A Mark 122831 pars

Matt. 22.35-40

Mark 12.28-31

Luke 10.25-28

35 ... one of them [Pharisees], a lawver, asked him a question to test him. 36 'Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?' 37 him, shall love the Lord vour

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him,

'Which commandment is the first of all?' 29 Jesus answered, 'The first is, "Hear, Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and vou shall love the Lord vour

25 Just then a lawver stood up to test him, saving,

'Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal

26 He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What do vou read there?' 27 He answered, shall love the Lord vour

God with all vour heart, and

God with all vour heart, and

God with all vour heart, and

with all vour soul, and with all

with all vour and with all

with all vour and with all

vour mind".

38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 The second is like it: "You shall love vour neighbour as

vour and with all vour strength".

The second is this, "You shall love vour neighbour as

vour strength, and with all vour mind;

and vour neighbour as

vourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets'.

There is no other commandment greater than these'.

vourself". 28 And he said to him, 'You have given the right answer; do this, and vou will live'.

There is no doubt that the injunction to 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself was a central principle and key motivation in earliest Christian paraenesis; the attestation puts that beyond question.181 Such a consistent singling out of just this commandment (Lev. 19.18) can hardly be coincidental. Nor is it likely that the emphasis was due to some unknown teacher or that it arose spontaneously at the same time in several Christian circles.182 When the Jesus tradition contains such a clear memory that Jesus had elevated Lev. to such prominence, the most obvious explanation must be that it was the impact of just that teaching which ensured its continuing importance among those who named Jesus as

181. Rom. 13.8-10; Gal. 5.14; Jas. 2.8; Did. 1.2; 2.7; Barn. 19.5; GTh 25;cf. John 15.12. In the same spirit is the consistent Pauline exhortation to consideration for others (as in Rom. 12.9-10; 15.1-2; Phil. 2.1-5).

182. Explicit references to Lev. 19.18 are lacking in Jewish literature prior to Jesus, and such allusions as there are give it no particular prominence, though subsequently the opinion is attributed to Rabbi Akiba (early second century) that Lev. is 'the greatest general principle in the Torah' (Sipra on Lev. 19.18); see my Romans 778-80, referring particularly to A. Nissen, Gott und der Nächste im antiken Judentum. Untersuchungen zum Doppelgebot der Liebe (WUNT 15: Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1974), and K. Berger, Die Gesetzauslegung Jesu I (WMANT 40; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1972) 50-55, 80-136; data also in Davies and Allison, Matthew 3.237-38; Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus 384-90; M. Reiser, 'Love of Enemies in the Context of Antiquity', NTS 47 (2001) 411-27.

Lord.183 The Jesus tradition itself comes to us in different performance variations: Matthew and Mark sum up the significance of the teaching in regard to the law in different but complementary words (Matt. 22.40; Mark 12.31b); somewhat surprisingly it is Mark (rather than Matthew) who takes the opportunity to include the beginning of the Shema (Mark 12.29);184 and Luke has given the teaching an intriguing twist by having the key commands uttered by a lawyer (nomikos), with Jesus approving (Luke 10.27-28). It is also to Luke that we owe one of Jesus' most vivid and enduring parables, spoken to illustrate the love command, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.29-37), with its final line, 'Go and do likewise' (10.37). But once again we find that the key teaching remains stable throughout, however presented.

We can therefore be confident that it was indeed Jesus' teaching which resulted in the importance accorded to 'loving the neighbour' in the Jesus tradition and in earliest Christianity.186 Two features are particularly worth noting. First, that the command to love one's neighbour is put second to the primary command, to love God with all one's being (Mark 12.30 pars.; §14.1 above).187 The implication is that the two go together,188 perhaps also that the second is possible in long-term reality only as the corollary to the first.189 Perhaps too that each is both a deeply rooted emotion and an act of resolute will ('with all your with all your might'). Second, worth noting also is the realism in the way the command is formulated. It does not call for the disciple to love everyone, as

183. 'The centre of his ethos and the culmination of his moral instructions' (Schnackenburg, Sittliche Botschaft 89). Becker has no doubt that 'this theme' (the love command) was part of Jesus' message, but is surprisingly dogmatic in his insistence that 'Of course, Jesus does not directly quote the Torah' (Jesus 249, 254).

184. But the citation of Deut. 6.5 in all three versions (Mark 12.30 pars.) shows that Mark's elaboration simply makes explicit what was already implicit.

185. See above, chapter 13 n. 244.

The Jesus Seminar shows a strange unwillingness to allow that Jesus could himself have been creative in his use of Lev. the most some were willing to allow is that 'Jesus might have affirmed the interpretation of the law given by Hillel', referring to Hillel's teaching the negative form of the Golden Rule (b. Sabb. 31a) (Funk, Five Gospels 104-105). Ludemann judges 'the historical yield of the tradition' at this point as 'nil, since it is firmly rooted in the community and is to be derived from its needs' (Jesus 86), thus evoking some unknown creative genius in disregard of the tradition itself and confusing use made of and importance attributed to a tradition with origin of the tradition.

187. 'A wholly original conjunction of Deut. 6.4-5 and Lev. 19.18' (Stuhlmacher, Biblische Theologie 1.100-101). Note also that Luke's version of the saying on tithing (Matt.

includes 'love of God' as part of the higher obligation.

188. See particularly V. P. Furnish, The Love Command in the New Testament (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972) 27-28, 33, 37.

189. See further Schrage, Ethics 81-85. Cf. Moo: 'For Jesus, it is not a question of the "priority of love over law" but of the priority of love within the law' ('Jesus' 11).

though that might be possible.190 Only the neighbour — that is, as the Good Samaritan illustrates, whoever God gives as neighbour on the road of everyday life.191 And it does not call for a love beyond human capacity or a love which requires hatred of the self as a corollary, only (!) for the care which one naturally bestows on oneself to be the measure of the love shown to the neighbour.192

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