Luke 17:5-10 â€“ The 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ for Sunday, October 6, 2013
â€œThe apostles said to the Lord, â€˜Increase our faith!â€™” (Luke 17:5)
Call me a daydreamer. A curse? A blessing? Iâ€™ll pass a person, overhear a snatch of conversation, or read a few verses in the Bible and imagination will be triggered. I am afflicted with the â€œwhat ifs.â€
This happened when I opened the Bible to Luke 17:5-10. I know why . . . because when I read and contemplated and prayed about Luke 17:5-10, it frustrated the heaven out of me. What a muddled collection of verses. Iâ€™ll sum up these six dreary verses so that you can happily agree or strongly disagree:
a. Jesus and his disciples were together.
b. The disciples requested, â€œIncrease our faith!â€
c. If they possessed even mustard seed-sized faith, Jesus said, they could toss a mulberry tree into the sea.
d. And then Jesus talked about how a good slave acted.
There ya go: todayâ€™s Bible lesson. Six dumb verses. Well, actually verse 5 (or â€œbâ€ in the above list) kept pestering me, but more on that later. However, perhaps youâ€™re a brilliant, scholarly type (likely Presbyterian or Lutheran) that comprehends the life-changing truth of this whole and holy passage. Good for you. Go forth and save the world.
But on I daydream.
What if Iâ€™m dragged, kicking and of course screaming, back to the seminary where I received enough degrees to prove I could follow directions and study the Bible? What if Iâ€™m hauled into a first year class on hermeneutics (which, when I looked it up in the dictionary to make sure I spelled the old Greek word properly, appeared above Hermes, the Greek god of invention . . . of what if!)? Letâ€™s say that in that pretend class, Iâ€™m shoved into a chair with a seatbelt strapped around me so I can wiggle but canâ€™t escape.
Some students glance nervously in my direction. Most ignore me (seemingly unfazed by my inexplicable appearance). Then, the professor steps toward me and demands, â€œTell the truth, you who we once sent forth to proclaim the Good News, do you interpret the Bible exegetically or eisegetically?â€
Please no, donâ€™t ask that!
The learned professor waits, eyes narrowing. The seminary students mutter and fret, sensing I am the future they must avoid. I squirm.
Exegesis and eisegesis . . . such fancy, creaky, geeky Greek words. Do I interpret the Bibleâ€™s words by openly seeking to discern where or how a passage speaks to me, how Godâ€™s spirit moves me? (Three cheers for exegesis!) Or do I force my manipulative ideas into a verse and then convey my narrow-minded perspective onto an unsuspecting, gullible congregation? (Boos and groans for eisegesis.) Continue reading →