Sunday, September 25, 2016

Increasing Faith and Undeserving Slaves

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding Luke 17:5-10, the Gospel reading for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost in the Revised Common Lectionary. This pericope begins with a request from the Apostles, but it also begins with verse 5 of the chapter. I suppose that the folks who composed the lectionary and the folks who first originally added verse distinctions to this text had different interpretations of whether vv. 1-4 are necessarily connected to vv.5ff.

Two interpretive questions strike me from the outset.
1. What is the relationship between the Apostles’ request of v.5 and the comments that precede it in vv.1-4? Vv.1-4 pose a bit of a challenge on their own. It is not clear what vv.1-2 have to do with vv.3-4.
2. What is the relationship between vv.5-6 and vv.7-10? Vv.5-6 are the Apostles’ request and Jesus’ immediate response. Vv.7-10 are a parable, which ends up with a “So also you …” comment.

I must admit that, after the three parables of lost things (sheep, coin, son) in c.15 – which seems obviously aimed at the Pharisees for grumbling that Jesus was eating with the “lost” – the next section of Luke (cc.16, 17, and the first 10 vv. of 18) seems hard to follow thematically. A friend of mine once imagined Luke with a desk full of post-it notes with stories, parables, and teachings that Luke intended to include in his gospel. My friend said that when Luke finished writing the gospel there were some leftover notes, so he went back and plugged them in as cc.16-18. That may sound far-fetched, but consider this: The New Revised Standard Translation subtitles 17:1-10 as “Some Sayings of Jesus.” I think that is another way of saying, “We don’t see how the post-it notes fit together either.”

5 Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ κυρίῳ, Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν.
And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
εἶπαν: AAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Πρόσθες: AAImpv, 2s προστίθημι, 1) to put to  2) to add 
1. This seems an odd request, since the previous conversation has not included anything implying that the apostles lack enough faith. The last mention of faith in Luke’s story is back in c.8, when Jesus tells a woman who touched his garment, “Your faith has made you whole.” The last time Jesus says that the disciples lack faith is in that same chapter, when he calmed the raging sea and asked, “Where is your faith?” 
2. To me, our pericope feels as if it should follow the story of Jesus calming the raging sea (8:22-25). Not only is there the topic of adequate faith, but also the elements listening/obeying (v.6).
3. While I called the Apostles’ words a ‘request’ above, it is in the imperative voice, so it could read more like a command/demand. If we follow Boyer’s suggestion (see below*) we can hear the Apostles’ aorist imperative as wanting something in its entirety, as opposed to an ongoing process. “Increase our faith” would have a ‘right now’ sense, rather than a ‘daily’ sense. It might also carry a desperation sense, particularly following Jesus’ words about how one is to forgive an offender seven times a day. The Apostles’ use of the aorist imperative might carry the connotation of “Who can do such a thing? We need more faith!” 

