Sunday, June 19, 2016

Outright Rejection and Hesitant Responses


Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding the gospel lesson for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 9:51-62.
This reading seems to contain two pericopes. Verses 51-56 is the story of Jesus preparing to stay at an village of Samaritans but being denied, and the harsh reaction by James and John. Verses 57-62 are a series of brief dialogues between Jesus and some who are either called to follow or who offer to follow. Each has stipulations and Jesus does not seem sympathetic with those stipulations.
I welcome your comments.

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ καὶ 
αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ,
Yet it happened in the fulfilling of the days of his being taken up and he firmly set his face to the journeying into Jerusalem. 
Ἐγένετο : AMI 3s, γίνομαι,  1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive
συμπληροῦσθαι: PPInf, συμπληρόω, 1) to fill completely  1a) of the hold of a ship  2) to complete entirely, be fulfilled: of time
ἐστήρισεν : AAI 3s, στηρίζω, 1) to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix  2) to strengthen, make firm  3) to render constant, confirm, one's mind 
πορεύεσθαι: PMInf, 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 is an odd reference and foreshadowing, for Luke to speak of the “fulfilling of the days of [Jesus] being taken up.”
- The “fulfilling” is the same way that Luke introduces the story of the Day of Pentecost. In that story, I have often felt that the events of Pentecost, particularly as Peter interprets it through the prophecy of Joel, actually fulfill the original meaning and purpose of the festival of weeks (another name for Pentecost). If that logic holds and if Luke is using this term similarly here, the use of συμπληρόω suggests that the journey to Jerusalem is – in Luke’s theology – the means by which Jesus fulfills the ascension. That could be different from saying, for example, that the point of this journey is the cross or even the resurrection. It would shift the focus to the ascension as the point.
- However, the noun for “taken up, ἀναλήμψεως, is different than the verb that Luke uses in 24:51 when Luke says that Jesus was ἀναφέρω, “carried up” into heaven.
2. The terms “face” (πρόσωπον) and “journeying” (πορεύομαι) will appear over the next 2 verses also, with πορεύομαι appearing throughout the pericope. 


 52καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ. καὶ πορευθέντες εἰσῆλθον εἰς κώμην Σαμαριτῶν, ὡς ἑτοιμάσαι αὐτῷ:
And he sent messengers before his face.  And having journeyed, they entered into a village of Samaritans, in order to prepare for him.
ἀπέστειλεν : AAI 3s, ἀποστέλλω, 1) to order (one) to go to a place appointed  2) to send away, dismiss 
πορευθέντες: AAPart npm, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer  1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on  one's journey 
εἰσῆλθον: AAI 3pl, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter 
ἑτοιμάσαι : AAInf, ἑτοιμάζω, 1) to make ready, prepare 
1. The word for “messengers” is the same word that is translated “angels” in other stories, most notably the birth narratives.
2. The word “prepare” (ἑτοιμάζω) gets quite a workout in Luke’s gospel. See the list below for more information.

 53καὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον εἰς 
Ἰερουσαλήμ.
And they did not welcome him, because his face was journeying into Jerusalem. 
ἐδέξαντο : AMI 3pl, δέχομαι, 1) to take with the hand  1a) to take hold of, take up  2) to take up, receive 
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
πορευόμενον : PMPart, nns, 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. The lack of “receiving” Jesus was more than a personal slight. It speaks of the deep cultural value of hospitality. In addition, just prior to this pericope Jesus said: “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me....” Lk. 9:48
2. The antipathy between Jews and Samaritans is thick in this story. We remember that it is after this story in Luke that Jesus tells a parable making a Samaritan the hero because of his cross-cultural rendering of hospitality.

 54 ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης εἶπαν, Κύριε, θέλεις εἴπωμεν 
πῦρ καταβῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀναλῶσαι αὐτούς;
Yet having seen, the disciples James and John said, “Lord, do you want that we might command fire to come down from the heaven and to consume them?”
ἰδόντες : AAPart, nmpl, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know 
εἶπαν: AAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
θέλεις: PAI 2s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  
εἴπωμεν : AASubj, 1pl, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
καταβῆναι: AAInf, καταβαίνω, 1) to go down, come down, descend
ἀναλῶσαι : AAInf, ἀναλίσκω, 1) to expend  1a) to consume, e.g. spend money  2) to consume, use up, destroy 
1. There may be some irony at work here, with J&J wanting to call down fire from heaven, after Luke has introduced this story as about Jesus’ being taken up.
2. And when did James and John become mighty fire-callers, anyway?

55 στραφεὶς δὲ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς.
But/And having turned to them, he rebuked/honored them. 
στραφεὶς : APPart, nms, στρέφω, 1) to turn, turn around  2) to turn one's self (i.e. to turn the back to one 
ἐπετίμησεν: ἐπιτιμάω, 1) to show honour to, to honour  ...  3) to adjudge, award, in the sense of merited penalty  4) to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely  4a) to admonish or charge sharply
1. The word ἐπιτιμάω is translated “rebuke” across the board, but it could also mean “honor.” That is a very elastic word!
2. Later manuscripts have more in vv. 55 and 56, making it clear that this is a rebuke. The brevity of earlier manuscripts leaves it more ambiguous.

 56καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην.
And they journeyed into another village.
ἐπορεύθησαν: API 3p, 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 new village is not identified as either Samaritan or not.

