Monthly Archives: February 2018
Continuing our snail’s-pace progress with Luke, we start a new chapter. This section and at least a portion of the next will deal with the Sending of the Seventy. This both is, and is not, unique to Luke. In none of the other gospels does Jesus send out seventy, nor does he send out two batches of “apostles” as happens in Luke. We had the Sending of the Twelve at the beginning of the previous chapter, but that was a very brief affair. Most of what comes in this section applied to the sending of the twelve in M&M.
Why the duplication? Why Seventy? The number may indicate the changed circumstances of what can truly be called the nascent Church. Rather than the smaller circumstances described by Mark, who continually felt the need to explain why so many Jews were not Christians, by Luke’s time Christianity–as it can truly be called now–was a going concern. That’s one thing. Another, however, is the knowledge of the mission of Paul held by Luke. Because of the latter, there were church communities throughout the Eastern Mediterranean as well as a community in Rome that dated back 40 or 50 years. Rather than explain an apparent failure, or at least a less-than-optimal outcome as Mark did, Luke had to explain the movement’s success. But wait, there’s more. Given that the knowledge of Paul’s mission had come into a wider audience, one may suspect that there was a certain level of uneasiness about Paul’s somewhat ambiguous role in the success. After all, Paul had never met Jesus; this made the establishment of so many communities by him rather an awkward fact. Could Paul truly be called a disciple of Jesus? Well, yes, but only if you squint a little bit. So by sending seventy, Luke provides the basis for Paul’s later mission. Jesus sent out a large number of “those who were sent out”; they must have, or at least could have, covered a lot of ground. Thus, Paul’s later mission could be seen more as confirming, rather than founding, all of these widespread communities.
In a sense, we are saying that Luke domesticated Paul. Luke brought Paul fully into the Christian fold. And the way Luke did this may help explain two other things. First and foremost, it explains Acts. By coming up with a thrilling adventure tale along the lines of Voyage of the Argo, Luke–perhaps we should say “Luke”–created a true Christian hero. Or, perhaps a Hero. But the emphasis should be placed on the adjective, rather than the noun: Christian hero. Thus was Paul brought fully into the fold. Not only that, he became a starter on The Team. The other thing Luke does is to make sure that the epistles became second-class citizens to the gospels, something that persists today. So many tracts on Jesus focus exclusively on the gospels, or at most bringing in a cite from Paul that “proves the point”. The Wikipedia entry on Acts says that the book was written without knowledge of the epistles. I disagree. As we discussed when reading Galatians, the story of Paul’s conversion in Acts can easily be extrapolated from Paul’s account of the same event. Granted, the version in Acts is dramatized by several (dozen) orders of magnitude, but the outline is there. In any case, Paul becomes a major player in the gospel world, arguably second in importance only to Jesus. He is way more significant than Peter, after all.
Anyway, enough speculation, fun though it is. On to the
1 Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀνέδειξεν ὁ κύριος ἑτέρους ἑβδομήκοντα [δύο], καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς ἀνὰ δύο [δύο] πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ εἰς πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ τόπον οὗ ἤμελλεν αὐτὸς ἔρχεσθαι.
And* after those things, the lord proclaimed the election** of another seventy(-two), and sent them by twos towards facing towards all the cities and places where he wished (them) to go.
*Here, the particle << δὲ >> works as a conjunction. The base is “on the other hand…” which can quickly become “but”, and “but” is a conjunction the way “and” is. So, we get a process of word development here.
**Another glaring example of “New Testament” Greek wherein the translation given bears little connexion to the Classical meaning of the word. There is a scene in Herodotus where someone is accused of holding up a shield to reflect the sun as a signal to the Persians. The word Herodotus uses is the same on as here: << anadeiknumi >>. In fairness, the Latin uses designavit, designated. From there it’s but a short hop to “appointed’, which is how the word is most often translated.
Last word on the Greek. The word for “sent out” is apostellein, and I hope that root is clear. This is another example of a standard, run-of-the-mill, garden variety, very-ordinary word gets transliterated into English where it has a very specific and religious meaning. Like baptizo.
This is perhaps the clearest evidence I could ask for to prove the point I try to make in the introduction. Why was Christianity successful by the time of Luke? Well, Jesus did sent out seventy (some mss traditions read 72, as does the Vulgate below) people to go to all the cities and places. I fudged that quote a bit; properly, it concludes with “that he wished them to go. Makes a bit of difference. However, the point remains: Jesus sent them out, and he sent out a lot of them, and he did it before Paul. This way, the communities that were founded could be traced back to Jesus himself rather than some later follower.
This provenance is important. It is, after all, at the root of the insistence on Q. Without Q, it’s very hard to argue that Jesus actually spoke the Beatitudes or any of the other material in Mathew, but not Mark. And so with this; now the line of descent goes all the way back to the beginning, to people who were taught by Jesus. I would suggest that this became more important with the discovery of Paul and its attendant realization that many of the scattered Christian communities did not have a direct affiliation to Jesus. Once again, this is not direct evidence that Luke was aware of the Pauline corpus of writing, but throughout this book we have come across many, many instances where an inference can easily be drawn that Luke was aware of Matthew. Luke’s avoidance of Matthew is too clean. So here we have, perhaps, an implication that Luke knew of Paul and his writing, and so crafted a story to account for Paul without bringing up all the messy conflicts.
1 Post haec autem designavit Dominus alios septuaginta duos et misit illos binos ante faciem suam in omnem civitatem et locum, quo erat ipse venturus.
