What does Luke, Gospel According To mean in the Bible?

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Easton's Bible Dictionary - Luke, Gospel According to
Was written by Luke. He does not claim to have been an eye-witness of our Lord's ministry, but to have gone to the best sources of information within his reach, and to have written an orderly narrative of the facts (Luke 1:1-4 ). The authors of the first three Gospels, the synoptics, wrote independently of each other. Each wrote his independent narrative under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Each writer has some things, both in matter and style, peculiar to himself, yet all the three have much in common. Luke's Gospel has been called "the Gospel of the nations, full of mercy and hope, assured to the world by the love of a suffering Saviour;" "the Gospel of the saintly life;" "the Gospel for the Greeks; the Gospel of the future; the Gospel of progressive Christianity, of the universality and gratuitousness of the gospel; the historic Gospel; the Gospel of Jesus as the good Physician and the Saviour of mankind;" the "Gospel of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man;" "the Gospel of womanhood;" "the Gospel of the outcast, of the Samaritan, the publican, the harlot, and the prodigal;" "the Gospel of tolerance." The main characteristic of this Gospel, as Farrar (Cambridge Bible, Luke, Introd.) remarks, is fitly expressed in the motto, "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38 ; Compare Luke 4:18 ). Luke wrote for the "Hellenic world." This Gospel is indeed "rich and precious."
"Out of a total of 1151 verses, Luke has 389 in common with Matthew and Mark, 176 in common with Matthew alone, 41 in common with Mark alone, leaving 544 peculiar to himself. In many instances all three use identical language." (See MATTHEW; MARK; GOSPELS .)
There are seventeen of our Lord's parables peculiar to this Gospel. (See List of Parables in Appendix.) Luke also records seven of our Lord's miracles which are omitted by Matthew and Mark. (See List of Miracles in Appendix.) The synoptical Gospels are related to each other after the following scheme. If the contents of each Gospel be represented by 100, then when compared this result is obtained:
Mark has 7 peculiarities, 93 coincidences. Matthew 42 peculiarities, 58 coincidences. Luke 59 peculiarities, 41 coincidences.
That is, thirteen-fourteenths of Mark, four-sevenths of Matthew, and two-fifths of Luke are taken up in describing the same things in very similar language.
Luke's style is more finished and classical than that of Matthew and Mark. There is less in it of the Hebrew idiom. He uses a few Latin words ( Luke 12:6 ; 7:41 ; 8:30 ; 11:33 ; 19:20 ), but no Syriac or Hebrew words except sikera, an exciting drink of the nature of wine, but not made of grapes (from Heb. shakar, "he is intoxicated", 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 ), probably palm wine.
This Gospel contains twenty-eight distinct references to the Old Testament.
The date of its composition is uncertain. It must have been written before the Acts, the date of the composition of which is generally fixed at about 63 or 64 A.D. This Gospel was written, therefore, probably about 60 or 63, when Luke may have been at Caesarea in attendance on Paul, who was then a prisoner. Others have conjectured that it was written at Rome during Paul's imprisonment there. But on this point no positive certainty can be attained.
It is commonly supposed that Luke wrote under the direction, if not at the dictation of Paul. Many words and phrases are common to both; e.g., compare:
Luke 4:22 ; with Colossians 4:6 . Luke 4:32 ; with 1 Corinthians 2:4 . Luke 6:36 ; with 2 Corinthians 1:3 . Luke 6:39 ; with Romans 2:19 . Luke 9:56 ; with 2 Corinthians 10:8 . Luke 10:8 ; with 1 Corinthians 10:27 . Luke 11:41 ; with Titus 1:15 . Luke 18:1 ; with 2 Thessalonians 1:11 . Luke 21:36 ; with Ephesians 6:18 . Luke 22:19,20 ; with Leviticus 10:9 . Luke 24:46 ; with Acts 17:3 . Luke 24:34 ; with 1 Corinthians 15:5 .
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Luke, Gospel According to
LUKE, GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
1. The Third Gospel in the Early Church Of 2nd cent. writers the following can without doubt be said to have known the Gospel or to imply its previous composition: Justin Martyr ( c [1] . 150 a.d.), who gives particulars found in Lk. only; Tatian, his pupil, who included it in his Harmony ( the Diatessaron ); Celsus ( c [1] . a.d. 160 or c [1] . 177), who refers to the genealogy of Jesus from Adam; the Clementine Homities (2nd cent.); the Gospel of pseudo-Peter , a Docetic work ( c [1] . a.d. 165? Swete); the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs , a Jewish-Christian work (before a.d. 135, Sinker in Smith’s Dict. of Christ. Biog .); the Epistle of the Church of Lyons and Vienne (a.d. 177); Marcion, who based his Gospel upon Lk. and abbreviated it [5]; the Valentinians; and Heracleon, who wrote a commentary upon it. The first writers who name Luke in connexion with it are Irenæus and the author of the Muratorian Fragment (perhaps Hippolytus), Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria all at the end of the 2nd century. If we go back earlier than any of the writers named above, we note that Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, and the Didache writer perhaps knew Lk.; but we cannot be certain if their quotations are from Mt. or from Lk. or from some third document now lost, or even from oral tradition. Yet Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp probably quote Acts, and the title of the Didache seems to come from Acts 2:42 , and this presupposes the circulation of Luke. It will be observed that the ecclesiastical testimony shows the existence of Lk. before the second quarter of the 2nd cent., but we have not, as in the case of Mt. and Mk., any guidance from that early period as to the method of its composition or as to its author.
