Dearest Tec... re the Rich Man and Lazarus..

by AGuest 42 Replies latest jw friends

  • Phizzy

    I had forgotten about our so very interesting Poster " A. Guest", I think the poor lady had mental problems, but she certainly rattled some cages on here, and fascinated me at the time ! I do hope she is well, and happy.

  • peacefulpete

    Leolaia made a great post regarding the religious milieu of the day.

    Leolaia 12 years ago

    Well, I think it was Bultmann who first denied the authenticity of the parable but prior to him, as Hock points out, H. Gressmann argued that the parable originated as an adaptation of an Egyptian folktale of the reversal of fortunes of rich and poor after death. Hock pointed to parallels in Greco-Roman literature, particularly similar stories by Lucian of Samosata that reflect his Cynic philosophy about the pursuit of wealth. So the poor man Micyllus goes hungry all day and is drawn to the banquets of rich men like Megapenthes and Eucrates (but refused entry), who enjoy luxuries like purple clothing and gold and silver vessels. Then Megapenthes dies by drinking a poisoned beverage and Mincyllus dies while hard at work and they end up in Charon's boat to be ferried down to Hades. But Megapenthes tries to beg one of the Fates to allow him to return to life so he can complete his unfinished endeavors (similar to how the Rich Man begged Abraham to return to the world of the living), but his request is denied. Micyllus is sent to his reward of the Isles of the Blessed while Megapenthes has to experience his own desires being denied, such as being refused of drinking the waters of Lethe.

    Since Palestinian Judaism of the first century AD was influenced by Hellenism (cf. the older philosophy of Sirach) and since Lucian probably adapted a more common folktale, I think it is probable that there is a suitable Jewish context for the parable. But it is also worth noting that Luke in particular has a distinct emphasis on poverty/wealth polemics (as opposed to the other gospels, specifically in unique Lukan material), so the question still stands of whether this is early or represents a later Lukan development. The evidence from Galatians, Acts, James, and other sources however indicates that the earliest Jerusalem church led by James the Just pursued a lifestyle of elective poverty (cf. the later post-AD 70 appellation of this group as Ebionites, from Hebrew 'bywnym "the poor"), so it is possible that the parable derives from the teachings of the early Jerusalem church.

    The eschatology of the parable is also appropriate for first-century Judaism. The polemic against the rich who care not about the afterlife fits very well with Pharisee and Essene attitudes against the Sadducee wealthy who did not believe in a future resurrection and judgment (cf. Ecclesiastes for an early proto-Sadducee perspective). The Essenes, being the heirs of Enochic Judaism, differed from the Pharisees by having a primitive concept of the immortality of the soul (see Boccaccini's delineation of Essenism and its polemic against Pharisaism and Sadduceeism) and so they believed in an immediate post-mortem separation of the righteous and wicked after death. The older view in the Book of Parables of 1 Enoch (third century BC) is that the "souls of all the sons of men" (npsht kl bny 'nsh', notice the use of nephesh for the soul of a dead person) were gathered together and separated within Sheol itself (22:3), with the "spirits of the righteous" placed in a blessed chamber with a bright fountain of water and the "spirits of the sinners" separated in their own chamber "for this great torment, until the great day of judgment, of scourges and tortures of the cursed forever" (v. 9-10). The later Essene view was that the righteous were instead gathered in heaven (sometimes into the paradise of Eden itself, or into the angelic assembly) immediately after death whereas the wicked were consigned to the Pit for torments. This is the view in the first-century BC Thanksgiving Hymns (1QH), the Community Rule (1QS), and the first-century AD Enochic Book of Parables (whereas the older scheme persisted in the late Essene book of 4 Ezra). This is pretty close to the Lukan view, which also has Jesus promise entry to Paradise immediately after death (Luke 23:43; cf. Paul's references to the faithful going to heaven immediately after death in 2 Corinthians 5, the description of the phukhais "souls" of the dead martyrs in heaven awaiting their resurrection in Revelation, and similar views in the second century). The even later post-Essene work of 2 Enoch placed both the abodes of the wicked and righteous (e.g. paradise and Gehenna) in heaven itself. The Testament of Abraham, which is possibly a late first-century post-Essene work, specifically has Abraham's soul placed in Paradise in heaven after death, where the faithful would be gathered into "his bosom". The closest parallel is found in 4 Maccabees, an early first-century AD work that is non-Essene but showing more distinct influence from Hellenism and Pharisaism. This work states that "our patriarchs Abraham and Isaac and Jacob do not die to God but live to God" (7:19, 16:25, cf. Luke 20:37-38), and claims that "if we so die, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will welcome us" (13:17), whereas "the danger of eternal torment lies before those who transgress the commandment of God" (13:15). Josephus' description of Pharisee eschatology is also strongly colored by Hellenistic ideas about the soul and then there were strictly Hellenistic Jewish works in the diaspora like Wisdom (first century BC) and the writings of Philo of Alexandria (early first century AD) which only had a concept of the immortal souls of the righteous going to heaven (i.e. lacking the ideas of resurrection and final judgment found in both Pharisaism and Essenism).

  • peacefulpete

    If I might add something more.

    Luke has Jesus say Abraham refused to allow Lazarus to come back to the living because ...'if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead’. This parable writer clearly did not know of the story in John. In fact the writer of John seems to be specifically refuting the Lukan parable. He takes this parable Lazarus, fleshes him out, has Jesus raise him from the dead and as a result John 11:45 says, 45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.". There are many literary cues in wording that makes a pretty good case for John to have been directly refuting Luke.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Lazarus was a common name in Israel. It means God your help. If Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable or at least an allegory, then there could be no relationship between Martha and Mary's brother and a fictitious person.

