Luke, The Book of (Gospel of)
| RELATED: Apostle(s), Disciple(s), Galilee, Gospels, The; Jesus, John the Baptist, Lord's Supper, Luke (the Evangelist) Parable, Pilate, Sabbath, Sermon on the Mount, The Transfiguration
AUTHOR: Luke (the Evangelist)
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King James Version,
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Easton's Bible Dictionary
was written by Luke. He does not claim to have been an
eye-witness of our Lord's ministry, but to have gone to the best sources of information
within his reach, and to have written an orderly narrative of the facts ( Luke
1:1 - 4 ). The authors of the first three Gospels, the synoptics, wrote independently
of each other. Each wrote his independent narrative under the guidance of the
Each writer has some things, both in matter and style, peculiar to himself, yet
all the three have much in common. Luke's Gospel has been called "the Gospel of
the nations, full of mercy and hope, assured to the world by the love of a suffering
Saviour;" "the Gospel of the saintly life;" "the Gospel for the Greeks; the Gospel
of the future; the Gospel of progressive Christianity, of the universality and
gratuitousness of the gospel; the historic Gospel; the Gospel of Jesus as the
good Physician and the Saviour of mankind;" the "Gospel of the Fatherhood of God
and the brotherhood of man;" "the Gospel of womanhood;" "the Gospel of the outcast,
of the Samaritan, the publican, the harlot, and the prodigal;" "the Gospel of
tolerance." The main characteristic of this Gospel, as Farrar (Cambridge Bible,
Luke, Introd.) remarks, is fitly expressed in the motto, "Who went about doing
good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" ( Acts 10:38 ; Compare
Luke 4:18 ). Luke wrote for the "Hellenic world." This Gospel is indeed "rich
"Out of a total of 1151 verses, Luke has 389 in common with Matthew and Mark,
176 in common with Matthew alone, 41 in common with Mark alone, leaving 544 peculiar
to himself. In many instances all three use identical language." (See MATTHEW;
There are seventeen of our Lord's parables peculiar to this Gospel. (See List
of Parables in Appendix.) Luke also records seven of our Lord's miracles which
are omitted by Matthew and Mark. (See List of Miracles in Appendix.) The synoptical
Gospels are related to each other after the following scheme. If the contents
of each Gospel be represented by 100, then when compared this result is obtained:
Mark has 7 peculiarities, 93 coincidences. Matthew 42 peculiarities, 58 coincidences.
Luke 59 peculiarities, 41 coincidences. That is, thirteen-fourteenths of Mark,
four-sevenths of Matthew, and two-fifths of Luke are taken up in describing the
same things in very similar language.
Luke's style is more finished and classical than that of Matthew and Mark. There
is less in it of the Hebrew idiom. He uses a few Latin words ( Luke 12:6 ; 7:41
; 8:30 ; 11:33 ; 19:20 ), but no Syriac or Hebrew words except sikera, an exciting
drink of the nature of wine, but not made of grapes (from Heb. shakar, "he is
intoxicated", Leviticus 10:9 ), probably palm wine.
This Gospel contains twenty-eight distinct references to the Old Testament.
The date of its composition is uncertain. It must have been written before the
Acts, the date of the composition of which is generally fixed at about 63 or 64
A.D. This Gospel was written, therefore, probably about 60 or 63, when Luke may
have been at Caesarea in attendance on Paul, who was then a prisoner. Others have
conjectured that it was written at Rome during Paul's imprisonment there. But
on this point no positive certainty can be attained.
It is commonly supposed that Luke wrote under the direction, if not at the dictation
of Paul. Many words and phrases are common to both; e.g., compare:
Luke 22:19, Luke 22:20
1 Corinthians 2:4
2 Corinthians 1:3
2 Corinthians 10:8
1 Corinthians 10:27
2 Thessalonians 1:11
1 Corinthians 11:23 - 29
1 Corinthians 15:5
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
The third Gospel is ascribed, by the general consent
of ancient Christendom, to "the beloved physician," Luke, the friend and companion
of the apostle Paul.
Date of the Gospel of Luke. --
From ( Acts 1:1 ) it is clear that the Gospel described "the former treatise"
was written before the Acts of the Apostles; but how much earlier is uncertain.
Perhaps it was written at Caesarea during St. Pauls imprisonment there, A.D. 58-60.
Place where the Gospel was written. --
If the time has been rightly indicated, the place would be Caesarea.
Origin of the Gospel. --
The preface, contained in the first four verses of the Gospel, describes the object
of its writer. Here are several facts to be observed. There were many narratives
of the life of our Lord Current at the early time when Luke wrote his Gospel.
The ground of fitness for the task St. Luke places in his having carefully followed
out the whole course of events from the beginning. He does not claim the character
of an eye-witness from the first but possibly he may have been a witness of some
part of our Lords doings. The ancient opinion that Luke wrote his Gospel under
the influence of Paul rests on the authority of Irenreus, Tertulian, Origen and
Eusebius. The four verses could not have been put at the head of a history composed
under the exclusive guidance of Paul or of any one apostle and as little could
they have introduced a gospel simply communicated by another. The truth seems
to be that St. Luke, seeking information from every quarter, sought it from the
preaching of his be loved master St. Paul; and the apostle in his turn employed
the knowledge acquired from other sources by his disciple.
