Laboris (i.e., the working document) for the upcoming Synod on the Family called by Pope Francis has finally been released (html, pdf). The document highlights challenges facing the family today and offers thoughts toward advancing pastoral solutions. I encourage people to read it themselves.

Much can and will be said about this document. Here I just want to register my gratitude for one aspect of it in particular: the pride of place given throughout this document to Scripture.

Indeed, it begins with a discussion of the biblical teaching on the family (no. 1-3). After also calling for a greater familiarity with the teaching of the Church (nos. 4-7), it then launches into a discussion of what is needed to address the pastoral challenges facing the Church. First and foremost, the document calls for careful instruction about the teaching of Scripture (no. 9).

Interestingly, the document points out that knowledge about the teaching of the Bible is better known today than it has been in the recent past. Perceptions of this, I think, vary depending upon location and context. Regardless, it notes that many responses from the bishops who gave input into the document spoke of "the faithful's great desire to know Sacred Scripture better" (no. 9).

It then goes on to speak of the importance of the homily in this regard:
. . . the formation of the clergy stands out as particularly decisive, especially in the quality of homilies, on which the Holy Father, Pope Francis has insisted recently (cf. EG, 135-144). Indeed, the homily is a privileged means of presenting Sacred Scripture to the faithful and explaining its relevance in the Church and everyday life. As a result of preaching in a befitting manner, the People of God are able to appreciate the beauty of God’s Word which is a source of appeal and comfort for the family. (no. 9)
I know I also speak for my co-bloggers here at when I say I was pleased to see this pointed out.

Week after week we offer in-depth analysis of the Sunday readings to assist in spiritual preparation for participation in the liturgy. We are especially grateful to the priests and deacons who have written us to tell us that they have found these reflections helpful for their homily prep. We are especially grateful to those who have shared them with their brother priests and deacons.

To be clear, we don't write homilies. Priests and deacons, using the special charism they have received, need to prayerfully consider what they will do from the pulpit given their own congregation's circumstances and needs. Our purpose is to simply offer some exegetical thoughts that might be helpful towards that end.

Of course, the Sunday readings commentary is not just for homilists. In fact, John and I often talk about how spiritually beneficial working them up--a process that usually takes about 3 hours per reflection--has been for us personally. Truth be told, we write these as much for our own preparation as we do for anyone else's!

Our hope is that anyone interested in getting more out of the lectionary--not just those preparing homilies--will benefit from these reflections. We are very thankful for all of the email and comments we receive from lay Catholics who enjoy reading them as well as part of their own Sunday preparation.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that according to the Instrumentum Laboris, the homily is not the only means of promoting knowledge of Scripture. We read:
In addition to the homily, another important means is the promotion, within dioceses and parishes, of programmes which help the faithful take up the Bible in a proper way. What is recommended is not so much multiplying pastoral initiatives as inserting the Bible in every aspect of existing ministerial efforts on behalf of the family. Every instance where the Church is called to offer pastoral care to the faithful in a family setting can provide an opportunity for the Gospel of the Family to be announced, experienced and appreciated."
We hope this blog will help people engaged in any pastoral work as they seek to bring the Gospel to our hurting world.

"Upon this rock": The readings for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

It is solely by accident that I have the privilege of writing the reflection on the readings of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. However, I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity.

The lectionary readings this Sunday climax with a selection from Matthew 16:13-19, a passage I have spent much time studying and writing about. Aside from treating it in a substantial way in my doctoral dissertation, I have also recently published an article on this passage in the Journal of Biblical Literature (see here).

Obviously, I cannot offer as in-depth a treatment of the passage here as I do there. In these reflections I want to highlight some key (pardon the pun) aspects of the lectionary readings, highlighting certain ways I think they compliment one another, focusing in a detailed way on Matthew 16:13-19.

So, without any further ado, let's begin. . .

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf. 
On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”
At first glance, the story of Peter's deliverance in the book of Acts seems a bit comical. Peter, with the help of an angel, practically sleepwalks out of prison. It is only when Peter ends up down an alley alone that he finally believes what has happened to him is real and not a dream: "Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me. . ."

