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Hermeneutics of the Gospel of Luke

  • September 20, 2020
  • By Ben van Noort
Hermeneutics of the Gospel of Luke


Hermeneutics of the Gospel of Luke

The hermeneutic (explanation) of the Gospel of Luke is revealed in the first sentence. How?

Key Text of Documentation
The first sentence of Luke is a long period and we only take note of the first clause: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us.” (RSV) We have earlier written about this. It is one of the key texts of documentation. The main theme in it is “the things which have been accomplished among us.” There can be no doubt about this phrase. In Acts 1:1 Luke wrote “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up.”

Showing His Heart
It can absolutely be defined what the accomplished things are, which are the great works of Jesus. That is the overall theme of Luke’s goal, what Jesus did, and how he did it. That brings him near as the one who reveals himself to the human heart. And indeed, in all situations, men, women, and even children are forced to show their hearts in the stories of Luke’s gospel. “Forced” because Jesus in each situation showed his heart, his human and divine heart. And that is the hermeneutic key of this gospel.

Mark and Luke, Part of the First Generation
Luke as a gospel writer, just as Mark, did not belong to the twelve disciples of Jesus. But both men belonged to the first generation that had known Jesus. From Mark, it is generally accepted that he was the one who followed Jesus after his arrest, and who could escape when the soldiers tried to take him also (Mark 14:51–52). It has always been said that Luke did not belong to the first generation that had seen Jesus. But the ‘us’ in “accomplished among us” makes clear that Luke absolutely belonged to it and just as Mark was one of the reporters who helped as a secretary the professional reporters of Jesus. Sometimes these men took over their task of reporting and delivering the spoken word.

Last Supper
A good example is the time that Jesus had sent his disciples on a mission trip, they could fill the gap of reporting (Matthew 11:1–13:58). There is also a second example. When Jesus and the disciples had the last supper, it seems that they were the silent rapid writers, who could work out there notes when Jesus had left with the twelve. This episode has been delivered in John 13:1–17:26, and it is most likely that John also had a wax tablet at hand to catch some words of Jesus. The short question of Peter to John to ask of whom Jesus spoke as his traitor, could only be a whispered tête-à-tête.

Details to Life
Anyway the long discourse between Jesus and his disciples was a deep conversation in which all were involved as it seems. When Luke and Mark had done their work, they could sleep. It is most likely that Judas with his soldiers came first to the house where Jesus had the last supper, and when they heard that Jesus had left to sleep outside, Judas decided to go to the Mount of Olives where Jesus often went. Then Mark followed the troop and saw what happened. The various aspects of documentation bring all details to life in a penetrating way.

By Ben van Noort, September 20, 2020
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