Inviting People to The Great Dinner (Luke 14:15-24)

 

            As a Sabbath dinner party guest, Jesus offends his Pharisee hosts by curing a person with dropsy (Lk 14: 2-6). He gives advice about taking the lowest place of honor at the table (14:7-11), and advises inviting the marginal who cannot repay with invitations (14:12-14). One of the Pharisee dinner guests remarks how good it is to eat bread in the kingdom of God, giving Jesus the cue to tell the parable of the Great Supper – a parable where a person, after receiving rejections with flimsy excuses, invites all people he can find, even the marginal, to his banquet (14:15-24). Joseph Fitzmyer sees this story as a minatory (threatening) parable warning about the dangers of not accepting God’s invitation to the kingdom (1053). The setting of this gospel, from a literary point of view, with concern to the host and guests, is ambiguous. Jesus is a guest of a Pharisee, but he gives advice on how to accept invitations and on how and to whom to give them. Is this story, ultimately, about accepting God’s invitation, or about being a disciple and giving invitations to those who need them? In literature terms we have a “mise-en-abime” or “setting in the abyss”—a narrative device where there is difficulty in seeing where the central seeing or narrating is taking place. Where does the reader/Jesus follower fit in? In Luke/Acts the Church receives the Holy Spirit to continue Jesus’s ministry. I want to read the parable of the Great Dinner and hopefully derive meanings of, not only accepting God’s grace and invitation to the bigger eschatological banquet, but also meanings where we, as dinner guests, also have to be hosts-- agents of the Holy Spirit and bring people in to eat. After a preliminary clarification situating Luke’s role in the synoptic gospels, this paper will discuss the parable by verses, bringing in social/historical points in an effort to deepen the reading. The paper will conclude with a short discussion on how the parable works in the whole chapter and in Luke, in general, by being a prelude to how to be a Church.

Stephen Binz says meals in Luke are a major context where Jesus teaches his disciples about “table” virtues of hospitality, service, humility, and concern for the poor (74). The Great Supper parable takes place in the major “Journey to Jerusalem” section of Luke (9:51-19:27). Stephen Nickle explains H. Conzelmann’s theory of the three phases of salvation history as they are represented in Luke. God operates first through Israel, then Jesus, and then the Church. Luke/Acts is the Gospel of the Holy Spirit where we see Jesus passing on the Holy Spirit of God to his disciples (150-2). Raymond Brown links the annunciations of Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary to the “annunciation” that Jesus delivers in the form of the Holy Spirit to the apostles in Acts. It is the Church that is going to immaculately conceive the Holy Spirit (227-8). Jack Kingsbury sees Mark’s focus on the cross and suffering as a means to reach the good news (320. He sees Matthew emphasizing the delay of the perousia and giving instructions on how to be ready and not lose heart (70). While Luke has these ideas, Kingsbury sees him pointing to the ascension and the anticipation of the heavenly banquet (109, 127).  How one structures the Great Dinner parable shows where one focuses on meaning. Daniel Harrington sees the Matthew version framed by the Pharisees trying to trick and catch Jesus. (308). Luke has the parable framed by Jesus’s advice to invite the poor (14:13-14), followed by Jesus teaching that true disciples leave family and all possessions. The focus in Luke is more ecclesiological –how to be Jesus as a Church. The Church will form a new family, reversing former ties of blood and wealth and will continue God’s role in salvation history.

                        Framing The Great Dinner Parable 

Luke 14: 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother… even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Luke Timothy Johnson treats the Great Dinner parable together with the lessons on discipleship as one unit (14:15-35). He adds that the preceding verses (14:1-14) also are part of the same scene (231). Before the parable proper, there are specific instructions of table hospitality, including humility and compassion for the poor. Johnson notes that “poor” is a blanket term in Luke for all marginal people (227). The discipleship “rules” following the parable (14:25-35) include giving up family and possessions to be part of Jesus’s kingdom in a  new family.” Matthew’s account of the “Great Dinner” is a wedding banquet (Mt 22:1-14), framed by the Pharisees’ anger at Jesus’s telling parables that accuse the Pharisees of being “evil tenants” and rejecting the “stone” which is Jesus (Mt 21: 45-46). After the parable, which is a wedding banquet in Matthew, the Pharisees plot to entrap Jesus. The tone in Matthew is focused more on the Pharisees as the “bad guys” who reject Christian Judaism (Johnson 231). Luke’s tone is centered more on how to be a disciple. The message of not rejecting Jesus is there, but there is also equal, if not more emphasis, on how to be a disciple.

                                                The Great Dinner

15 One of the dinner guests on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

After Jesus says that those who invite the poor will be “blessed” at the resurrection, a Pharisee seconds Jesus. Joseph Fitzmyer explains that “blessed” here means inner peace. Blessed is the usual translation of Greek “makarios,” the adjective used to express NT beatitudes or “macarisms.” Fitzmyer reminds us that they go together with “woes” to make a subliterary subform (Luke I-IX 620-621). Accepting and giving invitations will make you blessed, while refusing invitations will bring you woe.

 

16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many.

 

What is Jesus doing here? He might be saying, “Not so fast Mr. Pharisee!” His parable of “rejection” will be a further lesson. This parable originated in Q and was in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. Joseph Fitzmyer believes Thomas’s version might be the closest to what Christ said, with Matthew and Luke being redactions of the original form (Luke X-XXIV 1051-52). Luke Timothy Johnson believes that, since Matthew, Luke, and Thomas share some version of this parable, we may, by comparison, see more clearly Luke’s intentions. Is the Pharisee saying something positive? Is Jesus putting him down as a hypocritical refuser of the kindom’s invitation? Is this parable a teaching on how to invite or be invited? In Matthew’s version the dinner is a wedding feast and a king is the sponsor. It is more allegorical than Luke’s dinner that will focus on real life table manners (Donahue 94) before it gets to eschatological meaning.

