Rev. Dr. Edgar Mayer – Toowoomba 2000

Studies in Luke – Acts: Thesis (2)

1. Introduction

Scholars lament that they can neither agree on the structure of Luke – Acts nor on the "organizing principle" of the Lukan writings. However, the writer has done some academic work which makes him confident about the literary building blocks of at least Lk 9:10b-24:53. Furthermore, he strongly suspects a deliberate structure of the whole of Luke – Acts which uses the same building-blocks in a cyclical fashion.

2. Thesis

Luke 9:10b-24:53 may consist of five distinct segments which mirror the Old Testament stories of the exodus and form one chain of events: 1. "Feeding with Manna" (Lk 9:10b-17); 2. "Mount Sinai" (Lk 9,18-36); 3. "Golden Calf" (Lk 9:37-50); 4. "Wandering in the Desert" (Lk 9:51-19-10); 5. "Exodus" which leads into the promised land (Lk 19:11-24:53).

These five literary segments of Luke's narrative feature the following main characteristics:

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.]

Luke uses especially the last three literary segments to structure Luke – Acts in a cyclical way. Thus the narrative conforms to the following logic:


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

Looking at the whole of Luke – Acts the literary segments constitute the following cycle of salvation history:

"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)]

The writer should clarify 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.


Luke–Acts