Eternal life (Lk 10:25-10:25)

“Just then,

A certain lawyer

Stood up

To test Jesus.

He said.

‘Teacher!

What must I do

To inherit eternal life?’”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν λέγων Διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω;

 

Luke said that just then, a certain lawyer stood up (Καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη) to test Jesus (ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν).  He said, calling Jesus a teacher (λέγων Διδάσκαλε), what did he have to do to inherit eternal life (τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω)?  Although there was a question like this in all 3 synoptics, there are nuanced differences.  Matthew, chapter 22:35-36, had a Pharisee lawyer ask the question about the greatest commandment, and not about eternal life.  Mark, chapter 12:28, had a Scribe, not a Pharisee lawyer ask the same question about the greatest commandment.  In Luke, here, there was an unnamed lawyer, probably an expert in the Mosaic law, who wanted to know about how to gain eternal life.  Mark had this unnamed Scribe approach Jesus, because he had heard the disciples discussing, disputing, or arguing with each other.  He saw how Jesus had answered their questions so well.  He was not there to test him, as here in Luke and Matthew, but he did question Jesus.  Matthew had a lawyer, who was a Pharisee, question Jesus to explicitly test him.  This Pharisee lawyer probably was someone skilled in the Mosaic law.  He addressed Jesus in a very respectful tone calling him “Teacher” or rabbi (Διδάσκαλε), like Luke.  He wanted to know which commandment of the law was the greatest, since there were 613 commandments in late Judaism.  Thus, it would seem like a legitimate question with so many commandments or laws.  Luke had the question about eternal life, but the other 2 synoptics questioned Jesus about the most important commandment.  These questions were related, but not the same.  3 different people, with different motives, posed this question.  Do you question people to learn something or to test them?

The fruit of the tree (Lk 6:44-6:44)

“Each tree

Is known

By its own fruit.

Figs are not gathered

From thorns.

Grapes are not picked

From a bramble bush.”

 

ἕκαστον γὰρ δένδρον ἐκ τοῦ ἰδίου καρποῦ γινώσκεται· οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ἀκανθῶν συλλέγουσιν σῦκα, οὐδὲ ἐκ βάτου σταφυλὴν τρυγῶσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus continued with his metaphor about fruits.  He said that each tree was known by its own fruit (ἕκαστον γὰρ δένδρον ἐκ τοῦ ἰδίου καρποῦ γινώσκεται).  Figs are not gathered from thorn bushes (οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ἀκανθῶν συλλέγουσιν σῦκα).  Neither are grapes picked or gathered from a bramble or thorn bush.  This saying of Jesus was somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:16, perhaps indicating a Q source.  There Jesus told his disciples that they would know or discern people by their fruits.  Then he asked the question whether grapes could be gathered from thorn bushes or figs gathered from thistles?  Certain kinds of fruits only come from certain kinds of trees.  Thus, you can tell what kind of tree it is by its fruit.  The thorn bushes were not going to produce figs or grapes.  What kind of tree are you?

Why marry? (Mt 19:10-19:10)

“The disciples said to Jesus.

‘If such is the case

Of a man

With his wife,

It is better not to marry.’”

 

λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί Εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἡ αἰτία τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός, οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι.

 

This section about eunuchs, celibacy, and marriage is unique to Matthew.  The disciples raised the question (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί) about a man with his wife (Εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἡ αἰτία τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός), no divorce in marriage, would it not be better to not marry at all (οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι).  They though that this restriction about marriage and divorce was too harsh or difficult.

Know them by their fruits (Mt 7:16-7:16)

“You know them

By their fruits.

Are grapes gathered

From thorn bushes?

Are figs gathered

From thistles?”

 

ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς. μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα;

 

This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Luke, chapter 6:44-45, perhaps indicating a Q source.  Jesus told his disciples, via Matthew, that they would know or discern people by their fruits (ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς).  Then he asked the question whether grapes could be gathered from thorn bushes (μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς) or figs gathered from thistles (ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα).  Certain kinds of fruits only come from certain kinds of trees.  Thus, you can tell what kind of tree it is by its fruit.

Attitudes toward God

We all have a belief attitude to this great mysterious, even if not articulated.  This attitude may be implicit or explicit.  Thus, it can be a subconscious belief or a practical disbelief in God.  How do we describe these various belief attitudes?  Do we have a positive or negative view of God?  Do we any view of God?  Do we not even care about the question?

Limitations of the Bible

The difficulty with all these interpretations hangs on the question whether this is the word of God or man’s word?  Every reading of the Bible is an interpretation.  Who decided which books belong in the bible?  This was not decided until over 300 hundred years after Christ.  Many of the Christian churches have different books in the Old Testament.  How can you have justification from the texts themselves?  There have many weird interpretations of the Bible.  The Bible has had a history under the influence of God’s Spirit.  The Bible should not be watered down.

The parting of the ways

The distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament raises the question of whether the separation of the first century Christian groups and the nascent first century CE Rabbinic Jewish groups was just a continuation of an earlier dispute.  Did the fall of the Temple in 70 CE put the final nail in the coffin?  Was this the fracture of Judaism, as the two groups went in different ways?  Already in the second century BCE, there were differences between the Judean Maccabeus group and the Greek Hellenistic Jews.  None of the inspired Jewish biblical writers who called themselves followers of Jesus Christ in the first century wrote in Hebrew, but all wrote in Greek.  Was Christianity, or the forming of the Christian communities, the final stage of this dispute within Judaism about the role of Greek?