2. Contents of the Gospel . The preface ( Luke 1:1-4 ) and the Birth and Childhood narratives ( Luke 1:5 to Luke 2:52 ) are peculiar to Luke. The Evangelist then follows Mk. (up to Luke 6:19 ) as to the Baptist’s teaching and the early ministry, inserting, however, sections common to him and Mt. on the Baptist and on the Temptation, and also the genealogy, the miraculous draught of fishes, the anointing by the sinful woman, and some sayings (especially those at Nazareth) peculiar to himself. From Luke 6:29 to Luke 8:3 Lk. entirely deserts Mk. The intervening portion contains part of the Sermon on the Mount (not in the order of Mt.), the message of the Baptist, and the healing of the centurion’s servant (so Mt.) and some fragments peculiar to himself, especially the raising of the widow’s son at Nain (Lk. practically omits the section Mark 6:45 to Mark 8:26 = Matthew 14:22 to Matthew 16:12 ). The Markan narrative, containing the rest of the Galilæan ministry, the charge to the Twelve, the Transfiguration, etc., is then resumed, nearly in the same order as Mk., but with some omissions, to Luke 9:50 (= Mark 9:40 ), where a long insertion occurs ( Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14 ). After this Luke takes up Mk. almost where he left it ( Luke 18:15 = Mark 10:13 ). The insertion deals largely with the Peræan ministry and the journeys towards Jerusalem, and contains many parables peculiar to Lk (the Good Samaritan, the Importunate Friend, the Rich Fool, the Barren Fig-tree, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Piece of Money, the Prodigal Son, the Unjust Steward, the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Ten Lepers, the Unjust Judge, the Pharisee and the Publican), and also several incidents and sayings peculiar to Lk., e.g . the Mission of the Seventy; this section also has portions of the Sermon on the Mount and some parables and sayings common to Mt. and Lk., a few also which are found in other parts of Mk. From Luke 18:15 to the end the Markan narrative is followed (from Luke 19:45 to Luke 22:14 very closely) with few omissions, but with some insertions, e.g . the parable of the Pounds, the narrative of Zacchæus, of the Penitent Robber, of the two disciples on the Emmaus road, and other incidents peculiar to Lk. In the Passion and Resurrection narrative Luke has treated Mk. very freely, adding to it largely, and in several cases following other sources in preference.
Viewing the Third Gospel as a whole, we may with Dr. Plummer divide it thus: Preface, Luke 1:1-4 ; Gospel of the Infancy, Luke 1:5 to Luke 2:52 ; Ministry, mainly in Galilee, Luke 3:1 to Luke 9:60 ; Jourueyings towards Jerusalem, and the Ministry outside Galilee, Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:28 ; the Ministry in Jerusalem in the last days, Luke 19:29 to Luke 21:28 ; the Passion and Resurrection, 22 24.
3. The Sources . The preface ( Luke 1:1-4 ), the only contemporary evidence of the manner in which Gospels were written, tells us that the Evangelist knew of written Evangelic narratives, and had access to eye-witnesses, though he himself had not seen the events which he chronicles. Of the former sources (documents), the preceding section will lead us to name two (see also art. Gospels), namely the ‘Petrine tradition’ (see art. Mark [6]), which is our Mk. or else something very like it, and which the First Evangelist also used; and another, which is often called the ‘Logia,’ but which it is safer to call the ‘non-Markan document,’ which is a common source of Mt. and Lk., but which is now lost (see art. Matthew [6]). In the use of the latter the order of Lk. differs greatly from that of Mt., and the question arises which of the two Evangelists has followed this source the more closely. Now we have seen (§ 2 ) that Luke has followed the order of his Markan source very closely; it is therefore probable that he did the same with the ‘non-Markan document.’ We may then presume that the order of the latter is more faithfully reproduced in Lk. than in Mt. With regard to the sections peculiar to Lk. we must probably separate Luke 1:5 to Luke 2:52 from the rest. This section has a strong Aramaic tinge; it is an ‘episode of family history of the most private character’ (Ramsay); it is told from the point of view of a woman, and is full of womanly touches; it represents the Mary side of the story, while the narrative in Mt. represents the Joseph side. It is therefore highly probable that the ultimate, if not the immediate, source was the Virgin Mother, and that the story had not passed through many hands. Some postulate an Aramaic written source for this section (Plummer). But it is by no means certain that Luke the Gentile understood Aramaic; and the character of the narrative rather points to an oral source (Ramsay). The introduction of the Aramaic style (which begins abruptly at Luke 1:5 after the very Greek preface) may probably be an intentional change on the author’s part, and be due to a diligent study of the LXX [8] . For the rest of the matter peculiar to Lk., it is usual, perhaps rightly, to assume a special source, oral or written; but it must be observed that the silence of Mt. does not negative the supposition that much or most of this matter was contained in the ‘non-Markan document.’ Silence does not necessarily mean ignorance.
