Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

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Luke 4:8: Recitation

The Gospel of Luke

Another form of recitation occurs when a text is cited with the substitution of different words. Deuteronomy 6.13 reads:

Fear the Lord your God and serve him
and cleave to him and swear by his name.
(Wevers 1977: 122-3)

The chreia in Luke 4.8 reads: Jesus answered him, `It is written, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him"'.

The recitation in the Gospel of Luke changes one of the key words, adds the word `only' and omits the two final statements. The modification of `fear' to worship' is a matter of adapting the wording of the verse to the new context, where the narrator uses `worship' in relation to the devil (Luke 4.7; cf. Matt 4.9-10). Omission of the last two statements again gives the recitation a crisp, proverbial function in the verbal contest between Jesus and the devil.


From: Vernon K. Robbins (1996) The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology, London: Routledge: 104.

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