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Monday, July 16, 2007

Lexegete -- Pentecost 8

Lexegete TM | Year C


July 22, 2007 (Lectionary 16)

Complementary Series
Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15 (Ps. 15:1)
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

Semicontinuous Series
Amos 8:1-12 Psalm 52 (Ps. 52:8)
Colossians 1:15-28 Luke 10:38-42
OR Lesser Festivals:
Mary Magdalene, Apostle | July 22, 2007
Ruth 1:6-18 or Exodus 2:1-10 Psalm 73:23-28 (Ps. 73:28)
Acts 13:26-33a John 20:1-2, 11-18
James, Apostle | July 25, 2007
1 Kings 19:9-18 Psalm 7:1-10 (Ps. 7:10)
Acts 11:27—12:3a Mark 10:35-45

1. CONTEXT: Luke 10:38-42

This story, which Luke alone preserves for us, follows directly the
parable of the "good Samaritan." That parable accents active concern
for the neighbor, even when he or she falls outside one's own ethnic or
religious group. Some suggest that Luke places the story of Martha
and Mary right after the parable of the good samaritan to warn
hearers that discipleship is not, however, to be reduced to service for
others; it must also involve "sitting at the feet of Jesus" to hear the
word of God.
1b. TEXT: Luke 10:38-42

38. εν δε τω πορευεσθαι αυτους αυτος εισηλθεν
εις κωμην τινα γυνη δε τις ον
οματι μαρθα υπεδεξατο αυτον εις την οικιαν

39. και τηδε ην αδελφη καλουμενη μαριαμ [η]
και παρακαθεσθεισα προς το
υς ποδας του κυριου ηκουεν τον λογον αυτου

40. η δε μαρθα περιεσπατο περι πολλην διακονιαν
επιστασα δε ειπεν κυριε
ου μελει σοι οτι η αδελφη μου μονην με κατελειπεν
διακονειν ειπον ουν αυτη
ινα μοι συναντιλαβηται

41. αποκριθεις δε ειπεν αυτη ο κυριος μαρθα μαρθα μεριμνας
και θορυβαζη περι πολλα

42. ολιγων δε εστιν χρεια η ενος μαριαμ
γαρ την αγαθην μεριδα εξελεξατο η
τις ουκ αφαιρεθησεται αυτης

