Luke (Henry Wansbrough)

This Study Sheet complements the review of Henry Wansbrough's Luke: the People's Bible Commentary Buy this book from

Luke in Luke and Acts wrote approximately 25% of the NT. Luke drew on Mark, "q" and other sources not tapped in the other gospels,  e.g. chapters 1-2. There is a paradox between his courtly background and style and his concern for the down-trodden. His characterisation is more nuanced than the other evangelists; less caricatured and more worldly-aware.

  1. Luke 1-4 Theophilus, friend of God, might have been a grand person or a collective audience.
  2. Luke 1:5-10 God's promises first to Israel fulfilled in Jesus. Starts and ends in the magnificent Jerusalem Temple. The barrenness reminds us of Sarah, Hannah and Samson's mother.
  3. Luke 1:11:25 The matching panels of John and Jesus; John is great, Jesus greater; annunciations, angels foretelling sons, dedications accompanied by prophesies; but Zechariah doubts where Mary believes. Luke's two chapters of birth narrative begin with an entrance, end with an exit and contain dialogue whereas nobody speaks to anybody in Matthew's birth dialogue.
  4. Luke 1:26-38 As John is to Samson, Jesus is to Samuel. "The angels are the powers of god and need no feathers". Luke's language post Resurrection. God chose Mary who consents to God.
  5. Luke 1:29-35 The visitation joins the two panels. Elizabeth saying: "the mother of my Lord" defines the baby. Luke invokes the Spirit where he is not following Mark in Chapters 1-3 and 24.
  6. Luke 1:46-56 Magnificat: 1-5 what God has done for Mary; 6-7 the generosity of God; 8-14 the meaning for the world; reflects 1 Samuel 2 but much wider; In exile the Jews developed a theology of deliverance, sharpened by Roman occupation's poverty: Elizabeth is barren, Mary in a stable, hireling shepherds, doves from the poor; "Mary personifies the faithful remnant of Israel." God is "faithful love".
  7. Luke 1:57-66 Earthly joy for John's birth, angelic joy for Jesus. John, linked to John of the Maccabees, means "God's grace".
  8. Luke 1:67-80 Looking back and looking forward;  culmination of the covenant with Abraham and God's faithful love with Moses. "Guide our feet into the way of peace".
  9. Luke 2:1-20 Luke a popular not a research historian. Kataluma not inn but a two-storey dwelling house with animals at ground level,  so Mary would  have leaned over and placed the baby in the hay trough on the lower level. Only later rabbinic tradition made shepherds unclean but they were low in the social order.
  10. Luke 2:21-38 Anna and Simeon represent patient, faithful Israel; the "rising sun" of Zechariah becomes "light to the Gentiles" in Jesus. The shadow of the Cross. Luke and sexual equality.
  11. Luke 2:39-52 Jesus the child and adolescent.
  12. Luke 3:1-6 John not the eschatological Elijah figure of Mark but the fore-runner of Jesus; repentance and forgiveness. Does the John legacy stretch to Apollos of Alexandria (Acts 18:24-28)?
  13. Luke 3:7-18 It is not enough to be a child of Abraham; there is chaff. Tradition locates John at the Jordan ford for the great East/West road. Excess of clothes and food tempt the rich. "He must grow greater, I must grow less"; was Jesus John's disciple?
  14. Luke 3:19-38 John doesn't baptise Jesus. The Spirit in: preparation; Jesus' life; the Church. The "physical" descent of the Spirit marks the beginning of mission. Jesus always prays before major events in Luke, reflected in Acts. Global ancestry to Adam not Jewish ancestry to Abraham as in Matthew.
  15. Luke 4:1-13 Forty days a symbol for preparation, reflects Israel's trial in the wilderness; temptations: plenty, kingship and vainglory.
  16. Luke 4:16-30 Jesus' "Keynote"; good news for the poor ("the last, the least and the lost" - Bishop John Hind). Luke in a richer world than Mark or Matthew so warned against wealth.
  17. Luke 4:31-44 The authority of the "Son of God".
  18. Luke 18 5:1-11 "They left everything".
  19. Luke 5:12-26 Leprosy, wide range of contagious skin diseases in Leviticus 13-14. Is "the Lord" God or Jesus?
  20. Luke 5:27-39 The disciples would have been shocked by the recruitment of Levi (Matthew). Repentance: "a change of mind-set".
