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  1. #1
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    Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells the story of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus and describes how they lived in this life and what their circumstances were after they died.

    There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out,”‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

    This story follows a group of parables and there is much disagreement as to whether this in another parable or a record of something that actually happened.

    To answer this question we need to look at exactly what a parable is. Luke 15:3-7 records a story by Jesus which is clearly identified as a parable.

    So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

    Let’s look at exactly what Jesus did here. He told a story about a shepherd and a lost sheep. This was something the people were familiar with because they lived in a culture in which being a shepherd was a common occupation. Then he showed how this everyday event which they could see was like a heavenly event which they couldn’t see directly; the rejoicing by the shepherd was like the rejoicing that takes place in heaven when a sinner repents. A parable illustrates a spiritual truth by comparing it with something with which the listeners were familiar.

    But does the story of Lazarus and the rich man follow this pattern? It begins by describing a rich man and a beggar who was at his gate seeking help. This was no doubt the sort of thing his listeners had seen. But Jesus doesn’t make any comparison between this situation and something in heaven. Instead he continues the story by telling how the two men died and what their circumstances were after death. In addition, two of the people in the parable, Lazarus and Abraham, are named, and we know for certain that Abraham was a real person. These departures from the usual pattern of parables show that this wasn’t a parable but an account of something that really happened.

    This story is the plainest description found in the Bible of what happens after death. We know that at death the body completely ceases to function but we find here that the same thing isn’t true of the soul. It is separated from the body but still continues to function in the same way it did while still in the body.

    In the Old Testament there are many references to a place called Sheol which is the place everyone went after death. Both the good and the bad went there. This is the same place as Hades, which is where the rich man ended up. Since he was able to see and speak to Abraham and Lazarus they must have been in Hades too, but in a different part. Abraham said there was a chasm between the place they were and the place the rich man was, so there was a separation between the righteous and the unrighteous even though they were in the same place.

    The unsaved still go to Hades immediately after they die but that is no longer true of the saved. The death of Jesus has brought about a change in what happens to them. Jesus told the thief who repented that he would be in Paradise with him that same day. We learn from 2 Corinthians 12:1-3 that Paradise is in the third heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 says,

    Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    This shows that between his death and resurrection Jesus descended into Hades and took out all the righteous dead and took them to Paradise. Now whenever a believer dies his soul goes immediately to be with Jesus.

    Even the unsaved won’t stay in Hades forever. Revelation 20 contains a description of the final judgment, when all those who are lost will be punished for eternity by being thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 says,

    And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    It doesn't seem like a parable to me. Especially because of its use of named characters from the bible. It does seem rather legendary to me and smacks of being made up to teach a given point of theology, but from the bible's perspective I don't see it as parable.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    It doesn't seem like a parable to me. Especially because of its use of named characters from the bible. It does seem rather legendary to me and smacks of being made up to teach a given point of theology, but from the bible's perspective I don't see it as parable.
    Lazarus of Bethany (described in John), the resurrected man by Jesus, is not this Lazarus.

    And the way in which this is written, as well as surrounding context, does indeed indicate that it is a parable. While there may be a little controversy as to the moral of the parable, it is considered by practically all philologists and theologians (that I'm aware of anyway), to be a parable. There is nothing about this story that indicates it is an actual account of events.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Lazarus of Bethany (described in John), the resurrected man by Jesus, is not this Lazarus.

    And the way in which this is written, as well as surrounding context, does indeed indicate that it is a parable. While there may be a little controversy as to the moral of the parable, it is considered by practically all philologists and theologians (that I'm aware of anyway), to be a parable. There is nothing about this story that indicates it is an actual account of events.
    This does raise something very interesting actually, I can't immediately think of any other parable told by Jesus in which any of the actors are explicitly named (but then this could just be me showing my ignorance given the length of time between now and me last reading the NT cover to cover). What would be a viable textual reason for the significant break from tradition. It could be simply that it is a name used purely for its meaning "God is my help" according to a quick google search to emphasise that the rich man did not help while God did. But then this raises questions about the historicity of the other Lazarus incident given John is by far the most inclined of the gospel writers to associate Jesus with God and moves furthest into the realm of material not also reiterated elswhere in the bible.

    EDIT: For clarity I'm not saying it's not a parable I'm just saying that if I'm right that there are no other parables that contain explicit names there is presumably an explicit purpose for including it in this one. Though I would quite agree, the context and other language makes it quite clear this is a parable in form and deliberately not meant to be interpreted historically. I feel its time to go start reading my bible again...
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Lazarus of Bethany (described in John), the resurrected man by Jesus, is not this Lazarus.
    I'm not sure that matters. Abraham is mentioned specifically, that's not some "other" Abraham I assume.

