The Annunciation, Anna, And Luke’s Egalitarianism -- By: Michael Chung
PP 27:3 (Summer 2013) p. 24
The Annunciation, Anna, And Luke’s Egalitarianism
Michael Chung (PhD, University of Nottingham) is Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, Houston, Texas. He and his wife, Jodi, youth minister at West Houston Chinese Church, are proud parents of a son, Coleman.
No synoptic gospel mentions more about females than Luke. Alfred Plummer referred to Luke’s gospel as the “Gospel of Women.”1 Half of Luke’s gospel is found nowhere in Matthew and Mark, and this includes some accounts and insight about Jesus’s interactions with women.
Luke desired to express something Matthew and Mark did not, and one unique aspect of Luke is the issue of the eminence of women.2 Thurston writes, “Nearly one-third of the material unique to Luke deals with women.”3 Women were not thought of highly in that society, but they were clearly important to this gospel writer.4
Scholarship has been divided on the significance of the large amount of material on women in Luke. Some argue that Luke writes about women in a positive light, while others argue that women are written about in a negative one.5 This article will argue for the first understanding. Two passages unique to Luke highlight how women were not second-rate society members compared to men, but were prominent: the annunciations of Zechariah and Mary—simply referred to as the Annunciation, highlighting the virgin birth—and account of Anna, the prophet at the temple. In these accounts, Luke emphasizes women in light of their life situations (Sitz im Leben) to communicate their equal importance with men.
The Annunciation: Luke 1:5-25, 26-38
When this passage is discussed, the primary topic is the annunciation of Christ’s birth from Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, but there is another annunciation before Mary’s: that of Zechariah. These two passages announce the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.6 Raymond Brown writes,
A close comparison of the introductions to the two Lucan annunciations reveals an even more significant difference between them. Zechariah and Elizabeth in their piety have been yearning for a child, so that the conception of the Baptist was part of God’s answer to Zechariah’s prayers (Lk 1:13); but Mary is a vi...
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