 

17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’

 

It may have been a custom in elite circles to send out “vocators,” announcing to guests that the meal was ready. Fitzmyer counsels us not to interpret the singular “slave” (servant in some translations) as Christ (Lk X 1055). We are dealing here with table manners and social customs of invitations.

 

18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’

 

            The detailed excuses in Luke are the major difference in his version of the parable in regards to Matthew’s version. Matthew avoids deailed excuses and has his refusers react violently by killing the slaves (22:5-6). Fitzmyer says the central parable in Q is in Luke 16-21A (Lk X 1052). It centers on the invitation, the excuses, and the re-inviting of the masses. In literature the level of importance of a theme is proportional to the length given its treatment. Why did these people make excuses? They were flimsy excuses too. Humphrey Palmer studied these excuses with reference to a rule in Deuteronomy where you were exempt from going to holy war if you were recently married or had important estate and land concerns (258). Palmer thinks that the evangelist is using humor here. The “war” excuses are a liitle excessive in refusing a dinner invitation. Or are they (248)? Luke Timothy Johnson sees the “military” excuses as just irrelevant (232) since these people are being invited to an “eschatological” banquet, and not a place of danger.

Bruce Molina and Richard Rohrbaugh do a social scientific study of the synoptics, and their comments on table customs, honor, and in-group/out groups are invaluable here. Meals for Luke readers were ceremonies where social position was established and affirmed. Who eats with whom, what you eat, where you sit, and what is discussed are all parts of customs establishing “in-groups” (381-2). Honor was of highest importance in one’s life. One built it the way one builds a resumé. Thus, with whom you ate was an important way to improve your vita (Molina 370). It was important, and still is, to be part of the right “in-group.” Your neighbors were the extension of your family (Molina 370). To join a new faction would bring on a confrontation with your immediate family. O. Wesley Allen, in his multi-leveled reading of Matthew 12:46-50, where Jesus says his mother, brothers etc. are anyone who does the will of the Father in heaven, shows that Jesus is revealing that being a disciple is much closer than being part of his “blood” family (34-37). Luke’s gospel emphasizes this point more with the amount of time spent on meals and how they establish in-groups, and how Jesus teaches to reverse the in-group orientation (Molina 373-374). In Lk 14:17, the host sends his servants to those who had been invited. Molina and Rohrbaugh remark that the period between the invitation and the announcement that dinner was ready gave the invited a chance to see who was invited. The idea of “double invitation” tells us that they waited and saw that they would not be advanced socially, and possibly could be lowered, if they accepted the invitation ( 286). Perhaps also, they did not want to be obliged to invite the host back (277). In Thomas’s gospel the four excuses, meeting with merchants, buying a house, running a wedding celebration, and collecting rent, are financially oriented with Jesus condemning a society fixed on buying and selling. Here in Luke, the excuses are more universal, representing desires for wealth, property, and sex.

 

21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

 

The emphasis on the excuses in Luke represents more than just a rejection of those who refuse to come to the “eschatological” banquet. It is also a summons to “invite” people to share good things in one’s own life. Mary Ann Beavis sees Luke’s gospel as more than condemning the rich. She sees Luke forging a vision of community where both the rich and the poor are spiritually equals and where they can address social and economic inequities (142).  Halvor Moxnes sees Luke’s community as a city culture in the Eastern Mediterranean. This agrarian culture had its centers in the cities where the wealthy owners lived. The elite controlled the major center of the city with its temple, market place and important buildings like theaters, gymnasiums and baths (168). The non-elite, which made up the majority of the population, included shopkeepers, merchants, artisans, servants and slaves (169). Moxnes envisages Luke’s community as a mixed group of elite and non-elite who saw meals as a way to address and question city ideals of patronage, benefactions and honor (174-5). Can we see the idea of the eucharist as prayer and praxis to do the same?

In Matthew’s Gospel the focus is more political. The king destroys the city of those who refused his invitation and killed his servants. Matthew’s message is oriented to the Jewish leaders who rejected Christian Jews. Luke’s gospel has this message, but focuses more on promoting social equality. Fitzmyer notes that inviting the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame was not in Q, nor Matthew, but from Luke himself or his own source (Lk X 1052).

 

22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you have ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.

 

            This second sending in Luke (three total sets of invitations including the first round to the refusers) implies that we not only go out into the poor non-city areas, but also that we include the Gentile neighbors as well (Molina 374, Johnson 229). The “compeling” here, according to Fitzmyer is not “forcing,” but more an urging since the poor and the marginal will be worried about breaking social barriers (Lk X 1057). Luke Timothy Johnson sees the three invitations as a pattern in Luke/Acts. The first invitation is to the righteous who think they already have their consolation (6:24). The second invitation is to the marginal (7:22). The house is still not full, and therefore the invitation will go out to the Gentiles which will be pursued by Luke in Acts (232). Fitzmyer thinks that the Great Dinner parable formally ends on Lk 14: 23 with the house needing to be filled (1057).

 

24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

 

Matthew adds the anecdote of the newly invited man not being dressed properly, and thus being thrown out into the shame and darkness (Mt 22:11-14). Daniel Harrington thinks this might be a separate parable, but with a corresponding message that being admitted is no guarantee of staying there (307-308). Luke 14:24 echoes the same sentiment, but the focus in Luke is going to be on what it takes to be a good disciple in the conclusion of the chapter.

