Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NEW TESTAMENT: THE GOSPELS // Luke Interpretive Assignment

There was an interpretive assignment on Luke 13:10-17. I chose not to do this one for a grade but still took notes on the class discussion. (I did the one for John 13:1-15; that one will post soon.)

Verse 10 is a good place to start this pericope. The form changes as does the time and setting (“now”, “Sabbath,” “synagogue”). Verse 17 is good place to end the pericope. The form changes again (parable, miracle story, parable). The word “therefore” comes in v. 18. That prompts the question, “Why is it there?” The teaching continues through two parables through v. 20. Verses 10-17 stand on own and interpret the verses around them. Luke intrudes on Jesus’ narrative (minor break by Luke in v. 18). A new problem is presented in v. 18. Luke 13:10-17 is a classic miracle story form (a type scene). In a type scene, like a miracle story, the author provides someone with a problem that Jesus heals and then he gets in trouble, which leads to conclusion. What Jesus does miracle-wise in Luke leads to praising and rejoicing. It is an account. Another way to look at this is that Luke 13:10-21 is some kind of section within Luke and there are two pericopes divided by an intrusion from the narrative and change of form.

Jesus: In this text Jesus is a teacher in the synagogue (not teaching through actions) (v. 10). In Luke though, teaching and miracles are side by side (Luke 4-9). Jesus authorized as a teacher in the synagogue (v. 1) (he was a standard speaker in synagogues) but the leader of the synagogue engages people and not Jesus (v. 14). The leader teaches Torah here (v. 14) and makes Jesus to a rebel, deviant because he does not do what was expected according to Torah. For the leader of the synagogue, he stepped outside the routine (which he can do because he is leaving the synagogue, teach elsewhere). Luke, the narrator, names Jesus “Kyrios” or “Lord” (v. 15). Luke is saying that Jesus is authorized by Luke – he uses that term (“Lord”) for God. Jesus not called healer in this text but heals.

Healing: The woman had a disabling spirit (v. 11) so was this a healing or an exorcism. Yes. In Luke, healing always has an “overcoming the devil” element. Luke is attributing illness of all kinds to Satan. He does not try to say that Satan is behind every trashcan but that there are two forces/purposes at work in the world: God and Satan, light and darkness. Has Satan taken a personal interest in this woman? No, not likely. But for Jesus to heal her is to push back the forces of Satan that hold her. For Luke, anything that works against God is evil. Luke suggesting that physical problem tied into the spiritual problem. Sinful actions lead to physical ailments, but physical ailments cannot lead to sinful actions. Cosmically, there is something wrong. Satan is at work in the world and Jesus is rolling back the purpose or work of Satan.

Leader of Synagogue: If you were looking for God’s mercy, where would you go on the Sabbath? To church or synagogue, yes? Jesus (the Lord) answered the leader of the synagogue with “you hypocrites” (v. 15). Hypocrite is a transliteration of a Greek word. It can mean “thespian” or “actor with a mask on a stick” (two-faced) in the Greco-Roman world. In the Jewish world (in Job or Maccabean) it could be “god-less,” meaning one who has so little understanding of God that even the things he or she tries to do, the directedness is even wrong. He or she doesn’t understand so all his or her attempts at godliness are misdirected; he or she can’t do anything right. Paul gets clarity about who Jesus is in his Damascus Road experience – not from being two-faced but from not understanding who God was. He said, “I was zealous for God,” then he received the revelation. There is a positive synagogue leader in Jairus (8:41) but here (13:14) is negative one. Luke will not let you categorize people. One question Luke wants answered: how will you respond to God’s grace in Jesus? Any categories become deconstructed for us.

The woman: What is her first problem? She is a woman. Her second problem? She has a visible illness. So what is her status? Her posture is representation of her status in the world – bent over (v. 11). She was a marginalized woman with an ailment: physical, social, cosmic, emotional, spiritual. What is her real problem? The physical issue or her problem in the community? The physical problem was not enough to cause the problem. This is about her marginalized place. Jesus’ real healing comes in v. 16. when he names her a daughter of Abraham. Jesus makes sure that we understand that this is not a bone problem; calling her name makes her whole. If you take care of animals on the Sabbath, how much more a daughter of Abraham? The Sabbath rules were based on interpretations of Leviticus, not Leviticus itself. The standards for priests were made for all people. Was the woman even there to be healed? Where was she standing? Jesus was in the front so he calls her into the public eye. The woman was healed and praising God (v. 13). She had restoration to community of God’s people. She gets a name from Jesus (daughter of Abraham). She had no name in the story until Jesus gives her one. In Luke 4:16-30 and 13:18-19, there is “proclaim release to the captives” and “send the oppressed away in release,” What has Jesus done in Luke 13? He took what was bound and set free.

Sabbath: When Luke says “Sabbath,” you know something big happens: healings, fulfillments of Isaiah. The question to ask here is, which Sabbath does the leader of the synagogue have in mind? The Deut. 5:15 or the Exodus 20:11? The Exodus Sabbath is interpreted in Second Temple Judaism eschatologically. Jesus interprets Sabbath differently. There are markers of Jewish identity and how you keep Sabbath is critical. Jesus says he is faithful to God. In the context of Exodus 19 and 20:1, which speaks in the context of liberation, Jesus sets this woman free.

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