Luke

From BibleWiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Name

The name Lucas (Luke) is probably an abbreviation from Lucanus, like Annas from Ananus, Apollos from Apollonius, Artemas from Artemidorus, Demas from Demetrius, etc. (Schanz, "Evang. des heiligen Lucas", 1, 2; Lightfoot on "Col 4:14; Plummer, "St. Luke", introduction) The word Lucas seems to have been unknown before the Christian Era; but Lucanus is common in inscriptions, and is found at the beginning and end of the Gospel in some Old Latin manuscripts.

Antioch

It is generally held that St. Luke was a native of Antioch. Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. III, iv, 6) has: Loukas de to men genos on ton ap Antiocheias, ten episteuen iatros, ta pleista suggegonos to Paulo, kai rots laipois de ou parergos ton apostolon homilnkos--"Lucas vero domo Antiochenus, arte medicus, qui et cum Paulo diu conjunctissime vixit, et cum reliquis Apostolis studiose versatus est." Eusebius has a clearer statement in his "Quæstiones Evangelicæ", IV, i, 270: "Luke was by birth a native of the renowned Antioch" (Schmiedel, "Encyc. Bib."). Spitta, Schmiedel, and Harnack think this is a quotation from Julius Africanus (first half of the third century). In Codex Bezæ (D) Luke is introduced by a "we" as early as Acts 11:28; and, though this is not a correct reading, it represents a very ancient tradition.

The writer of Acts took a special interest in Antioch and was well acquainted with it (Acts 11:19-27; xiii, 1; xiv, 18-21, 25, xv, 22, 23, 30, 35; xviii, 22). We are told the locality of only one deacon, "Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch", vi, 5; and it has been pointed out by Plummer that, out of eight writers who describe the Russian campaign of 1812, only two, who were Scottish, mention that the Russian general, Barclay de Tolly, was of Scottish extraction. These considerations seem to exclude the conjecture of Renan and Ramsay that St. Luke was a native of Philippi.

Gentile

Luke was not a Jew. He is separated by Paul from those of the circumcision (Col 4:14), and his style proves that he was a Greek. Hence he cannot be identified with Lucius the prophet of Acts 13:1, nor with Lucius of Rom 16:21, who was cognatus of Paul. From this and the prologue of the Gospel it follows that Epiphanius errs when he calls him one of the Seventy Disciples; nor was he the companion of Cleophas in the journey to Emmaus after the Resurrection (as stated by Theophylact and the Greek Menol.). Luke had a great knowledge of the Septuagint and of things Jewish, which he acquired either as a Jewish proselyte (Jerome) or after he became a Christian, through his close intercourse with the Apostles and disciples. Besides Greek, he had many opportunities of acquiring Aramaic in his native Antioch, the capital of Syria.

Occupation

Luke's choice of medical language proves that the author was a physician. Westein, in his preface to the Gospel ("Novum Test. Græcum", Amsterdam, 1741, 643), states that there are clear indications of his medical profession throughout St. Luke's writings; and in the course of his commentary he points out several technical expressions common to the Evangelist and the medical writings of Galen. These were brought together by the Bollandists ("Acta SS.", 18 Oct.). In the "Gentleman's Magazine" for June, 1841, a paper appeared on the medical language of St. Luke. To the instances given in that article, Plummer and Harnack add several others; but the great book on the subject is Hobart "The Medical Language of St. Luke" (Dublin, 1882). Hobart works right through the Gospel and Acts and points out numerous words and phrases identical with those employed by such medical writers as Hippocrates, Arctæus, Galen, and Dioscorides. A few are found in Aristotle, but he was a doctor's son. The words and phrases cited are either peculiar to the Third Gospel and Acts, or are more frequent than in other New Testament writings. The argument is cumulative, and does not give way with its weakest strands. When doubtful cases and expressions common to the Septuagint, are set aside, a large number remain that seem quite unassailable.

