First Reading:                   Nehemiah 8:2-4 a, 5-6, 8-10

Responsorial Psalm:          Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15 (cf. John 6:63 c)

Second Reading:              1 Corinthians 12:12-30

Alleluia:                             cf. Luke 4:18

Gospel:                             Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21



Galilee, a place of secular insignificance, is the focus for this commentary.  These comments are about the relationship between God and the bureaucracies that hold humanity together.  The question is:  why does the New Testament name a backward place like Galilee over sixty times?  The answer is that God is sending a message to the Faithful to be involved with changing the way in which bureaucracies are working.  What is backward in a strictly secular sense, is not at all backward in the eyes of God.  In other words, the New Testament is charging the Faithful to make Galilee more important than it now is—as Christians have done over the centuries.

Ezra starts the readings calling to mind the need to keep refining the relationship between the Word of God and the way the Faithful do things.  Even if things are not going well—Ezra was a sort of Jewish slave-driver for the Persians.  Ezra had no choice.  The Word of God comes through, nonetheless, to rejoice.  In other words, no matter how bad things may be in the metaphorical Galilee in the lives of the Faithful, God is present through it all; and his World merits careful attention, which these Notes try to apply.

The Responsorial Antiphon continues this sense of rejoicing, even in difficult times.  Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.  1 Corinthians goes on to list attributes of an effective bureaucracy, making the point that one part is no better than the other, because all parts need to work together in order to function.  In the Gospel, Jesus rises to read the Word and proclaim Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.


Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly and tangential details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some interesting material.


First Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-4 a, 5-6, 8-10

I am unable to get from 2 Esdras to Nehemiah in the Sinaiticus.[1]



Nehemiah 1—13

Ehud Ben Zvi, review of Jacob L. Wright, Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah Memoir and Its Earliest Readers[2]

Wright finds evidence of different strands of identity in Nehemiah.  Ezra wrote the Book of Nehemiah about 430 B.C., a hundred and fifty years after the Babylonian Exile ended.  The Lectionary offers verse 2, which identifies Ezra as a priest.  Verse 1, which the Lectionary omits, identifies Ezra as the ruler.  Since Ezra was Jewish and since the Jewish people were enslaved at the time, I am calling Ezra a slave-driver.


Neh 8:1-18

Paul Lawrence, The IVP Atlas of Bible History[3]

Lawrence simply says that Ezra “read from the law.”  Lawrence does not say that Ezra translated anything.


Neh 8:8, 12

Emil A. Wcela, “What is Catholic about a Catholic Translation of the Bible?”[4]

The United States Catholic Bishops Conference (USCCB) is in a quandary because the Vatican forced it to rescind an imprimatur.  In order to avoid such embarrassment again, the USCCB is limiting its translations to word-for-word literal translations, something I was taught to call a transliteration, in other words, no translation at all.  The Bishops cite Nehemiah 8:1, Ezra . . . interpreting to mean Ezra . . . translating from Hebrew into Aramaic.


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 15 (cf. John 6:63 c)

The Greek brings out the consolation of the law:  refreshing the soul . . . rejoicing the heart . . . enlightening the eye.[5]


Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30

Nestle-Aland points to two difficulties, which I will try to resolve by looking at the various English translations.


1 Corinthians 12:18, the Greek in Nestle-Aland and Sinaiticus[6] agree.

Lectionary (1998)                         But as it is,


The Vulgate (circa 410)                Nunc autem posuit


Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)          But now


King James (1611)                       But now


Catholic RSV (1969)                    But as it is,


New American (NAB) (1970)         But as it is,


New Jerusalem (1985)                 As it is,


1 Corinthians 12:26, Nestle-Aland has a word, in, in brackets; where Sinaiticus has a symbol, that may mean something is missing.[7]


Lectionary (1998)                         … if one part is honored …

The Vulgate (circa 410)                … sive glorificatur unum membrum …

Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)          … or if one member glory …

King James (1611)                       … or one member be honoured …


Catholic RSV (1969)                    … if one member is honored …


New American (NAB) (1970)         … if one part is honored …


New Jerusalem (1985)                 And if one part is honoured …


1 Cor 12:12-13

David M. Coffey, "Quaestio Disputata: Response to Neil Ormerod, and Beyond"[8]

Coffee uses 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, now you are Christ’s body, to argue that the way into the Trinitarian life of God is through the Second Person of that Trinity, Jesus Christ.  In other words, to live a life like God, the Faithful should live in their own metaphorical Galilees with the object to transform those places into something better.


Alleluia: cf. Luke 4:18


Gospel: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

There is a difficulty in the Greek at Luke 4:17.


Luke 4:17, Nestle-Aland and Sinaiticus[9] agree.