Assuming now (see § 5 ) that the author was Luke, Paul’s companion, we can see at once that he was in a position to gather together not only written materials, but also first-hand oral reports. The two years at Cæsarea ( Acts 24:27 ) would give him good opportunities for collecting materials both for the Gospel and for Acts. Mary may well have been alive at the time ( c [1] . a.d. 57), or at least Luke may have met several of the women best known to her. And both in Palestine at this time and later at Rome, he would have direct access to Apostolic information: in the former case, of several of the Twelve; in the latter, of St. Peter. At Rome he would probably read the written ‘Petrine tradition,’ his Markan source.
We must notice that Lk. is not the Pauline Gospel in the same sense that Mk. is the Petrine. St. Paul could not be a ‘source’ as St. Peter was; and indeed the preface to Lk. contradicts such an idea. Yet the Pauline influence on Luke is very great, not only in his ideas but in his language. Many words and phrases are peculiar in NT to Luke and Paul. Among other topics insisted on by both may be mentioned the universality of the Gospel (Luke 3:5 f., Luke 4:24 ff., Luke 10:29 ff., Luke 13:29 etc.).
As a detail in the consideration of the treatment of his sources by Luke, we may notice the Lord’s Prayer, which is much shorter in Lk. than in Mt. (see RV [9]7 ). Does this mean that the Prayer was delivered twice, in two different forms, or that Luke abbreviated the original, or that Matthew enlarged it? The first hypothesis is a priori quite probable; but if we have to choose between the two others, the presence of the Lukan phrase ‘day by day’ ( Luke 11:3 , so Luke 19:47 , Acts 17:11 , not elsewhere in NT), and of others which seem to be simplifications (as ‘we forgive’ for ‘we have forgiven’ of Mt. RV [9]7 , or ‘sins’ for ‘debts’ of Mt.), points to the Matthæan prayer being the original. But it is difficult to believe that either Evangelist would deliberately alter the Lord’s Prayer as found in his sources; the case is not parallel with other alterations. If we hold the Prayer to have been given only once, the most probable explanation of the differences would seem to be that, our Lord not haying laid down fixed rules for worship, but only general principles, the first Christians did not feel bound to use, or did not know, His ipsissima verba ; hence the liturgical usage with regard to the Prayer would vary. The First and Third Evangelists might well incorporate in their Gospels that form to which they were accustomed in worship. We must not forget also that as originally delivered the Prayer was, doubtless, in Aramaic, and so in any case we have not Jesus’ exact words.
4. The writer’s style and interests The Third Evangelist is at once the most literary and the most versatile of the four. The sudden change from a classical to an Aramaic style at Luke 1:5 has been noticed in § 3 ; when the writer is working on the ‘Petrine tradition,’ and the ‘non-Markan document,’ the Aramaic tinge is much less marked. The same thing is seen in Acts, where the early chapters have a strong Aramaic tinge which is absent from the rest. Yet the special characteristics of language run through both the books, and their integrity and common authorship, is becoming more and more certain. The writer has a keen sense of effective composition, as we see by the way in which he narrates his incidents ( e.g . that of the sinful woman, Luke 7:36 ff.). Yet his descriptions are not those of an eyewitness; the autoptic touches which we find in the Second Gospel (see Mark [6]) are absent here. The author’s interests are many his sympathy with women, his ‘domestic tone’ shown by the social scenes which he describes, his medical language and descriptions of cures (a large number of technical phrases used by Greek medical writers and by Luke have been collected), and his frequent references to angels, are clearly marked in both books. It has been said that in his Gospel he avoids duplicates ; but this statement can hardly stand examination (cf. the two songs ( Luke 1:45 ; Luke 1:68 ), the two feasts ( Luke 5:29 , Luke 19:5 ), the mission of the Twelve and of the Seventy ( Luke 9:1 , Luke 10:1 ), the two disputes as to who is the greatest ( Luke 9:45 , Luke 22:24 ), etc.).
The Evangelic symbol usually ascribed by the Fathers to Luke is the calf, though pseudo-Athanasius gives him the lion; and it is said that the Gospel has a sacrificial aspect, the calf being the animal most commonly used for sacrifice. But this appears to be very fanciful, and it is not easy to see why Lk. is more sacrificial than the other Gospels.
5. Authorship and date . ( a ) The Third Gospel and Acts have the same author. Both books are addressed to the same person, Theophilus; the style of both is identical, not only in broad features, but in detail (see § 4 ), and Acts 1:1 refers to a ‘former’ (or ‘first’) treatise. Thus, if the author is not the same in both cases, the later writer has deliberately interwoven into his book the whole style of his predecessor, in a manner that absolutely defies detection. That this should have happened is a gross Improbability. ( b ) We have no external evidence of authorship before Irenæus, who names Luke (§ 1 ). But the internal evidence of Acts is very strong that the writer was Luke, the companion of St. Paul (see art. Acts of the Apostles). We must therefore conclude either that the author was Luke, or that he wished to pass for him. The latter hypothesis is maintained by some on the ground that the writer is indebted to Josephus, who wrote his Antiquities c [1] . a.d. 94. It may be remarked that this fact, if proved, would not preclude the Lukan authorship, for if Luke was a young man when travelling with St. Paul, he might well have been alive and active in a literary sense c [1] . a.d. 100 (so Burkitt). But it is extremely improbable that he had ever read Josephus. The crucial cases are those of the taxing in Luke 2:2 and of Theudas in Acts 5:36 , discussed in § 7 below, and in art. Theudas, where dependence is shown to be most unlikely (see also art. Egyptian [15]). Other things point to an absence of literary connexion; e.g . Acts describes Agrippa’s death quite independently of Josephus. The argument from language, on the other side, scarcely deserves serious refutation; the common use of the LXX [8] accounts for most of the resemblances (see, further, Plummer, St. Luke , p. xxx; the connexion between Lk. and Josephus is denied by Schürer, Harnack, Zabn, and by most English writers). For the reasons, then, which are stated in art. Acts of the Apostles, we conclude that Luke was the author. It may be added that it is difficult to conceive any reason which the author, if not Luke, could have had for the pretence. Luke was not sufficiently well known for a forger to use his name.
