The Sinful Woman as Surrogate Host: Hospitality and Forgiveness in Luke 7:44-48 -- By: Mary H. Brondyke

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 18:4 (Fall 2004)
Article: The Sinful Woman as Surrogate Host: Hospitality and Forgiveness in Luke 7:44-48
Author: Mary H. Brondyke


The Sinful Woman as Surrogate Host:
Hospitality and Forgiveness in Luke 7:44-48

Mary H. Brondyke

Mary Brondyke is a second-year Master of Divinity student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusettes. She is the mother of two grown daughters, and has been a pastor’s wife for thirty years. She looks forward to ordination in the PCUSA and working in a spiritual direction and formation ministry within the church. She is an ordained deacon at Fort Square Presbyterian Church in Quincy, Massachusetts.

We all like to believe ourselves to be discerning. However, Luke 7:36-50 challenges us: Do we really get the main point? And if so, how shall we respond? In the account of the anointing of Jesus by the sinful woman, Jesus radically reverses all assumptions about himself, the woman and Simon, highlights true repentance and forgiveness, and causes us to reflect on the boldness of the Lord’s ministry to women. In examining this account, we need to ask: How does it relate to Luke’s major themes and its immediate context? Is this text reliable? What is the historical-cultural meaning of the woman’s act? How do the grammar and literary aspects highlight the Lord’s major point? What is the significance of key words? How does this text apply to our own lives? Through seeing this passage as representative of Luke’s theme of discerning the truth (which causes paradigm shifts) and the theme of God’s gracious forgiveness, we see this woman’s seemingly lavish response as appropriately representing a repentant heart. Because the historical-cultural information has such importance for the clarity of this article, it has been moved to the forefront of the following presentation, to be followed by grammar and word studies.

How does this account relate to Luke’s major themes?

Writing between a.d. 64 to 68, Luke, “the beloved Physician” (Col. 4:14), traveling companion of Paul on his second and third missionary journeys (see ‘we’ passages: Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-16) and “fellow worker” with Paul (Phlm 24), spent time in Philippi encouraging and teaching the church there.1 Some, like Jerome and Eusebius, concluded Luke was an Antiochian.2 Addressing Theophilus, most likely a fellow Gentile convert, Luke writes to give him accurate information about the life of Jesus and the Apost...

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