Saturday, March 7, 2009

Introduction to the the Gospel of Luke

[kata; louko'n, see LUKE (EVANGELIST)]. The third book of the NT canon. This gospel is dedicated by the author to an unknown patron, the "most excellent Theophilus," but was intended for general circulation in a Gentile community. As the Preface (1:1-4) shows, the evangelist was capable of writing excellent Greek, but he adapts his style to that of his several sources.
He intended the gospel to be the first part of a larger work, for the book of ACTS is clearly a sequel to it. In Acts 1:1 he explains that "in the first book" (i.e., the gospel) he has dealt with "all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up"--i.e., until his ASCENSION into heaven. Even apart from the fact that the word used here for "first" usually designates the former of two, there is no good reason to think that the author proposed to write a third book. In Luke 1:4 he describes the purpose which he has in view in the words: "that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed," thus referring to earlier instruction.
The fidelity with which he follows the language and style of his sources and his marked religious interests make his book of inestimable value as one of the basic documents of historical Christianity.
See map "Palestine: Matthew, Mark and Luke," under MARK, GOSPEL OF.
1. Authorship
2. Purpose
3. Contents
a. The Preface
b. The birth and infancy narratives
c. The Galilean ministry
d. The journey to Jerusalem through Samaria
e. The Jerusalem ministry
f. The passion and resurrection narrative
4. Distinctive characteristics
a. Universalism
b. An interest in social relationships
c. A deep concern for outcasts, sinners, and Samaritans
d. An interest in stories about women
e. An emphasis on joy, prayer, and the Holy Spirit
f. An emphasis on the graciousness and severity of the demands of Jesus
g. The stress on the lordship of Christ
h. The interest taken in the Passion
5. Sources
a. Mark
b. Q
c. L
d. The birth and infancy narrative
6. Proto-Luke
7. Date
8. Place of writing
9. Canonicity
10. Text
11. The value of Luke
1. Authorship. According to tradition the gospel was written by "Luke the beloved physician" (Col. 4:14). "Luke," writes Irenaeus (A.D. 185), "the follower of Paul recorded in a book the gospel that was preached by him." The Muratorian Canon (see CANON OF THE NT § 3e), which reflects the opinion of the church of Rome (A.D. 170-90), says: "The third book of the Gospel, according to Luke, Luke that physician, who after the ascension of Christ, when Paul had taken him with him as companion of his journey, composed in his own name on the basis of report." In view of the tendency to ascribe NT writings to apostolic authorship, this tradition has much weight, and is accepted by very many, although not by all, modern scholars. It is confirmed by the probability that Luke is the author of the "we sections"--i.e., the parts of the Acts which are written in the first person plural (16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16). In these sections the writer is manifestly a companion of Paul, since he writes accurately and with considerable detail, and may well be Luke, since in them Luke himself is never mentioned. The retention of the first person ("we," etc.) is best explained by the view that the writer of these sections is also the author of the Acts as a whole; and strong linguistic arguments have been advanced to show that he is also the author of the gospel.
Lukan authorship is also supported, although by no means demonstrated, by the linguistic evidence which suggests that the author of Luke-Acts was a physician. Much less stress is laid on this "medical argument" today, in consequence of evidence which shows that many of the words formerly cited as "medical words" are used by contemporary and later writers who were not physicians. Other scholars think that this counterargument has been pressed too far and that, while the vocabulary and the style do not prove that the author was a physician, they tend to confirm the ancient tradition. In favor of this view they cite 4:38: "Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever" (cf. Mark 1:30); 5:12: "There came a man full of leprosy" (cf. Mark 1:40); and 8:43, where Luke replaces Mark's description of the woman with the issue of blood ("who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse" Mark 5:26) by the statement that she "could not be healed by any one."
The objections to Lukan authorship turn mainly upon the historical problems which meet us in the Acts, especially the difficulty of reconciling the account of the Apostolic Council in Acts 15:1 with Paul's personal narrative in Gal. 2:1-10 and the problems raised by the decree in Acts 15:23-29 (see COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM). These problems belong mainly to the study of the ACTS and all that can be said here is that the difficulties have been exaggerated, especially if it is remembered that the aims and circumstances of Luke and Paul were different. Some scholars, it may be added, prefer (but on doubtful grounds) to identify Gal. 2:1-10 with Acts 11:27-30; 12:25. See also GALATIANS.
On the question of authorship we may, with some confidence, conclude that the Third Gospel was written by Luke the beloved physician. Much force belongs to B. H. Streeter's words: "The burden of proof is on those who would assert the traditional authorship of Matthew and John and on those who would deny it in the case of Mark and Luke."
