Wednesday, June 30, 2010

298: More of the Same

Luke 4-5
"The devil said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.' " - Luke 4:3

All the stories today are pretty much the same as stories we've already heard (though some are out of order).

First, Jesus fasts for 40 days and is tempted by the devil. Satan says all of the same things we've already heard (turn stones into bread, jump off the cliff because God will save you, etc.). [Spoiler alert] Jesus isn't tempted.

The next story is Jesus being rejected in his home town (Nazareth). This is very out of order. At this point in Luke, Jesus hasn't even appointed his disciples yet (in contrast with both Mark and Matthew's accounts). This story also has a different flavor. Instead of seeming sad or mad that he's rejected in his home town, he asserts that every prophet was rejected in their home town. There is no mention of Jesus losing him miraculous powers (as in Mark), or refusing to perform any more miracles (as in Matthew) as a result of this rejection.

Next is the story about Jesus driving out an evil spirit (the evil spirit that only exists in Mark, Matthew doesn't mention it). This story is very similar to Mark's. In fact, it could be Mark's story. Luke has admitted to not being a first hand witness, and reading (or at least knowing about) other people's accounts of Jesus. He has to be getting these stories from somewhere, why not Mark?

Chapter 5 is a lot of boring stories that we've already heard. This includes Jesus calling his first disciples, healing a man with leprosy, and healing a paralytic. The chapter ends with Jesus being questioned about why he doesn't fast, and going on his long (seemingly unrelated) rant about clothes and old wineskins.

The supreme court has ruled that every citizen has the right to carry a firearm, trumping a Chicago law essentially banning their possession.

This, of course, has nothing to do with God or Jesus. Or so I thought:
Otis McDonald, the lead plaintiff in McDonald v. Chicago, in which the Supreme Court ruled Monday that all Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense, praised God for his victory.

"I would like to first give thanks to my lord and savior Jesus Christ for giving me the endurance to be where I am today,” he said.
Somehow I don't think that turn the other cheek, love your enemy Jesus approves of your crusade to put a weapon in everyone's hands. In fact, when Jesus is arrested, he says "Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword". Of course, this doesn't pass the litmus test of being a "conservative value", so it's a lesson of Jesus we should clearly ignore.
McDonald, 76, also thanked his attorneys and said God must have brought them to him.
Oh, so God and Jesus are working together to further the goals of the NRA? Actually, God watching innocent people get gunned down on the streets doesn't sound that much different than God watching innocent people getting chopped up by the Israelites. So maybe, at least with respect to the Godly support, this guy isn't that far off base.



  1. Regarding your question about Mark being Luke's source for the story about Jesus and the evil spirit: if I remember correctly, Mark was the first of the gospels to be written, then Matthew and Luke, and finally John. It's very likely that any overlap between Matthew and Mark or Luke and Mark is because Matthew and Luke were using Mark as a source. I read about this in a book by New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman. you might want to check out some of his books about the development of the Bible and Christianity.

  2. Some of the stories (e.g., The Calling of the First Disciples, Jesus Rejected at Nazareth) are out of order between Luke and Mark (and Luke and Matthew), but actually the same was true between Matthew and Mark, although you may not have noticed.

    Luke 4

    Luke 4:1-13 (cf. Matt 4:1-11). Luke (or Matthew) has reversed the order of the last 2 temptations in Q. Note also that in Luke 4:5-7 it is said that Satan takes Jesus up to a "high place," whereas Matthew has it as a mountain (from which can see the whole earth!). Luke also adds that the detail that Satan claims the whole world has been given to him (by God, presumably). Jesus gives no indication that the Devil is lying or mistaken.

    Luke 4:13. Luke adds that the Devil left Jesus "until an opportune time," because he reintroduces Satan at a later point in his Gospel (22:3).

    Luke 4:14-30. Luke has moved up and elaborated on the "A Prophet without Honor" periscope from Mark 6:1-6 (cf. Matt 13:53-58). This creates an incongruity, since in Luke 4:14 and Luke 4:23 there is a presupposition that Jesus has been traveling around performing miracles, in Capernaum in particular, whereas in Luke's Gospel this scene occurs at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and before he makes the trip to Caprenaum in 4:31.

    Note that in Mark's "clumsy construction" (as one scholar as categorized it), there is no explanation of why the people take offense at him in Mark 6:3, as immediately before (Mark 6:2) they are praising his teachings, wisdom, and miracles. Then Mark added that Jesus could not do any significant miracles there (even though the people just remarked that he does miracles). Luke attempted to fix this by providing the reason why they turned against him: Jesus refused to do the same sort of healings that he had done elsewhere. No wonder the people were pissed (although they perhaps overreacted, by attempting to throw him off a cliff - I can just picture Clevelanders reacting this way if LeBron bolts for Chicago or NY). So what Luke has done is replace one mystery with another: Why did Jesus refuse to help his people?

    Note another inconsistency that Luke has introduced. He has Jesus declare arrogantly in Luke 4:18-21 that he is the Messiah. So why they did he retain Mark's secrecy motif in, e.g., Lk 4:35, 4:41, and 5:14? (To be fair, Matthew made this mistake, too.)

    Luke 4:22. The people call him plainly "Joseph's son," unlike in Mark, where he is identified by his mother and brothers. Maybe tradition originally had him as the natural son of Joseph. That could explain why both Matthew and Luke constructed genealogies for Joseph.

    Luke 4:23. By "yourself" Jesus must mean "your own," since he's talking about his hometown here, not himself.

    Luke 4:29. This verse from Luke (which literally implies that the town of Nazareth was located on a hill) is a primary reason why the Catholic Church built the Church of the Annunciation on the side of a steep slope overlooking the city of Nazareth (and on top of tombs, no less), when the most logical place that the town of Nazareth was located in Roman times was in the valley, where it is today.

    Luke 4:30. How did Jesus just walk through the crowd and escape?

    Luke 4:39. Jesus "rebuked" a fever?! (Sort of like how he rebukes the wind in Mark 4:39).

    Luke 4:44. The text (at least, what was probably the original text) reads, "And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea," but of course Galilee, where he has been preaching hitherto, is not in Judea. Later scribes caught this error and changed "Judea" to "Galilee."



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