A Dalit Reading of the Parable of the Great Dinner (Luke 14.15-24)

The miseries of the marginalized Dalits and their struggle to become a people from being reduced to and kept as a non-people by the dehumanizing caste system in Indian society and church have provoked the upsurge of Dalit hermeneutics.

The term Dalit is derived from the Sanskrit root dal which means ‘to crack open’, ‘to split’ etc. and when used as an adjective or noun it means ‘burst’, ‘split’, ‘broken’, ‘torn asunder’, ‘downtrodden’, ‘scattered’, ‘crushed’, ‘destroyed’ and so on.[1] This definition is supported by the reality of Dalits vividly depicted in the Human Rights Watch Report:

More than one-sixth of India’s population, some 160 million people, live a precarious existence, shunned by much of society because of their rank as untouchables or Dalits – literally meaning “broken” people – at the bottom of India’s caste system. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused at the hands of the police and of higher caste groups that enjoy the state’s protection. In what has been called “hidden apartheid” entire villages in many Indian states remain completely segregated by caste.[2]

The above highlights several issues related to the state of Dalits: caste, untouchability, social ostracism, dehumanizing poverty, cultural and religious oppression, power dynamics, and so on. Since their condition is due to several unjust systems and structures legitimized by religion, Dalits seek for their liberative and praxis oriented resources available in the Bible.

The present study makes an attempt to re-read the Bible in the light of Dalit hermeneutical focus. The ‘table fellowship’ in Luke, particularly the “Parable of the great dinner” in Luke 14.15-24, which was interpreted from several other perspectives, is used as a fertile ground for the quest for Dalit liberative praxis, for the focus of Jesus’ ministry in Luke is on the religious outcast.

Methodology

For any critical and constructive engagement of Dalit liberation with the biblical resources we need to take note of the following important methodological observations that will enhance the process of our interpretation.

1. The issue of common ground between Biblical world and Dalit world is of paramount importance for any heuristic exploration of either of these areas and to see their integral interconnection.[3] The struggles of Dalits can easily find certain natural affinity towards the struggles and experiences of the marginalized communities of the Bible written down as the faith expressions in their various traditions.[4] In other words, there are certain points of convergence in the matrices of both the Biblical and the Dalit worlds. The Biblical matrix of preferential option towards the alienated and marginalized and the Dalit matrix of their struggle for egalitarianism are placed on the same plane.

2. The liberative hermeneutics is the common ground and concern in our quest to see inter-relatedness between Biblical and Dalit worlds.[5] The important objective in the liberative praxis for Dalits is their liberation from the socio-economic and cultural oppression legitimized by religion. The Dalit liberative praxis-oriented hermeneutics is geared towards the liberation of Dalits from the psychological, cultural and socio-economic oppression and to empower them in their struggle for freedom.[6] The biblical texts with liberation potential are already processed and reprocessed accounts addressed in their original settings and they continue to negotiate and renegotiate in our context to make the liberation potential possible.[7] It is this understanding that should permeate the context of the oppressed communities of Dalits in India as they seek for liberation from their socio-economic and cultural milieu.

By using the hermeneutics of “suspicion” and “retrieval” Dalit hermeneutics seeks to concentrate on the integral liberation of Dalits themselves.[8] Some of the key interpretative questions raised are: has the reign of God dawned to change the existing situation in the society? What about the advocacy of Jesus which shows bias towards the marginalized? These questions are well within the operation of hermeneutics of suspicion employed by the Dalit Christian readers of the Bible when they are brought into a direct encounter with the latter. The hermeneutics of retrieval helps the Dalit interpreter to approach the biblical text with hope and aspiration. What is to be retrieved in this process is God’s bias towards “the victims of human history right from the beginning till the end. Heaven and earth will certainly become a new heaven and a new earth.”[9] Thus both the hermeneutics of suspicion and retrieval are equally helpful for the Dalit hermeneutical task when it engages in dialogue with the biblical text.

