Luke 10-11

Chapter 10

I feel a sense of deja-vu. Didn’t I read just read this stuff? Yup, it’s just a rehash and embellishment of the same topic in the last chapter (and Mark 6, and Matthew 10). Good grief! The version in Luke 9 was really short, so set that aside – maybe it was just a draft and got saved by accident. So compared to the same story in the other gospels, what did Luke add in chapter 10? Well to start with, he added a lot more disciples – 72 in total, so 5 dozen new ones – no word on who they were or where they came from. I think this is Luke exaggerating again. Later, when he’s naming cities associated with sin, he names a lot more cities. Most of the rest is similar to Matthew’s version, just fleshed out a bit (eg v 2 is new). V 16 is also new, although it’s similar to Matt 10:32. But things get really bizarre in v 17-20 – what’s up with that? Satan falling from heaven? Snakes that can’t harm you? That’s reminiscent of the magical ending of Mark – pure woo – what’s it doing here?

The next whole section – Jesus’ prayer of thanksgiving – is entirely new. I think Jesus was a little mad. Thank you for hiding things from those who think themselves clever, and revealing them to the childlike? That sounds like he opposes critical thinking. And in v 22, doesn’t he sound a bit megalomaniacal? (Definition – exhibiting “delusional fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem.” Yup, that fits.) These verses creep me out.

Next we’re back to something more familiar – the Great Commandments. Luke alters the discussion slightly by changing the question; instead of asking what about greatest commandment, he has Jesus’ follower ask what we must do to have eternal life. (We’re back to the faith vs works discussion.) And instead of replying directly, Jesus deflects the question by asking what the laws of Moses say. Now the ‘student’ has to come up with the commandments, to which Jesus confirms ‘right – do this and you will live’. OK, salvation by works it is, then. (And I just realized that only Mark includes the actual Shema Yisrael – at 12:29 – in his gospel). Now, Luke’s purpose for rewording the question is clear – it leads into the next question: who is my neighbor? And the answer to that is coming right up.

good samaritanThese last 2 stories are new in Luke. First, the Good Samaritan, which Steve Wells, the author of the SAB, says gets his vote for best story in the whole bible. I think there are more than a few modern-day conservatives who could benefit from re-reading it.

martha and maryAnd we finish the chapter with Martha and Mary – a story that I always found disturbing as a kid – and still do. Martha works her ass off and Mary just sits, and Jesus is OK with that. Sorry; not OK when I was a kid, and still not OK 50 years later. In my family, idle chit-chat and sucking up doesn’t get you far – actions speak louder than words, and actual help is what’s valued.





Chapter 11

Well, well, you learn something new every day. There are 2 versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the bible, and the one that everyone knows is Matthew’s version.

Luke’s just isn’t quite as lyrical, and besides, it leave off the last couple of lines. Also, in context, Matthew’s version is part of his larger discussion about prayer (like not praying in public), whereas Luke’s doesn’t have much of a lead-in. But Luke uses his version to segue to the ‘knock and the door shall be opened’ speech, which is predictably fleshed out compared to Matthew 7. But do v 5-8 seem reasonable? I think the actions described take a lot of chutzpah and might lead to ill feelings, if not a call to the cops. Banging on someone’s door and making demands doesn’t seem to me like the right way to go.

Now on to Jesus casting the demon out of the man who could not speak (and who, in Matthew’s version, was also blind). Luke’s version follows those of Mark and Matthew, fancied up a little or course, and all out of order – you have to jump all over the page in Matthew 12 to figure out where Luke got some of the verses from. What a dog’s breakfast! And both versions copy from Mark 3, although that’s much shorter and simpler. Luke notably leaves out the section in both Mark and Matthew stating that any sin can be forgiven except blasphemy. Is that deliberate? And the section ends with Jesus indirectly insulting his mother in v 27-28.

Next Luke reprises the sign of Jonah story; mostly just reworded from Matthew 12. But once again, he leaves out the reference to the resurrection after 3 nights (although he adds v 30 about being a sign being sent by god).

Next we get another reprise of the parable of the lamp – Luke already covered that in chapter 8, but it’s a little different here, talking about an evil eye. And the last story in the chapter is a mish-mash of 2 different stories in Mark and Matthew. The first part, v 37-41, is a shorter version of Mark 7 and Matt 15, talking about why Jesus doesn’t follow the prescribed hand-washing/purity rituals. It just occurred to me that he should not be ignoring these rituals, given that he proclaimed in Matt 5:17 that he had come to fulfill the laws of Moses, not abolish them. Hypocrite, much? And here’s something else to think about – if Jesus had really been the representative of an all-loving, all-knowing god, he would have emphasized hand-washing before meals, not played down its importance. He could have saved the lives of a whole lot more people that way. Which again demonstrates that this is a work of fiction written by someone in a pre-scientific culture who was ignorant of germ theory.

In v 42, Jesus moves on to the ‘what sorrow awaits you’ speech from Matthew 23, which was part of a larger diatribe against hypocrites originally found in Mark 12. Trying to separate these stories out is giving me a headache. But scrolling through the whole thing, it seems to be an abridged version of what was in Mark and Matthew, and the only verse that seems new is v 52 about removing the key of knowledge from the people.

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