 6 εἶπεν δὲ  κύριος, Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐλέγετε ἂν τῇ 
συκαμίνῳ [ταύτῃ], Ἐκριζώθητι καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ: καὶ 
ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν.
Yet the Lord said, “If you have faith as a seed of mustard, whenever you were saying to [this] sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; even then it would listen to you.” 
εἶπεν:  AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἔχετε : PAI 2pl, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold
ἐλέγετε : IAI 2pl, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἐκριζώθητι : APImpv, 2s, ἐκριζόω, 1) to root out, pluck up by the roots 
φυτεύθητι :APImpv, 2s, φυτεύω,  1) to plant  
ὑπήκουσεν : AAI 3s, ὑπακούω, 1) to listen, to harken ... 2a) to obey, be obedient to, submit to demand.
1. I am trying to capture the ἂν ... ἂν structure with “whenever ... even then”.
2. Passive imperatives are interesting things. I’m sure there’s something profound about them and I am relying on my text-friends to help me understand it. A person with grainy faith does not say to the tree, “Go plant yourself in the sea!” but says, “be uprooted” “be planted in the sea!” The actual agent of who is doing the uprooting and the planting seems implied or irrelevant.
3.  This being ‘plucked up’ and ‘being planted’ are reminiscent of Jeremiahs’ prophetic calling: “See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up (ἐκριζοῦν  in LXX) and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant (κατα-φυτεύειν in LXX).’ (Jer.1:10). Are these words of Jesus an echo of that prophetic activity? Is that prophetic power what the Apostles are seeking?
4. Or, is Jesus contrasting the Apostles’ wrongful use of the imperative voice to him with a faithful use of the imperative voice to a sycamore tree? (The next story will call into question what a slave is entitled to expect from a master.)
5. More importantly, is Jesus rebutting the Apostles’ demand, or fulfilling it? Is this parabolic connection between faith and the mustard seed a way of saying, “Thanks for asking. Here is a parable that will increase your faith”? Or, it is a way of saying, “You have no idea what you are asking. You don’t need more faith, you need to realize the power of the faith that you have”? Should the “yet” (δὲ) have the sense of “But Jesus said …” or “So Jesus said …”?
6. I realize that I have “listen” for ὑπήκουσεν and every other translation known to the English speaking world has “obey.” I am trying to keep the sense of “hear” (ακούω) with the prefix “under” (ὑπω), which could imply something that is done secretively or at least in a hidden, non-obvious way.

 7 Τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν δοῦλον ἔχων ἀροτριῶντα  ποιμαίνοντα, ὃς εἰσελθόντι 
ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ ἐρεῖ αὐτῷ, Εὐθέως παρελθὼν ἀνάπεσε,
Yet who among you having a slave plowing or shepherding, who having come in out of the field will say to him, ‘Having come beside, sit back at table immediately?’
ἔχων: PAPart, nms, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold 
ἀροτριῶντα : PAPart, ams,  plowing
ποιμαίνοντα: PAPart, ams, ποιμαίνω, 1) to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep
εἰσελθόντι :AAPart, dms, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter
ἐρεῖ: FAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
παρελθὼν : AAPart, nms, παρέρχομαι, 1) to go past, pass by 
ἀνάπεσε: AAImpv, 2s ἀναπίπτω, 1) to lie back, lie down  2) to recline at a table, to sit back

 8ἀλλ' οὐχὶ ἐρεῖ αὐτῷ, Ἑτοίμασον τί δειπνήσω, καὶ περιζωσάμενος 
διακόνει μοι ἕως φάγω καὶ πίω, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα φάγεσαι καὶ πίεσαι σύ;
Rather, will he not say to him, “Prepare something I may dine, and having girded yourself serve me so that I may eat and drink, and after these things you may help yourself eat and drink.   
ἐρεῖ : FAI 3s, λέγω 1) to say, to speak  (The NRSV makes this 2nd person, you)
Ἑτοίμασον : AAI 2s, ἑτοιμάζω, 1) to make ready, prepare  1a) to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready 
δειπνήσω: AASubj 1s, δειπνέω, 1) sup, to take the chief meal, to dine
περιζωσάμενος : AMPart, nms, περιζώννυμι, 1) to fasten garments with a girdle or belt  2) to gird one's self 
διακόνει: PAImpv 2s, διακονέω, 1) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve,
φάγω: AASubj, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat 
πίω: AASubj, πίνω, 1) to drink 
φάγεσαι : FMI 2s, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat 
πίεσαι : FMI 2s, πίνω, 1) to drink 
1. The last ‘eat and drink’ are reflexive, so I added ‘help yourself’.

 9μὴ ἔχει χάριν τῷ δούλῳ ὅτι ἐποίησεν τὰ διαταχθέντα;
Does he have thanks to the slave that did the things that were ordered? 
Perhaps: ‘Isn’t it grace enough to expect a slave to have done what has been ordered?’
ἔχει : PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  
ἐποίησεν : AAI 3s, ποιέω, 1) to make 
διαταχθέντα: APPart, anpl, διατάσσω, 1) to arrange, appoint, ordain, prescribe, give order
1. I really disagree with the NRSV’s decision to make this 2nd person, “Do you not thank ...” instead of keeping the verb in the 3rd person. I realize that this whole set of questions was begun with “Who among you...” in v.7, but the verbs since then have been clearly 3rd person and that sets up the contrast to where the verbs become 2nd person in v.10.
2. Likewise, the verb here is not ‘to thank’ but ‘to have,’ followed by the object of the verb χάριν , which can mean ‘thanks’ but also could mean ‘grace.’ I guess ‘have thanks’ is too awkward for clarity’s sake.