2. Purpose. In considering this question we have the advantage of the author's personal explanation in his Preface (1:1-4). He writes to confirm in the minds of his readers the truth of what they have been already taught, presumably in the primitive Christian community. With this end in view he selects from his sources, and from oral tradition, material by which to present an outline of the life, ministry, and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Basically his interests are historical. This fact, it must be said, is one of his virtues, in spite of the tendency of many scholars to describe him in a depreciatory sense as a "historicizer" of the tradition. He does not write as a modern historian would write or within the limitations of his knowledge. His intention is to record what Jesus had said and done in the light of certain definite interests of his own. He is not primarily a theologian, and certainly not a "Paulinist." Irenaeus, we have seen, says that he recorded the gospel preached by Paul; but this statement is quite general and cannot be pressed. Like Paul, Luke speaks expressly of sin (5:8; 7:47), of forgiveness and reconciliation (15:11-32), and records teaching which reminds us of Paul (17:10; 18:14; 19:9-10); but in these respects he simply hands down primitive Christian teaching in which both writers shared. How little Luke had entered into Paul's deepest thoughts is shown by the quite general reference to justification in the apostle's sermon at Antioch of Pisidia: "Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39). This statement is only a pale, and not very accurate, reflection of the kind of teaching we find in Paul's letters--e.g., in Rom. 3:27-31; Gal. 5:1, 13-15. Luke's purposes are not doctrinal, but practical in the best sense of the word.
It is a fascinating, and by no means improbable, suggestion that one of the reasons which shaped the writing of Luke-Acts was the desire to commend Christianity to members of the Roman court circle. T. Flavius Clemens, joint consul in A.D. 95, whose wife Domitilla was an adherent, if not a baptized member, of the church at Rome, was probably favorably disposed to the new faith, and excavations suggest that other members of leading families were also interested in it. The contents of Luke-Acts lend support to this suggestion. The gospel is related to world history in 3:1-2, and Tiberius is mentioned in 3:1 and Augustus in 2:1. Three times Pilate declares Jesus innocent (Luke 23:4, 14, 22), and although he passes sentence upon him, the guilt of the chief priests and rulers of the people is emphasized in the words: "And their voices prevailed," and the statement that he delivered up his prisoner "to their wilt" (23:24-25). In the Acts, Roman officials are not unfriendly, as the references to Sergius Paulus (13:4-12), to the magistrates at Philippi (16:35-40), to Gallio ( 18:12-17), and to the Asiarchs at Ephesus (19:31) show. To Festus, Paul says: "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried; to the Jews I have done no wrong, as you know very well. ... I appeal to Caesar" (25:10-11); and later Agrippa says to Festus: "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar" (26:32). The climax of Luke-Acts describes Paul's preaching and teaching in Rome as being carried on "quite openly and unhindered" (28:30-31). Luke may well have wished to suggest that Christianity was not politically dangerous. This, of course, is not his main purpose, as Luke 1:1-4 makes clear, but it appears to have influenced his use of his material.
3. Contents. The gospel may be summarily outlined as follows:
I. The Preface, 1:1-4
II. The birth and infancy narratives, 1:5-2:52
III. The Galilean ministry, 3:1-9:50
IV The journey to Jerusalem through Samaria, 9:51-19:48
V. The Jerusalem ministry, chs. 20-21
VI. The passion and resurrection narrative, chs. 22-24
a. The Preface. There are several important statements in this passage, the only one of its kind in the Synoptic gospels. Luke speaks of many predecessors. Many, he tells us, had undertaken to compile a narrative of the "things which have been accomplished among us," and they had done this "just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (1:1-2). Mark is certainly one of these early evangelists, but whether the other narratives amounted to gospels is uncertain. Who the others were we do not know, and it is idle to guess. Luke may be referring to those, including perhaps himself, who had already strung together groups of narratives and sayings illustrative of various aspects of the ministry of Jesus. He modestly says that it seemed good to him to write an orderly account inasmuch as he had followed the course of all things closely (or "accurately") from the first.
b. The birth and infancy narratives. The change from the excellent Greek of the Preface to the Hebraistic Greek of 1:5-2:52 is noted by all commentators. Semitic idioms and the biblical style of the narratives suggest that the evangelist either is using a Hebrew or Aramaic document or is deliberately adapting his language to that of the Greek OT. A series of narratives which announce the birth of John the Baptist, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, his conception, birth, and circumcision, is balanced at every point by a second series concerning Jesus which ends with the story of his visit to Jerusalem and the temple at the age of twelve. It has been conjectured that the basic cycle is that concerning John and that the evangelist has shaped the narratives about the birth and infancy of Jesus in accordance with it. A reference to the Virgin Birth appears in 1:34-35: "And Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I have no husband?' And the angel said to her,
'The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God.'"
Some think that this passage may have been added at the time of the composition of the gospel, or less probably later, since it is difficult to harmonize it with the terms of the messianic prophecy in 1:30-33, but most commentators conclude that it is an original element in the cycle. The beauty and restraint of the whole section, its marked Jewish-Christian character, as seen in the great hymns which have come to be known as the Benedictus, the Magnificat, the Gloria in Excelsis, and the Nunc Dimittis, and the deep religious spirit which prevails throughout--these are some of the characteristics of these matchless chapters.
c. The Galilean ministry. As in Mark and Matthew, the early ministry is introduced with an account of the preaching of John and the baptism of Jesus. Distinctive of the gospel is the elaborate, sixfold date in 3:1-2. After a summary reference to the imprisonment of John and a brief account of the baptism of Jesus, a genealogy is introduced which traces his descent from Adam, "the son of God" (3:23-38). "Full of the Holy Spirit," Jesus is led into the wilderness and "tempted by the devil"; and returning "in the power of the Spirit," he begins a teaching and healing ministry in Galilee, "being glorified by all" (4:1-15).