Purpose for which the Gospel was written. --
The evangelist professes to write that Theophilus "might know the certainty of
those things wherein he had been instructed." ch, ( Luke 1:4 ) This Theophilus
was probably a native of Italy and perhaps an inhabitant of Rome, in tracing St.
Pauls journey to Rome, places which an Italian might be supposed not to know are
described minutely, ( Acts 27:8 , 27:12, 27:16 ) but when he comes to Sicily and
Italy this is neglected. Hence it would appear that the person for whom Luke wrote
in the first instance was a Gentile reader; and accordingly we find traces in
the Gospel of a leaning toward Gentile rather than Jewish converts.
Language and style of the Gospel. --
It has never been doubted that the Gospel was written in Greek, whilst Hebraisms
are frequent, classical idioms and Greek compound words abound, for which there
is classical authority. (Prof. Gregory, in "Why Four Gospels" says that Luke wrote
for Greek readers, and therefore the character and needs of the Greeks furnish
the key to this Gospel. The Greek was the representation of reason and humanity.
He looked upon himself as having the mission of perfecting man. He was intellectual,
cultured, not without hope of a higher world. Lukes Gospel therefore represented
the character and career of Christ as answering the conception of a perfect and
divine humanity. Reason, beauty righteousness and truth are exhibited as they
meet in Jesus in their full splendor. Jesus was the Saviour of all men, redeeming
them to a perfect and cultured manhood. --ED.)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The five primary uncials (Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi,
Bezae) are the chief witnesses for the text of Luke's Gospel. This group is reinforced
by L, Codex Delta and the Freer (Detroit) MS; R, T, X and Xi are also valuable
in fragments. The other uncials are of secondary value. The Latin, Egyptian and
Syriac versions are also of great importance. There are 4 Latin versions (African,
European, Italian, Vulgate), 3 Egyptian (Memphitic, Sahidic, Bohairic), 5 Syriac
(Curetonian, Sinaitic, Peshitto, Harclean, Palestinian or Jerusalem). Many of
the cursive (minuscule) manuscripts are also of considerable worth, as are some
of the quotations from the Fathers.
Blass, Philology of the Gospels (1898), has advanced theory of two recensions
of this Gospel (a longer and a shorter), such as he holds to be true of Acts.
In the case of Acts, theory has won some acceptance (see ACTS
OF THE APOSTLES), but that is not true of the Gospel to any extent. The Western
text of the Gospel is the shorter text, while in Acts it is the longer text. In
both instances Blass holds that the shorter text was issued after the longer and
original text. His idea is that Luke himself revised and issued the shorter text.
In itself this is, of course, possible, since the books are both addressed to
an individual, Theophilus. The other edition may have been meant for others. Westcott
and Hort, The New Testament in Greek explain the omission in the Western text
of the Gospel as "Western non-interpolations," and often hold them to be the true
text. As samples one may note Luke 10:41 ; 12:19 ; 24:36 , 40 , 42 , where the
Western text is the shorter text. This is not always true, however, for in 6:2
Codex Bezae (D) has the famous passage about the man working on the Sabbath, which
the other documents do not give. In Luke 3:22, D has the reading of Psalms 2:7
(" Thou art my Son; this day I have begotten thee") for the usual text. Zahn (Introduction,
III, 38) accepts this as the true text. There is no doubt of the interest and
value of the Western readings in Luke, but it cannot be said that Blass has carried
his point here. The peculiar mutilation of the Gospel by Marcion has an interest
of its own.
