Monday, October 3, 2016

Cleanse, Cure, and Make Whole

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary comments on Luke 17:11-19, the Gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost. This is a familiar story, remembered mostly because of its proportional thanks – one out of ten returns to glorify God. And yet, there is more to it than the sheer numbers. The terms used to describe both the infectious condition and the deliverance from that condition –for the one and the ten – are intriguing. The location – that boundary space between cultural and religious factions – is intriguing.

11 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ αὐτὸς διήρχετο διὰ 
μέσον Σαμαρείας καὶ Γαλιλαίας.
And it happened in the journeying to Jerusalem he also was passing through the middle of Samaria and Galilee.
ἐγένετο : AMI 3s γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being  2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen  2a) of events  
πορεύεσθαι : PMInf, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer  1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered
διήρχετο : IMI 3s, διέρχομαι, 1) to go through, pass through  1a) to go, walk, journey, pass through a place 
1. This verse speaks of the journeying to Jerusalem as something that has already begun and is continued here. Where does it begin? Twice, in c.9, Jesus discloses that the Son of Man is going to suffer and die, but he does not associate that disclosure with Jerusalem at that point. In 13:33-34, Jesus says, “Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Then, in 18:31-34, Jesus discloses his forthcoming death for the third time, this time associating it with Jerusalem. 
2. The “middle” (μέσον) of Samaria and Galilee might refer to the portion of this journey that is on the border between the two. It could, as far as the maps show, mean that he was traveling down the heart of the two, but he would first go through Galilee, then Samaria if he’s traveling south to Jerusalem. Given the word order, I think the borderland is intended.

 12καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην ἀπήντησαν [αὐτῷ] δέκα λεπροὶ 
ἄνδρες, οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν,
And as he entered into a certain village ten leprous men met [him], who stood at a distance,
εἰσερχομένου : PMPart, gms, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter 
ἀπήντησαν : AAI 3pl, ἀπαντάω, 1) to go to meet, to meet 
ἔστησαν : AAI 3pl, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set  1a) to bid to stand by, [set up], 2) to stand  
1. I like how Luke refers to the then as leprous men, not lepers. Their humanity is the essential quality of their being and their leprosy is an accidental quality.

 13καὶ αὐτοὶ ἦραν φωνὴν λέγοντες, Ἰησοῦ ἐπιστάτα, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
and they raised a voice, saying, “Jesus Master, have mercy on us.”
ἦραν : AAI 3pl, αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up  
ἐλέησον : AAImpv 2s of ἐλεέω, have compassion, pity, mercy
1. ‘A voice’: The noun is singular and indefinite.
2. “Master” (ἐπιστάτα): The online definitions say that this vocative noun carries connotations of authority, like an overseer of some sort. It is used 7x in the NT, all in Luke. But, it is not the “master” of parables. It is only used in addresses to Jesus. (5:5, 8:24 [2x], 8:45, 9:33, 9:49, and here.)

 14καὶ ἰδὼν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Πορευθέντες ἐπιδείξατε ἑαυτοὺς τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν. καὶ 
ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ὑπάγειν αὐτοὺς ἐκαθαρίσθησαν.
And having seen, he said to them, “Having gone, show yourselves to the priests.” And it happened in the leaving him they were cleansed.
ἰδὼν : AAPart, nms, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know 
Πορευθέντες : APPart, nmpl, πορεύομαι 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer  1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on  one's journey 
ἐπιδείξατε : AAImpv 2pl, ἐπιδείκνυμι 1) to exhibit, show  1a) to bring forth to view, to show
ἐγένετο : AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being 
ὑπάγειν : PAInf, ὑπάγω, 1) to lead under, bring under  2) to withdraw one's self, to go away, depart
ἐκαθαρίσθησαν: API 3pl, καθαρίζω, 1) to make clean, cleanse  1a) from physical stains and dirt  1a1) utensils, food  1a2) a leper, to cleanse by curing  
1. The construction of the second sentence here is identical to the beginning of the pericope in v.11: Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι (And it happened in the journeying) and καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ὑπάγειν (And it happened in the leaving). “Καὶ ἐγένετο is the term that is quaintly translated “it came to pass” in the KJV and that is actually a very good translation. I am using “it happened,” because it is a verb that does not ascribe agency to anyone in particular. In each case, Καὶ ἐγένετο is followed by the preposition ἐν (in), which takes the dative, thus a definite article in the dative case, τῷ, follows ἐν. Then, however, instead of a noun to accompany that definite article, we have an infinitive. Literally “in the to enter” in v.11 and “in the to leave” in v.14. That literal construction is just too rigid for me, so I’m using “in the entering” and “in the leaving,” which is still awkward.
2. Showing oneself to the priest was an essential step in being welcomed or permitted back into the community by being declared no longer unclean. Perhaps within the language of this pericope, the priestly declaration is where the ‘cure’ (ἰάομαι) takes place.

