Gospel of Luke Chapter 1-9
Luke–Acts: unity, authorship and date
See also: Authorship of Luke–Acts
The gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles make up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts. Together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament, the largest contribution by a single author, providing the framework for both the Church’s liturgical calendar and the historical outline into which later generations have fitted their idea of the story of Jesus.
The author is not named in either volume. According to a Church tradition dating from the 2nd century he was the Luke named as a companion of Paul in three of the letters attributed to Paul himself, but “a critical consensus emphasizes the countless contradictions between the account in Acts and the authentic Pauline letters (Theissen and Merz 1998, p.32).” (An example can be seen by comparing Acts’ accounts of Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1–31, 22:6–21, and 26:9–23) with Paul’s own statement that he remained unknown to Christians in Judea after that event (Galatians 1:17–24).) He admired Paul, but his theology was significantly different from Paul’s on key points and he does not (in Acts) represent Paul’s views accurately. He was educated, a man of means, probably urban, and someone who respected manual work, although not a worker himself; this is significant, because more high-brow writers of the time looked down on the artisans and small business-people who made up the early church of Paul and were presumably Luke’s audience. Analysis of the Gospel presents the possibility that Luke may have been a woman.
Structure of Luke’s Gospel
Following the author’s preface addressed to his patron and the two birth narratives (John the Baptist and Jesus), the gospel opens in Galilee and moves gradually to its climax in Jerusalem:
A brief preface addressed to Theophilus stating the author’s aims; Birth and infancy narratives for both Jesus and John the Baptist, interpreted as the dawn of the promised era of Israel’s salvation; Preparation for Jesus’ messianic mission: John’s prophetic mission, his baptism of Jesus, and the testing of Jesus’ vocation; The beginning of Jesus’ mission in Galilee, and the hostile reception there; The central section: the journey to Jerusalem, where Jesus knows he must meet his destiny as God’s prophet and messiah; His mission in Jerusalem, culminating in confrontation with the leaders of the Jewish Temple; His last supper with his most intimate followers, followed by his arrest, interrogation, and crucifixion; God’s validation of Jesus as Christ: events from the first Easter to the Ascension, showing Jesus’ death to be divinely ordained, in keeping with both scriptural promise and the nature of messiahship, and anticipating the story of Acts.