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Aug 02, 2007


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Dana Ames

I don't know about Bailey, but I would say Father = God
Older brother = Jews
Younger brother = Gentiles

Redemption is open to everyone, not just the Jews.


Michael W. Kruse

There is no question that Jesus expands the eschatological vision to include the Gentiles. I'm just not convinced that Jesus has Gentiles explicitly in mind with this parable.

The occasion of the parable is the Pharisees and scribes objecting to Jesus eating with (Jewish) sinners. The Pharisees and scribes hold themselves up as the religious leaders of Israel. Jesus draws on the image of good shepherds in the OT who go out and seek the lost sheep Israel. The Gentiles are not the lost sheep because they were never in the fold in the first place. Jesus portrays himself as doing their job. While Jesus has Gentiles in mind in other passages his point here is that the Pharisees and scribes aren’t even doing their job even as they have defined themselves (the shepherds of Israel) much less as Jesus would define their job.

The missing last stanza is critical. Jesus leads the leaders to a conclusion and then lets them fill in the blank. This parable is not addressed to the sinners Jesus is eating with, though they are certainly listening in as we are. The missing last stanza makes it clear that Jesus is targeting the leaders with laser like precision, seeking to transform them from enraged older brothers into joyous celebratory members of the household. That is why I suspect that the Gentiles are not really in mind here.

I have one more post on the Compassionate Father and then I’m going to back up and look at the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14, which preceded this parable. When you understand the centuries old imagery that Jesus draws on with regard to the Great Banquet, what he has to say about Gentiles is absolutely stunning to his audience. But again, because we are not steeped in the rich tradition Jesus is drawing upon we miss the significance.

Dana Ames

Well, Bailey definitely has studied this more than I have ;) I will certainly defer to him.


Michael W. Kruse

Bailey is really good but not infallible. Don’t defer to quick. :)

I have to tell you though, I've been through this some of his stuff more times than I can count and I still keep coming away with new major insights every time I read it. I can't think of any theologian I connect with more deeply.

Dana Ames

You connect with Bailey like I connect with Wright. Nobody's infallible, that's a given. We can still be grateful for their work.

Wright says he used to tell his students that he was sure he was wrong about 30% of what he was teaching them, but the trouble was he didn't know which 30%...


Michael Kruse

He may be right only 70% of the time but I know he is Wright 100% of the time. :)

Great quote.

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