Luke 16:19-31 - The Rich Man and Lazarus - Parable or True Events?


#1

In addition to my other thread, about Soul Sleep, I thought I would bring up this as a topic. I often see it being used in conjunction with Soul Sleep (to argue for the concept), saying that the account in these verses is a parable rather than a telling of actual accounts. I was curious if anyone knew what scholarly opinion on this is, or if anyone more knowledgeable on the subject could elaborate. Thanks.


#2

This story is unusual because the personal name of one of the characters is mentioned.

From Haydock’s Commentary:

Divers interpreters have looked upon this as a true history; but what is said of the rich man seeing Lazarus, of his tongue, of his finger, cannot be literal: souls having no such parts. (Witham) — In this parable, which St. Ambrose takes to be a real fact, we have the name of the poor mendicant; but our Lord suppresses the name of the rich man, to signify that his name is blotted out of the book of life: besides, the rich man tells Abraham, that he has five brothers, who were probably still living; wherefore, to save their honour, our Lord named not their reprobated brother. (source)

From A Commentary on New Testament published in 1942 by the Catholic Biblical Association:
A few of the Fathers thought that our Lord referred to a strictly historical fact here, but the common opinion holds that this is a true parable, i.e., an imaginary but entirely plausible story to point a moral lesson. (source)

Either way, I don’t see how this story supports “soul sleep” since at least two of the three souls mentioned is conscious and communicating with each other.


#3

The story is a parable. And the moral of the story was that there was not point sending him back to warn the others because they wouldn’t believe him. But guess what. Jesus brought a Lazarus back instead in real life and they didn’t believe him!!! See the connection?


#4

Some people did think back then that Jesus was telling a true story because he gave one of the characters a name (which He doesn’t do in the other parables in the gospels). But then again, just because one of the characters are named (Lazarus = Eleazar ‘God has helped’ - very meaningful name, isn’t it?) doesn’t necessarily make the story factual, any more than Frodo Baggins or Severus Snape make The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter real-life stories.


#5

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