With intention Luke sets at the beginning of the ministry an independent account of the preaching of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth (4:16-30), a story which sounds the note of universalism characteristic of his special interests. From this point he is dependent mainly on his principal sources, but he introduces material peculiar to his gospel in the narratives of the call of the first disciples (5:1-11), the raising of the widow's son at Nain (7:11-17), the woman of the city (7:36-50), and the ministering women from Galilee (8:1-3). In 6:20-49 he introduces the Great Sermon. The form is more compact than Matthew's SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Matt. 5:1-7). This is followed by other material from the same sayings source.
The rest of the section consists of portions of Mark. Thus Luke retells the stories of the storm on the lake (8:22-25), the Gerasene demoniac (8:26-39), the raising of Jairus' daughter (8:40-56), the mission of the Twelve (9:10-17), the confession of Peter (9:18-22), the Transfiguration (9:28-36), the epileptic lad (9:37-43), the second prophecy of the Passion (9:43b-45), the child in the midst (9:46-48), and the man casting out devils who was not a disciple (9:49-50). This Markan material consists of extracts (Mark 1:21-39; 1:40-3:19; 3:31-35; 4:1-25; 4:35-6:44; 8:27-9:40), some of them long, as will be seen. In these sections Mark's order is meticulously followed, with transpositions only in 3:7-19, 31-35. Clearly for this part of his gospel Luke had little special information of his own apart from isolated traditions noted above.
d. The journey to Jerusalem through Samaria. It would be tedious, and it is not necessary, to list all the narratives and sayings in this long section of some ten chapters. In 9:51-18:14 Mark is not used at all, except possibly in a few phrases.
The section opens with a summary statement: "When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem" (9:51). Its amorphous contents are linked loosely together by such passages as 13:22: "He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem"; 17:11: "On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee"; and by briefer captions introducing single narratives and groups of sayings and parables. Manifestly, Luke had no detailed chronological knowledge of the course of events in this journey.
Various reasons have been suggested for this want of continuity. It has been conjectured that accounts of three separate journeys have been loosely compiled. It has even been suggested that the evangelist has selected and arranged his material so as to present a sequence corresponding to the book of Deuteronomy. A better suggestion is that he is making use of existing groups of tradition compiled for the guidance of individual missionaries on such topics as the charge of Jesus to his disciples, prayer, miracles, wealth, forgiveness, and mammon. More is to be said for the view that Luke has followed the order of Q (see § 5b below), and has introduced his special tradition at appropriate points. This view would not rule out the probability that Q was preceded by groups of allied materials.
More important than the origins of this long section is the distinctively Lukan material which it contains. It is this section more than any other which gives to the gospel its peculiar stamp. Outstanding among the contents are the parables of the good Samaritan, the friend at midnight, the rich fool, the tower builder, the rash king, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the unjust steward, the rich man and Lazarus, the farmer and his servant, the unjust judge, the Pharisee and the tax collector, and the pounds; and such stories as Martha and Mary, the woman who cried: "Blessed is the womb that bore you," Herod's threat, Zacchaeus, and the weeping over Jerusalem. The religious value of this material cannot be estimated.
e. The Jerusalem ministry. In this section Luke is again largely dependent on Mark for his account of the controversies in Jerusalem and at least part of the eschatological discourse on the Mount of Olives. The discourse is of special importance because in 21:20-36 he appears to be using a special tradition. Several American and British scholars have more or less independently maintained that the evangelist has inserted short Markan extracts (vss. 21a, 23a, 26b-27, 29-33) into a section which otherwise is non-Markan. The importance of this contention is that, if this view is accepted, it disposes of the common objection that Luke would probably not deliberately have interpolated verses from Mark into another source. The apparent fact that he does this very thing in 21:20-36 bears closely upon the vital question of the origins of his passion and resurrection narrative.
As for the discourse itself, in spite of much that has been said to the contrary, one can be far from certain that it reflects a knowledge of the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 68-70, as indeed we should have to conclude if Luke 21:20-24 is only an editorial expansion of Mark 13:14-20.
A feature of the Lukan discourse is that it emphasizes the political more than the eschatological aspects of the teaching of Jesus. In 21:37 Luke adds the summary statement: "Every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him." This passage appears to be more than a mere editorial expansion of Mark 11:19.
f. The passion and resurrection narrative. The nature of chs. 22-24 presents the greatest difficulties to the commentator, and, at the same time, is a matter of great importance for the general reader. If, as is commonly held, this section is a re-edited version of Mark's account, with certain Lukan additions, its historical value will be appreciably less than the estimate we may put upon it if, in fact, it contains an independent Lukan account of the Passion with Markan supplements. Some of the facts connected with the problem are undoubted. Luke 22:1-13 is certainly a re-edited version of Mark 14:1-2, 10-16; and Luke 24:13-53 (the journey to Emmaus, the appearance to the Eleven, and the Ascension) is a part of Luke's special tradition. In the intervening section, Luke 22:14-24:11 (24:12 is no part of the original text: see § 10 below), there are also several passages which have indubitably been drawn from Mark. These include Luke 22:19a, 22, 34, 46b(?), 50b, 52-53a, 54b61; 23:3, 26, 34b(?), 38, 44-45, 50-54; 24:10(?); and perhaps other passages in 22:39-46, 47-53; 23:18-25.
