This article is about the parable from Gospel of Luke. For the man Jesus raised from the dead, seeLazarus of Bethany. For the ballad, seeDives and Lazarus (ballad). For other uses of the name, seeLazarus (name).
, illumination from theCodex Aureus of Echternach
Middle panel: Lazarus soul is carried to Paradise by two angels; Lazarus in Abrahams bosom
Bottom panel: Dives soul is carried off by two devils to Hell; Dives is tortured inHades
The poor, againstleprosylepersOrder of St Lazarus
The parable of therich man and Lazarus(also called theDives and LazarusorLazarus and Dives) is a well-knownparable of Jesusappearing in theGospel of Luke.
TheGospel of LukeLuke 16:1931) tells of the relationship, during life and after death, between an unnamed rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. The traditional nameDivesis not actually a name, but instead a word for rich man,1dives, in the text of theLatinBible, theVulgate.2The rich man was also given the namesNeus(i.e.Nineveh)3andFineas(i.e.Phineas)4in the 3rd and 4th centuries.1
Along with the parables of theTen VirginsProdigal Son, andGood Samaritan, it was one of the most frequently illustrated parables in medieval art,5perhaps because of its vivid account of anafterlife.
Legacy in Early Christianity and Medieval tradition
The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem
Detail from the prefatory cycle to theEadwine PsalterMorgan Libraryleaf M.521 (recto), English c. 1160s
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
and longing to eat what fell from the rich mans table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abrahams side. The rich man also died and was buried.23In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.24So he called to him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.
25But Abraham replied, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.
27He answered, Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.
29Abraham replied, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.
30No, father Abraham, he said, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.
31He said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
There are different views on the historicity and origin of the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.6The story is unique to Luke and is not thought to come from the hypotheticalQ document.1
Some Christians view the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, not as a parable, but as an actual event which was related by Jesus to his followers.7This was generally the view of the medieval Church.
Supporters of this view point to a key detail in the story: the use of a personal name (Lazarus) not found in any other parable. By contrast, in all of the other parables Jesus refers to a central character by a description, such as a certain man, a sower, and so forth.
Critics of this view point out that The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18); For dust you are and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).Paul(1 Thessalonians 4:1318) describes death as sleep until the Day of the Lord, when the dead will receive glorified bodies upon the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). No scripture, other than Philippians 1:2325 (in which the apostle expresses the confidence that on departure from this life he would be with Christ), 2 Corinthians 12:24 (in which he affirms the possibility of being taken to paradise out of the body), 2 Corinthians 5:8, etc., accounts for a disembodied soul and its comfort or torture. Because this seems to raise the question of what kind of body is tortured in Hades as depicted in Luke, there are those who maintain that whilst the conversations took place as described, the language used in them, referring to body parts, etc., was figurative.7
The 19th-century evangelistBrownlow Northinclined to the view that the story described a literal, historical event but did not exclude the possibility that it might be purely a parable.8
Other Christians consider that this is a parable created by Jesus and told to his followers.9Tom Wright10andJoachim Jeremias11both treat it as a parable. Proponents of this view argue that the story of Lazarus and the rich man has much in common with other stories which are agreed-upon parables, both in language and content (e.g. the reversal of fortunes, the use of antithesis, and concern for the poor).
The 1st-century Jewish historianJosephusis considered the most reliable extra-biblical literary source for Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest12with the dates for Caiaphas tenure of the high priesthood.
According to Josephus, Caiaphas was appointed in AD 18 by the Romanprefectwho precededPontius PilateValerius Gratus.13
Joseph was the son-in-law ofAnnas(also called Ananus14) the son of Seth. Annas was deposed, but had five sons who served as high priest after him. The terms of Annas, Caiaphas, and the five brothers are:
One identification is that the man in torment in the parable is Caiaphas the High Priest which as Josephus tells us had five brothers. Caiaphas met the criteria Jesus gives in the parable to the identity of the Rich Man. He was rich, and as the high priest was dressed in purple and fine linen, he had five brothers, and was well versed in Moses and the Prophets, but according to Jesus, were ignoring what they wrote.15
Martin Luthertaught that the story was a parable about rich and poor in this life and the details of the afterlife not to be taken literally:
Therefore we conclude that the bosom of Abraham signifies nothing else than the Word of God,…. the hell here mentioned cannot be the true hell that will begin on the day of judgment. For the corpse of the rich man is without doubt not in hell, but buried in the earth; it must however be a place where the soul can be and has no peace, and it cannot be corporeal. Therefore it seems to me, this hell is the conscience, which is without faith and without the Word of God, in which the soul is buried and held until the day of judgment, when they are cast down body and soul into the true and real hell. (Church Postil 152223)
Illustration of Lazarus at the rich mans gate byFyodor Bronnikov, 1886.
