Takeaway: A basic introduction to Luke that is not simplistic or reductionist.
Regular readers of my blog know that I am working through a six month study of Luke. There are links to other books I have read an reviewed on Luke below.
I took Jerry Bridge’s suggestion to really delve deep into a book instead of surface reading scripture. So from July through December this year I am just reading Luke. The most important discovery I have made is that just reading will only get you so far. You NEED to use commentaries and other helps if you really want to understand a passage.
This is a long quote, but please actually read it, there is no way someone without prior education on Luke (or at least a very good NT education would be able to get the subtle beauty of the Ange’s announcement of Jesus’ birth.
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news [gospel!] of great joy [a major Lukan theme] for all people [another Lukan theme]: to you is born this day in the city of David [Israel’s royal city] a Savior [a title reserved for the emperor], who is the Messiah [a Hebrew title applied to King David and his royal heirs], the Lord [a title used by the emperor and also used by Jews to refer to God].” (2:10–11) Luke has laid on Jesus several titles of authority that might make some in Luke’s audience a bit anxious. Nevertheless he continues. Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (2:13–14) The more sophisticated of Luke’s hearers might have heard in the angel’s doxology an echo of the Roman poet Virgil’s hymn celebrating the birth of another baby boy—Caesar Augustus.
This is really the only passage that is dealt with in quite this way in Luke’s Gospel From Scratch. The majority of the book is much more narrative focused. And after having read (or am in the process of reading) several commentaries, I appreciated the fact that this is not set up like a standard commentary. It does not have the passage, then the commentary then the next passage. Instead it is more like a descriptive book. Because I have read Luke a lot lately, I know what the authors are referencing. But it is intended to be read with a bible open beside the book.
About 65 percent of the text is narrative commentary on Luke. But the last 35 percent is a very detailed bible study plan, references, and other helps I read through the bible study (but did not actually use it with a group). I think it would make a very good small group or Sunday School study. It would be in-depth, but much better than the vast majority of Sunday School curriculum I have seen.
I liked it just as much as Michael Card’s Gospel of Amazement, and there was some overlapping ideas (they are after all both focused on Luke). But I am surprised how many new insights I can read after this being the fourth completed book on Luke in just over three months. The thing that I was most struck by in this book on Luke is the focus on Luke as creator. Luke’s focus on balancing stories, on balancing Luke and Acts, on balancing stories about men and women and rich and poor, really struck me about how sophisticated and intentional the structure of Luke is.
I will use this series again in the future.