John Kilgallen, «The Importance of the Redactor in Luke 18,9-14», Vol. 79 (1998) 69-75
Regarding the story of Luke 18, 9-14 there is disagreement among exegetes as to the reason why, in Jesus' view, the Pharisee did not return home justified. In what did the Pharisee fail? This essay suggests that the answer to this question is to be found in the introductory verse Luke gives to his reader; v. 9 makes clear how Luke read his inherited material (more likely than not including v. 14b) and wanted his reader to understand it. Whereas vv. 10-14 had to do with both Pharisee and Publican, v. 9 turns the reader's attention to the Pharisee and to the reason all his good deeds did not bring him justification.
usual, actions are better understood because of words, and so it is to the words of each of these persons that I turn.
Obviously, the prayer of the Pharisee (perhaps together with his posture) leads to Jesus' assessment that the Pharisee is not justified. Why is he not justified?
On the one hand, the positive actions the Pharisee cites from his habitual behavior (fasting, paying tithes) are positive, all the more because they are supererogational 5. In themselves they represent an attempt to do more than what is required, and such an attempt seems to reveal an attitude to God and the Law which is praiseworthy.
On the other hand, the gratitude for not being grasping, unjust (or crooked), and adulterous shows not only a life free from these sins, but also a sensitivity to what is the most important choice in life, not to sin. Moreover, the gratitude for not being like the sinner reflects prayers such as Psalm 26, a sign that not being like the sinner, not wanting to be like the sinner, is a blessing. Indeed, the note of gratitude with which the prayer opens suggests that the Pharisee recognizes the role God plays in the Pharisee's avoidance of sin. The Pharisee prayed with head unbowed; should he not have? Why is he not justified? 6
The prayer of the toll collector is anguished, if beating the breast 7, standing afar off, and not raising the eyes are understood correctly. His prayer is limited: have mercy on me a sinner. Clearly, we are to assume from Jesus' interpretation of the parable that this cry for mercy is the act which occasions the justification of the toll-collector. Since no more is said about this man, one is left to imagine the implications, if any, of this prayer for the man's future moral life.
From the above analysis, it is hard to see why Jesus declared the Pharisee to be unjustified 8. Probably one has an easier time, with the