Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Twice Led, Not Fed, Well Read

Below is a rough translation and some initial commentary on Luke 4:1-13, the gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent. I continue to believe that Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s parable, “The Grand Inquisitor” (in the book The Brothers Karamazov) is one of the most profound commentaries on this story anywhere. And, it is interesting! I remember vividly how a youth group was spellbound as I told them this parable and how stunned they were at the ending of it. Please don’t overlook it as a resource this week.

My title, “Twice Led, Not Fed, Well Read” picks up on the dynamics of this story- how Jesus was led by the spirit in the wilderness, then led by the devil to the place of testing; how he hungered and still refused to make a stone into bread; and how the discourse between Jesus and the devil was, in some ways, a wrestling over the heart of the Scriptures. Of course, this is just the rough beginnings of the exegetical process, so I am not developing those ideas to much degree.

Your comments are welcomed. Blessings on your Lenten journey.

1 Ἰησοῦς δὲ πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου ὑπέστρεψεν ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ ἤγετο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ
Then Jesus full of a holy spirit returned from the Jordan and was being led by the spirit in the wilderness,
ὑπέστρεψεν: AAI 3s, ὑποστρέφω, 1) to turn back  1a) to turn about  2) to return
ἤγετο: IPI 3s, ἄγω, 1) to lead, take with one
πνεύματος;  ἐν τῷ πνεύματι
1. The phrase ‘of a holy spirit’ is a genitive construction that has no definite article. In Lk.3:22 when Jesus is baptized, Luke writes that ‘the holy spirit’ (τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον) descended on him, using the definite article for that phrase (in the accusative case.) The larger point is that in 3:22, the spirit descends on Jesus; in 4:1 Jesus is full of a holy spirit; and in 4:14 (the beginning of the next pericope) Jesus is again described as being filled with the power of the spirit. What a difference that baptism made!
2. The conjunction δὲ, which often takes the shape of “then” (could be ‘yet’ ‘but’ or ‘and’) in Luke’s gospel, is curious. What precedes this story immediately is the genealogy at the end of Luke 3. The δὲ is a way of getting back to the narrative by connecting this story to the baptism story that ends in 3:22. My suspicion is that the genealogy of 3:23-38 was added later.
3. The verb “led” (ἤγετο) is imperfect, not aorist. The imperfect often takes on the sense of an ongoing past event, while the aorist often takes the sense of a simple past. One expects an aorist here, “was led,” rather than the imperfect, “was being led.” The difference might be that a holy spirit was with him throughout the time in the wilderness, as opposed to having led him to the edge of the wilderness and leaving him there on his own. For more on this, see v.9 below.
5. Luke follows Mark’s lead in granting importance to the wilderness in the story of Jesus.

2 ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν.
forty days being tested by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and in the completing of them, he hungered.
πειραζόμενος: PPPart nsm, πειράζω, 1) to try whether a thing can be done  1a) to attempt, endeavour  2) to try, make trial of, test: 
ἔφαγεν: AAI 3s, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat 
συντελεσθεισῶν: APPart gpf, συντελέω, 1) to end together or at the same time  2) to end completely  2a) bring to an end, finish, complete
ἐπείνασεν: AAI 3s, πεινάω, 1) to hunger, be hungry 
1. “in the completing of them” is very awkward, but I am trying to reflect that συντελεσθεισῶν is a genitive participle.
2. The participial form of συντελέω will come back again in v.13. (That’s a teaser, folks!)
3. This story is the only mention of “the devil” outside of the parable of the sower in Luke. Luke does mention Satan several times (10:18, 11:18, 13:16, 22:3, 22:31) and some less reliable manuscripts have the phrase “Get behind me, Satan!” affixed to v.12 below (following Matthew). As I understand it, ‘devil’ was rooted in Greek and ‘Satan’ was rooted in Hebrew, but, I am not certain that Jesus/Luke used the words “devil” and Satan” interchangeably.
4. “Hungered” is a verb, not an adjective.

3 Εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ διάβολος, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ τῷ λίθῳ τούτῳ ἵνα γένηται ἄρτος.
The devil said to him, “Since you are the God’s son, speak to this stone in order that it may become bread.”
Εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
εἶ: PAI 2s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
εἰπὲ: AAImpv 2s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
γένηται: AMSubj 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be
1. Paul Achtemeier points out that the Εἰ here should be translated, "Since you are God's son” not “If you are ....” I think it is because the Εἰ is followed by an indicative and not a subjunctive verb. Says Achtemeier, “What is at issue is not whether Jesus is really God's son; even the devil is willing to concede that. The temptation has to do with how God's son should act.”  1213
2. The temptation does not say “make this stone into bread,” but “speak this stone into bread.” Is the devil referencing the creation story of Genesis 1, where God speaks creation into being?
3. The first test seems related to the observation that Jesus hungered in v.2 and how someone with God’s power might satiate such hunger.  