    And the way in which this is written, as well as surrounding context, does indeed indicate that it is a parable.
    Why? Its not labeled as a parable yet the other parables are. Those labeled as parables do not name specific characters while this passage does. There are non-parable passages in that section along side the parables.

    While there may be a little controversy as to the moral of the parable, it is considered by practically all philologists and theologians (that I'm aware of anyway), to be a parable.
    Why?

    There is nothing about this story that indicates it is an actual account of events.
    Why not. It seems like it could. There are certainly stranger stories in the bible.

    I wouldn't say it can't be a parable, but I just don't see a compelling argument that it is.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I'm not sure that matters. Abraham is mentioned specifically, that's not some "other" Abraham I assume.
    We know it is not because of the title granted to him "Father Abraham"...which is very specific.

    Why? Its not labeled as a parable yet the other parables are. Those labeled as parables do not name specific characters while this passage does. There are non-parable passages in that section along side the parables.
    The only difference between this parable and the others, is the name mentioning. The fact that it shares several other similarities and results in a teaching that is contrary to what all the rest of the Bible says on issues of death, Heaven and Hell and other issues...tells us that this is not literal.

    Just 3
    of the many reasons why this is not literal...

    1. A literal drop of water on the rich man's tongue would hardly solve his problem of burning in the torment of hell (Luke 16:24).
    2. As a literal story, the picture of Abraham has problems, too. Abraham's lap must be symbolic. Even those who believe that people go to their reward at death consider it so Ab-bosm.
    3. Abraham accepted the prayer of the rich man and responded to it v27. A righteous person, on the good side of the gulf, would not have accepted reverence due only to God
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by eliotitus View Post
    Though I would quite agree, the context and other language makes it quite clear this is a parable in form and deliberately not meant to be interpreted historically.
    As I pointed out in my post it is not a parable in form. Parables described things and acts the listeners knew about by persona experience and then drew a spiritual lesson from them. This story tells of spiritual truths without any comparison with familiar things.

    I feel its time to go start reading my bible again...
    I guess my post has definitely done some good if it has motivated you to read the Bible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    1. A literal drop of water on the rich man's tongue would hardly solve his problem of burning in the torment of hell (Luke 16:24).
    In such a state of suffering any kind of releif, no matter how small, would be welcome.

    2. As a literal story, the picture of Abraham has problems, too. Abraham's lap must be symbolic. Even those who believe that people go to their reward at death consider it so Ab-bosm.
    Where is there anything about Abraham's lap?

    3. Abraham accepted the prayer of the rich man and responded to it v27. A righteous person, on the good side of the gulf, would not have accepted reverence due only to God
    The rich man wasn't showing Abraham the kind of reverence due to God. He was simply making the kind of request that a person in need might make to another person.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by theophilus View Post
    In such a state of suffering any kind of releif, no matter how small, would be welcome.
    Not true. Your entire body is on fire. Are you really expecting that 1 oz of water from a shot glass is going to provide any sort of relief? A touch of someone's finger on the tongue, does not provide relief of any sort theo.

    Where is there anything about Abraham's lap?
    It's his "bosom".

    22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
    23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

    The rich man wasn't showing Abraham the kind of reverence due to God. He was simply making the kind of request that a person in need might make to another person.
    It isn't for Abraham to decide what to do. Abraham would not have responded, that is for God to do.

    As I said, these are but 3 of the many difficulties in taking this literal. There is simply no scriptural or theological support to do so.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    We know it is not because of the title granted to him "Father Abraham"...which is very specific.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham
    "Abraham first appears in the Book of Genesis as Abram, until he is renamed by God in Genesis 17:5. The narrative indicates that abraham means “the father of a multitude""

    How is the use of the title of Father out of place for Abraham when that is the very meaning of his name?

    The only difference between this parable and the others, is the name mentioning.
    It is also not labeled as a parable where as where the others are or are introduced as a parable told by Jesus. That is different too. That is two clear differences that are very specific.

    The fact that it shares several other similarities and results in a teaching that is contrary to what all the rest of the Bible says on issues of death, Heaven and Hell and other issues...tells us that this is not literal.
    And that is where I roll my eyes a bit. Heaven and hell are only consistent in the bible because exegesis demands that everything be read and interpreted in a way that makes them consistent. Its a self fulfilling system that often flies in the face of the otherwise fairly straight forward. Anything that doesn't fit the vision is marked as parable, anything that does is taken literally, and the only consistent reason is that it supports the view put forward. What if the afterlife has many different aspects instead of just a singular one?

