Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pseudo-Philo and Luke

Luke is criticized, for recalling in his account of the sermon in Nazareth the healings in Capernaum, even though Luke has not previously mentioned any healings by Jesus. This is said to be evidence of his carelessly copying another gospel account. I would appreciate knowing who made this criticism and what was stated, as I cannot find my notes.

Several scholars have noted striking similarities between Luke-Acts and the Liber biblicarum antiquitatum of Pseudo-Philo. Eckhard Reinmuth has argued that close examination of Liber biblicarum antiquitatum has important implications for understanding Luke-Acts in its Jewish context.[i]

Reinmuth has demonstrated the habit of the author of Pseudo-Philo, Liber biblicarum antiquitatum, of “recalling material not previously mentioned in the text is not the result of oversight or carelessness; rather, such material is part of a recurring pattern fully integrated into the narrative structure of the work.”[ii]

Reinmuth calls attention to several shared elements in the narrative structures of Luke-Acts and of Liber biblicarum antiquitatum.

“On the basis of observable similarities in linguistic usage, Reinmuth rejects the view that recurring formulaic expressions in Luke's work are simply mimesis of LXX Greek. Reinmuth contends the usage may reflect contemporary Jewish usage. Like the author of Liber biblicarum antiquitatum, Luke uses biblical citations and direct quotations to frame and advance the narrative. Both writers share the same technique of recalling narrative material not previously mentioned. Analogous theological conceptions are imbedded in the general narrative structure. Among them are ideas about Israel's election, God's providential plan, and the role of narrative in describing how this plan unfolds historically.”

Reinmuth has, inter alia, demonstrated the importance of Jewish sources for understanding the theology and structure of Luke-Acts.

The most important preliminary finding is that Luke, in recalling material not previously mentioned, is using an established Jewish literary technique.

I plan to return to Pseudo-Philo and Luke.

[i] Pseudo-Philo und Lukas: Studien zum Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum und seiner Bedeutung fur die Interpretation des lukanischen Doppelwerks (WUNT 74; Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1994). Pp. xii + 284. DM 198.
[ii] All quotations are from William Adler’s book review appearing in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, April 1997, of Reinmuth’s work.

copyrighted 2005


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