Luke 7.36->

One of the Pharisees invited him to dinner; he went to the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.

A woman who was living an immoral life in the town had learned that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house, and had brought oil of myrrh in a small flask.

She took her place behind him, at his feet, weeping. His feet were wetted with her tears and she wiped them with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with myrrh.

When his host the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself: “If this fellow were a real prophet, he would know who this woman is who touches him, and what sort of woman she is, a sinner!”

Jesus took him up and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Speak on, Master!” said he.

“Two men were in debt to a money lender; one owed him five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. As neither of them had anything to pay him with, he let them both off. Now, which will love him most?”

Simon replied, “I should think the one who was let off most.”

“You are right,” said Jesus. Then, turning to the woman, he said to Simon. “You see this woman? I came to your house; you provided no water for my feet; but this woman has made my feet wet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss; but she has been kissing my feet ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she has anointed my feet with myrrh. And so, I tell you, her great love proves that her many sins have been forgiven; where little has been given, little love is shown.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to ask themselves, “Who is this, that he can forgive sins?”

But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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8 responses

  1. Housekeep – asking permission. May I please occasionally re-post a few of your comments from here, that is, re-post a few of your comments with links or acknowledgments on my blog? For example, I want to post some of the excellent stuff on the “lies-told-to-children” (see how that is catching up with me! – that is still chewing on me and it gets better the more I ponder it), or like your comments on the poetry theme (very powerful stuff), or occasional of your bible commentary? – if I keep the stuff in context and with acknowledgments or links? ~ Jim

  2. .. hahaha! Yeah, yeah, I know there’s red-in-tooth-and-claw under some – some – of those poetic “prrrr’s….”Ain’t foolin’ me! “Your faith has saved you; go in [poet’s] peace."

  3. “When his host the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself: "If this fellow were a real prophet, he would know who this woman is who touches him, and what sort of woman she is, a sinner!"One of the advantages of taking the text personally is to see this in me. The Pharisee in me here is like me visiting inmates in prison and judging them, “they must be convicts!”The lady in the text probably just came from watching the London riots against the Temple Economy and she hoped for better days. Even if she watered her hope with tears.

  4. Matthew 26.6, Mark 14.3:Jesus was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. As he sat at table, a woman came in carrying a small bottle of very costly perfume, oil of pure nard. She broke it open and poured the oil over his head.Some of those present said to one another angrily, "Why this waste? The perfume might have been sold for thirty pounds and the money given to the poor;" and they turned upon her with fury.But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why must you make trouble for her?"It is a fine thing she has done for me. You always have poor people with you, whom you can help whenever you like, but you will not always have me. She has done what lay in her power; she is anointing my body for burial."I tell you this: Whenever in the world the gospel is proclaimed, what she has done will be told as her memorial."Then Judas Iscariot, one of the 12, went to the chief priests to betray him to them. When they heard what he had come for, they were greatly pleased, and promised him money; and he began to look for a good opportunity.

  5. This looks to be an example of 'Luke' adding pious fiction to the actual story (Matthew & Mark), which happens to have some disturbing political overtones. Who was that mysterious woman? Luke says, 'a sinful woman.' And Simon the leper has become a generic Pharisee…But pouring oil on someone's head… not the feet… does have some political implications. [We'll see something of this aspect, later in Kings, with Jehu and Elisha's disciple.]Judas, in the other gospels, abruptly decides to denounce Jesus to the authorities. Now, perhaps, he has some substance for a charge?

