[B-Greek] Luke 19:31

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Nov 18 03:13:38 EST 2006


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "George F Somsel" <gfsomsel at yahoo.com>
>
19: 31 KAI EAN TIS hUMAS ERWTAi, "DIA TI LUETE?" hOUTWS EREITE hOTI "hO KURIOS AUTOU CREIAN ECEI."
>
> What I am exploring here is the reason for the statement "hO KURIOS AUTOU XREIAN EXEI."  This 
> would seem to presuppose that anyone who asked would be aware of to whom "hO KURIOS" refers and 
> would have no objection to Jesus' use of the animal.  The problem is that we are not told that 
> this is the case.  While there is generally an economy of expression in the gospels in particular, 
> they do generally contain all of the information which we need to understand them.

IL: The economy of expression is common to all communication (confer Relevance Theory), and the 
gospels generally have less of this than many other texts. On the other hand, one needs to have some 
background information of the situation to understand. It is helpful to know that Jesus and his 
disciples were approaching both Bethany and Bethphage at this point in the story. Bethany is about 
one mile off the main road to the left as they were coming up the Jericho road. To go to Bethany now 
would be a detour, but Jesus has been there several times and is well-known in the village. He used 
to stay at the spacious home of the well-to-do Martha who must have been known by everyone there. A 
number of people in that village would know him as "the Master" (hO KURIOS or the Hebrew/Aramaic 
equivalent) - and Luke commonly refers to Jesus as "hO KURIOS". Bethphage has not been located with 
absolute certainty, but it is likely that it was on or very near the main road about 1½ mile east of 
Jerusalem. So, looking at the map in front of me, it is likely that Jesus stopped  about 3 miles 
before Jerusalem and sent two of his disciples southwest along the path to Bethany to get the donkey 
and asked them to return with it along the path going northwest to Bethpage. At the meantime he and 
the others would procede on the main road towards the west and a bit south to go to Bethphage and 
wait for them there before descending the hill towards Jerusalem.

> If, however, the statement is somewhat ambiguous so that it could refer to either Jesus as hO 
> KURIOS or to the owner of the animal, then the answer might be understandable as being sufficient. 
> I feel very uncomfortable ASSUMING that Jesus had some prior contact with the people of this 
> village and was known to them.  Furthermore, the simple designation as hO KURIOS is not in itself 
> identifying if it does not refer to the owner of the animal since it was a common form of address.

IL: I don't know why you feel uncomfortable with an assumption that is well founded in the Gospel 
narratives. Jesus knew exactly who the people were who would be asking and what they would say. So, 
Luke bends over backwards to explain who the owners of the donkey(s) were, because he is more 
specific than Mark when he says in v. 33-34:

LUONTWN DE AUTWN TON PWLON, EIPAN hOI KURIOI AUTOU PROS AUTOUS:
TI LUETE TON PWLON? hO DE EIPAN hOTI hO KURIOS AUTOU CREIAN ECEI.

Now, since Luke identifies the bystanders as the owners of the donkey, it makes no sense for them or 
us to understand hO KURIOS as the owner of the donkey. They must have understood that hO KURIOS 
referred to Jesus, and that is why they let them take the donkey. They probably recognized the two 
disciples of Jesus anyway, since they had been seen in the company of Jesus several times in 
Bethany. They don't ask the two disciples who they are, but only why they are taking the donkey. And 
Jesus presumably returned the donkeys the same evening, when he went to Bethany to stay overnight 
with his friends. He might even have gone to the owners and said thank you for lending them to me. 
Or he could have sent them back earlier with the two disciples. We don't need to know all the 
details, but there is no doubt that hO KURIOS refers to Jesus.

Iver Larsen 




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