Go and study'" (2000, 733). These observations suggest that while it may be possible to interpret the Parable of the Good Samaritan in different ways, there can be no misunderstanding the basic message that is being communicated.
Like the Lukan and Markan versions, Leviticus 19:18 also requires everyone to not only refrain from acts that would harm others, but to come to their assistance when they are in need, but this is not the only other biblical reference that contains this important guidance. According to Anderson, "Mark's version of this same pericope leaves out the parable of the Good Samaritan but makes the same point, in even more emphatic terms, as here it is Jesus himself who gives the proper answer. 'There is no other commandment greater than these,' to love God and neighbor, Jesus says (Mark 12:31)" (2004, 170).
Although different interpretations of the Parable of the Good Samaritan are possible and even encouraged by Jesus (Esler 1995), the basic, unchanging meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan contained in Luke and elsewhere in the Bible remains essentially the same: to help others who are in need irrespective of one's relationship to them (Heft 2005). As Anderson points out, "The fact that Mark's treatment of the story is different than Luke's -- the fact of this interpretive complexity -- doesn't change the underlying meaning, and indeed the underlying meaning is that we shouldn't lose sight of what's central, in reading or in the moral life" (2004, 170).
The centrality of the message referred to by Anderson relates to the essence of the Golden Rule that is codified in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Indeed, many of the Ten Commandments can be boiled down to this basic message (i.e., "Thou shalt not steal"; "Thou shalt not bear false witness"; "Thou shalt not kill" etc.). When viewed in this context, the "love thy neighbor" guidance contained in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is truly timeless and universal. Moreover, the centrality of the message of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is the very basis of the Good News brought by Jesus. In this regard, Wilkenhauser emphasizes that, "Since Jesus has appeared as the Savior of all mankind, love of one's neighbor is specially stressed in the reports of his moral preaching" (1958, 217).
Finally, the use of a Samaritan in the parable, a people who were viewed with disdain by many Jewish contemporaries, is also noteworthy because it highlights the fact that all people, as God's children, are "neighbors" for the purposes of the Gold Rule message it contains. In this regard, Wilkenhauser adds that, "Love of one's enemies is at the core of the Sermon on the Mount, and the enquiring Scribe is taught through the parable of the good Samaritan that God demands a love of one's neighbor which is ready to undertake any sacrifice to help anyone in need regardless of nationality" (1958, 217).
The research showed that the Parable of the Good Samaritan contained in Luke 10:25-37 has been consistently cited by biblical scholars as being among the most important teachings of Jesus concerning how people should treat each other on earth in order to gain eternal salvation in Heaven. The Golden Rule encapsulated in the Parable of the Good Samaritan that appears several times in the Old and New Testaments has remained relevant to the human condition since it was first codified in scripture, suggesting that although different interpretations have been made, the essential meaning remains unchanged. In the final analysis, the true message contained in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is loud and clear in its intent and scope. All people are obligated to help others in need, and to the extent that they fail to do so is the extent to which they are failing to follow God's instructions on how to live a pious life on earth and gain entry into Heaven.
Anderson, Chris. Teaching as Believing: Faith in the University. Waco, TX: Baylor University
Davis, Ellen F. (2000). "Critical Traditioning: Seeking an Inner Biblical Hermeneutic." Anglican
Theological Review 82(4): 733-735.
Esler, Philip F. Modelling Early Christianity: Social-Scientific Studies of the New Testament in Its Context. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Heft, James L. Believing Scholars: Ten Catholic Intellectuals. New York: Fordham University