Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bailey's Pearly Gate

Part 6 (viii)- The Parable of Lazarus and The Rich Man

I mentioned in the intro- about some passages not being viewed as parables by some commentators. This is one of them.

Some are adamant- about viewing this passage as a historical damnation. I don't have a problem with that view. Seems this was a polemic contested by the reviser of the weak 5th century D manuscript.

I don't have a problem if you were to call this passage prophecy either. Given that prophecy may be defined as being forth telling as well as foretelling.

I don't have a problem with calling this a parable either. It certainly has the obscurity common to parables. How Rome can derive purgatory from this passage is surely indicative of that.

OK... who is being addressed in this passage? Bailey thinks it is the Sadducees. I see the Pharisees 5 verses earlier (Luke 16:14) but no Sadducees. I see the Sadducees mentioned at least 40 miles and 4 chapters later.

Bailey thinks that this is an extension of the two prior parables. I see Jesus continuing to condemn the Pharisees in the 4 verses prior to this passage. And Jesus using this parable to elaborate on their "eternal dwelling" mentioned in the previous parable.

OK... who are the characters in this passage?

Well, Jesus provides the name Lazarus.

Bailey suggests that the name Lazarus ("the one whom God helps") mighta been understood by these Sadducees from it's Hebrew meaning. But, as Bailey says, this woulda been peculiar thinking for folks unable to see "God helping" the pathetic Lazarus in the only life that they believed in (the here and now). Peculiar thinking for folk that were unable to understand the Torah. Peculiar folk that probably couldn't even read. And the few peculiar folk that could read- were more likely to read the Torah in Greek rather than Hebrew anyway. Nah... they probably didn't import that meaning. Particularly at the rate of speed of this parable. And the Sadducees don't appear that quick on the uptake.

I could grant the Puritans their historical view here. That there actually was a Lazarus already in Heaven. And that's why that name was used. Seems to me that God would get a kick out of being that accurate historically.

I could also grant the view that Bailey briefly alluded to- that Jesus used that name to taunt the Pharisees. Were not the Pharisees were already a little ticked about a certain Lazarus? That Lazurus from Bethany that Jesus raised from the dead (John 11)? Jesus taunting? Yup. Probably the strongest view.

The Rich Man character?
Is translated Dives in the Latin text. Given the name Nineue in the Coptic. Called Finaeus and Amonofis in others. But no name in the better texts. Let's call him Dives- cuz he took a deep dive in a shallow pool :)

Bailey claims there were no other "individual[s] with a name in all Jesus's parables" (382). I see the name Abraham mentioned a few times in this one. Seems Bailey missed the name Moses as well. Bailey's "accurately translated" Arabic version (385) musta got licked clean by his "therapeutic dogs" :)

Next, Bailey indulges in a bunch of speculation about Lazarus hearing and seeing Dives. And being compassionately eager to dive in- to assist the "poor man frying in hell"(392).

In this passage, I don't see any indication of Lazarus either hearing or seeing Dives.
John Gerstner doesn't think Lazarus would have heard Dives either.

Indeed, I suspect this great chasm was beyond yelling distance. I suspect this narrative is non-historical. A virtuous narrative bridge spanning the now and then.

I don't think Lazarus would have seen Dives either. Are you gonna look afar when you are dwelling in the bosom of Abraham? Now, he may look afar- far later. But not without resurrected eyes. He's gonna need looooong range vision. Vision to cut through the flames. Cut through the abundance of corpses. But for now he's gonna want to bathe in the unaided vision of his huge savior for a good long time- prior to directing his resurrected eyes to puny peripheral sights. He's one of the Rev 7 multitude from the tribulation. He's one serving God in his temple- both day and night. Not bothering with the dogs outside the city (Rev 22:15).

Nor do I see Lazarus being compassionate towards Dives in this passage.
Jonathan Edwards seems to think that Lazarus would have no love nor pity for Dives. But rather, will rejoice in seeing God glorified by His justice towards Dives. Though it be improper to rejoice in Dives damnation- prior to Dives death.

But the passage is focusing on Dives not Lazarus!

Seems likely that Dives will see "Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets" (Luke 13:28) from "that place". Seems likely that Dives will see Lazarus from "that place" as well. And Dives vision will continue to endorse God's judgment on Dives.

Now, a question often raised is, "Will God have an eternal presence in Hell"?

Norm Geisler seems to think- that in hell, even God would have no presence (2 Thess. 1:9).
Gerstner would disagree with Geisler on that- calling him to make his bed on Psalm 139:8.

Which brings us to the all important question.
The explicitly implicit question of this parable.
A question of eternal import.

'Where will you make your bed?'

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