Gospel of Luke
I. Authenticity. The authenticity of the Third Gospel has not been successfully challenged. References are frequent in the second century a.d. (Justin, Polycarp, Papias, Hegesippus, Marcion, Heracleon, the , Theophilus of Antioch). It is probable that Clement alludes to it (95). It is mentioned as the work of Luke by the (170) and by Irenaeus (180). Such testimony continues into the third century ( , Tertullian, Origen). Such a mass of evidence is quite decisive.
II. Date. Although uncertain, the date can be confined to fairly narrow limits. The abrupt termination of the a.d. 70. The period of Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea saw Luke in Palestine, and this period (conjecturally 58-59) would presumably give abundant opportunity for the research that is evident in the record. Luke’s Gospel is thus the latest of the .suggests that the author did not long survive his friend and associate Paul. Nor is it likely to have been written after the fall of Jerusalem in
III. Historiography. W. M. Ramsay’s work on the Acts of the Apostles has established the right of Luke to rank as a first-rate historian in his own capacity. He was demonstrated to have maintained a consistent level of accuracy wherever detail could be objectively tested, and the vividness of narration so evident in the second work is visible also in the Gospel.
IV. Style. Luke’s preface is in the elaborate style of ancient historians and demonstrates that Luke could write with facility in the literary tradition of his time. At
V. Unique Features. Many incidents and much teaching are found only in Luke’s Gospel:
1. The Nativity section is fresh and different and seems to point to direct contact with Mary herself. The record of the birth of
2. The human genealogy (
3. The childhood of Jesus is recorded in Jesus’ visit to the temple (
6. Only Luke records the following miracles: the large catch of fish (
7. In the closing chapters of the Gospel, the prayer on the cross (23:34), the penitent thief (23:39-43), the walk to Emmaus (24:13-35), and much of the Ascension narrative are recorded only by Luke.
VII. Sources. Beyond the writer’s own statement that he collected his material from eyewitnesses (
Bibliography: I. H. Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian, 1970; E. E. Ellis, The(NCB), 1974; L. L. Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke (TNTC), 1974; I. H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC), 1978 (on the Greek text); J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (AB), 2 vols., 1985--.——EMB
LUKE, THE GOSPEL OF. The third account of the Gospel of , according to the present common order of listing in the NT canon.
The gospel according to Luke has been called the most beautiful book ever written (Renan, Les Evangiles, p. 283). At its heart is the perfect life, Christ’s teachings, redemption through Him, and the lives of those who cluster around Him. In the gospel and its counterpart, Acts, more knowledge is given of the apostles and leaders of the primitive church than is found in any other document. This author, in fact, wrote more pages of the NT than any other person if, as is commonly assumed, Paul did not write Hebrews.
The Gr. of this gospel is generally recognized as among the best in the NT. Though there are, of course, reflections of Sem. sources, the book is not a mere collection or compilation of fragments. It is a connected treatise by a capable and well-informed person. Whatever the author borrowed from oral or written tradition, he made it his own and cast it in his own style.
That the author had sources is evident. He made no claim of being an eyewitness of the things he described. Rather, he affirmed that the things recorded were delivered to him and to his contemporaries “by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (
The majority of scholars of the 20th cent. have held that Luke had access to two main literary sources, Mark and “Q,” to which he added certain materials from a source peculiarly his own, called “L.” As the documentary theory was being developed in the 1860s by Holtzmann (Die Synoptischen Evangelien, ihr Ursprung und geschichtlicher Character), it was not the canonical Mark, however, which was considered a source but rather an early form in which the material was cast as an Ur-gospel that came to be called Ur-Marcus. It was Streeter, in 1925, who sought to show that Matthew and Luke used Mark (The Four Gospels, p. 157). The hypothetical document called “Q” has usually been described as a body of sayings or teachings of Jesus, much after the pattern of wisdom lit. Some identify it with the “Logia” that Papias attributed to Matthew. In general, it is held to consist of the double tradition, the material found in both Matthew and Luke but not in Mark.
On this view of sources, there was relatively little demand for originality laid upon the writer of the third gospel. The written documents furnished most of the content, much of the order, and a model for much of the form. Deviation from the models would be largely a matter of preference and of style rather than of necessity. He would be more of an editor than an author.