Plummer (Commentary on Luke, lxxx) says: "In the second half of the 2nd century
this Gospel is recognized as authentic and authoritative; and it is impossible
to show that it had not been thus recognized at a very much earlier date." On
the other hand, Schmiedel (Encyclopedia Biblica) says: "This 'tradition,' however,
cannot be traced farther back than toward the end of the 2nd century (Irenaeus,
Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and the Muratorian Fragment); there is no sound
basis for the contention of Zahn (II, 175) that the existence of the tradition
can also be found as early as in Marcion, because that writer, from his aversion
to the Third Gospel (which nevertheless was the only one he admitted into his
collection--with alterations it is true) omitted the expression of honor applied
to Luke in Colossians 4:14." Here the two views are well stated. Schmiedel shows
dogmatic bias and prejudice against Luke. Julicher, however, frankly admits (Intro,
330) that "the ancients were universally agreed that the writer was that Luke,
disciple of Paul, who is mentioned in Philemon 1:24 ; 2 Timothy 4:11, and called
'the physician' in Colossians 4:14; presumably a native of Antioch." This statement
bears more directly on the question of authorship than of canonicity, but it is
a good retort to the rather cavalier tone of Schmiedel, who is reluctant to admit
the facts. The recognition of the Third Gospel in the Muratorian Canon (170 AD)
is a fact of much significance. It was used in Tatian's Diatessaron (circa 170
AD) as one of the four recognized Gospels (compare Hemphill, Diatessaron of Tatian,
3). The fact that Marcion (140 AD) mutilated this Gospel to suit his theology
and thus used it is even more significant (compare Sanday, Gospels in the 2nd
Century, Appendix). Other heretics like the Valentinians (compare Lightfoot, Biblical
Essays, 5-7) made use of it, and Heracleon (compare Clement of Alexandria, Strom.,
iv.9) wrote a commentary on it. Irenaeus (end of the 2nd century) makes frequent
quotations from this Gospel. He argues that there could be only "four" Gospels
because of the four points of the compass--an absurd argument, to be sure, but
a powerful testimony to the general acceptance of this Gospel along with the other
three. It is needless to appeal to the presence of the Third Gospel in the Curetonian
Syriac, the Sinaitic Syriac, the African Latin--versions that date to the 2nd
century, not to mention the probability of the early date of the Memphitic (Coptic)
versions. Examples of the early use of this Gospel occur in various writings of
the 2nd century, as in Justin Martyr (150 AD), the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs
(circa 140 AD), Celsus (circa AD 160), the Gospel of Peter (2nd century), the
Epistle of the Church of Lyons and Vienne (177 AD), probably also the Didache
(2nd century), Clement of Alexandria (190-202 AD), Tertullian (190-220 AD). It
is doubtful about Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp; and the Epistle of Barnabas
seems to make no use of the Third Gospel. But Clement of Rome, Ignatius and Polycarp
quote Acts. But surely the general use and acceptance of the Third Gospel in the
early 2nd century is beyond reasonable doubt. It is not easy to decide when the
actual use began, because we have so little data from the 1st century (compare
Plummer, Commentary, lxxiii).
The fact that the author was not an apostle affected the order of the book in
some lists. Most manuscripts and versions have the common order of today, but
the Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark) is given by D, many Old Latin manuscripts,
the Gothic VS, the Apostolical Constitutions. The object was probably to place
the books by apostles together and first. The Old Latin has Luke second (John,
Luke, Mark, Matthew), while the Curetonian Syriac has Luke last of the four. The
cursives 90 and 399 also have Luke second.
The first writers who definitely name Luke as the author of the Third Gospel belong
to the end of the 2nd century. They are the Canon of Muratori (possibly by Hippolytus),
Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria. We have already seen that Julicher
(Introduction, 330) admits that the ancients Universally agreed that Luke wrote
the Third Gospel. In the early part of the 2nd century the writers did not, as
a rule, give the names of the authors of the Gospels quoted by them. It is not
fair, therefore, to use their silence on this point as proof either of their ignorance
of the author or of denial of Luke's authorship. Julicher for instance, says (Introduction,
"There is no tradition worthy of the name concerning Luke, whom Papias did not
mention, or at any rate did not know." But we owe to Eusebius all the fragments
that we have preserved from the writings of Papias. Our ignorance of Papias can
hardly be charged up to him. Plummer (Commentary, xii) says that nothing in Biblical
criticism is more certain than the fact that Luke wrote the Third Gospel. On the
other hand, Julicher (Introduction, 331) is not willing to let it go as easily
as that. He demands appeal to Acts, and there (ibid., 447) he denies the Lukan
authorship save as to the "we" sections. J. Weiss (Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments;
das Lukas Evang., 1906, 378) admits that but for Acts no sufficient reason would
exist for denying the authorship of the Third Gospel to Luke, the disciple of
Paul. A Pauline point of view in this Gospel is admitted generally. Many modern
critics take it for granted that the Lukan authorship of Acts is disproved, and
hence, that of the Gospel likewise falls by the way. So argue Baur, Clemen, De
Wette, Hausrath, Hilgenfeld, Holtzmann, Julicher, Pfleiderer, Schurer, Spitta,
von Soden, J. Weiss, Weizsacker, Zeller. Men like Blass, Credner, Harnack, Hawkins,
Hobart, Klostermann, Plummer, Ramsay, Renan, Vogel, Zahn, stand by the tradition
of Lukan authorship, but Harnack is almost irritated (Luke the Physician, 1907,
6), since "the indefensibility of the tradition is regarded as being so clearly
established that nowadays it is thought scarcely worth while to reprove this indefensibility,
or even to notice the arguments of conservative opponents." Harnack proceeds to
make a plea for a hearing. Jacobus (Standard Bible Dictionary) admits that "Acts
tells us nothing more of the author than does the Gospel." That is true so far
as express mention is concerned, but not so far as natural implication goes. It
is true that the place to begin the discussion of the Lukan authorship of the
Gospel is Acts. For detailed discussion of the proof that Luke wrote Acts, see
OF THE APOSTLES. It is there shown that the line of argument which has convinced
Harnack, the leader of the liberal criticism of Germany, ought to convince any
openminded critic. It means a good deal when Harnack (Luke the Physician, 14)
says: "I subscribe to the words of Zahn (Einleitung, II, 427): 'Hobart has proved
for everyone who can at all appreciate proof that the author of the Lukan work
was a man practiced in the scientific language of Greek medicine--in short, a
Greek physician.' " It is here assumed that the line of argument pursued in the
article on ACTS
OF THE APOSTLES is conclusive. If so, little remains to be done in the way
of special proof for the Gospel. The author of Acts specifically refers (Acts
1:1) to a former treatise which was likewise addressed to Theophilus. This we
find to be the case with the Gospel passing under the name of Luke (Luke 1:4).