  6. Not a "sentimental" twist, after all! In _Prophet and Teacher_, William Herzog points out that the archeological evidence for 'synagogues' as public buildings is all a century or so later than this. The house of a prominent local citizen might well be the actual place where the synagogue would gather.A prophet comes to town; of course he's invited! "Kenneth Bailey has argued that the meal held at Simon's house was a public occasion. Although not everybody was invited to recline at table with the supposedly honored guest, everyone was invited to sit around the wall.. and listen to the Pharisees discuss Torah with their visitor…."The encounter is framed as a complex of honor challenges and pirostes although, in this case, the initial challenge is not easy to find… It may help to put the events in chronological order.1. Challenge: Jesus is invited to recline at table but is insulted when he enters the house.2. Riposte 1: The woman sees the lack of hospitality and acts out a hospitable welcome.3. Challenge 2: Simon censures Jesus for allowing the woman to touch him.4. Riposte 2: Jesus tells a parable to Simon.5. Challenge 3: Jesus exposes Simon's inhospitality and the woman's hospitality and the consequences for the woman.6. Riposte 3: The Pharisees question Jesus' presumption to forgive sins.7. Challenge 4: Jesus honors the woman as a model of trust(faith)…[Herzog says that Kenneth Bailey has a more detailed discussion in _Through Peasant Eyes_, which I don't have.]…"When a guest was invited to recline at table, he was usually greeted with characteristic ceremonies of hospitality. The host would greet his guest with a kiss of peace, wash his feet (or have his wife or servants wash his feet), and, if the guest were prominent enough, anoint his head with oil. In this instance, Simon invites Jesus to recline at table with him but denies him these rituals of hospitality. It is hard to read this snub as anything other than a severe insult. Of course, Simon and his Pharisaic friends are not the only ones who witness this breach of hospitality. Everyone gathered around the walls to listen to the conversation would see it as well."When the woman 'who was a sinner' either hears of Simon's behavior through the town's effective rumor mill or witnesses it because she is one of the villagers sitting around the outside wall, she responds by washing Jesus' feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, kissing his feet, and anointing Jesus with a flask of ointment. Every one of her actions reverses one of the insults that Simon has inflicted on Jesus. She is identified as a sinner, a designation that most likely means she did not keep Torah according to the tradition of the elders; it does not mean she was a prostitute, as has been assumed so often in discussions of this text. Like most of the peasants in Galilee, she is considered unclean because she did not keep the purity codes of the Torah in the Pharisaic way (this means that she was, from Simon's point of view, a sinner.) She does, however, violate both gender and social boundaries in her outrageous actions. Remember that Jesus is reclined at table, his feet stretched out behind him. The woman can easily reach his feet even though she is seated behind him. In her desire to offer hospitality to Jesus, she does touch him without his permission, and she lets down her hair to dry his feet, 'an intimate gesture that a peasant woman is expected to enact only in the presence of her husband. Kissing Jesus' feet also represents a shocking act.

  7. "Simon has seen enough to utter a challenge. He evidently fails to connect the woman's actions with his own rudeness toward a guest, so that he fails to perceive her behavior as a riposte that counters his own shameless lack of hospitality. Instead, he issues a challenge to Jesus, [as in many of these stories] spoken softly but loud enough to be heard by those in the room. It is interesting that Simon attacks Jesus' status as a prophet, but not a surprizing move in light of Jesus' prophetic critique of the Torah. By undermining his claim to be a prophet, Simon perhaps hopes to neutralize his reading of the Torah. Simon is specifically concerned about the woman touching Jesus. From his point of view, the very touch of a sinner can render one unclean so that, as soon as the sinful woman touches Jesus, he becomes unclean (if he were not already.) If Jesus had a prophetic bone in his body, he would understand this. Clearly he neither knows nor perhaps even cares about who touches him and what consequences he will suffer."Exhibiting the sensitive ears of an honorable man, Jesus hears the challeng and responds. He takes charge and goes on the attack: "Simon, I have something to say to you." In his response, Simon calls Jesus "teacher," quite possibly in a sarcastic or mocking tone. Let the unclean prophet instruct the well-versed Pharisee if he dares! Jesus tells a simple story, but the parable changes the nature of the debate. It is hardly a profound riddle and much more like commonplace wisdom or common sense…. The point of the parable is not its profundity. Its purpose is to shift the question of purity to the question of debt… Perhaps sensing a trap, Simon replies tentatively to Jesus' question… 'the one I suppose to whom he forgave more.'"If the parable has set the scene, the woman is now placed on center stage. 'Simon, do you see this woman?' Good question… because he sees only a sinner. Jesus then places the woman's actions in the perspective of hospitality, Simon's lack of hospitality, and the woman's abundance of hospitality. On this ledger, Simon is a debtor and the woman the creditor. Jesus then makes the astounding remark 'Therefore I tell you, her many sins are forgiven because she loved much.' If this text were being edited to suit the needs of Christian theology, it would read the reverse: the woman loved because she was forgiven, but Jesus reverses the order here…"Notice that Jesus has spoken of God's forgiveness by using the passive construction ('are forgiven') to indicate divine action. He is not arrogating to himself what belongs to God. But the Pharisees around the table accuse Jesus of claiming to forgive sins… because they think of the priests in the Temple as the only brokers who can forgive sin… Once again, Jesus has challenged the monopoly of the Temple and its priesthood."

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