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 10:38-42

The text's genre is best described as "pronouncement story." Jesus'
final pronouncement in 10: 41-42 serves as the climax of the story. The
text can be outlined in the following way:
10: 38-39a Setting with chief characters named;
10: 39b-40 Contrast between reactions of Mary and Martha
10: 41-42 Pronouncement of Jesus
--challenge to Martha (41b-42a)
--commendation of Mary (42b)
The pericope commences "and as they were going, he [Jesus]
entered into a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha
received him." Immediately her sister is introduced to the hearers.
This prepares for the contrast between the two women's reactions to
the visit of Jesus.
The fact that Martha was there to welcome Jesus hints at an
established relationship with him, though we are not told this directly.
She is extending hospitality to a friend, a courtesy relied upon by
travelers in the biblical world. Less typical to that world would be a
household without a male as head (cf. John 11: 1ff.), a situation
implied by the story. Only the two women are mentioned. Note that
even the accompanying disciples, referred to in 10:38 [autous], drop
out of the story. Clearly, the story concentrates on the two women
and Jesus' interaction with them. Moreover, since Gospel stories
seldom name their characters, it seems likely that these two women --
Martha and Mary -- held an important place in the memory of the
earliest church.
Now we must inquire more directly into the meaning of this brief
story. Just as the previous story (10: 30-35) yields its meaning by
developing a contrast, one between the Temple functionaries and the
Samaritan, so too this story's point relates to the contrast between the
two women. Fitzmyer puts it succinctly: "...the contrast is seen
between the reactions of Martha, the perfect hostess, and of Mary, the
perfect disciple" (p. 892).
By positioning herself at Jesus' feet, Mary has assumed the listening
posture of a disciple (in Acts 22: 3 Paul indicates that he was brought
up in Jerusalem "at the feet of Gamaliel" -- a famous Jewish rabbi).
Martha, in contrast, was concerned about offering service to Jesus
([diakonia] means serving another in most practical ways). Extending
hospitality to the traveler/guest was in fact viewed by Jews as a
sacred obligation. It was this duty which was causing Martha anxiety.
Or to put it more precisely, it was Mary's failure to share this
obligation which was really disturbing Martha (10: 40).
As Tannehill (pp. 136-137) helpfully points out, Martha is fulfilling
the role expected of a woman -- providing for the guest (assuming
there were no servants to serve the meal), while Mary was indulging
in a highly questionable activity by assuming the role of a disciple
learning from a rabbi. At that time it was unheard of for a Jewish
rabbi to enter a household in order to teach women.
The story's climax in 10: 41-42 challenges Martha by commending
Mary's choice. Jesus' pronouncement begins with the double addresss,
"Martha, Martha," a rhetorical device in biblical dialogue to
overcome the resistance or density on the part of the one addressed
(see, e.g., 22: 31 and Acts 9: 4). Fitzmyer suggests "The repeated name
gently chides" (p. 894). According to the story, Martha has badly
misunderstood what is at issue, and the "Lord" dramatically claims her
attention. His final words draw the contrast between the "many
things" about which she is troubled and the "one thing" needful which
Mary has chosen. The story ends with Jesus' commending Mary for
choosing the "good part" [ten agathen merida], thereby challenging all
"Martha" hearers to rethink their anxiousness.
The key phrase "and of one thing there is need" [enos de estin
chreia] is ambiguous, perhaps by deliberate design. By the end of the
story, the hearers realize that Mary's attentive posture before Jesus is
to be preferred over Martha's harried and complaining approach to
hospitality. But the hearers are not told precisely what "the one thing
needful" is. Is the story saying that enjoying and benefitting from the
Lord's presence is more vital for us than frantically serving the Lord?
Perhaps. Mary's posture is a receiving and self-transcending one,
while Martha's activity -- though aimed at the Lord -- exhibits anxiety
and self-concern.
Finally, it should be noted that Luke, as he does elsewhere, narrates
the story to make it the church's story. Jesus is described as "the
Lord," a title used by the post-resurrection community. Twice Jesus is
referred to as the Lord (10: 39 and 10: 41) as well as Martha's
addressing him as the Lord (10: 40). Luke has shaped this story to
make it immediately relevant to Christian communities. Christians
need to ponder what Jesus' pronouncement means for their way of

3. STRATEGY: Luke 10:38-42

1. This story addresses the "Marthas" in the congregation, or better
yet, the "Martha" in all of us. It is so easy to allow our dedicated
service "to the Lord", whether it be painting the church or cleaning up
after a wedding reception, to become poisoned by an attitude resentful
of others who do not appear to be sharing the burden of work.
Suddenly, our service towards others--at home, church, or work--can
be undercut by feelings of obligation and resentment.
2. This text intends to focus our attention on the "one thing"
needful. Mary was enjoying and learning from the presence of the
Lord. To quote Talbert:
Mary is characterized by an undivided attention to Jesus
himself. She is also one who receives from the Lord.
Martha was distracted, not wholly focused on Jesus himself.
The reason was her "much serving" (vs. 40). Her desire to
work for Jesus distracted her focus on Jesus and prevented
her receiving from him what she needed (p. 126).
As pastors, we need to devote some serious thought to how
congregational life contributes to distracted and harried activity which
reduces time and space for "sitting at Jesus' feet." It would be tragic
for us to be consumed by "much serving" and miss "the one thing

4. REFERENCES: Luke 10: 38-42

The Anchor Bible: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1985, pp. 891-895.
York: Crossroad, 1982, pp. 125-126.
A LITERARY INTERPRETATION, Vol. 1, Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1986, pp. 132-139.

Exegete: James L. Bailey, Ph.D.

Dr. Bailey is professor emeritus of New Testament at Wartburg Seminary in
Dubuque, Iowa. He is Director of the Center for Congregational Leadership (CCL)
and the Lay School of Ministry (LSM). He taught both at Trinity Lutheran
Seminary and Concordia College before coming to Wartburg in 1985. Jim and his
wife Judy have two sons and five grandchildren.



