Rev. Dr. Edgar Mayer – Toowoomba 2000

Studies in Luke – Acts: The Composition of Luke – Acts (6/1)

1. Introduction

As was mentioned before, scholars lament that they can neither agree on the structure of Luke – Acts nor on the organizing principle of the Lukan writings. Now we want to come back to the writer's thesis which suggests a cyclical structure of the two-volume work of Luke – Acts. Especially Goulder [Goulder, M.D.: Type and History in Acts, London 1964] emphasized that at least the book of Acts is a cyclical book which is confirmed by the typological nature of much of Luke's writings. Typologies by their very nature are connecting passages in cyclical ways. When the experiences of some protagonists mirror the work of others, then the same themes and similar circumstances reappear in the Lukan writings which makes a cyclical structure of Luke – Acts inevitable. The writer contends that Luke deliberately set up a cyclical structure which spans the entire two-volume work and serves as the organizing principle of his written sources.

In the course of our study we have indentified five typological building blocks which feature distinct literary dynamics. These five building blocks and their main characteristics may be listed again:

Typological background of the five building-blocksLiterary dynamic of the five building-blocks
1. "Feeding with Manna" (Lk 9:10b-17)1. "Feeding" of the hungry in the kingdom of God (Lk 9:10b-17)
2. "Mount Sinai" (Lk 9,18-36)2. "Revelation" of Jesus (Lk 9:18-36)
3. "Golden Calf" (Lk 9:37-50)3. "Breakdown" of the relationship between the people/the disciples and Jesus (Acts: between the people and the disciples/Jesus) (Lk 9:37:50)
4. "Wandering in the wilderness" (Lk 9:51-19:10)4. "Mission journey" which leads to the acceptance and rejection of Jesus (Lk 9:51-19:10)
5. "Exodus" which leads into the promised land (Lk 19:11-24:53)5. "Salvation event" which delivers through Jesus' death and resurrection (Lk 19:11-24:53). [Before and after Jesus' passion various segments foreshadow or recall Jesus' saving work in Jerusalem.]

The Lukan narrative then seems to conform to the following cyclical logic which works with the five building blocks singling out three as the main ones:

1. ("mission journey") A mission journey is undertaken to lead people to repentance.
2. ("salvation event") Those who accept Jesus experience salvation.
3. ("breakdown") A sudden breakdown of the relationship with Jesus once again threatens the saved.
1. ("mission journey") A new missionary journey has to be undertaken to win back the people,
2. ("salvation event") and to confer salvation to them.

Looking at the whole of Luke – Acts the building-blocks appear in the following fashion. Notice what was said previously about the building blocks "feeding" and "revelation" which are an extension of "salvation event". One should also clarify again that the recurring building-blocks manifest the same literary dynamics throughout Luke – Acts but only in Lk 9:1ff does the typological background of the Old Testament become transparent in a meaningful way.

"Mission Journey" (Lk 3:1-20 [3:21-4:13])

"Salvation Event" (Lk 4:14-7:23)

"Breakdown" (Lk 7:24-35)

"Mission Journey" (Lk 7:36-8:21)

"Salvation Event" (Lk 8:22-9:10a)

"Feeding" (Lk 9:10b-17)

"Revelation" (Lk 9:18-36)

"Breakdown" (Lk 9:37-50)

"Mission Journey" (Lk 9:51-19:10)

"Salvation Event" (Lk 19:11-Acts 5:42)

"Feeding" (Acts 6:1-7)

["Revelation" (Acts 6:8-8:1a)]

"Breakdown" (Acts 6:8-8:1a)

"Mission Journey" (Acts 8:1b-11:21)

"Salvation Event" (Acts 11:22-12:25)

"Mission Journey" (Acts 13:1-28:31)

["Salvation Event" (Parousia)]

We now attempt to sketch the cyclical structure of Luke – Acts.


2. The cyclical structure of Luke – Acts

I. Preface (Lk 1:1-4)

II. The Infant Narrative As A Preview To John and Jesus' Ministry

1. The Births Of John And Jesus Are Foretold (Lk 1:5-45)
John's birth is announced (Lk 1:5-25).
Jesus' birth is announced (Lk 1:26-38).
Still in the womb John announces Jesus (Lk 1:39-45).

2. John And Jesus (Lk 1:46-2:21)
A: Mary sings a song because of the child Jesus (Lk 1:46-56).
B: John the Baptist is born (Lk 1:57-66).
C: Zechariah sings a song because of the child Jesus (Lk 1:67-75).
B': Zechariah sings a song because of the child John (Lk 1:76-80).
A': Jesus is born (Lk 2:1-21).