Table Fellowship in Jewish Society

The synoptic Gospels contain many references to Jesus dining with the outcast. They are found in triple tradition (Mk.2.16-17=Mt.9.9-13=Lk.5.27-32), in Q (Mt.11.16-19=Lk. 7.31-35), in Luke’s special material (15.1f) and Matthew’s special material (21.31f). This suggests that Jesus’ table fellowship with the outcast was not only a well known, historically certain feature of his ministry, but also a highly significant feature as well. Luke gives a great importance to the table fellowship of Jesus with the outcast (5.27-32, 7.33-34, 15.1-2) and meals as a setting for Jesus’ teaching (5.31-39, 7.36-50, 10.38-42, 11.37-54, 14.1-24, 22.14-38, 24.20-49). The themes, “together with” and “separation from”, run through these passages. In Luke the table fellowship matrix is characterized by Jesus’ concern for and identity with the outcast (5.29-37, 7.36-50, 14.1-24, 19.1-10) and the contention or conflict between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders because of the outcast (5.30-32, 7.38-49, 14.1-6). Jesus is accused by the Pharisees and the scribes: “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them” (15.2 cf.5.30, 7.34) and was called “a glutton and a drunkard,” a proverbial usage for an apostate (Lk. 7.34 cf. Dt. 21.18-21).[10] Thus Jesus’ ‘deviant behavior’ aroused immense criticism from the Jewish religious leaders.

In Jewish society sharing of a meal was a sign of intimacy, communion and fellowship (Ps. 100.5 (LXX); Prov.23.1ff; Lk.14.15; III Mac. 3.4; Jub. 22.16; Tob. 1.11; Jos. Asen. 7.1; Sir. 31.12-32; T. Levi 14.5-6; b. Sanh. 23; b. Ber. 43).[11] “Sharing a table meant sharing life.”[12] Table fellowship was a religious affirmation of belonging and was a fellowship before God, for the eating of a piece of broken bread by everyone who shares in a meal brings out the fact that they all have a share in the blessing which the master of the house had spoken over the unbroken bread.[13]  At the same time, in the social world of Jesus, a meal had become, at least for some groups of Jews like Essenes of Qumran and Pharisees[14], “a microcosm of Israel’s intended historic structure as well as a model of Israel’s destiny.”[15] The fully liberated Israel, the end time community, is pictured as a community of people enjoying table fellowship with God, by partaking in the eschatological banquet prepared by God for them (Is. 25.6; Mt. 8.11-12; Lk.22.30). Essenes paid a great attention to the arrangement of their meals, modeling them on what they believed would be the form of the messianic banquet (IQS 6.2-5).[16] The Pharisaic institution of the haburah was “a strict association for observance of ritual purity and tithing.”[17] One of the primary concerns of this was the extension of priestly holiness to all of life and thus the desire to take all food in a state of ritual purity (m. Dem. 2.2-3).[18] This has governed one’s participation in this association and dominated the Pharisaic way of life.[19] Thus they constructed a barrier between themselves and the outsider “who was by definition a source of ritual defilement.”[20] People, places and things were defined as holy or unholy according to their relation to the temple, the purity of their bloodlines, their bodily wholeness and the nature of one’s occupation (t. Meg. 2.7). A Pharisee would become unclean by coming in contact with the clothes of an outcast (m. Hag. 1.8, 2.6-7). So an elaborate system of purity/pollution structured Jewish society at the time of Jesus[21] (analogous to the caste system in India which is also a system of purity/ pollution).

A Dalit Interpretation of the Parable of the Great Dinner Luke 14.15-24[22]

Context

Luke 14.1-24 is a unit with the common theme of ‘meals’ (vv.1,8,12,15,16,24).[23] The setting of this is a meal at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees in which Luke weaves together three passages (14.1-6,14.7-14,14.15-24) in order to bring forth Jesus’ concern for the outcast.[24]

14.1-6: Jesus heals a man with dropsy on the Sabbath. He defends healing on the Sabbath by pointing to human need over against the Sabbath halakah. The silence of the Pharisees indicates not only their perplexity[25] but also their insensitivity towards the needy (cf. 13.14-17), which further shows that they confine the sick to a continued state of misery. By healing on Sabbath, Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath (cf. 6.5), breaks the barrier set around the Sabbath observance and redefines it as a day of not taking rest but giving rest to those ‘in pain’ by liberating them from their state of wretchedness.

