We have now come to the story of the unjust judge and the persistent widow story in chapter eight of Levine’s Short Stories by Jesus. Levine quickly asserts that the traditional unsympathetic view towards judge and the persistent is wrong. She first objects to Luke’s domestication of the widow as someone who would be subservient and on her knees much like the stereotypical poor woman of Jesus’ day while Jesus’ parable gave the widow immense power. Jesus in fact empowered her so much that she was the antagonist against the judge who became her victim. The pugilistic imagery of her pestering the judge shows her powerful demand against the judge.
How then did Luke domesticate Jesus’ parable according to Levine? Luke did so by adding to the simple core of Luke 18.2-5. In other words, with the core of Luke 18.2-5 as originating from Jesus, Luke added the rest. Sure, if Luke 18.6ff was indeed Luke’s edition, she has a strong case that this story had turned Jesus’ social commentary into some other thing.
In Levine’s estimation, Luke probably didn’t have the right to add to what Jesus said. It’s hard to know whether Jesus actually didn’t say those words and that Luke had put “words in Jesus’ mouth” so to speak. Levine tells a story about a pestering and powerful widow. Surely, this was a possible story, but if Luke’s frame originated from Jesus, then Jesus told a story different from Levine’s. The fact is, if Jesus did talk in such apocalyptic terms, then the parable does make comparison between unjust judge and widow on the one hand and God and His children on the other. The way Luke framed the story is indeed important because such a story represents for Luke’s audience something else to the inaccessible historical Jesus.
What implications does this parable have for modern day believers? The modern believer prays. The parable moves beyond prayer to God’s character. When we demand things of God beyond just persistent prayer, we treat God as the unjust judge. When the Son of Man comes, will he find those believers trusting in a good God or will they trust in the other image of God.