In spite of the repeated insistence that the documentary view no longer needs to be proved (e.g., Moffatt: Introduction to the Literature of the, p. 180) and that “it is the one absolutely assured result of a century of learned discussion...that St. Mark’s is the oldest Gospel which we possess” (e.g. Rawlinson, “St. Mark,” Westminster Commentaries), there have always been dissenting voices. Germany had its Hilgenfeld, Zahn, and Schlatter. Sanday’s famous seminar at Oxford had its dissentients, Allen and Bartlet. The voice of objection has not ceased in the United States from the days of Burton in 1904 (Some Principles of Literary Criticism and their Application to the ) to the present. The “Q” hypothesis still can be publicly disparaged from the platform at learned societies (e.g., The Society of Biblical Literature ) by men of repute. A scholar dares to write a major volume “to demonstrate that the idea of Markan priority is highly questionable” (Farmer, The Synoptic Problem ). Public response of men of the stature of Matthew Black, of Aberdeen, is that in view of data that has come to light it is no longer possible to hold to the Markan priority. The debate has been reopened but has reached no new consensus.
Meanwhile, it is possible to think in broader and more flexible terms of Luke’s sources than would be indicated by the documentary hypotheses. Luke may well have interviewed ladies of or related to the household of Jesus. Reports directly from eyewitnesses are probable, esp. during Luke’s stay in Pal. while Paul was in prison in Caesarea. Personal acquaintance with some of the apostles and other leaders of the Early Church is almost certain. He obviously had access to the information accumulated by Paul. Irenaeus (Against Heresies, III, i, l) says that Luke “recorded in a book the Gospel preached by” Paul. Could not Luke have used a multiplicity of oral and written sources, possibly including another of the synoptic gospels, treated in the context of his own familiarity with the places and events of Pal., governed by a strong historical sensitivity, influenced by a Gentile breadth of insight and viewpoint, and guided and inspired by the Spirit of God? How else could he have produced such a masterpiece? One thing is certain; he used his sources, but he was no slave to them.
Not only is the unity of the third gospel assured; there is also general agreement that its sequel, the Book of Acts, is by the same author. On the basis of the same addressee (
The same distinctive literary excellence characterizes the whole. Renan called this the “most literary of the Gospels.” It is the Gr. of the educated man, characterized by a rich vocabulary, striking contrasts, breadth of interest, depth of insights, and intelligent concern for all types of people. His gentile orientation is never narrow. It includes every son of Adam. The poor, the helpless, the infirm, and the sinsick occupy his thought. He is ever a missionary and evangelist, as is his Lord.
Plummer says the author is the most versatile of all the NT writers (ICC, p. xlix). Though a learned Gentile, he is sufficiently oriented in Heb. society that he can be as thoroughly Hebraistic in describing it as he is Gr. in describing the Gr. society. Accordingly, when Luke uses distinctly Sem. sources, as in the first two chs. of the gospel, he makes them so completely his own that they in no way mar the unity of the whole. With apparent ease, Luke moves from the classical Gr. models of the prologue to a LXX type of Gr. strongly flavored with Semitisms in the infancy narratives and on to a good literary Koine Gr. in the body of the writing. There is no awkward piecing together of unrelated fragments. As A. B. Bruce says (EGT, I, p. 48), “It does not matter what documents Luke used, he exercised his own judgment in using them.” No part of Luke-Acts is without the distinctive and unifying stamp of the author’s own genius and style.
Another mark of unity is the consistent historical interest and insight. Luke is called the first church historian. As Hayes says, “Mark and Matthew wrote memoirs. John wrote a philosophy of religion...Luke the Gentile set himself to write a historical gospel, following Gentile models at certain points and connecting his account with Gentile history throughout” (Theand the Book of Acts, p. 215). He alone of NT writers relates the names of Rom. emperors and uses a great many proper names to correlate times and events. From beginning to end, he is bent on relating the Gospel to the world, to the empire, to all nations, and to all times. Luke raised sacred history from Israelitish nationality to universal humanity. The pattern is consistent throughout Luke-Acts.