  21. Luke 6:1-11 Jesus Lord of Sabbath; authority, rather than Law, emphasised.
  22. Luke 6:12-19 No common list of Apostles.
  23. Luke 6:20-26 Luke's 4 Beatitudes (to Matthew's 8), sharper, balanced by "woes" and directed to "you".
  24. Luke 6:27-38 Luke writing in fours; beatitude and woes; then 4 + 4  parables. This kind of love is beyond reason.
  25. Luke 6:39-49 Beyond the Golden Rule.
  26. Luke 7:1-17 The Centurion first of many contacts between Jesus and Gentiles (in Mark only one incident Mark 7:24-30); echoes Cornelius in Acts 10. Nain echoes 1 Kings 17.
  27. Luke 7:18:35 Jesus differentiates himself from John's 'winnowing'.
  28. Luke 7:36-50 Jesus does not behave like a 'traditional' prophet and asks the woman nothing; no evidence that she is a prostitute or Mary Magdalene.
  29. Luke 8:1-3 The equality of women and the 'scandal' of their role.
  30. Luke 8:4-21 Jesus turns from failure with the masses to the disciples. Contrast with Mark's sharp rejection of family, Jesus' softer line.
  31. Luke 8:26-39 One visit to Decapolis; the change in the man's demeanour and the conquest of evil spirits; the man is "saved", a word not used in other accounts and he becomes a disciple in gentile territory.
  32. Luke 8:40-56 Jairus’ daughter paired with the widow of Nain. 4 miracles precede the sending in 9:1 as 4 miracles precede the calling in 5:1.
  33. Luke 9:1-10 Luke uses "silver" where Mark uses "copper". The "shaking off of dust" foreshadows Paul. Renewal of prophecy after its near exilic death.
  34. Luke 9:10-17 Miraculous feeding: reinforces the sending; echoes the Beatitude; shows responsible discipleship. Contrast with sarcasm in Mark. Following 2 Kings 4:32-44.
  35. Luke 9:18-26 Luke, following Mark, omits 6:48-8:26. First prophecy of the passion; persecution and discipleship; no rebuke for Peter as in Mark but a "bonding" exercise.
  36. Luke 9:27-36 A strengthening for trials to come.
  37. Luke 9:37-50 Apostolic failure wedged between Transfiguration and Jerusalem journey.
  38. Luke 9:51-62 Luke rejects Markan structure to concentrate on Jerusalem.
  39. Luke 10:1-20 12 sent to the Jews, 7(2) to the world; in the "great feast", outcasts within the city then without; Paul to the Jews before the Gentiles.
  40. Luke 10:21-24 Unique synoptic instance of Shaliah (envoy), with the same powers as his principal, prevalent in John.
  41. Luke 10-25-37 "The (Samaritan) story is supposed to show who is my neighbour to whom I should show love. Instead, it illustrates who the neighbour is who shows love to me."
  42. Luke 10:38-42 Martha/Mary geographically wrong but woven into commentary on hospitality. The word for Martha's service is the same as that of Deacons in Acts 6.
  43. Luke 11:1-4 Luke's prayer much sharper and less courtly than Matthew 6:9-12.
  44. Luke 11:5-13 Mixed motives for doing right. Father does not always give children what they ask.
  45. Luke 11:14-28 Gospel incidents as pearls strung differently.
  46. Luke 11:29-54 The pairing of Jonah and the Queen of Sheba. Teaching is dangerous.
  47. Luke 12:1-12 The apostles are his friends; they will be persecuted; they must persevere. It is perhaps the rejection of the teaching through the Spirit in Acts that cannot be forgiven.
  48. Luke 12:13-34 Massive use of first person in 17-19.
  49. Luke 12:35-48 Said that Luke, possibly latest synoptic, concentrates on Holy Spirit rather than 'second coming'.
  50. Luke 12:49-59 After teaching on discipleship, time for decision.
  51. Luke 13:1-9 The fig tree, foreshadowing the Passion represents Israel's barrenness in, incongruously, the vineyard which is also Israel.
  52. Luke 13:10-17; Difficult to synthesise Jesus' attitude to the Law. After the female/male healing pairing the male/female, mustard/leaven pairing.
