Friday, July 30, 2010

August 15 Sermon - Part Two

In preparing for my upcoming sermon, I translated the Gospel text. Here is my (very rough) version:

Luke 12:49-56
"I have come to throw fire at the earth, and how I wish that it now were lit up! But I have a baptism to be baptized, and how I am surrounded until [it] may be finished. Do you think that I came to bring peace in the earth? No, I say to you all, but division. For from now on five in one house will be divided, three against two and two against three, they will be divided father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against bride and bride against mother-in-law."
He was saying to the crowd, "You all may see the cloud rising over the west; immediately you say that a rainstorm is coming, and thus it happens; and when a south wind [is] blowing, you all say that there will be heat, and it happens. Hypocrites! The face of the earth and of the heaven, you all know [how] to test the time, but this [time] you do not know [how] to test."

There is not a whole lot of difference between this and the NRSV version. They do take some liberties with verse 50, saying "what stress I am under" where I found "how I am surrounded" (or maybe even "how I surround myself," since it could be middle instead of passive voice). In the literary context, verses 49 through 53 seem to be addressed only to the disciples, while 54 through 56 are addressed to the crowd. If Jesus is describing himself to his disciples as "being surrounded," he might be referring to the crowds that are all around. Or if he is "surrounding himself," he might be referring to the disciples, whom he gathered around himself. Neither interpretation seems quite the same as "what stress I am under."

The meaning of the final verse seems important, the "testing" (or, NRSV, "interpreting") of times. I'm going to look more closely into that verse and the meaning of the Greek. This pericope seems to be divided pretty clearly in two - the first half being a prediction or pronouncement to the disciples, the second half being an address to the crowds. They're linked (as is much of this section of Luke) by an apocalyptic outlook. There may be a connection between the division among families and the signs of the times, but I don't want to force that if it's not original to the text. The two sections may have originally existed separate from one another, and it's only the lectionary that connects them. Hopefully the commentaries can help me figure that out.

I'll post again after I look at some commentaries and do a closer study on verse 56. As always, comments are welcome.

No comments: