Congregation at Duke Chapel

What Did Jesus Ask?

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation. [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the Xiph.org codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

What Did Jesus Ask?

presentation at Adult Forum by
Nelson Strother
Congregation member
November 23, 2014

How Admissible is this Evidence?

Much of the material now in the Old Testament was originally written in Paleo-Hebrew script (used circa 900 BCE ~ 600 BCE), with some of the later books first written in Assyrian script.


כִּֽי־אַ֭תָּה תָּאִ֣יר נֵרִ֑י יְהוָ֥ה אֱ֝לֹהַ֗י יַגִּ֥יהַּ חָשְׁכִּֽי׃
כִּֽי־בְ֭ךָ אָרֻ֣ץ גְּד֑וּד וּ֝בֵֽאלֹהַ֗י אֲדַלֶּג־שֽׁוּר׃
הָאֵל֮ תָּמִ֪ים דַּ֫רְכֹּ֥ו אִמְרַֽת־יְהוָ֥ה

Hebrew Bible originally recorded with only consonants, with the vowel letters being added by later copyists (circa 850 CE (or 850 AD))


Can You Read This?

Early Christian writings now in the New Testament were written in κοινή or Koine or common Greek.

image of writing on papyrus leaf

εν σαργανη εχαλασθην δια του τειχους
και εξεφυγον τας χειρας αυτου καυχασ-
θαι δει ου συμφερον μ[ε]ν ελευσομαι δε
:

 

Where are the vowels?

Punctuation marks, such as question marks, were not introduced until 500 or thousand years later.

Verse numbers and chapter numbers also late to the party ....


We seem to have a written record of only a small sample of what Jesus said ....

Were the Gospel writers skewed in their collecting and retention, only saving the questions for us? Or do we have a representative sample of the actual ratio of Jesus' statements, questions, and responses to questions?


Statistics

"In the Gospels Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus
asks 307 questions. He is
asked 183 of which he only
answers 3. Asking questions was central to Jesus' life and teachings. In fact, for every question he answers directly he asks - literally - a hundred."

- advertising copy for Jesus Is the Question, a 192-page paperback book by Martin B. Copenhaver


Socratic (circa 450 BCE) method, or conversationally asking and attempting to answer questions


There is the legend of the rabbi who was asked

"Why do you answer hard questions with questions?"
who responded
"Why not?"





as quoted by Shane Claiborne in his sermon of October 19, 2014 [at minute 33 of the 1:28 long video].


Who Am I?

Mark 8:27 ... he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.


What About the Sabbath?

Luke 6:6 On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7 The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8 Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." He got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?" 10 After looking around at all of them, he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was restored.


Why Do You Lack Faith?

Luke 8:23 and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24 They went to him and woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?"


How May I Help You?

Matthew 20:30 There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" 31 The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, "Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!" 32 Jesus stood still and called them, saying, "What do you want me to do for you?" 33 They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.


Who to Love?

Luke 6:32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked."


What About David / John?

Luke 20:41 Then he said to them, "How can they say that the Messiah is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, 43 until I make your enemies your footstool."' 44 David thus calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?"


only 301 more questions to go ...




*


Things to Do

  • ponder your own answers to some of His other questions ...
  • there is an opportunity here for a class on the statements of Jesus, e.g. the Sermon on the Mount
  • contact me if you would like to lead us on that topic!

What Would Jesus Do?

  • actions speak louder than words
  • but apparently He or the Gospel writers wished to have us thoughtfully consider issues from an unconventional viewpoint
  • probably to stir us to action ...

References

  1. The Masoretes and the Punctuation of Biblical Hebrew, a paper by the British & Foreign Bible Society, 2002
  2. an image of Papyrus 46 of which we know little before its discovery in Cairo, Egypt circa 1930
  3. Martin B. Copenhaver, Jesus Is the Question, Abingdon Press, 2014
  4. Red Letter Edition of the Gospel of Matthew
  5. Red Letter Edition of the Gospel of Mark
  6. Red Letter Edition of the Gospel of Luke
  7. Red Letter Edition of the Gospel of John

* To reduce your effort in searching, here is a moderately complete listing of the questioning verses. Please report corrections or omissions for these lists to <congregagation@duke.edu>.

Jesus poses questions in Matthew within the following verses:

5:13
 :46
6:25
 :26
 :27
 :28
 :30
 :31
7:3
 :9 
 :10
 :11
 :16
 :22
8:26
9:4
 :5
 :15
 :28
10:25
  :28
11:8
  :9
  :16
12:4
  :5
  :11
  :12
  :26
  :27
  :29
  :34
  :48
13:27
  :28
  :51
14:31
15:3 
  :16
  :17
  :34
16:3 
  :8
  :9 
  :10
  :11
  :13
  :15
  :26
17:17
  :25
18:12
  :33
19:5 
  :17
20:6 
  :13
  :15
  :21
  :22
  :32
21:16
  :25
  :28
  :31
  :40
  :42
22:12
  :18
  :20
  :32
  :42
  :44
  :45
23:17
  :19
  :33
24:2 
  :45
25:37
  :38
  :39
  :44
26:10
  :40
  :50
  :53
  :54
  :55
27:46

Jesus poses questions in Mark within the following verses:

2:8 
 :9 
 :19
 :25
 :26
3:4 
 :23
 :33
4:13
 :21
 :30
 :40
5:9 
 :30
 :39
6:38
7:18
 :19
8:5
 :12
 :17
 :18
 :19
 :20
 :27
 :29
 :36
 :37
9:16
 :19
 :21
 :33
 :50
10:3
  :18
  :36
  :38
  :51
11:3
  :17
  :30
12:9
  :11
  :15
  :16
  :24
  :26
  :35
  :37
13:2
14:6
  :14
  :37
  :48
15:34

Jesus poses questions in Luke within the following verses:

2:49
5:22
 :23
 :34
6:4
 :9
 :32
 :33
 :34
 :39
 :41
 :42
 :46
7:24
 :25
 :26
 :31
 :32
 :42
 :44
8:25
 :30
 :45
9:18
 :20
 :25
 :41
10:26
  :36
11:6
  :11
  :12
  :13
  :18
  :40
12:6
  :14
  :17
  :20
  :24
  :25
  :26
  :28
  :42
  :49
  :51
  :56
  :57
13:2
  :4
  :7
  :15
  :16
  :18
  :20
14:3
  :5
  :28
  :31
  :34
15:4
  :8
16:2
  :3
  :5
  :7
  :11
  :12
17:7
  :8
  :9
  :17
18:7
  :8
  :19
  :41
19:23
  :31
20:4
  :13
  :15
  :17
  :23
  :24
  :41
  :44
22:11
  :27
  :35
  :46
  :48
  :52
23:31
24:17
  :19
  :26
  :38
  :41

Jesus poses questions in John within the following verses:

1:38
 :50
2:4
3:10
 :12
4:35
5:6
 :44
 :47
6:5
 :61
 :62
 :67
 :70
7:19
 :19
 :23
8:10
 :43
 :46
 :46
9:35
10:32
  :34
  :36
11:9
  :26
  :34
  :40
12:27
13:12
  :38
14:9
  :10
16:5
  :19
  :31
18:4
  :7
  :11
  :21
  :23
  :34
20:15
21:5
  :15
  :16
  :17
  :22