Greetings, Theophilus- Luke 1:1-4

21 Dec

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)

So begins the Gospel according to Luke. I was asked by a local priest to read and to reflect on the entirety of Luke’s Gospel. It seems like a difficult task, but I’m determined to do it, with the help of God. I’ve chosen to post my reflections section by section on this blog as I read along. Hopefully I’ll post two (or so) articles a week on the Gospel of Luke.

My thoughts aren’t to be taken as authoritative; there are many who I acknowledge have vaslty superior knowledge of scriptural scholarship than I do. Feel free to post comments on my reflections (I really hope those interested will do so). I will doubtlessly benefit from perspectives other than those of my own mind.

SOME HISTORY…

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Luke for a more detailed discussion.)

The Gospel of Luke is traditionally held to have been written in the early 7th decade AD, though the date is debatable. St. Luke, by tradition, was a Gentile (non-Jewish) physician. Like Matthew’s account of Jesus, much of Luke’s Gospel is common to the information found in the Gospel of Mark. All of Matthew, Mark, and Luke may have based their writings on a “Q” (or Quelle, the German word for “source”) document. Luke focuses more on the human nature of Jesus than do Matthew or Mark. St. Luke’s writing style is slightly more refined than that of Matthew or Mark, though the three Gospels mentioned feature many commonalities, giving credence to their authenticity in detailing the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Luke includes the most instances of human interaction with Jesus, and Luke is especially attentive to the role of women in this interaction. Mark focuses more on the nature of Christ as a suffering servant, whereas Matthew best portrays a more universal body of believers, the Church. Together, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the synoptic Gospels, as they derive from a common path or outline (synopsis). John differs in that he immediately points to the divinity of Jesus. In contrast the synoptic Gospels mostly leave the acknowledgement of Jesus as God to the reader.

The history I’ve briefly outlined is thoughtfully debated, and much of it is not absolutely known, though history is always less important than the message contained in the Holy Bible. Some non-traditionalists even argue whether or not Luke was written by a single author. Luke was known as a doctor in Christian tradition. Even if Luke was not in fact a physician, he was indeed a doctor (the word “doctor” stems from the Latin word “doce” meaning “to teach”). Thus, as a great doctor he has much to teach us as to the life of our Incarnate Lord.

GREETINGS, THEOPHILUS…

…First some Latin, now for some Greek! Luke begins his Gospel with a dedication to a friend known to us as Theophilus. This name comes from the Greek theos- God- and philos- lover. According to some thinkers, Theophilus may just be a pseudonym for Luke’s audience- Christ’s followers of non-Jewish lineage. Theophilus, whether a single person or a group of people targeted by St. Luke’s message, was an ideal for all future disciples of the Messiah. Those who follow Jesus and heed his words and commandments are indeed lovers of God.

This is why I entitled this post as I did. We are also called to be lovers of God in word, in thought, and in deed. Next, Luke presents to us the first players of his Gospel. The next section leads into the events associated with the births of John the Baptist and then of Jesus Christ.

WRS

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