Sunday, October 25, 2009

The interpreter Luke and his audience

Still working on my presentation on Luke's Gospel in Christchurch at the end of this week ...

One 'authorial intention' of Luke which we can be pretty clear about because he tell us it is his intention is to help Theophilus to be more sure of the things he already knows.

We also observe of Luke - to pick out one observation of many we could make - that his gospel, for one so close to Paul, is very light on understanding Jesus' death as an atoning sacrifice for sin. Indeed we could fairly readily argue that Paul's atonement theology is non-existent; that the necessity of Jesus being killed is that, according to Scripture, the Messiah must suffer.

Is it possible that Luke is negligent of atoning theology because this is not a matter of concern to Theophilus? If Theophilus, for example, is like the two centurions (of Luke 7 and Acts 10) then he is an upright man, generous to a fault, and keen as mustard on the God of the Jews but unsure whether truly welcomed into God's kingdom as a Gentile. By the end of Acts Theophilus should be in no doubt that the Messiah of the Jews is the Christ of the Gentiles, God's suffering servant for the world, who welcomes him into God's kingdom.

That is, Luke interprets the gospel of Jesus Christ for his primary audience.


  1. Yes, the lack of atonement theme in Luke is an endless puzzle for us evangelicals.
    What does Acts 8:32, referring to Isaiah 53:7, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch,give us; is Luke steering away from the "stricken for the transgression of my people" in the next verse of Isaiah; is there a remote possibility that Luke sees this as a theme that could be followed up later in catachesis: are the interests of the early church peeping through Luke's other concerns?
    What of the "delivered up' theme in 2:23; 3:13; the stone rejected by you the builders: and especially killed by hanging upon the tree (5:30, 10:39). These themes are elsewhere int he scripture drawn into close relationship with the atonement theme.