2 ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Ὁ μὲν* θερισμὸς πολύς, οἱ δὲ* ἐργάται ὀλίγοι: δεήθητε οὖν τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ ὅπως ἐργάτας ἐκβάλῃ εἰς τὸν θερισμὸν αὐτοῦ.
3 ὑπάγετε: ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς ἄρνας ἐν μέσῳ λύκων.
4 μὴ βαστάζετε βαλλάντιον, μὴ πήραν, μὴ ὑποδήματα, καὶ μηδένα κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἀσπάσησθε.
5 εἰς ἣν δ’ ἂν εἰσέλθητε οἰκίαν, πρῶτον λέγετε, Εἰρήνη τῷ οἴκῳ τούτῳ.
He said to them, “On one hand* the reaping/harvest is great; on the other* the workers are few. So pray to the lord of the harvest how he may throw towards his harvest. (3) Rise up: Look, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. (4) Do not carry a bag, nor money, no cloak, and greet no one on the road. (5) In which house you enter, first say ‘Peace (be) upon this house’.”
*This is a rare instance when both parts of the << μὲν…δὲ >> construction are present. The first is generally omitted, as being understood. Boy howdy, do I remember how much I hated that when I was learning Greek and Latin.
There is not much here, really. The sheep among wolves bit is considered Q because it’s here and in Matthew. There is a difference in vocabulary. Matthew used the term “probata”, which is a very generic term, one that could almost be applied to any quadruped kept in a flock or a herd. It is reasonable to translate this as “cattle”, even in American usage that word always refers to cows. Here, Luke uses “arnas”; in Apocalypse, the sacred are washed in the blood of the “arnion”. So which word was in Q? Those who (claim to) know, probably choose the word Luke uses here. Because, we know (for a fact!) that Luke’s version is the more “primitive”, which means it holds more closely to the original text (of a book that was never written. Fiendishly clever, that!); hence, “blessed are the poor” rather than “poor in spirit”.
However, I’ve just made a discovery. The word used here is actually “aren”, which is the base for for “sheep”; the use here is unique. Revelations uses “arnion”, which is a little sheep, hence, a lamb. Revelation uses the word a lot, and John uses it once. The rest of the time, when we’re talking about sheep, chances are the word used is “probaton”. IOW, the word in Q would almost certainly not have been “aren/arnion”; most likely, it would have been “probaton” which means Matthew is the more “primitive”. Oops. PS. Kloppenberg’s Q Reader agrees, and translates as “sheep”, which I’m assuming sits atop “probaton”. So Luke is the more primitive, except when he’s not. The rules for Q are very, very fluid.
2 Et dicebat illis: “Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci; rogate ergo Dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem suam.
3 “Ite; ecce ego mitto vos sicut agnos inter lupos.
4 “Nolite portare sacculum neque peram neque calceamenta et neminem per viam salutaveritis.
5 “In quamcumque domum intraveritis, primum dicite: “Pax huic domui”.
6 καὶ ἐὰν ἐκεῖ ᾖ υἱὸς εἰρήνης, ἐπαναπαήσεται ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ἡ εἰρήνη ὑμῶν: εἰ δὲ μή γε, ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς ἀνακάμψει.
(6) And if a son of peace should be there, your peace should rest upon him. If not, it (the peace) will return upon you.
I have to stop and comment on this. I checked, and this reads much the same in Matthew. What arrests me is the idea of peace returning to them as if it’s a tangible object that can be passed back and forth rather than an abstract concept that is not really there even when it is. Are we talking about an inner peace? It’s kind of hard to tell exactly what this means. When I say that I mean that it’s hard to be sure what the author meant, or understood by this. I checked in the Great Scott (L&S unabridged) and the overwhelming Classical use of the word is to describe the active state of non-war. It’s largely a political and/or military concept. Here we have something else. Now, we in the modern world are very familiar with the idea of “inner peace”; we’re familiar with the idea even if we’re not so familiar with the actual experience of it. We need to be very careful about not reading an anachronistic understanding of the expression back into the First Century. There are a couple of places in Plato’s Republic that could be referring to a state such as we think of, but it’s not a common thing. At least, it hadn’t been. Whether the followers of Jesus were pioneers in this attitude, or whether they were simply moving along with the cultural stream is a question that, for the present, is difficult to answer.
6 Et si ibi fuerit filius pacis, requiescet super illam pax vestra; sin autem, ad vos revertetur.
7 ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ τῇ οἰκίᾳ μένετε, ἐσθίοντες καὶ πίνοντες τὰ παρ’ αὐτῶν, ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ. μὴ μεταβαίνετε ἐξ οἰκίας εἰς οἰκίαν.
“Remain in that house, eating and drinking the thinks they have, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Do not go out from house to house.
First of all, I keep thinking that I can lump several of these injunctions into a single block that can then be commented on in toto. But each line has something worth noting, so I stop. In going to compare this section to Matthew, it appears the harmonies consider this a different bit of text from the sending of the twelve. As such, it stands alone, without the comparison text next to it. So this has to be compared to those texts. But what caught me short was the “worker is worthy of his wage”. This reads a bit differently than in Matthew. Instead of “wage”, Matthew says “the labourer is worthy of his nourishment”, the sense being is that those preaching will be fed rather than paid. This seems significant, but I can’t for the life of me say why it should be. Both imply something given in exchange for the preaching. Recall in Galatians that Paul self-justifies by saying he was never a burden to the community where he was staying, but that he earned money as a tent-maker. Then I wanted to tie this to Paul, since it’s a word he uses, but it’s not uncommon in Matthew either. In both of those, however, the word usually means “reward”, or, at least, that’s how it gets translated. The original Classical meaning is closer to the way Luke uses it here, as wages. I suppose the thing to do is go back to those passages where “reward” is used to see if, perhaps, “wages” might be more appropriate. But, even then, “reward” is also an acceptable use of the word in Classical Greek.
