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A debate: Is this passage (Luke 16:19-31) a parable? - March 16th, 2012, 09:50 PM

I assert that this story, that of Lazarus and the rich man, is a parable. The grounds that I assert this on, are form criticism and context.

The story is given amidst a series of parables, the occasion beginning in Luke 15:1-3, the context for the story being set in Luke 16:14-15. As for the argument, that it wasn't introduced as a parable, I would contend that it is (shown by the way Luke introduces it in the Greek, which you can see in my citations), and I would argue along with that that it has the structure of a parable- a past tense, and varied, story with archetypal characters, and a moral punchline at the end- and that other parables in this series weren't introduced as parables. The only peculiar quality in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, that might throw someone off, is that particular people are named. However, it has the structure of a parable, and because it tends to contradict Jesus' own teachings if you take it literally, point for point, it is clearly a parable; Parables not only have the possibility to contradict the truth in terms of literal interpretation: they do so all the time.

Consider:

Quote:
There was a certain rich man. Many have supposed that our Lord here refers to a real history, and gives an account of some man who had lived in this manner; but of this there is no evidence. The probability is that this narrative is to be considered as a parable, referring not to any particular case which had actually happened, but teaching that such cases might happen. The design of the narrative is to be collected from the previous conversation. He had taught the danger of the love of money (ver. 1 and 2); the deceitful and treacherous nature of riches (ver. 9-11; that what was in high esteem on earth was hateful to God (ver. 15); that men who did not use their property aright could not be received into heaven (ver. 11, 12); that they ought to listen to Moses and the prophets (ver. 16, 17); and that it was the duty of men to show kindness to the poor. The design of the parable was to impress all these truths more vividly on the mind, and to show the Pharisees that, with all their boasted righteousness and their external correctness of character, they might be lost. Accordingly he speaks of no great fault in the rich man—no external, degrading vice—no open breach of the law; and leaves us to infer that the mere possession of wealth may be dangerous to the soul, and that a man surrounded with every temporal blessing may perish for ever.
Barnes, A. (1884-1885). Notes on the New Testament: Luke & John (R. Frew, Ed.) (114). London: Blackie & Son.

and...
Quote:
16:19–31 “there was a rich man” This is the fifth in a series of parables in chapters 15 and 16. It is a highly unusual parable because
1. it has no introduction
2. it has no explicit application
3. a person is specifically named.
However, the context demands that it be interpreted in light of vv. 8b–13. Calling it a parable does not imply that it is not true to reality, but one cannot force the details to give believers theological answers in the area of the intermediate, disembodied state of the dead or a description of hell (because the text has “hades”).
Luke often introduces parables by tis (“a certain _____,” cf. Luke 15:11; Luke 16:1, 19).
Utley, R. J. D. (2004). Vol. Volume 3A: The Gospel According to Luke. Study Guide Commentary Series (Lk 16:19-31). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

On the heels of tis, the Greek word for "certain", an enclitic indefinite pronoun which refers us to some or any person or object...

Quote:
16:19–24 The opening to this story (“There was a rich man”) indicates that it is a parable (16:1), and thus the details of its picture of the afterlife should not be taken too literally. Certainly, however, Jesus taught life after death, including reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked (Mt 8:11-12; 18:9).
Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1547). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Quote:
16:22–23 The poor man died and received no burial, in contrast to the rich man who was buried. The poor man was carried … to Abraham’s side (lit., “bosom”), which means he was welcomed into the fellowship of other believers already in heaven, particularly Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. But the rich man went to Hades (the place of the wicked, the dead, or “hell”), a place of torment. That the rich man saw Abraham far off indicates the unbridgeable gulf between heaven and hell. The previous earthly situations of the rich man and Lazarus are completely reversed. As in 13:28, the unbelieving dead seem to have some awareness of the blessedness of believers in heaven. Though this is a parable, and thus it is unclear how far the actual details should be pressed, the story seems clearly to teach that, immediately after death, both believers and unbelievers have a conscious awareness of their eternal status and enter at once into either suffering or blessing.
Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (1991). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

In the series, every story that is longer than a few sentences is universally recognized as a parable, and this one in particular fits the form of a parable pretty well. That it is a parable, makes sense of why it contradicts some other biblical descriptions of hell, in that the developments of the story are part of the literary device of a parable, that is:

The rich man is socially high, Lazarus is socially low. One obeyed the prophets, one didn't. The vagrants and outcast tax collectors that Jesus was associating with, were of low social rank, yet they were willing to hear His message. Jesus levels that some people can't be convinced, and the typecast for those who can't be convinced, is a person who is full of him/her self and self righteous. The vagrant is humble enough to accept that he/she is flawed, so he/she is saved. The rich man didn't hear Moses and the Prophets, so in spite of him being regarded as the righteous man according to customary thought, he is deposed in Hades.