                                    On the Road of Salvation History

            How do we place this parable in the context of Luke/Acts? We know that the source is Q. Jack Kingsbury reminds us that the messages of Q are less focused on the cross as in Mark, but consist in being expectant and ready for the Kingdom of God, especially by forsaking all possessions to follow Jesus. Q is for/by an itinerant Jesus crowd (3, 20-22, 61, 70). There is a sense of urgency to be ready for the Kingdom.

One way to be ready is to have compassion and help the poor. Dan O. Via sees a conflict with the form and content of this parable. While the “space” emphasis in Luke is on the excuses and rejecting God’s invitation, there is a “feeling” emphasis on the compassion needed for the poor (177). Via notes that, in the narrative parables like The Prodigal Son, there is usually a three fold structure of crisis, response and denouement (leaving the father and realizing the mistake, the seeking of forgiveness, and the revelation of the father’s love). In The Great Dinner we have the crisis and the response, but the denouement is uncertain (175, 177-78). There does not seem to be a major character. Via suggests that that the denouement is up to how we respond to God’s call (182). Via quests the divine determinism of Lk 14:24. Are there some doomed not to taste the eschatological banquet?

            Frank Stagg studies this question in the major parables of Luke. He sees a pattern of God’s grace overcoming the determinism. In The Good Samaritan, the question of who is my neighbor becomes more inclusive on how to be a good neighbor (223). In the three parables of The Lost Sheep, Coin, and Son, the focus is on the looker or finder. Stagg sees this concentration as God’s grace operating in us (226). In Luke the Holy Spirit operates before Christ’s birth in Zechariah, John, Joseph, and Mary and continues through Acts. Salvation History depends on God’s mercy and the human cooperation to receive it (228).

            Timothy Noël connects the parable of the Great Dinner to the first section of Lk 14. Jesus cures a man of dropsy and makes a point about the spirit of the Sabbath and healing (14:2-6). Jesus then gives a lesson on humility by advising against seeking the place of honor at a meal (7-11), and finally advises to invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind—not family members or those who can pay you back (12-14). Noël ties this section to the Great Dinner by saying that the Pharisees cannot do the above things and therefore are probably the ones who refused the invitation (Noël 19-24). There is a literary unity. Luke 14:1-24 is a tragedy of the Pharisees who invite Jesus to dinner and ironically do not see that they are the ones who are guilty of having no compassion (Noël 25-26). They were also blind to this compassion in the two previous meals with Jesus (Lk 7 and the anointing by the woman sinner, and Lk 11 and their over attention to the washing of hands). There is a pattern of meals and insensitivity that means tragedy for the Pharisees.

            Where as Timothy Noël connects Lk 14:1-14 with 14:15-24, Eugene LaVerdiere  connects literarily the remaining part of Lk 14: 25-35 to the first two parts. When the Pharisee recognizes that Jesus’s talk of humility and compassionate inviting is connected to the eschatological banquet, Jesus then narrates the parable of the Great Dinner, which is really the Jesus banquet. The question of who will be saved is redirected to how one can be saved (194-95). It is by relinquishing all ties to family and possessions. A new concept of family must happen at the eschatological banquet. Sandra Schneiders sees Luke’s banquet and gospel as a place where God has no gender. It is a place void of patriarchal exploitation (48-9).

            It is place to where servants will be raised to new status. Luke sometimes uses the word “servant” (sometimes translated as “slave”in the NRSV) in a more glorious, positive light than Mark or Matthew. The first eyewitnesses were “servants” of the word (1:2). Mary is the “Lord’s servant” (1:38). All generations will call her blessed because she has been mindful of the humble state of servant (1:48) The Magnificat, in general, is a prologue on how God will reverse the lowly, his servant Israel (1:54) and magnify them with the presence of the Holy Spirit. In many cases the NRSV translates “servant” as “slave.” Sometimes the slave performs menial functions, but many times slaves are either cared for preciously like the Centurian’s servant/slave (7:9-11), or have the opportunity to be on equal status as their masters. Matthew does similar studies with good and not so good servants, but Luke adds the touch of possible glory, with David and Mary as examples.

                        Being the Neighborly Inviter Lover: Finding God in the Abyss

John Donahue starts his study of Luke with The Good Samaritan – the first parable that Jesus teaches on his journey to Jerusalem. Jesus has just answered a lawyer’s question on what must be done to enter the kingdom. Jesus’s “love your neighbor” response makes the lawyer ask “Who is my neighbor.” Rather than answer “who,” Jesus responds by a parable on how to be a good neighbor. We have to risk being a neighbor in a foreign world (Donahue 128-34).  This pattern of reversal seems to be a pattern in Luke. The Prodigal Son is less about asking forgiveness and more about giving it. The goal is to be the father. The process of getting to the father/neighbor role is the message. It is not so much that we have to ask forgiveness or give it, but that we have to cross an abyss from being egotistical to being a selfless lover. In the Great Dinner, one question might be, “Are we invited?” The real question might be that we have to invite people ourselves and not worry about if we are invited. Risking love in places where we are not sure of getting love returned is the spirit of Luke/Acts. Like the Prodigal Son’s father, we can never be sure of getting complete divine love, but we do have the power to give it. The main character of the Great Dinner will be Jesus’s disciples who invite everyone to share at God’s table. These inviters are the Church, the Spirit of God. Luke’s Eucharist meal may be a memory of Christ’s love, but it is also a projection to the future heavenly banquet here on earth.  Crossing the abyss from ego to love is God’s space.

