Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Why does Lazarus not speak?

In today's gospel reading, the miraculous story of Lazarus is told. When Jesus instructs the people to untie Lazarus and he is untied, the gospel does not record him speaking. Why does Lazarus not speak? I suppose the answer to this question is also the same answer to the question why this story appearing only in the Gospel of John does not appear in the synoptic gospels.

Why does Lazarus not speak?

Lazarus was still alive when the synoptic gospel accounts appeared and his story was not told to protect him from the Jewish authorities! This would mean that John is the last gospel to appear.

Luke 16:19-31 is the only one of Jesus’ parables in which a character bears a proper name. That name, of course, is Lazarus. In Luke 16 the rich man asks that someone be raised from the dead to warn his brothers. In John 11 Lazarus is raised from the dead. In Luke 16 Abraham declares that even if someone were to rise from the dead the rich man's brothers would not believe. In John 11 Lazarus is raised from the dead and the Jewish religious leaders do not believe.

John includes the story after the death of Lazarus to complete the parable which was based on a true event but told as a parable by the Lucan Jesus to protect Lazarus.

Copyrighted 2008


Blogger LTD said...


Interestingly, I have also blogged on the relationship between Lazarus' resurrection and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus here:


10:40 PM

Blogger Richard Fellows said...


I have been thinking along very similar lines, but had not attempted to link in the parable. Take a look at my web page on Lazarus here:

There are no doubt various ways that the parable could be connected to the episode of the raising of Lazarus. If the early church knew about the raising of lazarus (but did not talk openly about it for his own protection), and if they inherited the parable with no name attatched, they could have added the name "Lazarus" to the parable as a way of honouring Lazarus without getting him into trouble. Is this the type of hypothesis that you are proposing?

In any event, there is no other Lazarus in the NT and this is significant since it was such a common name. It seems that the early church was aware of the story of Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, and avoided using the name for anyone else so as to avoid causing confusion (or putting any other Lazarus in danger). In much the same way, the name "Jesus" is avoided in the NT.

I am very interested in the concept of protective silences in Luke-Acts. See my web site.


11:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be even remotely possible that Lazarus spoke —through the Gospel of John? As in that he was the writer of it. i.e. John 11.3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

Could it be possible that he was the beloved disciple?

There might be a big argument against this, but it is an interesting thought.

5:39 AM

Blogger Richard Fellows said...


some have indeed suggested that the beloved disciple was Lazarus. See here:

Richard Fellows

9:47 AM


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