4 καὶ ἀπεκρίθη πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦς, Γέγραπται ὅτι Οὐκ ἐπ' ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ἄνθρωπος.
And Jesus answered to him, “It has been written, ‘The human will not live by bread alone.’”
ἀπεκρίθη: API 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 
Γέγραπται: PerfPI 3s, γράφω, 1) to write, with reference to the form of the letters
ζήσεται: FMI 3s, ζάω, 1) to live, breathe, be among the living
1. The test is for Jesus, as a son of God, to speak bread into being from a stone. The response speaks to what is proper to ‘the human’ (ὁ ἄνθρωπος). I don’t want to suggest that Jesus and the devil are having a 4th century argument over the humanity v. the deity of the Christ, but those terms are interesting.
2. And the terms ‘son of God’ v. ‘human’ must mean something. My suspicion is that it is a matter of identity – which identity will Jesus accept, particularly in his weakened state of hunger.
3. Deuteronomy 8:3 reads, “[God] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Reading Jesus’ words in this context suggests that for Jesus to act as a son of God and command a stone to become bread would not just be for him to act as something other than human. It would also be a way of not trusting that God will provide.

5Καὶ ἀναγαγὼν αὐτὸν ἔδειξεν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τῆς οἰκουμένης ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου:
And having led him up he showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
ἀναγαγὼν: AAPart nsm, ἀνάγω, 1) to lead up, to lead or bring into a higher place 
ἔδειξεν: AAI 3s, δεικνύω, to show, exhibit
1. According to my resources, the word οἰκουμένης, translated ‘world’ here, refers more to the inhabited or perhaps ‘civilized’ world than to the globe itself. It was used during NT era to name the Greek and then Roman empires, as opposed to ‘barbarian’ lands. At its root is the word ‘house’ (οἰκος) and it where we get the word ‘ecumenical’.
2. Paul Tillich famously distinguished between ‘chronos’ and ‘kairos’ as two different ways of speaking about time – a distinction that corresponds with many lexicons. To wit, chronos signifies linear, measurable time and kairos signifies a specific, propitious time, such as “at the right time.” It is a very helpful distinction for theological reflection, but I am wary of assuming that each NT writer was following that distinction closely. In v.5, kairos is frequently translated as ‘time,’ in the phrase ‘a moment of time.’ In v.13 below, many translations make ‘kairos’ “opportune time.”  

6 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ διάβολος, Σοὶ δώσω τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἅπασαν καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδέδοται καὶ ἐὰν θέλω δίδωμι αὐτήν:
And the devil* said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for to me it has been given and I give it to whomever I will.
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
δώσω: FAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give
παραδέδοται: PerfPI 3s, παραδίδωμι, 1) to give into the hands (of another) 
θέλω: PASubj 1s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend
δίδωμι: PAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give
1. This is quite a political commentary on the empires (the way that βασιλείας from v.5 was most often used in the NT era). They receive their territories and authority from the devil. And it may be quite a theological commentary, suggesting that it is God who gives the devil the power of empire-making.
2. Jesus (and the synoptic gospel writers) will use the term βασιλείας often in the phrase “kingdom of God/heaven.” As Warren Carter points out, this term is one way that the NT writers imitated, and did not simply resist, the Roman Empire. This test, however, is puts a critical distance between Jesus’ embrace of the term βασιλείας and the devilish power behind other empires.

7 σὺ οὖν ἐὰν προσκυνήσῃς ἐνώπιον ἐμοῦ, ἔσται σοῦ πᾶσα.
Therefore if you would bow before me, it will all be yours.”
προσκυνήσῃς: AASubj 2s, προσκυνέω, 1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence  ...  3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage
ἔσται: FMI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. One implication of this offer is that the previous empires had bowed before the devil in order to receive their kingdoms. I would argue that subsequent empires have as well.
2. As a reader of too many bloody Bernard Cornwell novels, it is always a significant moment when a warrior will kneel before a king and pledge his loyalty. It is a sacred bond that puts the warrior at the king’s disposal with the promise of great reward.

8καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Γέγραπται, Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις.
And having answered 5678Jesus said to him, “It has been written, ‘Bow to the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
ἀποκριθεὶς: APPart nsm, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Γέγραπται: PerfPI 3s, γράφω, 1) to write, with reference to the form of the letters
προσκυνήσεις: FAI 2s, προσκυνέω, 1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence  ...  3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage
λατρεύσεις: FAI 2s, λατρεύω, 1) to serve for hire  2) to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used  alike of slaves and freemen  2a) in the NT, to render religious service or homage, to worship
1. If the devil were as clever as some other tyrants in history, he would have argued that, since God gave him the authority he has, Jesus would be serving God by serving him. Either the devil is not that clever (which I find hard to believe) or Jesus wasn’t that stupid (which I find easy to believe).
2. Deuteronomy 6:13 reads, “The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.”

9 Ἤγαγεν δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν ἐντεῦθεν κάτω:
Then he led him to Jerusalem and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “Since you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,
Ἤγαγεν: AAI 3s, ἄγω, 1) to lead, take with one 
ἔστησεν: AAI 3s, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
βάλε: AAImpv 2s, βάλλω, 1) to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls
1. The devil “led” Jesus to Jerusalem. Luke uses the same verb here that was used of a holy spirit by which Jesus “was being led” into the wilderness in v.1. In v.1, the verb is not only passive but also imperfect, which means ongoing past. Here in v.9, the verb is aorist, meaning simple past. It is conceivable that the holy spirit of v.1 is still leading Jesus, even while the devil of v.9 is momentarily leading Jesus. That coterminous leading is very intriguing.

10 γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε,
for it has been written, ‘His angels he will command concerning you, to protect you’,
γέγραπται: PerfPI 3s, γράφω, 1) to write, with reference to the form of the letters
ἐντελεῖται: FMI 3s, ἐντέλλομαι, 1) to order, command to be done, enjoin 
διαφυλάξαι: AAInf, διαφυλάσσω, 1) to guard carefully
1. Psalm 91:11-12 reads, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

11 καὶ ὅτι Ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου.
and ‘On hands they will bear you up, [so that] you may not dash against a stone your foot.’”
ἀροῦσίν: FAI 3p, αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up 
προσκόψῃς: AASubj 2s, προσκόπτω, 1) to strike against  1a) of those who strike against a stone or other obstacle  in the path, to stumble 
1. The stark contrast between casting oneself off of the temple’s pinnacle and ‘dashing one’s foot against a stone’ seems rather dramatic. However, the 91st Psalm is fraught with dangers both humanly contrived (battlefield) and natural (serpents, lions, etc.)

12 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Εἴρηται, Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου.
And having answered, Jesus said to him, “It has been said, ‘You will not test the Lord your God.’”
ἀποκριθεὶς: APPart nsm, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Εἴρηται: PerfPI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
ἐκπειράσεις: FAI 2s, ἐκπειράζω, 1) to prove, test, thoroughly 
1. Does this reply suggest some priority of things spoken over things written?
2. The words Jesus quotes are not in the imperative voice, as they are often translated. They are indicative in the future tense.
3. The close relationship between the word “test” (ἐκπειράζω) in this verse and the word “test” (πειράζω) in v. 2 is notable. Jesus was testd, but God is not to be tested.
4. Deuteronomy 6:16 reads, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”

13 Καὶ συντελέσας πάντα πειρασμὸν διάβολος ἀπέστη ἀπ' αὐτοῦ ἄχρι καιροῦ.
And having completed all of the tests the devil departed from him until a time.
συντελέσας: AAPart nsm, συντελέω, 1) to end together or at the same time  2) to end completely  2a) bring to an end, finish, complete
ἀπέστη: AAI 3s, ἀφίστημι 1. draw away ... depart from ...  withdraw one's self
1. The participle of συντελέω has returned! In v.2 above this participle signifies the completion of the 40 days of fasting. Here, it signifies the completion of the tests.
2. As I pointed out in a v.5 comment, the word kairos is often translated ‘opportune time’ (NIV, NRSV) or ‘convenient season’ (YLT). There is no adverb for ‘opportune.’ It is a judgment call regarding the meaning of kairos.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Rough and Tumble Reception

