Dec 30, 2010
Discussions of Luke 16.16–18
I have been working recently on Luke 16:16–18. This is an important passage for understanding how Jesus understood the relationship between the proclamation of His kingdom and the Mosaic Law. In my research I consulted a number of commentaries and I thought I might share with you my basic evaluations of the discussions of the passage in each of the commentaries. Please note that these evaluations are by no means complete and therefore may or may not reflect the overall quality of the commentary as a whole. I have listed the commentaries and annotations in alphabetical order.
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke 10–24: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, AB (1985). A fairly detailed discussion of the major issues, but after explaining the options, Fitzmyer does not really take a stand on the meaning of biazetai in 16:16. Furthermore, the explanation of continuing validity of the Law begs for further elaboration: “Jesus sees his preaching of the kingdom as something more abiding than the universe itself, because it is the real meaning of the continuing validity of the Law.”
Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, NICNT (1997). Green has one of the most disappointing treatments of the passage. One would expect more detailed exegesis in a full-length commentary in a major commentary series. While Green provides a decent explanation of the flow of the argument he doesn’t deal adequately with the details of the text. For example, the meaning of biazetai in v. 16 is barely addressed.
Walter Liefeld and David Pao, “Luke, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, rev. ed. (2007). Liefeld and Pao provide a decent explanation of biazetai in v. 16 (although they do not take a position) but not much of an explanation of v. 17.
I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC (1978). Good discussion of both the details and meaning of the text. But it would have been more helpful for Marshall to clarify his explanation of the continuing validity of the Law in light of the coming of the kingdom in vv. 16–17.
John Nolland, Luke 9:21–18:34, WBC (1993). Nolland offers a good discussion both in the details of the text and of the meaning of Luke’s argument as a whole. But the discussion of the continuing validity of the Law in v. 17 is a bit confusing. On the one hand, Nolland writes, “The continuing validity of every detail of the law is here being lent the sense of permanence that adheres to the creation itself” and later in the same paragraph he states, “The addition of v 17 makes it quite clear that v 16 is not to be read as implying any kind of supersession of the law,” but then Nolland suggests that “while v 18 to follow suggests that an ethical focus should be given to the sense of v 17” (p. 821). What is confusing is whether Nolland believes that v. 17 is teaching all or some (the ethical) aspects of the Law are being presented as continuing in validity.
Robert H. Stein, Luke, NAC (1992). Stein offers a solid overall discussion of the significant details of the text. Stein also identifies five different views of v. 17: “(1) All the laws in the OT will remain. (2) All the moral but not the ceremonial and civil laws found in the OT will remain. (3) All the promises/prophecies in the OT will be fulfilled. (4) The OT is transformed and fulfilled in Jesus’ teachings. (5) The OT in all its aspects, i.e., its law, promises, and prophecies, will be fulfilled. In light of the following verse it appears that the second interpretation probably was meant” and eventually settling on the second option (p. 419).