14.7-14: In contrast to their insensitivity to the ‘position’ of the sick (and the outcast in general), the guests, most probably the rich Pharisees (cf. 14.1,12), are concerned about their position of honor. By limiting the invitation to ‘friends’, ‘brothers’, ‘relatives’ and ‘rich neighbors’,  these prominent members of the society want to preserve their privileged positions and social relations among themselves, keeping “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” in their depressed conditions and outside the social relations (cf. 14.26, 33, 15.1-2).[26]   

Thus, by their concern to maintain the purity of the community through the observance of Sabbath regulation and limiting the social relations among themselves, the Pharisees protected their privileged positions and power by denying the marginalized any access for liberation. An important function of purity norms is to draw lines between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. Jesus’ protest against their ‘purity laws’ is a protest against the unjust structure of the society upheld by these laws.[27] He advocates for the transformation of ‘purity’ from ritual concept to a concept of societal solidarity, which means a break with the present structure and its boundaries.[28] Thus, he advocates for “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”, the victims of the unjust structure of the society sanctioned by religion.

Social Segregation of “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame”

The term ‘poor’, understood by some only in economic terms, should be understood in the larger backdrop as Jesus in the Third Gospel is fundamentally concerned with those who are considered to be “outcasts” or “marginalized”, a social state imposed on them, which was sanctioned by religion (4.18, 5.30-32, 6.20,7.22, 14.13, 21, 16.20).[29] It is a term “related to issues of power…privilege and social location…”[30] So “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” are the outcast in the society. The inclusion of lepers in this social category means that these are considered ‘untouchables’ who are forced to live on the periphery or outside the periphery of the society (7.22 cf. 5.12-16; 17.11-19). This is evident by the phrases  “plateias kai rumas” (14.21), which refer to narrow streets and lanes where one would find beggars of the town[31] and “hodous kai phragmous”, which refer to the area immediately outside the wall of the city inhabited by the those involved in menial occupations and prostitutes (14.23).[32] They are forbidden from having social relations with those “at the center of the society” (M. Hag. 2.6 cf. t. Meg. 2.7; I QSa 2. 5-7 cf. I QM 7. 4-6).[33] Since they are considered unclean, they represent a possible source of contamination to the community at large. Pharisees are particularly concerned about protecting the community against such dangers by upholding the purity rules of the community and in that way keeping the boundaries of the community strong. That is why the narrative sections focus on Jesus’ conflict with the community leaders, particularly Pharisees, over the boundaries and purity of the community (5.30-32, 7.36-47). It shows that it is a common knowledge to follow the above regulations (cf. 5.30, 6.2; 7.39; 15.2; 19.7) and leaders have invoked commitment to this common knowledge. That is why the outcast have to be “compelled” (anankason14.23) to partake in the dinner, for they have immediately understood that the invitation is “an inexplicable breach of the system.”[34] Luke thus presents the traditional pattern of the society that has given legitimacy to oppressive structures. These strong social barriers have restricted the outcast from entering into the society and confined them to the periphery or outside of the society.

The stratification of Indian social system is based on caste.  Though the explanation for the origin of caste system is varied, it takes its sanction from religion i.e. Hinduism.  The classification of the castes as high, low and outcastes not only has led to hierarchialisation, but also to the marginalization and exclusion of some.  The Dalits in the Indian society fall in the latter group.  They are the ‘Untouchables’.[35] The concept of purity and pollution is one of the causes for untouchability: “The idea of purity, whether ceremonial or occupational, which is found in the genesis of caste is the very soul of the idea and practice of untouchability.”[36] Some of the practices of untouchability in the past (and still prevalent in some parts of India) were: the untouchables were not allowed to go through the caste village during day because their sight was polluting or were allowed only at noon because their shadow may not pollute anything or anybody and were denied entry into temples. A high caste person would not eat with them: “It would be contamination to eat with any member of this class; to touch food prepared by them or even to drink water which they have drawn….”[37]Accepting food from an untouchable was considered equal to that of having communion, which was punishable with excommunication from caste.[38] Thus, Dalits were relegated to a permanent state of social degradation. Even today, untouchability exists at the festivals, religious ceremonies, temples and work place, especially in rural areas.[39]  They are made to feel that they are by nature destitute, to be weak, meek and therefore servile.  It is this enforced feeling of being untouchables– low, weak– that constitutes the crux of social oppression.[40]

