Gospel of Luke

The Gospel according to Luke (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν, romanizedEuangélion katà Loukân[1]), also called the Gospel of Luke, or simply Luke, tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.[2] Together with the Acts of the Apostles, it makes up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts;[3] together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament.[4]

The combined work divides the history of first-century Christianity into three stages, with the gospel making up the first two of these – the arrival among men of Jesus the Messiah, from his birth to the beginning of his earthly mission in the meeting with John the Baptist followed by his earthly ministry, Passion, death, and resurrection (concluding the gospel story per se). Most modern scholars agree that the main sources used for Luke were (a) the Gospel of Mark, (b) a hypothetical sayings collection called the Q source, and (c) material found in no other gospels, often referred to as the L (for Luke) source.[5]

The author is anonymous;[6] the traditional view that it was Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul, is still occasionally put forward, but the scholarly consensus emphasises the many contradictions between Acts and the authentic Pauline letters.[7][8] The most probable date for its composition is around AD 80–110, and there is evidence that it was still being revised well into the 2nd century.[9]


Textual history

Papyrus 45, a 3rd-century AD Greek papyrus of the Gospel of Luke

Autographs (original copies) of Luke and the other Gospels have not been preserved; the texts that survive are third-generation copies, with no two completely identical.[10] The earliest witnesses (the technical term for written manuscripts) for Luke's gospel fall into two "families" with considerable differences between them, the Western and the Alexandrian text-type, and the dominant view is that the Western text represents a process of deliberate revision, as the variations seem to form specific patterns.[11]

The fragment 𝔓4 is often cited as the oldest witness. It has been dated from the late 2nd century, although this dating is disputed. Papyrus 75 (= Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV) is another very early manuscript (late 2nd - early 3rd century), and it includes an attribution of the gospel to Luke.

The oldest complete texts are the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the Alexandrian family; Codex Bezae, a 5th- or 6th-century Western text-type manuscript that contains Luke in Greek and Latin versions on facing pages, appears to have descended from an offshoot of the main manuscript tradition, departing from more familiar readings at many points.

Codex Bezae shows comprehensively the differences between the versions which show no core theological significance. [12][note 1]

Luke–Acts: unity, authorship and date

Subscriptio to the Gospel of Luke in Codex Macedoniensis 034 (Gregory-Aland), 9th century

The gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles make up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts.[3] Together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament, the largest contribution by a single author, providing the framework for both the Church's liturgical calendar and the historical outline into which later generations have fitted their idea of the story of Jesus.[4]

The author is not named in either volume.[6] According to a Church tradition, first attested by Irenaeus (c. 130 – c. 202 AD), he was the Luke named as a companion of Paul in three of the Pauline letters, but "a critical consensus emphasizes the countless contradictions between the account in Acts and the authentic Pauline letters."[7] An example can be seen by comparing Acts' accounts of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1–31, 22:6–21, and 26:9–23) with Paul's own statement that he remained unknown to Christians in Judea after that event (Galatians 1:17–24).[13] Luke admired Paul, but his theology was significantly different from Paul's on key points and he does not (in Acts) represent Paul's views accurately.[14] He was educated, a man of means, probably urban, and someone who respected manual work, although not a worker himself; this is significant, because more high-brow writers of the time looked down on the artisans and small business-people who made up the early church of Paul and were presumably Luke's audience.[15]

The eclipse of the traditional attribution to Luke the companion of Paul has meant that an early date for the gospel is now rarely put forward.[7] Most scholars date the composition of the combined work to around 80–90 AD, although some others suggest 90–110,[16] and there is textual evidence (the conflicts between Western and Alexandrian manuscript families) that Luke–Acts was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.[9]

Genre, models and sources

Almost all of Mark's content is found in Matthew, and most of Mark is also found in Luke. Matthew and Luke share a large amount of additional material that is not found in Mark, and each also has a proportion of unique material.

