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Lk 4:14-30

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic On: Lk 4:14-30 (as pendant to Mk 1:29 par ) From: Bruce With apologies to all for taking up their time thrice on this same passage, I am afraid
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 18, 2005
      To: Synoptic
      On: Lk 4:14-30 (as pendant to "Mk 1:29 par")
      From: Bruce

      With apologies to all for taking up their time thrice on this same passage,
      I am afraid it does need a better look. In a word, the anomaly here is not
      solely the reversal of logical order between the first mention of Simon at
      Lk 4:38 and the Calling of Simon at Lk 5:1-11. There is also the anomaly of
      the First Preaching, at Lk 4:16f. In Mark, we have this order of elements:

      A.Calling of Simon
      B. Preaching at Capernaum
      C. Preaching at Nazareth

      In Luke we have instead

      C. Preaching at Nazareth
      B. Preaching at Capernaum
      A. Calling of Simon

      No single transposition applied to one of these sets will produce the other
      set; two transpositions - two actions - are required. If we ask which set
      makes better sense narratively, the answer is, the ABC set. This is most
      simply seen in the fact that the CBA set has two points (one each in C and
      B) where the reader needs details not yet supplied by the story. It is these
      two inconcinnities that strongly suggest that the CBA set is not only
      different from ABC, but narratively inferior, and thus probably the result
      of deformation of ABC (Mark, or something with the same sequence of
      material). It then seems strongly indicated that Luke is secondary in these
      details of order. It remains complete the inference by showing why. I make a
      suggestion below. Those familiar with the problem can safely skip to some
      other reading.


      The First Preaching is located by Luke at Nazareth, preceded only by:

      Lk 4:14f. Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a
      report about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in
      their synagogues, being glorified by all.

      We then come to the Nazareth preaching:

      Lk 4:23. He said to them, No doubt you will quote this proverb to me,
      Doctor, heal yourself" what we have heard happened in Capernaum, do also
      here in your native place. [24] He said in response, Amen, I say to you, no
      prophet is acceptable in his native place.

      There is the difficulty of Jesus anticipating the crowd's question, and
      Luke's treating his next saying as though the crowd had indeed asked it.
      There is the difficulty that "Doctor, heal yourself" does not logically link
      up with the demand that Jesus perform miracles of healing in Nazareth (it
      should be, "Doctor, heal others"). And, paralleling the difficult raised in
      Leonard's original comment, there is the difficulty that healings at
      Capernaum have not been mentioned, nor has Capernaum been mentioned, in the
      preceding text. The crowd knows of them, but we the readers (unless informed
      through other reading) are surprised by them, with a surprise analogous to
      that noted earlier, at the visit to "Simon's house" before we the readers
      properly know who Simon is.

      As before, the difficulties are removed if the Capernaum preaching is
      previously described (as in Mk) and if the calling of Simon occurs earlier
      in the story (as in Mk).

      Why the change? On one of the two seeming transpositions, the early Nazareth
      teaching, some commentators remark as follows:

      Nolland (1989): "The Nazareth scene has been brought forward by Luke from
      its Markan position (6:1-6), and is used to encapsulate major features of
      the ministry of Jesus. Schürmann ("Nazareth-Pericope" 201-3, cf "Bericht")
      has argued that Luke was aided in this relocation by the position of the
      Nazareth account (after the Capernaum account) in a source representing a
      "report of the beginning." [Nolland does not accept this theory, which
      indeed seems confused as he summarizes it, but he gives no better scenario
      of his own].

      Fitzmyer (1970). "From v23 it is clear that Luke was aware of a period of
      Jesus' ministry in Capernaum prior to this visit to Nazareth. He is, then,
      consciously making this episode the first of the ministry, knowing that it
      was not really such. . . . Here Luke has transposed the account of Jesus'
      visit to his home-town from later on in the gospel tradition (see Mark
      6:1-61; Matt 13:53-58), where it is recounted shortly before the end of the
      Galilean ministry. Luke has no parallel for it at that point, regarding this
      one as its equivalent. On Lucan transpositions, see p71 above." And that
      page has this opening statement: "There are seven well-known transpositions
      of Marcan episodes in Luke, which may at first sight seem to militate
      against the thesis that Luke preserves the Marcan order. These are, however,
      readily explicable in terms of Lucan composition; in each instance one can
      detect a clear reason why Luke has made the transposition. . . . (2) Jesus'
      visit to Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6) is transferred by Luke to the beginning of
      Jesus' Galilean ministry (4:16-30) to serve a programmatic purpose: it
      presents in capsule form the theme of fulfilment and symbolizes the
      rejection that will mark the ministry as a whole." I cannot but agree; see
      below. [Fitzmyer's transposition #3 is the Simon one previously discussed].

