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.
to help. What appears to have ‘motivated’ the Samaritan was his sympathy for the half-dead traveler; no other explanation of his actions is given. Possibly the conclusion might be drawn that moral action is motivated by one’s feelings. With this troublesome possibility in view, Luke followed the Good Samaritan story with the proper motivation of all moral decision: the word of the Lord29. Thus, one can conclude that 10,25-37 and 38-42 belong together so that the latter corrects a possible misunderstanding of the former30. As corrective to this possible misconception of what Jesus would identify as the motive of moral action31, then, Luke artfully joins to the Samaritan story a lesson originally given in Bethany, near the end of Jesus’ journey narrative: it is the teaching of Jesus that governs moral action32.
The above suggestion, though not developed by Luke, has, in various ways, been supported by scholars as they come to grips with the fact that it is not a Jew in Jesus’ story who is loving his enemy, but a Samaritan who is loving a Jew. A Samaritan, for all his claims to roots in Yahwistic religion, was considered anything but a faithful child of Yahweh; thus, in proposing him as hero, Jesus proposes a figure who cannot be considered to ‘love God and love neighbor’; how, then, can the Samaritan be a model in an ‘example’ story? The problem may not be Luke’s, but only ours, yet its solution meets at the same point as does the main point of this essay: Luke wants Theophilus to pay supreme attention to the unique teaching of Jesus about love of neighbor, for it is nothing other than the revelation of the mind of the Father, a revelation withheld till now from ‘prophets and kings’.
We are comfortable with the thought that Luke can arrange his materials to accomplish his very worthy goals. As an example of this freedom we find Luke 10,38-42 to follow upon 10,25-37. The reason for the conscious linking