A great deal has been said about the medical language of Luke. Whatever can be proved concerning the authorship of the gospel by it, a strong case can be made for the unity of Luke-Acts. Whether the author spoke as a physician or as an informed layman, there is a consistent pattern peculiar to these writings. No other NT book approaches the frequency of reference to medical needs, facts of diagnosis, descriptive details of the diseases and cures, psychological accompaniments, and marks of recovery. Nor does any other book contain so abundant casual use of medical vocabulary and reference to interests more particularly common to physicians. Whatever the reason, the phenomenon exists so persistently as to amount to a signature of the same author on the whole.
The author never mentions his own name, unless one credits an Armenian reading of
Though Luke’s writings are the source of more knowledge of the apostles, deacons, and evangelists of the Early Church than the writings of any other person, Luke tells little or nothing directly about himself. He makes one reference to himself by a pronoun in the gospel (
The strongest internal evidence for authorship stems from the “we” sections in Acts (16:10-
Hobart devoted more than three hundred pages to a study of The Medical Language of Luke. He considered four hundred terms that were used by Luke alone among writers of the NT or that were used more frequently by him than by others and that were found also in the Gr. medical writers. The evidence seemed overwhelming that Luke was a physician. Cadbury argued that the evidence only proved that Luke was an educated man (The Making of Luke-Acts). Even when proper allowance is made for lay use of medical language, Harnack’s explicit statement of the case stands (Luke the Physician). He proves that Luke was a physician not only by his vocabulary but also by a variety of traces throughout his writings such as points of view, preference for the healing miracles, tendency to diagnose diseases, interests characteristic of physicians, and ways of reporting anecdotes. It is true that a few isolated instances prove little. But the overwhelming mass of data appears conclusive that the author was indeed a physician, presumably Luke, the only physician known to belong to Paul’s missionary party.
The question of date is closely related to that of sources and of the order in which the synoptic gospels were written. If the author had depended on Josephus’ Antiquities for his reference to Quirinius (
Again, if the popular view of the priority of Mark is correct and if, as is widely held, Mark’s gospel was written near the time of the death of Peter and Paul (a.d. 68), Luke must have written rather late. Streeter bridges the gap by inventing a Proto-Luke, a combination of Q and the bulk of the material peculiar to the third gospel, to which Luke later added the infancy stories and materials from Mark (The Four Gospels, p. 217f.). The idea of a Proto-Luke is, of course, challenged by Sparks in the Journal of Theological Studies (July-October, 1943, pp. 129-138). Even if it should be necessary to concede that Luke wrote after a.d. 68, it is almost certain that he had been collecting sources for some years.
If, however, as a growing number of scholars believe, it is not necessary to accept the priority of Mark, or if Mark wrote earlier than the late 60’s, a more natural date for Luke becomes possible. Luke says plainly in Acts (
The objection that Luke is so commonly third in the lists of gospels is more apparent than real. Ancient lists appear not to have been arranged always according to date of writing. There was a strong tendency to list the two apostles, Matthew and John, first. Others, it is thought, put Mark second because he was writing as a disciple of Peter, the prominent apostle. In any case, the ancient lists present no uniform order. Origen frequently cites the gospels in the order Matthew, Luke, and Mark. Clement of Alexandria, before Origen, puts the gospels that contain the genealogies first on the basis of the tradition he had received from the primitive elders (Euseb., Hist. VI, xiv). Luke also stood in the second place in Ambrosiaster, in the Catalogue of the Sixty Canonical Books, in the Old African Lat. codex, and in the cursives 90 and 399. If Luke was not an early gospel, it is remarkable that it, not being written by an apostle, was ever listed in second place, esp. by such notable leaders. The preponderance of evidence tends toward a.d. 58, in the absence of any compelling reason for rejecting an early date.
Place of origin.
