This article argues that current explanations of the strange sequence in Luke 4, whereby Jesus’ hometown turns from admiration to murderous anger, fail to give a coherent reading of the narrative. It then submits that a re-examination of the meaning and function of the proverb “Physician, heal yourself!” in antiquity sheds significant light upon its use in Luke’s pericope and the fundamental issue between Jesus and his own people. Indeed, rather than reflecting the narrow-mindedness or scepticism of the inhabitants of Nazareth, the proverb should be understood as expressing Jesus’ challenge to his own.
Cf. e.g. Hans KleinDas Lukasevangelium (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht2006) 184; Jeffrey S. Siker “ ‘First to the Gentiles’: A Literary Analysis of Luke 4:16-30” jbl 111 (1992) 73-90; Léopold Sabourin L’Evangile de Luc: Introduction et commentaire (Rome: Pontifica Università Gregoria 1985) 132; Joseph A. Fitzmyer The Gospel According to Luke i-ix (Garden City n.y.: Doubleday 1981) 529.
A.R.C. LeaneyCommentary on the Gospel according to St Luke (London: Adam & Charles Black1958) 52. Exegetes regularly note the obscurity or lack of smoothness of the sequence of thought in this pericope. Cf. John Nolland “Classical and Rabbinic Parallels to ‘Physician Heal Yourself’ (Lk iv 23)” nt 21 (1979) 193; C.F. Evans Saint Luke (London: scm 1990) 272-273; Fitzmyer Luke 527-528.
Cf. EvansSaint Luke273-4; John Nolland Luke 1-9:20 (wbc; Dallas: Word Books 1989) 1:201; Robert L. Brawley Luke-Acts and the Jews: Conflict Apology and Conciliation (sblms 33; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1987) 13-14.
Hill“The Rejection of Jesus”169; see also Johnson Luke 82; Siker argues that Jesus announces a reversal of focus: “The ‘acceptable year of the Lord’ is proclaimed with primary reference to outsiders that is to the Gentiles and is addressed to the Jews only in so far as they are able to accept the inclusion of the Gentiles.” Siker “First to the Gentiles” 83.