The beauty, pathos, and religious value of the distinctively Lukan elements in chs. 22-24 are recognized by all. This applies especially to the narratives of the Agony (22:39-46), the women of Jerusalem (23: 27-31), and the Emmaus story (24:13-35). On the other hand, the appearance to the Eleven (24:36-43) contains legendary elements in the references to "flesh and bones" and the eating of "broiled fish." The passion narrative, and the gospel as a whole, find an impressive climax in the words: "Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God."
4. Distinctive characteristics. a. Universalism. This quality has already been noted in the account of the sermon at Nazareth, in the references to the widow at Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (4:25-27). It runs throughout the gospel--in the birth stories, where the promised salvation is described as a "light for revelation to the Gentiles" (2:32); in the parable of the great supper, in which the servant is bidden to "go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in" (14:23); and in the story of the appearance to the Eleven according to which the disciples are to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins "to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (24:47).
b. An interest in social relationships. This concern appears in the beatitudes addressed to the poor and woes addressed to the rich (6:20-26). Illustrations from finance are frequent--e.g., in many of the parables, such as the two debtors, the rich fool, the tower builder, the rich man and Lazarus, and the pounds. There are also several references to almsgiving (11:41; 12:33), and frequent allusions to lodging and entertainment (2:7; 9:12; 21:37; also 7:36 ff; 10:38 ff; 13:26; etc.).
c. A deep concern for outcasts, sinners, and Samaritans. See 5:l-11; 7:36 ff; 9:51-55; 10:29-37; 17:11-19; 18:9-14; 19:1-10; 23:39-43. The remark of Harnack has often been quoted: "He has a boundless--indeed a paradoxical--love for sinners, together with the most confident hope of their forgiveness and amendment."
d. An interest in stories about women. This interest is illustrated in portraiture of the Virgin, Elizabeth, Anna, the widow at Nain, the penitent harlot, the ministering women from Galilee, Martha and Mary, the bent woman, and the women mentioned in the parables of the lost coin and the unjust judge. The same interest, it will be recalled, is manifest in the Acts in the stories about Tabitha, Lydia, Priscilla, and the four daughters of Philip the evangelist.
e. An emphasis on joy, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. The angelic message to the shepherds speaks of "good news of a great joy which will come to all the people" (2:10). Prayer is mentioned in 5:16; 6:12; 11:1; 22:32, 41-42. On the cross Jesus prays: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," and commends himself to the Father in the words: "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit" (23:46). The Holy Spirit is mentioned in 4:1, 14, and again at 10:21, and the gift of the Spirit to the disciples is promised in the words: "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (24:49). These same interests are abundantly illustrated in the Acts.
f. An emphasis on the graciousness and severity of the demands of Jesus. The graciousness of the Lukan Jesus is universally recognized. At Nazareth "all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth" (4:22). Tenderness and compassion shine in the narratives of the woman of the city, Zacchaeus, and the penitent bandit. It is not always immediately recognized, however, that along with this graciousness there is an imperious note in the sayings of Jesus. Without counseling hatred, he demands undivided loyalty to himself in the saying: "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (14:26); this saying appears in a more challenging form than in the parallel in Matt. 10:37. Complete renunciation is required in the words which follow the parable of the rash king: "So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (14:33). The saying on salt (14:34-35; cf. Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:50), which closes this group, appears in a form more searching and more absolute than in the parallel versions: "Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
g. The stress on the lordship of Christ. The sonship of Christ, while fully recognized in Luke (cf. 1:35; 3:22; 4:3, 9; 10:22), is not emphasized to the degree illustrated in the Pauline letters and the Johannine writings. The stress lies, as indeed it does in the case of Paul, upon the lordship of Christ. This is true also of the Acts. In fact, we may say that the Christology of Luke-Acts is that of primitive Christianity. The evangelist uses the title "the Lord" at least eighteen times, and in various combinations nearly fifty times in the Acts. There can be little doubt that it expresses an attitude of marked religious veneration.
h. The interest taken in the Passion. In this respect the gospel resembles Mark, but there is perhaps a greater interest in its tragic aspects. In 9:51 Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem. In 12:50, in a saying found only in Luke, Jesus says: "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!" (cf. Mark 10:39). In reply to the threats of Herod Antipas, he says: "Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course" (13:32); and, at the Last Supper, he quotes Isa. 53:12 in the words: "I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was reckoned with transgressors'; for what is written about me has its fulfilment'" (22:37). The last clause in this passage has even greater point if, with a number of scholars, it is rendered: "For my life draws to its end." In Luke, Christ is the divine Son and Lord who in filial obedience fulfils a ministry of grace which culminates in suffering, death, and resurrection.