Jerome, in the preface to his commentary on Matthew, said that Luke wrote the gospel in Achaia and Boeotia (Migne xxvi, 18), but the source of his information is not known. Modern guesses as to the origin of the gospel vary considerably. Plummer lists the following: Rome (Holtzmann, Hug, Keim, Lekebusch, Zeller), Caesarea (Michaelis, Schott, Thiersch, Tholuck), Asia Minor (Hilgenfeld, Overbeck), Ephesus (Köstlin), and Corinth (Godet). Then he adds, significantly, that there is no evidence for or against any of them. In the absence of any need to think otherwise, Hayes (The Synoptic Gospels and The Book of Acts, p. 203) conjectures that Luke made his first considerable gathering of material in Pal. while Paul was in prison in Caesarea. If one accepts a relatively late date of the actual writing, one of the above places can be chosen according to the time and circumstances imagined. Or, if Acts was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, Luke was written either before Paul and Luke left Caesarea or soon after they arrived in Rome. As abundant as Luke’s sources of information must have been among his apostolic acquaintances and others over a period of time, there is no reason why he could not have written the gospel before leaving Caesarea, unless one is bound by an opinion on the relationship between the gospel and Mark that would make this unacceptable. Wherever the gospel was written, there can be little doubt that it reflects much material that was collected personally in Pal., and that the handling of the material reflects a broad Gentile background which includes both wide missionary vision and experience in sharing the Gospel with the whole world.
Both Luke (
The immediate occasion may well have been Luke’s interest in the influential Theophilus, who had apparently made some move toward the Christian faith. The manner in which he is addressed places his needs in focus. If Luke was also of Antioch, and esp. if his associations with Theophilus were particularly significant, Luke may have been greatly concerned that a full authentic account be presented to this discriminating leader. If further motive was necessary, Luke’s missionary experience prob. had taught him that a multitude of other discerning persons could use the same persuasive gospel.
The interruption of Paul’s itinerant ministry by a prolonged imprisonment in Jerusalem and Caesarea provided the needed leisure. Luke’s loyalty to Paul and perhaps Paul’s recurrent need of a physician did not permit distant solitary campaigns. They did permit Luke to “follow all things closely” and “to write an orderly account” so that the reader or readers might “know the truth concerning the things of which” they had been informed (
Though none of the gospels reflects an aim to be complete and comprehensive in recording all the historical details of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus, history was definitely a specific aim of Luke in his gospel. He made no attempt to probe the silent years of Jesus’ childhood and early maturity or to chronicle every event that could be reported. He did specifically “follow all things closely,” in order to give a perfectly reliable account of those important events and facts that constitute the Gospel of Jesus Christ (
While none of the gospels is without historical interest, there is a new dimension in Luke’s. He followed Gentile models at certain points and connected his accounts with Gentile history throughout. He has been called the first church historian. He did not write with a narrow controversial goal. His aim was not to depreciate the Twelve in the interests of Paul, to vindicate Paul, nor to reconcile the Judaizers with Paul’s disciples (Plummer, xxxvi). The document is no party paper under the cover of fictitious history. It is a carefully prepared research paper on the facts of the gospel for the conversion and confirmation of readers in the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. The purpose is a gospel—a sure, historical gospel.
The case for the Lukan authorship of the third gospel already has been discussed. While Luke was not one of the apostles, he was the companion of Paul and apparently was thought, in some sense, to have spoken for Paul. Tertullian said, “For even Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul” (Against Marcion, IV, v). Irenaeus said, “Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him” (Against Heresies, III, i, 1). The general acceptance accorded the gospel in antiquity seems to indicate that any demand for apostolicity was met in the association with Paul and in the apostolic community. As H. Ridderbos says (The Authority of the New Testament Scriptures, p. 35), “Apostolic authority and apostolic tradition in the New Testament must not be bound to the person of the apostle.” What is apostolic is not limited to the viva vox of the apostles nor to their writings. It acquires its own “unpersonal” existence. The apostolic witness, authorized by Christ, and inspired by the
That the third gospel was recognized early as authoritative is beyond reasonable question. Plummer said that it already had been recognized as authoritative before the middle of the 2nd cent. (xvi). No abrupt shift is observed in the use or acceptance of the gospel. As soon as it appears, its authority seems to be assumed. No question is raised. As more time elapses since apostolic times, words of explanation are introduced to identify Luke and to clarify his relationship with Paul and the Apostolic Church. Such references are noted in the section on “Authorship.” The notes of Tertullian, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and the Muratorian Fragment come from the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd centuries but the sources directly known to them cover easily an earlier half cent. Particularly in the case of Clement of Alexandria, the claim is made that the tradition was handed down from father to son from the apostles (Stromata I. i.).
