Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

25 reasons why Luke is early

01. Luke wrote his first letter to Most Excellent Theophilus, the Jewish High Priest.

02. The first audience of the Gospel of Luke was Jewish.

03. The author of the Gospel of Luke was Jewish.

04. Matthew and Mark rewrote the Lucan Passion Narrative.

05. Luke does not condemn the animal sacrificial system.

06. Creed, Conzelmann and those who agree with them note that Luke has no equivalent of the ransom saying or of Matthew's connection of Jesus's covenant blood with the remission of sins. Luke does not connect forgiveness of sins with the death of Jesus. Esler states: “It is indeed, very difficult to imagine how a theory of atoning death of Jesus, already present in Paul and Mark and, indeed, in pre-Pauline and pre-Marcan traditions, could have arisen among Jews who preserved close links with the sacrificial cult.” As long as the Temple stood, the High Priest was in office, the Day of Atonement was being observed and Judaism recognized the followers of Jesus as Jews, including many priests who were obedient to the faith, there was no need or reason for Luke to proclaim a theology of the cross and in fact, Luke has no theology of the cross.

07. Matthew also rewrote Luke adding the pericope making Peter not James the leader of the ekklesia, a word which is an anachronism in Matthew and had the disciples wait for Jesus in Galilee. Luke uses the Greek word ekklesia 23 times in Acts but not once in the Gospel. Matthew uses the word three times and is guilty of an anachronism.

08. It is difficult to imagine how a theory of atoning death of Jesus could have arisen among Jews who preserved close links with the sacrificial cult because it would be an anachronism. It is likewise difficult to imagine, if such a theology existed, that it would not have shown its influence on Didache and the early Church Fathers. The apostolic fathers believed that salvation was based on repentance and not solely on the ground of the death of Jesus on the cross. Robert Kraft has stated: “There is no indication in the Didache that an initial repentance connected with the idea of personal sinfulness for which Jesus' death atones was considered basic to the Christian life.”

09. Josephus is dependent on Luke.

10. The Lucan Jesus does not walk on water.

11. Luke does not use the phrase the “abomination of desolation.”

12. Luke does not use the phrase “Let the reader understand.”

13. Matthew and Mark rewrote the Parable of the Wicked Tenants to add exaggerated killings and replacement theology.

14. Mark rewrote Luke because the disciples did not get it. The disciples did not understand that there was no need to be in the Temple daily making sacrifices! He did so diplomatically because he could not criticize Luke. Mark rewrote Luke to place in the mouth of the Marcan Jesus an incident occurring in Acts whereby it could be said that Jesus had declared all foods clean. Mark also added the theology of the cross.

15. Matthew and Mark followed the Roman custom of dividing the night into four watches. Luke retained the three watch system of dividing the night.

16. Luke is the only gospel writer to mention the circumcision of the Messiah and the covenant of circumcision and is the only gospel writer to mention circumcision because Matthew and Mark wrote after the battle over circumcision had been fought and it was no longer an issue.

17. For Luke, Jesus' mission of preaching the good news of the kingdom does not imply that Israel is supplanted. Consistently, the activity of preaching, healing and of calling disciples is set within the context of the Temple and synagogue. The Lucan Jesus accepts the form and fact of these institutions including the animal sacrificial system, Temple worship and the need for repentance.

18. Luke [Lk 9:18-22] omits the name of the place where Jesus asks his disciples: "Who do the people say I am?" while Matthew [16:13-23] and Mark [8:27-33] identify the name of the place as Caesarea Philippi. When Josephus mentions in War and Antiquities the construction of a new city by Philip at Paneas, Josephus names the place as Caesaria. The first mention of Caesarea Philippi in Josephus is when Herod Agrippa II is the ruler of the region. The failure of Luke to mention Caesarea Philippi is evidence in support of the priority of Luke because Caesarea Philippi did not receive its name until some time after Jesus' famous visit to that community and thus is evidence of anachronism by Matthew and Mark.

19. Matthew and Mark both contain verses supporting the idea that the body of the risen Christ could be described as a new temple, which will replace the old destroyed one after three days. Luke does not contain these verses. These verses are the basis for the assertion that Jesus said that the Temple will be destroyed. Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke.

20. Luke has a strong emphasis on repentance. The synoptic gospels all note that John Baptist came preaching calling to the crowd that they should repent for the kingdom of God is approaching. John baptized with water unto repentance. Although the word, “repent” makes a few more appearances in Matthew and Mark after the initial pericopes with John the Baptist, “repentance” disappears. Since it is so much easier to seek forgiveness from God than from your neighbor, it is understandable that the requirements of repentance were relaxed for Gentiles by Matthew and Mark.

21. Luke presents Jesus as a prophet like Moses while Matthew and Mark present Jesus as a prophet greater than Moses.

22. The Temple is still standing when Luke addressed Theophilus. The Temple prophecy of Mark 13:2; Matthew 24:2 and Luke 21:6 resembles and echoes the prophecies of Micah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel that God's imminent judgment on Israel would involve the overthrow of the Temple.

23. 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. Eckhard Reinmuth has demonstrated, based on his detailed study of Liber biblicarum antiquitatum of Pseudo-Philo, that Luke, in recalling material not previously mentioned, is using an established Jewish literary technique. Nahum Sarna provided a number of examples in the Hebrew text such Genesis 9:18, 22 and 13:10 where the phrase “This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” appears to be an added insertion. Sarna states that these examples of “introducing a parenthetic note not immediately germane” are part of a literary technique of the author. These literary features are retained by the Septuagint.

24. Luke in his entry into Jerusalem pericope in 19:38 states: “Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Psalm 118 was “A thanksgiving liturgy accompanying a victory procession of the king and the people into the temple precincts.” Therefore one can conclude that not only did Luke read Psalm 118, but he also understood its significance. Matthew and Mark did not. Matthew and Mark in rewriting Luke missed the nuance. It is possible that Matthew and Mark rewrote Luke to be politically acceptable.

25. Luke did not include the verse “False messiahs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect” which appears in Matthew and Mark with minor variation. Joel Marcus uses this verse as one argument for dating the publication of the Gospel of Mark near the end of the Jewish War. The emergence of false prophets appear to reflect the circumstances from the mid-fifties CE to the end of the Jewish War as described by Josephus.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2007


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