7 In eadem autem domo manete edentes et bibentes, quae apud illos sunt: dignus enim est operarius mercede sua. Nolite transire de domo in domum.
8 καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε καὶ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐσθίετε τὰ παρα τιθέμενα ὑμῖν,
9 καὶ θεραπεύετε τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ ἀσθενεῖς, καὶ λέγετε αὐτοῖς, Ἤγγικεν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ.
“And in each city you go to and they receive you, eat what is put before you. (9) And heal those (who are) debilitated in it (the city), and say to them, ‘the kingdom of God is nearly upon you’.
I missed this in the previous verse. The injunction to eat what they have, or what is put before you is actually permission not to fuss about Jewish dietary laws. Indeed, this is more like a command not to follow them. It’s very cleverly presented so that this implication does not stand out on first read. Or second or third or fourth. Again, Jesus never said these words; had he, Paul would not have talked about all things being clean and Peter would not have had the dream in Acts. These permissions not to be Jews would not have been necessary because it would have been clear that Jesus had authorized this from the start. That didn’t happen, so it had to be put into the mouths of later speakers.
8 Et in quamcumque civitatem intraveritis, et susceperint vos, manducate, quae apponuntur vobis,
9 et curate infirmos, qui in illa sunt, et dicite illis: “Appropinquavit in vos regnum Dei”.
10 εἰς ἣν δ’ ἂν πόλιν εἰσέλθητε καὶ μὴ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐξελθόντες εἰς τὰς πλατείας αὐτῆς εἴπατε,
11 Καὶ τὸν κονιορτὸν τὸν κολληθέντα ἡμῖν ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ὑμῶν εἰς τοὺς πόδας ἀπομασσόμεθα ὑμῖν: πλὴν τοῦτο γινώσκετε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ.
12 λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι Σοδόμοις ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ.
“And in each city you go to and they do not receive you, going out to the streets of it and say, ‘And the dust from your city we wipe the clinging dust clinging from our feet, but know this, that the kingdom of God approaches’. I tell you, that for the Sodomites in the day that approaches it will be more tolerable than for that city.
We finally have a section that does not particularly require much comment. Aside from the reference to Sodom, his is Triple Tradition material, and doesn’t really carry any unique features. While it may not be unique, I would like to say a few words about Sodom. Obviously, Sodom was a Jewish cultural reference. I am curious as to how well non-Jews would have gotten the reference. Now, this particular verse is not in Mark in most ms traditions, although it is in Mark in the KJV. It is not in the version of the Vulgate below, and this version has the nihil obstat of the Vatican. It is footnoted in my hard-copy Greek NT. So, assuming that this was not in Mark, as most translations apparently do, the most likely possibility is that this was added by Matthew. And this would fit in nicely with the rest of Matthew, who was wont to display his erudition by working in lots of quotes from the OT to “prove” it was about Jesus. There was “calling his son out of Egypt” when the Holy Family was called back from Egypt after the death of Herod the Great, and the quote that “he will be called a Nazarene” when he locates Jesus’ home town there to match the quote, and dozens of others. So here is another place where Matthew does this again, and Luke follows.
Here’s the funny thing. Had the woe to Sodom been in Mark, I would have seriously given it consideration as something Jesus authentically said. As I’ve gone on, I’m coming to think that Christianity has very little to do with Jesus, and a lot to do with those who came after him. As such, something peculiarly Jewish like Sodom I would seem much more likely to be coming from the Jewish Jesus rather than the much more pagan later writers, meaning Matthew and later. But, this can’t be traced to Mark. The irony? Since it’s not in Mark, it supposedly came from Q, which supposedly came from Jesus. So, stuff in Q, which is supposed to be authentic, isn’t. Stuff in the Triple Tradition, or simply in Mark, is much more likely to be authentic. It’s not necessarily authentic, but it has to be given serious consideration. The stuff in Q is almost assuredly of later composition. Or, at least 90% of later composition. It’s possible a few things slipped past Mark and made it to Matthew more or less intact, but it’s a very few things indeed.
10 In quamcumque civitatem intraveritis, et non receperint vos, exeuntes in plateas eius dicite:
11 “Etiam pulverem, qui adhaesit nobis ad pedes de civitate vestra, extergimus in vos; tamen hoc scitote, quia appropinquavit regnum Dei”.
12 Dico vobis quia Sodomis in die illa remissius erit quam illi civitati.
13 Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζίν: οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά: ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν, πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι μετενόησαν.
14 πλὴν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν τῇ κρίσει ἢ ὑμῖν.
15 καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ, μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ; ἕως τοῦ ἅ|δου καταβήσῃ.
16 Ὁ ἀκούων ὑμῶν ἐμοῦ ἀκούει, καὶ ὁ ἀθετῶν ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ ἀθετεῖ: ὁ δὲ ἐμὲ ἀθετῶν ἀθετεῖ τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με.
“Woe to you, Chorazin; woe to you, Bethsaida; that if in Tyre and Sidon had occurred the powers which occurred in you, long ago in sack-cloth (i.e., burlap) and ashes being seated they had repented, (14) Except to Tyre and Sidon it will be more bearable in the judgement than for you, (15) And you, Caphernaum, why not until you be exalted to the sky? Until Hades comes down. (16) The one hearing you hears me, and the one despising you despises me. But the one despising me despises the one who sent me”.