Last edited by lukecash12; March 17th, 2012 at 03:38 AM..
   
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March 16th, 2012, 10:03 PM

I contend the parable of the rich man to Israel for how to endure Jacob's trouble is not a concern to us.





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March 16th, 2012, 10:04 PM

Hello, Like.
You put this together quite nicely.
Kudos for that.


I do have a small point of contention:
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukecash12 View Post
but teaching that such cases might happen.
I would think that any parable would refer to what does happen, not what might happen. As "might" infers that it could never happen.
Why tell a parable if the message of the parable could never happen?






   
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March 16th, 2012, 10:07 PM

Luke, I agree, but now because I agree, some will question it.

You might be in big trouble. I wish I could read Greek, I have to relay on the translators. You put a lot of work into your post.





Psalm 1[/COLOR] and Job 28:28

Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Joh 4:23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

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March 16th, 2012, 10:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tambora View Post
Hello, Like.
You put this together quite nicely.
Kudos for that.


I do have a small point of contention:

I would think that any parable would refer to what does happen, not what might happen. As "might" infers that it could never happen.
Why tell a parable if the message of the parable could never happen?
Parables are literary devices which are tailored to the occasion, and are meant to be interpreted by the typecasts of the characters, the development of the story, and the punchline. The punchline is much like an answer key, because it and the occasion tell us how to interpret the parable. Parables are interpreted by literary device, not theology, what you expect to be the case, or right or wrong. There are "cruel masters", "havenots have their stuff taken away for being havenots", and other instances that present enough of an oddity for us to recognize that a parable is a literary device that has more to do with form and key elements of expression, than content.

Edit: Also, an aside- It appears that you were criticizing my post because you mistook a scholarly work I was citing, to be my own material. It was not my work, so I may not necessarily agree with those works that I cite. The emboldened portion of those citations are the portions which assert that Luke 16:19-31 is a parable, the objective of this thread being to establish that passage as a parable, and after that to discuss it's meaning if any are interested. I established something of an interpretation of it in the last paragraph of the OP (opening post), to show how parables, as a literary device, are thought of.




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March 17th, 2012, 12:59 AM

Some points that make it different than other parables:
1) Names are named. Lazarus is named and Abraham is named.
2) The place mentioned is real (hades)
3) allusion to a timeline is given

So good question. If it is a parable, it is unique of its kind.

What is the debate point? Does it matter if it is true or parable for what it teaches?
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukecash12 View Post
In the series, every story that is longer than a few sentences is universally recognized as a parable, and this one in particular fits the form of a parable pretty well. That it is a parable, makes sense of why it contradicts some other biblical descriptions of hell, in that the developments of the story are part of the literary device of a parable.
What specifically do you mean by the parables contradicting realities?

I do use it for actuals about hades (being a real place, I suppose Jesus is teaching about it accurately, even if in parable).





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40:25 Joshua 24:15
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March 17th, 2012, 02:44 AM

Quote:
Some points that make it different than other parables:
1) Names are named. Lazarus is named and Abraham is named.
2) The place mentioned is real (hades)
3) allusion to a timeline is given
1, 2, & 3 are peculiar when it comes to Jesus' parables, not all parables. Real places are mentioned all the time in parables, and 1 & 3 are a bit unusual, but they certainly do appear on occasion in parables. I refer you to the Talmud, and experts like Kenneth E. Bailey who specialize in middle eastern culture and do field work on oral tradition. Also, I'd look at the continuing tradition of parables in the work of Idries Shah and Anthony de Mello, two parable composers of the sufi tradition.

In terms of scholarly work, I'd look up:

John P. Meier. A Marginal Jew, volume II, Doubleday, 1994.

