Only the foreigner returned (Lk 17:18-17:18)

“None of them

Returned

To give praise

To God

Except this foreigner.”

 

οὐχ εὑρέθησαν ὑποστρέψαντες δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος;

 

Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that none of the others could be found (οὐχ εὑρέθησαν) to return (ὑποστρέψαντες) and give glory or praise (δοῦναι δόξαν) to God (τῷ Θεῷ), except this foreigner (εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος).  Luke was the only biblical writer to use this word ἀλλογενὴς, that means of another race or another nation, a foreigner.  Clearly, Luke indicated that Jesus was steeped in racial animosity, since he considered these Samaritans as foreigners, another race of people.  However, Jesus had more compassion for them in the stories of Luke than in the other gospel stories, where they are ignored.  The prophet Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 5, had also cured a foreign leper, Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army in a fairly complicated story.  Do you have racial animosity towards those not of your culture?

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What is truth?

The Christ story is true because the Bible tells me so.  Like Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, we ask “what is truth?”  Is this scientific truth?  No.  A peak experience in our life, like falling in love is true, but not scientifically verifiable.  There are different contexts for truth.  There is a difference between truth in court and truth in a laboratory.  There are different kinds of truth.  We say, “So help me, God.”  Stories, like the parable of the Good Samaritan, are true stories, but do we have to say every part happened exactly the way that the gospel story says that it did.  We are influenced by our culture and education.  Thus, we share our culture.  Otherwise there is no trust, only disbelief.  Is truth always black and white?  There are degrees, levels, and kinds of truth.

Inspiration

These human authors worked under the influence of God’s Spirit.  Yet at the same time, they were under the influence of their community and culture.  Why were these stories and words used?  Christians believe that the biblical phrases are God’s words in human terms in content and message.  These writers believed that what they were writing was inspired by God.

Human Authors

The Bible is the record of the Hebrew people and early Christians.  These human authors worked under the influence of God’s Spirit and at the same time under the influence of their community and culture.  Why these words?  Christians believe that this is God’s meaning in human words in content and message.  The cultural history and empirical science was true for their particular time.  History is always an interpretation.  Science is always experimenting finding new ways to do things.  The divine message of God transcends time and space, since it has an eternal ring to it that goes beyond the human authors and their words.

The Babylonian king requests young Israelite students (Dan 1:3-1:4)

“Then the king commanded

His palace master,

Ashpenaz,

To bring

Some of the Israelites

Of the royal family

Or Of the nobility.

These should be

Young men

Without physical defect,

As well as handsome.

These should be

Versed in every branch

Of wisdom,

Endowed

With knowledge,

As well as insight.

These young men

Should be competent

To serve

In the king’s palace.

They were to be taught

The literature,

As well as the language,

Of the Chaldeans.”

King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to have some well-bred Israelites students. He had his palace chief, Ashpenaz, find these young men if they met certain conditions. These young men would have to be in good physical shape, as well as good looking. They had to be from the Israelite royal family or the Israelite nobility. Thus, these young men would not be run of the mill students. On top of that, they had to show some wisdom, knowledge, and insight. They were not going to waste their time on people who did not want to learn. Thus, they would be competent to serve in the king’s palace like a page. They also had to learn the Chaldean or Babylonian culture with its literature and language. This seemed like a good use of smart young men.

 

The letter suggests that they assimilate into Babylon (Jer 29:4-29:7)

“The letter said.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

To all the exiles

Whom I have sent

Into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

Build houses!

Live in them!

Plant gardens!

Eat what they produce!

Take wives!

Have sons!

Have daughters!

Take wives for your sons!

Give your daughters

In marriage!

Thus they may bear sons.

Thus they may bear daughters.

Multiply there!

Do not decrease!

But seek the welfare

Of the city

Where I have sent you

Into exile.

Pray to Yahweh

On its behalf.

In its welfare

You will find your welfare.’”

Interesting enough, this letter is very favorable to the Babylonians. After all, it was going to the king of Babylon. Once again it is the classical Jeremiah oracle with Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, as the source of this letter. They were to build houses, live in them, plant gardens, and eat from their produce. They were to have wives and children. They were to take wives for their sons and give their daughters in marriage, so that they could become grandparents. They should multiply there, not decrease. In fact, they were to get involved in the city there by praying to Yahweh for its welfare. After all, if the city did well, so would they. This seems like a clear attempt to assimilate into the Babylonian culture and society.