Luke–Acts is a religio-political history of the Founder of the church and his successors, in both deeds and words. The author describes his book as a "narrative" (diegesis), rather than as a gospel, and implicitly criticises his predecessors for not giving their readers the speeches of Jesus and the Apostles, as such speeches were the mark of a "full" report, the vehicle through which ancient historians conveyed the meaning of their narratives. He seems to have taken as his model the works of two respected Classical authors, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who wrote a history of Rome, and the Jewish historian Josephus, author of a history of the Jews. All three authors anchor the histories of their respective peoples by dating the births of the founders (Romulus, Moses, and Jesus) and narrate the stories of the founders' births from God, so that they are sons of God. Each founder taught authoritatively, appeared to witnesses after death, and ascended to heaven. Crucial aspects of the teaching of all three concerned the relationship between rich and poor and the question of whether "foreigners" were to be received into the people.[17]

Mark, written around 70 AD, provided the narrative outline for Luke, but Mark contains comparatively little of Jesus' teachings,[18] and for these Luke likely turned to a collection of sayings called Q, which would have consisted mostly, although not exclusively, of "sayings".[19] Mark and Q account for about 64% of Luke; the remaining material, known as the L source, is of unknown origin and date.[20] Most Q and L-source material is grouped in two clusters, Luke 6:17–8:3 and 9:51–18:14, and L-source material forms the first two sections of the gospel (the preface and infancy and childhood narratives).[21]

Audience and authorial intent

Luke was written to be read aloud to a group of Jesus-followers gathered in a house to share the Lord's supper.[17] The author assumes an educated Greek-speaking audience, but directs his attention to specifically Christian concerns rather than to the Greco-Roman world at large.[22] He begins his gospel with a preface addressed to "Theophilus" (Luke 1:3; cf. Acts 1:1): the name means "Lover of God," and could mean any Christian though most interpreters consider it a reference to a Christian convert and Luke's literary patron.[23] Here he informs Theophilus of his intention, which is to lead his reader to certainty through an orderly account "of the events that have been fulfilled among us."[15] He did not, however, intend to provide Theophilus with a historical justification of the Christian faith – "did it happen?" – but to encourage faith – "what happened, and what does it all mean?"[24]

