Tradition And Theology In Luke (Luke 8:5-15) -- By: I. Howard Marshall

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 020:1 (NA 1969)
Article: Tradition And Theology In Luke (Luke 8:5-15)
Author: I. Howard Marshall


Tradition And Theology In Luke (Luke 8:5-15)

I. Howard Marshall

* Given at the New Testament Study Group of the Tyndale Fellowship a Cambridge, July 1968.

The purpose of the present paper is to make a small contribution towards discovering to what extent the distinctive theological motifs of the Gospel of Luke are due to the author himself or to the various sources and traditions which he employed.*

In the present phase of Gospel study great stress is being placed upon the part played by the Evangelists themselves in shaping the tradition which they inherited and even in adding their own contribution to it. The result is a tendency to label whatever is distinctive in a particular Gospel as the contribution of the Evangelist himself. An important principle of method is being stated here. In any attempt to work back from the finished Gospels to the earlier stages of tradition which lie behind them, the first layer to be skimmed off will be that which historically came last, namely the work of the final editors or authors. It is right, therefore, that scholars should concentrate their attention on this aspect of Gospel study.

Nevertheless, there is a distinct danger that in the first flush of enthusiasm for a new method the scholar may be over- zealous in discovering the hand of the Evangelist and play down the importance of the Gospel tradition which he inherited. The scholarship of an earlier generation perhaps went to the other extreme. One thinks, for example, of Vincent Taylor’s study Behind the Third Gospel (1926) which argued strongly for the existence of an earlier Gospel, Proto-Luke, incorporated in the present Gospel of Luke, and attempted to delineate the characteristic theology of that hypothetical document. Taylor had no difficulty in sketching an outline of Proto-Lucan

theology; he argued that it was consonant with the theology of Luke himself as seen in the birth stories and in Acts, and that it had a primitive character in keeping with its date. Essentially, therefore, the theology of Luke was identified with that of the sources used in Proto-Luke. A modern critic would no doubt urge that Taylor made little attempt to discriminate between the theology of the sources employed in Proto-Luke and that of Luke himself, an argument to which I think Taylor would have replied that the primitive character of Proto-Lucan theology was a guarantee that it came from the early traditions of the church and was not a late creation by Luke himself.

If, however, one may try to fault Taylor for not attempting to make this discrimination, it is not at all certain that the modern method of approach is more firmly founded. A recent paper by ...

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