This is so obviously post-Jesus that it shouldn’t need the slightest bit of comment. Well…Seriously, this is clearly an ex-post facto rationalization of why the pagans had converted and most Jews hadn’t. The reason? I have come to suspect that Jesus’ original message did not resonate all that well with Jews. He was likely a charismatic figure who attracted a certain following, but it was the coming of Paul and his appeal to the pagans that changed the game. This is an “explanation” for that process. By the time Matthew wrote (presumably of his own creation) these words, some fifty years had passed since the standard reckoning of Jesus’ death. Matthew, being versed in the HS, was well aware of, say the books of Judges, or Kings, in which the leaders of Israel* did evil in the sight of God. So Matthew updated that to, more or less, the time of Jesus. This fits in nicely with the OT prophets preaching repentance, and woe-ing about the neglect of YHWH. So now they neglected Jesus, and the circle was complete.
*Israel. As I understand the history embedded deeply–very, very deeply–in the HS, Israel and Judea both spoke Hebrew, so they had that in common. What they did not share was a steadfast adherence to YHWH; that was a Judahite thing. And the Judeans created this myth of a united monarchy ruled from Jerusalem. This is almost certainly a pious fiction. The situation was most likely a strongish, middling kingdom in Israel that had periods of middling power, and then there were the poor cousins in Jerusalem. When Israel was crushed by Assyria, Judah jumped on the propaganda bandwagon to create a myth whereby they were the rightful successors to the former territory of Israel. This led to the united monarchy when, in fact, David was a breakaway from the rule of Saul in Israel. David rebelled, lucked into the capture of Jerusalem, and there set up his own line that really and truly had nothing to do with Israel.
13 Vae tibi, Chorazin! Vae tibi, Bethsaida! Quia si in Tyro et Sidone factae fuissent virtutes, quae in vobis factae sunt, olim in cilicio et cinere sedentes paeniterent.
14 Verumtamen Tyro et Sidoni remissius erit in iudicio quam vobis.
15 Et tu, Capharnaum, numquid usque in caelum exaltaberis? Usque ad infernum demergeris!
16 Qui vos audit, me audit; et, qui vos spernit, me spernit; qui autem me spernit, spernit eum, qui me misit ”.
In a very large part, this chapter is a collection of stories also found in the other two Synoptic Gospels. That’s all fine and good. What differentiates Luke’s versions is that, again, for the most part, they are heavily abridged; in some cases, an entire story is compressed down into a couple of sentences. This leaves the overall impression that Luke doesn’t want to omit the stories, but he doesn’t want to devote too much time to them, either. We are coming upon the section where we get most of Luke’s unique material, much of which is considered defining statements of Christian values and the Christian thought process. So, one might be forgiven in thinking that Luke is sort of trying to zip through this bit of Triple Tradition material in order to get to his own material.
One might be forgiven, but there might just be a little more to it than that. There seems to be a certain amount of selectiveness to the stories that Luke condenses. For example, let’s take the opening story, the Sending of the Twelve. Matthew has the longest version of this story, running to about 13 verses, as compared to the 6 we find in Luke. But here’s the thing: Mark has only has 5. So, technically, this story is not abridged in Luke; rather, it’s been expanded in Matthew. In fact, this section of Matthew has a lot of material unique to Matthew. He gives much more explicit instructions to those sent out, but he also launches into a long and dire prediction about the awful things that are going to happen, to them and to others who follow Jesus. Luke, apparently, felt no need to repeat any of this; of course, the Q people use instances like this to support their argument that Luke was unaware of Matthew, and they are correct to do so; however, they also completely ignore all the times that Luke does agree with Matthew. Such cases, they say, are the proof of Q. That is rather having it both ways.
The next two stories provide a different perspective. They are the Death of the Dunker, and Feeding the 5,000. Both of these stories are covered very well by M&M, and the second event zzwill even appear in John. In both cases, Luke is clearly the shortest version. What comes–or doesn’t c0me–next is even more interesting. Included in this sequence of stories in both Mark & Matthew is Jesus walking on water, the discussion about washing hands, Jesus meeting the Syro-Phoenician woman, Feeding the 4,000, and the Pharisees demanding a sign. Luke omits them all. Why? One thing they have in common is that both M&M have complete versions of all of these. My suggestion is that this indicates that Luke was fully aware of Matthew, that Luke knew these stories had been thoroughly covered, and saw no reason to cover them again. It should also be pointed out that there are two short sections of Mark that are ignored by both Matthew and Luke. The first occurs in conjunction with the question about washing hands. Jesus chides the Pharisees for ignoring the commandments of God and adhering to the traditions of men. The other is a wonder-story, where Jesus cures a man who is deaf and has a speech impediment.
Why leave these last out? This cuts against my suggestion that Luke saw no reason to cover things adequately covered by both Mark and Matthew. These were not covered by Matthew. I suspect that Matthew omitted the first one because it was a bit too disparaging of Jewish tradition; as a convert, Matthew probably didn’t want to repeat such a harsh criticism of his adopted tradition. Matthew, I suspect, passed over the second story because this one has a fairly detailed account of the actions Jesus took to restore the man’s hearing and speech. Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, and Jesus spat on his own hand and then touched the man’s tongue. This is a pretty vivid description of the magical practices Jesus followed, and recall that it’s not the only one in Mark. None of them made it to Matthew, and none of them* made it into Luke, either, So there’s another, albeit negative, instance of when Luke agrees with Matthew against Mark. The authors of the second (chronologically) an third gospels did not want to perpetuate the idea of Jesus as a Wonder Worker, so these accounts of magical practices were lost early. Both Matthew and Luke start with Jesus as the christ from birth, or even before. As such, going too much into the method by which the wonders were worked rather detracts from that interpretation of Jesus. Both Matthew and Luke abandoned it; which, if you’re keeping score at home, is yet another aspect of Luke agreeing with Matthew against Mark. These agreements are often tacit or implicit, but they are no less real for that.