Beneath the surface, however, there is more going on in this account than meets the eye. For one thing, the story highlights Peter's importance.

Petrine primacy in the New Testament. Indeed, New Testament underscores Peter's role as first among the apostles--i.e., his "primacy"--in various ways.

For one thing, in the Gospels Peter is always listed first among the apostles. This applies not only to lists of the twelve (cf. Matt 10:1–4//Mark 3:13–19//Luke 6:13–16; cf. Acts 1:13) but also to occasions where groups of disciples are mentioned
  •  the account of the Transfiguration (cf. Matt 17:1//Mark 9:2//Luke 9:28)
  •  the healing of the ruler’s daughter (cf. Mark 5:37//Luke 8:51)
  •  in the preparations for the Passover (cf. Luke 22:8)
  •  at the beginning of the Olivet discourse (cf. Mark 13:3)
  • in Gethsemane (cf.  Matt 26:37//Mark 14:33).
John P. Meier writes, “[Peter] is the most frequently mentioned, the most actively engaged, and hence the most prominent of the Twelve.”[1] Who could disagree with this assessment?

Likewise, Paul in Galatians explains that  the task of preaching Gospel to the uncircumcised had been entrusted to him just as Peter had been entrusted with the responsibility of preaching the Gospel to the circumcised (cf. Gal 2:7). He even describes Peter as one of the “pillars” of the community, naming James and John also (cf. Gal 2:9). All of this points to Peter's important role. In fact, it is Peter who he compares himself to--not James and John.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Body of Christ, Manna for the Journey: The Readings for Corpus Christi

This weekend is another great liturgical feast, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise known as Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi is one of a handful of feasts that celebrates the very gift of the Eucharist itself.  It is one of my favorite feasts, because the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was instrumental in my becoming Catholic.

Back in the Fall of 1999 I was reading through the Apostolic Fathers and came to this passage in Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Smyrneans (c. AD 106):

But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. They have no regard for love; no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed; of the bond, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes.

I was shocked by the italicized line, because I realized that no one who held to standard Protestant views of the Eucharist would have written something like that.  “Transubstantiation” as a term may have come years later, but Ignatius’ view of the Eucharist was clearly that it had become transformed into the flesh of Christ.  Since Ignatius was writing ten years after the death of the Apostle John, there was not enough time for him to have gotten “confused” on this issue.  It dawned on me that Ignatius was simply reflecting the views of the early Christians on the Eucharist—views that they must have gotten from the Apostles themselves.

In any event, the Readings for this Feast have obvious and strong relevance to Eucharistic doctrine.

The First Reading, taken from Deuteronomy, reflects on the gift of the manna to the Israelites during the forty years in the wilderness, an obvious type of the Eucharist:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why do we celebrate Trinity Sunday after Pentecost?

Today is seriously one of my favorite feasts of the entire liturgical year. And so, even though John Bergsma has written a beautiful reflection on the lectionary readings here on TSP, I wanted to contribute a few thoughts of my own.

Specifically, I think it is illuminating to ask: why do we celebrate this mystery on the first Sunday after Pentecost?  This post will help explain the answer.

The Centrality of the Trinity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Trinity as the "central" mystery of faith. Here let me quote the Catechism in full.
"The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the "hierarchy of the truths of faith" [GCD 43.]. The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin" [GCD 47]" (CCC 234).
Why is the Trinity so important? Well, theologically the Trinity is unique. While all the other mysteries of faith describe what God does for us, the doctrine of the Trinity alone is understood as teaching us who God is in his deepest mystery. As the Catechism stresses: "It is the mystery of God in himself."

In fact, the centrality of the Trinity in Catholic theology and spirituality is evident from its prominence in the most recognizable of all Catholic prayers: the Sign of the Cross. While signing themselves with the cross, Catholics pray: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Given its significance, then, it is no surprise that the Trinity has its own feast day. But, returning to the question above, why do Catholics celebrate the doctrine of the Trinity this Sunday?