John Lightfoot(16021675) treated the parable as a parody ofPhariseebelief concerning theBosom of Abraham, and from the connection of Abraham saying the rich mans family would not believe even if the parable Lazarus was raised, to the priests failure to believe in the resurrection of Christ:
Any one may see, how Christ points at the infidelity of the Jews, even after that himself shall have risen again. From whence it is easy to judge what was the design and intention of this parable. (From the Talmud and Hebraica, Volume 3)
E. W. Bullingerin the Companion Bible cited Lightfoots comment,18and expanded it to include coincidence to lack of belief in the resurrection of the historical Lazarus (John 12:10). Bullinger considered that Luke did not identify the passage as a parable because it contains a parody of the view of the afterlife:
An alternative explanation of the parable is asatiricalparable against theSadducees. One writer to identify theSadduceesas the target wasJohann Nepomuk Sepp.20The arguments in favour of identification of the Rich Man as the Sadducees are (1) the wearing of purple and fine linen, priestly dress,21(2) the reference to five brothers in my fathers house as an allusion toCaiaphasfather-in-lawAnnas, and his five sons who also served as high priests according toJosephus,22(3) Abrahams statement in the parable that they would not believe even if he raised Lazarus, and then the fulfillment that when Jesus did raise Lazarus of Bethany the Sadducees not only did not believe, but attempted to have Lazarus killed again: So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well (John 12:10). This last interpretation had wide circulation in France during the 1860s1890s as a result of having been included in the notes of the pictorial Bible ofAbb Drioux.23
Simon Perry has argued that the Lazarus of the parable (an abbreviated transcript of Eleazer) refers toEliezerof Damascus, Abrahams servant. In Genesis 15a foundational covenant text familiar to any 1st century JewGod says to Abraham this man will not be your heir (Gen 15:4). Perry argues that this is why Lazarus is outside the gates of Abrahams perceived descendant. By inviting Lazarus to Abrahams bosom, Jesus is redefining the nature of the covenant. It also explains why the rich man assumes Lazarus is Abrahams servant.24
Christians debate what the parable says about theafterlife:
Most Christians believe in theimmortality of the soulandparticular judgmentand see the story as consistent with it, or even refer to it to establish these doctrines likeSt. Irenaeusdid.25Others believe that the main point of the parable was to warn the godless wealthy about their need for repentance in this life and Jesus did not intend to give a preview of life after death.26The parable teaches in this particular case that both identity and memory remain after death for the soul of the one in a hell.27Eastern OrthodoxChristians andLatter-Day Saintssee the story as consistent with their belief inHades, where the righteous and unrighteous alike await theresurrection of the dead. Western Christians usually interpret Lazarus as being in Heaven orParadiseand the rich man inHell. The belief in a state ofLimbois less common.
Some Christians believe in the mortality of the soul (Christian mortalismorsoul sleep) andgeneral judgmentLast Judgment) only. This view is held by someAnglicanssuch asE. W. Bullinger.28Proponents of the mortality of the soul, and general judgment, for example Advent Christians, Conditionalists,Seventh-day AdventistsJehovahs WitnessesChristadelphians, and ChristianUniversalists, argue that this is a parable using the framework of Jewish views of theBosom of Abraham, and ismetaphorical, and is not definitive teaching on the intermediate state for several reasons.2930InRevelation 20:1314hadesis itself thrown into the lake of fire after being emptied of the dead.31
We have in fact one of the cases where the background to the teaching is more probably found in non-biblical sources.
Some scholarse.g.,G. B. Caird,32Joachim Jeremias,33Marshall,34Hugo Gressmann,35suggest the basicstorylineofThe Rich Man and Lazaruswas derived from Jewish stories that had developed from an Egyptianfolk taleabout Si-Osiris.3637Richard Bauckhamis less sure,38adding:
In any case, [Jesus] has used [motifs also found in the Egyptian and Jewish stories] to construct a new story, which as a whole is not the same as any other extant story. …[Of course] comparison with the way they function in other stories can help to highlight their function in the parable. In this sense, the parallels and contrasts with the Egyptian and Jewish story of the rich and the poor man can be instructive…39
Steven Cox highlights other elements from Jewish myths that the parable could be mimicking.4041
Hippolytus of Rome(ca. AD 200) describes Hades with similar details: the bosom of Abraham for thesoulsof the righteous, fiery torment for the souls of wicked, and a chasm between them.42He equates the fires of Hades with thelake of firedescribed in theBook of Revelation, but specifies that no one will actually be cast into the fire until the end times.