The critics who admit the Lukan authorship of Acts and deny the Lukan authorship
of the Gospel are hardly worth considering.
It is, therefore, largely a work of supererogation to give at length the proof
from internal grounds that Luke wrote the Gospel, after being convinced about
Acts. Still it may be worth while to sketch in outline the line of argument, even
though it is very simple. Plummer (Comm., x-xvii) argues three propositions:"
(1) The author of the Third Gospel is the author of the Acts.
(2) The author of Acts was a companion of Paul.
(3) This companion was Luke."
Harnack (The Acts of the Apostles, 1909) has argued with great minuteness and
skill theory that the same linguistic peculiarities occur in all portions of Acts,
including the "we-"sections. He accepts the facts set forth by Hawkins (Horae
Synopticae) and adds others. He agrees, therefore, that the author of Acts was
a companion of Paul. Harnack is convinced by the exhaustive labors of Hobart (Medical
Language of Luke) that this author was a physician, as we know Luke to have been
(Colossians 4:14). He shows this to be true of the author of Acts by the use of
"us" in Acts 28:10, showing that the author of Acts received honors along with
Paul, probably because he practiced medicine and treated many (compare Barnack,
Luke the Physician, 15 f). These medical terms occur in the Gospel of Luke also,
and the same general linguistic style is found in both the Gospel and Acts. Hawkins
has made a careful study of likenesses and variations in style in these two books
(compare Horae Synopticae, 15-25, 174-89). The argument is as conclusive as such
a line of proof can be expected to be. For further discussion see Ramsay, Luke
the Physician, 1908, 1-68; Zahn, Introduction, III, 160. There are no phenomena
in the Gospel hostile to this position save the Semitic character of Luke 1 and
2 (barring the classical introduction Luke 1:1 - 4). Luke, though a Gentile, has
in these chapters the most Semitic narrative in the New Testament. But the explanation
is obvious. He is here using Semitic material (either oral or written), and has
with true artistic skill preserved the tone of the original. To a certain extent
the same thing is true of the opening chapters of Acts.
The synoptic problem (see GOSPELS, THE SYNOPTIC) remains the most difficult one
in the realm of New Testament criticism. But the Gospel of Luke yields on the
whole more satisfactory results than is yet true of Matthew.
If the Lukan authorship of the book is accepted, there remains no serious doubt
concerning the unity and integrity of the Gospel. The abridgment of Luke's Gospel
used by Marcion does not discredit those portions of the Gospel omitted by him.
They are omitted for doctrinal reasons (compare Sanday, Gospels in the 2nd Century,
chapter viii). His readings are of interest from the viewpoint of textual criticism,
as are the quotations of other early writers, but his edition does not seriously
challenge the value of Luke's work.
(2) Luke's Method.
Luke has announced his methods of work in a most classic introduction (Luke 1:1-4).
Here we catch a glimpse of the author's personality. That is not possible in Mark
nor in Matthew, and only indirectly in passing shadows in the Fourth Gospel. But
here the author frankly takes the reader into his confidence and discloses his
standpoint and qualifications for the great task. He writes as a contemporary
about the recent past, always the most difficult history to interpret and often
the most interesting. He speaks of "those matters which have been fulfilled among
us," in our time. He does not himself claim to have been an eyewitness of "those
matters." As we know already, Luke was a Gentile and apparently never saw Jesus
in the flesh. He occupies thus a position outside of the great events which he
is to record. He does not disguise his intense interest in the narrative, but
he claims the historical spirit. He wishes to assure Theophilus of "the certainty
concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed." He claims to have investigated
"the course of all things accurately from the first," just as the true historian
would. He thus implies that some of the attempts made had been fragmentary at
any rate, and to that extent inaccurate. He has also produced an "orderly" narrative
by which Theophilus may gain a just conception of the historical progress of the
events connected with the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that "many have
taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters" does not deter
Luke from his task. The rather he is stirred thereby ("It seemed good to me also")
to give his interpretation of the life and work of Jesus as the result of his
researches. He stands not farther away than one generation from the death of Jesus.
He has the keen interest natural to a cultured follower of Jesus in the origin
of what had become a great world-movement. He is able to get at the facts because
he has had intercourse with eyewitnesses of Jesus and His work, "even as they
delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers
of the word." Luke had abundant opportunity during the two years at Caesarea with
Paul (Acts 24 - 26) to make careful and extended investigations. Many of the personal
followers of Jesus were still living (1 Corinthians 15:6). It was a golden opportunity
for Luke's purpose. He had also the written narratives which others ("many") had
already drawn up. We are, then, to expect in Luke's Gospel a book closely akin
to Acts in style and plan, with the historian's love of accuracy and order, with
the author's own contribution in the assimilation and use of this oral and written
material. One would not expect in such a writer slavish copying, but intelligent
blending of the material into an artistic whole.