Works Cited

Allen, O. Wesley. Reading the Synoptic Gospels. Saint Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2001.

Binz, Stephen J. The Passion and Resurrection Narratives of Jesus: a Commentary.

Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1989.

Beavis, Mary Ann. “Expecting Nothing in Return.” Gospel Interpretation:

Narrative-Critical and Social Scientific Approaches. Jack Dean Kingsbury, ed. Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 1997.

Brown, Raymond E. S.S. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday,

1997.

Donahue, John R. S.J. The Gospel in Parable. Fortress Press, 1988.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. S.J. The Gospel According to Luke I-IX: Introduction, Translation,

and Notes  The Anchor Bible, Vol. 28. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981.

________. The Gospel According to Luke X-XXIV: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. 

The Anchor Bible, Vol.28A. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985.

Harrington, Daniel J. S.J. and Donahue, John R. S.J.  The Gospel According to Matthew.

Sacra Pagina Series, Vol.1. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel According to Luke. Sacra Pagina Series Vol. 3.

Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991.

Kingsbury, Jack Dean. Jesus Christ in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Philadelphia: Fortress

Press, 1981.

LaVerdiere, Eugene. S.S.S. Luke. New Testament Message 5. Collegeville, MN:

Liturgical Press, 1980.

Moxnes, Halvor. “The Social Context of Luke’s Community.” Gospel Interpretation:

Narrative-Critical and Social Scientific Approaches. Jack Dean Kingsbury, ed. Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 1997.

Molina, Bruce, and Rohrbaugh, Richard L. Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic

Gospels, 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003.

Noël, Timothy. “The Parable of the Wedding Guest: a Narrative Critical Interpretation.”

Perspectives in Religious Studies 16:1 (Spr 89): 17-28.

Nickle, Keith F. The Synoptic Gospels: An Introduction. Louis/London: Westminster

John Knox Press, 2001.

Palmer, Humphrey. “Just Married, Cannot Come.” Novum Testamentum 18.04 (Oct 76):

241- 257.

Schneiders, Sandra M. Women and the Word: the Gender of God in the New Testament

and the Spirituality of Women. NewYork/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1986.

Stagg, Frank. “ Theological Use of Parables.” Review and Expositor  94:2

(Spr 97): 215-227.

The New Oxford Annotated  Bible 3d ed. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford, New York:

Oxford UP, 2001.

Via, Dan O. “The Relationship of Form to Content in the Parables of the Wedding

Guest.” Interpretation 25.02 (Apr 71): 171-184.

The Great Dinner in Luke, Matthew, and Thomas

 

                Luke                                                        Matthew                                                  Thomas$64

Luke 14: 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

 

 

 

                15 One of the dinner guests on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I  must go out and see it;; please accept my regrets.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out ; please accept my regrets.’ 20 Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master.

Then the owner of the house became angry

 

and said to his slave,

‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you have ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

                25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother… even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 21: 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables [2 sons, evil tenants, stone rejected], they realized he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

 

22: 1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying:

 

 

2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.

4 Again, he sent other slaves, saying ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them, and killed them.

7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

 

                11 “But when the king came to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

                15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. [Taxes to Caesar]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus said,

“A man once had guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to summon the guests. He went to the first one (and) said to him, ‘My master summons you.’ (But) he said, ‘I have some financial claims on some merchants, they are coming to me this evening. I must go and give them orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.’ He went to another one (and) said to him, ‘My master summons you.’ (But) he said to him, ‘I have just bought a house, and people require me for the day. I shall have no time.’ He came to another one and said to him, ‘ My master summons you.’ (But) he said to him, ‘My friend is getting married and I am the one to arrange (the) dinner.’ He went to (still) another one and said to him, ‘My master summons you.’ (But) he said, ‘I have just bought a village, and I am on my way to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.’ The master (then) said to the servant, ‘Go out into the streets and bring in those whom you will find that they may eat my dinner. But buyers and sellers shall not come into the places of my Father.’”

(In Fitzmyer 1050)

 

 

Italics are where Luke differs from Matthew. Bold print is where Matthew differs from Luke.

 

 

 

 

The Master Class: Word Study of Teacher         in the synoptics

            Our goal as Christians is to reach the Kingdom of God. Christ teaches us how to arrive. The word “teaching” appears in the Gospel of Mark under the forms of “taught” (7), “teach” (6), “teaching” (9), and “teacher”(12). The verbs “teach and “taught” appear more in Mark than Matthew (“teach” 3, “taught” 2) and Luke (“teach” 4, “taught” 5). “Teaching” as a process may be slightly more important in Mark. The verbs “taught” and “to teach” have to do with combining word and deed. After a “general teaching, Jesus follows with real life examples. “Teaching” as a noun usually deals with Jesus’s new type of teaching (with authority) as opposed to the scribes’ way. The word “teacher” is used to show Jesus’s prestige even to those who are against him. “Teacher” also points to our end goal as followers of Jesus.