Theologia and Oikonomia

How is it that we come to the doctrine of the Trinity? Indeed, there is no single verse in Scripture which states it succinctly--i.e., "there are three divine persons who share on divine nature". How is it, then, that Christian tradition has affirmed that God has revealed the truth about his Triune life to us?

Once again, let me turn to the Catechism.
"The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). 'Theology' refers to the mystery of God's inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and 'economy' to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God's works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions."
In other words, God reveals who he is in his deepest mystery, i.e., his Trinitarian life, through what he does in salvation history (e.g., the oikonomia).

In particular, God is understood to reveal who he is in his deepest mystery in fullness in the sending of Christ and the Spirit.

First, God the Father sends the Son in the Incarnation:
  • "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me" (Matt 10:40). 
  • "he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me" (John 13:20). 
  • "[Jesus in prayer to the Father]: I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me" (John 17:8).
Next, the Son returns to the Father, i.e., the Ascension:
  • ". . . now I am going to him who sent me" (John 16:5). 
  • "I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father" (John 16:28).
Finally, the Father and the Son send the Spirit, i.e., Pentecost.
  • "I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7). 
  • ". . . the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26).
For the early Christian fathers, what happens in salvation history is understood as reflecting the inner Triune life of God--i.e., what God does (oikonomia) reflects who God is (theologia).

Thus, the sending of the Son and His return to the Father reflects the Triune life of God: the Son proceeds from the Father and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and (through) the Son.

Hence, after celebrating Pentecost we focus on the Trinity. The sending of the Spirit in a sense completes the revelation of Triune life of God.

In short--and obviously much, much more could be said--that's why we celebrate Trinity Sunday after Pentecost.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

 Three Angels of Gen 18 as Symbol of Trinity
At the end of, and following, the Easter Season, we have a sort of “trifecta” of major feasts: Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi, as the Church celebrates the central mysteries of the faith before the Lectionary returns to the readings of the Ordinary Time cycle on Sundays once again.  This June we get a sort of “quadrafecta,” with the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul landing on the Sunday after Corpus Christi. 

In any event, this weekend is Trinity Sunday, a meditation and celebration of the central mystery of the Christian faith, the dogma that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions.  Christians alone believe in one God, who nonetheless exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Strangely, our Readings for this Sunday tend not to be classic “proof texts” for the idea that there is more than one person in the Godhead.  Instead, the readings tend to focus on the character or essence of God.  This is appropriate, because as we will see, the character of God is very different, and the meaning of salvation history as well, when one knows God to be a Trinity of persons. 

Reading 1: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Receive the Holy Spirit": Readings for the Feast of Pentecost

This Sunday we celebrate the glorious feast of Pentecost. Here below is a brief treatment of the major themes and issues in the readings.

FIRST READING: Acts 2:1-11
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”
The Feast of Pentecost. Seven weeks after Passover--"fifty days"--came the Feast of Weeks, known in Greek as "Pentecost" (πεντηκόστη), "fiftieth [day]"; cf. Tob. 2:1; 2 Mac. 12:32; Josephus, A.J., 3.252). Its observance is described in Leviticus 23:15-22 and Deuteronomy 16:9-12.
The feast was closely linked to the wheat harvest. Appropriately, then, Israel was required to bring leavened bread to the temple, which was to be waved before the Lord during the feast (Lev 23:17). This bread was to be consumed by the priests (Lev 23:20). 

Given that the feast fell several weeks after Passover, a festival which celebrated Israel's deliverance from Egypt, it is not surprising that Jewish sources also associated this feast with an important episode from the Exodus story, namely, the giving of the law at Sinai (cf. Exod 19-24; e.g., b. Šabb. 88a; b. Pes. 68b). 

New Exodus hopes, the Giving of the New Law, the Pouring out of the Spirit. Of course, Exodus imagery was associated with eschatological hopes for Israel. The prophets described the future restoration of Israel in terms of a New Exodus (e.g. Isa 40:3, Jer 23:7-8).[1] In fact, Jeremiah links this age with the giving of the Law at Sinai, the event associated with Pentecost. Specifically, he announces that Lord will give to his people his Law once again, only this time he would not write it on tablets but upon their hearts: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people… I will remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:33).