Did Luke Have Access To Traditions About The Apostles And The Early Churches? -- By: W. Ward Gasque

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 17:1 (Winter 1974)
Article: Did Luke Have Access To Traditions About The Apostles And The Early Churches?
Author: W. Ward Gasque

Did Luke Have Access To Traditions
About The Apostles And The Early Churches?

W. Ward Gasque

Regent College
Vancouver 8, B.C., Canada

Drawing on the work of Martin Dibelius1 (1887–1947), Ernest Haenchen, in his justly famous commentary on The Acts of the Apostles, which has only recently appeared in English dress, argues that it is highly unlikely that “Luke” had similar sources available for the writing of Acts as he did when he wrote his Gospel.

The Apostles and other Christian missionaries did not proclaim their own words and deeds, but those of the Lord Jesus. Hence no tradition corresponding to the Synoptic had formed with reference to Paul and the Apostles Those who naively believe that Luke went to work with Acts in exactly the same way as with his gospel fail to notice that their opinion rests on an untenable assumption: there just were no “histories of the Apostles” which Luke could have woven together as, in the case of the third gospel, he wove together Mark, Q, and that other gospel from which he derived his special material.2

This basic assumption that there were no traditions concerning the apostles has been very influential in recent Lucan studies, but it has been challenged by the professor of New Testament at the University of Oslo, Jacob Jervell. Jervell’s important essay appeared first in German in 1962,3 but it has thus far received little notice in the scholarly world.4 Because of both the strength of the case for which he argues and the implications of his conclusion for Lucan studies, it seems appropriate to draw special attention to his contribution through the pages

of this journal in the hope that it will become known to a wider circle of New Testament students.

In seeking to find out whether there is, in fact, any evidence for the view that Luke might have had access to traditions about the apostles and the earliest churches, Jervell turns to those New Testament documents which are :closest to the primitive church, the Pauline letters. Recognizing that they are only occasional writings which treat special problems in the Pauline churches and that they should not be expected to contain an abundance of relevant material, he examines them to see what evidence there might be, and the results are rather startling.

First, there are a number of places where Paul indicates that the establishment of a Christian congregation is part of the missionary proclamation as wel...

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