5. Sources. Already, in discussing the ideas characteristic of this gospel, it has been found difficult to avoid references to its sources. They are Mark, Q, L, and the birth and infancy narrative.
a. Mark. The evangelist's use of Mark is beyond question. It is one of his principal sources, and is generally held to provide the framework of his gospel. In 3:1-4:30 the phrases "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (3:3) and "the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie" (3:16) appear to have been drawn from Mark. In 22:14-24:11 a greater use of Mark is made. In both these sections, however, the question of sources is very complicated and is still open to argument.
A most copious use of Mark is obvious in the long intervening section 4:31-22:13, and it is here more than anywhere else that we can best assess Luke's dependence upon this source. Here the Markan sections are: Luke 4:31-44; 5:12-6:11 (19); 8:4-9:50; 18:15-43; 19:29-36, 45-46; 20:1-:21:11, 16-17; 22:1-13. In these passages the proportion of words shared with Mark ranges from 52 to 68 per cent, in spite of changes of vocabulary and style. (Only in 4:40-44; 5:36-38; 6:6-19; 9:28-45; 19:47-48, does the agreement fall below 45 per cent.) Percentages may be thought a mechanical means of deciding dependence, but they draw attention to, and confirm, conclusions suggested by a close linguistic comparison, and the upshot is to show that Luke uses Mark with a high degree of fidelity to his source, despite additions and changes. They justify hesitation when elsewhere in the gospel commentators find it necessary to describe Luke's narratives as "editorial" or as a "radical revision of Mark."
It is important to observe that, while Luke uses Mark, he omits nearly half the material in his source, and that the verses which he takes over do not amount to a third of his own gospel (300-350 verses out of 1,149). Luke is indebted to Q, L, and oral tradition to a far greater extent than he is to Mark.
b. Q. This is the sayings source used independently by Matthew and Luke. The material Luke derives from Q amounts to some 220-30 verses. It includes the following passages: Luke 3:7-9, 16-17, 21-22; 4:1-13; 6:20-23, 27-49; 7:1-10, 18-28, 31-35; 9:57-60; 10:2-16, 21-24; 11:2-4, 9-26, 29-35, 49-51; 12:2-12, 22-31, 33b-34, 39-46, 51-53, 57-59; 13:18-29, 34-35; 14:11, 15-24, 26-27; 16:13, 16-18; 17:1-6, 23-24, 26-27, 33-35, 37; 22:30b. Probably also it contained a few passages not found in Matthew, including 6:24-26; 9:61-62; 12:35-38, 47-48, 54-56. Q may have been preceded by short groups of sayings and parables, but there can be little doubt that it was in the form of a document at the time when Matthew and Luke wrote. This inference is suggested by two facts: (a) that many sequences of passages can be traced between Luke and the five groups Matt. 5:1-7; 10; 13; 18; 23-25; and a sixth group consisting of the rest of Matthew; and (b) that the sayings not in sequences are those which the First Evangelist has conflated with material derived from other sources (Mark and M). There are good grounds for believing that Luke reproduces Q in its original order, and that he adheres closely to its text. After decades of further research the probability remains that, whether Luke recorded the words of Jesus from Mark or found them in Q, he seldom made any changes for the sake of giving them wider scope or application.
An important fact bearing upon the composition of the gospel is that material from Mark is not introduced into Q contexts and that Q sayings are not inserted in Markan contexts. The contents of the two sources are segregated. In contrast, material peculiar to Luke, usually designated by the symbol L, is commonly and freely connected with the Q passages listed above.
c. L. The evangelist owes more of his material to L than to any other source. Some 400-450 verses belong to this source apart from the 132 verses in Luke 1:1-2. It has been maintained that L was a document, but it may be doubted that this view can be sustained, if the birth stories belong to a separate source. It is best to regard L as a body of oral tradition which Luke first reduced to writing at Caesarea.
It is the L material which gives much of its distinctive character to the Third Gospel. To it belong the parables and narratives peculiar to Luke which already have been enumerated (see §§ 3c-f above). Besides these parables and narratives Luke has derived groups of sayings from this cycle: on dividing the inheritance (12:13-15); on being invited to a banquet and on issuing invitations (14:7-14); on mammon (16:9-12); on wealth (16:14-15); on true greatness (22:24-30); together with the non-Markan parts of 21:12-36.
A reasonable conjecture is that this L material was collected by Luke ca. A.D. 60, when, as he tells us in Acts 21:8-9, he remained with his companions "many days" in the house of Philip the evangelist at Caesarea. Philip, he tells us, had four unmarried daughters. In view of the special interest in women which marks the L tradition, it may well be that these women were the evangelist's intermediaries. The probability that his information reached him in an oral form is supported by the fact that his distinctive style is especially marked in the narratives and parables derived from this source--in 5:1-11; 7:36-50; 10:29-37; 17:11-19; 19:41-44; 23:5-12, 14-15, 39-43; 24:13-35, 36-53.
