The Gospel of Luke, often mined for information about the life of Jesus, is also one of the earliest Christian examples of narrative theology. Luke goes to great lengths to ground the work of Jesus in the continuing story of God's redemptive plan, and his emphasis on the ongoing character of that story challenges his audience to discern the purpose of God and order their lives around it. This exploration of the way in which he accomplishes his theological task in the first century is both informative and illuminating for contemporary readers.
The Abingdon New Testament Commentaries series offers compact, critical commentaries on the writings of the New Testament. These commentaries are written with special attention to the needs and interests of theology students, but they will also be useful for students in upper-level college or university settings, as well as for pastors and other church leaders. In addition to providing basic information about the New Testament texts and insights into their meanings, these commentaries exemplify the tasks and procedures of careful, critical exegesis. In this volume, Robert C. Tannehill focuses on the significance of the Gospel of Luke in its final form for its original audience. Drawing on his own extensive previous work on Luke as a literary narrative as well as on recent studies of the ancient Mediterranean social world, Tannehill suggests that modern readers will find that certain features of Luke’s Gospel only take on significance—or deeper significance—when matched with an appropriate historical and cultural context in the first century. “This commentary is designed to meet the needs of sophisticated nonspecialist students of the Bible. The evangelist’s literary genius, frequently displayed in multivalent diction and imagery, finds in Robert Tannehill a faithful and sensitive interpreter. Social-scientific criticism, use of cultural anthropology, and frequent correction of renderings in the New Revised Standard Version appear without undue intrusiveness. This is a work well done.” –Frederick W. Danker, Christ Seminary-Seminex/ Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Anyone who reads the Gospels carefully will notice that there are differences in the manner in which they report the same events. These differences have led many conservative Christians to resort to harmonization efforts that are often quite strained, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Many people have concluded the Gospels are hopelessly contradictory and therefore historically unreliable as accounts of Jesus. The majority of New Testament scholars now hold that most if not all of the Gospels belong to the genre of Greco-Roman biography and that this genre permitted some flexibility in the way in which historical events were narrated. However, few scholars have undertaken a robust discussion of how this plays out in Gospel pericopes (self-contained passages). Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? provides a fresh approach to the question by examining the works of Plutarch, a Greek essayist who lived in the first and second centuries CE. Michael R. Licona discovers three-dozen pericopes narrated two or more times in Plutarch's Lives, identifies differences between the accounts, and analyzes these differences in light of compositional devices identified by classical scholars as commonly employed by ancient authors. The book then applies the same approach to nineteen pericopes that are narrated in two or more Gospels, demonstrating that the major differences found there likely result from the same compositional devices employed by Plutarch. Showing both the strained harmonizations and the hasty dismissals of the Gospels as reliable accounts to be misguided, Licona invites readers to approach them in light of their biographical genre and in that way to gain a clearer understanding of why they differ.
Reading Luke-Acts through the lens of Greco-Roman physiognomics, this is a study of the use of physical descriptions in characterization in the biblical texts. Specifically, this work studies blindness as characterization and, ultimately, as an interpretive guide to Luke-Acts.