A Rough and Tumble Reception

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary notes for Luke 4:22-30, the gospel reading for Sunday, January 31. This is a very confrontational scene, which ends with the people of Nazareth pushing Jesus to a cliff and trying to kill him. Last week’s reading (vv.14-21) was quite different. Last week we learned that Jesus was ‘nurtured’ in Nazareth and that one of the customs that was given to him was to go to the synagogue on the day of the Sabbath. Last week, the synagogue in Nazareth was the place which had the scrolls of the prophet Isaiah that Jesus read.
But that was last week. This week, things go south in a hurry.
I suspect the key issue here is whether the people of Nazareth had a sense of exceptionalism, a feeling that they were entitled to a greater share of the good news that this anointed one – one of their own – was given to share. I relate this issue to a larger issue that any people of God face when they view themselves as elected - a valid way of viewing oneself, in my opinion, but a view that has to face the issue that Jesus raises here. Does being the elect mean that the good news is to us, or that the good news is to others through us? I feel that something like that question is latent throughout the Hebrew Bible and is at play here.

22 Καὶ πάντες ἐμαρτύρουν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐθαύμαζον  τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος
τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον, Οὐχὶ υἱός ἐστιν 
Ἰωσὴφ οὗτος; 
And all were bearing witness to him and were marveling over the words of grace which were coming out of his mouth, and were saying, “Is this not a son of Joseph?” 
ἐμαρτύρουν: IAI, 3p, μαρτυρέω, 1) to be a witness, to bear witness, 
ἐθαύμαζον: IAI 3p, θαυμάζω, 1) to wonder, wonder at, marvel  2) to be wondered at, to be had in admiration
ἐκπορευομένοις: PMPart dpm, ἐκπορεύομαι, 1) to go forth, go out, depart 
ἔλεγον: IAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. This is an interesting use of the word μαρτυρέω, ‘to witness.’ One expects a direct object, in the accusative case, to say that they ‘witnessed him.’ But, it the verb has a direct object in the dative case, which typically would be, ‘they witnessed to him.’ But, it does not seem to be the case that the crowds are bearing witness ‘to’ Jesus, but are looking at one another and speaking ‘about’ him, which typically would have the preposition πἐρὶ or ‘of’ him in the genitive case.
2. The question regarding Jesus’ family could be fairly benign and, coming on the heels of people speaking well (if that is how one chooses to interpret ‘μαρτυρέω’) and ‘marveling,’ one could expect that it is well-intended. However, the word ‘marvel’ (θαυμάζω) in Luke has a long use and not every time is positive. It could be a challenge.
3. Whatever the intention of this verse, it seems to be a turning point, or to evoke a turning point, because Jesus immediately responds with challenging words that posit him against the crowd. It seems to me that the interpretive issue over this question is whether it is a challenge that provokes Jesus’ response beginning in v.23, or, whether Jesus provokes the antipathy with his words in v.23.
4. One response may be that calling Jesus “Joseph’s son” could be – at least to the reader of Luke’s gospel, whether or not this could be true of the folks gathered in Nazareth that day – a way of challenging and denying the whole meaning of the birth narrative, which establishes Jesus as much more than Joseph’s son.
5. I suspect that this question is provocative, but not because it denies Jesus’ divine conception. Rather, I think it is an attempt to claim Jesus as their own, to domesticate him into a local house priest, filled with the expectation that whatever he has been doing abroad he will surely do and more here in his home town. Of course, I wouldn’t think that except for what happens in the following verses.
6. Here are the uses of θαυμάζω in Luke. Whoever put this list together initially chose ‘marvel’ at times and ‘wondered’ at times.
Luk 1:21
...for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried...
Luk 1:63
...is John. And they marveled all.
Luk 2:18
...that heard it wondered at those things...
Luk 2:33
...and his mother marveled at those things...
Luk 4:22
...him witness, and wondered at the gracious...
Luk 7:9
...heard these things, he marveled at him, and...
Luk 8:25
...they being afraid wondered, saying one to...
Luk 9:43
...of God. But while they wondered every one at...
Luk 11:14
...and the people wondered.
Luk 11:38
...Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had...
Luk 20:26
...the people: and they marveled at his answer...
Luk 24:12
...themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at...
Luk 24:41
...for joy, and wondered, he said unto...
7. Okay, here is where my head is at the moment on this verse: Perhaps it should be translated, “And all were witness about him (neutral: could be good or bad) and were astounded (maybe not so good) over the words of favor (that’s how this word is translated in other places in Luke) which were coming out of his mouth, and said, “Is this not a son of Joseph?”
We’ve been taught to assume – per Borg, Crossan, Horsley, Carter, etc. – that everyone in greater Israel – with the exception of a few wealthy elites – were the poor, the oppressed, etc. But what if the people of Nazareth heard these words as “favor” to “not us”? Is the selection of Isaiah and the declaration of Isaiah’s words being fulfilled the offense itself that drives this story downward?