      Lagrange (cited by Creed 1960) feels that there were two Nazareth visits,
      here conflated by Luke, "and that this accounts for the obscurity which is
      to be noted in the sequence of the narrative. Even so difficulties remain,
      and it is easier to suppose that Lk has taken the narrative of Mk 6 (which
      he omits at the corresponding point in his own Gospel, 8:56) as foundation
      for a representative and symbolic scene to open the public ministry of
      Jesus, and that he himself is mainly responsible for the situation as it
      stands. . . The failure to work miracles recorded in Mk is not repeated
      directly in Lk, but it is presupposed - somewhat awkwardly - in the
      complaint which Jesus ascribes to his hearers, v23."

      Leaney (1958, ap 4:23) "Another, perhaps more likely explanation [than that
      of Conzelmann] is that Luke has thus not very successfully disguised what in
      fact the people did say; verses 24-27 then make a telling answer to them. It
      must be admitted that the narrative is not satisfactorily unified. This is
      not surprising when we consider how Luke has used the intractable material
      of a story of rejection to convey a proclamation of achievement." The
      inconcinnity of 4:23 is duly noted.

      Manson (1930) "What was the task to which Jesus now knew himself committed?
      Luke answers by inserting at this point (from L) a deliverance which Jesus
      was stated to have given to his townsfolk at Nazaret. That thereby he has
      anticipated a later event appears (1) by the fact that Mark definitely
      locates the earliest activities of Jesus in Capernaum, and records no visit
      to Nazareth until a comparatively advanced stage in the Galilean ministry
      has been reached (Mark 1:21, 6:1); (2) by the allusion of the Nazarenes in
      this very passage to a *previous* work of Jesus at Capernaum (v23). On the
      other hand, the placing of the Nazareth episode here in accordance with the
      L source had literary advantages which Luke was not averse to utilizing. The
      incident serves as a frontispiece to the Ministry, presenting as it does the
      part played by Jesus in the history of Israel's religion and the crisis
      which his appearance created for contemporary Judaism."

      I think I see the point of this, but would put it this way: that Luke begins
      Jesus' ministry not with acceptance, as in Mark, but with rejection. In
      Mark, there is constant tension between the Messianic Secret (to use Wrede's
      name for it) and the lack of a Messianic Secret: the parts of Mark where the
      crowds hear Jesus gladly, and understand and appreciate him completely, and
      the other parts where they do not, and are not intended to. Luke has
      homogenized this bivalent Markan ministry as a story of rejection, and to do
      so, has taken certain incidents out of their previously given sequence in
      order to give the Nazareth episode a strong emblematic value. Among other
      things, that episode already forefigures the extension of the ministry from
      the Jews to the Gentiles. Jesus himself is made to say this, in expounding
      the passage of Isaiah which he has just read (this passage is unique to

      "In Israel there were many widows during the days of Elijah, . . . yet
      Elijah was not sent to any of these, but only to a widow woman at Zarephath
      in Sidon. And in Israel there were many lepers in the time of the prophet
      Elisha, yet none of these was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."

      Mark reaches the rejection of Israel by a much more circuitous route. Luke
      starts with it. He does so without adequately smoothing the passages he has
      rearranged in order to get the Nazareth rejection where he wants it, thus
      leaving the anomalies to which Leonard and some of the early commentators
      have called attention.

      Such would be my slightly more considered suggestion, which I find is
      anticipated in one way or another, most fully by Fitzmyer and Creed, in the
      previous commentary literature which I have had a few moments, this hurried
      morning, to consult.


      Another approach is that of Vincent Taylor, previously alluded to, who has
      gone so far as to reconstruct the whole of a Proto-Luke, in which he feels
      snippets of Mark were later inserted. That might work. What does Taylor make
      of this section?