Structure and content

Detailed content of Luke
1. Formal introduction
To Theophilus (1:1–4)
2. Jesus' birth and boyhood
Zacharias (1:5–25)
Annunciation (1:26–45)
Magnificat (1:46–56)
Nativity of St John the Baptist (1:57–80)
Benedictus (1:68–79)
Census of Quirinius (2:1–5)
Nativity of Jesus (2:6–7)
Annunciation to the shepherds (2:8–15)
Adoration of the Shepherds (2:16–20)
Circumcision of Jesus (2:21–40)
Nunc dimittis (2:29–32)
Finding in the Temple (2:41–52)
3. Jesus' baptism and temptation
Ministry of John the Baptist (3:1–20)
Baptism (3:21–22)
Genealogy (3:23–38)
Temptation (4:1–13)
4.Jesus' ministry in Galilee
Good News (4:14–15)
Rejection in Nazareth (4:16–30)
Capernaum (4:31–44)
Miraculous catch of fish (5:1–11)
Leper and Paralytic (5:12–26)
Calling of Matthew (5:27–32)
On fasting (5:33–35)
New Wine into Old Wineskins (5:36–39)
Lord of the Sabbath (6:1–5)
Man with withered hand (6:6–11)
Commissioning of the Twelve Apostles (6:12–16)
Sermon on the Plain (6:17–49)
Centurion's servant (7:1–10)
Young man from Nain (7:11–17)
Messengers from John the Baptist (7:18–35)
Anointing (7:36–50)
Women companions of Jesus (8:1–3)
Parable of the Sower (8:4–8,11–15)
Purpose of parables (8:9–10)
Lamp under a bushel (8:16–18; 11:33)
Jesus' true relatives (8:19–21)
Calming the storm (8:22–25)
Demon named Legion (8:26–39)
Raising of Jairus' daughter (8:40–56)
Instructions for the Twelve (9:1–6)
Death of John the Baptist (9:7–9)
Feeding of the 5000 (9:10–17)
Confession of Peter (9:18–20)
Jesus predicts his death (9:21–27, 44–45; 18:31–34)
Transfiguration (9:28–36)
Possessed boy (9:37–43)
The Little Children (9:46–48)
Those not against are for (9:49–50)
5. Jesus' teaching on the journey to Jerusalem
On the road to Jerusalem (9:51)
Samaritan rejection (9:52–56)
Foxes have holes (9:57–58)
Let the dead bury the dead (9:59–60)
Don't look back (9:61–62)
Commission of the Seventy (10:1–12,10:16–20)
Cursing Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum (10:13–15)
Praising the Father (10:21–24)
Great Commandment (10:25–28)
Parable of the Good Samaritan (10:29–37)
Visiting Martha and Mary (10:38–42)
Lord's Prayer (11:1–4)
Parable of the Friend at Night (11:5–13)
Blind-mute man (11:14–19)
Exorcising by the Finger of God (11:20)
Strong man (11:21–22)
Those not with me are against me (11:23)
Return of the unclean spirit (11:24–26)
Those who hear the word and keep it (11:27–28)
Request for a sign (11:29–32)
Eye and Light (11:34–36)
Woes of the Pharisees (11:37–54)
Veiled and Unveiled (12:1–3)
Whom to fear (12:4–7)
Unforgivable sin (12:8–12)
Disputed inheritance (12:13–15)
Parable of the Rich Fool and Birds (12:16–32)
Sell your possessions (12:33–34)
Parable of the Faithful Servant (12:35–48)
Not peace, but a sword (12:49–53; 14:25–27)
Knowing the times (12:54–56)
Settle with your accuser (12:57–59)
Tower of Siloam (13:1–5)
Parable of the barren fig tree (13:6–9)
Infirm woman (13:10–17)
Parable of the Mustard Seed and Parable of the Leaven (13:18–21)
The Narrow Gate (13:22–30)
Lament over Jerusalem (13:31–35)
Man with dropsy (14:1–6)
Parable of the Wedding Feast, Parable of the Great Banquet, Counting the cost,
Parable of the Lost Sheep, Parable of the Lost Coin, Parable of the Prodigal Son, Parable of the Unjust Steward (14:7–16:13)
Not one stroke of a letter (16:14–17)
On divorce (16:18)
Rich man and Lazarus (16:19–31)
Curse those who set traps (17:1–6)
Parable of the Master and Servant (17:7–10)
Cleansing ten lepers (17:11–19)
The Coming Kingdom of God (17:20–37)
Parables of the Unjust judge, Pharisee and Publican (18:1–14)
The Little Children (18:15–17)
Rich young man (18:18–30)
Blind near Jericho (18:35–43)
Zacchaeus (19:1–9)
Son of Man came to save (19:10)
Parable of the Talents (19:11–27)
6. Jesus' Jerusalem conflicts, crucifixion, and resurrection
Entry into Jerusalem (19:28–44)
Cleansing of the Temple (19:45–48)
Authority questioned (20:1–8)
Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (20:9–19)
Render unto Caesar (20:20–26)
Resurrection of the dead (20:27–40)
Is the Messiah the son of David? (20:41–44)
Denouncing scribes (20:45–47)
Lesson of the widow's mite (21:1–4)
Olivet Discourse (21:5–38)
Plot to kill Jesus (22:1–2)
Bargain of Judas (22:3–6)
Last Supper (22:7–23)
Dispute about Greatness (22:24–30)
Denial of Peter (22:31–34, 55–62)
Sell your cloak and buy a sword (22:35–38)
Agony in the Garden (22:39–46)
Kiss of Judas (22:47–53)
Arrest (22:54)
Guards mock Jesus (22:63–65)
Before the High Priest (22:66–71)
Pilate's court (23:1–7, 13–25)
Jesus at Herod's court (23:8–12)
Simon of Cyrene (23:26)
Crucifixion (23:27–49)
Entombment (23:50–56)
Empty tomb (24:1–12)
Resurrection appearances (24:13–43)
Great Commission (24:44–49)
Ascension of Jesus (24:50–53)
(New Testament)

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