The bull of St Luke


The Resurrection: Lk 20,27-40

The Sadducees now appear for the first time in the Gospel. We can note the reason for their appearance at this stage, look at Daniel 12,2-3 and notably 2 Maccabees 7,9.
Luke tells us more about the Saducees in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 4,1; 5,17 and especially 23,8.

Verses 28-32 then set a scene. The background can be found in Deuteronomy 25,5-10. Here it is being taken to extremes, leading to the question in verse 33.

So far, much the same in all three Synoptic Gospels. Whilst Jesus' reply comes in the same two parts in Luke as in the other two, the details are different: compare 20,34-36 with Mk 12,24-25. Note what Luke omits from Mark.
How has Luke made Jesus give a clearer answer to the Sadducees?

For the burning bush, see Ex 3,6.15 and also Acts 7,32. What is Jesus' argument here? Compare verse 38 with Mk 12,27. Note too that Luke has added a response, 20,39-40.

Then look at my response.

Son of David: Lk 20,41-44

With his opponents reduced to silence, it is Jesus' turn to ask a question. We have seen that "they" in verse 41 refers to the scribes in verse 39. There is not a strong change from verse 40 to 41 so as we saw in the overview, these verses are best read as part of the Sadducee controversy.

The centrepiece of these verses is Ps 110. Read the psalm and see how it is used elsewhere in the New Testament: Acts 2,34; 7,17. This was an important psalm for the early Christians.

How then is Jesus juggling with "Lord" and "son"? For the question Jesus asks in verse 41, see 1,32 and 2 Sam 7,12-14.

What are the implications with regard to the preceeding controversy?

Then look at my response.

The Sunday Gospel

The controversy between Jesus and the Sadducees is read on the 32nd Sunday of the Year, except for the last two verses. There is also a short version provided for this Sunday: 20,27.34-38. We can only wonder why a short Gospel is made even shorter. Maybe it was thought that the widow marrying seven brothers one by one might be too much for some congregations. NOTE the significance of choosing Luke rather than Mt or Mk's version.

The accompanying reading from the Old Testament, 2 Macc 7,1-2.9-14, is undoubtedly an interesting choice. The connection with the Gospel of seven brothers focuses on just one point which we have seen already.
This is the only appearance of the 2nd book of Maccabees in the Sunday readings. The book tells about the sufferings of the Jews in the 2nd century BC when Greek Emperors were trying to impose Hellenistic (Greek) culture on the Jews. The teaching of the second book of Maccabees provides an important background to the New Testament. Catholics are familiar with 2 Mac 12,38-46.

This Sunday's passage from 2nd Maccabees brings out the other key teachings of this book. Read in your Bibles the whole of chapter 7. It will be evident why a number of verses have been left out of the Sunday passage. What is important for Christianity in this story? Look also at Daniel 12,2.

Some versions of the NRSV include the 4th book of Maccabees though no one recognises it as canonical, as part of the Old Testament. It tells this story of martyrdom in even more explicit detail. Yet it also includes another important teaching which has been prominent in Catholic tradition but less so today. See for example, 4 Mac 17,12 and 18,23. Why is this teaching now stressed less?

There's now plenty for a response by me.

Finally in this chapter, we read about scribes and widows, Lk 20,45-21,4.