      His Proto-Luke contains all of 4:1-30. It regards 4:31-44 (the Capernaum
      preaching) as a later Markan insertion. It includes 5:1-11 (the Calling of
      Simon), but rejects the whole of 5:12-6:11 as a second Markan insertion. In
      terms of the above schema, Taylor's Proto-Luke contains CB, but no A. It
      retains the inconcinnities previously noticed in Luke's C and B.

      Taylor's general claim is that when the Markan insertions are removed from
      our Luke, a perfectly consecutive text results, namely, Proto-Luke. This
      deserves attention; it is the basic test of a successfully identified
      interpolation. Certainly if we omit the Capernaum preaching, we eliminate
      the anomaly of Simon being known before he is introduced. So much is to the
      good. But we must then take Lk 4:14-15 (see above) as the entire record of
      the Capernaum preaching. This leaves the anomaly of the Nazareth audience's
      familiarity with the details of that preaching, a familiarity which the
      reader does not share, but must retrospectively imagine. We also (Lk 4:23)
      have Jesus anticipating people's objections before they make them, and
      responding to their call for a healing miracle before they make that call.
      All this seems to me to display too much omniscience in the narrator, and
      put too great reliance on the reader to supply what the narrative structure
      itself has left undone.

      Mark is hasty, but it seems that Luke here is narratively contorted. At any
      rate, the commentators, whatever the merit of their solutions, seem to be
      sensing concinnity problems. I agree with them, and suggest that the
      Proto-Luke solution does not solve them. I continue to think (with Fitzmyer)
      that Luke has rearranged, rather than (with Taylor) supplemented, the
      material available to him, and that for a perfectly intelligible
      interpretive purpose.

      It may be objected that (eg) Fitzmyer was previously committed to the theory
      Mk > Lk, and so naturally, but wrongly, sees the Lukan differences from Mk
      as Lukan rearrangements of Mk, whereas without that prior assumption, the
      rearrangement could as easily be taken the other way. To me, it is precisely
      the small local inconcinnities in Lk, but not in Mk, that argue against
      this. As between an order ABC and CBA, considered merely as so many isolated
      pericopes about Jesus, analysts might argue motives forever. But if one of
      the sequences has narrative problems (the too early introduction of Simon,
      the assumption of previous Capernaum healings when none have been previously
      shared with the reader), and the other does not, then it would seem to me a
      reputable conclusion that the version without the problems is prior to the

      I regret not having to hand the Neirynck discussion of Lukan transpositions
      to which Fitzmyer defers for detail, but perhaps the present detail will
      suffice for a decision. I emerge from this wider consideration of the Lk 4
      problem with the previous conclusion: Lk > Lk. That is: Luke has at some
      point been reordered from a previous condition of that text; one whose order
      of material was more Markan than that of our present Luke. The hypothesis of
      a less Markan Proto-Luke behind our Luke seems not to hold up well upon
      examination, in that it does not eliminate the inconcinnity problems, as it
      was claimed to do.

      Hope this works better.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic Cc: WSW On: Luke s Nazareth Group (Lk 4:14-30) From: Bruce No, really. If we can detect, by objective signs present in our Luke, that a relocation
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 19, 2005
        To: Synoptic
        Cc: WSW
        On: Luke's Nazareth Group (Lk 4:14-30)
        From: Bruce

        No, really. If we can detect, by objective signs present in our Luke, that a
        relocation of previous material has occurred, then we are witnessing a
        Synoptic Event, and knowledge of it ought to be valuable for future
        ratiocination. Any firm point in a volatile storm. By way of exploring its
        possible validity, I will here expand somewhat on the previous message.

        The previous suggestion was that the module sequence NAZ - CAP - SIM, which
        is what stands in our Luke, possessed narrative inconcinnities (the
        assumption of prior acquaintance with Simon in the CAP module, and the
        assumption of Capernaum healings in the NAZ module) which suggested that
        these three had originally been in the order SIM - CAP - NAZ, which is the
        order that is still reflected in both Matthew and Mark. It follows that,
        before the relocation for which we have already seen evidence, there was no
        NAZ - CAP - SIM order anywhere, and all three Synoptics, insofar as they
        existed at all, or their precursors if *they* existed at all, possessed the
        same order of this material. Without exception.

        A motive for the early placement of NAZ in Luke (the emphasis on the
        Opposition and Rejection theme) was suggested in my last, and similar
        suggestions were cited from the commentary literature; those suggestions
        could easily be multiplied. They are in keeping with what elsewhere seems to
        be the character of Luke, including its de-emphasis of Galilee (what I call
        Jerusalemization), and its rejection of Judaism in favor of a more universal
        conception of Jesus's mission. The fact that a consistent authorial scenario
        can be found for this inferred change in Luke is a useful support for the
        theory of reordering, which was independently suggested on strictly
        philological grounds. Convergence of evidence is always suggestive.

        Here is a further argument for the idea that these modules originally stood
        in a different order. As it stands, Lk 4:42-44, the end of the Lukan
        Capernaum episode, says [v44] "And he was preaching in the synagogues of
        Judea." In our present Luke, this is immediately followed by 5:1, which
        opens "While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was
        standing by the lake of Gennesaret." Gennesaret is in Galilee, south (the
        commentators tell me) of Capernaum. It is not in Judea. It is thus not
        geographically compatible with the ending of the section which presently
        precedes it.

        Again, it was noted earlier that the healings in Capernaum were narratively
        taken for granted in the Lukan NAZ module. One might say that this is just
        Luke's style; he expects his readers to know where Capernaum is, or even to
        be previously informed about the healings there. This argument is confuted
        by Lk 4:31, in the CAP module, where Capernaum is mentioned as though for
        the first narrative time. Lk 4:31: "And he went down to Capernaum, a city of
        Galilee." One might well ask what local Christian community needed to be
        told where Capernaum was (surely not that of Caesarea, where GLk is
        sometimes located), but that is not the point. The point is that here, Luke
        is introducing (for any Palestinian reader, overintroducing) Capernaum. If
        this is how Luke handles the introduction of Capernaum, then the way he
        handles it in the NAZ module is anomalous, UNLESS 4:31 originally preceded
        the NAZ module. It is the present suggestion that it DID originally precede
        that module.

        Proceeding thus, I think we will be inclined to conclude that (a) the Lukan
        material, as we see it or in closely similar form, originally stood in the
        order SIM - CAP - NAZ, and to note that (b) this is exactly the order in
        Mt/Mk, so that at some point, early in the text process which led to our
        Luke, there was total unanimity in all three Synoptics or their precursors
        as to the sequence of those events.

        We might next validly ask: Were the three Lukan modules rewritten to any
        extent, in the process of moving them? One way to check is to put them in
        their original order, and see how convincing they may be, or what anomalies
        (presumably due to authorial adjustment at the time of the move, and
        becoming anomalies by our restoring the original order) still remain. With
        apologies to those who have the whole text in memory and don't need this,
        here is the RSV text of just two of the three modules, CAP - SIM, transposed
        to their presumptive earlier sequence, SIM - CAP:

        LUKAN RESTORATION of SIM - CAP: (My Emphasis)


        4:12 And Jesus answered him, It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord your
        God. [13] And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from
        him until an opportune time.


        4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and A
        REPORT CONCERNING HIM went out through all the surrounding country. [15] And
        he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

        [OMITTING NAZARETH MODULE, which ends with Lk 4:30 "But passing through the
        midst of them he went away"]

        [SIM MODULE}

        5:1 While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was
        standing by the lake of Gennesaret. [2] And he saw two boats by the lake,
        but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. [3]
        Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a
        little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
        [4] And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into the deep
        and let down your nets for a catch. [5] And Simon answered, Master, we
        toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the
        nets. [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish,
        and as their nets were breaking, [7] they beckoned to their partners in the
        other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats,
        so that they began to sink. [8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at
        Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. [9] For
        he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which
        they had taken, [10] and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who
        were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid;
        henceforth you will be catching men. [11] And when they had brought their
        boats to land, they left everything and followed him.


        4:31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching
        them on the Sabbath, [32] and they were astonished at his teaching, for his
        word was with authority. [33] And in the synagogue there was a man who had
        the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, [34] Ah!
        What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?
        I know who you are, the Holy One of God. [35] But Jesus rebuked him, saying,
        Be silent, and come out of him. And when the demon had thrown him down in
        the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. [36] And they were
        all amazed and said to one another, What is this word? For with authority
        and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out. [37] And
        REPORTS OF HIM went out into every place in the surrounding region.

