Literary Dependence and Luke’s Prologue

Paul Felix | August 25, 2009

The first four verses of Luke’s gospel set that book apart from Matthew, Mark, and John in giving information about the writer’s research. Attempts of some to use the information to prove Luke’s literary dependence on Mark necessitate a closer look at this prologue. The carefully structured sentence tells the context of the author’s writing project (1:1-2) and gives a commentary on the writing project (1:3-4). Others had preceded Luke in attempting to put together accounts of Jesus’ life, but for some reason Luke found their efforts unsatisfactory. He decided to write an account himself, basing it ultimately on reports from “eyewitnesses and servants of the word.” His credentials for the task were impressive, including careful investigation of all events from the beginning of Jesus’ life and putting the results down in chronological order. His purpose in doing this was to furnish Theophilus with exact information. Implications of the prologue preclude Luke’s use of another canonical gospel as a source, but allow for his familiarity with other written sources. He depended on many sources, not two or three, but was most heavily dependent on oral reports from “eyewitnesses and servants of the word.” He followed chronological order, not an order supplied by Mark. So the prologue does not support any type of literary dependence among the canonical gospels, but points to their independence of each other.

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Paul Felix Associate Professor of New Testament B. A., University of Redlands M. A., Talbot Theological Seminary M. Div., The Master's Seminary Th. M., The Master's Seminary Th. D., The Master's Seminary Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Professor Felix worked in the data processing profession as a Senior Systems Programmer for a number of years. It was during this time that he studied at Talbot Theological Seminary. Professor Felix served as the Assistant Pastor in his local church as well as teaching and serving as Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the Los Angeles Bible Training School from 1982 to 1992. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a faculty associate at The Master's Seminary. Between 1996 and 1999 Professor Felix served as senior pastor at Berean Bible Church in Denver, Colorado. In the summer of 1999 he returned to TMS as an instructor in the New Testament Department. In addition to his responsibilities at TMS, Mr. Felix serves as the President of the Los Angeles Bible Training School (www.labts.org). Professor Felix was a contributor to The Jesus Crisis (Kregel, 1998) and The Master's Perspective on Contemporary Issues (Kregel, 1998).

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