The Glorious Dying of the Son
The Gospel of Luke & Jesus’ Noble Death
Ancient Greco-Roman society enjoyed death, as seen in the Romans’ relish for the gore and spectacle of death in the gladiatorial arena and in their turning execution into a spectator sport called crucifixion. But at its best, as seen in some of its greatest philosophers, it shed light on the art of dying well and nobly, as the final test for one who had been trained in the arts of virtue.
As Isocrates put it in his first oration, “Death is the sentence which fate has passed on all humankind, but to die nobly is the special honor which nature has preserved for the noble.” In funeral speeches, biographies, and rhetorical exercises, stories of noble death were passed down through the generations to engender courage and encourage emulation. Stories of noble death so much filled the air that in one of his Epistles, Seneca had to respond to a student who complained that “those stories have been droned to death in all the schools.”
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Peter J. Scaer is assistant professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Theological Seminary (www.ctsfw.edu) and is finishing a book titled The Lucan Passion and the Praiseworthy Death. ?The Glorious Dying of the Son? is adapted from a paper presented at the Concordia Exegetical Symposium held at Concordia Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in January 2003.
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