In some European countries, the Latin descriptiondives(Latinfor the rich man) is treated as his proper name: Dives. In Italy, the descriptionepulone(Italian for banquetter) is also used as a proper name. Both descriptions appear together, but not as a proper name, inPeter Chrysologuss sermonDe divite epulone(Latin On the Rich Banquetter), corresponding to the verse, There was arich manwho was clothed in purple and fine linen and whofeastedsumptuously every day.
The story was frequently told in an elaborated form in themedievalperiod, treating it as factual rather than aparable. Lazarus was venerated as apatron saintof lepers.43In the 12th century,crusadersin theKingdom of Jerusalemfounded theOrder of Saint Lazarus.
The story was often shown in art, especially carved at the portals of churches, at the foot of which beggars would sit (for example atMoissacandSaint-Sernin, Toulouse), pleading their cause. There is a survivingstained-glasswindow atBourges Cathedral.44
In the Latin liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, the words ofIn paradisumare sometimes chanted as the deceased is taken from church to burial, including this supplication: Chorus angelorum te suscipiat … et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem (May the ranks of angels receive you … and with Lazarus, who was once poor, may you have eternal rest).
The name Lazarus, from theHebrew: אלעזר, Elʿzr,Eleazar- God is my help,27also belongs to the more famous biblical characterLazarus of Bethany, known as Lazarus of the Four Days,45who is the subject of a prominent miracle attributed to Jesus in theGospel of John, in which Jesusresurrectshim four days after his death.46
Historically within Christianity, the begging Lazarus of the parable (feast day June 21) and Lazarus of Bethany (feast day December 17) have often been conflated, with some churches celebrating a blessing of dogs, associated with the beggar, on December 17, the date associated with Lazarus of Bethany.47
Another example of this conflation can be found inRomanesqueiconography carved on portals inBurgundyand Provence. For example, at the west portal of theChurch of St. TrophimeatArles, the beggar Lazarus is enthroned as St. Lazarus. Similar examples are found at the church atAvallon, the central portal atVzelay, and the portals of thecathedral of Autun.48
Geoffrey ChaucersSummonerobserves that Dives and Lazarus lived differently, and their rewards were different.49
InWilliam ShakespearesHenry IV Part I,Sir John Falstaffalludes to the story while insulting his friend Bardolph about his face, comparing it to amemento mori: I never see thy face, he says but I think upon hell-fire and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his robes, burning, burning (III, 3, 3033). When recalling the death of Falstaff inHenry Vthe description of Lazarus in heaven (into Abrahams bosom) is parodied as Hes in Arthurs bosom, if ever man went to Arthurs bosom. (II. 3, 78)
References to Dives and Lazarus are a frequent image in socially conscious fiction of the Victorian period.50For example:
workers and masters are separate as Dives and Lazarus ay, as separate as Dives and Lazarus, with a great gulf betwixt (Elizabeth Gaskell;
Between them, and a working woman full of faults, there is a deep gulf set. (Charles Dickens;
Although DickensA Christmas CarolandThe Chimesdo not make any direct reference to the story, the introduction to the Oxford edition of theChristmas Booksdoes.51
InHerman MelvillesMoby-Dick, Ishmael describes a windswept and cold night from the perspective of Lazarus (Poor Lazarus, chattering his teeth against the curbstone…) and Dives (…the privilege of making my own summer with my own coals).52
The poemThe Love Song of J. Alfred PrufrockbyT. S. Eliotcontains the lines: To say: I am Lazarus, come from the dead,/Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all in reference to Dives request to have Beggar Lazarus return from the dead to tell his brothers of his fate.
