One Way Indicators
If Theophilus is the High Priest to whom Luke addressed his gospel as I have argued in my recent book, Who are Johanna and most excellent Theophilus?: The Irony of the Intended Audience of the Gospel of Luke, then what does this say about early dating of the Gospel? Luke could have written any time between 30 CE and 130 CE but I have argued that Luke wrote to Theophilus while he was serving as High Priest. Marshall has stated “Luke shows a particular interest in Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Peraea from 4 B.C. until his disposition by Caligula in A.D. 39. Luke 3:19; 8:3; 9:7,9; 13:31; 23:7-15; Acts 4:27; 13:1.” The Theophilus proposal explains this interest. Luke wrote his Gospel during the reign of Herod Antipas. Consequently Luke wrote his gospel between 37 and 39 C.E.
There are a number of reasons why Luke is early and probably is the first gospel written in Greek. I have assembled nearly 100 reasons and probably will add a few more as I organize my thoughts. This list of reasons why the Gospel of Luke should be dated early is really the beginning of an outline for a series of articles on the priority of Luke. Admittedly the Theophilus Proposal is the primary reason for dating Luke early. These articles will address some of the reasons for early dating which are unrelated to the identity of Theophilus.
A one way road sign lets the driver know that on this street traffic moves only in one direction. By analogy, a one way indicator lets the reader know that the indicator demonstrates or illustrates that one document is dependent upon another document. If we know the relative dates of publication of the two documents, it is easy to state that Gospel Luke alludes to the Book of Ezra because Ezra was published earlier than Luke.
However we have not been able to conclusively date each of the four gospels. Therefore we must use one way indicators to assist us but we need to be careful that we have not created circularity. Sometimes, “the evidence from one way indicators is contradicted by linguistic usage.” We will be examining in a series of articles examples of one way indicators from the Gospels that demonstrate Lucan priority.
As an example of the type of argument being presented, consider the following: “The Lucan Jesus does not walk on water.” In our next article, we discuss the priority significance of this statement. This particular argument is not based on linguistic usage or compositional analysis. Therefore it is not likely to suffer from the problem of circularity.