The scene describing Peter’s confession approximates that of Mark, with one notable exception. Luke omits the part where Peter protests when Jesus predicts his death. This leads to the exclamation of “Get behind me, Satan,” from Jesus. In this sequence Matthew also added the “Peter the Rock” speech that is unique to him; or, perhaps, it is the addition of a Bishop of Rome who wanted to exert the Petrine Primacy. This gains a bit more credence, I think, when we realize there is no evidence to show that Peter was ever in Rome. In Galatians, Paul encountered Peter in in Jerusalem, and describes how Peter would eat like a gentile until the henchmen of James the Just showed up, at which point he quickly reverted to the Judaic dietary restrictions. Since Paul is the only attested contemporary to mention Peter, and Paul says nothing about Peter being in Rome, we have no evidence putting Peter in the capital city. There were Christians in Rome in the 60s, as attested by the Roman historian Tacitus and corroborated by the Roman biographer Suetonius, but that’s as far as it goes. But back to the original point, why would Luke omit “Get behind me, Satan”? We noted Mark’s portrayal of Peter is that of a dullard; Matthew rehabilitates Peter, culminating with, “Peter the Rock”. I n Luke, Peter is sort of a nonentity; he’s there, but doesn’t have many lines, or even scene appearances. Perhaps the official word by the time of Luke was that Peter was to be praised and raised in esteem, and so Luke followed that and left out “Get behind me, Satan” to do that. I could suggest that this is another time that Luke omits something already covered, but the omission is so brief as to seem hardly necessary.
As for the Transfiguration itself, Luke adds one truly significant detail. When Elijah and Moses appear, we are told they were discussing the coming plans for going into Jerusalem. This sort of changes the complexion of a lot of things in the biblical scheme. It implies that Jesus is a cosmic figure. It implies that Jesus is of cosmic importance. It implies that Jesus is part of the tradition of the Jews, which was an important consideration for Christians at this time. The antiquity of their religion gave Jews a lever of respect and acceptance from the Romans that helped insulate them from some of the worst impulses Romans felt towards this alien religion that didn’t believe in going along to get along. This divine conference also implies that, perhaps, Jesus was not omniscient; why would he need to discuss what was about to happen if he were omniscient? The path was set, the die was cast, and that would be that. Of course, that smacks of pagan fatalism, so we can’t have that.
The story of the demon-possessed boy occurs shortly after the Transfiguration. The remarkable aspect of comparing the three versions is to note that Luke and Matthew agree against Mark. Of course, per the Q people, this is not supposed to happen. However, when the boy’s father asks why Jesus disciples were not able to cast out the demon, Jesus rails ab out this “faithless generation”. At least, that is what he says in Mark. In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus rails against this “faithless and perverse generation”. I’ll be danged if that doesn’t sound like Luke copying directly from Matthew. Of course, he couldn’t have done so per the Q people, but there it is. So Q.E.D. Correct? Well, perhaps not. The copying could have been done in a scriptorium at some later date, and the presence of “perverse” in Luke could be an interpolation by a copyist. If I’m willing to suggest that a later Bishop of Rome inserted “Peter the Rock”, I have to be willing to admit that the presence of a single word doesn’t mean much. In much the same way, I’m pretty much convinced that the opening line of Mark was a later addition. And that would mean that “Jesus of Nazareth” was a later addition. This reduces by 25% the number of times Nazareth is mentioned by Mark. Which means that Luke and Matthew agree against Mark on the place of Jesus’ hometown.
There is also an entirely new episode in this chapter, one unique to Luke. It’s short. Jesus and his entourage are not welcome in a Samaritan town. James and John, blood-thirsty types that they are, ask Jesus if he’s going to call in the Angelic Air Force and nuke the place. Jesus, of course, forbears this action. It’s kind of hard to pin down exactly why this is in the text. I did not realise that it was a reference to an act of Elijah, who actually did call down fire to destroy a town that had mistreated him. And one commentator said that it was appropriate that the suggestion came from James and John, the “fiery sons of Zebedee”, whom Jesus had named the Sons of Thunder. It’s curious to note that a commentator (Ellicott) refers to the pair as “fiery”. For the most part, the sons of Zebedee have been pretty much window dressing. They tag along on all of the good stuff, but they don’t actually say, let alone do, anything. They are scene fillers. If one of the disciples has a line, it’s pretty much always Peter who has it. Just as going up to the Transfiguration, it is he who confessed Jesus to be the Christ. And it is Peter who babbles about erecting three tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. This passivity of James and John makes the designation of Mark more curious. We are, I suspect, dealing with layering. As time passed, some characters in the story gained, and some lost, prominence. The fact that James the Just ran the show for 30 years and receives no mention at all in the gospels is remarkable. There is the reference in Mark 6 to Jesus’ brothers, among whom one is James, but that’s it. Over time, Peter was elevated, James was lowered, as was Mary of Magdala. James is banished to a throwaway line, whilst Mary ends up a prostitute. And this latter tradition stuck, even among Protestants, despite the fact that there is no scriptural basis for it.