(3) The Aramaic Infancy Narrative.
The very first section in this Gospel (Luke 1:5 - 2:52) illustrates Luke's fidelity
in the use of his material. Wellhausen drops these two chapters from his edition
of Luke's Gospel as not worthy of consideration. That is conjectural criticism
run mad and is not to be justified by the example of Marcion, who begins with
chapter 4. Wright (Gospel according to Luke in Greek, 1900, viii; under the word
"Luke's Gospel," DCG) holds that this section was the last to be added to the
Gospel though he holds that it comes from Luke. It may be said in passing that
Wright is a stout advocate for the oral source for all of Luke's Gospel. He still
holds out against the "two-document" or any document theory. However, he claims
rightly that Luke's information for these two chapters was private. This material
did not form part of the current oral Gospel. In Matthew the narrative of the
birth of Jesus is given from the standpoint of Joseph, and Mary is kept in the
background, according to Eastern feeling (Wright). But in Lu the story is told
from Mary's point of view. Luke may, indeed, have seen Mary herself in the years
57-59 AD (or 58-60). He could easily have seen some of Mary's intimate friends
who knew the real facts in the case. The facts were expressly said to have been
kept in Mary's heart. She would tell only to sympathetic ears (compare Ramsay,
Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? 74 f). It is not possible to discredit Luke's narrative
of the Virgin Birth on a priori grounds (compare Orr, The Virgin Birth of Christ,
1907; Sweet, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ, 1906). The curious Semitic flavor
of this narrative argues strongly for its genuineness, since Luke was a Greek.
We do not know whether Luke knew Aramaic or not. That was possible, since he spent
these 2 years in Palestine. We do not know whether this information came to him
in written form (note especially the hymns of Mary and of Zacharias) or in oral
tradition. But it is hardly possible to credit a Greek with the invention of these
birth-narratives and poems which ring so true to the soil and the Hebrew life.
Immediately after Luke's statement about historical research comes the narrative
of the birth of Jesus. It is the first illustration of his work on his sources.
(4) Luke's Relation to Mark's Gospel.
Luke knew Mark in Rome (Colossians 4:10 , 14 ; Philemon 1:24). He may have met
him in Palestine also. Had he seen Mark's Gospel when he wrote his own? Was it
one of the "many" narratives that came under Luke's eye? Wright (compare DCG)
denies that Luke had our Mark. He admits that he may have had an Urmarkus or proto-Mark
which he heard in oral form, but not the present (written) Gospel of Mark. He
thinks that this can best be accounted for by the fact that out of 223 sections
in Mark there are 54 not in Luke. But most modern critics have come to the conclusion
that both Matthew and Luke had Mark before them as well as other sources. Matthew,
if he used Mark, in the early chapters, followed a topical arrangement of his
material, combining Mark with the other source or sources. But Luke has followed
the order of Mark very closely in this part and indeed throughout. Luke has a
special problem in Luke 9:51 - 19:27, but the broad general outline follows that
of Mark. But it cannot be said that Luke made a slavish use of Mark, if he had
this Gospel before him. He gives his own touch to each incident and selects what
best suits his purpose. It is not possible for us to tell always that motive,
but it is idle to suppose that Luke blindly recorded every incident found in every
document or every story that came to his ears. He implies in his introduction
that he has made a selection out of the great mass of material and has woven it
into a coherent and progressive narrative. We may admit with Harnack (New Testament
Studies: Sayings of Jesus, xiii) that the Markan problem "has been treated with
scientific thoroughness" and that Luke had Mark as one of his sources. The parallel
between Luke and Mark in the narrative portion is easily seen in any Harmony of
the Gospels, like Broadus or Stevens and Burton.
(5) Q (Quelle) or the Logia.
It is a matter of more uncertainty when we come to the mass of material common
to Matthew and Luke, but absent from Mark. This is usually found in the discourses
of Jesus. The more generally accepted theory today is that both Matthew and Luke
made use of Mark and also this collection of Logia called Q for short (Ger. Quelle,
"source"). But, while this theory may be adopted as a working hypothesis, it cannot
be claimed that it is an established fact. Zahn (compare Introduction) stoutly
stands up for the real authorship of the First Gospel of Matthew. Arthur Carr
("Further Notes on the Synoptic Problem," The Expositor, January, 1911, 543-553)
argues strongly for the early date and Matthean authorship of the First Gospel.
He says on the whole subject: "The synoptic problem which has of late engaged
the speculation of some of our keenest and most laborious students is still unsolved."
