The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Why did Jesus stop reading?

A passage from Isaiah 61 is the longest passage that is recorded in the gospels, thatJesus ever read to the people :

Jesus stopped reading before the end of the clause and closed the book. Why do you suppose He did that? The very next words after “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” are “and the day of vengeance of our God…” Surely Jesus could have finished the clause! But to have stopped where He did is consistent with his teaching about his Father as being kind to ungrateful people and evil people. His quotes from the Old Testament appear to be selective. He never quotes the parts that depict his Father as vengeful and punishing.

I’d not thought of that. An excellent point.

Wonderful insight Paidion. I had never stopped to think about this until now

As I understand it, the reason Jesus stopped before reading… “and the day of vengeance of our God” is because that was in prospect of coming IF Israel would not respond favourably to her gospel of peace He was bringing. As it turned out Jesus was moved to tears at the hard-heartedness of his generation knowing the damnation subsequently coming their way…

The reason God retains the only right to vengeance is that only He knows how to accomplish redemption with it. He breaks the pot on the wheel to remake it according to His pleasure. He separates the wheat from the chaff. He catches the crafty in there scheming and puts a stumbling stone in the paths of the arrogant.

But Jesus was not here to declare the day of vengeance. I think he quit reading because the rest of the verse was not within the mandate he carried in that moment. He was here to declare the good news, and to bring forth that which will swallow up vengeance… No greater love has a man than this.


Thanks to all for your comments.

Someone else, a very insightful person, pointed out to me that the fact that Jesus quit reading, does not indicate whether or not God does direct violence, since those who say He does, can just say that Jesus was only delaying the vengeance, whereas those who say that He doesn’t, will insist that He was simply eliminating the vengeance component.

I think the passage in Luke is quoting the Septuagint which has “recovery of sight to the blind” (not in the Masoretic text ) and does not have “and the day of vengeance of our God” (in the Masoretic text , but not in the Septuagint). So Jesus did not add nor omit anything from the Septuagint.

I doubt that the Isaiah manuscript from which Jesus was reading in the Jewish Synagogue would have been the Septuagint. However, it may have been the form of Hebrew from which the Septuagint was translated which was quite different in many places from the Hebrew of the Masoretic text (that text was not completed until the ninth century). The Septuagint was translated from the Hebrew text type that was found in cave 4 at Qumran.

However, even if Jesus WAS reading from the Septuagint, He still left something out. Here is an English translation of the Septuagint:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompense; to comfort all that mourn. (Isaiah 61:1,2)

I think you’re probably right. As to the Gk. text in question it reads…

<καὶ> kai = and <ἡμέραν> ēmeran = day <ἀνταποδόσεως> antapodoseōs recompense.
…thus “and the day of recompense” which correlates with the Heb. reading of “vengeance”.

<ἀνταποδόσεως> antapodoseōs seems to be somewhat of a neutral term and depending on context can be understood either positively as “reward” OR negatively as “recompense”. The same word is used similarly negatively in Isa 34:8; 59:18; 63:4; 66:6.

The word in this form <ἀνταπόδοσιν> appears once in the NT in **Col 3:24 **where it has positive connotations in terms of “reward”.

Yes, but the text type from which He was reading may have been the one that corresponds to the Septuagint, rather than the one that corresponds to the Masoretic text. The first text type to which I refer was found in Cave 4 of Qumran, and the Septuagint was probably translated from this text type.

Another option might be the possibility that the text no longer extant was a Hebraic/Aramaic text other than the likes of the following Masoretic text… we really don’t know.

He never quotes the parts that depict his Father as vengeful and punishing.

What about the fact that Jesus mission was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God and that it was in their midst. If that was his mission why would he talk about God’s vengeance. He said he did not come to judge but would judge on the last day, so i’m not commenting on God’s possible vengeance or not but that this area was not part of his ministry.

That explanation makes sense, even though there may be more to it than that.