Is there evidence from the period between the apostles and these writers of the existence and use of Luke’s gospel? There is. As Plummer says, “We obtain a very imperfect idea of the early evidence in favor of the Third Gospel when we content ourselves with the statement that it is not attributed to Luke by any one before Irenaeus and the Muratorian Fragment” (xv).cites a variety of particulars that are found only in Luke (I Apol. xxxiv; Try. lxxviii; lxxxviii, c, ciii, cv, cvi). His pupil Tatian used the gospel in the Diatessaron. Celsus knew the third gospel with its genealogy extending to the first man (Orig., Con Cels ii, 32). The contain similarities that appear to be allusions (iii. 63. 65; xi. 20. 23; xvii. 5; xviii. 16; xix. 2). Marcion adapted this gospel to his purposes. Indeed, if Luke’s gospel had not been in such common use for a long time, how could a scholar of Origen’s breadth have listed it among the number of “those four Gospels admitted by all the churches under heaven”? Godet (pp. 8, 9) presents a good case for allusions by in the 1st cent. to Luke’s second document, Acts. In the NT itself, he finds John’s narrative alluding, even in expression, to Luke’s and sees the long ending of Mark, “scarcely anything but an abridged reproduction of Luke’s” narrative (p. 11).
Since no question of debate is raised to indicate a shift of attitude between the time of writing and the universal acceptance of the third gospel as reflected in the latter part of the 2nd cent., since these 2nd cent. leaders clearly believed that they had an original and firm tradition, since this belief is supported by various evidences of the existence and broad use of the document throughout the Early Church, and since no voice is raised against the authority of this Gentile non-apostle, it is reasonable to assume that the third gospel’s position in the canon was firm and original.
The third gospel has no lack of textual materials. The five primary uncials (א, A, B, C, D) are the chief witnesses for the text. All of these but C (Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus) contain the whole gospel complete, while C has one long gap between chs. 12 and
These primary uncials are reinforced by a number of others (including L, Δ, R, T, X, Ξ, and W). To these are added several hundred minuscules that contain the whole or part of the gospels. Though these vary in importance, many of them are of considerable value. A variety of early Latin, Coptic, and Syriac VSS also are very useful. Many of these trs. reflect texts that antedate the oldest uncials (which come from the 4th cent.). These VSS represent wide geographical areas. Latin includes African, European, Italian, and the Vulgate. Coptic is Memphitic, Sahidic, and Bohairic; Syriac is Curetonian, Sinaitic, Peshitta, Harclean, and Palestinian. Finally, the quotations from the Fathers reflect ancient text types that furnish a basis for comparison.
Relatively late discoveries have enriched the resources of the critic. Codex W (Washingtonianus), purchased in 1906 by Mr. Freer, could be listed as a sixth primary uncial. It contains only the four gospels, but it comes from the late 4th or 5th cent. The Luke text is part Alexandrian and part Byzantine type. The Koridethian Manuscript (Θ), an uncial of the four gospels, was published in 1913. It is mostly Byzantine except in Mark, where it is akin to two groups of minuscules with which it has been grouped into the Theta or Caesarean family. Among the papyri, P45, Chester Beatty Papyrus I, dating from the 2nd or 3rd cent., has been outstanding. Originally the codex contained all four gospels and Acts, but the discovery at about 1930 included only certain leaves—seven in the case of Luke. In 1961, Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV (P75) was published. It contained most of
Godet mentions five or six thousand variant readings in the documents of Luke and says that “in general they are of very secondary importance and involve no change in the matter of Gospel history” (p. 48). The critic’s task is simplified by the tendency of certain MSS to go habitually together in opposition to others until two principal forms are established—often the older uncials grouping against the minuscules and the less ancient uncials. The exact scholar finds no substitute for careful analysis and exegesis in each instance. Even so, it is still proper to speak of the general agreement of the text with the most ancient VSS and with the quotations of the Fathers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and to speak of the general uniformity of the MSS in which the Gr. text has been preserved. As Godet says, “A text so universally diffused could only proceed from the text which was received from the very first” (p. 46).
