R. Gnuse, «The Temple Theophanies of Jaddus, Hyrcanus, and Zechariah», Vol. 79 (1998) 457-472
A close reading of three accounts concerning theophanies experienced in the Temple (Ant 11,326-328, Ant 13,282-283, and Luke 1,5-23) implies that all three narratives share a common narrative format. Though it does not necessarily indicate that Luke used Josephus writings, this similarity suggests that both authors may have drawn upon a common format. Use of this format and specific variations added to it by Luke reflect significant theological themes imparted to the narrative by Luke, especially in regard to the identities of John the Baptist and Jesus.
Hyrcanus message is recorded tersely by Josephus (Ant 13,282). The high priest hears that his sons have won a major battle against the Seleucids. Josephus does not provide the message in direct discourse for his audience as he did with the theophany to Jaddus. There is no clear reference to the coming of a great man, but one could infer in a limited way that the sons of Hyrcanus are now great men by virtue of their victory over the enemy.
The message to Zechariah has been developed greatly by Luke. When the angel appears to Zechariah, he is afraid, so the angel tells Zechariah not to fear. The angel informs him that his prayers have been heard, and Zechariah and Elizabeth will have a son. Furthermore, the child will become great, he will cause rejoicing, he will drink no wine, the Holy Spirit will fall upon the child to cause many to turn to God, and the power of Elijah will be upon him to prepare the people for the Lord. The message is as pregnant with allusions to the Old Testament as Elizabeth was with child at full term.
The messages given to Jaddus and Zechariah share common themes; the message to Hyrcanus is too terse for comparison. Both Jaddus and Zechariah experience theophanies in response to prayer, either of the people (Ant 11,326) or of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1,7.13). Both men are told not be afraid. Jaddus is not to fear Alexander (Ant 11,327) and Zechariah is not to fear the angelic messenger (Luke 1,13). Both accounts include the theme of joy. Jaddus is to lead a festive procession to meet Alexander, and the crowd is joyous when he comes out of the temple to announce the revelation. (Interestingly, joy is said to have filled the Temple after Heliodorus was thrashed by the angels in 2 Macc 3,30.) Zechariah is told that John will bring joy and gladness. This attribution of joy and gladness to the judgment message of John the Baptist is rather odd. Perhaps, here the Lukan narrative reflects a motif taken from a common temple theophany narrative form. Both Jaddus and Zechariah are told to prepare for the coming of a great personage, be he Alexander the Great or John the Baptist. On this last point one might suspect again that if Luke is familiar with the Jaddus account in some form, then he has provided an ironic twist in comparing Alexander the Great with an enigmatic prophetic figure who prepares for the messiah. It is as if John is now as great as Alexander in his preparatory role for Jesus. Later, Luke will record that Jesus said, "among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (Luke 7,28).