Tittynope, or ort, and poor Lazarus

The story is not describing the rich man in hell and damnation, but like the leadership of the synagogue in Jesus’ time, “Stiff-necked” people separated from God. Lazarus represents the world open to hearing the Word.

tittymouse As is my wont, I checked out the Grandiloquent Word of the Day, which, for a day in late February, was tittynope. The term was SO peculiar that I had to check it in another source. And sure enough – “Tittynope: (noun) a small quantity of anything left over, whether a few beans on a dinner plate or the dregs at the bottom of a cup.”

My old friend Hadiya – she’s not that old, but… – asked if it was related to the word ort. I’d say, definitionally, yes.

Usually, orts. a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal. Origin: 1400–50; late Middle English; cognate with Low German ort, early Dutch oorete; compare Old English or- out-, ǣt food (see eat).

The girl in the Grandiloquent pic looks satisfied, but that’s not the image the word generated for me. Rather, it was perhaps a Dickensian beggar; nope, no food for you. Or even more so, that story of poor Lazarus in Luke 16:

19 There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.

OK, it’s less the story I read, but rather the narrative I’ve heard (my church youth group, twice), and participated in (1976), from Godspell. Here’s a random clip that I found on YouTube, and another clip.

And in looking for these videos, I came across this 30-minute description of how the story of the rich man and Lazarus has long been misinterpreted. Basically, the presenter, Jason Lucas, indicates that the imagery in the parables is speaking to the Pharisees (the “righteous” Jewish leadership) and the Gentiles (the “heathen” sinners) to suggest that God’s word is now open to all, not just the historically chosen people, spoken in code as so not to alert the Romans, who just want to maintain the peace, but is clearly understood by the Pharisees.

Before addressing that story, Lucas described a previous parable, the “Prodigal Son”, and noted that the older brother in the story is Israel, the long-chosen people, and the younger brother, who literally ate with the pigs, is the rest of the world, whose covenant with the father (Father) is even more exciting because it is new.

The Lazarus story, the video suggests, is not describing the rich man in hell and damnation, but like the leadership of the synagogue in Jesus’ time, “stiff-necked” people separated from God. Lazarus represents the world open to hearing the Word. Lucas’ point here echoes Simon Perry, who:

has argued that the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) refers to Eliezer of Damascus. In [Genesis] 15:4, God says to Abraham, “this man will not be your heir.” By locating Lazarus (an abbreviated transcript of Eleazar) outside the gates of Abraham’s perceived descendant, but then having him in Abraham’s bosom, Jesus is portrayed as radically redefining the covenant.

This take on the story makes a LOT more sense to me than the traditional interpretation.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

5 thoughts on “Tittynope, or ort, and poor Lazarus”

  1. I know needlecrafters (embroidery, mostly, but some needlepointers) who use “ort” to describe the tiny bits of leftover thread (trimmings, and the small amount left after using up a needle’s worth).

    Given the new meme of “nope” as shorthand for “what are you thinking, are you crazy, I am appalled/disgusted/disturbed by that idea,” I have to admit “tittynope” brings up a strange mental picture.

    In recent discussion of the Lazarus story in my Sunday school, we considered the idea that the rich man felt he “didn’t need” God, and that was the source of his damnation, almost more than his unwillingness to consider the least of these.

  2. I watched the Lazarus video. Parts make a lot of sense to me, while other parts seemed a bit of a stretch. The association between the rich man and the priests is very strong, imho. It’s a little like saying “guys who wear beards, fedoras and plaid shirts” instead of “hipster.” Other parts seemed a bit of a stretch, though, and I found a part near the end a little creepy.

  3. NYE- I admit the latter part was weak, but the first 20 minutes or so was so good…

  4. I only know “orts” because of crosswords, ha ha. This is an excellent post. I’m reading “Who Wrote The New Testament, much more scholarly than I had hoped (read: I go over every page twice), but intriguing. I love hearing stories that challenge the Scriptures, probably because I’m not a Biblical literalist. Thanks for this, Rog. Amy

  5. Never knew of this word before! Now I know what I am heading for as I find myself stuffing these last crumbs or pieces 🙂

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