Typical of Luke, the details in the story are very carefully selected and pointed. First notice the theme of reversal. The reign of God turns everything upside down. The verses just before the story tell that the Pharisees at the table sneer at Jesus after hearing the first four parables of the scattered and the found.

The picture created by inserting the dogs only emphasizes the disastrous state of the poor man. However he dies and goes to heaven, while the rich man dies and is buried in the earth. From below the earth, where Hades was imagined to be, he cries out for mercy. Not the Hebrew word for afterlife is here, Sheol, but the Greek conception in Hades,

Dives first speech is full of ego centric language; he still doesn’t get it. Abraham’s retort is both a teaching and a reprimand. Heaven is a comfort after earthly discomfort. The chasm between heaven and the netherworld is unbridgeable, and it is implied that it is eternal.

The second round of the dialogue sets up a teaching about the resurrection, which the Pharisees would have accepted; the teaching is an invitation to come back into the divine story. Abraham offers him Moses and the prophets, which supports the view that Jesus was himself deeply rooted in Jewish tradition.

The final round of the dialogue has an outrageous request from Divesa: send someone from the dead back to earth. Abraham’s response is also pithing to the response of people to the resurrection, a new teaching in the ancient world and very hard to accept.

What happens next is ten more verses of sayings of Jesus about the rigors fo discipleship, and the great supper comes to an end. What a dinner!

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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