Lectionary (1998)                         He unrolled the scroll …


The Vulgate (circa 410)                et ut revolvit librum …


Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)          And as he unfolded the book …


King James (1611)                       And when he had opened he book …


Catholic RSV (1969)                    He opened the book …


New American (NAB) (1970)         He unrolled the scroll …


New Jerusalem (1985)                 Unrolling the scroll he …


The differences in translations demonstrate the arrogance of the bureaucrats in Rome deciding which English words will best reach those who need to hear the Word of God in English-speaking areas.  The differences above are among people seeped in the English language.  In order to use English that will satisfy non-English-speaking censors, the American bishops are using a transliteration, rather than a translation of the Latin, which, in turn, is a translation by Saint Jerome of the original Greek, the Greek that comes under some consideration in these Notes.


Luke 1:1-4

Tom Thatcher, "John's Memory Theater: The Fourth Gospel and Ancient Mnemo-Rhetoric"[10]

Thatcher argues that Mark began with a Gospel stressing the development of Faith through dealing with misunderstanding of the life of Jesus Christ.  Mark was developing a psychological path from Jesus to God.  Luke used Mark to place the life of Jesus in orderly sequence.  Luke did not mean orderly in the sense of chronological sequence, but in the sense of meeting the rhetorical standards of the day as set forth in the schools of the day.  Thatcher notes, “The prologue to Luke-Acts acknowledges that other accounts of Jesus’ life, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses . . . are already in existence.  Luke, however, has carefully reviewed these texts . . . ”


Luke 1:1-4

John A.

Darr, review of Mikeal C. Parsons, Luke: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist[11]

Luke is developing a Christology in an orderly sequence.  Luke is reformulating pagan, Jewish, and Christian traditions.  Darr writes, “The `ordering’ Luke prizes in the preface is rhetorical structure, not chronological sequence.”


Luke 1:1-4

C. Clifton Black, “Mark as Historian of God’s Kingdom”[12]

Mark, on the one hand, is laying out how the disciples had to work at developing their understanding Jesus; so that the Faithful might accept their own need to develop their own understanding.  Luke, on the other hand, is trying to unravel any confusion Mark may be leaving behind.  Luke is trying to develop an understanding that readily makes sense.  Black argues, “Luke intends not merely to chronicle anecdotes but to arrange them meaningfully, persuasively, and with reliability.  No biblical scholar would any longer characterize Luke as a simple collector of traditions.”


Luke 1:1-4

Pheme Perkins, “What is a Gnostic Gospel?”[13]

Perkins observes,


An impersonal narrative voice typifies the canonical Gospels, with the exception of Luke’s prologue (1:1-4) and comments at the end of John (20:30-31; 21:24-25; 19:35).  An incipient interest in the author’s credentials here comes to the fore in Gnostic texts, which authenticate their teaching by appeal to revered apostolic figures.


Luke 1:1, 9, 14-21

Virgilio Elizondo, "Jesus the Galilean Jew in Mestizo Theology"[14]

This article is the source for the Galilean comments above.


Luke 1:2

Paul Lawrence, The IVP Atlas of Bible History[15]

Lawrence uses Luke 1:2 to observe, “Luke, a doctor and travelling companion of the apostle Paul, though not an eye-witness himself, compiled his account from the testimony of eye-witnesses.”


Luke 1:4

Richard J. Dillon, review of Scott Shauf, Theology as History, History as Theology: Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19[16]

Of Shauf, Dillon writes, “he ought to take the further step, nevertheless, as others do, of discerning the pedigree of the Christian whose self-doubts provoked the declaration of this historian’s argumentative purpose in Luke 1:4 . . . the key to allaying (Gentile-) Christians’ doubts about their standing in sacred history . . . ”



Luke 4:16

Sean Freyne, “The Galilean Jesus and a Contemporary Christology”[17]

Freyne writes, “The programmatic scene in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lk 4:16-22) is particularly important for Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ career, when he applies to himself the Isaian passage (Isa 61:1—2) dealing with the prophet anointed (chrio) by the Lord to bring good news to the poor (Lk 4:18).”


Luke 4:16

Teresa Okure, S.H.C.J., “Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (Jn 4:1-42) in Africa[18]

Okure argues, “The Synoptics report that Jesus, having overcome the temptations in the wilderness, sets out to proclaim the good news to the poor, but his own people reject him on the grounds that they know his parents and relatives (Mt 13:53-58; Mk 6:1-1-6 [sic]; Lk 4:16-30).”



For more on sources see the Appendix file.  Personal Notes are on the web site at

[1]   (accessed November 22, 2009).  This source is confusing.   Chronicles is listed as “(duplicate),” but duplicate of what?  1 Chronicles?:  I thought Nehemiah might be 2 Esdras; but what happened to 1 Esdras?


[2] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No.  (July 2007) 568.


[3] (Downers Grove, Illinois,  InterVarsity Press, 2006) 116.


[4] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 2 (April 2009) 262.


[8] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 4 (December 2007) 910.


[10] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3 (April 2007) 505.


[11] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 3 (April 2008) 617.


[12] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (April 2009) 65, 76.


[13] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 1 (April 2009) 119.


[14] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 270.


[15] (Downers Grove, Illinois,  InterVarsity Press, 2006) 138.


[16] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 3 (September 2007) 685.


[17] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 286.


[18] Theological Studies, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 2009) 405.