d. The birth and infancy narrative. The biblical style and the Semitic idioms of Luke 1:1-2 have already been mentioned. The question arises how far these linguistic features are due to Luke himself and how far they are distinctive features of a source. Upon this issue critical opinion is divided. It may be that Luke is dependent on oral tradition and that he deliberately used the idioms of the LXX as being peculiarly appropriate to these stories. The alternative is to suppose that he drew upon Hebrew or Aramaic sources, possibly already translated into Greek, and that he embellished them by the artistry of his style. These stylistic features are more strongly marked in the annunciation to Mary (1:26-38) and the visit of Mary to Elizabeth (1:39-45, 56), and again in the narratives of Luke 2:1, than they are in the Baptist stories (1:5-23, 57-80); and to this extent the hypothesis that the Baptist cycle is basic is supported. The intermediaries are probably women, perhaps those who handed down the L tradition. It has often been conjectured that the ultimate authority for the birth stories is Mary the Virgin, and support for this view is afforded by the delicacy of the narratives and by 2:19: "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart," and 2:51: "He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart." This suggestion must remain conjectural, since it depends for its force upon the view taken of the historical value of the birth and infancy tradition. The date when this tradition first became a matter of general knowledge in the church is the period A.D. 60-80. How much older it is, we do not know.
How Luke has used the four sources described above is a question upon which opinion is divided. The generally accepted view is that Mark forms the framework of the gospel, into which, mainly at two points, Luke introduced the matter he drew from Q and L, prefacing the whole with the birth and infancy section and inserting his special tradition in the passion and resurrection narrative. The two sections in the body of the gospel in which non-Markan material has been introduced are 6:20-8:3; 9:51-18:14, the so-called "lesser" and "greater interpolations." How far this construction is sound depends on the view taken of the Proto-Luke hypothesis, of which some account must now be given. See SYNOPTIC PROBLEM.
6. Proto-Luke. Although the existence of Proto-Luke is disputed, a summary statement of the hypothesis must be supplied, in view of its wide acceptance and the probability that, in some form or other, it represents a stage in the composition of the Third Gospel. Proto-Luke is not a lost gospel, but a first draft on which, it is presumed, Luke drew when composing his gospel. According to the hypothesis, he began with Q and expanded it with material from L and an account of the Passion and the Resurrection. Later he enlarged it with many longer or shorter extracts from Mark, with the birth stories, and with the Preface to the gospel. The hypothesis is represented by the formula: (Q + L) + Mark + the birth stories + the Preface = Luke.
For a detailed account of this hypothesis, reference must be made to the textbooks. Here only a brief summary of the main points can be offered.
As already observed, the Q passages in the gospel are constantly combined with material from L, but Q and the Markan passages stand apart. The presumption is that Q + L represents a stage antecedent to the composition of the gospel. This part of the hypothesis would be widely conceded.
The Markan sections in Luke, which consist of larger or shorter extracts, do not form a whole, but appear to be inserted in non-Markan contexts (Q + L). The same structure is present in the eschatological discourse (Luke 21:1) and in the passion narrative (Luke 22:1-24). If this is so, Proto-Luke is an original entity. This view would not necessarily be inconsistent with the widespread opinion that Mark supplies the ground plan of the gospel.
The non-Markan parts of Luke form a readable whole with a continuity of their own.
If Luke expanded Proto-Luke, we see why he omitted so much of Mark. He passed by material to which he already had parallel or similar versions.
The sixfold date in 3:1-2 and the position of the genealogy in 3:23-38 are intelligible if they stood at the beginning of Proto-Luke, and the statement in the Preface, that the evangelist has "followed all things closely for some time past" (or better, "from the beginning"), is in harmony with the hypothesis.
The passages which, it is suggested, belonged to Proto-Luke include: 3:1-4:30; 5:1-11; 6:20-8:3; 9:51-18:14; 19:1-28, 37-44, 47-48; 22:14-24:53 (minus the Markan insertions). (See § 3f above.) The obvious difficulties of the hypothesis are the gaps between 8:3 and 9:51 and before 22:14. Whether 21:20-38 formed part of Proto-Luke cannot be demonstrated, and the same is true of the original introduction to the passion narrative, which, apparently, the Markan passage, Luke 22:1-13, has replaced. In general, one must say that the hypothesis has suffered from attempts to determine too precisely the contents of Proto-Luke, especially in the passion narrative; but that Q + L had been compiled before the gospel was written has much probability. If this is so, the importance of Proto-Luke, as a source slightly earlier than Mark and comparable with it, is great; and we have a broader basis for the gospel tradition and a better insight into Luke's methods as an evangelist.
7. Date. The date is not easy to determine, but most is to be said for a date ca.A.D. 80. The main competing views are as follows:
a) A date ca. A.D. 60 was suggested by A. Harnack as a consequence of his submission that Acts was compiled shortly after Paul's imprisonment for two years in his "hired house" (RSV "at his own expense") in Rome (Acts 28:30-31). The difficulty in accepting this date is that it compels us to assign Luke-Acts to a period earlier than the contents of these writings would naturally suggest, and to date Mark as early as 50-60. Mark 13:14 suggests that the investment of Jerusalem by the Romans was imminent, and this circumstance makes it impossible to date Mark earlier than ca. 65-67. If this opinion is accepted, the composition of Luke must be later.
