Bailey, Kenneth E.. The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants, second edition. (IVP Books, Downers Grove IL, 2005). (A)
————————- Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15. (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO, 1992). (B)
————————- Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story. (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2003). (C)
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).
Walker p. 66: “In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ being at table, the people with whom he eats, and what he says and does are all clues to understanding the person and work of Jesus. So it is no surprise that in Luke 14 we find Jesus at the house of Pharisee preparing to engage in the Sabbath meal.”
Healing of Man with Dropsy on the Sabbath
Probably edema today – accumulation of fluids in the body
Exodus 20: 9-11
Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Observe the sabbath day—keep it holy, as the LORD, your God, commanded you. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey or any work animal, or the resident alien within your gates, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do. Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.
The tractate of the Mishnah on Sabbath has the following list of 39 prohibited labors on the Sabbath. They originate with those activities that were necessary to build the Tent of Meeting in the desert (which follows the commandment to keep the Sabbath – by this near location the Rabbis inferred that the work of building the Tent of Meeting was what God had in mind). Some of these activities are preconditions (that created materials) such as sowing and plowing etc.
- Gathering together
- Shearing wool
- Whitening wool
- Combing wool
- Dyeing wool
- Mounting the warp
- Setting two heddles
- Weaving two threads
- Removing two threads
- Tying a knot
- Untying a knot
- Sewing two stitches
- Tearing in order to sew two stitches
- Trapping a deer
- Slaughtering it
- Skinning it
- Salting it
- Tanning its hide
- Smoothing it
- Cutting it
- Writing two letters
- Erasing in order to write two letters
- Striking the final blow
- Transferring objects from one domain to another domain
Walker p. 67 points out that only the Sabbath commandment changes much in the two versions of the 10 commandments. The Deuteronomy text emphasizes liberation from Egypt however – and would allow liberating acts on the Sabbath in later interpretation. Jesus and the Pharisees therefore having issues on their assumptions and more – part of a fluid time in Jewish legal development. “Just as his healing on the Sabbath restores the man with dropsy to the community, the talk around the table will also center on inclusion in the kingdom community of God.”
Conduct of Invited Guests and Hosts
Proverbs 25:6,7: 6 Claim no honor in the king’s presence, nor occupy the place of superiors; for it is better to be told, “Come up closer!” than to be humbled before the prince.
Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? One who learns from every person. Who is strong? One who subdues their personal inclination. Who is rich? One who is happy with their lot. Who is honored? One who honors others. Pike Avot 4:1
He used to say: Do not be scornful of any person, and do not be disdainful of any thing, for you have no person without his hour, and you have no thing without its place. Pirke Avot 4:3
Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh: Be exceedingly humble of spirit, for the end of mortal man is worms. Pirke Avot 4:4
Walker p. 69: “Fred Craddock writes, “In the kingdom God is the host, and who can repay God? Jesus is therefore calling for kingdom behavior, that is, inviting to table those with neither property nor place in society. Since god is host of us all, we as hosts are really behaving as guests, making no claims, setting not conditions, expecting no return.’”
Great reversal – first to last, humbled to exalted.
Parable of the Great Feast
Walker p. 71 (with Craddock) – the excuses are valid, not last-minute lame excuses. “As Mary proclaimed earlier in her song, the hungry are being filled with good things. These guests receive the invitation out of the sheer grace of the host, who compels them to come in off the streets to participate in the banquet. These are probably not the types of guests that the original inquirer expected would be at the kingdom banquet.”
“moral” : do not assume that if you have been invited you will attend the banquet.
Sayings on Discipleship
Hate father and mother, wife and children????? Hyperbole stressing the importance of one’s relationship to Jesus however.
Bock p. 254 points out that it is significant that the saying is addressed to “great crowds”. “To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus, not anyone or anything else. A disciple is a learner, and the primary teacher in life is Jesus. This total loyalty is crucial, given the rejection and persecution that lie ahead. If his followers care more about family than about Jesus, when families are divided under pressure of persecution, they will choose against Jesus. This is what lies behind Jesus’ remarks. Discipleship is not possible if Jesus is not the teacher.”
Walker p. 75: “… Jesus has been accused of hanging around the wrong kind of people – tax collectors, sinners, and other socially dislocated people. The danger of these associations was the danger of guilt by association, captured in the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” By association, the authority of Jesus is being called into question by the ‘righteous’ people of his day.”