3. Jesus Is At The temple (Lk 2:22-52)
The infant Jesus is at the temple (Lk 2:22-40).
The twelve year old Jesus is at the temple (Lk 2:41-52).

[Also note that the infant narrative begins and ends in the temple of Jerusalem.]

III. The Cycle Of Salvation History In The Gospel Of Luke

1. "Mission Journey" (Lk 3:1-20)
1.1 John prepares the people for the coming salvation through Jesus. Some accept the good news from him. Others reject his preaching (Lk 3:1-20).

[2. The Introduction Of Jesus' Person (Lk 3:21-4:13)]
2.1 Jesus is the son of God as a voice from heaven confirms at his baptism (Lk 3:21-22).
2.2 Jesus is the son of God even through the family tree of Joseph because his most ancient ancenstor Adam was the son of God (Lk 3:23-38).
2.3 Jesus resists temptations which challenge him to abuse his position as the son of God (Lk 4:1-13).

3. "Salvation Event" (Lk 4:14-7:23)
3.1 Inclusio (Lk 4:14-44): Jesus' saving work, which foreshadows a preliminary climax in Jerusalem, makes the blind see and proclaims good news to the poor.
3.2 Jesus heals and preaches the kingdom of God (Lk 5:1-7:17).
3.3 Inclusio (Lk 7:18-23): Jesus' saving work, which foreshadows a preliminary climax in Jerusalem, makes the blind see and proclaims good news to the poor.

4. "Breakdown" (Lk 7:24-35)
4.1 The people of this generation reject both John the Baptist and Jesus (7:24-35).

5. "Mission Journey" (Lk 7:36-8:21)
5.1 A sinful woman welcomes Jesus with great love but the pharisee and his friends love Jesus less and in the end become irritated by Jesus (Lk 7:36-50).
5.2 Jesus goes on a mission journey which makes some people accept God's word while others reject it (Lk 8:1-21).

6. "Salvation Event" (Lk 8:22-9:10a)
(See the chapter on Jesus' exodus in Jerusalem.)

7. "Feeding" (Lk 9:10b-17)
(See the chapter on Luke 9:10b-50.)

8. "Revelation" (Lk 9:18-36)
(See the chapter on Luke 9:10b-50.)

9. "Breakdown" (Lk 9:37-50)
(See the chapter on Luke 9:10b-50.)

10. "Mission Journey" (Lk 9:51-19:10)
(See the chapter on Luke's travel narrative.)

11. "Salvation Event" (Lk 19:11-24:53)

11.1 A parable previews and illuminates the events of the passion narrative (Lk 19:11-17).
(Jesus will be rejected, but he is nevertheless king and will establish the kingdom of God in the future.)

11.2 INCLUSIO: Jesus is outside of Jerusalem (Bethany) and prepares his entrance into Jerusalem (Lk 19:28-36).

11.3 As Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, some welcome him while others reject him (Lk 19:37-44). 11.3.1 The multitude of disciples welcomes Jesus and is ready for his visitation (Lk 19:37-40).
11.3.2 Jerusalem rejects Jesus and faces judgement (Lk 19:41-44).

11.4 Jesus begins his ministry in Jerusalem with programmatic words and actions (Lk 19:45-46).
(The temple shall be changed from a den of robbers to a house of prayer.)

11.5 Jesus teaches the people at the temple (Lk 19:47-21:38)
A (Lk 19:47-48): Summary: Jesus teaches daily in the temple. The ruling class wants to kill him but the people soak up Jesus' words.
B (Lk 20:1-21:36): Jesus teaches the people at the temple.
A' (Lk 21:37-38): Summary: Every day Jesus teaches at the temple. At night he lodges on the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning all the people come to him in the temple to hear him.

11.6 The two cups of the old and new covenant (Lk 22:1-62)
A1 (v1-6): The way Judas gets rich: The chief priests and the officials of the temple guard agreed (syntithemai) with Judas to give him money for betraying Jesus.
B1 (v7-13): Two prominent disciples, Peter and John (single tradition), prepare the passover for Jesus and the other disciples.
C1 (v14-23): Jesus and his disciples celebrate the passover and Jesus offers the cup (touto to poteerion) of the covenant in his blood.
B1' (v24-27): The greatest among the disciples should serve the others.
A1' (v28-30): The way the disciples get rich: Jesus covenants (diatithemai) the disciples the kingdom. They will eat and drink at Jesus' table, sit on thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

A2 (v31-34): Jesus predicts that Peter will disown him.
B2 (v35-38): Jesus tells his disciples to buy a sword.
C2: (v39-46): Within eye-sight of the disciples Jesus accepts the cup (touto to poteerion) and his sweat becomes like drops of blood falling on the ground.
B2': (v47-53): Jesus is arrested and the disciples defend him with a sword.
A2' (v54-62): Peter disowns Jesus.

