Saturday, May 16, 2015

On "Two Debts Cancelled"

An Exegetical Essay on Luke 7:36-50

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

In the anointing pericope of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 7:36-50), Jesus is attended to by a weeping "woman...who was a sinner" (37), while dining at Simon the Pharisee’s house. Through an analogic parable about two debtors (Luke 7:41-42), Jesus does three things: First, he confirms that he is the Messiah, then he teaches a lesson on God’s counter-intuitive mercy and, thirdly, he illustrates the equality of sinners before God, regardless of their visible inequality. A great deal of interpretation of this passage has understandably focussed on the woman, emphasising her importance in determining Luke’s message. However, as we shall see below, Simon the Pharisee plays a far more pivotal role than is generally believed.