The village structure plays a major role in the social relations of the people. “The physical structure of the village is, in some measure a reflection of its social structure.  The distribution of population is not haphazard or random, but evinces a more or less conscious plan.  This plan brings out in a graphic manner some of the basic unities and cleavages in the social structure of the village”.[41]  Even today Dalits live in one corner or far from the main village. Also the housing undertaken by the Government for them would be in a place far from the main village, where there would be no health care, no safe drinking water, no communication and so on. 

Economic Deprivation

The parable clearly portrays the economic disparity between “those at the center of the society” and “those at the periphery or outside of the society”.[42] Luke’s statements about the Pharisees (or the rich) and the poor are integral part of a larger pattern of socio-religious, and economic relations that make up the society that he describes. The vast economic inequality is vividly expressed by Luke (6.20-21,24-25, 16.19-25, 18.18-25, 21.1-4). In the Parable, on the one side of the economic spectrum are “the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind and others” (14.21,23) and on the other side are the landowners and the powerful (14.18-20).[43] The latter are at the center of the ‘city’, the center of trade, wealth and power and prevented the outcast from coming to the ‘center’ through sanctions legitimized by religion, thus denying their rights to use the resources. Here Jesus is addressing the rich elite Pharisees (14.1, 7, 12 cf. 16.1-9, 14, 19-31).[44] They are not only concerned with purity and social status but are money lovers (16.14). They are accused of being “full of greed and wickedness” (Lk. 11. 39 cf. Mt.23.25) and of robbing the weak and vulnerable (Lk. 20.47 cf. Is. 3.14-15; Amos. 4.1, 8.4; Sirach.13.3). They used purity laws to perpetuate an oppressive system (11.37-42 cf. 20.47).[45] In the light of this, ‘to distribute the money to the poor’ (Lk.18.22) means redistribution of wealth and establishment of positive relationship with those, whom they have exploited (cf. Prov. 14.31; 19.17).[46] The attitude of the rich, preservation of one’s wealth to oneself and non-sharing indicate social distance from the poor (16.19-31 cf. 12.15-19, 18.21-25). Therefore, the outcast are outside the system of social exchange.

The social location and denial of social exchange have left the Dalits to endemic dehumanizing poverty. Their unskilled, unproductive, lower and menial jobs have fetched them not enough even to sustain them. The situation is expressed clearly by a Dalit:

“We recognize the crucial character of our time and realize that what is at stake is the very life of our people, even the physical life of the masses, not to speak of the quality of their life or their participation in culture or space for their creativity…Among the most shocking features of our community is the poverty of the masses often amounting to destitution and misery, side by side with enormous wealth and luxurious affluence enjoyed by a few who form a thin layer at the summit of our social hierarchy.”[47]

The Hope of the Outcast

The outcast play a significant role in Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God (4.18,7.22,14.13,21,19.8). The pivotal verse of 14.1-24 “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God” (14.15) shifts the focus away from the guests who refuse the invitation (“they all alike began to make excuses” 14.18) to those who actually attend the dinner,[48] and connects the parable to a series of beatitudes that have eschatological thrust and concern for the outcast (6.20-21): theirs is the kingdom of God (6.20) and they will be filled in the eschatological age at the time of messianic banquet, the very point the parable of the great dinner is making (cf. Ps. 107.3-9; Is.25.6-8, 49.10-13).[49] The reversal pattern of “from hunger to satisfaction” describes how God will reverse the situation and satisfy the hungry in the new age (6. 21-25; 16.19-26).[50] This indicates the link between food and God’s kingly rule. This reign of God has already irrupted in Jesus and embraces those marginalized by the religious leaders (4.16-30, 7.18-22). These are the ones who are not only receptive to the call of Jesus but also exemplary in their total commitment to God (5. 27-28, 19.6-8, 21.3-4).[51] Jesus’ table fellowship with them is itself an expression of the new age.[52] Thus it expresses an eschatological tension of the present and the future realities of the kingdom of God.[53] In Jesus, God demonstrates his fidelity to the hungry by feeding them (1.53, 6.21).[54] By having his table fellowship with the poor and the marginalized “Jesus is saying in dramatic form that God shares life together with them.”[55] That means his eating and drinking with the poor and the marginalized is an “acted parable” of God’s kingly justice.[56]