Some examples of parables that have these the qualities you've mentioned:

Ignacy Krasicki's "Litigants"

After a score of decrees and thirteen postponements,
After two-score default judgments and six settlements,
Mark vanquished Peter: and having gained the victory,
He paid his last three hundred
złotych for the decree.
Peter and Mark both died after the litigation:
The loser, of despair; the winner, of starvation.


The parable of the hamlet in ruins

Quran 2:259

Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins to its roofs. He said: "Oh! how shall Allah bring it (ever) to life, after (this) its death?" but Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: "How long didst thou tarry (thus)?" He said: (Perhaps) a day or part of a day." He said: "Nay, thou hast tarried thus a hundred years; but look at thy food and thy drink; they show no signs of age; and look at thy donkey: And that We may make of thee a sign unto the people, Look further at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh." When this was shown clearly to him, he said: "I know that Allah hath power over all things."
Quote:
What specifically do you mean by the parables contradicting realities?

I do use it for actuals about hades (being a real place, I suppose Jesus is teaching about it accurately, even if in parable).
Well, there are some problems with the way that Hades is portrayed, and what happens throughout the story:

Just 3 of the many reasons why this is not literal...

1. A literal drop of water on the rich man's tongue would hardly solve his problem of burning in the torment of hell (Luke 16:24).
2. As a literal story, the picture of Abraham has problems, too. Abraham's lap must be symbolic. Even those who believe that people go to their reward at death consider it so Ab-bosm.
3. Abraham accepted the prayer of the rich man and responded to it in verse 27. A righteous person, on the good side of the gulf, would not have accepted reverence due only to God.

Quote:
What is the debate point? Does it matter if it is true or parable for what it teaches?
Well, as you can see it is important whether or not you interpret it literally because it has to do with Hades. Also, we can't understand the general thrust of it unless we interpret it's typecasts and story development according to it's punchline and context. The parable device and context tells us to interpret that story as another rebuke amongst a series of rebukes and instructions to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were lovers of money, as is pointed out just before the parable, so Jesus points out that in spite of their being highly regarded in society, their views aren't in line with the prophets, so they will go to Hades, even though He has been sent to them.




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March 17th, 2012, 08:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lukecash12 View Post
I assert that this story, that of Lazarus and the rich man, is a parable. The grounds that I assert this on, are form criticism and context.

The story is given amidst a series of parables, the occasion beginning in Luke 15:1-3, the context for the story being set in Luke 16:14-15. As for the argument, that it wasn't introduced as a parable, I would contend that it is (shown by the way Luke introduces it in the Greek, which you can see in my citations), and I would argue along with that that it has the structure of a parable- a past tense, and varied, story with archetypal characters, and a moral punchline at the end- and that other parables in this series weren't introduced as parables. The only peculiar quality in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, that might throw someone off, is that particular people are named. However, it has the structure of a parable, and because it tends to contradict Jesus' own teachings if you take it literally, point for point, it is clearly a parable; Parables not only have the possibility to contradict the truth in terms of literal interpretation: they do so all the time.

Consider:

Barnes, A. (1884-1885). Notes on the New Testament: Luke & John (R. Frew, Ed.) (114). London: Blackie & Son.

and...Utley, R. J. D. (2004). Vol. Volume 3A: The Gospel According to Luke. Study Guide Commentary Series (Lk 16:19-31). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

On the heels of tis, the Greek word for "certain", an enclitic indefinite pronoun which refers us to some or any person or object...

Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1547). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (1991). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

In the series, every story that is longer than a few sentences is universally recognized as a parable, and this one in particular fits the form of a parable pretty well. That it is a parable, makes sense of why it contradicts some other biblical descriptions of hell, in that the developments of the story are part of the literary device of a parable, that is:

The rich man is socially high, Lazarus is socially low. One obeyed the prophets, one didn't. The vagrants and outcast tax collectors that Jesus was associating with, were of low social rank, yet they were willing to hear His message. Jesus levels that some people can't be convinced, and the typecast for those who can't be convinced, is a person who is full of him/her self and self righteous. The vagrant is humble enough to accept that he/she is flawed, so he/she is saved. The rich man didn't hear Moses and the Prophets, so in spite of him being regarded as the righteous man according to customary thought, he is deposed in Hades.
It is a parable.

If it was not a parable, it would contradict many clear verses such as Psalm 6:5 define what death is.