 10οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὅταν ποιήσητε πάντα τὰ διαταχθέντα ὑμῖν, λέγετε ὅτι 
Δοῦλοι ἀχρεῖοί ἐσμεν,  ὠφείλομεν ποιῆσαι πεποιήκαμεν. 
Thus also you, when you might do all the things that have been ordered to you, say “We are undeserving slaves, that which we were obligated to do we have done.”
ποιήσητε : AASubj, 2pl, ποιέω, 1) to make 
διαταχθέντα : APPart, anpl, διατάσσω, 1) to arrange, appoint, ordain, prescribe, give order
λέγετε : PAImpv, 2pl, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἐσμεν: PAI 1pl, εἰμί, 1) to be,
ὠφείλομεν : IAI 1pl, ὀφείλω, 1) to owe  1a) to owe money, be in debt for  1a1) that which is due, the debt  2) metaph. the goodwill due 
ποιῆσαι: AAInf, ποιέω, 1) to make, do 
πεποιήκαμεν: PerfAI, 1pl, ποιέω, 1) to make, do
1. One question for this verse is how to translate ἀχρεῖοί. Some of the definitions given are: ‘unprofitable’/‘worthless’, ‘of no use’/’useless’, or ‘not wanted’. It seems to me that the point is not that the slave has no value to the master, but that the slave has no reason to assume that she is entitled to eat as a reward for doing her/his obligatory service. Hence, I am saying ‘undeserving’ with respect to being served by the master.
2. A second question is how to employ ἀχρεῖοί. It could be a simple adjective, “worthless slaves” as I have it above. Or, since the main verb is a form of the verb ‘to be,’ it could be a nominative predicate, with Δοῦλοι the nominative subject, like “We slaves are worthless.” I don’t know if “We slaves” is a legitimate rendering for Greek. It sounds like my southern roots are showing.

The interpretive question for this text, it seems to me, is whether verses 5-6 are necessarily connected to verses 7-10 and, if so, what that connection is. If this is one connected pericope, then it might be that the “undeserving slaves” who have no reason to expect special treatment at the table are the Apostles, whose request for increased faith was wrongheaded. Since I don’t really get what, exactly, that request meant, perhaps it was an attempt to become ‘super disciples,’ to have an extra measure of faith in order to perform the kinds of things Jesus is able to do. The retort, then, would be, “Why do you think you deserve special treatment, simply because you have responded to the call that you were given?”

In addition, I can’t help but to hold this teaching in contrast with the words of Luke 14, “[Jesus] said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ (Food for thought.)

* Here is what James Boyer says about the use of the aorist imperative, as in v.5
“It is obvious that the distinction is not in the time of the action, for only in the indicative mood is time involved; all the other moods are future in time reference. Rather, the difference is in the way the speaker chooses to speak of the types of action. There are three basic kinds: (a) durative, continuing, repeated, or customary, expressed by the present tense; (b) simple action, "do it," expressed by the aorist tense; and (c) completed and lasting, expressed by the perfect tense. Major grammars are usually clear on these.
Thus the present imperative expresses a command or request that calls for action that is continuing or repeated, often general, universal, habitual; action that characterizes the doer. "Love one another" means, not "do something," but "always be doing things for one another." On the other hand, the aorist imperative is used to command or request an action that is specific and occasional, dealing with everyday procedural decisions, or in general admonitions simply to say, "Do it."
James Boyer, “A Classification of Imperatives: A Statistical Study” (Grace Theological Seminary, 1987).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mercy Withheld

Below is a rough translation of Luke 16:19-31, the gospel reading for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost in the Revised Common Lectionary.