He even doubts the priority of Mark's Gospel. Wellhausen (Einleitung in die drei
ersten Evangelien, 73-89) advocates the priority of Mark to Q. But Harnack balances
the problem of "Q and Mark" (Sayings of Jesus, 193-233) and decides in favor of
Q. In any case, it is to be noted that the result of critical research into the
value of Q is to put it quite on a paragraph with Mark. Harnack is quite impressed
with the originality and vivid reality of the matter in Q. The material present
in Q cannot be gauged so accurately as that in Mark, since we have the Gospel
of Mark in our hands. Where both Matthew and Luke give material not found in Mark,
it is concluded that this is drawn from Q. But it cannot be shown that Matthew
may not have used Q at some points and Luke at still others independently. Besides
Q may have contained material not preserved either in Matthew or Luke. A careful
and detailed comparison of the material common to both Matthew and Luke and absent
from Mark may be found in Hawkins, Horae Synopticae, 10713; Harnack, Sayings of
Jesus, 127-82; Wellhausen, Einleitung, 66; Robertson, "Matthew" in Bible for Home
and School, 14-19. But, if it is true that Luke made use of Q as of Mark, he was
no mere copyist. No solution of the synoptic problem can ever be obtained on the
idea that the Gospels are mere reproductions of previous documents. There was
freedom in the use of all the material, both oral and written, and the writer
gave his own interpretation to the result. It was often a restatement in the author's
own language, not formal quotation. Wright (DCG) calls this editorial element
"editorial notes"; that is, of course, often true when the author makes comments
on the matters presented, but "ancient authors took immense pains to reduce the
rude chronicles which they used, into literary form" (same place) . The point
of all this is that a great deal of criticism of the Gospels is attempting the
impossible, for many of the variations cannot possibly be traced to any "source."
Wright (same place) puts it tersely again: "And if in John's Gospel it is more
and more recognized that the mind of the evangelist cast the utterances of our
Lord into the peculiar form which they there hold, the same process of redaction
may be observed in Luke, who comes nearest of the synoptists to the methods of
John." As a matter of fact, this is as it should be expected. The frank recognition
of this point of view marks progress in synoptic criticism.
(6) Other Sources.
There is a large block of material in Luke 9:51 - 18:14 which is given by him
alone. There are various sayings like some reported by Matthew (or Mark) in other
connections. Some of the incidents are similar to some given elsewhere by Matthew
and Mark. There are various theories concerning this position of Luke. Some critics
hold that Luke has here put a mass of material which he had left over, so to speak,
and which he did not know where to locate, without any notion of order. Against
this theory is the express statement of Luke that he wrote an orderly narrative
(Luke 1:3 f). One is disposed to credit Luke's own interpretation unless the facts
oppose it. It is common for traveling preachers, as was Jesus, to have similar
experiences in different parts of the country and to repeat their favorite sayings.
So teachers repeat many of their sayings each year to different classes. Indeed,
it is just in this section of Luke that the best parts of his Gospel are found
(the parables of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Pharisee and the Publican,
etc.). "The more we consider this collection, the more we are entranced with it.
It is the very cream of the Gospel, and yet (strange to say) it is peculiar to
Luke" Wright DCG) Wright calls this "a Pauline collection, not because Paul is
responsible for the material, but because the chapters breathe cosmopolitan spirit
of Paul. That is true, but Jesus loved the whole world. This side of the teaching
of Jesus may have appealed to Luke powerfully because of its reflection in Paul.
Matthew's Gospel was more narrowly Jewish in its outlook, and Mark's had fewer
of the sayings of Christ. But it is to be noted that this special material in
Luke extends more or less all through the Gospel. Burton (Some Principles of Literary
Criticism and Their Application to the Synoptic Problem, 49) calls this special
material in Luke 9:51 - 18:14 "the Perean document." We do not know, of course,
anything of the actual source of this material. Whether Luke has here followed
one or more documents, he has, as elsewhere, given his own stamp to the whole,
while preserving in a marvelous way the spirit of Jesus. (For the possible parallel
between this section of Luke and John see Robertson's "Notes" to Broadus, Harmony
of the Gospels, 249-52.) For the earlier material in Luke not found elsewhere
(Luke 3:7-15 , 17 , 18 ; 4:2b-13 (14,15) , 16-30 ; 5:1-11 ; 6:21-49 ; 7:1-8:3)
Burton suggests "the Galilean document" as the source. Wright, on the other hand,
proposes "anonymous fragments" as the source of Luke's material not in the infancy
narrative, nor in Mark, nor in Q, nor in the "Pauline" or Perean document. At
any rate, it is certain that Luke's own words of explanation should warn us against
drawing too narrow a line around the "sources" used by him. His "many" may well
have included a dozen sources, or even more. But it may be said, in a word, that
all that criticism has been able to learn on the subject has confirmed the statement
of Luke himself concerning his method of research and his use of the material.
More fault has been found with Luke as a historian in Acts than in the Gospel.
Harnack (Acts of the Apostles) is not disposed to give Luke full credit as a reliable
historian. But Ramsay (Luke the Physician, 5) champions the reliability of Luke
(compare also Paul the Traveler; The Church in the Roman Empire) against the skepticism
of Harnack, which is growing less, since in the Theol. Literaturzeitung (July
7, 1906, S. 4) he speaks well of Luke's ability to secure correct information.
So in Luke the Physician (121-45) Harnack urges that the possible "instances of
incredibility have been much exaggerated by critics." He adds about Acts 5:36:
"It is also possible that there is a mistake in Jos" (compare Chase, Credibility
of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles; see also ACTS
OF THE APOSTLES.
