The Pharisee dinner (Lk 11:37-11:37)

“While Jesus

Was speaking,

A Pharisee

Invited Jesus

To dine with him.

Thus,

Jesus went in.

He took his place

Reclining at the table.”

 

Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ· εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν

 

Luke uniquely indicated that while Jesus was speaking (Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι), a Pharisee invited Jesus (ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος) to dine with him (ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ).  Thus, Jesus went in and took his place reclining at the table (εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν).  This is the second of 3 times that Jesus will uniquely have a dinner with a Pharisee, earlier in chapter 7:36 and later in chapter 14:1.  Earlier Luke had said that one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him.  Thus, Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house.  He took his place reclining at the table.  Then the sinful woman appeared.  In each case, the Pharisees were watching Jesus very closely.  However, he must have been on speaking terms with these Jewish leaders to get this invitation.  Thus, the hostility with the Pharisees did not seem to be personal but rather theological or philosophical over their interpretation of the divine role in Jewish life.  Matthew, chapter 15:1, and Mark, chapter 7:1, had a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes who came to Jesus from Jerusalem.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had their own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  These Pharisees in the New Testament continually engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples.  However, here it will be personal confrontation at a dinner party.  Do you have dinner with people that you disagree with?

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Would Jesus heal on the Sabbath? (Lk 6:7-6:7)

“The Scribes

And the Pharisees

Watched Jesus

To see

Whether he would cure

On the Sabbath.

Thus,

They might find

An accusation

Against him.”

 

παρετηροῦντο δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι εἰ ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ θεραπεύει, ἵνα εὕρωσιν κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that the Scribes (οἱ γραμματεῖς) and the Pharisees (καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) were watching or closely observing Jesus (παρετηροῦντο δὲ αὐτὸν) to see whether he would cure or heal (θεραπεύει) this man’s hand on the Sabbath (εἰ ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ).  Thus, they might find an accusation against him (ἵνα εὕρωσιν κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ).  Matthew, chapter 12:10, and Mark, chapter 3:2, are similar to this incident in Luke.  However, Matthew had the Pharisees confront Jesus with a question, while Luke followed Mark in saying that the Scribes and Pharisees were merely watching to see if Jesus would cure this man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.  Matthew said specifically that the Pharisees interrogated Jesus whether it was lawful to heal, cure, or serve anyone on the Sabbath.  They were trying to see if they could accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath.  Jewish law allowed people to help in cases of distress on the Sabbath.  Clearly, this was a trap question.

Tax collectors and sinners (Lk 5:30-5:30)

“The Pharisees

And their Scribes

Were complaining

To Jesus’ disciples.

They said.

‘Why do you eat

And drink

With tax collectors

And sinners?’”

 

καὶ ἐγόγγυζον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ λέγοντες Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε;

 

Luke said that the Pharisees and their Scribes were complaining or grumbling (καὶ ἐγόγγυζον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν) to Jesus’ disciples (πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  They wondered (λέγοντες) why they were with Jesus eating and drinking (ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε) with tax collectors and sinners (Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν).  Mark, chapter 2:16, and Matthew, chapter 9:11, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this incident.  In Matthew, it was only the Pharisees and not the Scribes who are complaining.  Mark and Luke have both these Pharisees and their Scribes grumble about this dinner party.  They saw that Jesus and his disciples was eating and drinking with these sinners and tax collectors.  Then they asked the disciples of Jesus, and not Jesus himself, why was Jesus eating with these tax collectors and sinners?  These Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion.  Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments.  Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees?  Their position towards the Scribes was a mixed bag.  These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed, as professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.

The dinner with the tax collectors (Lk 5:29-5:29)

“Then Levi

Gave

A great banquet

For Jesus

In his house.

There was a large crowd

Of tax collectors

And others

Sitting at the table

With them.”

 

Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι.