  53. Luke 13:22-35 Unlike Matthew, Luke distinguishes Jews from their leaders; 'feminine' comfort reflects Isaiah 66:13.
  54. Luke 14:7-14 Interestingly, Qumran excludes the disabled from meals.
  55. Luke 14:15-35 Matthew's violent story refers to Jerusalem; contrast with Luke's urbane dialogue about worldly distractions. The significance of who is invited in. Luke's "Anyone who comes to me without hating" is, atypically, much harsher than Matthew. Semitic thought-forms weak in "more" and "less" and tend to be absolute.
  56. Luke 15:1-10 In desperation logic comes second (similar logical flaw in John where the shepherd dies for his sheep). The party cost more than the found drachma. Penitence not precursor but consequence of being with Jesus.
  57. Luke 15:11-32 The elder son must work harder and make good the estate.
  58. Luke 16:1-13 The difference between parable and allegory. The steward cuts his own profit without affecting the master.
  59. Luke 16:14-31 Remember, dogs are unclean. Dives continues to treat Lazarus as a servant.
  60. Luke 17:1-10 "Scandal" means object likely to cause a trip or fall. The muddled fig tree.
  61. Luke 17:7-19 Gratitude in NT unique to Luke.
  62. Luke 17:20-37 Luke longer perspective than Mark 11 and Matthew 24; 25. We must further God's kingdom in our daily lives.
  63. Luke 18:1-14 Another case of doing the right thing for  the wrong reason. The woman threatens to "hit (the judge) in the face." A hint that the Pharisee is praying to himself, not God.
  64. Luke 18:15-30 Children: in Mark Jesus' humanity; in Matthew a lesson in conversion; in Luke the child's helplessness. The rich man, atypical of Luke, more severely treated than in Mark, Matthew.
  65. Luke 18:31-34 Jesus knew what he was doing but the Apostles' surprise at the actual events is puzzling.
  66. Luke 18:35-43 No Jewish tradition of Messiah triumphing through suffering, so Bartimeus' cure specially symbolic; and the usual Lucan thanksgiving.
  67. Luke 19:1-10 As Bartimeus sums up healing, Zacchaeus sums up the welcome to sinners. You never know what Luke's characters will do next!
  68. Luke 19:11-27 The peculiar detail of securing a kingdom refers to Archelaus' successful mission to Rome to secure Judeah which explains its differences from Matthew 25. "The moment when Jesus receives his kingdom is at the Passion and Resurrection."
  69. Luke 19:28-38 Culmination of journey since 9:51. cf Zechariah 9:9; 14. Echoes of the angels appearing to the shepherds.
  70. Luke 19:39-44 Mourning for Jerusalem Lucan theme (13:34-35; 23:28-31); the reversal of Benedictus (1:71-74), 78-79). Jerusalem's "... failure to respond is a large part of the tragedy of Jesus."
  71. Luke 19:45-48 Jesus would not have literally wrought havoc in the Temple. In Mark 11, linked with barren fig tree of Israel. In Luke Jesus clears only the sellers in order to teach. It is the end of the Temple's centrality and ignites the final crisis for Jesus.
  72. Luke 20:1-8 Sequence: hostile question; Jesus replies with a question; unsatisfactory answer; Jesus silences opponents.
  73. Luke 20:9-19 Isaiah 5. In Matthew and Luke the son thrown out and then killed. Again Luke less harsh to the Jews than Matthew.
  74. Luke 20:20-26 Beyond the obvious, Jesus is emphasising giving to God.
  75. Luke 20:27-40 Angels from Persian influence; resurrection of the dead Maccabean. Chronologically: gathered to fathers; then sheol; then resurrection. We will be changed after death, cf 1 Corinthians 15.
  76. Luke 20:41-44 Jews hoped in the fulfilment of Nathan's promises to David in 2 Samuel 7. Jesus is proclaiming himself greater than David but has always been cautious because of his mistrust of kingship.
  77. Luke 20:45-21:4 The treasury was not  for the Temple but for the poor; so the poor widow gives to the poor.
  78. Luke 21:5-36 Mark 13 concerned with the end of all things but Luke with Jerusalem in general and the Temple in particular. The "foreboding" probably refers to the statue of himself Caligula planned to erect in the Temple but he died before arrangements complete (39 CE).
  79. Luke 21:25-38 The despair of Jerusalem transformed to the hope of nations; Luke sees the Passion and Resurrection as the accomplishment of the kingship of God.
  80. Luke 22:1-6 Judas may have handed Jesus over to advance Jesus' plans; the arrest away from the Temple by Temple authorities; Pharisees would not go so far as blood.