©2007 Tischrede Software

Dartmouth,MA 02747

Monday, July 9, 2007


At a Christie’s auction in 1998, a battered medieval manuscript sold for two million dollars to an anonymous bidder, who then turned it over to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore for further study. The manuscript was a palimpsest-a book made from an earlier codex whose script had been scraped off and the pages used again.

Behind the script of the thirteenth-century monk’s prayer book, the palimpsest revealed the faint writing of a much older, tenth-century manuscript.

Part archaeological detective story, part science, and part history, the forthcoming book Archimedes Codex (Fall, 2007)tells the incredible story of this lost manuscript, from its tenth-century creation in Constantinople to the auction block at Christie’s, and how a team of scholars used the latest imaging technology to reveal and decipher the original text.

What they found was the earliest surviving manuscript by Archimedes (287 b.c.-212 b.c.), the greatest mathematician of antiquity-a manuscript that revealed, for the first time, the full range of his mathematical genius, which was two thousand years ahead of modern science.

For a great visual introduction to the project on which the book is based, see: (1 hr. video)



dave buehler, ph.d. | providence college

Friday, July 6, 2007

Lexegete™ | Year C

July 15, 2007 (Lectionary 15)
Complementary Series
Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Psalm 25:1-10 (Ps. 25:4)
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

Semicontinuous Series
Amos 7:7-17
Psalm 82 (Ps. 82:8)
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37


Ed. Note: The exegetical writing below is based
on the Three Year Lectionary followed by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and the Revised Common Lectionary
as it appears in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006).
This version includes additional readings for a number of
festivals and occasions, as well as the church year calendar
and terminology from Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
Two series of readings are provided for the Time after
Pentecost. The 'complementary' series provides Old Testament
readings and psalms chosen for their relationship to the gospels.

The 'semicontinuous' series provides Old Testament readings
and psalms that, while not as explicitly connected to the
gospels, explore many of the books and stories not covered
by the complimentary series. Scripture references are based
upon the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible as found
in MacBible (Zondervan, 1997).

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 10: 25-37

Luke-Acts was probably written about A.D. 85,
after Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70, to Christian
communities situated outside Palestine (possibly Syria)
to make sense of the story of Jesus in light of his death
and resurrection and to interpret the development of earliest

The literary context reveals much about Luke's intention.
10: 25-37 is part of the Lukan journey segment (9: 51-19: 44) which pictures Jesus traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem. This major section begins with a rejection scene among the Samaritans (9: 51-56) and ends anticipating Jesus' rejection in Jerusalem (19: 41-44). Luke makes clear that Jesus has determined to go to Jerusalem to face suffering and death, and, as a result, every story in 9: 51-19:44 unfolds for the hearers in light of this destiny.

9:53 explicitly cites Jesus' intent to go to Jerusalem as the reason Samaritans rebuff him. Their rejection of Jesus reminds Lukan readers that Samaritans are different from Jews and despised by them. Jesus' exchange with James and John in 9: 54-55, however, avoids viewing Samaritans as enemies of God destined for divine judgment. Instead, as 10: 25-37 and 17: 11-19 reveal, Samaritans are cited as examples of persons who recognize what Jesus' own people miss.

1b. TEXT: Luke 10: 25-37

Lk. 10:25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Lk. 10:26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?"

Lk. 10:27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

Lk. 10:28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."

Lk. 10:29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Lk. 10:30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.

Lk. 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

Lk. 10:32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Lk. 10:33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.

Lk. 10:34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Lk. 10:35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'

Lk. 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?"

Lk. 10:37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 10: 25-37

A simple outline shows that the opening and closing dialogues between Jesus and the lawyer (10: 25-29 and 10: 36-37) bracket the parable itself (10: 30-35). More precisely, Luke has incorporated the parable into a "controversy dialogue" which, according to Talbert (p. 120), repeats the following pattern: the lawyer's question, Jesus' counter question, the lawyer's answer, and Jesus' exhortation.

