The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Anna Wierzbicka

in What Did Jesus Mean?

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137330
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867905 | DOI:
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

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This chapter seeks to clarify the meaning of the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, by bypassing complex and problematic terms such as “justification,” “righteousness” or “humility” and by portraying the two ways of thinking contrasted by Jesus in simple and universal concepts. Thus, the Pharisee's attitude is portrayed (in part) as follows:

I am not like some other people

these other people are bad people

these other people do many bad things

I do not do bad things

I do many good things

The chapter discusses the recent literature on the parable and rejects various fanciful recent interpretations (like that offered by Funk 1996) in favor of the traditional interpretation, sharpened by the use of simple and universal human concepts. Like several other chapters, this one, too, appeals to the Bakhtinian notion of “heteroglossia” to clarify the sense of Jesus’ words that it was the tax collector, rather than Pharisee, who “went down to his house justified.”

Keywords: fanciful recent interpretations; heteroglossia; justified; traditional interpretation

Chapter.  4648 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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