15εἷς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν, ἰδὼν ὅτι ἰάθη, ὑπέστρεψεν μετὰ φωνῆς μεγάλης δοξάζων 
τὸν θεόν,
Yet one out of them, seeing that he was cured, turned back with a loud voice glorifying God,
ἰάθη: API 3s, ἰάομαι, 1) to cure, heal  2) to make whole  2a) to free from errors and sins, to bring about (one's) salvation 
ὑπέστρεψεν : AAI 3s, ὑποστρέφω, 1) to turn back  1a) to turn about  2) to return
δοξάζων : PAPart, 3s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate
1. Again, a voice. In v.13 the leprous men spoke with a voice; here the one speaks with a loud voice.
2. The verb ἰάομαι (to cure) is different from the verb καθαρίζω (to cleanse) that is used in v.14. When it comes to an infectious disease like leprosy, there may be no difference in the meanings.
3. Or, if my suggestion in comment #2 of v.14 has any truth to it, this man is able to see with his own eyes that he is ‘cured’ and simply does not need the priest’s validation. Jesus does not scold him for disobeying his command (ἐπιδείξατε is an imperative in v.14) to show himself to the priest. Instead, he will simply release him in v.19.

 16καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ: καὶ 
αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρίτης.
And he fell on a face at his feet giving thanks to him; and he was a Samaritan.
ἔπεσεν : AAI 3s, πίπτω, 1) to descend from a higher place to a lower  1a) to fall (either from or upon)  1a1) to be thrust down  
εὐχαριστῶν : PAPart, nms, εὐχαριστέω, 1) to be grateful, feel thankful  2) give thanks
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. In a refined translation I would say ‘his face,’ but there is no pronoun in that phrase.
2. Perhaps the reference in v.11 to Samaria was to locate this group of ten as persons from both Galilee and Samaria. And to show that this Samaritan man was not ‘out of place.’ There is something arresting about the idea that the leprosy that these men shared might have been reason enough to make a community of both Galileans and Samaritans. I know of a couple, she is hearing and he is deaf, who are dancers in Israel. When they work with the deaf community in Israel, the identities of Jew, Palestinian, or Arab Christian often take second place to the identity of being deaf. Significantly, this newly-cleansed man’s identity as a Samaritan only comes into play after he is cleansed.
3. This is the 3rd and final “Samaritan” reference in Luke. The first was in c.9, when “a village of the Samaritans” refused to host Jesus. The second was in the parable of the good Samaritan in c.10.
4. As readers, we need the narrator to identify the newly-cleansed man as a Samaritan. How does Jesus know (v.18)? Accent? Hairstyle? Attire? Language? Terminology of worship?

17 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ  Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Οὐχὶ οἱ δέκα ἐκαθαρίσθησαν; οἱ δὲ ἐννέα 
ποῦ; 
Yet having answered Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Yet where the nine?”
ἐκαθαρίσθησαν: API 3pl, καθαρίζω, 1) to make clean, cleanse  1a) from physical stains and dirt  1a1) utensils, food  1a2) a leper, to cleanse by curing  
ἀποκριθεὶς: APPart nsm, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
1. There is no verb (like “are”) in the last question.
2. To whom is Jesus speaking? This question would seem, in this verse, as if Jesus is asking the newly-cleansed Samaritan where his other companions are, since it begins “having answered.” But, as the question continues in the next verse, the newly-cleansed Samaritan becomes “this foreigner,” a third person reference, not a second person reference (“you.”) So, to whom is Jesus speaking? The twelve? Are the twelve even there? A crowd? Is there a crowd? The reader? (That would have to be Luke’s voice, since Jesus was going about his work, not writing a book to readers). Is it a soliloquy where Jesus speaking to himself, in the same manner that people do in movies/novels when the viewer/reader needs to hear the internal thought process?
3. For Jesus to grill the newly-cleansed Samaritan about the whereabouts of the nine would be as unfitting as a preacher yelling at a congregation about folks who don’t show up for worship. In fact, I’m willing to bet that this scripture has evoked just such sermons over the years.