Richard Crashawwrote ametaphysicalstanza for hisSteps to the Templein 1646 entitled, Upon Lazarus His Tears:
Rich Lazarus! richer in those gems, thy tears,
He scorns them now, but oh theyll suit full well
With the purple he must wear in hell.53
Dives and Lazarus appear inEdith Sitwells poem Still falls the Rain from The Canticle of the Rose, first published in 1941. It was written afterThe BlitzonLondonin 1940. The poem is dark, full of the disillusions ofWorld War II. It speaks of the failure of man, but also of Gods continuing involvement in the world throughChrist:54
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.55
Vater Abraham, erbarme dich mein, SWV 477 (Dialogus divites Epulonis cum Abrahamo), a work byHeinrich Schtzis a setting of the dialog between Abraham and the rich man dating to the 1620s. It is notable for its virtuosic text-painting of the flames of hell, as well as being an important example of the dialog as a step towards the development of theoratorio.
Dives Malus (the wicked rich man) also known as Historia Divitis (c.1640) byGiacomo Carissimiis a Latin paraphrase of the Luke text, set as anoratoriofor 2 sopranos, tenor, bass; for private performance in theoratoriesof Rome in the 1640s.Mensch, was du tusta German sacred concerto byJohann Philipp Förtsch(16521732)56
The story appeared as an English folk song whose oldest written documentation dates from 1557,57with the depiction of the afterlife altered to fit Christian tradition. The song was also published as thein the 19th century.58Ralph Vaughan Williamsbased his orchestral pieceFive Variants of Dives and Lazarus(1939) on this folk song,59and also used an arrangement as the hymn tuneKingsfold.60Benjamin BrittensetSitwells text to music in his third Canticle in a series of five.61
LazarusAmerican soft rock band releasing their first, self-titled album in 1971. The trio of musical friends met as students in a Texas college, and are noted as early artists in the Contemporary Christian movement.62bettersourceneeded
No Second Chances (1991) byWhitecross, a Christian bands musical interpretation of the parable.63
Diversus and Lazarus (2004) bySteeleye Spanon the albumThey Called Her Babylonis based on the Child Ballad.64
Crumbs from Your Table (2004) byU2on the albumHow to Dismantle an Atomic Bombreferences this passage.
Chasm (2009) was a music video performed byFlyleaf, a Christian band, referencing the parable.65
Lazarus (2016) was the last single thatDavid Bowiereleased before his death.
TheMilitary and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem(OSLJ) is an order ofchivalrywhich originated in aleperhospital founded byKnights Hospitallerin the 12th century byCrusadersof theLatin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the most ancient of the European orders of chivalry, yet is one of the less-known and less-documented orders. The first mention of the Order of Saint Lazarus in surviving sources dates to 1142.
The Order was originally established to treat the virulent disease ofleprosy, its knights originally being lepers themselves.66According to the Orders official international website, From its foundation in the 12th century, the members of the Order were dedicated to two ideals: aid to those suffering from the dreadful disease of leprosy and the defense of the Christian faith.67Sufferers of leprosy regarded the beggar Lazarus (of Luke 16:1931) as their patron saint and usually dedicated their hospices to him.67
The order was initially founded as aleperhospital outside the city walls ofJerusalem, but hospitals were established all across the Holy Land dependent on the Jerusalem hospital, notably inAcre. It is unknown when the order became militarised but militarisation occurred before the end of the 12th century due to the large numbers ofTemplarsandHospitallerssent to the leper hospitals to be treated. The order established lazar houses across Europe to care for lepers, and was well supported by othermilitary orderswhich compelled lazar brethren in their rule to join the order upon contracting leprosy.68
homo quidam erat dives et induebatur purpura et bysso et epulabatur cotidie splendide
Fitzmyer IX, Ad populum I (CSEL18.91), spelled Finees; and inPs.-Cyprian, De pascha computus 17 (CSEL 3/3.265), spelled Finaeus
The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century
e.g.Webpagewhich argues that Lazarus and the rich man is literally true (whilst the language used by them could have been figurative).
The rich man and Lazarus (Luke xvi. 1931) a practical exposition.
doesnt add anything new to the general folk belief about fortunes being reversed in a future life. If its a parable, that means once again that we should take it as picture language about something that was going on in Jesus work p. 201
2010-10-11 at theWayback Machine, The Sermons of Martin Luther Baker Book House Grand Rapids, MI
Companion Bible p. 1489, citing Lightfoot xii, 15963
See many other examples in Lightfoot vol. xii. pp. 15968 (Companion Bible, p. 1488)
Thaten und Lehren Jesu: mit ihrer weltgeschichtlichen Beglaubigung
Whittaker, H.A. Studies in the gospels. Biblia, Staffordshire 1984, 2nd Ed. 1989 p. 495.
