Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Style and Technique of Luke-Acts

Gerhardsson noted that "Luke is very much dependent upon Palestinian tradition."[i] Adolf Schatter concluded that the text's character[ii] together with other indicators point to the author's provenance from the Jewish church.[iii] Johannes Weiss in 1892 made what was then considered a radical statement. “Weiss recognized that ideas have to be expressed in terms that are intelligible to their audience.”[iv]

Consequently, we must infer that ideas were expressed in terms intelligible to most excellent Theophilus who was most certainly a Jewish man of rank and wealth.

Bertil Gartner concludes the writings of Luke most resembles the 1st two books of Maccabees which “. . . have certain features in common with Hellenistic historical writings; though regarded as a whole as part of a typically Jewish tradition."[v]

“The view of history which is presented is stamped by the belief in God's intervention, punishment, restitution and help. The authors are not so much concerned with the principles of cause and effect (as, for example, is clearly noticeable in Josephus) as with God's acting through the Maccabean heroes. But they also desire to teach and publish abroad the faith that is based on the maintenance of the law, sanctity of the Temple, and trust in God, and this is the primary function of the speeches. Their style does not obey the rhetorical ideal but belongs, rather, to the Old Testament tradition.”[vi]

Luke-Acts has been shaped by the style and technique of the "Deuteronomistic School"[vii], historical works of the Old Testament and post Old Testament Jewish histories such as 1 and 2 Maccabees. "Luke adopted the language and themes of Scripture that are used in Jewish writings of the period. . . ."[viii] Trebilco also notes that Luke used "interpretative alterations or expansions within Old Testament quotations, which is a form of implicit midrash found in Jewish texts" citing Acts 4:11 as example.[ix] Thus Luke-Acts was written in a format familiar to the High Priest.

[i] Birger Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscripts, (Lund, 1961, ET 1998), 21l.
[ii] Adolf Schatter, Theology of the Apostles, (1992, ET Grand Rapids, 1999), 327.
[iii] supra, 330. Luke presupposes a knowledge of the Old Testament and Jewish history (1:7; 4:38; 9:9-10 & 9:28-36.
[iv] Riches, John K., A Century of New Testament Study, (Valley Forge, 1993), 14.

[v] The Areopagus Speech and Natural Revelation, (Uppsala, 1955)(ET by Carolyn Hannay King), 18.
[vi] Gartner, 22-23.
[vii] ömer, Thomas R., and Macchi, Jean-Daniel, "Luke, disciple of the Deuteronomistic school" in Tuckett, 178-187, C. M., editor, Luke's Literary Achievement: collected essays, (Sheffield, 1995).
[viii] Trebilco, Paul R., "Jewish backgrounds" in Porter, Stanley E., editor, Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament, (Leiden / New York, 1997), 385.
[ix] Trebilco, 385-6.

copyrighted 2005


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