Lk. 10: 25-29 - At this point in the Lukan narrative, a lawyer unexpectedly pops up to ask a question about what kind of living is necessary as a member of God's people to inherit eternal life. This lawyer [nomikos] addresses Jesus as teacher, a rabbi with whom he can debate important issues. But the word [ekpeirazon] (10: 25) reveals the lawyer's initial question to be a hostile challenge rather than a genuine inquiry.

Jesus responds to the lawyer's question about eternal life by pointing him back to the Torah, the foundational Scriptures for the Jews. The exchange shows that inheriting eternal life is related to loving God and loving neighbor. In contrast to Mark 12: 28-34 where Jesus quotes the double commandment of love, here the lawyer recites Deut. 6: 5 and Lev. 19: 18. He recognizes the heart of theTorah, and Jesus commends him for this and then challenges him to put the double command of love into practice as a way of gaining "life."

In response, the lawyer poses yet another question, a self-justifying one which seeks to define his area of responsibility. For whom must he exercise love?

Lev. 19: 18 speaks of "neighbor" as fellow Israelite, and the Jews at Jesus' time tended to restrict use of the term "neighbor" to other Jews (Fitzmyer, pp. 880-881; Talbert,p.121). The lawyer's second question sets up Jesus' parable which shatters all attempts to limit "neighbor" to comfortable categories.

Lk. 10: 30-35 - Three observations about the story itself might be helpful: First, the story's concise yet vivid description of the robbers' attack on the traveler makes evident the victim's plight. "Half-dead" [heimithanei], the final word in the opening description, suggests the victim is unable to interact at all with his potential helpers. He is at their mercy, or lack of it. Moreover, "half-dead" provides a clue why both the priest and Levite passed by without touching the man. Contact with a dead body defiled a Jew, and those associated with the Temple (priest and Levite) were particularly careful about observing "clean-unclean" regulations (Lev. 21: 1-3, 10-11; see also Num. 19: 11-13). Though unnamed [anthropos tis], Jesus' original Jewish hearers would assume the "half-dead" person to be a Jew because of the story's location.

Secondly, the next segment of the story introduces the victim's possible saviors, using the typical pattern of three. First the priest and then the Levite see the victim and pass by on the other side of the road. This simple two-fold repetition prepares the hearers for the third. The hearers would probably anticipate some other Jew (a layperson) helping the man, but would be surprised that a despised Samaritan proved to be the helper ( to review the animosity between Jews and Samaritans in Jesus' time, see Fitzmyer, COMMENT and NOTES on Lk. 9:52-54). Note this three-fold pattern in the Greek where "compassion" replaces avoidance:

Lk. 10:31 [kai idon auton antiparelthen] (priest)
Lk. 10:32 [kai idon antiparelthen] (levite)
Lk. 10:33 [kai idon esplagchnisthen] (Samaritan)

"By coincidence" ( kata sygkyrian is brought forward in 10:31 for emphasis) all are confronted with a decision whether or not to go to the victim. Why the priest and Levite failed to help is not explicitly mentioned, though undoubtedly hearers could supply justifiable reasons. Clearly, however, it is the Samaritan who makes a difference for the victim.

Finally, it is worth noting that nearly 50% of the story (in Greek 50 of 106 words) details the assistance rendered by the "compassionate" Samaritan. The description underlines the thoroughness of his aid; his compassion (the Greek word suggests a feeling in his bowels) prompts him to invest his time, possessions (oil, wine, animal), money, and personal care for the sake of a stranger (enemy) in need.

Lk.10: 36-37 - Significantly, Jesus responds to the lawyer's question with a story, not an argument. The story changes the question. The lawyer's question in 10: 30 was self-serving, but Jesus' subsequent question in 10: 36 focuses on action for the sake of the one in need (no matter who it is).

