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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Friday, August 03, 2007

Parable of the Pounds, with Slaying for Jesus

Did Jesus exhort his followers to kill his enemies? On his way for the last time to Jerusalem, Jesus tells the Parable of the Pounds. This message is broadly delivered to the crowd, not just to Zacchaeus, his host. The wisdom character in the story -- and it is clear that it is not Jesus, but this King in his parable -- says "As for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me!" [RSVP, Luke 19:27; in Phillips, "execute them in my presence"; in NEB "slaughter". Clearly it is physical, murderous, without a tribunal, and personal.]

First, we should note that this murdering bit is unique to Luke, and not any of the other Gospel authors who tell the same story of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, with all which that implies.

The ending verse appears to have no relationship to the somewhat strange "Parable of the Pounds" which Jesus has just related to people who were hanging upon his every word. Remember that this parable of the pounds, given to us only by Luke, is similar to the parable of the talents related by Matthew--25:14-30. Some scholars think that Luke combined the Matthew story with another involving gaining of a kingdom. In any event neither of the related parables, nor this synthesis, seem to need to have anyone getting slaughtered, and the risk appears unrelated to the matters at stake--talents and pounds (equivalent to the Greco-Syrian mina, or about 100 drachmas, worth 20-35 dollars).

I cannot help but mention that Christian scholars for the most part simply ignore the last verse. (Harpers' Bible Commentary 1037). Perhaps during wildly retributive episodes in the past, the good Church Fathers dearly invoked this instruction. But lately, Christians have calmed down. Not much slaying, in spite of what Jesus said.

The next thing Luke turns to in his story of Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem, with all that implies, is stealing a virgin colt for the ride into town. Did we mention going into Jerusalem, with all that implies? The sight of the city moves Jesus to tears. But other than that, it is peace and joy all around. By the time Jesus mounts the colt [in Luke it is a colt, not an ass], the crowd is rejoicing and throwing their clothing down on the ground, as they do, 2 Kings 9:13. Luke does not mention olive or palm branches, but the disciples were raising a great praise, and when Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke the noise-makers, Jesus assures them that if the disciples were silent, then "the very stones would cry out" [RSV; "burst out cheering" Phillips]. Did we mention Jerusalem? Jesus predicts that the city would be destroyed "and they will leave not one stone upon another in you". Of course Luke is privy to fact that Rome's "final solution" was to enslave all the Jews, force them to dismantle the largest fortified city in the world, and then exile all of them, and rename Judea (the land of Jews), "Palestine".

Did we mention the great entrance into Jerusalem?