And with that, we shall exit, stage left…
* I may need to walk that back later! But then, that’s true about pretty much anything I say here.
For this section, we’ll be covering a bit more text than has been the custom of late. The reason for doing shorter sections is to get these published more quickly, and the hiatus between this post and the amply demonstrates that point. However, this section is really too short to break into two; besides, it’s time to get this very long chapter into the books. As has been the case with most of this chapter, we’re dealing with some short sections, most of which has been covered by Luke’s predecessors. So far, this has proven to be an excellent source of analysis, giving us some really clear insight into the way all of this fits together. So, on to the
46 Εἰσῆλθεν δὲ διαλογισμὸς ἐναὐτοῖς, τὸ τίς ἂν εἴη μείζων αὐτῶν.
47 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἰδὼς τὸν διαλογισμὸν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν ἐπιλαβόμενος παιδίον ἔστησεν αὐτὸ παρ’ ἑαυτῷ,
48 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ὃς ἐὰν δέξηται τοῦτο τὸ παιδίον ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὃς ἂν ἐμὲ δέξηται δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με: ὁ γὰρ μικρότερος ἐν πᾶσιν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχων οὗτός ἐστιν μέγας.
49 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Ἰωάννης εἶπεν, Ἐπιστάτα, εἴδομέν τινα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια, καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτὸν ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ μεθ’ ἡμῶν.
50 εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Μὴ κωλύετε, ὃς γὰρ οὐκ ἔστιν καθ’ ὑμῶν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν.
They came, dialoguing amongst themselves, about which of them might be the greatest. (47) But Jesus, knowing the discussion in their hearts took hold of a child standing near to him. (48) And he said to them, “If one receives this child in my name he will receive me and receives the one sending me. For the least in all of you he beginning is the greatest”. (49) Answering, John said, “Master, we saw someone in your name casting out demons, and we ordered him that he did not follow with us”. (50) Speaking towards him, Jesus said, “Do not forbid, for he who is not against us is for us”.
I was originally going to separate the last two verses from this section because they obviously do not have anything to do with the lesson about the child. Oh, sure, some sort of stretch can always be made, but the fact is, they are parts of different stories sort of shoehorned together whether they fit or not. What we are seeing, or continuing to see, is Luke compressing pericopae that are handled–we can presume that Luke thought adequately–by the first two evangelists. He did not want to leave them out, probably because they were too well-known and would be missed, but he did not want to waste too much time on them, either. We are coming up to most of the material unique to Luke: the Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son, & c, and one gets the sense that Luke is simply trying to get this stuff that’s played out of the way. So once again, this seems to indicate that Luke was aware of Matthew’s treatments of these themes; he realized that Matthew had repeated Mark’s story, adding to it, so there was nothing left to say. IOW, Luke was not interested in repeating Matthew; why bother with that? Matthew had done it already, so why say it again? These two stories, compressed almost to the point of nonexistence, technically fall into Triple Tradition material, but are they really? Again, technically, yes, but nothing at all beyond that. Luke is, IMO, very, very aware of Matthew, even if that is demonstrated only negatively. By sheer coincidence there should be instances where Luke agreed with Matthew rather than Mark, but that never happens. At least, that is what the Q people contend. Except, of course, for being born in Bethlehem, a father named Joseph…
I started this blog in April of 2012, and probably got to Mark’s version of the last two lines in 2013 or so. Let’s say that’s five years ago, give or take. In that time I still am not sure about the not against = for us. I mean, it’s obvious on one level, but why does it get said like this? And are we focusing on that rather than the fact that there is a follower of Jesus casting out demons in Jesus’ name, but who is not a follower of Jesus. At least, he’s not part of the inner group that the disciples, comprised of Peter and…probably Jesus’ brother James. The rest of them are problematic, to say the least. Peter and James, the brother of the lord, are the only two that are specifically named by Paul. The other ten are more than likely filler. But we have other followers of Jesus. And this is something I would expect happened: that there were a number of groups following Jesus, and that these groups are where the other gospels came from. Most likely, these are the groups that particularly kept alive the wonder-worker stories. This would be, IMO, another gospel to which Paul found especially distasteful since it did not emphasize the Christ aspect of the Jesus story. Of course, this is all very problematic; while Paul was certainly written first, we have to ask the unanswerable question of whether this story pre-dates Paul. IOW, is this story “authentic,” in the sense that it’s from the time of Jesus?
The problem is not that the question cannot be answered with any certainty. Almost nothing, with a few and very limited exceptions, in the NT can be asserted with any real degree of certainty. The problem is that there is no basis for making an assessment of the probability, other than “does it feel right?” Since the entire basis for Q rests on “it doesn’t feel right that Luke would mangle Matthew’s masterful treatment of the Q material”, I should be very careful about relying on this as a basis for a case. Yet, the historian who withholds judgement on such questions is a bit of a coward and mostly useless, so I would say that there is some possibility that this story has a kernel of truth at the heart. There were, I suspect, other groups than the one that wrote the NT who followed Jesus, even if they did not literally follow him the way that Peter apparently did. The difference between this judgement of mine and the case for Q is that I’m applying the principle to single stories on a case-by-case basis. I am not attempting to erect any sort of edifice on these very spindly props, and certainly nothing so elaborate as the Q hypothesis. This is a difference of degree at root, but to the point that it becomes a difference in kind.
46 Intravit autem cogitatio in eos, quis eorum maior esset.
47 At Iesus sciens cogitationem cordis illorum, apprehendens puerum statuit eum secus se
48 et ait illis: “ Quicumque susceperit puerum istum in nomine meo, me recipit; et, quicumque me receperit, recipit eum, qui me misit; nam qui minor est inter omnes vos, hic maior est ”.
