segunda-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2012

The Many Faces of the Good Samaritan—Most Wrong

Interessante texto publicado na Biblical Archaelogy Review, não traz muitas novidades de interpretação ou exegese mas aprofunda o entendimento da parábola do bom samaritano. Reproduzo abaixo:

Biblical Views: The Many Faces of the Good Samaritan—Most Wrong

This column is about some appropriate lessons to be drawn from the parable, as well as some that are far-fetched, to say the least. For children, the parable can illustrate universal morals: We should help people who are hurt. It has also been used to warn kids: “Don’t walk by yourself on dangerous roads.” I once heard a sermon go that route.The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a favorite of both children and adults. The story is told in Luke 10:29–37: A man going from Jerusalem to Jericho is attacked by robbers who strip him and beat him. A priest and a Levite pass by without helping him. But a Samaritan stops and cares for him, taking him to an inn where the Samaritan pays for his care (see article).
For adults, the meaning is more profound. It is consistent with the Biblical mandate to love one’s neighbor as oneself, and it follows up on that mandate to insist that the love be manifest in action. It has also been used to instruct: Not only must we love our enemies, but also we should provide free medical services to foreign nationals. I heard a sermon go that route as well.
As interpretations about dangerous highways and universal healthcare indicate, the parable means different things in different times and places and for different audiences. Appropriation of the text for new contexts is inevitable.
Hearing the parable as Jesus’ original audience heard it should also be part of the repository of meaning. But again, we find several contemporary interpretations that might surprise Jesus’ audience. Here are four common anachronisms heard today:
First is the view that the robbers would have been regarded as freedom-fighters, dispossessed peasants forced into debt by Roman and Temple taxation and kept there by pressures from urbanization programs. The robbers are therefore sympathetic “social bandits,” Robin Hoods intzitzit. Nonsense!
The Greek term that Luke uses is lestes, which means “robber,” not “freedom fighter,” as the violence of the perpetrators in the parable suggests. This same word appears in Jesus’ condemnation of the Temple: “You have made it a den of robbers [lestes]” (Matthew 21:13Mark 11:17Luke 19:46). Paul uses it to describe the dangers he faced from “bandits” (2 Corinthians 11:26). Paul is not talking about the Merry Men.
Another foolish suggestion is that the victim—the Greek calls him “some guy” (anthropos tis)—deserved his fate. A few scholars propose that the victim is a tradesman who, because he consorts with all sorts of folks, is ritually unclean and therefore unsympathetic. Such conclusions not only stretch the text well beyond its words and its contexts, they also import a negative view of Torah and Jewish society unwarranted by any historical understanding. An injured man prompts sympathy, not schadenfreude.
A third interpretation sometimes heard is the related claim that the priest and the Levite avoid the victim because, should he be dead, or die while they attended him, they would become ritually unclean. Therefore, in avoiding the injured man, they are actually following Torah. Again, nonsense. Yes, priests are to avoid corpses (see Leviticus 21:1–3), save for those of immediate family members, but this law does not apply to Levites. Were the priest concerned about the purity required by his Temple duties, he might have hesitated; but this priest is not going up to Jerusalem, he is going down (katabaino) from it. Moreover, in Jewish law saving a life trumps all other laws. The Mishnah (Nazir7.1), the earliest compilation of rabbinic law, insists that even a high priest should attend a neglected corpse.
In the parable, the priest and Levite signal not a concern for ritual purity; rather, in good storytelling fashion, these first two figures anticipate the third: the hero. Jews in the first century (and today) typically are either priests or Levites or Israelites. Thus the expected third figure, the hero, would be an Israelite. The parable shocks us when the third figure is not an Israelite, but a Samaritan.
But numerous interpreters, missing the full import of the shock, describe the Samaritan as the outcast. This approach, while prompting compelling sermons, is the fourth anachronism. Samaritans were not outcasts at the time of Jesus; they were enemies.
In the chapter before the parable (Luke 9:51–56) Luke depicts Samaritans as refusing Jesus hospitality; the apostles James and John suggest retaliation: “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54). John 4:9 states, “Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.” The Jewish historian Josephus reports that during the governorship of Cumanus, Samaritans killed “a great many” Galilean pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem (Antiquities 20.118–136). The first-century Jewish person hearing this parable might well think: There is no such thing as a “good Samaritan.” But unless that acknowledgment is made, and help from the Samaritan is accepted, the person in the ditch will die.
The parable offers another vision, a vision of life rather than death. It evokes 2 Chronicles 28, which recounts how the prophet Oded convinced the Samaritans to aid their Judean captives. It insists that enemies can prove to be neighbors, that compassion has no boundaries, and that judging people on the basis of their religion or ethnicity will leave us dying in a ditch.

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