    Such stuff may work for the faithful but I find it far from convincing, it just looks like a shell game from the outside.

    Just 3[/URL] of the many reasons why this is not literal...
    Got to that ahead of you, it was not at all convincing.

    1. A literal drop of water on the rich man's tongue would hardly solve his problem of burning in the torment of hell (Luke 16:24).
    Indeed, but he could think it would bring momentary relief. Sometimes in dire situations you can place great value on even small things. "If I could just walk for even a moment that would be divine." or "I'd kill to just lick a piece of chocolate cake." People say stuff like that fairly often. There is no illusion that such small pleasures will bring complete redemption. Lazerous doesn't say he will be free of the flame for a drop of water, he's just asking for some small measure of comfort. When he asks to be released to tell his brothers... that's when he is trying to find a way out of his torment.

    2. As a literal story, the picture of Abraham has problems, too. Abraham's lap must be symbolic. Even those who believe that people go to their reward at death consider it so Ab-bosm.
    Abraham's lap? Where is that mentioned in the story? Is that an alternate translation for Abraham's side? The poor man is simply there with him, hard to see how that is anything special or symbolic. The story simply requires their proximity.

    3. Abraham accepted the prayer of the rich man and responded to it v27. A righteous person, on the good side of the gulf, would not have accepted reverence due only to God
    A. Its not a prayer, the man is begging aid of him, not worshiping him.
    B. Abraham does not accept his plea, he rejects it directly telling the man why he is foolish.
    C. Holy men accept reverence all over the bible, just not the reverence due to God.

    --- summary/conclusion ---

    All this stuff is quibbling about expectations of what should or should not happen. The argument for it not being a parable is direct language in the text based on how the story is told.

    Taking it at parable because it doesn't match up with your meta-narrative of the bible and impression of heaven or godly behavior based on various other passages over a fairly objective examination of the direct text, has little more standing than me taking any given part of the bible as pure myth because in human experience such things just don't happen. Its Exegesis and it tells you what you thought going into it because thats the lens you are working with.

    Which is not to say you can't use such techniques, but when they are in contradiction to rather plain considerations of language and style, it smacks of trying to out-think the authors of the work.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham
    "Abraham first appears in the Book of Genesis as Abram, until he is renamed by God in Genesis 17:5. The narrative indicates that abraham means “the father of a multitude""

    How is the use of the title of Father out of place for Abraham when that is the very meaning of his name?
    Not following your logic here. "Father Abraham" is Abraham, the founder of Judaism. He is referred to as such throughout scripture. Are you suggesting that in the one place that this title is used in front of his name, it does not refer to him? And that a Jew (the rich man) who understands this simple concept, selectively decided not to "mean" Abraham of the OT?? It's a weird argument Sig...you'll need to explain this one to me.

    It is also not labeled as a parable where as where the others are or are introduced as a parable told by Jesus. That is different too. That is two clear differences that are very specific.
    You are correct. I retract my objection.

    And that is where I roll my eyes a bit. Heaven and hell are only consistent in the bible because exegesis demands that everything be read and interpreted in a way that makes them consistent. Its a self fulfilling system that often flies in the face of the otherwise fairly straight forward.
    No, it is proper interpretation of any work. You always take what you do understand from the many passages of text that are obvious or clear, then evaluate the unclear passages with what you are able to verify (or what is clear).

    All of your responses to my responses, are already addressed in my previous post to theo.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    I don't quite see why it's in doubt whether or not this is a parable. It is part of a series of parables, after all. Guess how the series starts?

    Luke 15:

    Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable:
    The emphasis is mine.

    Seeing as this is, or so it seems to me, the obvious context for the various sayings passed on to that group of Pharisees, we ought to interpret this passage as such. The real question for you all is, what does that parable have to do with Jesus receiving sinners and eating with them?

    It may be argued that the story of Lazarus and the rich man was part of a different session, but this passage (16:14-15) details that the pharisees had been present the whole time:

    14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them,
    The emphasis is mine.

    As for Sig's argument, that it wasn't introduced as a parable, I would argue that it has the structure of a parable- a past tense, and varied, story with archetypal characters, and a moral punchline at the end- and that other parables in this series weren't introduced as parables. The only peculiar quality in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, that might throw someone off, is that particular people are named. However, it has the structure of a parable, and because it tends to contradict Jesus' own teachings if you take it literally, point for point, it is clearly a parable; Parables not only have the possibility to contradict the truth in terms of literal interpretation: they do so all the time.