49 Respondens autem Ioannes dixit: “ Praeceptor, vidimus quendam in nomine tuo eicientem daemonia et prohibuimus eum, quia non sequitur nobiscum ”.
50 Et ait ad illum Iesus: “ Nolite prohibere; qui enim non est adversus vos, pro vobis est ”.
51 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ,
It became in the fulfilling of the days of his being taken up (ascension), and he set his face towards the going to Jerusalem.
Just want to pause here a moment. Luke is measuring the time towards Jesus’ ascension. This is very unusual. In fact, Luke is the only one to tell the ascension story, so this marker of time is unique. It’s a bit…strange?…that Luke is pointing us to an event that has not had its story told yet, so presumably the reader could easily be a bit puzzled by the reference. Or had the story of the ascension entered the corpus of the Jesus myth to a degree sufficient to allow Luke to toss off this reference confident that the audience would understand it? Or is this a literary device, meant to pique curiosity? To leave the audience wondering, “Ascension? What does that mean?” Of course, this is another question that we cannot answer; we can only speculate. However, I will wager that you’ve never heard it asked before this moment.
51 Factum est autem, dum complerentur dies assumptionis eius, et ipse faciem suam firmavit, ut iret Ierusalem,
52 καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ. καὶ πορευθέντες εἰσῆλθον εἰς κώμην Σαμαριτῶν, ὡς ἑτοιμάσαι αὐτῷ:
53 καὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ.
54 ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης εἶπαν, Κύριε, θέλεις εἴπωμεν πῦρ καταβῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀναλῶσαι αὐτούς;
55 στραφεὶς δὲ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς.
56 καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην.
And he sent angels before his face. And coming, they went into a Samaritan village, as to prepare for him. (53) And they did not receive hi, that the face of him as turned towards Jerusalem. (53) And his disciples seeing, James and John said, “Lord, do you wish we call fire to fall down from the sky and destroy them?” (55) Turning he rebuked them. (56) And they proceeded to another village.
This section is unique to Luke. And it’s very interesting. First, the juxtaposition is noteworthy; the tale of the Good Samaritan is coming up in the next chapter (or two). Perhaps this is meant as sort of a dramatic set-up for that. Luke is setting the stage here, reminding (or informing for the first time) the audience that Jews and Samaritans did not get along as a matter of course. Before we get to that, notice the translation of “angels”. “Jesus sent angels ahead of him”, and the “messenger Gabriel came to Mary to foretell her becoming the mother of the messiah”. The Greek word is the same in both cases, and it is the Greek word used in Malachi 3:1 where the speaker will send his angel before him. But whether we choose to translate it, or simply to transliterate it adds an entirely different cast to the meaning and implications of the word, and has a lot of impact on how we understand the particular passage.
A couple of the Commentaries that I skimmed said the airstrike was about the selfish and carnal desires of the two disciples. And this would, or could tie it back to the discussion they were having earlier about who was the greatest. I would not have made that connexion on my own, so sometimes it is good to get some additional input. In any case, Jesus rebuked them, which the commentaries suggest was that this was because the disciples didn’t understand that Jesus was on a mission of mercy. And that ties back to the clueless bunch of disciples that we found in Mark. It’s interesting to note how many connexions one can find when one is actively looking for them.
52 et misit nuntios ante conspectum suum. Et euntes intraverunt in castellum Samaritanorum, ut pararent illi.
53 Et non receperunt eum, quia facies eius erat euntis Ierusalem.
54 Cum vidissent autem discipuli Iacobus et Ioannes, dixerunt: “ Domine, vis dicamus, ut ignis descendat de caelo et consumat illos? ”.
55 Et conversus increpavit illos.
56 Et ierunt in aliud castellum.
57 Καὶ πορευομένων αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶπέν τις πρὸς αὐτόν, Ἀκολουθήσω σοι ὅπου ἐὰν ἀπέρχῃ.
58 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις, ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.
And they proceeding along on the road someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you may go”. (58) And Jesus said to him, “The foxed have their holes and the birds of the air (have) nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head”.
This is a bit of a ‘woe is me’ moment. As such, it’s always rather bothered me because I’ve never been sure about what sentiment is actually being expressed. It’s meant as a warning, of course, to the interlocutor. And it’s likely meant as warning to those hearing or (less likely) reading the words of Luke or Matthew. But can it simply be left at that? I suppose, but that feels a little…shallow. Most likely this is an oblique allusion to Jesus’ coming death; or, perhaps more likely. it’s Jesus’ disciples mourning the difficult lives they led as itinerant preachers. And no doubt it was a difficult life, but was it any more so than scratching an existence out of unsympathetic ground? or fishing? It doesn’t get a lot of ink in biblical circles, but itinerant preacher was a definite career path back in these days. Sure, there were times of food insecurity, but who but the wealthy didn’t experience that? And, truth be told, given the pax Romana that existed throughout pretty much the entire Mediterranean basin, including France and the Levant, things were better for more people than would be the case until fairly recently. So yes, perhaps a bit of self-pity.
This is actually part of what is supposed to be Q. This is not in Mark. But once again, the Q people are too clever by half. The chances that Jesus actually said this are pretty much nil. Can you imagine the Jesus we found in Mark uttering these lines? I can’t. And this judgement is offered based on content. Jesus was a traveling wonder-worker. The whole woe-is-me really doesn’t fit with that sort of existence. I suspect the Q people would disagree; or, I wish they would. I would love to hear their arguments for Q based on the content of these sayings, rather than simply on the fact that Matthew and Luke have them, but Mark does not. I would really like to know how they would justify Q based on what Jesus is saying, and how it fits with the context in which Jesus lived. I really, really would like to hear that.