Before looking at the details of the parable, it might be worthwhile to take a larger view of where this parable is located in Luke’s gospel:
- The previous chapter had three stories about precious things lost and found, including a younger son. The setting of those parables indicate that they were contrasting the expected joy of finding the lost with the religious leaders’ grumbling that Jesus was welcoming sinners and eating with them.
- The sixteenth chapter begins with the puzzling parable of the “dishonest manager” followed by some equally puzzling comments.
- This teaching was followed by ridicule from the Pharisees who, the narrator says, “were lovers of money.”   
- Verses 16 and 17 make explicit reference to ‘the law and the prophets,’ which will return in our pericope as “Moses and the prophets.” However, it is a bit of a curious text in itself: “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.”
- Curiouser and curiouser, v.18 talks about divorce and the ensuing adultery. Honestly, what if we started reading the story that begins in v.19 with the phrase, “Here is how Jesus expounds on the topic of divorce and adultery.” Topically, we can’t do that because v.18 and vv.19ff seem entirely unrelated. Yet, there they are, right next to each other in Luke’s redaction. What can that mean?
-  After our pericope, there is a collection of teachings that leave the Bible translators and framers puzzled when trying to offer subtitles. The NRSV throws in the towel and starts chapter 17 with “Some Sayings of Jesus.”

I don’t know quite what we have learned from looking at the literary context. But, here are some things to consider:
- The rich man and Lazarus may be symbolic of the Pharisees (lovers of money) and the tax collectors and sinners whom Jesus welcomes. The problem with that analogy is that tax collectors were often despised because they were rich at the expense of others.
- The rich man of this parable might be another expression of the owner of the previous parable. That owner is usually depicted as an a-moral character, just doing what he is supposed to be doing, even at the point of offering grudging praise. If we suppose that the rich man of our text is the owner of the previous parable, we might be inclined to see the “dishonest subversive” steward as someone who is finding ways to “make friends” with the rich man/owner’s dishonest wealth.
- If that’s too much of a stretch, the obvious culpability of this rich man ought to staunch the tendency that interpreters often have of assuming that any ‘king, owner, lord, ruler, father, rich man,’ etc. in parables is a figure of what God is like.

Okay, enough of that. On with the show!

19  Ἄνθρωπος δέ τις ἦν πλούσιος, καὶ ἐνεδιδύσκετο πορφύραν καὶ βύσσον 
εὐφραινόμενος καθ' ἡμέραν λαμπρῶς.
Yet a certain man was rich and was clothing himself in purple and linens being delighted each day sumptuously. 
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
ἐνεδιδύσκετο: IMI 3s ἐνδιδύσκω, 1) to put on, clothe, to put on oneself, be clothed in 
εὐφραινόμενος : PPPart, nms, εὐφραίνω, 1) to gladden, make joyful  1a) to be glad, to be merry, to rejoice  1b) to rejoice in, be delighted with a thing 
1. The rich man’s clothing is indicative of his wealth, as well as his agency in this story. The only reason I mention that now is because there are few active or reflexive verbs describing Lazarus. That lack of agency will be characteristic of Lazarus throughout this story, making him – in my mind –more of a two-dimensional example than a real character in this story.

 20 πτωχὸς δέ τις ὀνόματι Λάζαρος ἐβέβλητο πρὸς τὸν πυλῶνα αὐτοῦ 
Yet a certain poor man named Lazarus having been cast at his gate, who was covered with sores
ἐβέβλητο : PluperfectPI 3s, βάλλω, 1) to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls  1a) to scatter, to throw, cast into 
εἱλκωμένος: PPPart, nms, sores (full of), to ulcerate, transitive. Here, passive particularly, full of ulcers
1. The word βάλλω has many uses, but primarily means ‘to throw.’ That is not suggest that people literally threw Lazarus down at the rich man’s gate, but since the verb is passive it implies that he was unable simply to go and sit there to beg of his own accord. He is destitute and helpless. And, he is put at the gate of one person who is more than able to assist him.
2. It should be true in every culture, but in many near east cultures it is shameful not to show mercy to the poor or the ailing. Luke’s audience would have no trouble seeing Lazarus as a victim and the rich man as cold-heartedly ignoring even the rudimentary acts of mercy by not assisting him.
3. The passive verb indicates Lazarus’ dependency, rather than his own agency, in determining where he sits.

