Friday, March 10, 2006

Unity of Luke-Acts

Luke’s agenda is not to write the story of Jesus, followed by the story of the early church … Rather, his design is to write the story of the continuation and fulfillment of God’s project – a story that embraces both the work of Jesus and of the followers of Jesus after his ascension. From start to finish, Luke–Acts brings to the fore one narrative aim, the one aim of God.

J.B. Green, The Theology of Luke (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), 47.

Other Odd Musings on Luke

Currently Luke-Acts makes up 28% of the NT (compared to Paul's 24%). In addition, consider the following:

1. Calvin thought that Luke wrote Hebrews.

2. S.G. Wilson proposed Lucan authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (Ben Witherington toys with the idea too).

Both of these ideas are speculative and I don't actually go along with them (although Luke writing the Pastorals as Paul's secretary or writing on his behalf would explain alot, cf. 2 Tim. 4.11). But what would it mean for the importance of Luke as an author if these writings were somehow related to him? Would not the significance of John and Paul be eclipsed by an author who makes up between 45-50% of the NT?


David said...

I believe Bill Mounce hints at a Lukian amanuensis to the Pastorals in his WBC on them. He has some plausible arguements. This would indeed give Luke credit for a huge chunk of the NT. But I think this is what scholarship is just beginning to realize anyway, that Luke wrote tons of some of the finest witness to the first century events we have.

MOsborne20 said...

Indeed, it would be an oversimplification to say that Luke-Acts is a story about Jesus (Luke) and then the church (Acts). Frank Thielman has an excellent discussion in his new work Theology of the New Testament: a canonical and synthetic approach (2005). He sees Luke-Acts as the fulfillment and forward movement of salvation-history (in a good sense) for the people of God.

He concurs with your fulfillment idea. He says, "He [Luke] makes the case that this new people called 'Christians' represesents the fulfillment of God's purpose for His people Israel, and for all humanity, as Israel's Scriptures describe it. In the course of his narrative he makes clear what that purpose is. He shows his readers how the Messiah Jesus and the assembly of a group of people who believed the message about him fulfilled this purpose. He assures his readers that God's purpose, although unfinished in the present, will inevitably triumph, and he teaches Christians how they should live as they proceed along the often difficult way toward this triumph (p. 112)."

Michael Barber said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Barber said...

Check out the following site which has a chart of all the parallels in Luke-Acts laid out by Charles H. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes and the Genre of Luke-Acts. SBLMS 20 (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1974). Perhaps Talbert was strecthing things here and there, but still, I think his work is very insightful.

You'll need to scroll down a little...
http:// /imperato/ luke.htm (I put spaces in here because it wouldn't all fit on the comments page - fix in your browser to see the page)

Daniel Kirk said...

An alternative construal of how Luke's relationship with Paul (& possibly writing the pastorals) would affect our understanding of the NT: rather than Luke eclipsing Paul & John, perhaps Luke-Paul would come together and eclipse everything else.

FWIW, I sort of agree with Green's characterization of Luke-Acts, but wonder if Luke's point isn't more along the lines of: These are the two phases of the work that Jesus himself performs.