I was reading in Luke and I noticed something I really hadn’t noticed before. In the story where Jesus is brought to the Temple as an infant Anna is described by Luke as having been married for 7 years, then widowed and then living for about 84 years as a widow before that day. Two things stood out to me.
First, 84 is a pretty precise number to use “about” when describing it. I realize we all do that in conversation. Someone asks what time it is and you say, “about 12:13” when in reality it is 12:13. But it’s something else when you commit it to writing.
Secondly, most of the numbers in the Bible are very round. You know, 40 years, 500 concubines, or other numbers like that. We (at least in general) understand that it might have been 501 or 499 but the approximate amount is represented. It is very common in the Bible to do that.
So why is Luke so worried about expressing, not only that it was 84 years, but that it was “about 84 years?” My initial guess is that it has something to do with him being Greek and not Hebrew. Something different in the way those two cultures commit things to the written word. What do you think?