 21καὶ ἐπιθυμῶν χορτασθῆναι ἀπὸ τῶν πιπτόντωνἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης τοῦ 
πλουσίου: ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ κύνες ἐρχόμενοι ἐπέλειχον τὰ ἕλκη αὐτοῦ.
and longing to be satiated from the droppings of the table of the rich man; but even the dogs which were coming were licking his sores. 
ἐπιθυμῶν : PAPart, nms, ἐπιθυμέω, 1) to turn upon a thing  2) to have a desire for, long for, to desire  3) to lust after, covet  3a) of those who seek things forbidden 
χορτασθῆναι APInf, χορτάζω, 1) to feed with herbs, grass, hay, to fill, satisfy with food,  to fatten  1a) of animals  2) to fill or satisfy men  3) to fulfil or satisfy the desire of any one 
πιπτόντωνἀπὸ : PAPart, gnpl, πίπτω 1) to descend from a higher place to a lower  1a) to fall (either from or upon)  1a1) to be thrust down
ἐρχόμενοι: PMPart npm, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
ἐπέλειχον: IAI 3pl, to lick, the surface of, lick over 
1. Olubiyi Adeniyi Adewale, in “An Afro-Sociological Application of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” says this about the phrase that I have translated “longing to be satiated”: “The expression έτπθυμών χορτασθήναι ... is a typical Lukan construction to indicate an unfulfilled desire. It also occurs in Luke 15:16; 17:22 and 22:15. It is used to make the readers or listeners understand that Lazarus was unable to lay his hands on even the leftovers that could have been described as waste. It has to be pointed out that the similarity and the proximity of the usage of ετπθυμών χορτασθήναι to that of Luke 15:16 had made some scribes insert the phrase και ouδέis έδίδου αύτώ (and no one was giving anything to him) into the verse here as attested to by f  and the vg.”
2. Adawale further makes the argument that the reference to dogs licking Lazarus’ wounds sounds like the lowest of the low in western ears, but in African culture – and evidence shows that this was true in the ancient near east as well – dog saliva is known to have beneficial effects for wounds and open sores.
3. The dogs’ assistance would be in strong contrast to the rich man’s lack of assistance. “... even the dogs” is my way of making this contrast evident.
4. Lazarus’ “longing to be satiated” is about the only hint of agency or will that we see of him in this parable.
Don’t hate me for this: A parable can say what a parable says, but I think one of the unfortunate unintended consequences of the way Lazarus is depicted in this parable is that the poor person becomes a type, a pitiful helpless victim, with no genuine will, no agency, no say in the matter, and who is just sitting there as people of power decide what he ought to be told to do. I much rather prefer that moment when Jesus meets a blind man and asks, “What would you have me do for you?” At least in that encounter the blind man gets to speak for himself.

 22 ἐγένετο δὲ ἀποθανεῖν τὸν πτωχὸν καὶ ἀπενεχθῆναι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῶν 
ἀγγέλων εἰς τὸν κόλπον Ἀβραάμ: ἀπέθανεν δὲ καὶ  πλούσιος καὶ ἐτάφη.
Yet it happened that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels into the bosom of Abraham; Yet the rich man died also and was buried.
ἐγένετο:  AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence,  2) to come to pass, happen 
ἀποθανεῖν : AAInf ἀποθνήσκω, to die out, expire, become quite dead.
ἀπενεχθῆναι : API, ἀποφέρω, 1) to carry off or bring away 
ἀπέθανεν: AAI 3s, ἀποθνήσκω, to die out, expire, become quite dead.
ἐτάφη: API, 3s, θάπτω, 1) to bury, inter
1. This is a difficult sentence to translate literally because ‘the poor man’ and ‘him’ are in the accusative and not the nominative case. The subject is the implied 3rd person singular of the verb “it happened.” I have modified my original translation because my aim to be as literal as possible ended up just too awkward for my satisfaction. In some ways, the syntax seems to add to the idea that this story is not about Lazarus, but about the unnamed rich man’s fate.
2. Now Lazarus, having been put at the rich man’s gate before death, is carried to Abraham’s bosom after death.
3. The brevity of the rich man’s fate – “and was buried” – is in contrast to Lazarus’ angelic flight to Abraham. Likewise, Lazarus is named, but the rich man remains anonymous. Just the way Jesus tells this story inverts the way people would have regarded the two men in life.

