Monday, November 07, 2011

New Year: Luke 20-21 for Nov 5

If the macro-situation of the end of the world that Jesus predicted is what finally comes about (Lk 21:25-27), what is the significance of the micro-situation of the two coins the widow contributed (21:1-4)? If things can become that bad for disciples (21:6-17), how will it then turn out that good for them (21:18)?

(Matt 21:23 - 24:44 and Mark 11:27 - 13:37 are in the same time sequence as Luke 20-21 when we read them synoptically.)

There are many examples in ethical instruction that things are spelled out in a deliberately paradoxical fashion. We can think of the hare and tortoise. This is also true in the teaching of Jesus, as we saw just yesterday in Luke 17:33. And that was not even the first time in that chapter (17:6, 10)! It is not as often recognized that 21:16-19 is such a paradox. On two levels: the disciples, some of whom will die, not a hair of their head will perish! Further, the disciples, some of whom are hated by all because of Christ's name, gain their very selves, by outlasting all of them! Because of the parallelism of the conclusions, this passage is a connected saying, not two sayings. The conclusions are parallel: not a hair of their head will perish, and they will endure, gaining lives/souls in the process. Each conclusion illuminates the other. That's how the whole structure of Hebrew parallelism in the OT works, as well.

It is also interesting to think of whether the paradox is meant to apply to the events of 21:10-15 alone, or whether such things are true even in analogous, recurring events, that might happen not only to the first disciples of Jesus, but to any disciples.

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