But the Gospel is not free from attack. The chief matter in the Gospel of Lu which
is challenged on historical grounds, apart from the birth-narratives, which some
critics treat as legendary, is the census in Luke 2:1. Critics, who in general
have accepted Luke's veracity, have sometimes admitted that here he fell into
error and confused the census under Quirinius in 6-7 AD when Quirinius came, after
the banishment of Archelaus, to take a census and to collect taxes, much to the
indignation of the Jews (compare Acts 5:37; Josephus, Ant, XVIII, i). It was not
known that Quirinius had been governor of Syria before this time, nor was there
any other knowledge of a census under Augustus. The case against Luke seemed strong.
But Ramsay (Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? 227) shows that the inscription at Tibur,
as agreed by Mommsen and like authorities, shows that Quirinius "twice governed
Syria as legatus of the divine Augustus." He was consul in 12 BC, so that the
first mission was after that date. Ramsay shows also from the papyri that the
14-year cycle was used for the Roman census (many census papers are known from
20 AD on). He argues that the first one was instituted by Augustus in 8 BC. Herod,
as a vassal king, would naturally be allowed to conduct it in the Jewish fashion,
not the Roman, and it was probably delayed several years in the provinces. Thus
once more Luke is vindicated in a remarkable way (see CHRONOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT,
sec. I, 1, (2)).
The Acts of the Apostles has come out of the critical ordeal in a wonderful manner,
so that Luke's credit as a historical writer is now very high among those qualified
to know the facts. He has been tested and found correct on so many points that
the presumption is in his favor where he cannot as yet be verified. Moffatt (Introduction
to the Literature of the New Testament, 265) finds Luke "more graphic than historical."
He was the most versatile of the Gospel writers. He was a Greek, a Christian,
a physician, a man of travel, a man of world-outlook, sympathetic, cultured, poetic,
spiritual, artistic, high-minded. His Prologue is the most classic piece of Greek
in the New Testament, but the rest of chapter 1 and all of chapter 2 are the most
Semitic in tone. The breadth of his literary equipment is thereby shown. He not
only uses many medical terms common to technical circles, but he has the physician's
interest in the sick and afflicted, as shown in the large number of miracles of
healing narrated. His interest in the poor is not due to Ebionitic prejudice against
the rich, but to human compassion for the distressed. His emphasis on the human
side of the work of Jesus is not due to Ebionitic denial of the Divinity of Jesus,
but to his keen appreciation of the richness of the human life of the Son of God.
His rich and varied vocabulary reveals a man who read and mingled with the best
life of his time. He wrote his books in the vernacular, but the elevated vernacular
of an educated man touched with a distinct literary flavor. His poetic temperament
is shown in the preservation of the beautiful hymns of the nativity and in the
wonderful parables of Jesus in chapters Luke 10, 15-18. They are reported with
rare grace and skill. Luke is fond of showing Christ's sympathy with women and
children, and he has more to say about prayer than the authors of the other Gospels.
His interest in individuals is shown by the dedication of both his books to Theophilus.
His cosmopolitan sympathies are natural in view of his training and inheritance,
but part of it is doubtless due to his association with the apostle Paul. He comes
to the interpretation of Jesus from a world-standpoint and does not have to overcome
the Pharisaic limitations incident to one reared in Palestine. It is a matter
of rejoicing that we have this book, called by Renan the most beautiful book in
the world, as a cultured Greek's interpretation of the origin of Christianity.
He thus stands outside of the pale of Judaism and can see more clearly the world-relations
and world-destiny of the new movement. With Luke, Jesus is distinctly the world's
Saviour. The accent on sin is human sin, not specifically Jewish sin. John in
his Gospel came in his old age to look back upon the events in Judea from a non-Jewish
standpoint. But he rose to the essentially spiritual and eternal apprehension
of Christ, rather than extended his vision, as Luke did, to the cosmopolitan mission
and message of Jesus, though this did not escape John. The Gospel of Luke thus
has points of affinity with Paul, John and the author of Hebrews in style and
general standpoint. But while Luke's own style is manifest throughout, it is not
obtrusive. He hides himself behind the wonderful portrait of Jesus which he has
here drawn in undying colors.
The extreme position of Baur and Zeller may be dismissed at once. There is no
reason for dating the Gospel of Luke in the 2nd century on the ground that he
used Marcion's Gospel, since it is now admitted all round that Marcion made use
of Luke. The supposed use of Josephus by Luke (see ACTS
OF THE APOSTLES for discussion and refutation) leads a goodly number of radical
scholars (Hilgenfeld, Holsten, Holtzmann, Julicher, Krenkel, Weizsacker, Wernle)
to date the book at the end of the 1st century. This is still extreme, as Harnack
had already shown in his Chronologie der altchristl. Litt., I, 1897, 246-50. Any
use of Josephus by Luke is highly improbable (see Plummer on Lk, xxix). The Gospel
was certainly written before Acts (Acts 1:1) and while Paul was alive, if 1 Timothy
5:18 be taken as a quotation from Luke 10:7, which is by no means certain, however.
