THE WRITER LUKE (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

I tell my students of journalism and literature that to gain mastery over Gujarati language please read the Gospel according to Luke and The Acts, also written by Luke. The two books occupy almost one fourth of the whole New Testament.

The two books of Luke, originally written in Greek, give an idea of very good literary language. Mr. Nagindas Parekh who is considered among the few best translators into Gujarati and Fr. Isudas Cueli have jointly worked to produce the Gujarati Bible, which is considered literary master piece.

Lukes literary style is simple and flowing. With an eye four details he picks up the right word and portray scenes and events in their right perspective.

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul refers to Luke as Luke, our dear doctor (Col.4,14). Among the four evangelists, we know the least about the life of Luke. The name of Luke comes only 3 times in the New Testament. First, as we have already noted, in the letter to Colossians as Luke our dear doctor, second, in the letter to Timothy Paul says, only Luke is with me (2 Tim 4,11) and third, again it is Paul who mentions Lukes name among his fellow workers (Philemon 24).

But we know a little more about Luke from the two books, which he has written in the New Testament and also from the historians of the first century. Traditions hold that Luke was born in Antioch, the then capital of Syria in the Greek world. Luke was a physician by profession. Bible scholars believe that Luke must have been rich. Hence he was able to undertake long journeys with St. Paul as a useful companion.

Lukes writings proclaim him as a wise and learned person. His writings reveal his memory and the power of observation as well as the ability to put down minutely in beautiful Greek language what he has heard and observed.

In some parts of the Acts, Luke has narrated that missionary journey of Paul to proclaim the message of Jesus with we passages indicating Lukes total participation and involvement in the missionary journeys. Bible scholars say that all such passages come from the daily jotting of Luke during his journeys with Paul. In these we passages we get a good description of the missionary journeys of Paul and Luke. (see Acts 16, 10-17; 20, 5-15; 27, 1-37 and 28, 1-14).

From the description of these missionary journeys we know Luke was with Paul in his second journey from Troas to Samothrace and to Neapolis by ship (Acts 16, 11).

Then again, after six years, Luke is again seen with Paul in his third missionary journey from Phillippi to Jerusalem (see Acts 20, 6-16; 21, 1-17).

During Pauls last journey Luke went with Paul from Caesarea to Rome. In Rome Luke remained with Paul during the whole period of Pauls imprisonment there.

In the Gospel according to Luke or in The Acts there is no reference to Pauls martyrdom. Hence, some Bible scholars believe that both the Gospel and The Acts were written by Luke before Pauls martyrdom. Yet Lukes prediction of the complete destruction of Jerusalem (Lk 19, 41-44) suggests that, perhaps Luke wrote the Gospel after the Jerusalem Temple was totally destroyed in 70 AD.

There is no serious dispute about Lukes authorship of both the third Gospel and The Acts. According the historians of the first century and the traditional belief of early Christians Luke wrote both the books in Greek and he died at the ripe old age of 84 years.

We know from both the books of Luke that, thanks to his medical studies and practice, he also became a good historian of his time. His scholarship and the reading of his contemporary situations are clearly seen in his two books. In comparison with the other books of the New Testament, Lukes Gospel and The Acts reveal great literary talents of their author. So the Gospel according to Luke is considered the greatest book of all times!

Some qualities of Lukes Gospel are specially note-worthy. First, Luke presents Jesus life and his teaching in the perspective of the whole world. While Mathew in his Gospel traces Jesus family back to Abraham, Luke traces Jesus family back to the very first human person Adam (see Lk 3, 23-38). The mankind will see Gods salvation! says Luke (lk 3, 6). This is the message Luke proclaims in his whole Gospel.

Second, in Lukes Gospel we specially recognize Jesus personality and his heart embracing the whole universe. For instance, only in Lukes Gospel we get the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10, 25-37), and the Story of the Lost Son (Lk 15, 11-32) and the Forgiveness of the Good Thief (Lk 23, 39-43). In the passages such as these Jesus unique personality and the whole-embracing vision are revealed.

Third, in Lukes Gospel we see Jesus special love and sympathy for women and children. In the Jewish society women and children did not have any status. They were like the slaves of their masters! Then, in Lukes Gospel we get so many names of women like Mary, Elizabeth, Anna, Mary Magdalane, Joanna the wife of Chuza, Susanna and Mary the mother of James, etc. Jesus special predilection for children is also seen in the many references to children in Lukes Gospel and especially in the description of Jesus childhood by him.

Forth, Luke presents Jesus as one who comes to the rescue of people specially those in need like the poor, the sick, the sinners. Only in Luke we get the story of the sinful women (Lk 7, 37) and the story of Zacchaeus (Lk 19, 1-10).

Fifth, finally only in Lukes Gospel we get the three Messiahnic hymns: the Marys Song of Praise (Lk 1, 46-55), the song of Zechariah (Lk 1, 68-79) and Simeons thanksgiving song (Lk 2, 29-32). The Christians use all these three hymns in the liturgical prayers around the word.

In short, we see the imprint of Lukes literary quality and talents in his two books written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian world specially honour the Evangelist Luke as the Patron of Doctors and all those engaged in medical service. (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

અમારો સંપર્ક કરો

ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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