Understanding The Sources Used And Structure Of Luke’s Gospel

2240 words - 9 pages

Understanding the Sources Used and Structure of Luke’s Gospel

The Gospel according to Luke is the first part of a two-volume work
that continues the biblical history of God's dealings with humanity
found in the Old Testament, showing how God's promises to Israel have
been fulfilled in Jesus and how the salvation promised to Israel and
accomplished by Jesus has been extended to the Gentiles. In the
prologue Luke states that his purpose of the two volumes is to provide
Theophilus and others like him with certainty and assurance about
earlier instruction they have received.

Among the sources which were used by Luke were at least two written
documents, one of them the gospel of Mark in substantially its present
form, and the other a collection in Greek of sayings of Jesus,
incorporating some narrative details; known as ‘Q’; from the German
Quelle meaning source. The use by Luke of these sources can be
demonstrated because, in the case of Mark, the source itself is
available, and a comparison of the texts of the three gospels leaves
no reasonable doubt as to its employment in the two Gospels as Matthew
and Luke independently copied Mark for its narrative framework.

In the case of ‘Q’; a quarter of Luke is very similar to one third of
Matthew therefore it is suggested that there was a common source used
between them, although the original document has not survived, the
occasional verbal agreement in ‘non-Marcan’ passages of Matthew and
Luke is such as to show that a document existed, although its extent
can only partially be established and the possibility always remains
that more than one document was used. The date of Q’s composition
cannot be accurately determined, but clearly lies within 20 or 30
years of the Resurrection. It does not seem to have been known by

Luke also used material unique to him ‘L’ and this accounts for half
of his gospel. ‘L’ is where we find writings that are specific to Luke.
Luke may also, of course, have kept a diary or have recorded material
in notebooks, but there is no way of proving or disproving this. Nor
is there any satisfactory means of determining from which of many
possible informants he derived any particular incident or parable.

The question of Luke’s sources is complicated by Streeter’s
theory that Luke had composed a gospel before he came into possession
of a copy of Mark. As I have said above; we know that Mark was one of
Lukes sources as half of Marks Gospel can be found in Lukes. This
theory is based on the fact that in large sections of Luke, Mark is
not employed as a source, and that it is possible to reconstruct from
Luke, omitting all his borrowings from Mark, a gospel-like document of
considerable extent. As Luke doesn’t interweave Mark but instead sets
down Mark in chunks. Because of the way Luke used Mark;...

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