According to Luke

15 Oct

Gospel of LukeThis week I’d like to focus some attention on St. Luke, author of the third Gospel and companion of St. Paul. We will celebrate his feast day this coming Friday. Meanwhile, we are working through his Gospel in our daily Mass readings.

I don’t know about you, but I grow weary of study Bibles and Bible studies that go to great lengths to explain to us that so and so didn’t actually write the book of the Bible that bears his name, and that the events described in the book didn’t really happen anyway. I want biblical materials that trust God’s inspired Word and our rich Catholic Tradition, not agnostic pseudo-scholarship.

That’s why I find the opening paragraphs of the introduction to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible on The Gospel of Luke such a breath of fresh air:

“Early manuscripts of the third Gospel are titled “According to Luke” (Gk. Kata Loukan). This heading is not part of the original work but was added later as a signpost of apostolic tradition. Indeed, the earliest Christians unanimously ascribed the work to Luke, a Gentile physician and companion of the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24). Several Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus (A.D. 180), Tertullian (A.D. 200), and Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 200), assert Luke’s authorship of the third Gospel, and an anonymous list of NT books, called the Muratorian Fragment (c. A.D. 170), also attaches his name to it. There is thus no reason to doubt Luke’s authorship of this Gospel, since the tradition is virtually uncontested in early Christianity.

“Luke himself is unique among the writers of the NT. First, he is the only Gentile author to compose a NT book–all others were of Israelite descent. Paul hints at his Gentile identity when he numbers “Luke the beloved physician” among his uncircumcised companions (Col. 4:14). Secondly, Luke is the only evangelist to write a sequel. In addition to his Gospel, he wrote the Acts of the Apostles as the second part of a two-volume work. The Book of Acts picks up where Luke’s Gospel narrative ends, showing how the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of Jesus now operates in the living community of Christ’s mystical body, the Church.”

A number of years ago I was privileged to help found Emmaus Road Publishing (which takes it name from chapter 24 of St. Luke’s Gospel), motivated by the famous words of St. Jerome: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Emmaus Road continues to make resources such as the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible available for those who hunger for God’s Word. Also on the Gospel of Luke, Emmaus has Tim Gray’s popular study entitled Mission of the Messiah, which has now gone through multiple printings. Check out Emmaus Road for more information on a wide range of biblical and catechetical resources.

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