The many layers of the story of the women bent double in Luke 13

The lectionary gospel reading for Trinity 10 Year C is Luke 13.10–17, a remarkable short account, unique to Luke, of Jesus healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath. There are multiple layers to the meaning of this story, and an interesting and important challenge is how we might, in our own local context, enable exploration of all these layers. A particularly striking feature of this passage is the way that several aspects of it have one kind of significance in the original context of Jesus’ ministry, but added significance in the Graeco-Roman context of Luke’s readers.

The context of this passage is the continuing mix of Jesus’ miracles and his teaching ‘on the way’ from Luke 9.51 until Jesus reaches Jerusalem in chapter 19. Because we don’t have in the narrative some of the obvious structural markers, like Matthew’s division of Jesus’ teaching into five sections, or the key turning point in Mark of the confession at Caesarea Philippi in Mark 8, it is easy to see the material here as a slightly amorphous mixture, and our only markers are the well-known episodes such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 and the parables of the lost, including the so-called prodigal son in Luke 15.

Given this, and the fact (as we have previously noted) that Luke’s geographical markers are very general, we need to sit up and take notice when Luke introduces this incident as taking place ‘in one of the synagogues’. This is the first mention of Jesus teaching in the synagogue since Luke 6.6, when he also heals someone there on the Sabbath, and he never does so again in Luke—in fact, synagogues are mentioned less in Luke than they are in Acts, when Paul consistently proclaims the good news about Jesus in synagogues first, making it clear that the Jesus movement is primarily a Jewish renewal movement before it is a Gentile movement.

Third Festival of Theology: Tuesday 8th October 2019

Following the success of our first two Festivals of Theology last year, I will be hosting a third Festival of Theology on Tuesday 8th October 2019, once again at Christ Church, Chilwell. Come and listen to great speakers address some vital questions for Christian living, mission and discipleship in TED-style talks, with the opportunity to … Continue Reading

Does Jesus bring peace or ‘division and a sword’?

The Sunday lectionary reading (Trinity 9, Year C) continues on its journey through Luke’s ‘special section’ of Jesus’ ministry and teaching on road to Jerusalem from Luke 9.51 to Luke 18.14. In this short (and again, inexplicably truncated) reading from Luke 12.49–56 (you might choose to read on to verse 59 to complete this section) … Continue Reading

Is there no hope without children?

Will Jones, who has contributed to this blog in guest posts as well as comments, wrote an interesting and challenging piece on the political website Conservative Woman. The website describes its values as being “unashamedly those of faith, married family and nation-state”, though it actually dissociates itself from a direct link with the Conservative party. It … Continue Reading

Tyndale NT study group 2020: call for papers

The Tyndale New Testament Study Group is part of the Tyndale Fellowship for biblical and theological research, based at Tyndale House in Cambridge, and including evangelical scholars from all over the world. The 2020 NT Study Group will be meeting with all the study groups for the interdisciplinary Quadrennial Tyndale Fellowship Conference at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire from Monday … Continue Reading