Aspects of Coherency in Luke’s Composite Christology
Abstract: In presenting the life and teachings of Jesus and his function in salvation history, the authors of the New Testament Gospels employ a variety of motifs and titles drawn from earlier biblical literature as well as various strands of second temple Jewish literature. This study of Luke’s Christology investigates how such motifs merge and intertwine in ways that invite the reader to perceive a measure of coherency among those motifs. Luke’s presentation of Jesus is studied, above all, with tools from narrative criticism. In addition, complementary insights are drawn from Luke’s rewriting of Mark. Previous scholarship has often concluded that Luke employs a variety of christological motifs without having reflected on them or how they may function in relation to each other. Such estimations may, in part, be due to the fact that a narrative approach has not come into focus. The present investigation shows that a narrative approach to Luke’s Christology reveals much in regard to how several christological motifs are integrated with Luke’s overarching narrative. The study first surveys previous scholarly approaches to Luke’s Christology, and thereafter considers second temple Jewish conceptions of eschatological prophets and messiahs. The core of the investigation analyzes four sections in Luke’s Gospel: the infancy narrative (1:26–2:52); Jesus’s proclamation in Nazareth (4:16–30); the end of the travel narrative and Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (18:31–19:48), and the passion narrative (22:1–23:49). A central conclusion of the investigation is that detailed attention to features in the narrative – including which characters use a particular christological title, and how it is used – shed new light on how, and to what extent, different motifs merge within Luke. Observations are also made of when different motifs overlap with each other and form clusters with similar meanings. The investigation further identifies some features that are distinct to Luke’s presentation of Jesus. An example of such a feature is that the Holy Spirit is described as a defining factor for the presentation of Jesus as Son of God and Messiah.
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