 23καὶ ἐν τῷ ἅ|δῃ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ, ὑπάρχων ἐν βασάνοις, 
ὁρᾷ Ἀβραὰμ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν καὶ Λάζαρον ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ.
And, having lifted up his eyes in hades, where he is being in torment, he sees Abraham from afar and Lazarus in his bosom.
ἐπάρας : AAPart, nms, ἐπαίρω, 1) to lift up, raise up, raise on high  2) metaph. to be lifted up with pride, to exalt one's self 
ὑπάρχων : PAPart, nms, ὑπάρχω, 1) to begin below, to make a beginning  1a) to begin  2) to come forth, hence to be there, be ready, be at hand  3) to be 
ὁρᾷ: PAI 3s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know  3) to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience 
1. There is a tradition at work in this parable that is not evident (as far as I know) in the Old Testament. It seems to be part of that rich theological development that happened around the 3rd century BCE, particularly with respect to the afterlife. It shows an influence of Greek religion – as evidenced by the reference to ‘hades,’ the Greek god of the underworld.
2. An interpretive question is whether one can build a theology about life after death based on a parable. One approach to an answer may be to determine whether the description of Hades, Abraham’s bosom, the great gulf in between, etc. are the point of the parable or simply a storied context for making a different point.

 24καὶ αὐτὸς φωνήσας εἶπεν, Πάτερ Ἀβραάμ, ἐλέησόν με καὶ πέμψον 
Λάζαρον ἵνα βάψῃ τὸ ἄκρον τοῦ δακτύλου αὐτοῦ ὕδατος καὶ καταψύξῃ τὴν γλῶσσάν μου, ὅτι ὀδυνῶμαι ἐν τῇ φλογὶ ταύτῃ.
And having called to him, he said, “Father Abraham, mercy me and send Lazarus in order that he might dip (baptize) the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, because I am suffering in this flame.
φωνήσας: AAPart, nms, φωνέω, 1) to sound, emit a sound, to speak   1a) of a cock: to crow   1b) of men: to cry, cry out, cry aloud, speak with a loud voice   2) to call, to call one's self, either by one's own voice or   though another  
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἐλέησόν : AAImpv, 2s, ἐλεέω 1) to show mercy (more than have compassion), to have the desire of relieving the miserable, to show kindness by beneficence or help.
πέμψον: AAImpv 2s πέμπω, 1) to send  1a) to bid a thing to be carried to one  1b) to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another  
βάψῃ: AAS, 3s, βάπτω, 1) to dip, dip in, immerse 
καταψύξῃ : AAS, 3s, καταψύχω, 1) to cool off, make cool 
ὀδυνῶμαι : PMI, 1s, ὀδυνάω 1) to cause pain or suffering. Here, passive or middle, to feel pain, to suffer.
to pain, distress. In NT only middle or passive, to be pained or distressed 
1. “mercy me” sounds more like Marvin Gaye than Luke, perhaps, but the ‘me’ is in the accusative case, hence the direct object of the verb ‘have mercy’. Most translations, for clarity, make ‘me’ an indirect object, “have mercy on me.” It could also be “show me mercy,” I suppose.  
2. The rich man says to Abraham “mercy me” in the imperative voice, perhaps a sign that he has long been accustomed to giving orders and seeing it done. However, Luke uses “mercy me” 4x (here, 17:13, 18:38 and 18:39), each time in the aorist imperative, so it could imply desperation more than arrogance. Still, it is interesting to use the imperative voice on Father Abraham, which the rich man does repeatedly here.
3. There seems to be a strong cultural criticism implied in the rich man’s presumption that Lazarus ought to be sent (after having been put at the gate then carried to Abraham) to do an act of servitude to the rich man.
4. If this is a true depiction of life after death, then we should get ready to listen to a bunch of whiny rich people trying to comes to terms with justice. Or, maybe “1st world” people in general ought to prepare to be the whiners.

