Jesus' Most Confounding Statements: John 3:1-21
Unlearning Religion: James 3:13-18
5. Jesus and Nicodemus
The one who ‘knew all men’, who ‘did not need man’s testimony about man’ (2:24–25), now enters into a number of conversations in which he instantly gets to the heart of individuals with highly diverse backgrounds and needs–Nicodemus (3:1–15), the Samaritan woman (4:1–26), the Gentile official (4:43–53), the man at the pool of Bethesda (5:1–15), and more.
Unlearning Religion: James 3:1-12
Overcoming dissensions through true wisdom (3: 13 – 4: 3)
Most commentaries and English translations follow the chapter division and place a significant break between the last paragraph of chapter 3 (3: 13– 18) and the first of chapter 4 (4: 1– 3 or 4: 1– 10). There are good reasons for this division, since the focus seems to move from wisdom to quarrels. However, without ignoring the differences, we think there are good reasons to consider these paragraphs as two sides of the same coin. In both paragraphs, James attacks unrighteous and misguided ‘zeal’ or ‘envy’ (Greek zēlos): it is a key characteristic of ‘earthly’ wisdom (3: 14, 16), and this same ‘envy’, or
The Gospel of Luke: Three Parables of the Lost
6.1.1. The Warning (3: 1– 2)
3:1 James begins with a simple prohibition: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters.” NRSV and TNIV’s “my brothers and sisters” makes the text inclusive, but may cloak the simple “my brothers” with a viewpoint that is not in James’s mind. Perhaps he means by “brothers” simply “male teachers.” 3: 13, which might refer to the same group, might support a more exclusive translation. We cannot be sure, but we should at least be aware of what happens when we translate such texts in an inclusive manner.
The Gospel of Luke: The Great Reversal
N. THREE PARABLES OF THE LOST (15:1-32)
This is one of the best-known and best-loved chapters in the whole Bible. Three parables bring out the joy of God when the lost sinner is found. The fact that the first two depict people who actively seek what is lost may well put emphasis on the truth that God does not wait passively for sinners to come to him, but actively seeks them out.
1. Sinners gather (15:1-2)
The tax collectors were not highly regarded
The Gospel of Luke: Theological Implications
LUKE AND THE GREAT REVERSAL
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones. Luke 1: 52
One of the central themes in the Gospel of Luke is what interpreters have often called “the great reversal” — or perhaps in today’s more common language we should call it “the world upside down.” This theme appears in the very beginning of the Gospel, in the song of Mary that is usually known by the first word of its Latin translation, Magnificat. The canticle begins this way: Magnificat anima mea Dominum — “My soul magnifies the Lord.” But in truth the theme is not just the praise of God, but rather the praise of the God who is the Lord of great upheavals. Mary praises God because “he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” and because God “has done great things for me.” And then she places her own exaltation in the context of a great upheaval:
The Gospel of Luke: Authorship
4. LUKE THE THEOLOGIAN
People used to write books and articles with titles like Luke the Historian. Discussion centred round the question of whether Luke was a good or a bad historian, but that he did intend to write history was normally accepted. In recent times, however, many scholars have given attention to the deep theological purpose that plainly underlies Luke-Acts. Luke is now commonly monly regarded as one of the theologians of the New Testament and he is seen as more interested in conveying religious and theological truth than he is in writing a history. Indeed, so far has the pendulum swung that many suggest that Luke's interest in theology was so great that he allowed it to sway his historical judgment. In other words they see Luke as prepared to alter his history a little if that would bring out his theological points.
Luke has not left us in the dark about what he is trying to do. He tells us that he has followed 'all things' closely for some time and that he now writes to Theophilus 'that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed' (1:4). 'This', F. C. Grant writes, 'is as clear and straightforward as the codicil in John 20.30f.... his business was to clear up points of misunderstanding or misrepresentation which had (presumably) arisen in the pagan world and even (perhaps) in the courts of Roman magistrates.'
But not all have seen his role in this way. Some of the form critics, for example, have seen Luke as little more than a compiler, piler, an editor who wrote down a series of unconnected incidents and sayings (they see Matthew and Mark the same way).
The Book of Ecclesiastes
It is usually agreed that the author of our Gospel is to be identified with the writer of Acts. The Preface to Luke (1:1-4) is addressed to Theophilus and Acts 1:1 appears to be a kind of secondary preface. It is addressed to the same person and is apparently intended to recall the former. Style and vocabulary favour unity of authorship.
Tradition unanimously affirms this author to be Luke. This is attested by the early heretic Marcion (who died c. AD i6o; Luke was the only Gospel in his canon), the Muratorian Fragment (a list of the books accepted as belonging to the New Testament; it is usually held to express Roman opinion at the end of the second century), the anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke (which also says that Luke was a native of Antioch, that he was a physician, that he wrote his Gospel in Achaia, and that he died at the age of eighty-four, unmarried and childless), Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and others.
1. THE TEXT OF ECCLESIASTES
The primary source of the text of Ecclesiastes, as of any other Old Testament book, is a text-form established in or near the first century AD, vocalized and annotated by Massoretes (‘ transmitters’) c. AD 500– 1000, known as the Massoretic text. This was originally written in a consonantal form, but from the sixth century onwards several systems of vocalization arose. In the ninth and tenth centuries one of these, the Tiberian system, became the standard and is still used by Old Testament scholars. The text printed in Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1970) is that of a manuscript dated AD 1008, a copy of a text produced by the Tiberian textual scholar Ben Asher in the tenth century. Any student of the Old Testament must start from the Massoretic text but, because of inevitable copyists’ errors, must take into account other Hebrew texts that may be known and ancient translations which had access to earlier texts.