The Pharisee was amazed (Lk 11:38-11:38)

“This Pharisee

Was amazed

To see

That Jesus did not

First wash

Before dinner.”

 

ὁ δὲ Φαρισαῖος ἰδὼν ἐθαύμασεν ὅτι οὐ πρῶτον ἐβαπτίσθη πρὸ τοῦ ἀρίστου.

 

Luke said that this Pharisee was amazed to see (ὁ δὲ Φαρισαῖος ἰδὼν ἐθαύμασεν) that Jesus did not first wash (ὅτι οὐ πρῶτον ἐβαπτίσθη) before dinner (πρὸ τοῦ ἀρίστου).  There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:2-5 and Matthew, chapter 15:2.  However, the complaint there was about the disciples of Jesus, not Jesus himself.  Matthew said that these Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not wash their hands before they ate bread.  They said that this action was a violation against the tradition of the elders.  Mark said that these Pharisees and Scribes had noticed that the disciples of Jesus were eating bread with defiled hands, because they did not wash their hands.  These Pharisees and Scribes wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not live according to the tradition of the elders.  Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21.  Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing.  Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar.  The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance.  However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual homes.  Thus, they were violating the tradition of the elders.  Wash your hands!  Do you wash your hands before you eat?

Advertisements

The development of the gospel biblical texts

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetime.  There was little motivation to write anything down for future generations.  However, as the various eyewitnesses began to die, there was more concern.  The missionary needs of the church grew, so that there was a demand for written versions of the founder’s life and teachings.  The stages of this process included this first oral tradition stage.  Then the stories and sayings of Jesus were passed on largely as separate self-contained units, but not in any order.  There were some written collections of miracle stories, parables, and sayings, with the oral tradition continuing alongside these.  Finally, there were the written proto-gospels that served as the sources for the canonical gospels.  The final gospels were formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition.  All four gospels use the Hebrew Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages.  They interpreted texts or alluded to various biblical themes.  Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint, since they did not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.

The Q source

The Q source is a hypothetical written or oral collection of Jesus’ sayings that was common to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark.  This Q source included many parables and the beatitudes.  According to this hypothesis, these sayings of Jesus was taken from the early Church’s oral tradition.  In the 19th century, some New Testament scholars favored Mark as the first written gospel.  They assumed that that the authors of Matthew and Luke had used the Gospel of Mark.  However, there were large sections of the gospels of Luke and Matthew that were not found in Mark.  They suggested that neither gospel drew upon each other, but from a second common source, termed Q, from the German word Quelle.  Many scholars have tried to reconstruct this lost source with limited success.  Another group of scholars thought that the 20th century discovered Gospel of Thomas might be that source.  Others have maintained that this similarity also demanded a written rather than an oral document.  Did Q even predate the Gospel of Mark?  Another question is whether Luke used Matthew instead of having a common source, the older hypothesis.

The wise old sages (Sir 8:8-8:9)

“Do not slight the discourse of the sages.

Busy yourself with their maxims.

Because from them

You will gain discipline.

You will learn how to serve princes.

Do not ignore the discourse of the aged.

They themselves learned from their parents.

From them

You learn how to understand.

You learn how to give an answer

When the need arises.”

Like many of the biblical writings, there is a respect for the past. In particular, there is a great respect for the oral tradition of those with great experience. Therefore you should listen to the maxims and sayings of the wise old sages. You will learn disciple and how to serve the various rulers. Do not ignore the conversations of the old people since they have learned many of these things from their parents. From them, you should learn how to understand and give an answer at the appropriate time.

Introduction of the law (Ps 78:5-78:8)

“Yahweh established a decree in Jacob.

He appointed a law in Israel.

He commanded our ancestors

To teach their children.

Thus the next generation might know them,

The children yet unborn.

Thus they might rise up.

They then could tell them to their children.

Therefore they should set their hope in God.

They should not forget the works of God.

They should keep his commandments.

They should not be like their ancestors.

They were a stubborn and rebellious generation.

They were a generation

Whose heart was not steadfast.

They were a generation

Whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

In recalling the introduction of the law to Jacob or Israel, Asaph, the psalmist, reminded his audience that their ancestors were not that faithful to the law. There are no specific incidents cited. What was indicated clearly was that they were supposed to teach the law to their children just as their ancestors had done for them. This may be a reference to the “shema” love of God law in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. There is no direct reference to Moses and the 10 Commandments. In one sense, this may be an indication of a non-written oral law that was passed on by word of mouth in an oral tradition. They should set their hope in God. They should remember his great works. In a twist of fate, he reminds them not to be like their ancestors, who were stubborn and rebellious. They did not have steadfast love of God, nor was their spirit faithful to God. This paints a bleak picture of their ancestors. The works of Exodus and Deuteronomy show the so-called warts of their ancestors.

The problems of Job (Job 1:13-1:19)

“One day Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house. A messenger came to Job and said.

‘The oxen were plowing.

The donkeys were feeding beside them.

The Sabeans fell upon them.

They carried them off.

They killed the servants with the edge of the sword.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘The fire of God fell from heaven.

It burned up the sheep and the servants.

It consumed them.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘The Chaldeans formed three columns.

They made a raid upon the camels.

They carried them off.

They killed the servants with the edge of the sword.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said.

‘Your sons and daughters were eating

And drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house.

Suddenly a great wind came across the desert.

It struck the four corners of the house.

It fell on the young people.

They are dead.

I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

Once again, we begin with the once upon a time concept of “one day” back here on earth. The 10 children of Job were eating and drinking wine together. In a very oral stylistic format, 4 messengers, one after another come to tell him the bad news about his estate and his family. The repetition of lines for each group indicates an oral tradition that made it easy to remember. First, the Sabeans, a southern Arab tribe or traders where present day Yemen is, stole his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys. They also killed all the servants except one. The queen of Sheba may have been from Sheba and part of the Semitic Sabeans, somehow a descendent of Shem, the son of Noah. Secondly, lightning from heaven, the fire of God, destroyed and burned the 7,000 sheep as well as the servants watching them, except for one. Thirdly, the Chaldeans, a predominant Semitic tribe near the Persian Gulf that was taken over by the Babylonians around 600 BCE, stole all his 3,000 camels. They killed all his servants watching them except one. Finally, all his 10 children died when their house fell on them during a great wind storm. The servants all died, except one. Disaster has hit Job on many fronts. Foreigners stole his livestock. Lightning and windstorms destroyed his family and sheep.