Jesus Christ was reproving the Pharisees, with a fictional story that showed their error.

All Jesus Christ's parables were fictional, but they illustrated the truths he wished to express in easy to understand culturally meaningful ways. Certainly, some of his parables could have been based on actual real life situations, but the point of the parable is to teach, not to recount historical facts.

Does any one actually have a beam/timber in his eye?

Of course not, but his fictional illustration, hyperbole,exaggeration, makes the truth he wanted to teach vivid and humorous and memorable.

Like wise, the passage in Luke. He used fiction to illustrate the doctrinal errors of the Pharisees.

oatmeal





"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Acts 2:42

"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Psalm 6:5

I John 3:1-2. Prov 14:34 Psalm 133:1
   
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March 17th, 2012, 08:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by oatmeal View Post
It is a parable.

If it was not a parable, it would contradict many clear verses such as Psalm 6:5 define what death is.
"death' is also written about as one of the 7 levels of hell in Hebrew tradition.
In "death", then, there is no good thing, and therefore no remembrance of the One Who is Good.
The body in the grave decomposes to dust and obviously has no memory to it. The soul has departed at the moment of expiring.
[quote]

At the time of Christ, there was a clear oral tradition about the intermediate state of the soul after death that awaited the final "sealing" that the Feasts of Yom Kippur and Sukkoth teach about. That means, one gets one's soul "scoured and rinsed" in this world and also in the next (gehinnom is often spoken of as this intermediate level) if it is not purified completely prior.

This is why Jesus teaches all to "watch" and "pray" for you do not know the day nor the hour that the thief comes.
St. Paul says "walk circumspectly awaiting the time." "Examine yourselves."





"This then is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: just as our dying is effected in the water, our living is wrought in the Spirit. In three immersions and in an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water but from the Spirit's presence there."--St Basil the Great (ca. 350 AD)
   
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March 17th, 2012, 08:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lukecash12 View Post
Also, we can't understand the general thrust of it unless we interpret it's typecasts and story development according to it's punchline and context.
Also the oral tradition and written tradition which are also called "scripture" by the Jews must be taken into account to interpret Jesus' intent.
Quote:
The Pharisees were lovers of money, as is pointed out just before the parable, so Jesus points out that in spite of their being highly regarded in society, their views aren't in line with the prophets, so they will go to Hades, even though He has been sent to them.
Yes, but Jesus is not necessarily daming them to eternal fire for their greed. He is rather, warning against the "payment of the last penny" also spoken of in the parable about the servant who the ruler (God) forgave everything, and yet that freed-from-debt servant held a neighbor accountable for a pittance due that freed servant.
If we who believe are not forgiving all then we are not forgiven all. "And forgive us our trespasses as we fiorgive others their trespasses against us."
Jesus is explaining the notion of the cleansing of the intent of the heart and soul after death in the place where the "last penny" will be paid for the neglect in this life.

To love God requires love of neighbor. To receive God's mercy requires our mercy to our neighbor. If we do not, we shall be "scoured and rinsed" in "gehinnom".





"This then is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: just as our dying is effected in the water, our living is wrought in the Spirit. In three immersions and in an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water but from the Spirit's presence there."--St Basil the Great (ca. 350 AD)
   
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March 17th, 2012, 08:53 AM

and there's this notion:

". . .will not be forgiven in this age nor in the age to come."
Meaning that God will do for us what we have not taken care and effort to do in this age.





"This then is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: just as our dying is effected in the water, our living is wrought in the Spirit. In three immersions and in an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water but from the Spirit's presence there."--St Basil the Great (ca. 350 AD)
   
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March 17th, 2012, 09:46 AM

[QUOTE=Sheila B;3005272]"death' is also written about as one of the 7 levels of hell in Hebrew tradition.
In "death", then, there is no good thing, and therefore no remembrance of the One Who is Good.
The body in the grave decomposes to dust and obviously has no memory to it. The soul has departed at the moment of expiring.
Quote:

At the time of Christ, there was a clear oral tradition about the intermediate state of the soul after death that awaited the final "sealing" that the Feasts of Yom Kippur and Sukkoth teach about. That means, one gets one's soul "scoured and rinsed" in this world and also in the next (gehinnom is often spoken of as this intermediate level) if it is not purified completely prior.

