Bailey, Kenneth E.. The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants, second edition. (IVP Books, Downers Grove IL, 2005).
————————- Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15. (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO, 1992).
————————- Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story. (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2003).
Byrne, Brendan. The Hospitality of God: a Reading of Luke’s Gospel. (Liturgical Press, 2000 , Collegeville MN).
Craddock, Fred B. Luke. Part of Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching edited by James L. Mays. (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1990).
Culy, Martin M., Mikeal C. Parsons, and Joshua J. Stigall. Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text. (Baylor University Press, 2010, Waco TX).
Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Gospel According to Luke I – IX. A New translation with Introduction and commentary. Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary Series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 1970).
————————– The Gospel According to Luke X – XXIV. A New translation with Introduction and commentary. Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary Series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, New York, 1985).
Gillman, John. Luke: Stories of Joy and Salvation. Part of the Spiritual Commentaries on the Bible series edited by Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan. (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2002).
Gonzalez, Justo L. Luke. Part of the Belief: A theological commentary on the Bible series, Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher General Editors. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010).
Hendrickx, Herman. The Third Gospel for the Third World. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1997).
- Volume One – Luke 1:1-2:52
- Volume Two – A Luke 3:1-6:49
- Volume Two – B Luke 7:1-9:50
- Volume Three – A Luke 9:51-13:21
- Volume Three – B Luke 13:22-17:10
- Volume Three-C Luke 17:11-19:44
- Volume Four – A Luke 19:45-21:38
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel of Luke. Part of the Sacra Pagina biblical commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J.. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1991).
Levine, Amy-Jill and Marc Zvi Brettler editors. The Jewish Annotated New Testament / New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation. (Oxford University Press, New York, 2011).
Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke. Part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner. (Eerdmans, 1978, Grand Rapids MI)
McKenna, Megan. Luke: The Book of Blessings and Woes. (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2009).
Patella, Michael F.. The Gospel According to Luke. Part of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary edited by Daniel Durken O.S.B. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 2005).
Walker, Thomas W.. Luke. Part of the Interpretation Bible Studies series . (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2001).
The Lord’s Prayer & Further Teaching on Prayer & The Answer to Prayer
In Jewish tradition the most common way of speaking about God is “HaShem” / “The Name”. Because “holy is your name”, too holy for us to pronounce.
“your kingdom come” : at least in the time of Jesus this did not involve an “end of the world” but the coming rule of the Messiah and a time of blessing from God
“daily bread” most clearly refers to the time in the desert between Mt. Sinai and arrival in the Promised Land. Each day manna would fall from heaven and could be gathered up. On the eve of the Sabbath a double portion fell so that it would not need to be gathered on the Sabbath. It could not be kept over otherwise – it would rot and be useless. What people gathered satisfied them. Some rabbinic traditions said that it tasted like whatever they wanted it to taste like – steak, chicken, bread etc.
“forgive our sins as we forgive everyone in debt to us” The Amish take this literally, most of the other denominations take it aspirationally. We take Jesus’ teaching on divorce literally, most of the other denominations take that as advice or as an ideal.
“do not subject us to the final test”
Matthew’s version is the better known and the basis for our liturgical prayer.
Patella p. 79: “According to the Palestinian-Jewish custom of the day, the whole family slept on floor bedding in a single room, above the animals. To open the door would not only rouse the family but would also cause a fuss with the livestock, and all in the dark.”
Patella p. 79: Seek the house out, knock on the door, ask for what you need.
Jesus and Beelzebul
It seems clear that Jesus had a healing ministry that overlapped with a ministry of exorcising demons and that his success was acknowledged by both friends and foes. So the foes attacked at the next level – where does his power to do this come from? God? Or Satan / demons?
The Return of the Unclean Spirit
This story is a caution to all who think that the war against evil will be easily won. In fact, Luke / Jesus tells us that the enemy is relentless. Patella p. 81: there is nothing wrong with a clean and orderly house EXCEPT that it hasn’t been filled up with the Spirit and with Jesus.
Note the contrast between “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” and “blessed are the poor …”
The Demand for a Sign
In the “parable” of Jonah the preaching of Jonah led the Ninevites to repent. A pagan Queen of Sheba came to believe during the times of Solomon. In both cases the repentance of pagans / sinners is a judgment against unrepentant “righteous” people. Through the OT and in the gospels when the prophets or Jesus point this out it causes a defensive and angry reaction.
Denunciation of Pharisees and Scholars
The implication of Luke is that the Pharisees have invited Jesus with the intention of observing Jesus closely in order to denounce him, not for fellowship or anything else.
I believe that Jesus, as a rabbi / teacher himself, was much more aligned with the Pharisees against the Sadducees and Jewish Temple authorities than not. They were in the same family tradition but perhaps from different streams of teachers or thought – hence they thought alike on many things but found that even small differences between them were intensely debated and aroused strong feelings – as both sides sought to attract students / followers and influence. It is certainly NOT a case where Pharisees were consistently nit-picking laws and Jesus always stood for broad interpretations of the Law – since on divorce they were in the opposite camps.
To scrupulously tithe even each herb grown in your little garden can be understood positively or negatively. At this early stage of (pre)rabbinic Judaism perhaps the ritual washing before meals involved a new interpretation that Jesus felt was too harsh, too unmodified by experience and testing in real life. In end the difference: is it done out of obligation? Or out of love and internalization? And where do ideas like the tithing stop? Would you tithe on your daisies? On your lawn / grass?