                        Teaching with Authority: from the General to the Specific

            In the 1:21 pericope, Jesus starts with general teaching (taught) and gives an example as he cures a possessed person. Word and deed signal a “new teaching” with a new authority. Jesus’s “teaching” is less “rules” oriented and less “showy” than that of the scribes (7:17, and 12:35). Jesus’s teaching is an active process. In 2:13 after Jesus “taught” the crowds, he specifically calls Levi to be a disciple. The new teaching has to do with Rabbis seeking students and not the older way where Jews sought Rabbis. In 4:1 Jesus “began to teach” (very similar to “taught”) the crowd with the parable of the sower. He then teaches his disciples how to teach the parable. The disciples will not learn the “secret” (4:11), until they see Jesus’s “specific illustration” in the Passion and Death. Jesus does give his disciples authority to teach – like on-the-job learning ((6:6, 6:30). In 8:31, Jesus teaches his own disciples that He must suffer and be rejected by the “Teachers of the Old Law” (scribes). He gets more specific with Peter’s rebuke calling Peter a Satan tempting him away from the message of suffering and letting go. Jesus then takes this message out to the crowd. In 9:31, Jesus similarly says that he will be betrayed and gives the non-understanding disciples a lesson that power and leadership corrupt. The message is service, not leadership. The disciples do not realize that they betray Jesus when they argue over who is the greatest amongst them. In 11:17 “Taught” refers to Jesus’s teaching the old guard that the Temple is not a market place or a den of thieves. Jesus’s crucifixion will be the real life demonstration of proper Temple activity.

                                    The Teacher Becomes the Good Teacher

            Jesus only refers to himself once as “teacher” (14:14). “Teacher” is used when someone wants a favor. The disciples are afraid in the boat during the storm (4:38). They also ask who will sit at Jesus’s right hand (10:35), or they acknowledge worldly monuments in front of their “teacher” (13.1). Jarius’s men do not want to disturb the “teacher” thinking the daughter has died. Another man asks the “teacher” to cure his possessed son (9:17). Jesus’s foes use the term “teacher” ironically when they try to trap him with theological questions (12:14 Church and State, 12: 19 Divorce). One scribe gets it right when he acknowledges Jesus as the “teacher” who has truly defined the greatest commandment—a combination of loving God and neighbor (12:32). Jesus tells him that he is “not far” from the Kingdom of God (12:34). Jesus rebukes the rich man for calling him “good teacher,” since only God the Father is good. We could argue Christology here about if Jesus knew He was God, but I think the main point is that Jesus again teaches from general to specific. He shows the rich man that you have to give up everything to get to the kingdom. Jesus gives up his life. He finally calls himself teacher (14:14) when he tells the disciples to get the room ready for the “teacher” for the “Last Supper.” With  suffering love He is ready for the title “good teacher.” Jesus is God.

                                    Master Teacher in 1:20-1:28

            The episode in the synagogue at Caparnaum is a microcosm of Jesus as teacher. After a general teaching with authority, Jesus shows that he can drive out the unclean spirit of a troubled person. “Teacher” is inclusive of healer and instructor. The scribes needed scripture (Torah) and the authority of their elders. Jesus uses the authority of good works whether it is curing inside the synagogue or outdoors with the crowds. The synagogue setting puts Jesus in harm’s way. The new “Law” has to do with practice.

            I need to study the Greek words “didache” and “didaskalias” which are nouns for teaching, and “didaskalos” – the word for teacher. As for now I will conclude with the French word used in today’s (Mar.4) gospel —“maitre.” A “master” in French is a person who exercises power. Masters can be bosses or teachers. As a teacher, the master educates by being a model to follow. In music the master listens to students play in “master classes,” and then offers advice. The power comes from having done the work. The master has been over the rough ground (the real meaning of “master”) that students want to cover. In the Mark 12:32 gospel, the scribe is converting to Jesus’s way by seeing that love of God is love of neighbor. We show this love in our suffering help. Like Jesus’s disciples in Mark’s gospel, we have not quite grasped the concept, but as disciples or learners, we are still connected to the Master trying to get a little closer to the Kingdom. Can we become good teachers?                     

 

 

 

 

Verses of   Taught/Teach/Teacher/Teaching in Mark        New International Version   

 

Mark:1:20  [Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit ] They went to Capernaum, and when the

Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 20-22

Mark 1:22   The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.[scribes] Mark 1:21-23

Mark 1:27   The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A

      new teaching and with authority! He even gives orders to evil

                  spirits and they obey him.

 Mark 2:13  [The Calling of Levi ] Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large

crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.[taught in Oxford – later will call Levi  to be a disciple]

Mark 4:1   The Parable of the Sower ] Again Jesus began to teach [not “taught” in

Oxford  here]by the lake. The crowd  that gathered around him was so large that he got into a  boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.

Mark 4:2     He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:

Mark 4:38   Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and

       said to him, “Teacher, don't you care if we drown?”

Mark 5:35  While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the

synagogue ruler. Your daughter is dead, they said. Why bother the teacher any         more?     

Mark 6:2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach [not taught in Oxford] in the

synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.  [Nazareth-home town]

Mark 6:6  [ Jesus Sends Out the Twelve ] Then Jesus went around teaching from village

  to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave

              them authority over evil [ Greek unclean] spirits.

Mark 6:30  [Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand ] The apostles gathered around Jesus and

reported to him all they had done and taught.

Mark 6:34  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them,

because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them

            many things.

Mark 7:7    They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. [ Isaiah

29:13]   [vain teaching of the scribes]

 

Mark 8:31 [Jesus Predicts His Death ] He then began to teach them that the Son of Man

must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and

            teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:17   A man in the crowd answered, Teacher, I brought you my son, who is

   possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. [Plea for help]

Mark 9:31   because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is

going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after

            three days he will rise.

Mark 9:38  [Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us ] Teacher, said John, we saw a man

driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one

of us.

Mark 10:1  [Divorce ] Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and

across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he

            taught them.

Mark 10:17   [ The Rich Young Man ] As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him

and fell on his knees before him. Good teacher he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Mark 10:20  Teacher, he declared, all these I have kept since I was a boy.

