Saturday, March 11, 2006

More on Jesus' House

I posted recently on the topic, Did Jesus have a house in Capernaum? and I am grateful for a bunch of comments, emails and links to the post. Here is a bibliographical update:

John Painter, "When is a house not home?: Disciples and Family in Mark 3.13-35", NTS 45 (1999): 498-513:
Though not supported by modern translations, a better case for identifying a house as Jesus’ home is found in Mark 2.15. Studies note that ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ is ambiguous. The αὐτοῦ might refer to Levi or to Jesus. Elizabeth Struthers Malbon argues that because Levi followed Jesus (2.14), he cannot have followed Jesus to Levi’s house. Rather Mark depicts Jesus as the host of ameal in his own home in Capernaum. But, in 2.14, ‘following’ is a metaphor for discipleship. A ‘follower’ in this sense may still offer hospitality to Jesus.

The flow of the narrative from 2.14 to 2.15 favours the identification of the house as Levi’s. In 2.14 Levi is the subject (active agent), following Jesus. No change of subject is indicated at the opening of 2.15. Thus it is Levi reclining at dinner ‘in his house’. Only when this has been said does Mark, in the same sentence, name Jesus, saying ‘many tax collectors and sinners reclined with Jesus and his disciples’. Luke certainly understands the meal to be in Levi’s house (Luke 5.29). There is no reason to think he intentionally changed Mark’s meaning. Rather Luke is a guide to the way an early reader understood Mark. (499-500)
Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, ‘TH OIKIA AUTOU: Mark 2.15 in Context’, NTS 31 (1985): 282–3.
This is the article referenced by Painter above, and thanks to Sharyn Dowd for mentioning this to me in an email.
David M. May, "Mark 2.15: The Home of Jesus or Levi?", NTS 39 (1993): 147-149
David mentioned this in a comment to the original post, for which many thanks. His conclusion, "based on social-science criticism (specifically reciprocity) was that 'the cultural setting of the first-century world supports the position that the home in which Jesus dined and was condemned by the scribes of the Pharisees was not his home but Levi's.'"
Update (Monday, 08:36): Jamie Houghton emails: "I remember coming across this in my first year of Greek and was wondering what was going on? But then I found David Garland's commentary on Mark (see p104) and he stated "The 'house' in Mark is connected to Jesus." At least I wasn't the only one who thought so!"


Joe Weaks said...

When I was wandering around the Capernaum ruins, I overheard a tour guide telling his group that Jesus' house was right over there (and not near as impressive as Peter's, what, with the church over it and all).
So, of course Jesus had a house, and I have a picture of it!

Jeremy Pierce said...

R.T. France entertains this as a grammatical possibility in Mark, but he thinks it's more likely that it's Levi's house due to no other mention of Jesus having a house in Capernaum. At least he mentioned it as a possibility. Out of the four commentaries I looked at, he and Garland discussed it, and William Lane and James Edwards didn't. Lane translates it so it's open but doesn't mention the possibility. Edwards seems to take it to be Levi's house but doesn't raise the issue.