The Leaven of the Pharisees
We have a sort of “happy” / positive reaction to “leaven” or yeast. It is necessary for bread to rise, Jesus speaks about it positively in a parable or two. But leaven causes the bread to rise by fermenting or spoiling. One might save some dough from a batch for the next batch tomorrow – it becomes somewhat bad-smelling. One author suggests that it is the nature of leaven to change something from one thing to another – which makes Jewish sensibilities of the time suspect it. (Laws against mixing things in the fields or in clothes, of a reverence for creation just as God made it – no more and no less), hence the prohibition of leavened bread during the Passover week.
So Jesus may be suggesting that the Pharisees teaching may be like a slippery slope – innocuous at first but resulting in something different and bad in the end. All in all – I think that this is part and parcel of dialogue between two ‘similar but different’ approaches to the Law and life.
Courage Under Persecution
Patella p. 85: “’Gehenna’ is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Hinnom, the name of the valley on the western side of Jerusalem. Often cursed by the Jewish prophets for the child sacrifice that the Jerusalemites practiced there, it is also called Topheth. In time, the Valley of Hinnom functioned as the city garbage dump, thereby making it ritually unclean.” Metaphor for Hell as it developed as a concept over time.
Sayings about the Holy Spirit
Note the stories in Acts (also by Luke) about Ananias and Sapphira who lied about the sale of their property to the church and were struck dead by the H.S. The Holy Spirit is big in Acts, in the early church in general.
Saying against Greed & Parable of the Rich Fool
Rabbis then and now DID function as judges of disputes – but Jesus does not see himself in this role. The rule was you could pick your rabbi / teacher (and could do so based on your understanding of his general philosophy) – but once you picked him you had to listen to him. Once you (and the person you have the dispute with) chose a judge for your dispute you were bound to accept the ruling, whether or not it went against you.
Inheritances can be very contentious – even in happy and good families. Good preparation for the eventual reality of our deaths pays off in the long run.
Patella p. 87: “At no point in his discourse does the rich fool credit God for the harvest. Furthermore, he never acknowledges that the bounty should have some purpose other than satisfying his own desires. Because he is so selfish and self-centered, he dies without benefit of both his wealth and God’s love.”
Judaism does not have the same attitude toward wealth (suspicion) that developed in time in Christianity. Asceticism never took hold in Judaism. Provided the wealthy gave credit to God for both good and bad, tithed, was generous in general – wealth was not a problem but a good thing.
Dependence on God
My reading – it’s not that we all should stop working. It’s that we should keep our working in perspective, with the larger goal of pleasing God and looking for the Kingdom. As Covey might say: begin with the end in mind – and the end is not wealth on earth but wealth in heaven. And the two types of wealth need not be contradictory (though it can be and often is).
The contrast here is with the rich fool of the parable.
Pattella p. 87: “The Greek korax, translated here as ‘ravens’, can also mean ‘crow’; in any case, it refers to a scavenger. Not only was such a creature forbidden as food to Jews, but it was considered a disgusting bird also among Gentile Greeks. Its repulsive character, therefore, makes the comparison all the more striking. … if God tends to the needs of a repugnant carrion-eater, how much more will he care for his beloved people.”
Vigilant and Faithful Servants
Patella p. 89: “The prepared person will not be attached to the concerns of this life, even though she may be immersed in the midst of them.”
Jesus: A Cause of Division & Signs of the Times & Settlement with an Opponent
Patella p. 90: “… discipleship is not without its price, and the world will not gladly welcome the kingdom of God. … In Israel and Palestine, rain can only come from the Mediterranean and only in the winter, hence the reference to the west wind. Similarly, the Sahara, Sinai, and Arabian deserts lie in the south and are the source of the hot, desiccating breeze. The signs of the times should be just as obvious.”
Call to Repentance
Patella p. 91: “Many see Pontius Pilate as a weak, vacillating governor who feels overwhelmed by the vagaries of the mob, and, against his better judgment, he hands Jesus over to be crucified. Luke’s narrative counters such an assessment by relating this slaughter, for which there is no other record in the Bible or any other extant work. Josephus refers to an uprising of Jews when Pilate uses temple money to build a Jerusalem aqueduct. Pilate ruthlessly suppresses the tumult by having disguised, weapon-bearing Roman soldiers mixed among the Jews. At a given signal, they begin to hack away at the civilian population.”
Barren Fig Tree
The suggestion is not of limited time for bearing fruit as much as the owner’s eventual patience in seeking it.
Cure of Crippled Woman on Sabbath
In the oral law, still in early development at the time of Jesus, it came to be that doing good on the Sabbath was promoted. A lot came down to defining what “work” was (not so easy) and balancing values (rest and renewal vs. doing a generally good thing).
Israel has “Sabbath” elevators that stop at every floor so that no one has to push a button (not work but uses fire and making a fire is work). But alternative to using the Sabbath elevator is to walk up x number of flights of steps – which is more “work”?
Work within the home (setting the table, loading the dishwasher) is OK but very limited. Same things are not permitted outside the home.
Mustard seed was primarily a weed. Limited use as a spice would have meant that it was not generally cultivated. Jesus compares God’s kingdom to a weed – and not a majestic oak or one of the cedars of Lebanon. Emphasizes small and unlikely beginnings, theme of eventual “great reversal”.
Like the mustard seed – a small amount of yeast is needed to affect a large amount of flour and make a large amount of bread.
Patella p. 95: “The conventional city gate during this period had one wide, high central arch flanked by two lower, narrower portals. The main arch permitted camels, carts, and goods to pass. Those who wished to enter and who had no baggage trains could avoid the traffic by walking through either one of the narrow gates.”
Herod’s Desire to Kill Jesus
Patella p. 96: “Do the Pharisees come to Jesus as friends and allies, or are they simply trying to frighten Jesus into submission? In either case, Jesus does not alter his intention to head to Jerusalem. Indeed, he uses the occasion to affirm it – he must go to Jerusalem.” I think – friends and allies.