25 εἶπεν δὲ Ἀβραάμ, Τέκνον, μνήσθητι ὅτι ἀπέλαβες τὰ ἀγαθά σου ἐν τῇ ζωῇ 
σου, καὶ Λάζαρος ὁμοίως τὰ κακά: νῦν δὲ ὧδε παρακαλεῖται σὺ δὲ 
Yet Abraham said, “Child, be reminded that you received your good things in your life, and Lazarus likewise the bad things; yet now he is comforted here but you suffer.
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
μνήσθητι: APImpv, 2s, to think much of a thing, and so to remember, to recall to one's mind, to begin to remember, remind. 
ἀπέλαβες : AAI 2s, ἀπολαμβάνω, 1) to receive  1a) of what is due or promised  παρακαλεῖται : PPI 3s, παρακαλέω, 1) to call to one's side, call for, summon  - every kind of speaking to which is meant to produce a particular effect, for example exhortation, comfort, encouragement.
ὀδυνᾶσαι: PMI 2s, to cause pain or suffering. Here, passive or middle, to feel pain, to suffer
1. Abraham’s use of “child,” corresponds with the rich man’s use of “Father Abraham.” It also seems to deflate the rich man’s presumption a bit.
2. It is interesting that Abraham frames the distinction in what the rich man and Lazarus both “received” in life, not in their accomplishments.
3. It is further interesting that Abraham does not say, “therefore he is comforted while you suffer.” A “therefore” would have stated clearly that having a comfortable life before death means suffering after, and suffering before death means having a comfortable life after. Based on the way the story was begun, I think the rich man’s lack of attention to Lazarus while living sumptuously is the reason why he is in flames after death.

 26 καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τούτοις μεταξὺ ἡμῶν καὶ ὑμῶν χάσμα μέγα ἐστήρικται, 
ὅπως οἱ θέλοντες διαβῆναι ἔνθεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς μὴ δύνωνται, μηδὲ ἐκεῖθεν 
πρὸς ἡμᾶς διαπερῶσιν.
And besides this between us and you a large chasm has been fixed, so that those who wish to cross over from here to you may not be able, nor likewise they might pass over to us.
ἐστήρικται: PerfPI, 3s, στηρίζω, 1) to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix  2) to strengthen, make firm  3) to render constant, confirm, one's mind
θέλοντες : PAPart nmpl, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose  1b) to desire, to wish  1c) to love  1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing  1d) to take delight in, have pleasure
διαβῆναι : AAI, 3pl διαβαίνω,  1) to pass through, cross over 
δύνωνται: PMS 3pl, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable  circumstances, or by permission of law or custom
διαπερῶσιν: PAS 3pl, διαπεράω, 1) to pass over, cross over, i.e. a river, a lake 
1. Again the story appeals to a theological tradition that is not immediately evident in the theological traditions of the Old Testament or in many other stories from the New Testament. I suspect that it is also not evident to Luke’s audience, because it seems a bit odd for Abraham to point out the gulf between them to someone who is sitting there on the other side of it.
2. I suspect that this verse is, in part, an attempt to show that Abraham’s unwillingness to show mercy to the suffering rich man is not an indication of cold-heartedness on Abraham’s part (as was the rich’s man’s unwillingness to offer aid to Lazarus), but simply an impossibility. Still, I must admit that I am a little troubled by the description of 'mercy' in this story, as "just deserts," that are contingent on one's previous actions.