    Because it is a parable, we should interpret it in the traditional way that parables are interpreted, not making some obtuse attempt to work it into a theological model as has been popular in Christian hermeneutics & theological movements. Parables are all about looking at the archetypes, what happens to them, and using the punchline as the answer edit:to the questions implied and problems alluded to in the parable. The key to every parable is in the punchline, in that it is invariably the expression that explains and defines the parable.

    If you don't believe me, go to the middle east or read about parables and their continued usage. For the sake of proper debate, I need to bother myself to pull up some source material on parables later, but for now this is all I can give you.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; March 14th, 2012 at 11:27 PM.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Indeed. Consider:
    19. There was a certain rich man. Many have supposed that our Lord here refers to a real history, and gives an account of some man who had lived in this manner; but of this there is no evidence. The probability is that this narrative is to be considered as a parable, referring not to any particular case which had actually happened, but teaching that such cases might happen. The design of the narrative is to be collected from the previous conversation. He had taught the danger of the love of money (ver. 1 and 2); the deceitful and treacherous nature of riches (ver. 9–11); that what was in high esteem on earth was hateful to God (ver. 15); that men who did not use their property aright could not be received into heaven (ver. 11, 12); that they ought to listen to Moses and the prophets (ver. 16, 17); and that it was the duty of men to show kindness to the poor. The design of the parable was to impress all these truths more vividly on the mind, and to show the Pharisees that, with all their boasted righteousness and their external correctness of character, they might be lost. Accordingly he speaks of no great fault in the rich man—no external, degrading vice—no open breach of the law; and leaves us to infer that the mere possession of wealth may be dangerous to the soul, and that a man surrounded with every temporal blessing may perish for ever.

    Barnes, A. (1884-1885). Notes on the New Testament: Luke & John (R. Frew, Ed.) (114). London: Blackie & Son.
    and...
    16:19–31 “there was a rich man” This is the fifth in a series of parables in chapters 15 and 16. It is a highly unusual parable because
    1. it has no introduction
    2. it has no explicit application
    3. a person is specifically named.
    However, the context demands that it be interpreted in light of vv. 8b–13. Calling it a parable does not imply that it is not true to reality, but one cannot force the details to give believers theological answers in the area of the intermediate, disembodied state of the dead or a description of hell (because the text has “hades”).
    Luke often introduces parables by tis (“a certain _____,” cf. Luke 15:11; Luke 16:1, 19).

    Utley, R. J. D. (2004). Vol. Volume 3A: The Gospel According to Luke. Study Guide Commentary Series (Lk 16:19–31). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
    On the heels of tis...
    16:19–24 The opening to this story (“There was a rich man”) indicates that it is a parable (16:1), and thus the details of its picture of the afterlife should not be taken too literally. Certainly, however, Jesus taught life after death, including reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked (Mt 8:11–12; 18:9).

    Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1547). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
    In addition, and more on the "bosom" of Abraham (the founder of Judaism vs a random dude named Abe)...
    16:22–23 The poor man died and received no burial, in contrast to the rich man who was buried. The poor man was carried … to Abraham’s side (lit., “bosom”), which means he was welcomed into the fellowship of other believers already in heaven, particularly Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. But the rich man went to Hades (the place of the wicked, the dead, or “hell”), a place of torment. That the rich man saw Abraham far off indicates the unbridgeable gulf between heaven and hell. The previous earthly situations of the rich man and Lazarus are completely reversed. As in 13:28, the unbelieving dead seem to have some awareness of the blessedness of believers in heaven. Though this is a parable, and thus it is unclear how far the actual details should be pressed, the story seems clearly to teach that, immediately after death, both believers and unbelievers have a conscious awareness of their eternal status and enter at once into either suffering or blessing.

    Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (1991). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
    Furthermore, v6:
    The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.
    This is the first time that Abraham is mentioned in the parable. And there is no introduction for him, because it is understood who this man is. Lazarus was introduced as the poor man in the story, because he is an unknown.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    As I pointed out in my post it is not a parable in form. Parables described things and acts the listeners knew about by persona experience and then drew a spiritual lesson from them. This story tells of spiritual truths without any comparison with familiar things.
    My response with emphases:

    There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out,”‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”
    The spiritual truths are compared and contrasted with our lot in life, and what we believe (the last emboldened portion).
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I don't quite see why it's in doubt whether or not this is a parable. It is part of a series of parables, after all.
    It follows a series of parables. That doesn't necessarily prove it is a parable. There is no reason Jesus couldn't have included both parables and direct teaching in on a single occassion.

