Apart from its literary context, the parable of the Good Samaritan is commonly understood to teach a simple moral: act like the Samaritan. Closer attention to its Lukan context, however, reveals that this parable is serving the larger purpose of teaching one how to interpret the Law, made particularly evident by the questions that closely precede the parable: "What is in the Law, and how do you read it?" Through a close reading of the parable's grammar, structure, and narrative context, one discovers that the parable illustrates how life-giving interpretation of Torah is characterized by compassion, action, and solidarity with the suffering. The priest and Levite function as foils—those whose embodiment of the Law attests to a distorted interpretation of Torah. The Samaritan, in contrast, embodies a surprisingly exemplary reading of Torah. There is also good reason to suspect another twist at the end of the parable, one that invites the reader to adopt the point of view of the parable's victim, thereby teaching that proper interpretation of the Law must take into account the perspective of the suffering and marginalized.

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