Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Grammarian, VI
The Lucan account of Jesus and the Ten Lepers is coming up a couple of times within the next few months, first on a Sunday in two or three weeks, and second on Thanksgiving (in the historic pericopes). One element of this account in St. Luke 17:11-17 which ought never be overlooked is the crafty use of pronouns by the evangelist. To wit, this part, in which I have highlighted the pronouns to which I am referring:
"And one of [the lepers], when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?"
It has always amazed me that so many English translations supply the word "Jesus'" in place of that pronoun "his." Evidently they figured, that's what is intended here. But that's not what it says. The KJV and others, to their credit, leave it as is; which means that if one pays careful attention, he sees that the referent of "his" is "God," viz., "with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks." And this, in turn, gives us insight into Jesus' response to this man: "There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." While the other nine may have thought they glorified God in another way, likely the errant way given them by the priests to whom they went (Jesus' sworn enemies), Jesus Himself makes it clear that they did not, in fact do so. Only the one who returned and gave thanks at Jesus' feet. Our helpful evangelist has also deftly informed us that this Jesus, at whose feet the man fell, is God.