The solidarity of Jesus with the outcast expresses God’s end time intervention to restructure the world.[57] God’s kingly justice (i.e. kingdom of God) in Jesus reverses the fortunes of the outcast through his intervention to create justice in the society (1.51-53; 6.20-26; 16.19-26). Jesus’ proclamation of good news to the poor parallels bringing the marginalized from the periphery to the center and exclusion of those who have followed a system of injustice and inequality (14.21-24 cf. 4.18-19, 7.21-22).

Conclusion

The point of the parable is a reversal of the world as it is presently known and legitimized. Both in the society of Palestine and in today’s society, the structures of domination and exploitation by the ‘powerful’ are in place, but Jesus offers liberation for the ‘victims’ of these dehumanizing structures. Jesus denied the equation of holiness with exclusivism[58] as practiced by the religio-cultural elite of the Palestine society. Rather he contravened the practice of purity-pollution system prevalent among the powerful Jews and defied their mode of preserving power.[59] Jesus, through his solidarity with the outcast, has established a new order of radicalized purity.[60]

Thus he asserted the people of the periphery against the domination of the “centralized powers”. The biblical response to the reality of “the victimized periphery versus powerful center” can be concisely articulated through the conviction declared by a woman forced to the periphery: “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly” (Lk. 1.52).

 

 


[1] Sir Monier Williams. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1976); Eleasor Zelliot, From Untouchables to Dalit: Essays on Ambedkar Movement (New Delhi: Manohar. 1992), pp. 267-271.  James Massey, Towards Dalit Hermeneutics: Re-reading the Text, the History and the Literature (New Delhi: ISPCK, 1994), pp. 1-6.

[2] Human Broken People: Caste Violence against India’s “Untouchables”, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999), pp. 1-2.  

[3] K. Jesuratnam, “Towards a Dalit Liberative Hermeneutics: Re-reading The Psalms of Lament,” in             Bangalore Theological Forum, Vol. 34, no. 1, (June 2002), p. 3.

[4] Gnanavaram, “‘Dalit Theology,’ and the Parable of the Good Samaritan,” in JSNT 50 (1993), p. 62.

 

[5] Jesuratnam, “Towards a Dalit Liberative Hermeneutics,” p. 3.

[6] Gnanavaram, “‘Dalit Theology,’” pp. 62-65.

[7] Jesuratnam, “Towards a Dalit Liberative Hermeneutics,” pp. 3-4.

[8] Jesuratnam, “Towards a Dalit Liberative Hermeneutics,” p. 5.

[9] Maria Arul Raja, “Reading Bible From a Dalit Location: Some Points for Interpretation”, Voices From the Third World, XXIII: I, (2000), p. 81.

[10] I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), p. 302. Fitzmyer is of the opinion that this phrase does not echo Dt. 21.20 in the Septuagint, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (X-XXIV): Introduction, Translation and Notes, Vol.2,(New York : Doubleday & Company, inc., 1985), p. 1052.

[11] Neale, None but the Sinners, p.126.

[12] Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus, Vol. I, (London: SCM, 1971), p. 115.

[13] Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus, (New York: SCM, 1971), pp.115-116.

[14] The meaning and origin of the name is obscure. The root is most likely perushim meaning ‘separated’. A.I. Baumgarten, “The Name of the Pharisees,” in JBL 102 (1983), pp. 411-28; H.F. Weiss, “pharisaios,” in TDNT, vol. IX, pp. 12-16.

[15] Marcus J. Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus, (New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1984), p. 80.

[16] Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), 56-58, 51-52 (?)

[17] David A. Neale, None but the Sinners: Religious Categories in the Gospel of Luke, Journal of the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 58, (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991), p.24.