These stories come in the middle of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. This positioning indicates that celebrating the found lost ones is at the core of Jesus’ ministry and message.
Parable of Lost Sheep & Parable of Lost coin
Walker p. 76 – the shepherd would have been considered quite foolish to leave 99 on their own to go in search of 1. Key of both stories is the celebration that happens upon finding what had been lost. (However, a number of scholars mentioned that such a large flock would have had 2 shepherds – hence one kept track of the group.)
Bailey B p. 65: “But the down-to-earth experience of the people by NT times was that herdsmen drove their sheep intentionally onto other people’s lands and were not to be trusted. Thus to address Pharisees as if they were shepherds would be considered by the Pharisees as aggressive and offensive.”
Bailey B p. 66: Did the shepherd lose his sheep? Or did it somehow just wander off? However, the shepherd takes credit for finding it.
Bailey B p. 67: “If the flock is not guided by an alert shepherd there will be a sheep lost every hour or so all day long. The shepherd knows this, and it is his specific responsibility to constantly keep individual animals moving with the herd. Thus when a sheep is lost the shepherd is at fault, and the lost sheep is not innocent. Without this assumption the lost sheep could hardly have provided a symbol for repentance.”
Jeremiah 23: 1-8 (see also Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34:1-24)
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture—oracle of the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have banished them and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear or be terrified; none shall be missing—oracle of the LORD.
See, days are coming—oracle of the LORD— when I will raise up a righteous branch for David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name to be given him: “The LORD our justice.”
Therefore, the days are coming—oracle of the LORD—when they shall no longer say,
“As the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt”; but rather,
“As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north”—and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own soil.
Bailey B p. 75: “The shepherd pays a price to carry the sheep back to the village. If it is not found and carried back, it will die. The sacrificial action of the shepherd alone saves the life of the sheep.” Jesus as the good shepherd. Frightened lost sheep get so terrified that they are unable to walk. Average sheep weighed about 70 lbs, average shepherd about 140 lbs. – a major effort, especially over hilly and rocky ground.
In the lost coin parable – Bailey B p. 93: “Here he likens them to a careless woman who has lost a precious coin. In Middle Eastern culture a speaker cannot compare a male audience to a woman without giving offense.”
Jesus is being deliberately inclusive to have one store male-focused and another woman-focused. And he does this throughout the gospel of Luke.
Jesus is the good shepherd of the first story AND the good woman in the second. Bailey B p. 103 ff: she is trusted with family income; she accepts responsibility for losing the coin and publicly admits it; she is diligent in her search for it.
“The coin is here somewhere. I WILL find it.” When applied to a lost sinner??????
Parable of the Lost Son
Bailey B p. 109: “Any Middle Eastern son who requests his inheritance from a healthy father is understood to want his father to die. Such a son is indeed dead to the family. At the conclusion of this section the father affirms that the prodigal was indeed dead but that now he is alive.”
The shepherd did as he should have done, the woman did as she should have done – but the Father? He acts in quite extraordinary ways throughout the parable.
Bailey B p. 116: “Rather than strike the boy across the face for his insolence, the father grants the request. The father is able to extend this costly form of grace because he is willing to endure the agony of rejected love. This agony is the most painful form of suffering known to the human spirit. The greater the love, the greater the pain when that love is not accepted. It is out of his rejection of his father’s love that the prodigal makes his request. It is out of the father’s costly love that he grants that same request. In the process the father grants the ultimate form of freedom, namely the freedom to reject the offered relationship.”
Bailey B notes p. 122 that the older son would have been expected by the hearers to do something in this situation – not to remain silent. He should have been a mediator trying to prevent this great shame and sin. That he does not indicates his own bad relationship with the father.
In times of famine, war, etc. families pull together and provide for one another – but the prodigal son is out there on his own – with no one to fall back on. Bailey B p. 127 points out that the Pharisees hearing the parable would have been nodding in agreement – the wages of sin are isolation and suffering and humiliation. Bailey B p. 129: “Thus, the prodigal, a Jew, is reduced to wishing he were a pig! The pigs can eat until they are satisfied. He cannot.”