Verse 22 could be translated in a way to show the crowd’s unfavorable reaction, rather than their admiration.

23 καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Πάντως ἐρεῖτέ μοι τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην: Ἰατρέ, 
θεράπευσον σεαυτόν: ὅσα ἠκούσαμεν γενόμενα εἰς τὴν Καφαρναοὺμ 
ποίησον καὶ ὧδε ἐν τῇ πατρίδι σου.
And he said to them, “Doubtless you will say to me this parable: Physician, heal yourself! That which what we heard you have done in Capernaum also do in your fatherland.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
ἐρεῖτέ: FAI 2pl, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
θεράπευσον: AAImpv 2s, θεραπεύω, 1) to serve, do service  2) to heal, cure, restore to health
ἠκούσαμεν: AAI 1p, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf  2) to hear
γενόμενα: AMPart apm, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being 
ποίησον: AAImpv 2s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc
1. Some translations (ESV, NIV, NRSV) use the word “quote” for the future form of λέγω. I suppose it is a judgment call, based on the idea that Jesus is citing a familiar phrase. But, see note #3 for this verse.
2. Jesus calls this phrase a parable (παραβολὴν), thus confirming my ongoing suspicion that we have very little idea what the word ‘parable’ actually meant to 1st century Galilean folk. This phrase would not fit any modern definition of a ‘parable.’ That is why most translations use the word “proverb” instead.
3.  If Jesus is ‘quoting’ a ‘parable,’ where does the quote end? One would think that the familiar phrase would be the brief, “Physician, heal thyself!” (I actually had a college roommate say that to a dying aloe plant once. Think about it.) However, in the next sentence, Jesus continues to put words in the crowd’s mouth. So, perhaps the familiar ‘parable’ contains both sentences, not just the brief version.
4. This is quite an assumption on Jesus’ part. Is this what they are truly thinking? We can’t know because all we have is the story. In the story, however, their approval very quickly turns ugly. So, in the story, this is the motive that is ascribed to them. That is why I believe that the reference to Jesus as Joseph’s son was a provocative attempt to domesticate Jesus and make him Nazareth’s own prophet and to set Nazareth apart as special recipient of his work. 
5. I translate πατρίδι as ‘fatherland’ because of the obvious reference to father in it. My only hesitation is that Nazareth is a town, so the word ‘fatherland’ may be too big to fit. Many translations go with ‘city.’  
6. If this is truly what the Nazareans are thinking, imagine how it contrasts with the words of Isaiah. Jesus is sent to those who have been marginalized, not to those who live within assumed privileged boundaries.

24 εἶπεν δέ, Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεὶς προφήτης δεκτός ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πατρίδι 
αὐτοῦ. 
But/and he said, “Amen I say to you that a no prophet is acceptable in his fatherland.”
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
λέγω: PAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. Perhaps this is the “battle of the sayings.” In this corner we have, “Physician, heal yourself! Do in your fatherland what we hear you are doing elsewhere.” In that corner, is “No prophet is accepted in his fatherland.” One seems to imply that the physician is at fault for a lack of honoring the homeland. The other seems to imply that the homeland is at fault for failing to honor the prophet’s necessary message.  We will see which of these sayings proves true. One is set off with “you will say to me” and the other “Amen I say to you.”
2. Perhaps there is a play on words here – the word ‘acceptable’ is the same word to describe the ‘acceptable year of the Lord’ in the Isaiah text that Jesus has just read.
3. The word “Amen” is a transliteration of Ἀμὴν. It is sometimes translated ‘truly’, but on this occasion I am keeping it transliteral because of the way Jesus uses the phrase “in truth” in the next verse.

25ἐπ' ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἠλίου ἐν 
τῷ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτε ἐκλείσθη  οὐρανὸς ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ, ὡς ἐγένετο 
λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν, 
But in truth I say to you, “Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, as great famine took place over all the land,
λέγω: PAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
ἦσαν: IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἐκλείσθη: API 3s, κλείω, 1) to shut, shut up  2) metaph.  2a) to cause the heavens to withhold rain
ἐγένετο: AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being

26 καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἠλίας εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας 
πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν. 
And to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath of Sidon to a widow woman. 
ἐπέμφθη: API, 3s, πέμπω, 1) to send  1a) to bid a thing to be carried to one 
1. The story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath is in I Kings 17. Zarephath of Sidon was a Phoenician city. Some legends say that the Phoenicians were descended from the Canaanites.

