Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Reading Conzelmann Again for the 1st Time

The Theology of Saint Luke is a book I have read many times. It has influenced my thinking about the writings of Luke and particularly my views about Luke as a historian and also as a theologian. Conzelmann taught me to consider the Gospel of Luke intact. Because I view the Gospel of Luke as intact, I was able to see where and why Matthew and Mark had to rewrite it to correct what they saw as errors. This is probably the most important lesson I derived. This book forced me to state my reasons where I strongly disagreed and caused me to find the evidence to support my reasons.

In agreement with Conzelmann, I believe Luke has no atonement theology. Conzelmann understands the death of Jesus to be a divine necessity and according to Scripture but he argues that nowhere does Luke give the death of Jesus the explanation provided by Paul or even the other gospel writers all of whom relate it to the forgiveness of sins. He says “Conzelmann, there is no direct soteriological significance drawn from Jesus’ suffering or death” and “there is no suggestion of a connection with forgiveness of sins (201).” However, I was challenged to find the reason why Luke had no atonement theology.

Willi Marxsen stated that Mark, the great theologian of the cross, rearranged everything in terms of the redemptive suffering and death of Jesus, the son of God. Conzelmann demonstrated that Luke had no theology of the cross. He further noted that Mark’s gospel was merely a commentary on the kergma of Acts 2:22-24, which existed prior to the Gospel of Mark and provided Mark with his initial outline. However Conzelmann did not conclude that Luke wrote prior to Mark. For me, just as Marxsen’s work (1959) was a response to Conzelmann’s The Theology of St. Luke (1953), the Gospel of Mark was a response to the writings of Luke.

Part I is a detailed discussion of the Geographical Elements of the Gospel of Luke where Conzelmann postulates that Luke presents the mountain and lakes as special places where the public is not seen. Conzelmann also asserts that the Lucan Jesus only visits Jewish places and avoids Gentile places. This he does, for instance, by not naming the place where Jesus asks his disciples: "Who do the people say I am?" or location of the Transfiguration as Caesarea Phillipi as do Matthew and Mark. Conzelmann also recognized that in Mark “the secret is a matter of fundamental principle” and “there is a deliberate discontinuance of miracles in Jerusalem period.” Conzelmann did not discuss the miracle of the healing of the servant of the High Priest or the significance of the last miracle.

Conzelmann did not recognize that the last mention of Satan in Matthew and Mark is the Confession at Caesarea Philippi and that for Luke, Satan is still a force in the world.

Although Conzelmann discussed matters of geographical accuracy, he did not mention that Luke accurately described as a lake what Matthew and Mark identified as the Sea of Galiliee. Conzelmann did not indicate that Luke does not identify the place where the Confession of Peter was made. Matthew and Mark both indicate that this event occurred at Caesarea Philippi. Conzelmann theorized that Luke withheld the name of the location because he did not want to place the ministry of Jesus in Gentile territory. It is more likely that the use of this geographical name would be an anachronism in that the place did not acquire this name until after occurrence of the event. When Josephus mentions in War and Antiquities the construction of a new city by Philip at Paneas, Josephus names the place as Caesarea. The first mention of Caesarea Philippi in Josephus is when Herod Agrippa II is the ruler of the region. Thus Luke did not use the name of Caesarea Philippi to be historically accurate.

A similar problem was presented in a passage by Luke, one which Conzelmann used to demonstrate that Luke was confused about his geography. However, using the same information found in Lk. 17:11, Weissenrieder located the spot being described by Luke in the Valley of Jezreel. Weissenrieder further demonstrated how climatic conditions of this area would cause many inhabitants to be afflicted with a skin condition probably erroneously diagnosed as leprosy.

The NT writings are generally hostile to the relatives of Jesus. Even Luke, as noted by Conzelmann has passages hostile to the relatives. Commenting on Luke 8:19-21, Conzelmann states: “The very position of the scene indicates that the relatives are excluded from playing any essential part in the life of Jesus and therefore the life of the Church.” Yet, we know from the Acts of the Apostles and Eusebius that the early leaders of the church, even post 70, were in facts relatives of Jesus. Conzelmann does not explain how this happened.

In my head, I have already rewritten The Theology of Saint Luke but I suspect I will not attempt to reduce my masterpiece to writing until I can isolate and departmentalize the contributions of the writings and individuals who influenced my thinking.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008


Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Is it as easy to make this case if you don't include Acts? There do seem to be clearer statements of atonement in the speeches of Peter and Paul in Acts. Given the "we" sections of Acts, there's some reason to think the author of at least those passages was very familiar with Paul's teaching from having experienced it firsthand. So I'm pretty skeptical of this claim.

10:13 PM

Blogger Richard H. Anderson said...

I am not certain that you are responding to Conzelmann or to me.
Howard Marshall discussed Paul's departure speech and I discussed Marshall's views in one of my published articles, The Cross and Atonement from Luke to Hebrews. I am not of any other speech in Acts by Peter or Paul relied upon in the atonement debate. My purpose in this series is to discuss the issues raised and discussed by authors I read that influenced my views.q

5:09 AM


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