Traditionally “he came to himself” has meant “he repented”. Bailey B p. 130 says NO! Repentance is acceptance of being found, of being loved. To understand the “he came to himself” Bailey refers to Psalm 23 (God restores my soul) – the prodigal’s soul is restored. But still not quite. There is no real repentance expressed – only that he wants to eat. Bailey B p. 136: “The prodigal is not planning to live at home. His soliloquy affirms only that his is hungry and that on return he anticipates being paid for his services. The specifically remembers the ‘good money’ the craftsmen earn. What he thinks to himself and what he intends to say to his father (to gain his father’s consent for a new venture) are not the same. … He will go home and try to talk his father into financing his training as a craftsman.”
So – no longer a son. Not willing to be a slave (work for nothing). Try for in-between – a paid craftsman. Perhaps able to one day repay his father and restore his honor via his own hard work. He is not yet really going home.
Bailey B p. 141. Is our relationship with God that of Master / slave? Master / hired servant? Or Father / Sons and Daughters? And which for repentant sinners???? And after how long and with what negotiations?
As with the stories before it – a central theme is the great celebration upon finding what had been lost.
Walker p. 78: “The elder son is not a caricature; nor is he easily dismissed. Many have noted that he is just as lost as his younger brother, but he has become lost without leaving home.”
Note that the Father in the story goes out for each one. He runs, when an elder would not EVER run, to greet the prodigal. A costly (in terms of his dignity in front of the village) demonstration of his love.
The 99 sheep left in the wilderness, the 9 coins set aside, and the older brother each elaborate the situation and meaning of the others. And the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son each illumine the others. The son did not find himself – the Father went out and found him. And restored him.
It would take at least 200 people to eat a fatted calf. The whole village involved?? The banquet is a celebration of reconciliation – the father is the central figure at it, not the prodigal.
Bailey B p. 91: “The prodigal and his older brother offend, break relationships with their father, and must be found …”
The parable structure and story is left unfinished so that the original listeners and us must complete it – what did the older brother DO? Did he accept his father’s love as well and reconcile with his brother? Or did he refuse?
Parable of the Dishonest Steward & Application of the Parable
As the NAB note for this parable discusses – the original “note” that the steward held had been doubled by the steward for his own commission / profit / greed. Hence cutting back to the real amount owed does not hurt the owner at all and he can commend the steward for his response to his impending crisis.
Bock analyzes the parable as follows p. 263 ff: Perhaps the OWNER has been outrageous in his pricing, or the steward has cut the INTEREST, or the steward has cut his commission. He also goes with commission. The only problem is that the steward’s “squandering of the property” that results in dismissal is not at all clarified or explained. (It DOES tie back, though, to the younger son in previous story.)
Bock p. 266: “Money is evil because of how it brings out distorted values in people. Pursuing money can make people selfish, leading them to take advantage of others, to treat other people as objects and to be unfaith full to god. It tends to reflect an excessive attachment to the world. So it is better not to be attached to the pursuit of wealth. Possessions are a responsibility. Their use is a test of character, values, and stewardship.”
Saying against the Pharisees, the Law, and Divorce
Bock p. 268: there was the era of Promise (before John) and now the era is Preaching the Kingdom underway (after John, with Jesus). In this new era Jesus’ words and teachings reveal the will of God. The Pharisees and anyone else in opposition to Jesus’ words are in opposition to God Himself.
Bock p. 270: “Jesus’ pronouncement illustrates his authority. The way of righteousness sees divorce as wrong, because to divorce is to break a promise made before God and is to deny what god does in making a couple one flesh. Kingdom values honor commitments made to others before God. In the kingdom integrity and faithful devotion to God are the essence of character.”
In ancient marriage – WAS there a vow or promise made before God? Not so sure as Bock is.
Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Bock p. 271: “The account is an example story, not a parable. It pictures reality through a two-character story that mirrors life. “The rich man” is never named. He is nameless because he represents the danger of wealth. He could be anyone. The name of the second character, Lazarus, is derived from Eleazar, which means “God helps”. He is the only named character in any of Jesus’ example stories or parables.”
Bock p. 272: “Later rabbis would have seen Lazarus’ life as no life at all, since they had a saying the three situations resulted in no life: depending on food from another, being ruled by one’s wife, and having a body covered with sores. According to this saying, Lazarus is doubly deprived.”