Friedrich Gustav Lisco, (trans.Patrick Fairbairn)
The parables of Jesus: explained and illustrated
1853 p. 343 Many expositors have thought they discovered, in this story, a real history, and referred it to the family of Annas and his son-in-law, Caiaphas,
et cest cet endurcissement que Jsus prdit quand il dit que du moment quils ncoutent ni Moïse ni les prophtes ils ncouteront pas davantage quelquun qui viendrait de lautre monde Drioux Claude-Joseph
La Bible populaire: hist. illustre de lAncien et du Nouveau Testament.
Resurrecting Interpretation: Technology, Hermeneutics and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Irenaeus. Against Heresies: Book II, ch. XXXIV.
Vann, Jefferson (September 17, 2012).The Rich man and Lazarus and the intermediate state.
Bryan T. Huie Lazarus and the Rich Man Tentmaker Ministries. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
What Happens When I Die? When rightly divided, the scriptures support annihilationism; the belief that the wicked will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire. cupofwrath.com. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Luke
Vom reichen Mann und armen Lazarus: eine literargeschichtliche Studie
Also note: …a passage from Whistons edition of Josephus,
,…bears an uncanny resemblance to Luke 16. Unfortunately, the resemblance is so uncanny because the passage is based on Luke 16. The author is not Josephus but the 4th Century Bishop Hippolytus. At some point, a copying error confused the names and the mistake was not discovered until recently. Steven Cox,Not Giving Heed to Jewish Fables (2): Abraham in the Underworldin
The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God
It is quite plausible that a version of the Egyptian and Jewish story was current in first-century Palestine and that Jesus would have known it. Thus…he could have borrowed the two motifs from it. On the other hand, he may well have known other stories which used one of both motifs. He could have known the motifs without consciously borrowing them from any one particular story. Richard Bauckham,
The fate of the dead: studies on the Jewish and Christian apocalypses
The fate of the dead: studies on the Jewish and Christian apocalypses
Steven Cox,Not Giving Heed to Jewish Fables (2): Abraham in the Underworldin
The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God
mile Mâle, The Gothic Image, Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century, p. 200, English trans of 3rd edn, 1913, Collins, London (and many other editions)
Gavrilova, L. V.,From the History of Artistic Interpretations of the Biblical Story about the Lazarus Resurrection,
Journal ofSiberian Federal University, Humanities & Social Sciences
All the People in the Bible: An A-z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture
The Summonerss Prologue and Tale, line 1877
Lazar and Dives lyveden diversly, And divers gerdon hadden they therby.
OUP1980 pp. 1216 for extended discussion of the Dives and Lazarus imagery.
And he cried it, how he cried it, from the housetops!the wealth of Dives jostling the want of Lazarus, Trotty Vecks humble dish of tripe made humbler by Sir Joseph Bowleys opulent cheque-book; above all, Scrooge, who, obliged to subscribe to the prisons and the Poor Law, shut his eyes to the conditions of those ghastly institutions,… The
: Christmas books p. vi Charles Dickens, illustrated by Phiz, Hablot Knight Browne, 1998
ISBN0-14-243724-7, Chapter 2, pp. 1112
The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper: Including the Series Edited with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical
, Second Reissue, Oxford University Press, 2008,
La Capella Ducale; Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson rec. live, 26 October 2007, Hauptkirche St. Nikolai, Hamburg, Germany. DDD CPO 777369-2 [79:09]
Arber, Registers of the Company of Stationers
anonymous; fromChild ballad56 A, from Sylvester:
, from an old Birmingham broadside (2001) . Quiller-Couch, Arthur Thomas, Sir, (ed.).The Oxford Book of Ballads, No. 109, Dives and Lazarus. Bartleby.com, Inc
. Oxford University Press (London, 1980), p. 278.
A Selection of Shape-note Folk Hymns: From Southern United States Tune Books, 181661
Philip Reed, Mervyn Cooke, and Donald Mitchell,
Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 19131976, Volume 4: 19521957
Steeleye Span: They Called Her Babylon (Review).
Leper Knights: The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in England, c. 11501544
(Rochester, NY: Boydell) 2003; Chapter 1 gives the general history.
2012-07-01 at theWayback Machine, official international website of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. Retrieved on 2009-09-14.
Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament
Articles lacking reliable references from January 2018
This page was last edited on 16 January 2019, at 13:05