 27 εἶπεν δέ, Ἐρωτῶ σε οὖν, πάτερ, ἵνα πέμψῃς αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ 
πατρός μου,
Yet he said, “Then I beg you, father, in order that you may send him into my father’s house,
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἐρωτῶ : PAI 1s, ἐρωτάω, 1) to question  2) to ask  2a) to request, entreat, beg, beseech 
πέμψῃς: AAS, 2s, πέμπω, 1) to send  1a) to bid a thing to be carried to one  1b) to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another  
1. This verse is a curious hybrid of deference and hubris. It is clear that the rich man has cultivated an ability along the way to speak humbly and deferentially (yet still asserting his will) to his superiors, while assuming that his and his family’s needs are more important than “the help,” like Lazarus.

 28 ἔχω γὰρ πέντε ἀδελφούς, ὅπως διαμαρτύρηται αὐτοῖς, ἵνα μὴ καὶ αὐτοὶ 
ἔλθωσιν εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦτον τῆς βασάνου.
For I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, in order that they may not also come into this place of torment. 
ἔχω: PAI 1s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold 
διαμαρτύρηται : PMS 3s, διαμαρτύρομαι, 1) to testify  1a) earnestly, religiously to charge  2) to attest, testify to, solemnly affirm 
ἔλθωσιν : AAS 3pl, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
1. In verses 24-29 Abraham and the rich man are talking about Lazarus, who is present, but not active. We never hear his voice, his opinion on what he is being told to do, or anything of that sort.

29 λέγει δὲ Ἀβραάμ, Ἔχουσι Μωϋσέα καὶ τοὺς προφήτας: ἀκουσάτωσαν 
But Abraham says, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them.”
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἔχουσι: PAI 3pl, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  
ἀκουσάτωσαν: AAImpv 3pl, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear 
1. I like how this story has Abraham referring to Moses and the prophets. It shows a unity of the tradition and an echo of vv.16-17.

 30  δὲ εἶπεν, Οὐχί, πάτερ Ἀβραάμ, ἀλλ' ἐάν τις ἀπὸ νεκρῶν πορευθῇ πρὸς 
αὐτοὺς μετανοήσουσιν. 
Yet he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead were to go to them, they will repent.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
πορευθῇ: APS 3s, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer  1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on  one's journey  
μετανοήσουσιν: FAI 3pl, μετανοέω, 1) to change one's mind, i.e. to repent  2) to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence  of one's past sins 
1. Note to self. Whatever the afterlife looks like, arguing with Father Abraham is not a winning strategy.
2. The rich man is showing some compassion for his brothers. That’s an point to pursue – he knows how to be concerned about the welfare of others, but his perspective seems to be limited to his own kin. If he had just channeled that concern to Lazarus along the way, both of their lives could have been richer. But, even now, Lazarus is simply of instrumental value to his concern for his kinsmen.  

31 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ, Εἰ Μωϋσέως καὶ τῶν προφητῶν οὐκ ἀκούουσιν, οὐδ' ἐάν 
τις ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῇ πεισθήσονται.
Yet he said to him, “If they are not listening to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should arise out of the dead. 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἀκούουσιν: PAI 3pl, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf   
ἀναστῇ: AAS 3s, ἀνίστημι, 1) to cause to rise up, raise up  1a) raise up from laying down  1b) to raise up from the dead  
πεισθήσονται: FPI 3pl, πείθω, 1) persuade  1a) to persuade, i.e. to induce one by words to believe 
1. The use of the present tense, ‘they have Moses and the prophets’ and ‘listening to Moses and the prophets,’ indicate that the Words of God given via the law and prophets were considered dynamic and present, not just a set of historical writings. This reminds me a bit of how Jesus argued that God’s words to Moses at the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” indicated that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not dead but had an ongoing relationship with God – an argument that belief in resurrection is latent and assumed in the Old Testament.
2. It is near impossible not to read this part of the story as casting a sideward glance to the reception that people either have or do not have to the message of Jesus’ resurrection. If we’re willing to go there, we might read Luke surmising that the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is not readily received as one might think. Or, we might read Luke arguing that the phenomenon of resurrection is not different in kind than ‘having’ and ‘listening’ to Moses and the prophets. 

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