Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Reversal Motifs in Luke

The definition of apocalyptic seems to exclude the Lucan writings. Yet the best candidate for an apocalyptic writing would be one in which the eschatological judgment is a primary theme. The call for repentance, which is prominent in the Lucan writings, is always founded on the approaching judgment. In fact, the Lucan Jesus’ preaching of judgment is well-rooted in apocalyptic eschatology. The reversal motif is apocalyptic.

Reversals are prominent in Luke-Acts. One need only consider the Magnificat, the Beatitudes and Woes and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Nickelsburg has shown that Luke may have used 1 Enoch 92-104 in his Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. A reversal theology runs through 1 Enoch 92-104 in which resentment is directed at wealthy persecutors. This final idea is the centerpiece of apocalyptic: the reversal of the age-old order, the revenge of the oppressed and deprived. The reversal is often stated in an antithetic formulation, such as rich/poor or wicked/righteous. It is also a divine reversal which is apocalyptic in nature.

In rewriting Luke, Matthew and Mark toned down the apocalyptic message of reversal so strongly presented in the Gospel beginning with the Magnificat.

Copyrighted 2006


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