This is why Jesus teaches all to "watch" and "pray" for you do not know the day nor the hour that the thief comes.
St. Paul says "walk circumspectly awaiting the time." "Examine yourselves."
Then most certainly, Jesus Christ taught this parable to bring those who valued tradition over the clear teachings of scripture back to God's scripture.

oatmeal





"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Acts 2:42

"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Psalm 6:5

I John 3:1-2. Prov 14:34 Psalm 133:1
   
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March 17th, 2012, 10:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by oatmeal View Post

Then most certainly, Jesus Christ taught this parable to bring those who valued tradition over the clear teachings of scripture back to God's scripture.

oatmeal

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He valued Sacred Tradition in order to make scripture clear. According to the Hebrew mindset, Tradition makes God's will manifest in a way Scripture alone cannot.





"This then is what it means to be born again of water and Spirit: just as our dying is effected in the water, our living is wrought in the Spirit. In three immersions and in an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water but from the Spirit's presence there."--St Basil the Great (ca. 350 AD)
   
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March 17th, 2012, 01:35 PM

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Originally Posted by Sheila B View Post
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He valued Sacred Tradition in order to make scripture clear. According to the Hebrew mindset, Tradition makes God's will manifest in a way Scripture alone cannot.
Is the Hebrew mindset God's doing?

In reading the OT, was Israel obedient or disobedient to God most of the time?

Is the Hebrew mindset what Jesus Christ said is truth?

John 17:17

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"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Acts 2:42

"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Psalm 6:5

I John 3:1-2. Prov 14:34 Psalm 133:1
   
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March 17th, 2012, 05:02 PM

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Originally Posted by lukecash12 View Post
1, 2, & 3 are peculiar when it comes to Jesus' parables, not all parables. Real places are mentioned all the time in parables, and 1 & 3 are a bit unusual, but they certainly do appear on occasion in parables. I refer you to the Talmud, and experts like Kenneth E. Bailey who specialize in middle eastern culture and do field work on oral tradition. Also, I'd look at the continuing tradition of parables in the work of Idries Shah and Anthony de Mello, two parable composers of the sufi tradition.

In terms of scholarly work, I'd look up:

John P. Meier. A Marginal Jew, volume II, Doubleday, 1994.

Some examples of parables that have these the qualities you've mentioned:

Ignacy Krasicki's "Litigants"

After a score of decrees and thirteen postponements,
After two-score default judgments and six settlements,
Mark vanquished Peter: and having gained the victory,
He paid his last three hundred złotych for the decree.
Peter and Mark both died after the litigation:
The loser, of despair; the winner, of starvation.

The parable of the hamlet in ruins

Quran 2:259

Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins to its roofs. He said: "Oh! how shall Allah bring it (ever) to life, after (this) its death?" but Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: "How long didst thou tarry (thus)?" He said: (Perhaps) a day or part of a day." He said: "Nay, thou hast tarried thus a hundred years; but look at thy food and thy drink; they show no signs of age; and look at thy donkey: And that We may make of thee a sign unto the people, Look further at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh." When this was shown clearly to him, he said: "I know that Allah hath power over all things."
Well, there are some problems with the way that Hades is portrayed, and what happens throughout the story:

Just 3 of the many reasons why this is not literal...
I'm not in agreement. If, even, this is a parable:
1) it is not to be associated with non-scriptural parables. Jesus' are unique a) because He is God b) because He is giving them for the specific and singular purpose of giving truth to those who have ears.
2) it is unique in that it includes real people (Abraham) and place (hades).

There are other ways to try and tackle what you are trying to tackle without trying to topple a secondary source concerning hades. It is evident that this is what you are dealing with so, if it were me, I'd forgoe this particular passage and jump to your concern about hades. I'd assume it is the 'torment' of the Rich man?





Omniscient without man's say or qualification. John 1:3 "Nothing"
Colossians 1:17 "Nothing" John 15:5 "Nothing"
Mighty, ALL mighty (omnipotent). Revelation 1:8
No possible limitation other than in man's wishful finite inanity Isaiah
40:25 Joshua 24:15
Infinite (Omnipresent) Psalm 145:3 Hebrews 4:13

Is Calvinism okay? Yep

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think... Amen. -Ephesians 3:20 & 21

1Co 13:11 ... when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. *************************************

Separation of church and State is not atheism "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."
   
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