  81. Luke 21:7-13 Tyndale's "Passover" not equivalent to Jewish Pesach which was one of Judaism's three principal feasts, originating as a lunar festival coinciding with nomadic pastoral migration then combined with first corn-cutting, symbolising purity. Dating meal problematic. Unthinkable that a man should carry a water pot.
  82. Luke 22:14-20 Classic for a liturgy to contain its own justification; supported by 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Mark/Matthew more Semitic, Luke/Paul more Greek; 19b-20 omitted from Western tradition. When Jesus offers 'taboo' blood he is offering  a share in his life in a new Covenant. Ministry of service refers to Isaiah 53.
  83. Luke 22:21-27 In Greek (Socrates farewell) and Jewish (Moses and the Twelve Patriarchs) tradition speeches of departing leaders important. The grandeur of service.
  84. Luke 22:28-38 (Avoids difficult v38 - KC)
  85. Luke 22:39-46 Mark emphasises disciples' failure and Jesus' horror; in Luke no blame attached to Disciples who might not even be there, but they are encouraged always to pray not just wait while Jesus prays; and there is no stumbling or falling to the ground as in Mark. Jesus, in control, kneels to pray and then stands upright in full  dignity. vv43-44: omitted by some good texts; often mistranslated as "sweat drops of blood" not "sweat like drops of blood", which might refer to Agon, an adrenalin-fired athlete, which would chime with the strengthening angel (cf Daniel 10:15-19).
  86. Luke 22:47-53 Jesus continues his mission of healing (Malchus) and forgiveness (Judas). John's use of "hour" and "darkness" in Luke. Disciples faithful to the end.
  87. Luke 22:54-65 We know nothing of the law under which Jesus was tried as "The Law" was formulated in the 2nd Century CE, not for a national judicature; probably no Sanhedrin but an informal group of advisers to the King or High Priest. Luke gentler with Peter and concerned with his conversion rather than his treachery.
  88. Luke 22:66-23:1 Jesus resignation echoing 16:31. Jesus as Christ present not future as in Mark; and again the interest is not in the second coming in Mark but the present. As in the Annunciation, "Christ" is a separate title from "son of God."
  89. [passage=Luke 23:3-5, 13-25/] Charges against Jesus foreshadow those against his followers (Acts 17:6-7). Luke cautious about Barabbas. Emphasis on Pilate finding Jesus innocent. Pilate weak and well intentioned, out-manoeuvred by Caiaphas; Romans not complicit in the death of Jesus.
  90. Luke 23:6-12 The Herod scene replaces the mockery of Roman soldiers in Mark/Matthew. Herod over-the-top.
  91. Luke 23:26-32 Simon and the importance of cross carrying (9:23; 14:27). The final lamentation.
  92. Luke 23:33 Jesus obeying Father manifested in scripture; seems like engineered coincidence but typical of 1st Century exegesis.
  93. Luke 23:34-43 34a absent from many manuscripts. Echoed by Stephen in Acts 7. Jesus first and last word on Calvary "Father" (bracketing) (or "enclosure" in Bauckham - KC). The "good thief" more of Luke's cast of  mind than a reflection of circumstances.
  94. Luke 23:44-49 Calm in Luke as opposed to Mark/Matthew. Amos 8:9. Josephus reports an omen of the tearing of the veil of the Temple. Repentance, praise and glory.
  95. Luke 23:50-56 The Gospel story has come full circle; beginning with Zechariah and Simeon and ending with Joseph, perhaps a member of the Lower Beth Din in charge of the municipal. Communal burial of criminals. As Pilate asked for body, the execution Roman.
  96. Luke 24:1-8 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Mark/Matthew locates in Galilee, Luke all in Jerusalem. The physical nature of Resurrection: foretold by Prophets and Jesus; and proclaimed under Jesus' authority.
  97. Luke 24:9-12 Fear and amazement in Mark; scepticism in all Gospels. Peter's failure as the women "come out ahead!"
  98. Luke 24:13-53 Luke's best story. Represents the church life of Word and Sacrament. Starts and finishes in Jerusalem.
  99. Luke 24:36-49 The metamorphosis from the physical to the spiritual body. Again, they are to preach repentance.
  100. Luke 24:50-53 Two exclusive Ascension accounts in Luke. Josephus often tells same story with minor inconsistencies. Too  familiar with disappearing feet; think of the cloud in Exodus; Moses and Elijah "taken up".


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