    The only peculiar quality in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, that might throw someone off, is that particular people are named.
    That isn't the only peculiar quality. A parable tells of something in this life that the listeners were familiar with because they had seen it and the makes a spiritual application. This story tells of conditions after death, something no one there could have observed.

    because it tends to contradict Jesus' own teachings if you take it literally, point for point, it is clearly a parable
    How does it contradict the teachings of Jesus?
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Not following your logic here. "Father Abraham" is Abraham, the founder of Judaism. He is referred to as such throughout scripture. Are you suggesting that in the one place that this title is used in front of his name, it does not refer to him? And that a Jew (the rich man) who understands this simple concept, selectively decided not to "mean" Abraham of the OT?? It's a weird argument Sig...you'll need to explain this one to me.
    I must have misunderstood you, in the quoted passage of the story, Lazarus refers to Abraham as "Father Abraham." Because of that I though you were critiquing that use rather than its lack, since its right there in the OP. The character of Lazarus in the story consistently calls him Father, as where it is the narrator (unnamed though presumably Jesus) who does not. I might think it odd if Jesus called Abraham Father but I'd have to look further into that. Seems to me your argument is just moot then since Father is used as you would expect it to be for Abraham.

    You are correct. I retract my objection.
    Thank you. I'll add again, I don't think this 100% not a parable. I don't think much about the bible that is with great certainty. I just find the reasons to call it a parable less convincing than the assumption it is not. Perhaps if there were a parable, that is clearly marked as one (as many of these are) that also uses proper names of bible personalities, that would establish a precedent to make this interpretation more plausible. There may well be one, I haven't looked for it.

    No, it is proper interpretation of any work. You always take what you do understand from the many passages of text that are obvious or clear, then evaluate the unclear passages with what you are able to verify (or what is clear).
    I agree to a point. But in this case the passage isn't exactly unclear. It just doesn't jive with your reading of other parts in one way or another. Instead of questioning the other parts, you question this one. That is the problem with an Exegesis that says all parts must agree. It gives you no clue as to which part needs re-interpretation if there is a conflict. It also doesn't require you to assume complete understanding. So it could be in one aspect, Hell or the afterlife works one way, and in other cases it works another way. Instead there is this unfounded assumption it must be consistent in all cases but that isn't itself justified anywhere.

    So to me a lot of that kind of argument just smacks of someone pre-supposing what they want the bible to mean, and then they hammer every passage in into that mold and then use that mold to justify their hammering was proper. Its circular justification.

    All of your responses to my responses, are already addressed in my previous post to theo.
    Not true. Your entire body is on fire. Are you really expecting that 1 oz of water from a shot glass is going to provide any sort of relief? A touch of someone's finger on the tongue, does not provide relief of any sort theo.
    Where does it say his entire body is on fire? I don't see that anywhere. How could he see if he were on fire entirely? How exactly does one burn without being consumed anyhow? Its a silly notion to then insist there is some physical impossibility of feeling a sense of relief at having some water but that you can be on fire without actually burning up. If the character says that would bring him relief, its reasonable to assume he thinks it would and would request it. It is unreasonable to add details that simply aren't in the story such as being entirely wreathed in flames. If points of realism are our marker for what is true or not in the bible... well its got much bigger problems than this passage.

    On the issue of laps
    It's his "bosom".

    22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
    23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    The translation used here is "at his side" and I think that is a far better one than lap or bosom for practical understanding. In his bosom would literally mean held at the chest or worse yet suckling at his teats. There is nothing here to suggest the beggar is being coddled like a child. It's pretty clearly more figurative meaning that the beggar is in Abraham care and under his protection which is fitting for a figurative (and in some sense literal) father figure for the Jewish people. At his side is less meaningful but for many purposes makes sense here.

    I don't see any problem either way. I'm guessing you are going to say its some special status reserved for god, but then why would Jesus even suggest such a thing in parable? It would be rather blasphemous in parable or non parable form to suggest a mortal figure has god's qualities. It just makes more sense to see it as a figure of speech representative of Abraham's place in the spiritual and historical frame of Jewish teaching. He is a father and a guide and looks out for the righteous among his people. There is nothing about it that suggests this must be parable.

    It isn't for Abraham to decide what to do. Abraham would not have responded, that is for God to do.
    Abraham didn't decide, he spoke "wisdom" saying that what Lazarus proposed was foolish. He didn't indicate he had any power to change Lazarus's fate nor did he take any action contradicting god's will or even suggest he could. He just explained to the guy why what he proposed wasn't going to happen.

    Bottom line: It was not a prayer and Abraham did nothing that reflected the authority of God only his own wisdom of God and man's nature.

