[B-Greek] Luke 19:31

Carlton Winbery winberycl at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 18 10:00:07 EST 2006

This discussion is ranging far afield from the Greek text. Let's have 
no more of this. If you have analysis of the text/grammar discuss 
that, but no more reconstructions of the history which involves 
harmonizing differences in the parallel accounts or the geography 
except where the text specifically uses the locations for light on 
what is written.

Carlton Winbery

>When we read these accounts, we really must try to understand them 
>as the original readers might have understood them.  Today people 
>sometimes hand out tracts containing the Gospel according to John. 
>Some have never read the Bible in their lives (hard to believe, 
>isn't it?).  Imagine that you were in that situation and someone 
>handed you a Gospel according to Luke, and you're now reading it for 
>the first time.  You know nothing about the Gospel according to 
>John.  The only Lazarus mentioned in Luke is the beggar who sat at 
>the rich man's gate.  Mary and Martha are mentioned (Lk 10), but 
>where they live is not -- it's merely KWMH TINA.  In our passage 
>Bethany and Bethphage are indeed mentioned, but when Jesus tells the 
>disciples to go get the ass he doesn't say "Go to Bethphage" but THN 
>KATENANTI KWMHN so put away your maps.  I'm inclined to say that it 
>was not Bethphage or it would have been stated.
>I'm not trying, in a once fashionable manner, to explain everything 
>naturalistically (such as to say that when Jesus was walking on the 
>water he was really stepping on some stones).  When Luke introduces 
>a miracle story, he generally signals that this is such as in the 
>case of the healing of the blind man where everyone "gives thanks to 
>God" afterward.  When he wants you to know that Jesus has some 
>special knowledge, he also signals that by saying something like "he 
>knew what was in their hearts."  We don't have that here.  What we 
>do have appears to be a very natural type of story.  It seems that 
>Luke is putting his hand over his mouth in trying to suppress a 
>laugh as he tells a story of misunderstanding (It reminds me a bit 
>of Til Eulenspiegels Lustige Spiel).  The OT in particular is full 
>of plays on words.  Jacob makes some [red] lentil soup which his 
>brother Esau wants because he's famished so he sells his birthright 
>for this "mess of pottage" and gets the name "Red."
>  Amos sees a basket of summer fruit and proclaims that the end has 
>come for Israel.  In English this doesn't seem to follow, but in 
>Hebrew the two words are similar.  Imagine that "summer fruit" was 
>called "termination" and Amos then pronounces that Israel is 
>terminated -- this is the kind of play that is going on.  We take 
>these books to be holy scripture and feel that we need to wear our 
>best clothes and wash our hands and sit up straight with a very 
>serious expression on our faces when we read it.  NOT SO!!  The 
>essence of a word-play is that afterwards you sit there and scratch 
>your head and say "I hadn't thought of that possibility."  Sometimes 
>in English there are writers who don't do a very good job and leave 
>ambiguities.  I was reading an article on Dell Computers the other 
>day where it spoke of "the bathroom where Michael Dell hid the parts 
>which he used to make computers from his parents" [this is a 
>near-quote, not an exact quote since I do not claim to have a
>  photographic memory].  I had to laugh since it appears that the 
>writer is saying that Dell made computers from his parents.  Do I 
>think that is the case?  Of course not. 
>So also, we know that "of him [it]" in our passage refers to the 
>ass, but it could conceivably refer to the owner of the animal and 
>to the village elders.  I seriously doubt that the villagers 
>recognized the disciples as you suppose.  In fact, the story almost 
>presupposes that they DON'T know them.  This was something like a 
>"Neighborhood Watch."  They see someone they don't recognize 
>unteathering an ass so they ask them what they're up to.  It's not 
>Joe from 1/4 mile down the road who is a good friend of Frank, who 
>owns the animal.  I was living in the Pasadena, CA area some years 
>ago when I got off work and was walking up to the Glendale Mall 
>dressed in my suit and carrying an attache case when I saw this 
>creature in a flouncy dress and broadbrimed hat walking down the 
>steps to the street level and then walk over to a lamp post to which 
>a bicycle was chained and start to rattle the chain.  I thought this 
>rather strange so I said, "Pardon me, is that yours?"  The reply
>  came back in a deep voice "Watch out or I'll coldcock you!"  I put 
>down my attache case and said, "You're welcome to try" but then he 
>stooped down and unlocked the lock at which point I concluded that 
>it was his bike and dropped the matter.  This is the way it works. 
>When someone sees something unusual they ask questions.
>People today are amused when they see something in which an unusual 
>cleverness is exhibited.  They also appreciated it back then. 
>Remember the movie [Senior moment here and I'm only 39!], was it 
>"The Sting"?  It stared Newman and concerned a setup in which some 
>pool sharks were going to part a guy of some money.  Normally we 
>don't think of theft as in any way admirable, but this wasn't a case 
>of meeting someone in a dark alley, hitting him over the head, and 
>riffling his pockets.  It was clever so we appreciate it.  I'm 
>wondering if Luke isn't signalling that Jesus was very clever here. 
>Remember, SMILE, God loves you.
>----- Original Message ----
>From: Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org>
>To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
>Sent: Saturday, November 18, 2006 3:13:38 AM
>Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Luke 19:31
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "George F Somsel" <gfsomsel at yahoo.com>
>>  What I am exploring here is the reason for the statement "hO 
>>  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:
>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
>B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
>B-Greek mailing list
>B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org
>B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
>B-Greek mailing list
>B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

Carlton L. Winbery
Retired Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
winberycl at earthlink.net

More information about the B-Greek mailing list