"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Scribes and the widow
Mark 12:38-44 Commentary
by Ronald J. Allen
Few passages have been as radically re-interpreted in my life-time as the story of the widow who places her two small coins in the temple treasury.
I grew up thinking of the widow in this story as a model of sacrifice. She commits her fundamental means of support to the temple. We should do the same: give as much as we can to God through the church.
A parallel story does not occur in Matthew. While Luke may use the widow as such a model for readers (Luke 21:1-4), a good deal of scholarship in the last twenty-five years sees the story in Mark as casting a negative judgment on the temple and its leadership at the time of Mark. This conclusion derives from the larger way in which Mark portrays the temple and its leadership and the immediate context in which Mark places the story.
As noted in connection with Mark 12:1-12 (March 4) and Mark 12:28-34 (March 11) Mark wrote about 70 CE after the fall of the temple when Mark's congregation was in tension with many Jewish leaders. Mark typically uses the figures of the scribes, priests, Pharisees to portray the Jewish leadership of Mark's own time. Furthermore, Mark believed that the leaders ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 030: Scribes and the widow
March 18, 2012
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's reading is Scribes and The Widow: Mark 12:38-44.