Into the Temple
The other was
A tax collector.”
Ἄνθρωποι δύο ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσεύξασθαι, ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης.
Luke has Jesus tell a parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector that is only found in this gospel. Luke indicated that Jesus said that two men (Ἄνθρωποι δύο) went up into the Temple (ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν) to pray (προσεύξασθαι). One was a Pharisee (ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος). The other was a tax collector (καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης). Both of these men were well intentioned, since they went to the Temple to pray to God, a good thing. Socially, they were of two different strata. The Pharisee was a pillar of Jewish society as an interpreter of the Mosaic Law. The tax collector, on the other hand, was considered a traitor to the Jewish community, since he worked for the Roman Empire, the occupation force. These tax collectors were often compared to public sinners. The contrast was real and set out at the beginning of this story. Is there a social strata in your religious culture?
When he came
To the place
He passed by
On the other side.”
ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν
Luke continued his unique story. Jesus said that a Levite also (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης) came to this same place (κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν) on the road. He saw the wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν). Then he too crossed over to the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν), so as not to engage with this man. The same questions can be asked of this Jewish Levite that were asked about the priest. Was it because of ritual purity? Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop? Did he simply not care? Was it too much of a bother? Normally, the Levites do not come in for much criticism in the gospel narratives. Levites were sons of Levi, and tied to ritualistic practice at the Temple. For instance, the father of John the Baptist was Zechariah and his mother Elizabeth, both of them were descendants of Aaron. Zechariah was a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, while Elizabeth was from a Levite family. These Levites had Temple duties. Thus, they were religious ritual leaders in the Jewish community. Both the priest and the Levite represented the upper religious strata of the Jewish community. Do you think that religious leaders should set an example by their lifestyle?
“Now by chance,
Was going down
When he saw him,
He passed by
On the other side.”
κατὰ συγκυρίαν δὲ ἱερεύς τις κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν.
Luke uniquely continued this story or parable about who is my neighbor. Jesus said that by chance (κατὰ συγκυρίαν), a certain Jewish priest (δὲ ἱερεύς τις) was going down (κατέβαινεν) this same road (ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ). He saw the badly wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν), but he passed by on the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν). There is a lot of speculation on why this priest did not help this man. Was it because of ritual purity? Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop? Did he simply not care? Was it too much of a bother? Certainly, a Jewish priest had standing in the Jewish community. Other than the high priest, he represented the most important level of Jewish society. What is certain is that this high-ranking religious leader did not engage in any way with the afflicted man on the other side of the road. He clearly saw him, as he specifically crossed over to the other side, so as not to be bothered by him. The ritual purity argument has been raised since a priest could not touch a corpse. However, there was no mention of a dead body. Do you always have an excuse on why you do not help other wounded people?