18οὐχ εὑρέθησαν ὑποστρέψαντες δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ θεῷ εἰ μὴ  ἀλλογενὴς 
οὗτος;
Were none found having turned back to give glory to God except this foreigner?
εὑρέθησαν : API 3pl, εὑρίσκω, 1) to come upon, hit upon, to meet with  ὑποστρέψαντες : AAPart, nmpl, ὑποστρέφω, 1) to turn back  1a) to turn about  2) to return
δοῦναι : AAInf, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
1. The phrase “give glory to God” shows that it is not Jesus’ ego that is the point of his question but the recognition that God cleanses. Even with the man lying prostrate at his feet, Jesus’ emphasis is on God’s glory, not his own.
2. The phrase “this foreigner” sounds rather dismissive in English and that might be deceiving. This verse contains the only use of the word ἀλλογενὴς  in the NT, so there are no corresponding contexts to help discern the flavor of the word. In itself, it simply means something like ‘otherly-born.’ It reminds me of a time when I was the lone religion student in a graduate philosophy class and the professor scolded the philosophy majors asking why I, a religion student, was the only one who was willing to offer an interpretation of a peculiarly difficult text from Kant. I was pointed out at an ‘other,’ but mostly for the purpose of demonstrating that rest of the class was even more highly expected to have done what I did. Likewise, I do not see this verse as being dismissive of the Samaritan, but rather wondering why the Galileans who were cleansed were not using that as an occasion to glorify God.
3. Per my question of v.16, perhaps Jesus does not know that the man is a Samaritan, just that he is not Galilean. My guess is that Galileans and Samaritans and Judeans were familiar enough with their differences that my speculation is rather simplistic.
4. It’s a bit “Galilean-normative” for Jesus to be “in the middle of Samaria and Galilee” and yet refer to a Samaritan as one “otherly-born.” That’s why I assume Jesus is talking to other Galileans when he asks his questions.

19καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀναστὰς πορεύου:  πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε.
And he said to him, “Having risen up be going; your faith has made you whole.”
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἀναστὰς : AAPart, nms, ἀνίστημι, 1) to cause to rise up, raise up 
πορεύου: PMInf, 2s, πορεύομαι, 1) to lead over, carry over, transfer  1a) to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on  one's journey  
σέσωκέν : PerfAI 3s, σῴζω, 1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction  1a) one (from injury or peril)  1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one  suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore 
1. Again, the woodenness of this translation makes the gracious words of Jesus sound stiff, but what wonderful words these are. The aorist participle “having risen up,” simply puts the action of rising as a condition for the subsequent action of going. The “be going” is not in the imperative voice (as most refined translations imply with “go”) but the infinitive which I take to be a softer release.

2. This verse introduces yet another term, in addition to ‘cleansed’ (καθαρίζω, vv. 14 and 17) and ‘cured’ (ἰάομαι, v.15) to signify the Samaritan man’s new state of being: σῴζω. I think it is to our loss that σῴζω has become reglionized (I made that word up) to mean “saved from sins/hell.” It can mean that, in certain contexts, but it means so much more than that in every context. I hear that term implying a kind of wholeness that was not there before, regardless of whether what was not ‘whole’ before is sin-related, danger, illness, or being a pariah. For Jesus to use σῴζω here signifies that there is more than the skin or infection that is at stake. This man can now return to his home, his family, his community, his work, his village ... his life. Even if we speak of ‘saved’ as ‘saving from sin,’ I hope this expansive meaning of the word σῴζω can expand our view of what ‘sin’ is – anything that is destructive of the life and community that gives us wholeness.

11 comments:

  1. Mark -- thanks once again for your excellent work...the only other thing I would add is that this Samaritan is healed in the same general vicinity of Naaman's healing...which I take to mean a reiteration of the fulfillment of the Covenant of God as being for all tribes, all nations, all peoples

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  2. Two things catch my attention: "and it happened in the journeying...passing through..." this makes me stop and ponder the times of my 'journeying' and 'passing through' various borderlines of life when unexpected blessing or healing has happened

    and mention that the one man does not go to see the priest...unless he has somehow recognized Jesus' priestly role

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  3. It is kind of neat that the one man disobeys Jesus in the best way. Newly healed/whole people tend to do that in the Gospels. And Jesus seems okay with it, because it means that they are freely worshiping God apart from the mediation of the religious hierarchy. That might have been particularly important for post-70 Christians.

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    Replies
    1. When is being thankful disobedient? It doesn't say he didn't go, just thought thanks was a priority. Society would be a lot better if we would be thankful first, praising God immediately instead of waiting the day's end when we are tired--many times forgetting.

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  4. Being thankful, in itself, is not disobedient. This man, along with the other 9, was told to go to the priests. Instead, he turned around and fell at Jesus' feet. Thankful disobedience. And the right thing to do. And, in the end, Jesus tells him to go on his way. He didn't need the mediation of the priest because Jesus filled that role.
    I'm not criticizing him. Nor is Luke or Jesus. It is wonderful disobedience because a higher priority came into play. In fact, Jesus seems to be asking why the other 9 didn't disobey also.