Harnack (Luke the Physician! 13) says: "It is as good as certain from the subject-matter, and more especially from the style, of this great work that the author was a physician by profession. Of course, in making such a statement one still exposes oneself to the scorn of the critics, and yet the arguments which are alleged in its support are simply convincing. . . . Those, however, who have studied it [Hobart's book] carefully, will, I think, find it impossible to escape the conclusion that the question here is not one of merely accidental linguistic coloring, but that this great historical work was composed by a writer who was either a physician or was quite intimately acquainted with medical language and science. And, indeed, this conclusion holds good not only for the 'we' sections, but for the whole book." Harnack gives the subject special treatment in an appendix of twenty-two pages. Hawkins and Zahn come to the same conclusion. The latter observes (Einl., II, 427): "Hobart has proved for everyone who can appreciate proof that the author of the Lucan work was a man practised in the scientific language of Greek medicine--in short, a Greek physician" (quoted by Harnack, op. cit.).

In this connection, Plummer, though he speaks more cautiously of Hobart's argument, is practically in agreement with these writers. He says that when Hobart's list has been well sifted a considerable number of words remains. " The argument", he goes on to say "is cumulative. Any two or three instances of coincidence with medical writers may be explained as mere coincidences; but the large number of coincidences renders their explanation unsatisfactory for all of them, especially where the word is either rare in the LXX, or not found there at all" (64). In "The Expositor" (Nov. 1909, 385 sqq.), Mayor says of Harnack's two above-cited works: "He has in opposition to the Tübingen school of critics, successfully vindicated for St. Luke the authorship of the two canonical books ascribed to him, and has further proved that, with some few omissions, they may be accepted as trustworthy documents. . . . I am glad to see that the English translator . . . has now been converted by Harnack's argument, founded in part, as he himself confesses, on the researches of English scholars, especially Dr. Hobart, Sir W. M. Ramsay, and Sir John Hawkins." There is a striking resemblance between the prologue of the Gospel and a preface written by Dioscorides, a medical writer who studied at Tarsus in the first century (see Blass, "Philology of the Gospels"). The words with which Hippocrates begins his treatise "On Ancient Medicine" should be noted in this connection: 'Okosoi epecheiresan peri iatrikes legein he graphein, K. T. L. (Plummer, 4). When all these considerations are fully taken into account, they prove that the companion of St. Paul who wrote the Acts (and the Gospel) was a physician.

Journeys with Paul

St. Luke first appears in the Acts at Troas (Acts 16:8), where he meets Paul, and, after the vision, crossed over with him to Europe as an Evangelist, landing at Neapolis and going on to Philippi, "being assured that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them" (note especially the transition into first person plural at verse 10). He was, therefore, already an Evangelist. He was present at the conversion of Lydia and her companions, and lodged in her house. He, together with Paul and his companions, was recognized by the pythonical spirit: "This same following Paul and us, cried out, saying: These men are the servants of the most high God, who preach unto you the way of salvation" (verse 17).

He beheld Paul and Silas arrested, dragged before the Roman magistrates, charged with disturbing the city, "being Jews", beaten with rods and thrown into prison. Luke and Timothy escaped, probably because they did not look like Jews (Timothy's father was a gentile).

When Paul departed from Philippi, Luke was left behind, in all probability to carry on the work of Evangelist. At Thessalonica the Apostle received highly appreciated pecuniary aid from Philippi (Phil 4:15f), doubtless through the good offices of Luke. It is not unlikely that the latter remained at Philippi all the time that Paul was preaching at Athens and Corinth, and while he was travelling to Jerusalem and back to Ephesus, and during the three years that the Apostle was engaged at Ephesus. When Paul revisited Macedonia, he again met Luke at Philippi, and there wrote his [[Book of 2 Corinthians|Second Epistle to the Corinthians]].

Jerome thinks it is most likely that Luke is "the brother, whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches" (2Cor 8:18), and that he was one of the bearers of the letter to Corinth. Shortly afterwards, when Paul returned from Greece, Luke accompanied him from Philippi to Troas, and with him made the long coasting voyage described in Acts Chapter 20. He went up to Jerusalem, was present at the uproar, saw the attack on the Apostle, and heard him speaking "in the Hebrew tongue" from the steps outside the fortress Antonia to the silenced crowd. Then he witnessed the infuriated Jews, in their impotent rage, rending their garments, yelling, and flinging dust into the air.

We may be sure that he was a constant visitor to St. Paul during the two years of the latter's imprisonment at Caesarea. In that period he might well become acquainted with the circumstances of the death of Herod Agrippa I., who had died there eaten up by worms" (skolekobrotos), and he was likely to be better informed on the subject than Josephus. Ample opportunities were given him, "having diligently attained to all things from the beginning", concerning the Gospel and early Acts, to write in order what had been delivered by those "who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Lk 1:2f). It is held by many writers that the Gospel was written during this time, Ramsay is of opinion that the Epistle to the Hebrews was then composed, and that Luke had a considerable share in it.

