Papyri, Luke 15, Economic Middling Groups


This paper draws upon Egyptian documentary papyri in order to show more fully the quantitative purchasing power of items of economic significance in Luke 15. Specifically, the stories of the lost drachma, lost sheep, and prodigal son each mention economic items which—when compared with the papyrological data—can more fully elucidate areas of economic import which have not been looked at before. In doing so, the article builds upon, and supports, the framework of Roman economic "middling groups" as posited by Longenecker (2009). Furthermore, a close look at Luke 15 when compared with the Egyptian papyrological data suggests the possibility of economic middling groups which have previously not been mentioned. Luke's parables of the lost drachma, lost sheep, and the prodigal son are parables which describe individuals in three different economic levels of society. Luke tailors these three parables of the lost drachma, lost sheep, and prodigal son to the economic needs of the Lukan congregation circa 75–85 C.E. Although, Luke does not intend to address three stratified audiences such as a lower, middle, and upper "class," Luke does intend the parables to reach a more economically diverse Christian community than just the wealthy and impoverished.


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Religious Education


Ancient Scripture