Re: Do you know the answer to my question?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Sep 05 1999 - 18:40:27 EDT

At 3:46 PM -0400 9/4/99, neva daley wrote:
>Dear Mr. Conrad,
> Thank you so much for your quick response to my previous questions. I
>am very grateful that you took the time out to address them. I have been
>intending to write to you sooner to let you know I received your email but I
>was out of town and then school started right after I got back. Please
>forgive me. Actually, I did have two comments in response to what you said
> #1 You stated that it is not clear in the Luke passage to
>whom the statement is directed. However, in Luke 11:18, the "you"
>clearly refers to the Pharisees. One could then infer that the people
>referred >to as "you" are those identified as "them" in the beginning of
>the passage.
>Is this an incorrect judgment?

The word translated "Pharisee" does not appear anywhere in the Greek text
of the gospel of Luke after Lk 7:39 until Lk 11:37; in Lk 11:37 we have the
beginning of a new episode that does not follow upon the episode preceding
it, and there is also no continuity of the Pharisee from the episode in Lk
7:39 to the verse you ask about, 11:18. I cannot see therefore how you can
suppose, on the basis of any internal evidence from Luke, that the "you"
addressees of Lk 11:18 are Pharisees. Perhaps you are assuming that since
the Pharisees are involved in Matthew's version of the story, Luke has to
be assuming the same persons. That's the only way I can see identifying
Luke's "you" of 11:18 with Pharisees; certainly there's nothing in the text
of Luke pointing in that direction.

> #2 Preceding both opening statements in Luke 11:17 as
>well as Matthew 12:25, the verses mention "the Pharisees" as well as "the
>crowds." But you mentioned that it is for this reason why it is not
>clear in Luke to whom the statement is directed. Can you explain. I see that
>if you look only at the preceding verse in Matthew 12:24, then it would be
>absolutely clear to whom the statement is directed. But then the crowds
>were >mentioned in v. 23 also.

There can be no question but that in Matthew's version of the story, it is
the Pharisees who are addressed. Matthew unquestionably understands the
Pharisees as centrally involved in this episode and as addressed directly
by Jesus in his words. Surely Luke could have been explicit and clear if he
had MEANT to indicate who the persons addressed by Jesus were--but he
doesn't offer anything to make it clear. And since there are other
traditions of Jesus' sayings with regard to which different evangelists
indicate different addressees, I don't think we have any business assuming
that Luke means to tell the story exactly the same way that Matthew tells
it. In my view that's an illegitimate way to achieve a harmony that is by
no means evident on the surface of the two gospels.

I really don't want to go into questions of "higher criticism" of the
synoptic gospels or to the even more complex question of the accuracy with
which the gospels as a whole reflect precisely the words and deeds in every
detail of the historical Jesus. But my own inclination is to "allow" each
evangelist to tell his own story of Jesus without making assumptions about
how one evangelist's story relates to another evangelist's story. I simply
can see no indication in Luke's Greek text that he believes or means to
indicate that the words of Jesus in 11:17ff. were addressed to Pharisees.

Now this may come short of answering the questions you want to put to the
Biblical text, but I hope that I have explained adequately why I wrote what
I wrote in my earlier response to you.

Best regards, cwc

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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