I recently did a Pitzele Bibliodrama on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Here is the report:
Present: approximately 2 Jews and 8 Christians. Location: Old City of Jerusalem, Aug 2014
We opened by discussing whether we every pray for the wrong reasons and what those wrong reasons might be. Then we did a sociometric, asking:
> I am present and focused in my prayer, I am distracted and saying it by rote.
> I pray for the wrong reasons, I pray for the right reasons.
> If someone tells me they never pray, I judge them or find them lacking.
> If a period of time goes by without any prayer, I feel a real lack or emptiness.
> I prefer written, rote prayers; I prefer spontaneous, personal prayers.
We read Luke 18:9-14 (text below) and then the group was split into two, the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (each participant could sit where they wanted). Those who were not playing the Pharisee started off in the role of questioners and asked the Pharisee to tell us about his life, what his relationship with G-d was like, how he felt while praying and what his relationship with the Tax Collector was (did he know him?).
Then we reversed – those who were not playing the Tax Collector were in the role of questioners and asked the Pharisee to tell us about his life, how he came to become a Tax Collector, what his relationship with G-d was like, how he felt while praying and what his relationship with the Pharisee was (did he know him?).
Finally, a conversation between the two groups, in role, was encouraged.
The result was very interesting and engaging, we got some empathy for the tax collector who everyone hates, and saw that some wished to play him as having made a switch in his life (repentance) while others felt that he beat his beast often and went back to tax collecting.
Some theological questions arose via the bibliodramatic play:
1) Whether a person can be redeemed in the moment of repentance, even if a moment later s/he will just sin again (the Tax Collector – was he going to go back to his tax collecting after beating his breast?)
2) Whether deeds are valuable, or it is just the intention (Pharisee: “I do good deeds and God should judge me by those.” This is a more general Jewish-Christian debate, about works and faith).
Feel free to use this material.
Hi Yael and thank you very much for the description of your workshop. It is great that you continue running Bibliodrama sessions for mixed groups of Jews and Christians – really important and valuable nowadays.
I am curious if the group discussion contributed something interesting to the Jewish-Christian debate in terms of interfaith/intercultural dialogue? The biblical text you chose seems just perfect for exploring such issues.
I myself am thinking about using the same parable in one of my future workshops. Thanks to your inspiration I will probably focus on visual representations of a prayer, as I think that it might be revealing to “see” the words and intentions we use while praying.
Let`s keep exchanging workshop ideas!
I think it contributed a bit, simply inasmuch as Jews were exposed to a Christian text and to Christians struggling with it (one Christian woman walked away struggling with the fact that Jesus, who says not to judge, seemed nonetheless to be judging the Pharisee, and that was impressive to me as a Jew). We did not go deeply into the Christian-Jewish dialogue aspect, as we did not have time and they were doing that throughout the rest of the programme.
There was an error in my description: Should say “those who were not playing the Tax Collector were now in the role of questioners and asked the other half, as the Tax Collector, to tell us about his life, how he came to become a Tax Collector, what his relationship with G-d was like, how he felt while praying and what his relationship with the Pharisee was (did he know him?).”