    God is your help was a common phrase employed by the Pharisees who claimed there hands were tied so they could not lift a finger to help the poor or disabled without jeoparding their afterlife. Very similar to JW elders who say they must leave unwitnessed alleged child molesters in Jehovah's hands.

  • JoenB75

    It makes sense to connect the story with the judgment upon the old covenant nation AD 33-70, the rich man being blessed by his inheritance but not bearing fruits (the bad part of Israel of old) and the humble poor man being poor in every way but given favor through the blessings of the new covenant (the true believers made of jews and gentiles). Abraham is a symbolic figure, the father of the faithful and the covenant. He is a person speaking but he is also a place; his bosom / side is a blessed place. It becomes ridiculous to consider that place his literal side/bosom. It would be painful for the old man if all the rightious would sit in his lap. Talk about the dead can easily be symbolic in the Bible. Ezekiel 37 valley of the dry bones is an example. Most Preterists (even Gentry and Demar) would even agree that the resurrection and judgment in Daniel 12:2 refers to the first century judgment upon the old covenant nation starting with the ministry of Jesus.

  • peacefulpete
    Vanderhoven..Lazarus was a common name in Israel. It means God your help. If Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable or at least an allegory, then there could be no relationship between Martha and Mary's brother and a fictitious person.

    Take a moment and think how odd it is that the character is not mentioned by the Synoptics at all other than in this one parable. That is especially odd not only because here he is described as a very dear friend of Jesus (likely the intended ostensible author of G.John btw) and because the stir from his miraculous resurrection resulted in Jesus's' death. Quite an omission. As much time you have spent around these writings you must be at least beginning to come to the epiphany that they are literary works.

  • peacefulpete

    The writer of G.John fleshed out a character from the parable in Luke. To do that he anchors him in the narrative that Luke supplied at chapter 10 that says there were two sisters living in a house.

    He also attempts to link this sister of Lazareth to the unnamed woman in the annointing scene. He (or a redactor) added the interrupting words John 11:2

    (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)

    Remember in Mark , Matt and Luke this woman is unnamed, again odd for someone G.John says was so close to Jesus. In Luke the scene is actually a bit different but the relevance is he describes her a sinner he has never met not Lazareth's sister. But that's another topic.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Hi Peaceful,

    Sorry, I see no resemblance between Lazarus of a fictitious story and the historical figure of Mary and Martha's brother.

    The Pharisees would say Lazarus (God is your help) claiming they could not lift a finger to help the common people in their struggles; to do so would result in their torment in the afterlife in the left side of Hades. So Jesus told their imaginary story back to them with "God your help" in Abraham's Bosom/right side of Hades/hell, exactly where the Pharisees placed them for accepting their struggles in this life.

  • peacefulpete

    Vanderhooven7, ... You no doubt are right that the story had a moral/spiritual objective. You may be entirely correct with your thoughts about what the writer was trying to say, then again it may have had an intent more like what an earlier poster suggested, it doesn't matter for my purpose. The author of Luke gave a parable that included a new character (whose name may well have been chosen to make the point) and my comments largely focused on how the writer of G.John subsequently used this parable and created a narrative to refute the conclusion. The issue of "historicity" is not at issue as both writers were using a literary foil (Lazarus) to make a religious statement about faith. G.John in response to G.Luke. G.John drew from Luke's parable for the name and theme of his original scene and chose the house of two sisters in Luke and the unnamed woman story to give his new character a continuity. However, in doing so he created both internal inconsistencies and logical improbability. That was not important as these works were understood as literary products of faith and likely (at least in G.Mark) has hidden meaning, not meant to be mistaken for history.

    You say you see no resemblance between the two Lazaruses. Well, the name is the biggest give away. (1) There are no other references to anyone named Lazarus by Mark,Matt,Luke and that's a big omission since G.John depicts this Lazarus as a dear friend and he is resurrected from the dead! (2) The topic in the parable is a plea to be resurrected and John narrates a resurrection. (3) Then there is the direct refutation of the Lazarus parable, Luke saying the people would NOT believe if the saw a dead person rise and John saying they did just that. Literary resemblance.

  • peacefulpete

    Vanderhhoven7...It took a few more minutes of baking for me to see the importance of the parable to answer the question of G.John's use of it. Identifying the Rich man of privilege as the Pharisees, as you have, adds even more strength to the argument G.John had drawn from the parable for his Lazarus story.

    While I focused on the "Jews" meaning common folk, who believed in Jesus as a result of the rising of a dead man, they seem to serve as only a contrast to the Pharisees.

    45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
    “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

    So then rather than serve as a rebuttal to parable in Luke, G.John actually concurs by narrating a story to make the message more poignant. It also serves as a convenient motive for the death of Jesus, something the others had left a bit unclear. This reference to the unbelieving Pharisee response to the rising of someone from the dead cements the literary resemblance between the two Lazaruses.

    My reasons then for connecting the two Lazaruses then are:

    (1) There are no other references to anyone named Lazarus by Mark,Matt,Luke and that's a big omission since G.John depicts this Lazarus as a dear friend and he is resurrected from the dead! (2) The topic in the parable is a plea to be resurrected and John narrates a resurrection. (3) Then there is the Pharisee disbelieving response to the rising of the dead man exactly as in the Lazarus parable.

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