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  5. Would the priest (presumably a Jewish priest?) have welcomed, declared clean, one who was a Samaritan? Our would he still be considered unclean because of his religious status, inspite of being healed by Jesus?

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  6. Laurie, that's a tremendous question. Notice that "priests" is plural. I don't know much about Samaritan piety and practices, but it might be that the plurality indicates that - in that border region between two differing expressions of the Jewish tradition - the Jewish folk had their priests and the Samaritans had their priests. The point of going to the priests - for Galileans and Samaritans - would be to be declared 'clean' and thereby to be able to re-enter their homes, their communities and their work, etc. I suspect they did not have to travel to Jerusalem's temple, but to wherever their own local priests would be able to make this healing complete by pronouncing it. In the end, I think Jesus fulfills the priestly function by releasing the Samaritan who returned to go on his way.

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  7. This is a very late response;nevertheless, I find it very interesting that Jerome Neyrey makes the case for translating "eucharistein" as 'give glory' and not ;'give thanks' (Lost in Translation: Did It Matter If Christians "Thanked" God or "Gave God Glory"?)

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  8. I’m intrigued by the construction of this week’s gospel, especially in the variety of words used for healed, cured, saved, restored, etc.

    The leper(s) was (were) ἐκαθαρίσθησαν (cleansed) in v. 14.

    Then the one notices that he was ἰάθη (cured, healed, made whole, maybe even saved) in v. 15.

    Then Jesus notes that the 10 were ἐκαθαρίσθησαν (cleansed) in v. 17.

    Then he pronounces the one σέσωκέν (saved, whole, rescued from danger or destruction, made well, healed, restore) in v. 19.

    My question: What’s the relationship between ἰάθη and σῴζω? The pattern of cleansed/made whole, cleansed/made whole is there, but Luke uses two different words for the latter half of each part. Why?

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  9. I have to think that the number 10 is significant. It is the number of a minyan, the minimum number of Jewish men required to begin a synagogue service. (In more modern interpretations, women can also count.)
    According to Shmuel Kogan on Chabad.org, "Now, in Leviticus 22:32 G‑d says, “I shall be sanctified amidst the children of Israel.” Employing a method of biblical exegesis known as gezerah shavah, wherein two verses with identical terminology are compared to each other, this verse is matched up to another verse (Numbers 16:21): “Separate yourselves from amidst this assembly.” The gezerah shavah teaches us that an “assembly” must be present when G‑d is being sanctified. Examples of such sanctification are the recitation of kaddish, kedushah and barchu, or the public reading of the Torah." http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/543104/jewish/Why-Are-Ten-Men-Needed-for-a-Minyan.htm
    So back to our pericope, the ironies quickly begin to multiply. As lepers, the ten constituted a minyan of lepers among whom leprosy counted more as their identity than their ethnicity. The leprosy was even stronger than the hatred that defined relations between Jews and Samaritans at the time.
    But as soon as God acts to heal/cure/save them through Jesus, it is not that fact that is most important to the nine, but rather the fact that they can now rejoin their former social identity and community, which is what would be accomplished by showing themselves to priests. Ironically then, they would then be free to resume their enmity of each other.
    This story holds out the possibility that there can be a community based not on religious/ethnic identity, nor upon hatred, nor upon shared sickness, but upon healing. [And thus a sermon...]

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  10. I have to think that the number 10 is significant. It is the number of a minyan, the minimum number of Jewish men required to begin a synagogue service. (In more modern interpretations, women can also count.)
    According to Shmuel Kogan on Chabad.org, "Now, in Leviticus 22:32 G‑d says, “I shall be sanctified amidst the children of Israel.” Employing a method of biblical exegesis known as gezerah shavah, wherein two verses with identical terminology are compared to each other, this verse is matched up to another verse (Numbers 16:21): “Separate yourselves from amidst this assembly.” The gezerah shavah teaches us that an “assembly” must be present when G‑d is being sanctified. Examples of such sanctification are the recitation of kaddish, kedushah and barchu, or the public reading of the Torah." http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/543104/jewish/Why-Are-Ten-Men-Needed-for-a-Minyan.htm
    So back to our pericope, the ironies quickly begin to multiply. As lepers, the ten constituted a minyan of lepers among whom leprosy counted more as their identity than their ethnicity. The leprosy was even stronger than the hatred that defined relations between Jews and Samaritans at the time.
    But as soon as God acts to heal/cure/save them through Jesus, it is not that fact that is most important to the nine, but rather the fact that they can now rejoin their former social identity and community, which is what would be accomplished by showing themselves to priests. Ironically then, they would then be free to resume their enmity of each other.
    This story holds out the possibility that there can be a community based not on religious/ethnic identity, nor upon hatred, nor upon shared sickness, but upon healing. [And thus a sermon...]

    ReplyDelete

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