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.

They find Jesus on the third day (Lk 2:46-2:46)

“After three days,

They found him

In the Temple.

He was

Sitting among

The teachers,

Listening to them

And asking them questions.”

 

καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ ἡμέρας τρεῖς εὗρον αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καθεζόμενον ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διδασκάλων καὶ ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπερωτῶντα αὐτούς·

 

Good news!  Luke said that Joseph and Mary found Jesus after 3 days (καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ ἡμέρας τρεῖς).  That probably means that he was found on the 3rd day since they traveled one day out and one day back on their journey.  These 3 days will play an important role in the resurrection story, because Jesus will rise from the dead after 3 days.  Thus, the distress of these parents will be like the distress of the disciples of Jesus after his death.  The parents of Jesus found him in the Temple (εὗρον αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ), just like the women who found the empty tomb on the 3rd day.  Jesus, the 12-year-old was sitting in the middle or among the Temple masters or teachers (καθεζόμενον ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διδασκάλων), experts in the Jewish religion and traditions.  He was both listening to them (καὶ ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν) and asking them questions (καὶ ἐπερωτῶντα αὐτούς).  Nothing had been mentioned about his prior schooling in Nazareth, if there was any.  Had he been trained at the local synagogue in Nazareth?

 

The washing of cups (Mk 7:4-7:4)

“They do not eat anything

From the market place,

Unless they wash it.

There are many other traditions

That they observe.

They wash

Cups,

Pots,

And bronze plates.”

 

καὶ ἀπ’ ἀγορᾶς ἐὰν μὴ ῥαντίσωνται οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν, βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων καὶ ξεστῶν καὶ χαλκίων,

 

Mark alone continued with his elaboration about the Pharisees and their traditions to his gentile non-Jewish audience.  He said that the Pharisees do not eat anything coming from the market place, unless they wash it first (καὶ ἀπ’ ἀγορᾶς ἐὰν μὴ ῥαντίσωνται οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν).  There are many other traditions that they hold or observe (καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν) about washing cups (βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων), pots (καὶ ξεστῶν), and bronze plates (καὶ χαλκίων).  It was obvious that the Pharisees had a keener sense of cleanliness or purity than most gentiles because washing or purification was an important religious practice.

Pharisees and Scribes come from Jerusalem (Mk 7:1-7:1)

“Now the Pharisees

And some of the Scribes,

Who had come

From Jerusalem,

Gathered around him.”

 

Καὶ συνάγονται πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καί τινες τῶν γραμματέων ἐλθόντες ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:1.  Once again, there was a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes.  Mark said that the Pharisees and some of the Scribes gathered around Jesus (Καὶ συνάγονται πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καί τινες τῶν γραμματέων).  However, this time, these Pharisees and Scribes came from Jerusalem (ἐλθόντες ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων).  These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  The Pharisees, on the other hand, 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.

Jesus taught with authority (Mk 1:22-1:22)

“They were astonished

At his teaching.

He taught them

As one having authority,

Not as the Scribes.”

 

καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ· ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων, καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς.

 

There is something similar to this in Luke, chapter 4:32, and Matthew, chapter 7:29, where Jesus was teaching with authority.  The people of this Capernaum synagogue were astonished or amazed at his teaching (καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ), since he taught them as if he had authority (ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων), not like the Scribes (καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν).  What was this authority that Jesus had?  He was not like one of these Scribes, who were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  They might have been the forerunners of the rabbinic class that was developing at that time.  Jesus taught on his own authority without referring to tradition.  He was amazing.

The role of Elijah (Mt 17:10-17:11)

“The disciples asked Jesus.

‘Why then do

The Scribes say.

That Elijah must come first?’

Jesus replied.

‘Elijah is indeed coming.

He will restore all things.’”

 

Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον;

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα·

 

The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as here in Matthew.  The disciples of Jesus asked, questioned or interrogated him (Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες) about why the Scribes (Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς) said that Elijah had to come first (λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον).  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  He said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  These Scribes were contemporary religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things (Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα).  There is no doubt that the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, dominated late Jewish thought.