Neusner supposes that by 70 C.E. or even earlier, the Pharisees had become “primarily a society for table fellowship.” Jacob Neusner, “Three Pictures of the Pharisees: A Reprise,” in Formative Judaism: Religious, Historical and Literary Studies, Fifth Series, (Chico: Scholars Press, 1985), p. 76.

[18] Neale, None but the Sinners, p.25; J. Neusner, “The Formation of Rabbinic Judaism: Yavneh from A.D.70 to 100,” in ANRW, II.19.2, p.23; M. Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus, (New York: The Edwin Mellon Press, 1984), pp. 80-81.

[19] Neale, None but the Sinners, p.25.

[20] J. Neusner, “The Fellowship in the Second Jewish Commonwealth,” in HTR 53 (1960), 125.

‘am ha –aretz is excluded for zimmun (b. Ber. 47b cf. m. Ber.7.1).

[21] Pharisees were influential at the time of Hasmonians and continued to play an important role in Sanhedrin, an important organ of constitution next to the chief priesthood, even in first century C.E. (JW 1. 67, 1.571; Ant. 13.288, 14.171-176, 17. 41-49 cf. Philip. 3.5; Acts. 5.34; m. Menah 10.3; b. Sukk. 43b; t. Sukk. 3.1). Some of the scholars contend this, by saying that it is an embellished portrait to serve as propaganda for the Romans. But how could Josephus create their status ex nihilo. For the discussion see: Martin Hengel and Roland Deines, “E.P. Sanders’ ‘Common Judaism’, Jesus, and the Pharisees: A Review Article,” in JTS, vol. 46, (April 1995), pp. 1-70; Robert L. Braeley, Luke-Acts and the Jews: Conflict, Apology, and Conciliation, (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1987), pp. 84-106; David A. Neale, None but the Sinners: Religious Categories in the Gospel of Luke, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 58, (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991), pp. 18-39.

Some think that ‘strict exclusivism’ (as in the case of Pharisees) and ‘being influential’ are antithetical. For me this seems to be a wrong presupposition if I consider Indian context where Brahmins, the exclusivists, were very influential not only in the society but also at the government level (even today!).  

[22] Three versions exist: Matthew 22.1-13, Luke. 14.15-24, Gospel of Thomas 64.1-2. There is much discussion among scholars on the origin and form of this parable. David Buttrick, Speaking Parables: A Homiletic Guide, (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), pp. 156-157.

[23] Rudolf Bultmann, History of Synoptic Tradition, trans. John Marsh, (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), p. 326; John Dominic Crossan, In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus, (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 69.

[24] Arthur A. Just , The ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1993), p.171.

[25] Brawley, Luke-Acts, p.102.

[26] The mention of reciprocity indicates social situation in which relations may be disrupted by the inability to reciprocate. Halvor Moxnes, The Economy of the kingdom: Social conflict and economic relations in  Luke’s Gospel, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), p. 131.

[27] Halvor Moxnes, The Economy of the kingdom: Social conflict and economic relations in Luke’s Gospel, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988, p.121.

[28] Halvor Moxnes, The Economy of the kingdom: Social conflict and economic relations in Luke’s Gospel, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988, p.121.

[29] Joel B. Green, “Good News to Whom? Jesus and the “Poor” in the Gospel of Luke,” in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, eds. Joel B. Green and Max Turner, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), p.61.

[30] Green, “Good News to Whom?” p. 68.

[31] I Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, p. 590. These are not the aspiring poor, as anachronistic capitalist readings understand.

[32] Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke,(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), p. 561; Richard L. Rohrbaugh, “The Pre-Industrial City in Luke-Acts: Urban Social Relations,” p. 135.

[33] The sons of Aaron, who have blemish in their body, are forbidden to offer the bread of God (Lev. 21.17-23; II Sam.5.8 (Lxx). According to Qumran literature, the following persons are forbidden from the messianic banquet: afflicted in flesh, crushed in feet or hands, lame, blind, deaf, dumb, defective eye sight, senility (I QSa 2. 5-7 cf. I QM 7. 4-6). Robert J. Karris, Luke: Artist and Theologian: Luke’s Passion Account as Literature, (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), p. 62.

[34] Richard L. Rohrbaugh, “The Pre-Industrial City in Luke-Acts: Urban Social Relations,” p. 145.

