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Introduction to Luke
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We really don't know much about Luke except what we can glean from the tradition. Ancient tradition says that he was one of Paul's followers, who is named in Philemon 24 as Paul's "fellow worker" and as "the beloved physician" in Colossians 4:14. The early church fathers accepted this designation for Luke and classed him as a legitimate author of a Gospel because he was Paul's disciple.

Whoever the author was, he wrote his Gospel after 65-70 AD. Those are the dates within which Mark probably wrote his Gospel, and it seems clear that Luke used Mark as an outline. He also used a document, now lost, called Q, as did Matthew. One method by which scholars understand the differing theologies and special interests of Matthew and Luke is to assess the different ways they used Mark and Q. Luke also seems to have had a special source, which we now call L. L contains some of the most beloved of Jesus' parables, such as those of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

Certainly Luke did not just paste sources together. He not only used sources, he did his own writing as well. Both in his own writing and in his use of sources we begin to see what Luke's special interests were. In this study, we'll be looking at three of those areas of special interest: (1) who Jesus is, (2) salvation to the outcast and marginalized in first-century society, and (3) questions of wealth and poverty.

Luke was not an objective historian or biographer. A Gospel is not that kind of book. Rather, a Gospel is an interpretation of the facts of Jesus' life in light of what the author thinks was God's purpose in sending the Son into the world. That's why we are looking in this study at some of Luke's special interests. They are doubtless true reflections of Jesus' teaching and actions, but Luke lifts them up as keys to knowing Jesus and living the Christian life.

John Gooch is a retired United Methodist clergy, having served churches in both rural and urban areas. He has taught and written about the Bible for forty years and confesses to a "lifelong love affair with the Word."

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