Reading Bosch: The importance of Luke 4 and vengeance superseded
January 22, 2010
In some strange way pages 108-113 in Transforming Mission seem to get missed by many readers. I co-lectured a class in theology of mission this year, in which Transforming Mission was the textbook, and in the oral exams not one student could tell me what passage from Luke according to Bosch forms the basis of Luke’s mission theology. Not one. Almost all of them knew that Matthew 28 was the main passage from that gospel, but somehow Luke 4 just passed over them (if you will be attending this class in future, consider this a tip).
Transforming Mission was not the only place where Bosch talked about Luke 4, the interpretation grew on him over years, and he wrote about it a number of times. But in this book of 500 pages, covering Jesus, three biblical perspectives, 2000 years of mission history, underlying paradigm theory, and 13 elements of mission, 5 pages get spent on just this one pericopé. That alone should get some alarm to go off that this is an extremely important passage for Bosch, and getting under the skin of his interpretation of this passage is of utmost importance.
Although some of it is quite technical, and I’m not going into every detail, the main point is attempting to understand why it is that the people of Nazareth want to throw Jesus off a cliff in the gospel of Luke. And Bosch attributes this to the fact that Jesus left out the part of God’s wrath when he quoted from Isiah 61. According to his view, Hebrew parallelism makes it clear that the “year of Jubilee” and the “day of the vengeance of our God” belong together, but Jesus never mentions the vengeance.
A minority viewpoint on the translation of verse 22 follows, which I hope helps in making sense of the pericopé, but I believe the message can be communicated without this viewpoint, so I’ll give that a skip. But as if Luke wants to make absolutely clear that this is intentional, he then has Jesus use two stories from the Hebrew scriptures, both in which non-Jews find grace from God. This infuriates the people from Nazareth! They have no room for a God that can love their enemies. In short, the God that Jesus talks about has too much grace, and too much love.