The occasion was a dinner party in the home of a Pharisee with Jesus as the guest of honor and a sinful woman providing the evening's explosive entertainment. This passage from Luke 7:36-50 in the NRSV Bible is titled "A Sinful Woman Forgiven" compared to the NAB version, "The Penitent Woman". Each title illuminate Jesus" genius in radically altering the status quo to teach both the sinners and the righteous the truth of his ministry and reveal the loving and forgiving nature of God to all people. .
Luke is believed to be written after the destruction of Jerusalem around AD 80-85. The audience of Luke would have listened to the stories through the oral tradition of the time. Robert C. Tannehill, the author of the Abingdon New Testament Commentary on Luke, believes the 1st century audience was a group of Churches of diverse social composition with varied ethnic and religious backgrounds, social status and wealth. The audience included Jews, Gentiles, women, men, wealthy, and poor individuals. This exegetical exploration of Luke 7:36-50 provides a detailed overview and commentary, which will create the foundation for my sermon to be preached on April 22, at the .
Tannehill views Luke as a "unitary narrative" which uses the plot, dominant themes, and the characterization of the participants to develop the narrative. Scholars such as Tannehill and Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, the author of The Gospel According to Luke I-IX, label the story in Luke 7:35-50 as a pronouncement story and a symposium or table conversation at a banquet. Scholars have noted that mealtimes were often times of revelation in Jesus" ministry. Tannehill also views the Luke 7:36-50 as a "quest story" where an individual approaches Jesus in the quest for something important to human well-being. Quest stories reveal Jesus as the interceder for those who are oppressed or excluded. Tannehill comments that "the audience of Luke would have understood that both the socially marginal and the established are encouraged to value the experience in Luke 7:36-50 as being central to the community's purpose and as a source of religious vitality.