 

Luke said that Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus (Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευεὶς αὐτῷ) in his house (ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  There was a large crowd of tax collectors (καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν) and others (καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν) sitting or reclining at the table with them (μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι).  Mark, chapter 2:15, and Matthew, chapter 9:10, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this event.  Mark and Luke explicitly mentioned that Jesus was having a meal in the house of Levi.  Perhaps Levi was wealthy enough to have a house big enough for a large banquet.  As Levi was a tax collector, other tax collectors were there also.  Was this a farewell meal for Levi as he was about to set out as a disciple of Jesus?  Jesus sat or reclined at the dining table in Levi’s house.  However, besides the tax collectors, Mark and Matthew said that a lot of sinners came to sit down or recline with Jesus and his disciples.  However, Luke simply called them “others.”  These tax collectors were collecting money or tolls for the Roman Empire, so that they could hardly be called model Jewish citizens.  The others or sinners, on the other hand, could either be non-Jewish gentiles or other public immoral unclean Jewish men.  In general, tax collectors and sinners were lumped together, since neither cared much for following the Jewish law, unlike the Pharisees.  Matthew said some of the disciples of Jesus were there.  He also said that this meal was in a house without indicating whose house.  Would it have been the house of Jesus in Capernaum?  Presumably, it was the house of Matthew, the tax collector, since other tax collectors were there also.

Annual Jerusalem Passover (Lk 2:41-2:41)

“Now every year,

His parents went

To Jerusalem

For the festival

Of the Passover.”

 

Καὶ ἐπορεύοντο οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ κατ’ ἔτος εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ τῇ ἑορτῇ τοῦ πάσχα.

 

Luke alone continued to show how Jesus and Mary followed the Torah or Jewish law, since every year (κατ’ ἔτος), the parents of Jesus went (Καὶ ἐπορεύοντο οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ) to Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ) for the festival of Passover (τῇ ἑορτῇ τοῦ πάσχα).  Passover was one of the 3 major festivals, and the most important, when observant Jewish people went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Luke put a lot of emphasis on Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Law.

 

They were righteous (Lk 1:6-1:6)

“Both of them

Were righteous

Before God.

They lived

Blamelessly

According to

All the commandments

And regulations

Of the Lord.”

 

ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ, πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν τοῦ Κυρίου ἄμεμπτοι

 

Luke continued his unique portrayal of Zechariah and Elizabeth as righteous people (ἦσαν δὲ δίκαιοι ἀμφότεροι) before God (ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  As they were descendants of Aaron, the expectations for their behavior were higher than other Israelites.  They were blameless (ἄμεμπτοι).  They walked or followed all the commandments, statutes, ordinances and regulations of the Lord (πορευόμενοι ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐντολαῖς καὶ δικαιώμασιν τοῦ Κυρίου).  They were upright people, pillars of the community.  They were faithful followers of the Jewish Law.  Who could ask for anything more?

False testimony (Mk 14:56-14:57)

“Many gave

False testimony

Against Jesus.

Their testimony

Did not agree.

Some stood up.

They gave

False testimony

Against Jesus.”

 

πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν.

καί τινες ἀναστάντες ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 14:60.  However, this emphasis on witnesses and testimony was not in Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 18.  Mark said that many people gave false testimony against Jesus (πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ).  Their testimonies did not agree (καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν).  Some people stood up (καί τινες ἀναστάντες) and gave these false testimonies against Jesus (ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες).  There is almost a redundancy in these remarks.  According to Jewish law in Deuteronomy, chapters 17:6 and 19:15, it took 2 witnesses to convict anyone.  This gathering sounds more like a trial than an informal meeting.  Not only were they seeking pseudo or false witnesses, the whole council meeting may have been illegal, since they were not allowed to meet during the festivals, including Passover.  This council included the elders or presbyters and the Scribes of Jerusalem, along with the priests and the high priests.  However, the dreaded Pharisees and Sadducees were not part of this council meeting.