Mark 10:35  [The Request of James and John ] Then James and John, the sons of

Zebedee, came to him.Teacher, they said, we want you

             to do for us whatever we ask. [to sit at right and left hand of Jesus]

Mark 11:16  And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: My house will be called a

house of prayer for all nations [ Isaiah 56:7] ? But you have made it a den of robbers. [ Jer. 7:11] 

Mark 11:18   The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking

for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed

            at his teaching.

Mark 12:14   They came to him and said, Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity.

You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they

are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Mark 12:19  Teacher, they said, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and

leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.

Mark 12:32   Well said, teacher, the man replied. You are right in saying that God is one

and there is no other but him. [about the “first commandment”]

Mark 12:35 [Whose Son Is the Christ ] While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he

asked, How is it that the teachers of the law [scribes]say that the Christ

            Or Messiah] is the son of David? [Jesus is witty]

Mark 12:38   As he taught, Jesus said,  watch out for the teachers of the law [scribes]

They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces,

Mark 13:1   [Signs of the End of the Age ] As he was leaving the temple, one of his

disciples said to him, Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!  [Jesus says they will all be gone]

Mark 14:14  Say to the owner of the house he enters, The Teacher asks: Where is my

guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?

Mark 14:49   Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not

arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.

 

Works Consulted:

The New Oxford Annotated  Bible 3d ed. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford, New York:

Oxford UP, 2001.

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and

Roland E.  Murphy, eds. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

 

 

The Master Class: Word Study of Teacher James Tomek  THL 531

            Our goal as Christians is to reach the Kingdom of God. Christ teaches us how to arrive. The word “teaching” appears in the Gospel of Mark under the forms of “taught” (7), “teach” (6), “teaching” (9), and “teacher”(12). The verbs “teach and “taught” appear more in Mark than Matthew (“teach” 3, “taught” 2) and Luke (“teach” 4, “taught” 5). “Teaching” as a process may be slightly more important in Mark. The verbs “taught” and “to teach” have to do with combining word and deed. After a “general teaching, Jesus follows with real life examples. “Teaching” as a noun usually deals with Jesus’s new type of teaching (with authority) as opposed to the scribes’ way. The word “teacher” is used to show Jesus’s prestige even to those who are against him. “Teacher” also points to our end goal as followers of Jesus.

                        Teaching with Authority: from the General to the Specific

            In the 1:21 pericope, Jesus starts with general teaching (taught) and gives an example as he cures a possessed person. Word and deed signal a “new teaching” with a new authority. Jesus’s “teaching” is less “rules” oriented and less “showy” than that of the scribes (7:17, and 12:35). Jesus’s teaching is an active process. In 2:13 after Jesus “taught” the crowds, he specifically calls Levi to be a disciple. The new teaching has to do with Rabbis seeking students and not the older way where Jews sought Rabbis. In 4:1 Jesus “began to teach” (very similar to “taught”) the crowd with the parable of the sower. He then teaches his disciples how to teach the parable. The disciples will not learn the “secret” (4:11), until they see Jesus’s “specific illustration” in the Passion and Death. Jesus does give his disciples authority to teach – like on-the-job learning ((6:6, 6:30). In 8:31, Jesus teaches his own disciples that He must suffer and be rejected by the “Teachers of the Old Law” (scribes). He gets more specific with Peter’s rebuke calling Peter a Satan tempting him away from the message of suffering and letting go. Jesus then takes this message out to the crowd. In 9:31, Jesus similarly says that he will be betrayed and gives the non-understanding disciples a lesson that power and leadership corrupt. The message is service, not leadership. The disciples do not realize that they betray Jesus when they argue over who is the greatest amongst them. In 11:17 “Taught” refers to Jesus’s teaching the old guard that the Temple is not a market place or a den of thieves. Jesus’s crucifixion will be the real life demonstration of proper Temple activity.

                                    The Teacher Becomes the Good Teacher

            Jesus only refers to himself once as “teacher” (14:14). “Teacher” is used when someone wants a favor. The disciples are afraid in the boat during the storm (4:38). They also ask who will sit at Jesus’s right hand (10:35), or they acknowledge worldly monuments in front of their “teacher” (13.1). Jarius’s men do not want to disturb the “teacher” thinking the daughter has died. Another man asks the “teacher” to cure his possessed son (9:17). Jesus’s foes use the term “teacher” ironically when they try to trap him with theological questions (12:14 Church and State, 12: 19 Divorce). One scribe gets it right when he acknowledges Jesus as the “teacher” who has truly defined the greatest commandment—a combination of loving God and neighbor (12:32). Jesus tells him that he is “not far” from the Kingdom of God (12:34). Jesus rebukes the rich man for calling him “good teacher,” since only God the Father is good. We could argue Christology here about if Jesus knew He was God, but I think the main point is that Jesus again teaches from general to specific. He shows the rich man that you have to give up everything to get to the kingdom. Jesus gives up his life. He finally calls himself teacher (14:14) when he tells the disciples to get the room ready for the “teacher” for the “Last Supper.” With  suffering love He is ready for the title “good teacher.” Jesus is God.

                                    Master Teacher in 1:20-1:28

            The episode in the synagogue at Caparnaum is a microcosm of Jesus as teacher. After a general teaching with authority, Jesus shows that he can drive out the unclean spirit of a troubled person. “Teacher” is inclusive of healer and instructor. The scribes needed scripture (Torah) and the authority of their elders. Jesus uses the authority of good works whether it is curing inside the synagogue or outdoors with the crowds. The synagogue setting puts Jesus in harm’s way. The new “Law” has to do with practice.