( b ) Date . For the reasons just stated we must probably choose a date immediately after Acts 28:30 (Blass, Headlam, Salmon, etc.), or else between a.d. 70 and 80 (Sanday, Plummer, Ramsay, etc.). To the present writer the earlier date for Acts, and therefore for Lk., seems on the whole more likely (see art. Acts of the Apostles), and this probability is not diminished by Luke 1:1 ; Luke 21:20 , the chief passages adduced for the later date. Sanday and Plummer think that the earlier date does not allow enough time for drawing up the narratives spoken of in Luke 1:1 ; but it is not obvious why written Gospels should not have been attempted at an early stage. The passage Luke 21:20 , where ‘Jerusalem compassed with armies’ replaces ‘the abomination of desolation’ of Mark 13:14 , is said to betoken a date later than the destruction of Jerusalem, and to describe what had actually happened. But if the change be due to Luke, it is just what we should expect a Hebraism interpreted for Gentile readers (see § 6 ); in any case it scarcely goes further than Daniel 9:26 . Sir J. Hawkins ( Horœ Synopticœ ) thinks that there must have been a considerable interval between Lk. and Acts. The whole question of date is far from certain.
6. Purpose of the Gospel. St. Luke clearly writes for the Gentiles, being a Gentile himself (see art. Acts of the Apostles, § 2), and undertakes his task because the works of his predecessors were incomplete, probably as not beginning with our Lord’s birth, and because he was in possession of good information. He writes to Theophilus, thought by Origen and Ambrose to be an imaginary Christian, but more probably a real person, perhaps, as Ramsay deduces from the epithet ‘most excellent’ ( Luke 1:3 ), a Roman citizen of rank [17]. He has also in view, however, other Gentile converts. He explains Jewish customs ( Luke 22:1 ), substitutes Greek names for Hebrew (‘Zelotes’ for ‘Cananæan’ Luke 6:15 , Acts 1:13 , ‘the Skull’ for Golgotha’ Luke 23:33 , ‘Master’ for ‘Rabbi’ often), is sparing of OT quotations and of references to prophecy, uses ‘Judæa’ for the whole of Palestine ( Luke 1:5 , Luke 7:17 , Luke 23:5 , Acts 2:9 ; Acts 10:37 ; Acts 11:29 ; but in Luke 4:44 RVm [18] and Acts 11:1 the more restricted sense is probable), and insists on the universality of the Gospel (see § 3 ). An Interesting detail which shows the readers to whom the book is addressed is pointed out by Sir Wm. Ramsay ( Was Christ born at Bethlehem p. 63). In Luke 5:19 Luke alters the description of the breaking up of the mud roof through which the paralytic was let down ( Mark 2:4 ) a description which would be unintelligible to a Western and speaks of the man being let down through the ‘tiles.’
7. Accuracy of Luke Very different estimates have been made as to the trustworthiness of Luke as a historian. He is the only Evangelist who connects his narrative with contemporary events in the world at large ( Luke 2:1 f., Luke 3:1 , Acts 11:28 ; Acts 18:2 ; Acts 24:27 , etc.), and who thus gives us some opportunities of testing his accuracy. His accuracy has been assailed by a large number of scholars, and as strongly defended by others. The former fix especially on two points: ( a ) Gamaliel’s speech about Theudas ( Acts 5:36 f.) is said to be absolutely unhistorical, and to be an invention of the writer, who had read and misread Josephus (see § 5 and art. Theudas). ( b ) The reference to the enrolment (AV [Note: Authorized V
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Luke, Gospel According to
LUKE, GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
i.The Synoptic Problem.
1.Solutions offered in the past.
2.Priority of St. Mark.
3.The doctrine of a proto-Mark, of a deutero-Mark, and of a trito-Mark.
ii.Analysis of St. Luke’s Gospel according to the sources used.
1.First Source—St. Mark.
2.Second Source—St. Matthew’s Logia.
3.Third Source—a Pauline Collection.
4.Fourth Source—Anonymous Fragments.
5.Fifth Source—a Private Collection (from the Holy Family?).
6.Editorial Notes.
iii.Points of contact with St. John.
iv.St. Luke’s characteristics.
v.Date of writing.