    As I said, these are but 3 of the many difficulties in taking this literal. There is simply no scriptural or theological support to do so.
    But 3 of many poor ones and the 3 they chose to lead with. The others are equally poor excuses, worse in many cases. They basically just argue that the passage doesn't fit their dogma so it must be a parable rather than revealed truth. That's a bad excuse. They have no scriptural support, scripture is what is written in the bible. Their support is all supposition based on their theology, not on what is actually written in the passage.

    The general notion is that what is written in the bible is true unless otherwise noted by the bible. There is nothing in that passage that directly says it is fiction. There are other nearby passages that do that very explicitly. This one does not. The only objection is some/many Christians don't like what it says or feel it contradicts their claims.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    If after, arguments are presented and sufficient responses given, there is still no progress, it's best to agree to disagree. It is possible that it is an actual account, but unlikely, and I'm comfortable with siding with the vast majority of scholars on the issue.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I don't quite see why it's in doubt whether or not this is a parable. It is part of a series of parables, after all. Guess how the series starts?
    That would be fine if everything in Luke was considered a parable. They aren't. some are taken as parable and some aren't. Some are listed as being parables and some aren't. Are you prepared to claim all of Luke is a parable because there are parables in Luke?

    Luke 15:

    The emphasis is mine.
    That is a different chapter! And its inside a section labeled as a parable. There are sections listed specifically as parables, including that one, the parable of the sheep, and there are others that are not listed or introduced that way. This one is one of those not so noted.

    Seeing as this is, or so it seems to me, the obvious context for the various sayings passed on to that group of Pharisees, we ought to interpret this passage as such. The real question for you all is, what does that parable have to do with Jesus receiving sinners and eating with them?
    Perhaps I misunderstand which passage you are talking about.... I thought we were discussing the rich man Lazarus and the poor man. Its got nothing to do with people eating. The sheep parable does directly.

    It may be argued that the story of Lazarus and the rich man was part of a different session, but this passage (16:14-15) details that the pharisees had been present the whole time:

    The emphasis is mine.
    Jesus responds directly in that section telling them their earthly authority is nothing as a response to their attack.

    He then says.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jusus
    z“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then athe good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and beveryone forces his way into it.5 17 But cit is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
    Is that a parable?

    And he then says
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus
    “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
    Is that a parable?

    Then he gets on to his Lazarus story at question. your logic that what follows the pharisees must all be parables flies in the face of what follows. What is clear is that the parts that are Parable are marked and introduced as parable and the parts that aren't are not. Trying to introduce these other deductions only leads you to question other sections that aren't typically at question.

    As for Sig's argument, that it wasn't introduced as a parable, I would argue that it has the structure of a parable- a past tense, and varied, story with archetypal characters, and a moral punchline at the end- and that other parables in this series weren't introduced as parables.
    This is a good line of argument.

    The only peculiar quality in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, that might throw someone off, is that particular people are named.
    That and that it is not listed as a parable while many other parables are.

    However, it has the structure of a parable, and because it tends to contradict Jesus' own teachings if you take it literally, point for point, it is clearly a parable; Parables not only have the possibility to contradict the truth in terms of literal interpretation: they do so all the time.
    Can you support other cases where parables told by Jesus contradict Jesus's teachings in this way? I scanned a few of the parables in Luke and didn't see any. Most were not supernatural, just mundane stories. And all of the ones I read did not name any characters. Most of them could be entirely literal without any problems, it is only because they are told directly as parables that they require that reading of them.

    I'm pretty open to this line of argument but you will have to demonstrate it for me to buy in. Show me a similar story that is directly told as a parable, one that has named bible characters, or one that speaks of the supernatural or afterlife. To me this story sounds much more like legend than parable.

    Just looking at the story, what is the principle? Most of these are not about some law or supernatural consequence, they are about taking a natural truth we all know, and showing how it highlights a spiritual truth. This story is a direct supernatural tale of considered. Lazarus betrays an ungenerous heart, he is punished for it, he asks for mercy, is given none. He asks to warn others and is told his warning would be wasted. If the moral is to treat the poor kindly, then this is not a story where the comparable tale is then transferred to a spiritual teaching. It is just a straight forward spiritual teaching that is unrelated by secular understanding. This story is not an analogy, its a direct teaching.