In his final response, the lawyer does not choose to name the man as a "Samaritan"; rather he replies more generically "The one who did mercy for him" [ho poieisas to eleos met' autou]. Jesus' closing exhortation emphasizes "you" (the Greek su ) and urges the lawyer to identify with the compassionate Samaritan by acting similarly. This calls for breaking old stereotypes about Samaritans. Being "neighbor" is responding to anyone near (that is the literal meaning of pleision) who is in need. It involves acting with mercy even across ethnic and religious barriers.

3. STRATEGY: Luke 10: 25-37

(1) Remember the power of the parable is in its story form. In ministry (preaching, teaching, counseling, social concerns, etc.) stories and actual experience -- stories not yet told -- normally affect people more deeply than logical argumentation. In preaching, be sensitive to the way the hearers interact with stories. The above analysis attempts to assist you in focusing on the "rhetorical" effect of the parable for first century Jewish hearers. Memorize the text so that you can effectively "tell" Jesus' parable; this allows the text to become an oral event again.

(2) Luke, writing to Gentile as well as Jewish Christians, had to ponder how his Christian hearers would identify with the story. Similarly for contemporary interpreters, it makes a difference with which character in the story your listeners identify. For example, Bernard Brandon Scott offers a quite different interpretation of the parable by arguing that the historical Jesus designed the story to lead Jewish hearers to identify with the wounded Jew in th ditch, since it would be impossible for them to identify with a Samaritan, their enemy. In this case, the parable illuminates a perplexing dimension of God's grace: "to enter the Kingdom one must get into the ditch and be served by one's mortal enemy" (Scott, p.29). To be rescued by an enemy is deeply humbling and reflects a situation wherein one is helpless to save oneself.

(3) In any case, this story offers us no easy talk about being a "good Samaritan." For Jesus' Jewish hearers, who like James and John would call down judgment from heaven on Samaritans (9: 54), "good" and "Samaritan" seemed not to go together. This parable challenged their cherished stereotypes about enemies. Talbert writes, (This parable) "raises questions about one's caricatures of others and the norms used to identify the good and the bad" (p. 124).

This text leads us to reflect upon God's gracious activity in Jesus Christ which overcomes barriers between enemies. We cannot live comfortably with stereotypes and labels of others, deciding to help some but not others. The key is "compassion", evoked in the Samaritan by the plight of the victim. Surprisingly faced with the humanity and hurt of even our enemies, we can act in solidarity with them. Jesus himself epitomized this divine graciousness which refused to respect boundaries and categories erected to separate and divide people. The "mercy" one shows to any and all neighbors is inextricably tied to the "mercy" of God who offers us "eternal life."

Some would claim that the ultimate question today is "how do we discover God in our enemies?" This text helps us face that question squarely.

4. REFERENCES: Luke 10: 25-37

Anchor Bible: Doubleday & Co., In., 1985, pp. 876-890.

Scott, Bernard Brandon. JESUS, SYMBOL FOR THE KINGDOM. Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1981, pp. 23-32.

COMMENTARY ON THE THIRD GOSPEL. Crossroad, 1982, pp. 111-113,

Exegete: James L. Bailey, Ph.D.

Dr. Bailey is professor emeritus of New Testament at
Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He is Director
of the Center for Congregational Leadership (CCL) and
the Lay School of Ministry (LSM). He taught both at
Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Concordia College
before coming to Wartburg in 1985. Jim and his wife
Judy have two sons and five grandchildren.


Luke’s Story of a ”Splendid Samaritan“ goes, naturally, right to the heart of the matter of our human enmity for those who do not do for us as we wish them to. This opens large areas for exploration and especially in these post-9/11 years, it also raises the relationship between violence and forgiveness. This will be one of the topics addressed in January of 2008 at the Trinity Parish Institute in New York City. This event will be particularly significant in that it will include in its faculty Prof. Tariq Ramadan. Prof. Ramadan is one of the most influential Muslim scholars writing today. In 2003 he was appointed to to be the Luce Professor at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame (IN), but was disinvited, due to outside pressure.
(Something similar happened when he was scheduled to speak at the annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in 2006.) It could reasonably be held that Americans are demonsatrably less secure because of actions like these by the powers that be in our government. For more information about the 2008 Institute, contact their website:

d. buehler -→ [ ]


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