Luke – second lecture


Luke – second lecture

1. Women in Luke

2. Rome and Hellenistic world in



Luke’s parables

Women in Luke

• Women in infancy, childhood narratives: Elizabeth, Mary,


• Jesus and John encounter in utero.

• Thematic overture of gospel in Mary’s poetic speech of

1:47-55. Reversal of social, political roles of powerful, lowly.

• Pericopé of 7:36ff. A version of Mark’s 14:3ff. But now the woman “a sinner.”

• Tradition has identified her with Mary Magdalene, but the text does not say this.

• Not so much a feminist point as one of overturning of expectations: woman valued above Simon.

• Women among the disciples: 8:2

• And names given: Mary “called Magdalene” (of

Magdala), Joanna, “wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,” and


• Mary Magdalene mentioned in all four gospels. (And not to be identified with prostitute!)

• Clearly a significant figure in first-century church.

Women in Luke cont.

• Martha and Mary in 10: 38ff.

• Unfair to Martha? – of course!

• Reversal of women’s roles – like parables.

• Story could easily have been told of two men – but isn’t.

• “The better part” – to listen, become disciple.

• 23: 49: women who had followed him from


• 23: 27: “among them were women,” addressed as “Daughters of Jerusalem.”

• Poor widow of 21: 1-3: another reversal of understanding.

Luke the feminist?

• Need to historicize this.

• Greater agency of women in gentile world.

• Remember Paul’s discomfort with

Corinthian situation.

• Luke must be reflecting realities in firstcentury communities.

• But the names, esp. Mary of Magdala, go back to historical situation of Jesus’ teaching.

• Clearly there were women among earliest disciples.

Luke and Hellenistic world

• As we saw, Luke locates events in Roman as well as

Jewish time: 2: 1-2, 3: 1-2.

• Luke’s genealogy (3:23-38) and its difference from


• Not just to Abraham, but to “Adam, son of God.”

• Tax collectors and soldiers come to John’s baptism; the gospel’s ethical character.

• The “opening to the gentiles” happens only gradually in

Luke’s sense of things.

• Note the differences between Luke 7: 1-10 and Matthew

8: 5-13.

• In Luke the Centurion (a Roman) does not speak directly to Jesus, but sends Jewish emissaries. They mention his love of Israel, that he built their synagogue.

• A proleptic sense of the relation of gentiles to Israel?

• Note that Matthew turns the narrative against Israel, the

“heirs of the kingdom.”

But a gradual, measured opening to Hellenistic world

1. In Luke Jesus never preaches directly to gentiles.

2. He heals the Gerasene demoniac (in Mark this was clearly a foray into gentile territory).

3. But there’s no feeding of the 4,000, as was included in Mark, doubling the account of the feeding of the 5,000.

4. Eliminates Mark’s story of the Syro-Phoenician woman.

5. At end, there’s no command, as in Matthew, to preach the gospel to the whole world.

6. Rather, the disciples are to return to the temple.

Luke’s parables I

• Nine parables that are not in any other gospel.

• Their historicity may be indicated by the fact that Luke doesn’t always know what to make of them: e.g., Crafty

Servant (16:1-9) and, perhaps, the Unscrupulous Judge


• Crafty Servant is simply baffling in its moral or spiritual meaning.

• Unscrupulous Judge is directed toward the recommendation of unceasing prayer, but the oddity lies in its comparison of judge to God.

• Neither parable is obviously about themes that are thematically central to Luke.

• This strongly suggests Luke’s belief in their historicity.

• Fig tree (13:6-9) looks like a transformation of the fig tree episode in Mark.

Parables that express Luke’s themes

• Rich man who built bigger barns (12:16-21).

• Counters the accumulation of wealth, a strong

Lukan theme.

• The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31).

• Similar conviction of wealth in relation to poverty.

• The Pharisee and the tax collector (18:9-14).

• Reversal of expectations: leads into the saying on exaltation of humble, humbling of those who exalt themselves.

The good Samaritan -- 10: 29-37

• Told in response to a question.

• Samaritans were despised by good Jews for their status as heretics to Judaism.

• Priest appears to be going toward

Jerusalem – and can’t risk ritual uncleanness (man might be dead).

• Ditto the Levite.

• Samaritan becomes, most paradoxically, a neighbor.

• The ethical direction of the ending: Go and do likewise.

The Prodigal Son -- 15:11-32

• The greatest of Luke’s parables?

• Notice the context: the last of three parables about loosing and finding.

• Each of which has a counter-intuitive meaning, suggesting extravagance.

• The father’s extravagance in forgiving.

• As it seems to end, it begins again with the older brother.

• Does this divide the reader’s sympathies?

• Extravagance is recommended to the older son as well.

• Seems to set aside all normal categories of moral judgment.

The episode with Zachaeus, 19: 1-


• Episode seems to function like a Lucan parable.

• Again the sense of extravagance of response.

• Overturning of expectations for righteousness.

• Character of Luke’s parables? – seldom

“the kingdom of God is like . . . “

• Hiddenness or disclosure?

• How compared with Mark’s parable of sower?