But it is true that the most natural way to interpret the sudden close of Acts,
after 2 years in Rome (Acts 28:31), is the fact that Luke finished the book at
that time (Maclean, 1 volume HDB). Moffatt (Historical New Testament, 273) calls
this early date "reactionary" and "extravagant." But it is supported by Alford,
Blass, Ebrard, Farrar, Gloag, Godet, Grau, Guericke, Hahn, Headlam, Hitzig, Hofmann,
Hug, Keil, Lange, Lumby, Marshall, Nosgen, Oosterzee, Resch, Riehm, Schaff, Schanz,
Thiersch, Tholuck, Wieseler, and Harnack himself is now ready to join this goodly
company. He warns critics against too hasty a closing of the chronological question
(Acts of the Apostles, 291), and admits that Acts was written "perhaps so early
as the beginning of the 7th decade of the 1st century" (ibid., 297), "the Acts
(and therefore also the Gospel)." In the Date of the Acts and the Synoptic Gospels
(1911, 124) Harnack says: "It seems now to be established beyond question that
both books of this great historical order were written while Paul was still alive."
There is an intermediate date about 80 AD, assigned by Adeney, Bartlett, Plummer,
Sanday, Weiss, Wright, on the ground that the investigations mentioned in Luke
1:1-4 describe the use of narratives which could have been written only after
a long period of reflection. But that is not a valid objection. There is no sound
critical reason why the Gospel of Mark, Q, the infancy narratives, and all the
other sources alluded to by this preface could not have been in circulation in
Palestine by 55 AD. Indeed, Allen writes in The Expository Times (July, 1910):
"I see no reason why such an original (Mark's Gospel in Aramaic) should not have
appeared before the year 50 AD." The other objection to the early date comes out
of Luke 21:20, "Jerus compassed with armies" as compared with "the abomination
of desolation" in Mark 13:14. The change is so specific that it is held by some
critics to be due to the fact that Luke is writing after the destruction of Jerusalem.
But it is just as likely (Maclean) that Luke has here interpreted the Hebraism
of Mark for his Gentilereaders. Besides, as Plummer (p. xxxi) shows, Luke in 21:5
- 36 does not record the fact that Jerusalem was destroyed, nor does he change
Christ's "flee to the mountains" to "Pella in North Peraea," whither the Christians
actually fled. Besides, the fact that Acts shows no acquaintance with Paul's Epistles
is best explained on the assumption of the early date. The question is thus practically
settled in favor of the early date. The place of the writing is not known. The
early date naturally falls in with Caesarea (Blass, Michaelis, Thiersch), but
there is little to guide one.
|(1) Prologue, Luke 1:1 - 4.
(2) Infancy and childhood of John and Jesus, Luke 1:5 - 2:52.
(3) Beginning of Christ's Ministry, Luke 3:1 - 4:13.
(4) Galilean Campaign, Luke 4:14 - 9:6.
(5) Retirement from Galilee, Luke 9:7 - 50.
(6) Later Judean and Perean Ministry, Luke 9:51 - 19:28.
(7) Close of the Public Ministry in Jerusalem, Luke 19:29 - 21:37.
(8) The Dreadful End, Luke 21-23.
(9) Resurrection of Christ, Luke 24.
See extended list of books at close of article on ACTS
OF THE APOSTLES; the extensive list of Commentaries Plummer's Commentary on
Luke can also be consulted. After Plummer the best commentaries on Luke's Gospel
are Bruce, Expositor's Greek Test.; Weiss' Meyer Krit.-exeget. Komm.; Godet; Holtzmann,
Hand-Commentary Of the many Introduction to the New Testament, Zahn's is the ablest
and most exhaustive (conservative) and Julicher's is the fairest of the radical
school. The best of the briefer ones is Gregory's Canon and Text (1907). Special
treatises deserving mention here are Blass, Philology of the Gospels (1898); Ev.
secundum Lukam (1897); Wellhausen. Das Ev. Lukae (1904); Sense, Origin of the
Third Gospel (1901); Friedrich, Das Lukasevangelium und die Apostelgeschichte,
Werke desselben Verfassers (1890); Harnack, Luke the Physician (1907), and Sayings
of Jesus (1908); The Date of the Acts and the Synoptic Gospels (1911); Hawkins,
Horae Synopticae (2nd edition, 1909); Hervey. Authenticity of Luke (1892); Hobart,
Medical Language of Luke (1882); Litzinger, Die Entstehung des Lukasevangelium
und der Apostelgeschichte (1883); Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? (1898)
and Luke the Physician (1908); Resch, Das Kindheit-Evangelium nach Lukas und Matthaus;
Selwyn, Luke the Prophet (1901); Vogel, Zur Characteristik des Lukas nach Sprache
und Stil (1897); Weiss, Quellen des Lukasevangelium (1907); Wright, Synopsis of
the Gospels and his Gospel according to Luke in Greek (1900).
A. T. Robertson
beloved physician, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, book of luke, caesarea, cata lucanum, define, gospel of luke, gospel of progressive christianity, gospel of the fatherhood of God, gospel of the future, gospel of the nations, gospel of the saintly life, gospel of tolerance, gospel for the greeks, jesus, kingdom of God, miracles, new testament, parables, synoptics, written in greek