Literature.
i. The Synoptic Problem.—To a student of the Synoptic Problem St. Luke’s Gospel is the most interesting of the three. Indeed, we may confidently affirm that, but for St. Luke, the Synoptic Problem would never have existed. For the connexions between St. Matthew and St. Mark are comparatively simple and are easily explained. It is only when we read St. Luke that the perplexing questions which constitute the Problem arise. We have first to explain the fact of his omissions (a) of Markan matter, (b) of Matthaean; next, his additions (a) of narrative, (b) of discourse; thirdly, his variations from the other Gospels in arrangement (a) of Markan matter, (b) of Matthaean; then we must examine his editorial work, which consists (a) of prefaces to introduce a section, (b) of conclusions to wind it up, (c) of explanatory notes, (d) of corrections, alike in fact, in style, and in grammar; lastly, we must consider cases where he agrees with St. Matthew against St. Mark, and cases where he alone of the Synoptists has some contact with St. John. Anyone who attempts to solve the Problem by neglecting one or more of these factors, may fascinate the reader by the simplicity of his proposals, but he does so at the expense of success. He has not really grappled with the Problem, and therefore has not solved it. If, on the other hand, the reader thinks the proposals which are here offered too intricate; if he accuses the writer of vacillation, because two or more solutions are frequently offered of the same difficulty, let him rellect that in mathematics—the most exact of sciences—a similar fact may be observed. For every quadratic equation has two solutions, and when the Radeliffe Observer published his calculation of the distance of the sun from the earth, the answer came out as a double quadratic with four variations. Similar complications should be expected in an intricate literary problem like this. Let the beginner cultivate patience and suspense of judgment. He will have made good progress, if he learns to suspect the man who is too simple or too confident.
1. Solutions offered in the past.—Augustine, bishop of Hippo, at the close of the 4th cent., was the first writer who made a serious attempt to solve the Synoptic Problem. He was guided partly by tradition, but chiefly by a careful examination of the internal evidence which the Gospels offer. In that age it was perhaps inevitable that he should assume, what modern critics are almost united in denying, that the Apostle Matthew was the author of the First Gospel in its present form. From this fundamental error it inevitably followed that he assumed the priority of St. Matthew, and spoke of St. Mark as the ‘abbreviator and humble follower of St. Matthew.’ St. Luke he held to have copied from the other two. Augustine’s influence in the Western Church was so transcendent, that his opinion on these intricate questions was accepted without examination until quite modern times. Strange to say, the founders of the famous Tübingen school in theology, though they reversed most of the traditional beliefs, adhered to this. They upheld the priority of St. Matthew, not for any literary reason, but for a dogmatic one. The miraeulous element is somewhat less prominent in St. Matthew than it is in St. Mark; therefore, they argued, he must be the earlier writer.
2. Priority of St. Mark.—The notion of the priority of St. Matthew has, however, been so completely beaten off the field, that we need not spend time in refuting it. Suffice it to say that even so conservative a writer as Dr. Salmon, the late Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, admitted that St. Mark’s is the arehaic Gospel. And no wonder, for it is simple where the others are complex; it is meagre where they are rich; it is a chronicle while they are histories; it contains Latin and Aramaic words which they have translated or removed. For example, in Mark 15:39 we find the Latin word κεντυρίων, but in the parallel passages St. Matthew writes ἑκατόνταρχος and St. Luke ἑκατοντάρχης. Both Evangelists felt that they must not disfigure their pages with St. Mark’s ‘barbarism,’ and the different forms which they used indicate independent action. Who, on the other hand, could suppose that St. Mark found ἑκατόνταρχος in St. Matthew, and deliberately altered it into κεντυρίων, or that St. Luke found ἑκατόνταρχος, and deliberately altered it into ἑκατοντάρχης? For these and other reasons it is maintained in all orthodox schools of criticism that St. Matthew and St. Luke made use of St. Mark. Indeed, St. Mark’s Gospel furnishes the historical framework for the others. Equally certain is it that St. Matthew and St. Luke were unacquainted with each other’s writings. Whatever agreement exists between them in non-Markan sections comes from their use of a common source. Augustine therefore is wrong in every particular.
3. The doctrine of a proto-Mark, of a deutero-Mark, and of a trito-Mark.—It has, however, long been debated whether St. Mark’s Gospel in its complete form lay before St. Matthew and St. Luke. Many critics have held that St. Luke, at any rate, had only an Urmarkus—a term which has been used in Germany to signify a document shorter than our St. Mark, earlier in date, and free from those ‘picturesque’ additions which strike the reader of St. Mark’s Gospel. Of late years there has been a growing tendency, both in Germany and in England, to repudiate the doctrine of an Urmarkus. Dr. Swete, without arguing the question at length, expresses the opinion that we can dispense with it. The Dean of Westminster is more positive in setting it aside. Nor is this surprising. Those who reject the oral hypothesis are beginning to feel that they cannot multiply documents at pleasure. Litera scripta manet. If St. Mark’s Gospel circulated in the Apostolic age in three widely different editions, it is impossible to believe that the first and second editions perished without being noticed by such scholars as Origen and Jerome. Nor is it conceivable, as some maintain, that St. Mark entrusted his first edition to St. Luke, who incorporated it into his Gospel, but allowed no one else to make use of it. No wonder that with men who have an historical sense such hypotheses are unpalatable. But the oral hypothesis readily admits of, nay requires, these gradual growths in St. Mark. Under it there is no difficulty whatever in believing that St. Luke’s (oral) St. Mark was much shorter than St. Matthew’s, and that St. Matthew’s had not received the final touches. In fact, the oral hypothesis solves the Synoptic Problem. The documentary hypothesis fails to do so. Both are equally hypothetical. And those who declare the oral hypothesis to be incredible have never, as yet, fairly tackled the arguments on which it rests, or sufficiently taken into account the habits of the East and of that age. This, however, is not the place to plead for the oral hypothesis, nor has the present writer any wish to do more than demand for it a dispassionate consideration. In the examination which follows he will not assume its truth.