            I need to study the Greek words “didache” and “didaskalias” which are nouns for teaching, and “didaskalos” – the word for teacher. As for now I will conclude with the French word used in today’s (Mar.4) gospel —“maitre.” A “master” in French is a person who exercises power. Masters can be bosses or teachers. As a teacher, the master educates by being a model to follow. In music the master listens to students play in “master classes,” and then offers advice. The power comes from having done the work. The master has been over the rough ground (the real meaning of “master”) that students want to cover. In the Mark 12:32 gospel, the scribe is converting to Jesus’s way by seeing that love of God is love of neighbor. We show this love in our suffering help. Like Jesus’s disciples in Mark’s gospel, we have not quite grasped the concept, but as disciples or learners, we are still connected to the Master trying to get a little closer to the Kingdom. Can we become good teachers?                     

 

 

 

 

Verses of   Taught/Teach/Teacher/Teaching in Mark        New International Version   

 

Mark:1:20  [Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit ] They went to Capernaum, and when the

Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 20-22

Mark 1:22   The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.[scribes] Mark 1:21-23

Mark 1:27   The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A

      new teaching and with authority! He even gives orders to evil

                  spirits and they obey him.

 Mark 2:13  [The Calling of Levi ] Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large

crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.[taught in Oxford – later will call Levi  to be a disciple]

Mark 4:1   The Parable of the Sower ] Again Jesus began to teach [not “taught” in

Oxford  here]by the lake. The crowd  that gathered around him was so large that he got into a  boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.

Mark 4:2     He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:

Mark 4:38   Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and

       said to him, “Teacher, don't you care if we drown?”

Mark 5:35  While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the

synagogue ruler. Your daughter is dead, they said. Why bother the teacher any         more?     

Mark 6:2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach [not taught in Oxford] in the

synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.  [Nazareth-home town]

Mark 6:6  [ Jesus Sends Out the Twelve ] Then Jesus went around teaching from village

  to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave

              them authority over evil [ Greek unclean] spirits.

Mark 6:30  [Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand ] The apostles gathered around Jesus and

reported to him all they had done and taught.

Mark 6:34  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them,

because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them

            many things.

Mark 7:7    They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. [ Isaiah

29:13]   [vain teaching of the scribes]

 

Mark 8:31 [Jesus Predicts His Death ] He then began to teach them that the Son of Man

must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and

            teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:17   A man in the crowd answered, Teacher, I brought you my son, who is

   possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. [Plea for help]

Mark 9:31   because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is

going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after

            three days he will rise.

Mark 9:38  [Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us ] Teacher, said John, we saw a man

driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one

of us.

Mark 10:1  [Divorce ] Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and

across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he

            taught them.

Mark 10:17   [ The Rich Young Man ] As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him

and fell on his knees before him. Good teacher he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Mark 10:20  Teacher, he declared, all these I have kept since I was a boy.

Mark 10:35  [The Request of James and John ] Then James and John, the sons of

Zebedee, came to him.Teacher, they said, we want you

             to do for us whatever we ask. [to sit at right and left hand of Jesus]

Mark 11:16  And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: My house will be called a

house of prayer for all nations [ Isaiah 56:7] ? But you have made it a den of robbers. [ Jer. 7:11] 

Mark 11:18   The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking

for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed

            at his teaching.

Mark 12:14   They came to him and said, Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity.

You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they

are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Mark 12:19  Teacher, they said, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and

leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.

Mark 12:32   Well said, teacher, the man replied. You are right in saying that God is one

and there is no other but him. [about the “first commandment”]

Mark 12:35 [Whose Son Is the Christ ] While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he

asked, How is it that the teachers of the law [scribes]say that the Christ

            Or Messiah] is the son of David? [Jesus is witty]

Mark 12:38   As he taught, Jesus said,  watch out for the teachers of the law [scribes]

They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces,

Mark 13:1   [Signs of the End of the Age ] As he was leaving the temple, one of his

disciples said to him, Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!  [Jesus says they will all be gone]

Mark 14:14  Say to the owner of the house he enters, The Teacher asks: Where is my

guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?

Mark 14:49   Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not

arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.

 

Works Consulted:

The New Oxford Annotated  Bible 3d ed. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford, New York:

Oxford UP, 2001.

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and

Roland E.  Murphy, eds. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

 

 

                                    Redacting the Transfiguration     in MT,Mk, LK

 

            Why does God choose to manifest Jesus in front of the disciples? Does Matthew have the same message when he retells the Transfiguration? On first appearance the accounts, Mk 9:2-8, Mt 17:1-8, seem similar. Six days after an important unnamed event, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain, and is transfigured before them while speaking to apparitions of Moses and Elijah. While Peter offers to build three dwellings for the holy men, a voice from a cloud bids the disciples to listen to “his beloved son.” Then Moses and Elijah disappear  leaving Jesus alone in the vision. Coming down the mountain he orders them to say nothing until after the “Son of Man” is risen. There are two important sets of differences. Matthew in 17:2-3 adds “his face shown like the sun,” and then names Moses first ahead of Elijah. Matthew is placing emphasis on the Moses figure. Then in 17:5, Matthew adds more text to the voice of God “with whom I am well pleased” and adds the next two verses, Mt 17:6-7, about the disciples being afraid while Jesus comforts them. He leaves out Mark 9:6 where Peter’s remarks are attributed to him not knowing what to say because he was terrified and changes Peter’s address to Jesus from “Rabbi,” Mk9:5, to “Lord,” Mt17:4. The emphasis on Moses and the adding of Christ’s soothing presence reflect a historical change. Matthew’s community is in need of seeing Christ as the successor of Moses and the Jewish law, and it is in need of seeing a more “powerful” “Son of Man” who is still with his people.