Since Luke’s interest is so specifically historical, the most serious questions to be raised concerning his writings are charges of inaccuracy in reporting facts. These charges and detractions take four main forms: (1) the inference that a theological interest has displaced any genuine concern for historical accuracy; (2) the charge that Luke’s facts are wrong as compared with secular history; (3) the assertion that Luke and Paul contradict each other in their reporting of facts and events; and (4) the theory that the speeches and songs allegedly reported by Luke are his own compositions, in which he uses the literary device of putting his own ideas into the minds and mouths of others. A fifth problem has historical overtones—the matter of alleged theological differences between Luke and Paul. These last would be serious only if they made impossible the traditional relationship between these men.
Many have been disturbed by the fact that nearly all that is known about Jesus is from the writings of theologians or at least of men who are committed believers in Jesus as the Christ. It is argued that the theological judgment about Jesus was the mother of the narratives of the gospels rather than that the facts narrated demanded the theological conclusions. In other words, it is alleged that the gospels are not sober historical witnesses to Jesus of Nazareth but are simply the theological opinions of the Early Church as embellished and illustrated by such items of fact, legend, and mythology as could be used to present their views. The impossibility, on this view, of distinguishing fact from myth or legend has led many to despair of ever recovering the historical Jesus. On the other hand, the major effort of Formgeschichte is to peel back the layers of theology in order to come as close as possible to the truth. Of course, the whole assumption that theology and history are at odds is an unproved hypothesis of doubt. None of the apostles would have admitted such a bi-polarity. They considered themselves witnesses of evident facts that had compelled them and many others to believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ. The “works” of Jesus were not inventions of the apostles and evangelists to illustrate their faith; their faith was, in part, dependent upon these “works” and “signs” (
Luke exposed himself to attack in the matter of reliability as a historian by the fact that he, more than any other evangelist, followed historical models, related the narrated events to major details of the empire and of world affairs, and claimed to give particular pains to providing a reliable account. The chief point of attack in the gospel is the enrollment by order of Augustus in the time of Quirinius (
The charge of contradiction between Luke’s writing and that of Paul applies more to Acts than to the gospel. For example, Paul appears to have visited Jerusalem three times according to Acts (
The question of the origin of the recorded speeches is more often in relation to Acts than in the gospel. However, the words attributed to Mary, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Simeon and Anna, as well as the discourses of Jesus Himself, are notable exceptions. It is true that one option lying before the evangelist was to follow Thucydides and make the speakers speak in a way which seemed to be demanded by the occasion, though adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what was actually said (History of the Peloponnesian War, I. 22. 1). That some Greeks used Thucydides’ method without his conscientious care is admitted. Others were severely critical of speech invention and regarded the historian’s task as recording what was actually said (R. Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament, p. 141). There is no evidence that Luke departed from his careful historical method when he introduced speeches. Where it is possible to check (as between
The fifth problem, that of the theological differences between the Acts and Paul, is related to the question of the authorship of Luke-Acts. It has been asserted that Luke’s record of Paul’s teaching differs so radically from Paul’s own presentation that the author must not have been acquainted with Paul. In Acts there is no hint of the theological tension reflected in Galatians, where law is seen as leading into bondage from which Christ has freed man. D. Guthrie well says, however, that there is no ground for demanding that Luke must present Paul’s theology in his historical book in precisely the same form as Paul presents it in his practical and didactic letters. Paul himself accommodated to circumstances. He circumcised Jewish Timothy but rejected circumcision as a means of salvation (
In a unique sense the third gospel depicts Jesus as the divine Redeemer who came to seek and to save those who were lost. The account begins before the annunciations to Zechariah and to Mary and ends with the ascension into heaven. Set in the context of full deity, the perfect humanity of Jesus is revealed in more detail than in any other gospel. Luke gives the fullest account of the birth, childhood, growth, domestic and social life of Jesus, but emphasized that He came as Savior and Redeemer. Christ is depicted not so much as the Messiah of the OT as the Redeemer of the whole world. Time and again the point is stressed that the kingdom is open to all races and conditions of men—Samaritans and pagans as well as Jews; poor as well as rich; outcasts, publicans, and sinners as well as respectable people, and to women as well as to men. It is the universal Gospel of the Savior of all men.
