steve wrote:I suspect that Jesus was using the word "nothing" as a hyperbole. While on trial, He was being asked about His teaching—probably meaning His public teachings. The questioning was intending to discover some subversive element in His public discourse. What He may have spoken of privately with His friends is not likely to have been their concern.
In terms of their question, I think He is saying, "All of my public teachings have been accessible to anyone wishing to take an interest in them. Those who heard can confirm what I have said and what I have not said."
This may have been a way of Jesus' undermining the false witnesses who were hired to misrepresent what He had said. "Ask the crowds, if you want to know the truth of what I actually said."
Singalphile wrote:I think Steve is correct. He gave more explanation to his core disciples, but his private teaching was nevertheless the same as his public teaching, wasn't it?
And he must have been using hyperbole in the last sentence, unless he literally never spoke a word except in front of a crowd.
The moment comes (v 8) when Zacchaeus, who has been reclining with Jesus and the other guests, stands to give his formal response. In traditional Middle Eastern style he exaggerates in order to demonstrate his sincerity and pledges to give away 50 percent his assets. Then he says he will pay back fourfold anyone he has cheated. If all the money he has ever collected unjustly from the community over the years amounts to 13 percent of his renaining assets, he cannot fulfill this pledge. No one expects him to do so. If he were a contemporary Westerner he would say:
'Rabbi Jesus, I have been robbing these people blind for years and now I deeply regret it. The money is spent and I cannot pay it back. But I will do what I can. I hereby pledge myself to start with a large gift to the poor of the community. Furthermore, I will review my accounts, choose those whom I have hurt the most and within my limited remaining assets, will pay back as much as I can. I hope the community will recognize my limitations in thesearch matters.'
Such a measured realistic promise would have been understood to mean "He is not going to give us anything." In good village fashion, however, Zacchaeus affirms his sincerity by exaggeration. If he does not exaggerate, the crowd will think he means the opposite.
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