When Paul appealed to Caesar, Luke and Aristarchus accompanied him from Caesarea, and were with him during the stormy voyage from Crete to Malta. Thence they went on to Rome, where, during the two years that Paul was kept in prison, Luke was frequently at his side, though not continuously, as he is not mentioned in the greetings of the Epistle to the Philippians (Lightfoot, "Phil.", 35). He was present when the Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon were written, and is mentioned in the salutations given in two of them: "Luke the most dear physician, saluteth you" (Col 4:14); "There salute thee ... Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke my fellow labourers" ({Pmon|1|24}}). Jerome holds that it was during these two years Acts was written.

We have no information about Luke during the interval between Paul's two Roman imprisonments, but he must have met several of the Apostles and disciples during his various journeys. He stood beside Paul in his last imprisonment; for the Apostle, writing for the last time to Timothy, says: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. . . . Make haste to come to me quickly. For Demas hath left me, loving this world. . . . Only Luke is with me" (2 Tim 4:7ff). It is worthy of note that, in the three places where he is mentioned in the Epistles (Col 4:14, Pmon 1:24, 2 Tim 4:11) he is named with Mark (cf. Col 4:10), the other Evangelist who was not an Apostle (Plummer), and it is clear from his Gospel that he was well acquainted with the Gospel according to St. Mark; and in the Acts he knows all the details of Peter's delivery--what happened at the house of Mark's mother, and the name of the girl who ran to the outer door when Peter knocked. He must have frequently met Peter, and may have assisted him to draw up his First Epistle in Greek, which affords many reminiscences of Luke's style.

After Paul's martyrdom practically all that is known about him is contained in the ancient "Prefatio vel Argumentum Lucae", dating back to Julius Africanus, who was born about A.D. 165. This states that he was unmarried, that he wrote the Gospel, in Achaia, and that he died at the age of seventy-four in Bithynia (probably a copyist's error for Boeotia), filled with the Holy Ghost. Epiphanius has it that he preached in Dalmatia (where there is a tradition to that effect), Gallia (Galatia?), Italy, and Macedonia. As an Evangelist, he must have suffered much for the Faith, but it is controverted whether he actually died a martyr's death. Jerome writes of him (De Vir. III., vii). "Sepultus est Constantinopoli, ad quam urbem vigesimo Constantii anno, ossa ejus cum reliquiis Andreæ Apostoli translata sunt [de Achaia?]."

Representation

Luke its always represented by the calf or ox, the sacrificial animal, because his Gospel begins with the account of Zachary, the priest, the father of John the Baptist. He is called a painter by Nicephorus Callistus (fourteenth century), and by the Menology of Basil II, A.D. 980. A picture of the Virgin in S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, is ascribed to him, and can be traced to A.D. 847 It is probably a copy of that mentioned by Theodore Lector, in the sixth century. This writer states that the Empress Eudoxia found a picture of the Mother of God at Jerusalem, which she sent to Constantinople (see "Acta SS.", 18 Oct.). As Plummer observes. it is certain that Luke was an artist, at least to the extent that his graphic descriptions of the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Shepherds. Presentation, the Shepherd and lost sheep, etc., have become the inspiring and favourite themes of Christian painters.

Writings

Luke is one of the most extensive writers of the New Testament. His Gospel is considerably longer than Matthew's, his two books are about as long as Paul's fourteen Epistles: and Acts exceeds in length the Seven Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse. The style of the Gospel is superior to any New Testament writing except Hebrews. Renan says (Les Evangiles, xiii) that it is the most literary of the Gospels. Luke is a painter in words. "The author of the Third Gospel and of the Acts is the most versatile of all New Testament writers. He can be as Hebraistic as the Septuagint, and as free from Hebraisms as Plutarch. . . He is Hebraistic in describing Hebrew society and Greek when describing Greek society" (Plummer, introd.). His great command of Greek is shown by the richness of his vocabulary and the freedom of his constructions.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
This article needs to be merged with LUKE (Jewish Encyclopedia).
Personal tools
related