        4:38 And he arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's house. Now
        Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they besought him for
        her. [39] And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and
        immediately she rose and served them.

        4:40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with
        various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of
        them and healed them. [41] And demons also came out of many, crying You are
        the Son of God! But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak,
        because they knew that he was the Christ.

        4:42 And when it was day he departed and went into a lonely place. And the
        people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving
        them. [43] But he said to them, I must preach the good news of the kingdom
        of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose. [44] And
        he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

        5:12. While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy,
        and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, Lord, if you
        will, you can make me clean. [13] And he stretched out his hand, and touched
        him, saying, I will, be clean. And immediately the leprosy left him. [14]
        And he charged him to tell no one, but "go and show yourself to the priest,
        and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to
        the people.[15] But so much the more THE REPORT WENT ABROAD CONCERNING HIM,
        and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities.
        [16] But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.


        None of these three modules figures in Q (at least not in the version
        concorded under SBL auspices in 1975), so we don't have that complication.
        We are dealing with Luke, albeit, as I would suggest, with several stages in
        the evolution of Luke.

        That 4:14-15 are an anticipation of the following career has been suggested
        in the commentary literature; in present context, it amounts to saying that
        4:14-15 may have been composed at the time of the Lukan rearrangement, to
        give it a minimal context and narrative lead-in. Notice, in that passage,
        the phrase about REPORTS GOING OUT, which may well be taken from the same or
        similar lines which are found in the following material. This would seem to
        hold true for both the proposed original and the proposed altered order.

        The location of the healing in 5:12f is not given, other than as "one of the
        cities," so there is no geographical conflict (as there was with the other
        sequence). On the contrary, "one of the cities" in 5:12 now picks up nicely
        on "to the other cities also" which, in the present rearrangement, precedes
        it in 4:43. Not only is the previously noted inconcinnity removed, but a new
        concinnity is established, by the relocation. This is further and
        independent evidence for the validity of the restored order.

        In 4:31, "and he went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee" stands (in the
        restoration) as the first mention of Capernaum, and it has that character,
        as above noted. There is also a reasonable geographical sequence, Gennesaret
        > Capernaum.

        It seems to me that 5:1 is somewhat abrupt in the restoration, but probably
        better in that context than in the sequence of Luke as we have it. It might
        be still better to have said something like, "Once, when he was standing by
        the Lake of Gennesaret, and the people were pressing upon him to hear the
        word of God, he saw two boats . . ." If I were giving a practical paraphrase
        of the present text for my Sunday School class, this is about how I would do
        it. The Greek text seems to be missing an adverb. Whether the sense of such
        an adverb is regularly supplied, in comparable situations, by readers of
        Greek, is something I do not know. Pending advice from the knowing, I take
        the probable transition as at least acceptable with the proposed original
        order of the material, and will tentatively conclude that the transition was
        part of the original material. I leave open the possibility that the
        restored order might be made still more plausible by a conjectural rewriting
        of the transitional passage, or Lk 5:1, or both, presumably along the lines
        of one or more of the parallels. I don't attempt this here.

        For the present, then, I don't see any major narrative difficulties
        introduced by switching the extant Lukan SIM and CAP modules, but will be
        very glad to hear of any that list members may notice. If the restoration
        stands more or less as here proposed, then I suggest that it contains
        interesting information about the historical order of the concerns that
        apparently moved the author or authors of Luke, for example: (1) the
        Jerusalemizing tendency must be referred to the original modules, since the
        line containing it works better in the restored context, whereas (2) the
        insistence on the opposition of the Jews, which develops slowly in Mt and
        Mk, develops more rapidly in Lk only because of the Lukan reordering, and is
        an artifact, as it was earlier suggested to be the most likely motive, of
        that reordering. Then it follows that the Jerusalemization motif arose
        earlier, as a factor bearing on Lukan authorship and reauthorship, than this
        degree of emphasis of the Opposition motif. Church history. Or at least one
        strand of it.

        Which may not be unintelligible once you think about it. I am sorry the
        whole thing is not more tidy, but I think it still carries conviction, and
        that it may be useful for the future.

        Respectfully suggested,


        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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