b) Many scholars have held that Luke is indebted to Josephus, who wrote his Jewish War before the death of Vespasian in 79 and his Antiquities in 93. If this is so, the gospel must be dated ca. 100. Luke's language, it is held, reflects the vocabulary and style of Josephus. In particular, it is argued, he was misled by what Josephus wrote about LYSANIAS (Luke 3:1) and THEUDAS (Acts 5:36-37). As regards the former, to whom Luke refers in the phrase "Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene," we now know from an inscription that there was a younger Lysanias, and Luke's statement is thus correct. The difficulty in the allusion to Theudas is less easily met, but even if Luke is guilty of an anachronism, it is far from probable that he was misled by what he read in Jos. Antiq. XX.v.1, where Josephus speaks of a revolt under Theudas when Fadus was procurator of Judea (A.D. 44-46). The linguistic argument for dependence upon the works of Josephus is held by very many scholars to be "not proven" or "not quite conclusive." It does not seem necessary, therefore, to date the gospel at the end of the first century.
c) The commonly accepted view, that in consequence of his use of Mark, Luke's Gospel belongs to the period 70-80, must be held to stand. It is often argued that Luke 21:20: "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near," is a conscious modification of Mark 13:14: "When you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand); then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." If this plea is accepted, the date must be subsequent to 68-70. It does not seem necessary to take this view of Luke 21:20 in the light of other references to the fate of the city (Luke 13:34-35; 19:41-44); but, in any case, a date after the fall of Jerusalem seems probable, and toward the end of the decade 70-80 rather than earlier. The use of the name "the lord" for Jesus and the development of the tradition as it appears in the Acts, in the account of the Apostolic Council (Acts 15:1) and in other narratives, support this view. It should be remembered, however, that while the actual composition of the gospel is comparatively late, it draws upon much earlier sources, which, we have maintained, were used with fidelity.
8. Place of writing. Where the gospel was written we do not know. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue mentions Achaea. This tradition is attested by Gregory of Nazianzus (Oratio 23.11) and is reflected by Jerome (Preface to Matthew), but there are no strong arguments in its favor. The further tradition, that Luke was buried at Thebes in Boeotia, throws no light upon the place of composition. The probability that Luke first read the Gospel of Mark at Rome, and the possibility that one of the reasons Luke-Acts was written was to present the case for Christianity (see § 2 above) support the Roman origin of the Third Gospel. It is also consistent with this suggestion that Acts describes the expansion of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome, reaching its climax in the reference to Paul's preaching and teaching in Rome "quite openly and unhindered" (28:30-31). These arguments do not amount to demonstration, and no more can be said than that of all suggestions regarding the place of writing the view that the Gospel of Luke was written at Rome is the most probable.
9. Canonicity. The gospel has been included among the books recognized as authoritative in the church from the time when the NT writings first began to be collected and regarded as scripture (see CANON OF THE NT). As is true of all the gospels, its history in the first half of the second century is obscure. Some scholars think that it is quoted in the letter of Clement of Rome to the church at Corinth written ca. 95, but the echoes of gospel tradition in this writing are uncertain; and the same is true of alleged quotations in Ignatius, Polycarp, Barnabas, and the Didache in the opening decades of the second century. It is more widely agreed that Marcion (ca. 140) abbreviated Luke's Gospel in forming his canon, although some scholars prefer to think that he used an earlier form of the gospel on which also Luke depends. With Justin Martyr (ca. 150) the situation becomes clearer, for by general consent he drew upon all the Synoptic gospels in writing his Apologies. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue (A.D. 170) alludes to the composition of the gospel by Luke and says: "Afterwards the same Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles." The same testimony is given by the Muratorian Canon (A.D. 170-200), as we have seen (§ 1 above), while Tatian, the pupil of Justin Martyr, used all four gospels in forming his gospel harmony known as the Diatessaron (A.D. 170). Irenaeus (ca. 185) not only speaks of the composition of the gospel by Luke, but attests the existence of the fourfold gospel canon by curious arguments from the four quarters of the world, the four universal winds, and the fourfold shape of the cherubim. Among other things he says: "The Gospel according to Luke, as having a sacerdotal character, begins with Zacharias the priest offering incense to God" (Her. III. 11.8). At the end of the second century the gospel occupied an undisputed place among the books recognized as scripture by all parts of the Christian church.
It is not necessary to proceed further than the period covered by the testimonies of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. When councils spoke, the gospel had already established itself in the usage of the church, and it is universally accepted by every part of the church today.
10. Text. Several interesting questions arise, some of which are of historical importance, especially in the additions, and still more in the omissions, of Codex Bezae (D), the chief authority for the text current in many quarters, both in the East and in the West, in the second century A.D.