11.7 The prophet Jesus (Lk 22:63-71)
11.7.1 The blindfolded Jesus is to prophesy who hit him (Lk 22:63-65).

11.7.2 Jesus prophesies his rejection before the Sanhedrin and the prophecy finds immediate fulfillment (Lk 22:66-71).

11.8 The passion of Jesus leads to unusual friendships (Lk 23:1-25)
11.8.1 The former enemies Pilate and Herod become friends after they both interrogated Jesus and found him innocent (Lk 23:1-12).

11.8.2 The ruling class and the people demand Jesus' death but offer friendship to the convicted murderer Barabbas (Lk 23:13-25).

11.9 Jesus' death and resurrection (Lk 23:26-24:11)

Inclusio: The disciple-like figure of Simon of Cyrene and the daughters of Jerusalem (Lk 23:26-31).
a. Simon of Cyrene becomes a disciple-like figure by taking up Jesus' cross and following him (Lk 23:26).
b. Jesus tells the weeping women of Jerusalem to weep for themselves because calamity will befall them (Lk 23:27-31).
The crucifixion of Jesus (Lk 23:32-43).
The death of Jesus (Lk 23:44-49).
Inclusio: The disciple-like figure of Joseph of Arimathea and the women from Galilee (Lk 23:50-24:11).
a. Joseph of Arimathea becomes a disciple-like figure because he is a good and righteous man who was looking for the kingdom of God. He buries Jesus (Lk 23:50-54).
b. The women from Galilee are the first to hear of Jesus' resurrection (Lk 23:55-24:11).

11.10 The resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples (24:12-49)
11.10.1 Jesus appears to two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24:12-34).

A (v12): Peter runs to Jesus' grave and wonders about the linen clothes laid by themselves.

B1 (v13): Two disciples walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
C1 (v14): The two disciples talk to each other about all the things that had happened.
D1 (v15): While they talk, Jesus draws near and walks with them.
D1' (v16): The disciples' eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus.
C1' (v17a): Jesus asks the disciples about their conversation.
B1' (v17b): The two disciples stand still, looking sad.

C2 (v18-23): One disciple explained that Jesus was meant to redeem Israel but he was killed. They further reported that some women went to his tomb, did not find his body but claimed to have received a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive.
D2 (24a): Some went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said.
D2 (24b): But Jesus they did not see.
C2' (v25-27): Jesus interprets the scriptures to the unbelieving disciples. He explains that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory.

B3 (v28-29): The two disciples urge Jesus to stay with them in their home.
C3 (v30): Later the disciples would recognize Jesus in what he did at the table. He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.
D3 (v31a): And the disciples' eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus.
D3' (v31b): And Jesus vanished from their sight.
C3' (v32): The disciples remember how their hearts burned when Jesus talked to them on the road and opened up the scriptures to them.
B3' (v33a): That same hour the two disciples rose to return to Jerusalem.

A' (V33b-34): The two disciples find out in Jerusalem that Jesus appeared to Simon (Peter).

11.10.2 Jesus proves that he is no ghost (Lk 24:35-43).
A (v35-36): The resurrected Jesus is known in the breaking of the bread (food provides evidence).
B (v37): The disciples are frightened and do not believe.
C (v38-40): The disciples touch Jesus and recognize that he is no ghost.
B' (v41a): The disciples are overjoyed but do not believe.
A' (v41b-43): The resurrected Jesus is known by eating broiled fish (food provides evidence).

11.10.3 Jesus teaches the disciples about himself and salvation (Lk 24:44-49)

11.11 INCLUSIO: Jesus leaves Jerusalem (Bethany), blesses the disciples and is carried up into heaven (Lk 24:50-51).

11.12 Jesus' programmatic words and actions at his arrival in Jerusalem are fulfilled (Lk 24:52-53).
(The temple is now a house of prayer and the disciples continually bless God in the temple.)


Luke–Acts