E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Prolegomena to Proto-Luke
Panel: Formation of Luke-Acts
Society of Biblical Literature, San Diego, 17-20 Nov

SBL Conference 2006


Over the last century, it has several times been suggested that the Gospel of Luke was composed in more than one stage; that is, that Luke has a formation history. But specific proposals about that history have differed widely. I here approach the question de novo, from the viewpoint of text philology. Accepting the broad consensus that the final order of composition of the Gospels is Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and further supporting that conclusion with a trajectory argument, I take up in turn the non-Markan and Markan material in Luke 1-5.

In the material without parallel in Mark, I find that the Birth Narrative and the Genealogy are intentional refinements of the parallel material in Matthew, and that they are narratively exiguous in Luke; that is, they are later additions to a Luke which was formerly satisfactory without them. This already implies a two-stage formation process for Luke.

In the latter, I find that the Markan material in Lk 1-5 originally stood, in Luke, in Markan order. This again implies a two-stage process, in the second state of which the previous material was rearranged, and its transitions in part rewritten, to produce a more rational narrative, and also to accommodate certain later theological conceptions.

The implied motive for the Lukan arrangement of Mark-derived previous material seems to be compatible with that for the Lukan addition of Matthew-based new material, so that the respective two-stage processes may be identified with each other, yielding a single two-stage model to be tested by further investigation.

Finally, the motive for the second stage of Luke is linked with the plan of Luke/Acts, which is to give a comprehensive account of salvation history, from the promise of God to Abraham up to the definitive rejection of Jesus by the Jews at Rome (Ac 28:28), and their replacement by the Gentiles as the New Israel.


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