ii. Analysis of St. Luke’s Gospel according to the sources used
1. First Source—St. Mark.—St. Mark’s Gospel (oral or written) was not merely used by St. Luke, it forms the backbone of his Gospel. It is hardly too much to say that without St. Mark there would have been neither a St. Luke nor a St. Matthew. But, as we have already intimated, there is strong reason for concluding that St. Luke used a much shorter work, not merely than our St. Mark, but than the St. Mark which lay before the redactor of St. Matthew. In short, he used an Urmarkus or an (oral) proto-Mark. By adopting this view we account at once (a) for his omissions, (b) for his variations from St. Mark’s order. He omitted nothing which his St. Mark contained: he adhered to St. Mark’s order in every section which he took directly from St. Mark. The marvellous simplification of the Synoptic Problem which this view offers can be appreciated only by those who have seriously endeavoured to explain to themselves and justify to others St. Luke’s omissions and his order.
But St. Luke’s omissions are so important that we must consider them at some length. In the Synopsis St. Mark’s Gospel is divided into 223 sections, of which St. Luke omits 54. A group of sections is omitted between Mark 3:22; Mark 4:1. A much larger group—amounting to more than two out of St. Mark’s 16 chapters—is omitted between Mark 6:17; Mark 8:26. The remaining omissions consist of single sections scattered over the rest of St. Mark’s Gospel. Only from Mark 2, 5 are no sections omitted. It is manifestly the duty of the critic to account for these omissions, and attempts have been made by harmonists to do so. Thus they have suggested (1) that St. Luke omitted what his readers would not value: being a Gentile himself, and writing for Gentiles, he naturally omitted sections which dealt with questions of Jewish interest; (2) that he objected to repetition, and left out what he regarded as dittographies; e.g. having given the feeding of 5000, he thought it unnecessary to narrate the feeding of 4000; having described the anointing of our Lord’s feet, he deemed it superfluous to record the anointing of His head. These reasons, however, are quite inadequate. St. Luke is particularly fond of alluding to Jewish customs, and Gentile Christians have always taken a deep interest in them. Furthermore, the great majority of his omissions cannot be accounted for under either of the above heads. Thus he omits 25 out of St. Mark’s 86 proper names. He does so in defiance of his instincts as an historian (Wright, NT Problems, 56–90). Again, he omits the healing of the Syrophœnician’s daughter (Mark 7:24-30)—the only case in which our Lord is recorded to have healed a Gentile. He omits the only journey which our Lord is said to have taken through Gentile lands (Luke 6:39-401 to Mark 8:10). He omits our Lord’s teaching about the inferiority of the moral precepts of the Old Testament to those of the New (Matthew 5:27; Matthew 5:31; Matthew 5:33; Matthew 5:38; Matthew 5:43). All these topics were of overwhelming interest to Gentile readers, and we find it impossible to believe that St. Luke deliberately rejected them. The only satisfactory hypothesis is that he was not acquainted with them, as be would not he if he used a shorter recension of St. Mark and of the Login.
(a) Now, if St. Luke used an earlier recension of St. Mark, whether oral or written, it is reasonable to suspect that in several places he has preserved for us the primitive Petrine wording. He will occasionally be nearer to St. Peter’s teaching than is either St. Matthew or St. Mark. For, if the trito-Mark has made many additions to the primitive records, so also has he sometimes altered the tradition. In the index to the Synopsis nine passages are pointed out in which St. Luke’s account is held to be the oldest, but there are probably many more. At any rate it is of the greatest advantage to the critic to feel that he is not always bound to vindicate the priority of St. Mark in details, however highly he may value it on the whole. And although subjective reasoning must always be received with caution, it ought not to be altogether discarded.
(b) Although St. Luke omits, as we have seen, 54 out of St. Mark’s 223 sections, he does not always omit them entirely, but has preserved short fragments or ‘scraps’ of 24 out of the 54. These ‘scraps’ are always misplaced in his Gospel. In fact, the departure from St. Mark’s order is our chief means of detecting them. (They may be seen in the Synopsis, Table I. a). No one is likely now to maintain that these ‘scraps’ were copied directly from a written St. Mark. It is surely incredible that they should have been torn from their context and misplaced. But if these ‘scraps’ came to St. Luke orally, is it conceivable that he was so careless as never to have discovered that he had a full account of them in writing before him? To the present writer’s mind the very existence in St. Luke’s Gospel of these ‘scraps’ is conclusive proof that he used an abbreviated St. Mark. When, therefore, these ‘scraps’ reached him, he was not aware that they were Markan. For, if we mistake not, there were in the Apostolic age two kinds of oral tradition, both of which contributed much to the composition of St. Luke’s Gospel. First there was a vast body of uncodified fact, rudis indigestaque moles. Striking sayings were remembered apart from their surroundings, striking deeds were recorded without mention of place or person. These passed from mouth to mouth informally. Secondly, there was the regular course of catechetical teaching preserved by those catechists to whose ill-requited toil St. Paul bears testimony in Galatians 6:6. From these men St. Luke derived the sections of the proto-Mark in their invariable order: from the former source he derived the ‘scraps’ of the deutero-Mark together with much other matter.