It is also the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the secret of Christ’s own ministry (
Whatever may be said about sources or independence, Luke shares the “triple tradition” with both other synoptic gospels and the “double tradition” with Matthew in the sense of using in his own way the general bodies of material to which they all had access and in which they were all interested. To these Luke adds significant materials peculiar to himself, arranging the whole “in order,” sometimes chronologically and sometimes logically. The first two chs., recording the birth of
Luke is first of all a historian of the Gospel events and only secondarily a theologian (E. F. Scott, “The New Criticism of the Gospels,” H. Th. R., April 1926, pp. 143f.). The Gospel as he knows it is full of theological data and implications, but he reports it as he received it rather than as an inventor or theoretician (J. Creed, The Gospel According to St. Luke, p. lxxi). It is important to treat the “theology” of Luke in the light of this basic informality and not to impose one’s own systems of theology upon it.
Luke may be called a Paulinist in the sense that he shares with great conviction Paul’s position as the great apologist for the Gentile mission. Everything points to the fact that the Gospel is for all. Otherwise, little or nothing is said in the gospel that bears directly on the Pauline controversies. Christ must indeed have suffered, which the prophetic Scriptures had foretold, but no further theology of the cross is elaborated to explain redemption. Luke does not mention the death of the Son of man as “a ransom for many” (as
The kingdom of God holds its central place in the gospel as the “reign of God,” which also has its eschatological aspect with the sudden return of the Son of man (
In the same informal way, Luke reveals an implicit “theology of the Spirit.” Christ ministered in the power of the Spirit (
W. Hobart, The Medical Language of Luke (1882), 1-297; F. Godet, A Commentary on the, 2 vols. (1893), 1-49; A. Plummer, “Commentary on Luke,” International Critical Commentary (1896), xi-lxxxv; W. Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? (1898), 1-280; W. Ramsay, Luke the Physician (1908), 1-418; A. Harnack, Luke the Physician (1908), 1-198; A. Bruce, “The Gospel According to Luke,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament (1910), 44-60; D. Hayes, The Most Beautiful Book Ever Written (1913), 1-183; D. Hayes, The Synoptic Gospels and the Book of Acts (1919), 177-266; B. Streeter, The Four Gospels (1925), 150-364; J. Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (1925), 261-314; V. Taylor, Behind the Third Gospel (1926), 1-280; H. Cadbury, The Making of Luke-Acts (1927), 213-368; A. Robertson, Luke the Historian in the Light of Research (1930), 1-29; J. Creed, The Gospel According to St. Luke (1950), xi-lxxxvi; N. Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (1952), 15-50; N. Stonehouse, The Witness of Luke to Christ (1951), 9-67; P. Parker, The Gospel Before Mark (1953), 1-249; W. Arndt, The Gospel According to St. Luke (1956), 1-36; E. Stauffer, Jesus and His Story (1960), 21-32; H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke (1960), 9-17, 95-234; W. Farmer, “A Skeleton in the Closet of Gospel Research,” Biblical Research, VI (1961), 18-42; R. Grant, Historical Introduction to the New Testament (1963), 133-147; E. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (1964), 184-199; W. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem (1964), 1-308; D. Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, The Gospels and Acts (1965), 84-113; H. Meynell, “The Synoptic Problem: Some Unorthod ox Solutions,” Theology LXX (1967), 386-397; “Gospel of Luke,” Review and Expositor LXIV, 4 (1967), a complete issue on Lukan studies.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
|| 1. Text
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 Ac 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 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
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. 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, 330): "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 Ac 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 Ac 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 "Ac 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 Acts 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 Ac specifically refers (
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 Ac was a companion of Paul.
(3) This companion was Luke."
Harnack (The Ac 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 Ac 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 (
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 (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 (
(3) The Aramaic Infancy Narrative.
The very first section in this Gospel (
(4) Luke’s Relation to Mark’s Gospel.
Luke knew Mark in Rome (
(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. Arthur Carr ("Further Notes on the ," 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
More fault has been found with Luke as a historian in Ac than in the Gospel. Harnack (Ac 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
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
The Ac 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. 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 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 Ac (
(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), 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 Ac 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).