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L in Luke

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG On: L in Luke From: Bruce Thanks to MarkG for the reference to his review of Paffenroth on L; it saves digging it out. The most
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 26, 2011
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      On: L in Luke
      From: Bruce

      Thanks to MarkG for the reference to his review of Paffenroth on L; it saves
      digging it out. The most interesting paragraph in it for me (reading it
      again after 12 years) is this one: "(2) In the search for "un-Lukan"
      features, one cannot help thinking that with a sharp enough scalpel,
      everything is unique. On the Zacchaeus story, for example, often thought to
      be so typical of Luke, we discover that "the fit with Lukan theology is
      again not perfect" (pp. 64-75).

      MarkG's point is well enough taken (though sometimes neglected by
      stylometric and other investigators, whence its ongoing interest; the sample
      must be statistically large enough for the feature being analyzed to yield
      useful results). But so, I believe, is the internal quote from Paffenroth,
      which has to do not with the size, but with the purity, of the sample. I
      here expound Paffenroth, and the point for me is that Paffenroth, in effect,
      is pointing to an internal contradiction in the theology of "Luke." My sense
      of the literature is that commentators labor much, and with little at the
      end, over the question of Luke's theology, partly for reasons of the
      internal inconsistencies which Paffenroth, as I read him, is here
      acknowledging. This ongoing puzzle would be clarified if Luke's theology,
      like Mark's (which is also famously indeterminate), turned out to be, in
      fact, NOT the same at all points, and especially if those differences could
      be coordinated with authorial or other rational explanations. For reasons
      recently given, I think that exactly this is the case, and that on the later
      occasions when Luke (or his successor in the proprietary stream; a
      functionally equivalent scenario) returned to his manuscript for major
      overhaul, he had in the meantime acquired a different take on some of the

      Here, repeated for convenience, is how I am inclined (from evidence
      previously adduced) to see the Lukan process:

      Luke A (proto-Ebionite; Sermon on the Plain, LP, some parables, etc).
      Pre-70, used by Matthew
      Luke B (and Acts I). After seeing Matthew. Birth narrative, the 70, and
      other additions. Modifies previous proto-Ebionite stand
      Luke C (and Acts II) After the Birkat ha-Minim (post-c85, so Torrey). Moves
      Nazareth passage; breaks with Judaism as such.

      I make the time depth here to be about 20 or 25 years; approaching 1
      standard human generation. Luke B is economically more mellow; he has moved
      back toward the mainstream. Luke C is more experienced, and also a good deal
      angrier, albeit about different issues, than any previous Luke. I take the
      term "L" to be problematic, since on my view it means material in Luke not
      used by Matthew (eg Lazarus; see below), AND somewhat later material added
      by Luke in response to Matthew (eg Zacchaeus; see below) and thus of course
      also not present in Matthew, though for a different reason. It would be
      interesting to isolate these two types of Lukan unique material, and compare
      them stylistically. But as I see the question, analyzing the mixed L bag as
      a unit (putting Lazarus in with Zacchaeus, etc) is not likely to yield
      definitive results. The sample, on my understanding, is not pure, and any
      result of its analysis is therefore unlikely to be actionable.

      What is the chief teaching of Luke A? It is the theology of poverty, by
      which it is held that wealth as such is a sin (Sermon on the Plain, Parable
      of Lazarus), and that poverty, or good deeds uncompensated in life (a state
      of moral underpayment) is the only way to Heaven. See my online SBL/NE 2011
      paper, or even better, read the Sermon consecutively. This is of course a
      radical stand.

      How is this extreme position modified in Luke B? In the first place, Luke B
      adds to the John preachings, which he takes over more or less identically
      from Matthew, his own material explaining how virtue can be compatible with
      salary; namely, to live within your (fairly earned) salary, and not to
      extort or defraud for extra wealth. This can be seen as a more advanced
      version of the theory of compensation (which, I suggest, lies at the heart
      of Luke's worldview, first and last). The new point is this: earned
      compensation is not sinful for the recipient, any more than alms are sinful
      for the recipient (else we have the paradox humorously worked out by
      Stevenson in his story of the Bottle-Imp). This is more or less the way
      "Peter," centuries later, in the Clementine Homilies, gets around the too
      rigid Lukan theology of poverty, which was evidently still a problem for at
      least one group of Alpha Christians, at that late date, probably 4c). So
      much for well-gotten gains: their taint has been removed. Next we have the
      problem of ill-gotten gains. This is solved in the Luke B Story of
      Zacchaeus: they may be returned, and if MORE than was wrongly taken is
      returned, then again we have an uncompensated and thus virtuous action. By
      the earlier Lukan rules, which in a general way are still in force, this
      will count as credit toward Heaven. So of course will alms (favors done to
      those who cannot return them in this life).

      In this way, it seems to me that the admittedly nebulous theology of
      integral and in fact composite "Luke" can be much clarified if seen in terms
      of an original young Luke, a firebrand of the oppressed of this world, and a
      more mature and Matthew-influenced Luke, who has worked out other, and in
      fact more manageable, terms of engagement between the Jesus believer
      (including, this time as not previously, the Jesus believer of modest means)
      and the world.


      E Bruce Brooks
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

      Copyright C 2011 by E Bruce Brooks
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