Final Examination of Piotr Blajer, O.F.M.
For the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology
Thursday, May 3, 2012 2:10 p.m., Caldwell Room 125
Rev. Frank J. Matera, Ph.D.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37): Its Function and Purpose within the Lukan Journey Section
This dissertation begins with a history of research. Early Christian Writers and the Fathers of the Church tended to interpret the parable of the Good Samaritan allegorically. This method of interpretation remained a major way of reading the parable until the end of the nineteenth century. In the wake of Adolf Jülicher’s studies on the parables, however, scholars began to explore the origin of the parable, its classification, as well as its historical background. After this history of research, the first chapter of the dissertation concludes that scholars have not given sufficient attention to the literary setting of the parable of the Good Samaritan within the Lukan journey section.
In the second chapter this dissertation discusses the text and structure of the parable as well as the meaning of “neighbor” in the time of Jesus and the origin of the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. The chapter concludes that the parable of the Good Samaritan has two major parts, the initial dialogue between the scholar of the law and Jesus (10:25-28) and the parable proper (10:29-37).
The third chapter considers the literary setting of the parable; namely, the Lukan journey section (9:51–19:46). The study of this chapter shows that the placement of the travel notices pointing to Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is not random. They serve to highlight the passages, which remind the reader of the universal scope of salvation. The dissertation distinguishes between the geographical end of the journey section, the entry into the temple area (19:46), and the final goal of the journey section, which is Jesus’ ascension into heaven (24:50-53; Acts 1:6-12). This distinction enables the reader to see salvation as destined for all people regardless of their pedigree or socio-economic status.
The fourth chapter offers a narrative analysis of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The analysis notes that the narrator omits any information that could identify the wounded man. The Samaritan is unable to identify the wounded man, his origin, or social status; nonetheless he chooses to do whatever is necessary to assist him. Thus, the parable of an unnamed man who falls into the hands of the robbers and of a Samaritan traveler who helps him challenges the scholar of the law to accept Jesus’ teaching. In this way the scholar finds the answer to his question; one cannot inherit eternal life unless one accepts all people regardless of their origin.
The final chapter shows how the parable of the Good Samaritan picks up the major themes of the journey section and develops them further (Jesus comes to fulfill the law not to abolish it, universal salvation destined for all regardless of their status, and the growing conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of the people).