John Kilgallen, «Martha and Mary: Why at Luke 10,38-42?», Vol. 84 (2003) 554-561
Given that Luke has wide freedom to arrange his stories as he thinks best, one looks to the material surrounding the story of Mary and Martha to better understand why that story is in its present place. It seems best to think of this story as an affirmation of the teaching of the ‘one thing necessary’, the teaching within the story of the Good Samaritan. Indeed, the Mary-Martha story underlines the Lucan emphasis on the primacy of all Jesus’ teaching.
Samaritan the hero. How much more acceptable would the imagined story be, if a Jew were the one to help a Samaritan; as the story stands, there is no advantage in being Jewish20. On this point the story irritates and startles 21. But, in this essay, the importance of all these ‘action details’ helps define what ‘love’ is that Jesus teaches in regard to ‘neighbor’. Can one be expected to do all that for an enemy? Such detail emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus’ teaching.
We return to our question: Jesus’ clarity about the kind of person one is to love is startling22; is it so unique among Jesus’ revelations of the mind of his Father that it deserves to be introduced and completed by emphasis upon attentive listening to the Lord, who has no parallel in his knowledge of the Father?
Jesus’ teaching about how the Sabbath23 is to be kept certainly upset many religious persons in Israel; alongside this matter is the wider question of ritual purity and in particular the ultimate definition of the Gentile, especially of the Christian Gentile, as member of "the church of God, purchased by the blood of His own" (Acts 20,28). One can hardly doubt the uniqueness of these teachings within the tradition of Israel. Moreover, equal to their uniqueness is the emphasis Luke bestows on them. The emphasis is not of the same type as that we find embracing the teaching of the Good Samaritan story, but, as one reads the Gospel and Acts, emphasis in its various forms is a clearly Lucan trait. One can argue about which of the teachings of Jesus is the most opposed to traditional Jewish teachings, but it seems clear enough that Luke presents such teachings, and will give significant emphasis, in a variety of ways, to those teachings of Jesus which distinguish him from other Jewish teachers24.
Thus, the claim that repetition is the form of emphasis Luke chooses here