(c) St. Matthew’s redactor frequently introduces non-Markan material into a Markan section, mixing the two together to the reader’s confusion. St. Luke avoids doing this, as a rule, rightly feeling that his sources ought to be treated with respect. But, of course, all the ‘scraps’ are amalgamated with and lost in other matter.
(d) There are cases in which St. Luke corrects the proto-Mark or forsakes it in favour of other sources. Not only does he polish St. Mark’s style in a multitude of instances, but in his third chapter he gives (with some additions) the account of the Baptist which he found in the second Source, preferring it to the much shorter account which is found in St. Mark. The same thing is done in Mark 3:22-26. He differs from the proto-Mark in holding that only one of the malefactors who were hanged reviled our Lord, the other turned to Him for help (Luke 23:39). In the account of the Eucharist (according to the true text) he puts the administration of the Cup before that of the Bread (Luke 22:17-19), following in all probability a local liturgical usage of which several traces remain. These changes must have been made deliberately. And in all cases in which St. Luke or St. John corrects St. Mark, it is reasonable to believe that they had good warrant for doing so.
(e) It used to be argued that the testimony of four men is true, and those passages which are found in more than one Gospel were held to be doubly or trebly attested. Criticism has considerably altered our view of this matter. No doubt the ‘Triple tradition’ deserves special respect. When three Gospels agree verbatim (as they seldom do for more than a few words at a time), they are reproducing a source which must be as old as, and may be considerably older than, any of them. Tradition assigns St. Mark’s Gospel to St. Peter’s teaching, and we are entitled to claim that at least the proto-Mark may in large measure be regarded as his work. In this there is scope for apologetics. But it is evident that, if three Evangelists are reproducing the same Source, they may be reproducing its defects as well as its excellences. Their agreement proves the antiquity, but not the infallibility, of the original. Now Papias expressly asserts that St. Mark’s Gospel is defective in order. And when we examine it critically we find that it is arranged topographically. It takes us first to the Jordan valley for our Lord’s Baptism, then to Galilee for His ministry; after that comes a journey to Jerusalem, followed by the Passion. Finally, the lost verses must have contained a journey into Galilee, for such a journey is expressly enjoined on the disciples. All three Synopties adopt this arrangement, except that the final journey into Galilee is omitted by St. Luke, belonging, as it does, to the deutero-Mark. Can we accept St. Mark’s arrangement, supported, as it is, by St. Matthew and St. Luke? Is the testimony of three men true? No one until quite modern times has ever thought so. The traditional account is that it is partly true. The Galilaean ministry was broken by visits to Jerusalem, which St. John alone records. In ignoring them the Synoptists were wrong. But the ministry in Jerusalem which the Synoptists give is assumed to have been unbroken by visits to Galilee, and must therefore merely be adjusted with John 12-20. This is improbable. St. Mark assigns 360 verses to the ministry in Galilee, which is commonly supposed to have lasted three years, 251 to the ministry in Jerusalem, which lasted about a week. Events in real history seldom move so rapidly. Our contention is that St. Mark is, as Papias says, and as his contemporaries probably well knew, defective in arrangement. Not only ought the ministry in the North to be broken by several visits to Jerusalem, but St. Mark’s account of the ministry in Jerusalem ought to be broken by several visits to Galilee. Both ministries must be split up and dovetailed together, if we would attain to the true sequence of events. St. John corrects St. Mark by putting the Cleansing of the Temple into the first year’s ministry (John 2:13-22) instead of the last. The traditional view that there were two cleansings is discredited in every other case, and is particularly incredible here. But if St. Mark has misplaced it, he has misplaced also some other sections which adhere to it. And although we cannot with any confidence decide at which particular visit to Jerusalem each of the recorded events happened, it is an enormous gain to the historian to be at liberty to distribute them.
2. Second Source—St. Matthew’s Logia.—When Papias wrote that ‘St. Matthew compiled the Logia (or Utterances of our Lord) in the Hebrew dialect, and each man interpreted them as he was able,’ he cannot, as the traditionalists suppose, be alluding to our First Gospel, which was written (at Alexandria?) in Greek. Critical opinion is fast coming round to the view that St. Matthew compiled, not a formal Gospel, but a collection of our Lord’s Utterances, which was incorporated into our First Gospel, and formed so distinctive a feature of it, that the whole book was with some justice called ‘the Gospel according to St. Matthew.’ And if this collection was originally oral, as many who deny an oral Mark are ready to admit, there is nothing strange in our contention that St. Luke used it, when it was much shorter: in fact, he used a proto-Matthew. In that way we explain his omissions, which are more glaring even than his omissions from St. Mark.