    Because it is a parable, we should interpret it in the traditional way that parables are interpreted, not making some obtuse attempt to work it into a theological model as has been popular in Christian hermeneutics & theological movements. Parables are all about looking at the archetypes, what happens to them, and using the punchline as the answer edit:to the questions implied and problems alluded to in the parable. The key to every parable is in the punchline, in that it is invariably the expression that explains and defines the parable.
    But the punchline here is absurd. So if a friend rises from the dead to warn you about the consequences of your actions, you won't listen because you didn't buy into the local religious dogma? Really? I can tell you if I knew a person who rose from the dead I'd listen very carefully to what they have to say and take note. Isn't that pretty much why Christians Claim Jesus is worth listening to? The ultimate proof of his truth was he supposedly came back from death. The details of the story aren't even in all that much support of the punchline. They offer nothing to support the conclusion that anyone can say "ya that rings true to me"

    If you don't believe me, go to the middle east or read about parables and their continued usage. For the sake of proper debate, I need to bother myself to pull up some source material on parables later, but for now this is all I can give you.
    I know what they are, but you haven't really shown me why this is one and until you do you can't use the nature of a parable to support it as such. You have to show how it matches up well, or explain how other parables match it well, or why it has the peculiar structure it does compared with other biblical parables.

    ---------- Post added at 11:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:05 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    If after, arguments are presented and sufficient responses given, there is still no progress, it's best to agree to disagree. It is possible that it is an actual account, but unlikely, and I'm comfortable with siding with the vast majority of scholars on the issue.
    Such is faith, not that I fault you for it. Its not exactly an issue for the ages.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    It isn't faith, it is reason. And is why most educated experts hold the position they do.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    That would be fine if everything in Luke was considered a parable. They aren't. some are taken as parable and some aren't. Some are listed as being parables and some aren't. Are you prepared to claim all of Luke is a parable because there are parables in Luke?
    Okay, at this point I hardly feel like going through your whole post, but I respect you and want to be courteous so I will. Suffice to say that I'm a little surprised at what you've missed in your response, that's all.

    What I meant is that starting in chapter 15, up until and past the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, we can see fairly clearly that this is all part of one session in which Jesus was teaching. In no way did I say that all of the Gospel of Luke consisted of parables. The session was mostly made up of parables- in fact, each such story told was a parable- so my point is perfectly consistent with some of the sayings in there not being parables. Every saying there that is more than a few sentences long is a parable, so I fail to see how implausible my point is. Not to mention that that point was really peripheral to my main point, that it is a parable because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck.

    That is a different chapter! And its inside a section labeled as a parable. There are sections listed specifically as parables, including that one, the parable of the sheep, and there are others that are not listed or introduced that way. This one is one of those not so noted.
    1. That chapter records it's own part of the same session. I pointed out the obvious indicators of that.
    2. A parable is not a parable because your Bible has a note above it saying that it is a parable. It is a parable because it is a parable. Both Apok and I have already defined parables pretty well, and pointed out that most philologists and theologians agree that the story of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable.

    Perhaps I misunderstand which passage you are talking about.... I thought we were discussing the rich man Lazarus and the poor man. Its got nothing to do with people eating. The sheep parable does directly.
    You don't seem to catch my drift. I pointed out the catalyst for the occasion, and pointed out how this particular parable is part of the same occasion, which should be obvious because there is a continuous dialogue until that point and the pharisees present in chapter 15 are mentioned again. They gave Him a subject, and He leapt into it with some great material. So, I ask again: What do those sayings have to do with Jesus sitting down to eat with sinners? Forget the eating. Think about the point of view of the pharisees, the variety of ways in which Jesus criticized their views throughout that occasion, and what this particular parable might have to do with the catalyst: the fact that Jesus associated Himself with sinners. They were really inquiring as to His nature, and they were given the privilege of hearing the long and short of it.

    Well, I didn't need to share all that sentimentality in order to get across the point, but I thought I'd share a bit of how I felt about that teaching session as well. You don't blame me for going on about material I love, do you, Sig? Basically, that last paragraph and the material I posted that was being contended over, had more to do with the message of the parable than whether or not it is a parable. I wanted to make sure that everyone knew the precedent for the occasion, for everyone to think about who He was with and what made Him want to say all that He said. Look at the punchlines of the parables, how they all have to do with His relationship with sinners:

    7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

    10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

    32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

    13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

    Then he gets on to his Lazarus story at question. your logic that what follows the pharisees must all be parables flies in the face of what follows. What is clear is that the parts that are Parable are marked and introduced as parable and the parts that aren't are not. Trying to introduce these other deductions only leads you to question other sections that aren't typically at question.
    You mistake my logic for something it isn't. I pointed out that all of the stories told at length in that session are parables, and proceeded to point out how it is that the parable fits the bill of a parable. It's got the form and content of a parable, and basically every saying around it that is more than a few sentences long is clearly another parable.

