The Lucan Account Of The Beelzebul Controversy -- By: Martin Emmrich

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 62:2 (Fall 2000)
Article: The Lucan Account Of The Beelzebul Controversy
Author: Martin Emmrich


The Lucan Account Of The Beelzebul Controversy

Martin Emmrichi

Luke’s account of the life of Jesus does not pretend to furnish an unbiased report of the words and deeds of Jesus, but indicates right up front that the author is conscious of communicating to Christians (1:1–4). Consequently, Luke’s theological agenda determines the shape of the documentation he provides (cf. περι᾿ τῶν πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων, 1:1).1 As far as the gospel of Luke is concerned,2 the author’s basic presupposition is that history is about how God’s will has been enforced among the nations. Where did the author derive his concept? Of course the primary impetus came from Luke’s convictions, so that he sought to relate the life of Jesus (and the church) to the OT. At the same time, Genesis-Numbers (P) and the deuteronomistic history provided a scriptural model for Luke’s purpose, a model which featured the same theological understanding of history as being under God’s control.3 Luke’s concept of history is thus deeply indebted to OT history. However, the author of the third gospel views the will of God (βουλὴ τοῦ θεοῦ, cf. Luke 7:30; Acts 2:23, etc.) primarily in terms of fulfillment of OT promises and prophecies in Jesus’ life and the early church (cf. Luke 4:21).4 Consequently, the coming of Jesus and the birth of the NT community has inaugurated a new chapter in history, or, to be more precise, in the history of redemption.

The present study elucidates this theme in Luke’s rendering of the Beelzebul controversy (11:14–23).5 Luke selectively arranges the account to

communicate two ideas: 1) the eschatological exodus has been set in motion in Jesus’ coming; 2) the agency of the Spirit is redefined in terms of the disciples’ fearless confession.6 As this essay shows, the former notion primarily concerns the theological significance of the Beelzebul story in the framework of Heilsgeschichte, while the latter sh...

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