This article presents a social-scientific interpretation of the parable of the friend at midnight.
As starting point, attention is given to the history of the interpretation of the parable, as
well as to its integrity and authenticity. A social-scientific reading of the parable is then
presented. The parable is read against the socio-economic and political backdrop of firstcentury
Palestine village life in which friendship, hospitality, limited good and reciprocity
played an important role. The interpretation of the parable hinges on the understanding of
an0 aid/ eian [shamelessness] Luke 11:8. Therefore, special attention is given to honour as a pivotal
value in first-century Palestine. The parable tells the story of an alternative world, a world
wherein neighbours are kin and practice general reciprocity. The gist of the parable is that when
neighbours do not act as neighbours, then nothing of God’s kingdom becomes visible.