The question of order, which was complex in the case of the first Source, is simple here. For St. Luke’s order is entirely different from St. Matthew’s. Except on the rare occasions when St. Mark furnishes a clue, as he does in the account of the Baptist and of the Temptation, St. Luke arranges the Logia in one way, St. Matthew in another. Which, then, of these arrangements is to be preferred? Which Evangelist reproduced St. Matthew’s order? Not the redactor of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, for he has massed most of the Logia into five huge Discourses, which are impressive for Church reading, but can hardly correspond to any actual Sermons. Many critics, however, incline to believe that St. Luke has preserved the original order, because he has so scrupulously followed the order of the proto-Mark. Even if he has done so, we must not assume that he is any nearer the truth, for we have no right to suppose that St. Matthew, any more than St. Mark, had regard to anything else in arrangement than convenience in Church teaching. It seems to us, however, that there is considerable evidence to show that originally the Logia were piled one upon another in confused disorder, as they are in the Oxyrhynchus fragment, with no other prefaces than ‘Jesus said’ or ‘John said.’ Their arrangement into speeches was the work of later hands (Synopsis, xxv). If so, this was done by the art of conflation, which consists in picking out all the Utterances which dealt with one subject and arranging them into an artificial speech on that subject. Such speeches, of which the Sermon on the Mount is a typical example, do not correspond to any Sermon that was ever preached, but are compiled for the simplification of teaching, and for the preservation of important Utterances which were in danger of being lost. St. Matthew prefers long conflations. One of these covers three chapters (Matthew 5-7), another two (24, 25), and three more one each (10, 13, 23). St. Luke’s conflations are shorter, never filling one chapter. They are therefore more numerous (we reckon nineteen of them) and more compact; for, whereas it is difficult to say what is the subject of the Sermon on the Mount or of the Charge to the Twelve, there is no such difficulty with St. Luke. In St. Matthew’s Eschatological Discourses (24, 25) the prophecies respecting the destruction of Jerusalem and those respecting the Second Coming of the Son of Man are inextricably blended together, as though the redactor regarded the two events as synchronous, whereas St. Luke separates them (Luke 17:20-37; Luke 21:5-38), and it may well be that our Lord habitually did so.
The hypothesis of conflations may come as a shock to those who have been brought up in the belief that the Sermon on the Mount is a single discourse. We credit the Evangelists with some audacity. Their literary morality must not be judged by the standard of this century. They were composing Gospels and not formal histories. They were providing for the need of an age which lived in daily expectation of the return of their Lord. The work was done wisely and well, for it has stood the test of time; but we must understand its limitations if we really care to attain to the truth.
That the art of conflation was a real thing, actually practised by the Evangelists, can be fully proved only by a detailed examination into all the conflations; and for that we have no space now; but it may help to remove prejudice if we compare St. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) with St. Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49). Both begin with Beatitudes, and both end with the same Warning. We conclude, therefore, that the source contained the nucleus of a sermon. But the proto-Matthaeus had only three short and one long Beatitude, for St. Luke gives no more. In St. Matthew five others have been added by the deutero-Matthaeus. St. Luke’s Beatitudes, short and long, are all expressed in the second person, owing to an editorial change made by him for the purpose of securing literary uniformity. In St. Luke, Woes follow the Blessings. St. Matthew contains Woes, but not here. Either, therefore, St. Luke borrowed these Woes from another source unknown to us, or they are mere editorial work to enhance the Blessings. Their close uniformity to the Blessings favours the latter view. The wording of the Warning, with which the Sermons end, has been slightly altered in St. Luke to suit the comprehension of readers who did not live in Palestine, and would not know the action of winter torrents on a wady. Between the Beatitudes and the Warning the Source must have contained some Utterances setting forth the Law of Love. Besides these, St. Matthew has collected much material, St. Luke comparatively little; for St. Matthew’s Sermon contains 107 verses, St. Luke’s only 30. Yet we cannot regard St. Luke’s Sermon as an abbreviation of St. Matthew’s. True, he reproduces 26 out of St. Matthew’s 107 verses; but he reproduces 32 more of them in other parts of his Gospel, spreading them over no fewer than seven chapters. Again, he gives in his Sermon four passages (Luke 6:24-27; Luke 6:34-35; Luke 6:37-38) which are not found in St. Matthew at all, and therefore do not come from the Logia. He adds two (1618175063_38) which are given by St. Matthew in a different context. We are justified, therefore, in regarding the Sermons as in large part independent conflations. St. Luke’s subject, as usual, is precise, being simply the statement of the Law of Love; but the most that we can say for St. Matthew is that he seems here to be setting forth the duty of Christian laymen, while in the charge to the Twelve he gives our Lord’s teaching about the duty of the clergy.
It is a further proof of the fact of conflation that in some cases, where the subject-matter is so clearly marked that two Evangelists have collected the utterances respecting it, which may have been widely separated in the Source, into one conflation, they have nevertheless arranged the sections in different order. Thus in the Temptation, St. Matthew gives the second and third Temptations in one order, St. Luke in another. In the passage about the Ninevites, and Solomon and the Queen of the South (Matthew 12:38-45, Luke 11:24-32), two such differences of arrangement occur. In the Woes on the Pharisees, St. Luke’s order (Luke 11:37-54) differs repeatedly from St. Matthew’s ( All Dictionary (3) Easton's Bible Dictionary (1) Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible (1) Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament (1)

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