Does The Preface To Luke’s Gospel Belong Also To The Acts? -- By: Lemuel S. Potwin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 038:150 (Apr 1881)
Article: Does The Preface To Luke’s Gospel Belong Also To The Acts?
Author: Lemuel S. Potwin


Does The Preface To Luke’s Gospel Belong Also To The Acts?

By Prof. Lemuel S. Potwin

The Following Is The Preface To The Gospel Of Luke

᾿Επειδήπερ πολλοὶ ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν περὶ τῶν πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων, καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ̓ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου, ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι κράτιστε Θεόφιλε, ἵνα ἐπιγνῷς περὶ ὧν κατηχήθης λόγων τὴν ἀσφάλειαν.

Quoniam quidem multi conati sunt ordinare narrationem quae in nobis completae sunt rerum, sicut tradiderunt nobis, qui ab initio ipsi viderunt et ministri fuerunt sermonis, visum est et mihi, assecuto omnia a principio diligenter, ex ordine tibi scribere, optime Theophile, ut cognoscas eorum verborum, de quibus eruditus es, veritatem. (Vulgate.)

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.”

Reading this preface with our question in mind, one notices,

1. That there is no express limitation confining the coming narrative to the life of Christ. Such a limitation would be very natural, if it were intended to write the Gospel only. The very language required may be found in the first verse of the Acts; and we might expect Luke to write, “It seemed good to me also to relate all that Jesus began both to do and teach until the day in which he was taken up.” Such is not his statement. Even the name of Jesus is not found. This cannot be due to brevity, for the preface, though but a single sentence, is not concise, but somewhat ample in style. It is true that if we take it for granted that it belongs to the Gospel only, it is appropriate enough, but it is much more appropriate if not confined to that. It is hardly necessary to add that on this point no account should be made of the order of the books in the Canon. The matter should be view...

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