27 καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ Ἐλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου, καὶ 
οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν  Σύρος.
And many lepers were in Israel with Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syria.
ἦσαν: IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἐκαθαρίσθη: API 3s, καθαρίζω, 1) to make clean, cleanse  
1. The story of Elisha and Naaman is in II Kings 5. It begins this way: “Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.”
2. Certainly the folks of Nazareth were quite familiar with both of these stories that Jesus cites. The hermeneutical question is, do these stories indicate a rule, or are they exceptions to the rule?
3. I suspect that one of the ongoing arguments/conversations within the Jewish community was over what it means to be God’s elect. Does being elected, chosen by God, mean that the people of Israel will be blessed among all other nations? Or, does it means that the people of Israel will be the means – however this works out for them – by which all nations will be blessed? Both options are possible when one reads the initial covenant that God makes with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
4. Not to be missed is that Naaman was the enemy. And while the narrator says that God gave the victory to Naaman, the victory was against Israel.

28 καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες θυμοῦ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ ἀκούοντες ταῦτα,
And all in the synagogue were filled with wrath, hearing these things
ἐπλήσθησαν: API 3p πίμπλημι, to fill up
ἀκούοντες: PAPart npm, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf
1. greattreasures.org has this to say about the difference between the words ὀργή and θυμός, both of which can be translated ‘wrath’:  ὀργή is the abiding, settled habit of mind, the settled purpose of wrath. θυμός is the turbulent commotion of the mind, rage.  ὀργή is, as it were, the heat of the fire; θυμός the bursting forth of the flame. ὀργή is less sudden in its rise, but more lasting.  [I guess that makes this group a ‘flash mob’.]

29 καὶ ἀναστάντες ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἕως 
ὀφρύος τοῦ ὄρους ἐφ' οὗ  πόλις ᾠκοδόμητο αὐτῶν, ὥστε κατακρημνίσαι 
αὐτόν:
And having risen, they threw him out of the city, and brought him to a cliff of the mountain on which their city was built, in order to cast him down;
ἀναστάντες: AAPart npm, ἀνίστημι, 1) to cause to rise up, raise up
ἐξέβαλον: AAI 3p, ἐκβάλλω, 1) to cast out, drive out, to send out
ἤγαγον : AAI, 3pl, ἄγω,  1) to lead, take with one  1a) to lead by laying hold of, and this way to bring to the  point of destination: of an animal 
ᾠκοδόμητο : PluperfectPI 3s, οἰκοδομέω, 1) to build a house, erect a building
κατακρημνίσαι : AAInf, cast down headlong, to cast down from a precipice.
1. They cast him out of the city – that is, Nazareth, where he had been nurtured (v.16).
2. The intensity of this scene is remarkable. There is an extreme change from v.22, where all spoke well of him and marveled and asked if he were not Joseph’s son. And, this verse covers very tersely what must have been a drawn out event of angry voices dragging and screaming, of perhaps a friend, a mother, a disciple or two, trying to resist, of real and formidable mob violence.

30 αὐτὸς δὲ διελθὼν διὰ μέσου αὐτῶν ἐπορεύετο. 
But he, having passed through the midst of them, went on.
διελθὼν: AAPart nsm, διέρχομαι, 1) to go through, pass through
ἐπορεύετο: IMI 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
1. This may be the most anticlimactic of anticlimaxes ever.

The proverb, “Phyisican, heal yourself,” seems to be something like, “take the mote out of your eye before attending to the splinter in others’ eyes,” or “you saved others; why can’t you save yourself?” However, it takes on a different shade of meaning when augmented with, “That which what we heard you have done in Capernaum also do in your fatherland.” That makes it more of a “charity begins at home” sort of spatial reference, rather than a personal one. That is why I think the comment in v.22, to Jesus’ place in the family, is what provokes this response by Jesus. They are trying to put Jesus in his place, both with regard to his family and his hometown.


It is an interesting dilemma: Nazareth is where Jesus was raised and where he learned the custom of attending synagogue on the Sabbath, reading the Scriptures and hearing them proclaimed as meaningful today. Yet, when he does that, by selecting the Isaiah text of God sending one out to the margins of society, by appealing to the traditions of Elijah and Elisha who reached outside of their people to aid/heal ‘the other,’ the home town community feels left out – even murderously angry.  

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