Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Cultural Keys to Luke (Part 2):
Reset the Scene in Gerasenes"

“Reset the Scene in Gerasenes” (Luke 8:26-39) is Part 2 in my “Cultural Keys to Luke” sermon series.

In the Gospels, there are many cultural clues that help explain the significance of events, conversations, and Jesus’ actions. However, because we live 2000 years later in a very different culture, we don’t always catch all of the cultural information. We know our culture, so that without explanation we can mention the World Series and most people know we’re talking about baseball. In that same way, the people in the Gospels are doing things and saying things that mean a lot, but there is no explanation for us. Using the work of many scholars, I am attempting to uncover some of those cultural keys to unlock more of the meaning of the text for us in this 3-part sermon series.

Other sources include:

Luke (NICNT) by Joel B. Green (© 1997 Eerdmans)

Luke 1:1-9:50 by Art Just (Concordia © 1996)

Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15 by Kenneth E. Bailey (Concordia © 1992)

Luke (IVP NT Series) by Darrell L. Bock (IVP, © 1994)


The biggest challenge to updating this narrative from Luke came not in finding the comparisons. Rather, I had a wealth of material to explore. Instead, the problem was that it could have quickly become just a list—the Sea of Galilee is like Lake Michigan, pigs are like rathorses, etc. My first draft lacked much dramatic power, because every paragraph was just an explanation.

I do not know how I came upon the “You Are There” style, although I have always enjoyed hearing/seeing the old CBS programs (You Are There). Once I settled into the role of asking the hearers to imagine themselves in the scene and discovering that scene’s power, the flow and structure came easier. However, another major revision happened soon after this, because I originally spoke in the first person plural, “We are the disciples.” However, remembering how the old CBS program and the old radio show, Suspense, worked with the second person singular, it seemed that “You step off the boat” would be more inviting to the hearers’ imaginations as they step into the shoes of the disciples.