[35] James Massey, Roots: A Concise History of the  Dalits, (New Delhi : ISPCK, 1991), p.10.

[36] G.S. Ghurye, Caste and Race in India,(Bombay :Popular Prakashan, 1969), p.307.

[37] Abbe J.A. Dubois, Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, trans.by Henry K. Denchams, (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1906), p.51.

[38] M.N Srinivas, “Caste system in India”,in Social Inequality, ed. Andre Beteille, (Middlesex : Penguine Books, 1978), p. 269.

[39] Manchala Deenabandhu, Dalit Theology as an ally of Dalit Liberation, (Unpublished Paper), p.3.

[40] K. Willson, Political Philosophy of the oppressed Indians,(Hyderabad : Booklinks Corporation, 1983), p.4.

[41] Andre Beteille, Caste, Class and Power: Changing patterns of stratification in Tanjore Village, (California: University of California Press, 1965)p.19.

[42] Luke tends to place the outcasts on the one side and the Pharisees on the other (cf.3.10-14; 16.14-16). Halvor Moxnes, The Economy of the Kingdom: Social Conflict and Economic Relations in Luke’s Gospel, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), p. 20.

[43] The first one most probably is an ‘absentee landlord’ who bought a field outside the town (cf. Lk. 20.9-16 cf. Mk.12.1-12; Mt.21.33-46). The second excuse also point to a landlord, who probably possessed about 100 acres of land. Luise Schottroff, Wolfgang Stegemann, Jesus and the Hope of the Poor, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1986), p. 101.

[44] “The Pharisaic-Scribal ‘establishment’ in Jerusalem …was often quite well-off, or recruited a good many of its members from the middle class of merchants and craftsmen.”  Hengel, “E.P. Sanders’ ‘Common Judaism’, Jesus, and the Pharisees,” p. 65.

[45] Moxnes, The Economy of the Kingdom, p. 112.

[46] Moxnes, The Economy of the Kingdom, p. 120.

[47] M. C. Duraising, “Reflection on Theological Hermeneutics in the Indian Context,” in Indian Journal of Theology 31.3-4 (1982), p. 267. 

[48] John R. Donahue, The Gospel in Parable, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), p. 141.

[49] Arthur A. Just Jr. The Ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1993), p.175.

[50] Moxnes, p. 86.

[51] One interesting thing we find is nowhere do we find the ‘poor’ criticizing the ‘rich’ whereas it is the ‘rich’ who look down upon the ‘poor’ from their position of self-righteousness, power and honor. It is Jesus who defends the poor against the onslaught of the ‘rich’.

[52] Jesus’ table ‘fellowship’ with the outcast is distinguished from that with the Pharisees.  7.36-50 demonstrates that Pharisees refuse table fellowship with the outcast. Robert L. Brawley, Luke-Acts, p. 101.

[53] Arthur A. Just Jr. The Ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus, (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1993), p.174. 

[54] Karris, Luke: Artist and Theologian, p. 47.

[55] Karris, Luke: The Artist and Theologian, p. 58.

[56] Karris, Luke: The Artist and Theologian, p.58.

[57] S. Roth, The Blind, the Lame, and the Poor: Character Types in Luke-Acts, (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), p. 181. 

[58] Buddha said:    not by birth does one become an outcaste

                                not by birth does one become a Brahmana

                                by deeds one becomes an outcaste

                                by deeds one becomes a Brahmana.

Quoted by A.M.A. Ayrookuzhiel, “Dalits Move towards the Ideology of Nationality,” in The Dalit Desiyata, ed. A.M.A. Ayrookuzhiel, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1990), p. 104.

[59] M. Maria Arul Raja, “Assertion of the Periphery: Some Biblical Paradigms,” in Jeevadhara, Vol. XXVII no. 157 (1997), p. 33.

[60] W. Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), p. 110.

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One Response to “A Dalit Reading of the Parable of the Great Dinner (Luke 14.15-24)”

  1. jocuri zane Says:

    jocuri zane…

    A Dalit Reading of the Parable of the Great Dinner (Luke 14.15-24) « Kamalakarduvvuru’s Blog…

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