The additions consist of the following:
a) After 6:4, D reads: "On the same day beholding a certain man working on the sabbath day he said to him, 'Man, if you know what you are doing, blessed are you; but if you do not know, you are accursed and a transgressor of the law.'" This passage may well be authentic tradition, but it is not part of the original text of the gospel.
b) In 9:55, supported by other MSS and versions, D adds: "And he said, 'You do not know of what spirit you are.'" In this case there is a greater possibility that the passage is original. The same may also be true of the addition in vs. 54: "as Elijah did" (A C D etc.).
c) In 11:2-4 (the Lord's Prayer), besides smaller additions ("Our Father who art in heaven" instead of the vocative "Father"), D reads: "Let thy kingdom come upon us." Two other MSS (700 and 162) read: "Let thy Holy Spirit come upon us." Some scholars think that this reading is original and that it has support in D. The reference to the Holy Spirit, whose activity is a characteristic interest of Luke, may be held to support this view, but on the whole it is more likely to be a liturgical expansion of the text.
d) In 23:38, with the support of Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, and many early versions, D adds the phrase: "in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew," but this reading is probably an assimilation to the text of John 19:20.
e) In 23:53 a picturesque, but probably not original, addition is made by D in the words: "And when he laid him there, he had a stone placed before the tomb that twenty men could scarcely roll."
The omissions of Codex Bezae are of more importance than the additions, since the tendency of this MS is to add rather than to omit. Among the principal omissions are the following:
a) 5:39: "And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"
b) 7:7a: "Therefore I did not presume to come to you."
c) 10:42: "Few things are needful, or only one."
d) 11:35-36: "Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light."
e) 12:19: "laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink."
f) 19:25: "And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten pounds!'"
g) 22:19b-20: "'which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' And likewise the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'"
h) 24:6: "He is not here, but has risen."
i) 24:12: "But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened."
j) 24:36: "And said to them, 'Peace to you!'"
k) 24:40: "And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet."
l) 24:51: "and was carried up into heaven."
m) 24:52: "worshiped him, and."
In most of these omissions Codex Bezae is supported by important OL MSS and often by the Old Syr. version, Marcion, and Tatian. The tendency of textual critics and commentators is to reject these passages. Those in ch. 24, along with 22:19b-20, are assigned to the margin by the RSV. Westcott and Hort enclose them in double square brackets and describe them as "Western non-interpolations." A better name would be "Alexandrian" or "Neutral insertions." Recently a more favorable estimate has been formed of some of these passages, notably 22:19b-20; 24:51. The former, which belongs to the longer text of the narrative of the institution of the Lord's Supper, is accepted as original by a number of scholars, but is still rejected as based on Mark 14:24;I Cor. 11:24-25, by very many others. 24:51: "and was carried up into heaven," the only allusion to the Ascension in the Synoptic gospels, is also accepted by many who suggest that it may have been canceled because it does not harmonize with the forty days' interval mentioned in Acts 1:3.
Two other passages must be mentioned because they are omitted by a number of MSS: 22:43-44, which describes the agony and bloody sweat, and 23:34: "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'" The former is omitted by Codex Vaticanus (B) and the Washington Codex (W), and by many other authorities, but its Lukan characteristics suggest that it is original, its omission being due to the feeling that it was derogatory to the full divinity of Christ. The latter, which is omitted by many of the same MSS, is recognized as containing genuine tradition by many who reject its authenticity. It should probably be read, since it may well have been omitted because in the second century some found it difficult to believe that God could, or ought to, forgive the Jews. Both passages are read by the RSV with notes in the margin.
It will be seen that the textual problems of the Third Gospel are as interesting as they are difficult. The difficulties are enhanced by the fact that Marcion often agrees with Codex Bezae in the omissions listed above, and it is hard to determine how far Marcion is a witness to the original text and how far his omissions are deliberate cancellations. Where it is not possible to show that the omissions represent his known doctrinal views, he should be regarded as an early and valuable witness to the original text of Luke. See TEXT, NT.
11. The value of Luke. An outstanding feature of the gospel is the variety and extent of its points of value. The close bearing of its use of sources upon historical problems is one of these. When both Mark and Luke record the same incident, we naturally turn to Mark as our primary authority; but Luke's version is always of interest because he is the earliest commentator on that gospel, and because we can trace the influence of his special interests upon all that he writes. Luke's Gospel, along with that of Matthew, is the starting point for any useful study of Q, and it is also a mirror in which we can faintly see stages behind the compilation of that source.
His special tradition, however, is the theme of greatest interest on the critical side, for the artistry of his writing should not be allowed to conceal from us the wealth of the early tradition he records. There is doubtless a kind of film overshadowing his narratives, so that the rugged character of the earliest tradition is hidden from us. One notices a certain tendency for details from one narrative to pass over to another. Thus, in his account of the Great Commandment (10:25-28) he introduces the question: "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" and there are correspondences between the story of the woman of the city (7:36-50) and that of the anointing at Bethany in Mark (14:3-9) and John (12:1-8). The stories have been shortened and rounded in the course of transmission and developed by Luke's art, so that in them there is a combination of simplicity and directness with a certain vagueness of outline.
The textual value of Luke has been sufficiently indicated. Luke-Acts is the gateway to many textual studies.
The charm and literary value of the gospel will always be highly esteemed, and it is not surprising that later tradition speaks of the evangelist as an artist. Perhaps the greatest service of the gospel is its value to the preacher, in its broad humanity, the beauty of its parables, and its portraiture of Jesus. How much we owe to the statement that "Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man" (2:52)! Each of the gospels has its special dignity and worth. Luke's Gospel will always stand out as that of a "scribe of the gentleness of Christ" (Dante De Monarchia 1.16[18]).

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