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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Luke's Narrative.

1.

Whilst these distinctive episodes serve as a valuable tool in the quest for determining the nature of Luke's work and his purpose in writing, what can be learned from them has to be supplemented, and in part determined, by what the author himself says in his preface (see LK 1:1–4 ). This is unique in the gospels and in it Luke sets out his aims. His work is offered as an addition to an unspecified number of ‘narratives’ which have purported to give a basis for an adequate understanding of Jesus. His careful research into the traditions (probably both oral and written) that were available to him results in an ‘orderly account’ that deepens and maybe even corrects theirs at points. Just what claim he is making for his ‘orderly account’ is not clear. It is certainly one of providing a firm basis in hard events for the response of faith that Luke hopes to evoke. Luke believes his narrative to be grounded in real history.

2.

The gospel's presentation of events, however, is not controlled by historical objectivity. Luke's story of the rejection at Nazareth owes it place at that point in the narrative less to a historical concern than to a desire to make it an introduction to the ministry as a whole. The details of Luke's crucifixion scene suggest that he wants to make it conform to what the gospel says about Jesus' stance during his life. The death sums up the life and reflects what happened in it. Resurrection appearances were all placed in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem because, in the events that happened there, the eschatological hopes of Israel were seen as actually being realized. The mission to the nations of the world had to reach out from there and start with the remaking of the Jewish people (Acts 2:1–13 ). Luke's desire to present an account of ‘the things that have been fulfilled among us’ could be achieved only by bathing the events themselves in a light that enabled their full reality, as the author understood it, to be seen. The ‘order’ of his account was determined less by a concern that asked ‘What actually happened next?’ than by a desire to unfold and justify the overall movement in Jesus' life that effected the achievement of his status. Luke's gospel becomes the step by step unfolding of his thesis that Jesus is both ‘Lord and Christ’ and that it is through him that God has fulfilled the promises of redemption that he had made to Israel and, through her, to the world.

3.

The Graeco-Roman outlook to which the preface links its author, and the biblical mould in which he casts his work, come together to make his narrative the expression of a faith that itself determines not only the perspective from which the events are described, but also the way they are actually perceived to have happened. Luke's preface makes claims that are both more convoluted and at the same time more profound than one to historical exactitude.

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