    That and that it is not listed as a parable while many other parables are.
    We are talking about actual qualities and definitions, not attributed ones, right?

    Can you support other cases where parables told by Jesus contradict Jesus's teachings in this way? I scanned a few of the parables in Luke and didn't see any. Most were not supernatural, just mundane stories. And all of the ones I read did not name any characters. Most of them could be entirely literal without any problems, it is only because they are told directly as parables that they require that reading of them.

    I'm pretty open to this line of argument but you will have to demonstrate it for me to buy in. Show me a similar story that is directly told as a parable, one that has named bible characters, or one that speaks of the supernatural or afterlife. To me this story sounds much more like legend than parable.
    What I mean is that "cruel masters" are used as good guys, that "haves will be given more while havenots will have their stuff taken away" and other such oddities, fit well enough if you recognize the typecasts and development of the story, and then you've heard the answer key at the end; so if you aren't familiar with the parable device you're thinking will be all mixed up. I wasn't really arguing for much of anything, so much as I was observing a pattern in parables. Probably shouldn't have listed that along the same vein.

    Just looking at the story, what is the principle? Most of these are not about some law or supernatural consequence, they are about taking a natural truth we all know, and showing how it highlights a spiritual truth. This story is a direct supernatural tale of considered. Lazarus betrays an ungenerous heart, he is punished for it, he asks for mercy, is given none. He asks to warn others and is told his warning would be wasted. If the moral is to treat the poor kindly, then this is not a story where the comparable tale is then transferred to a spiritual teaching. It is just a straight forward spiritual teaching that is unrelated by secular understanding. This story is not an analogy, its a direct teaching.
    Let's try thinking of this thread's parable in terms of it's answer key:

    19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
    27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

    The rich man is socially high, Lazarus is socially low. One obeyed the prophets, one didn't. The vagrants and outcast tax collectors that Jesus was associating with, were of low social rank, yet they were willing to hear His message. Jesus levels that some people can't be convinced, and the typecast for those who can't be convinced, is a person who is full of him/her self and self righteous. The vagrant is humble enough to accept that he/she is flawed, so he/she is saved. The rich man didn't hear Moses and the Prophets, so in spite of him being regarded as the righteous man according to customary thought, he is deposed in Hades.

    Consider Luke 16:14-15. It's the real meat of the context for this parable, which I'd like to get into now that I've pointed out what session this parable is in, who his audience was, and that this session as primarily made up of parables:

    14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

    But the punchline here is absurd. So if a friend rises from the dead to warn you about the consequences of your actions, you won't listen because you didn't buy into the local religious dogma? Really? I can tell you if I knew a person who rose from the dead I'd listen very carefully to what they have to say and take note. Isn't that pretty much why Christians Claim Jesus is worth listening to? The ultimate proof of his truth was he supposedly came back from death. The details of the story aren't even in all that much support of the punchline. They offer nothing to support the conclusion that anyone can say "ya that rings true to me"
    You basically outlined some reasons why taking the parable to be more of an average story would be absurd. The parable as I have defined and interpreted it stands up fine to this spiel, because the parable had to do with who had the right attitude, who was ultimately the honorable one, and who was the true believer, as opposed to the rich man who was just like the religious elite of 1st century Judea and didn't believe in spite of various miracles including the resurrection; It does not concern the nature of heaven and hell (Apok pointed out how the parable is problematic on three grounds in this area and gave a link to an article from tentmaker.org), or how to make people believe, and definitely not how/who the rich man should have addressed himself to, let alone whether or not he could have had that conversation.

    I know what they are, but you haven't really shown me why this is one and until you do you can't use the nature of a parable to support it as such. You have to show how it matches up well, or explain how other parables match it well, or why it has the peculiar structure it does compared with other biblical parables.
    It has the introduction of a parable, pointed out by Apok in post #12, it has it's typecast characters, it's development has to do with what it has to say about those typecasts, and it's punchline is the answer key. Like all parables, it has a cryptic way of making it's point, leading you along with hard to get references and atypical barbs left in your brain like "cruel masters" and "havenots losing their stuff", that only make sense once you've gotten to the punchline. You use that key phrase and the qualities of the typecasts, as well as the development of the story, to see the meaning of the parable.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; March 15th, 2012 at 01:02 PM.
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    Re: Lazarus and the rich man - parable or actual event?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    It isn't faith, it is reason. And is why most educated experts hold the position they do.
    They are using poor reasoning as I have outlined and they do it to justify their pre-existing faith in dogma. I cannot prove their intention of course, that is my opinion. But their reasoning is poor as I have demonstrated in argument and which is not yet refuted in this thread.
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