Luke 10:31: KATEBAINEN

Joe A. Friberg JoeFriberg at
Fri Jul 23 13:24:41 EDT 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Goodacre [mailto:M.S.GOODACRE at]
> Sent: Friday, July 23, 1999 12:00 PM
> To: Biblical Greek
> Subject: Luke 10:31: KATEBAINEN

> Clearly the man in the ditch
> was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho (KATEBAINEN APO
> IEROUSALHM EIS IERIXO, v. 30).  It is then said that the priest
> KATEBAINEN the road (v. 31).  My instinct is to read this as
> implying that he, too, is going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Is this
> necessarily the case, in which case we can rule out the interpretation
> involving corpse impurity and the temple?  Or might KATABAINW
> be used more casually of travelling on a road?

Both geographically and religiously Jerusalem is *up* from Jericho.  In
fact, Jerusalem is typically thought of as *up* from  any locality.  Note
the 'Psalms of Ascent', and Acts 18.22 which reads: KAI KETELQWN EIS
The strength of the idiom (that Jerusalem is 'up') has been held in the TEV
translation to supply "Jerusalem" as implied information for the unnamed
destination of ANABAS.  Thus the TEV reads: "When he arrived at Caesarea, he
went to Jerusalem and greeted the church, and then went to Antioch."  I
would agree, and argue similarly in the Luke passage.

>  If he is on his
> way to Jerusalem he might be passing by on the other side because he
> is attempting to avoid corpse impurity -- he thinks the man may be
> dead and since he is on his way to the temple, he does not want to
> risk corpose impurity (Lev. 21.1-3).  This, at least, is the way that the
> parable is read by E. P. Sanders and others.

Nevertheless, I have heard a similar interpretation given for the priest
descending from Jerusalem, with the explanation that he did not want to
*return* to Jerusalem for ritual cleansing.  FWIW, I must note that the
parable itself does not specify the reason for avoidance, and suggest that
Jesus left it open-ended to be applied in many ways to our hearts. :)

God Bless!

Joe A. Friberg
M.A. Linguistics
M.A. Theology student
Arlington, TX
JoeFriberg at

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