When neighbours are not neighbours: A social-scientific reading of the parable of the friend at midnight (Lk 11:5–8)

  • E van Eck

Abstract

This article presents a social-scientific interpretation of the parable of the friend at midnight. As starting point, attention is given to the history of the interpretation of the parable, as well as to its integrity and authenticity. A social-scientific reading of the parable is then presented. The parable is read against the socio-economic and political backdrop of firstcentury Palestine village life in which friendship, hospitality, limited good and reciprocity played an important role. The interpretation of the parable hinges on the understanding of àναíδειαν [shamelessness] Luke 11:8. Therefore, special attention is given to honour as a pivotal value in first-century Palestine. The parable tells the story of an alternative world, a world wherein neighbours are kin and practice general reciprocity. The gist of the parable is that when neighbours do not act as neighbours, then nothing of God’s kingdom becomes visible.
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eISSN: 2072-8050
print ISSN: 0259-9422