57 Et euntibus illis in via, dixit quidam ad illum: “ Sequar te, quocumque ieris ”.
58 Et ait illi Iesus: “ Vulpes foveas habent, et volucres caeli nidos, Filius autem hominis non habet, ubi caput reclinet ”.
59 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον, Ἀκολούθει μοι. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, [Κύριε,] ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀπελθόντι πρῶτον θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου.
60 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ, Ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς, σὺ δὲ ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
(59) He said to another, “Follow me”. The (other) responded, “[Lord], permit me going away first to bury my father”. (60) He (Jesus) said to him (the other man), let the dead bury their own dead, you going away announce the kingdom of God”. (61)
What does this mean? “Let the dead bury the(ir) dead”? I suppose, on reflection, it’s an injunction to dissociate oneself from the cares of the world. In which case, it’s more Buddhist than Christian, no? Or, at least, it’s more Buddhist than what we’ve heard Jesus say to this point. Here again, if you stop to think, how does this–or does it even–fit with the Jesus of Mark’s gospel? If it doesn’t fit with the Jesus we found in Mark, don’t we have to scrutinize whether Jesus said this very closely? Since this is part of Q, doesn’t that have to raise some serious problems about the existence of Q? This is why the s0-called “argument” for Q to be so unconvincing. It, seemingly, never stops to consider whether all of the stuff that Jesus supposedly said fits with the Jesus of Paul or Mark. Q supposedly has a “redactionally consistent outlook”, but how much of that could be attributed to Matthew writing much of Q? But Matthew’s Jesus is rather different from Mark’s Jesus, so how does that work? I’m not sure it does.
59 Ait autem ad alterum: “ Sequere me ”. Ille autem dixit: “ Domine, permitte mihi primum ire et sepelire patrem meum ”.
60 Dixitque ei Iesus: “ Sine, ut mortui sepeliant mortuos suos; tu autem vade, annuntia regnum Dei ”.
61 Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ ἕτερος, Ἀκολουθήσω σοι, κύριε: πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου.
62 εἶπεν δὲ [πρὸς αὐτὸν] ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα ἐπ’ ἄροτρον καὶ βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω εὔθετός ἐστιν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ.
And another said, “I will follow you, lord. But first allow to me to separate from those in my household”. (62) Jesus said [to him], “No one turning his hand upon the plough and looking backwards is well-placed in the kingdom of God.”
This is of a piece with the previous two verses. It’s another injunction to dissociate yourself from your earthly ties, which is something that many religions advocate. It’s the beginning of the eremitic tradition that led to monasticism and the ascetic tradition that culminated in the Cathars. Now here I can see a connexion to the Jesus of Mark, at least as far as the part in Chapter 3:35 when he says that his family is made up of those who who do the word of God. This
Now, I’ve been reading about other forms of spirituality. Pursuing this line of inquiry, one often runs into Buddhist thought. One of the most common precepts I’ve found is the injunction to “subjugate/obliterate the ego”. It has occurred to me that this admonition is functionally the equivalent of “submit to the will of God”. And here and in Mark 3:35 we have Jesus telling us something very similar. Or, if not similar, it’s at least close enough that both sentiments can be summarized by a common aphorism. What strikes me is, along with how one actually goes about being saved, the injunction to do God’s will is very seldom mentioned in the reading. It’s there, but it has nowhere near the prominence I expected coming into this project. Some of this absence, of course, is merely a pro forma absence, since many of the words put into Jesus’ mouth (like the ones here?) are allegorical, or parables. But think about the parables in Mark and Matthew: the sower, the mustard seed, the wicked tenants…a lot of them are more about the growth or rejection of the kingdom than they are about how to attain the kingdom. We’ll come into some of those shortly; but the point is that of the thirteen parables I found in a quick scan through Matthew, one two or three of them deal with what can fall under the rubric of “proper behaviour”, and even two of them are a bit of a stretch. The best example is the Unmerciful Slave, whose debt was forgiven, but who refused to forgive a debt owed to him. The 0thers would be The Parable of the Talents, –of the Ten Virgins, –of the Vineyard workers. For those of you keeping score at home, that adds up to four, but no matter. I found about five in Mark, and the only one vaguely dealing with behaviour is the Wicked Tenants; this is also in Matthew, but I didn’t count it there because it’s more about the retribution coming to the tenants than it is about the tenants themselves.
So my point stands. How to behave, and how to be saved do not receive nearly the emphasis in the gospels that one might expect. The implication is that much of Christian doctrine is what can be derived from the NT, rather than what is actually in the NT. The Protestants supposedly went back and excised a lot of the accumulated tradition that had no biblical basis–Purgatory, anyone?–but they were nowhere near as comprehensive as they believed. And I say that as someone raised in the Roman Rite who has now gone over to Episcopalianism. In some ways, not a hugely drastic change, but in other ways, it is. The point is that I have seen this from both sides. It’s interesting to note how this conversion has affected my viewpoint when reading about the Late Mediaeval/Early Modern world.
61 Et ait alter: “ Sequar te, Domine, sed primum permitte mihi renuntiare his, qui domi sunt ”.
62 Ait ad illum Iesus: “ Nemo mittens manum suam in aratrum et aspiciens retro, aptus est regno Dei ”.