 57Καὶ πορευομένων αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶπέν τις πρὸς αὐτόν, Ἀκολουθήσω σοι ὅπου ἐὰν ἀπέρχῃ.
And as they were journeying on the road, a certain man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you may go.” 
πορευομένων: PMPart, gmpl, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer  1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on  one's journey 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἀκολουθήσω: FAI 1sg, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him 
ἀπέρχῃ: 2s, PMSubj, ἀπέρχομαι, 1) to go away, depart  1a) to go away in order to follow any one, go after him, to  follow his party, follow him as a leader 
1. The word ἀκολουθέω (follow) has inspired a fascinating book by Robert Scharlemann called The Reason of Following, in which Scharlemann describes the immediate, unconditional responses that Jesus’ call to follow evokes in the disciples’ call stories. Here, however, the responses are hesitant and conditional.  
2. Likewise, just prior to our pericope, the disciples try to stop someone from driving out demons in Jesus’ name, because he did not follow them. Jesus’ reaction is a rather capacious, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Here, it seems that following is a much more difficult matter.

 58καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ  Ἰησοῦς, Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰπετεινὰ τοῦ 
οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις,  δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν 
κλίνῃ.
And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and birds of the heaven (have) nests, but the son of man has nowhere he may lay the head.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἔχουσιν: PAI 3p, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold
ἔχει: PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold
κλίνῃ: PASubj, 3s, κλίνω, 1) transitively  1a) to incline, bow  1b) to cause to fall back  1c) to recline  1c1) in a place for repose 
1. Jesus will refer to Herod as “that fox” in Lk. 13:32. Likewise, the “birds of the heaven” were illustrative of those that destroy seeds in the parable of the soils (c.8). Are the references to ‘foxes’ and ‘birds’ here strictly related to animal habitats or do they presume the previous analogical meanings?
2. We should note that the man who offered to follow Jesus drops from the scene entirely. We do not know what his response was to hearing this reality of following Jesus but it seems that many preachers/commentators assume that he turned back instead. 

 59 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον, Ἀκολούθει μοι.  δὲ εἶπεν, [Κύριε,] ἐπίτρεψόν μοι 
ἀπελθόντι πρῶτον θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου.
Yet he said to another, “Follow me.”  But he said, “[Lord,] permit me having gone first to bury my father.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἀκολούθει: PAImpv 2s, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him
ἐπίτρεψόν : AAImp, 2s, ἐπιτρέπω, 1) to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct  2) to permit, allow, give leave
ἀπελθόντι : AAPart, dms, ἀπέρχομαι, 1) to go away, depart  1a) to go away in order to follow any one, go after him, to  follow his party, follow him as a leader 
θάψαι: AAInf, θάπτω, 1) to bury, inter 
1. In this case, Jesus initiates the conversation with a call. It is not Luke's gospel when Jesus comes to the fishers and says, "Follow me," and they leave their nets and their father in the boat to follow. Luke 5:1-11 tells that story quite differently. 

 60 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ, Ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς, σὺ δὲ 
ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
But he said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but having gone away, you proclaim the reign of God.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἄφες: AAImpv 2s, ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  1a) to bid going away or depart  ...  2) to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person 
θάψαι : AAInf, θάπτω, 1) to bury, inter 
ἀπελθὼν : AAPart, nms, ἀπέρχομαι, 1) to go away, depart  1a) to go away in
order to follow any one, go after him, to  follow his party, follow him as a leader 
διάγγελλε : PAImp, 2s, διαγγέλλω, 1) to carry a message through, announce everywhere, through places, through assemblies etc. 

 61 Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ ἕτερος, Ἀκολουθήσω σοι, κύριε: πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου.
Yet another said also, “I will follow you, Lord; but first permit me to take leave of (or renounce) those in my house.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἀκολουθήσω: FAI 1s, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him
ἐπίτρεψόν: AAImpv 2s, ἐπιτρέπω, 1) to turn to, transfer, commit, instruct  2) to permit, allow, give leave
ἀποτάξασθαι : AMInf, ἀποτάσσομαι, 1) to set apart, separate  1a) to separate one's self, withdraw one's self from anyone  1a1) to take leave of, bid farewell to  1b) to renounce, forsake 

 62 εἶπεν δὲ [πρὸς αὐτὸν]  Ἰησοῦς, Οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα ἐπ'ἄροτρον καὶ 
βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω εὔθετός ἐστιν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ.
But Jesus said [to him], “No one having put the hand on the plow and looking to the back is fit in the reign of God. 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἐπιβαλὼν : AAPart, nms, ἐπιβάλλω, 1) to cast upon, to lay upon 
βλέπων :  PAPart, nms, βλέπω, 1) to see, discern, of the bodily eye  ... 1c) to turn the eyes to anything: to look at, look upon, gaze at 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
1. I hear echoes of Lot’s wife in this comment.
2. I do not know quite what to do with these brief dialogues about following Jesus. None of the hesitations seem unreasonable, although they may be more culturally laden than they appear. Perhaps in first century saying goodbye properly and putting one’s affairs in order are time-consuming and filled with meanings that are lost on me. Or, maybe we are seeing the practical applications and costs involved in the saying, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (9:23)

Here are the uses that Luke has for prepare (ἑτοιμάζω, v.52):
...of the just; to make ready a people prepared...
...of the Lord to prepare his ways;
Which thou hast prepared before the face...
...in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of...
...the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
...things be, which thou hast provided?
...lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither...
...say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may...
...saying, Go and prepare us the passover...
...Where wilt thou that we prepare?
...room furnished: there make ready.
...unto them: and they made ready the passover.
...they returned, and prepared spices and ointments...
...the spices which they had prepared, and certain others...


2 comments:

  1. I wonder if Jesus is actually saying "if your heart is here, then stay here and witness for me rather than follow"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that! Sometimes the way to follow Jesus is to stay where you are and work on helping the people around you to follow, too.

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