            Identifying Jesus as the new Moses is a must. Matthew is writing to a community around 85 CE after the destruction of the Temple 70CE and the Roman defeat of the Jews. The center of Jewish worship is now the synagogue where there is a conflict between non-Christian Jews and Christian Jews (Nickle 121-130). Matthew amplifies the Transfiguration account with Christ’s face shining like the sun, an allusion to Moses after Moses came down from the mountain (Exodus 34). The Sermon on the Mount, which preceded the Transfiguration, is an elaboration on the law of Moses. Matthew is telling his community that a Christian Jewish combination is superior to the older law. Moses saw God, but Jesus is called by God as his beloved son. Mark’s account explains that Jesus’s clothes became dazzling white “as no one else could bleach them.” Matthew focuses more on the face of Jesus.

            The addition of Mt 17:6-7, where Jesus calms the disciples’ fears might be caused by the delay of the “perousia.” In Mark’s time the general belief was that the second coming was imminent. By the 80 CE it seemed that that Jesus would not be coming back anytime soon. As the disciples are comforted by Jesus on the mountain so is Matthew’s community. Jesus is still present with the disciples and has the power to help them. Matthew’s Jesus represents a higher Christology – a more divine Jesus which the community needed in order to compete with the non-Christian Jewish synagogue, and to struggle in a world where the savior’s return is delayed.

            The overall effect of these changes is a theology of higher Christology in Matthew. The message of the cross, suffering, and service are still in Matthew, but there is an emphasis on making the new religion “better” than he Jewish religion all while reassuring the community of Christians that Christ is with them in control during the interim until his return. Matthew’s use of “mountain” is more extensive than Mark’s. The mountain is where Jesus demonstrates his divine power. Matthew has two mountain scenes, one in the beginning and the other at the end of the gospel that are not in Mark. In the beginning, after his baptism, Jesus goes in the wilderness and is tempted by the devil on a high mountain (Mt 4:8). At the end of the gospel Jesus appears to the disciples on the mountain and commissions them to baptize, evangelize and teach. John Donahue believes that Jesus is teaching the disciples how to be a Church (110). Sandwiching Matthew’s Transfiguration account 17:1-8 is a “Son of Man” inclusio. In Mt 16:28 Jesus tells them that some will not taste death before they see the “Son of Man” coming to his Kingdom. Then, coming down the mountain, he orders the disciples not to tell the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead. Stephen Binz believes that  the “Son of Man” references in Matthew complement Jesus’s suffering Messiahship and to his glorious reign (53, 62). For example, Jesus’s “Son of Man” identity completed Peter’s profession of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God at Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:27). The Transfiguration then is a high moment in the gospel showing Jesus as God. These three high moments at strategic points in the gospel manifest Jesus as a powerful, comforting, and teaching Lord. Mark’s use of “rabbi” did not technically mean teacher (Harrington, Gospel of Mark, 270).

            In Mark, Keith Nickle sees all the stories of Jesus as incomplete without the cross at the end (82). Therefore, the Transfiguration account is not a “centerpiece,” in Mark. It serves as another episode where the disciples fail to grasp the message of suffering service. There is no “Son of Man” inclusio. The account ends with the disciples not understanding what rising from the dead means (Mk 9:10). The message of Mark’s gospel focuses on who Jesus is and what it means to be his disciple. Mark’s community was suffering under Roman persecution in the 60s CE. They needed to understand the concept of suffering and the cross.

            Does a higher Christology necessarily mean a more intimate immanent Jesus? Or does a higher Christology make for a more transcendent distant God?  Reading Matthew’s text against Mark’s draws light on the meanings of the two gospels that might not be there if we read them separately. Studying the Transfiguration accounts returned me more to my human Jesus and his non understanding disciples. They gave me hope in my vigils.

 

 

                                                Works Cited

 

Binz, Stephen J. The Passion and Resurrection Narratives of jesus: A Commentary.

Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1989.

Donahue, John R. S.J. The Gospel in Parable. Fortress Press, 1988.

Harrington, Daniel J. “The Gospel According to Mark.” The New Jerome Biblical

Commentary. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Roland E.  Murphy, eds. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice            Hall, 1990.  (650)

________. The Gospel According to Mark. Sacra Pagina Series I. Collegeville, MN: The

Liturgical Press, 1991.

________. The Gospel According to Matthew. Sacra Pagina Series II. Collegeville, MN:

The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Nickle, keith F. The Synoptic Gospels: An Introduction. Louis/London: Westminster John

KnoxPress, 2001.

The New Oxford Annotated  Bible 3d ed. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford, New York:

Oxford UP, 2001.

Viviano, Benedict  T. O.P. “The Gospel According to Matthew.” The New Jerome

Biblical Commentary. (615)

                                                Transfiguration

 

The boldface type in Matthew is what Matthew added to the Mark account. The italics in Mark are what Matthew edited out.

 

                                Mark                                                                                       Matthew

9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.

16:28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

 

 

Transfiguration Passage in Question

 

                                                                                                                               

2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.

And he was transfigured before them,

3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

 

6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

 

 

 

 

 

8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.

2And he was transfigured before them,

and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white

3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

 

 

5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

 

 

Conclusion to the Transfiguration

 

9      As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

 

10 So they kept the matter to them selves, questioning what this raising from the dead could mean.

 

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”