Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist
|Born||c. AD 9|
Antioch, Syria, Roman Empire
(modern-day Antakya, Hatay, Turkey)
|Died||c. 84 (traditionally aged 84)|
Thebes, Boeotia, Achaea, Roman Empire
(modern-day Thebes, Greece)
|Venerated in||all Christian Churches that venerate Saints, and in the Druze faith|
|Major shrine||Padua, Italy|
|Attributes||Evangelist, Physician, a bishop, a book or a pen, a man accompanied by a winged ox/winged calf/ox, a man painting an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a brush or a palette (referring to the tradition that he was a painter)|
|Patronage||Artists, bachelors, physicians, surgeons, farmers, rhetoricians, and others|
Luke of Antioch
|Occupation||Christian missionary and Historian|
|Notable works||Gospel of Luke and Acts|
Luke the Evangelist (Latin: Lucas; Ancient Greek: Λουκᾶς, Loukâs; Hebrew: לוקאס, Lūqās; Aramaic: /ܠܘܩܐ לוקא, Lūqā’; Ge'ez: ሉቃስ) is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although a lack of conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious.
The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times, and the Epistle to the Colossians[Col 4:14] refers to him as a physician (from Greek for 'one who heals'); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul.
Since the early years of the faith, Christians have regarded him as a saint. He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly having been hanged from an olive tree, though some believe otherwise.[a] The Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day is 18 October.
Many scholars believe that Luke was a Greek physician who lived in the Greek city of Antioch in Ancient Syria,[b] although some other scholars and theologians think Luke was a Hellenic Jew. While it has been widely accepted that the theology of Luke–Acts points to a gentile Christian writing for a gentile audience, some have concluded that it is more plausible that Luke–Acts is directed to a community made up of both Jewish and gentile Christians since there is stress on the scriptural roots of the gentile mission (see the use of Isaiah 49:6 in Luke–Acts). Others have only been prepared to conclude that Luke was either a Hellenistic Jew or a god-fearer.
His earliest mention is in Philemon 1:24. He is also mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11, two Pauline epistles. The next earliest account of Luke is in the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke, a document once thought to date to the 2nd century, but which has more recently been dated to the later 4th century.
Epiphanius states that Luke was one of the Seventy Apostles (Panarion 51.11), and John Chrysostom indicates at one point that the "brother" Paul mentions in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas (Homily 18 on Second Corinthians on 2 Corinthians 8:18).
If one accepts that Luke was indeed the author of the Gospel bearing his name and the Acts of the Apostles, certain details of his personal life can be reasonably assumed. While he does exclude himself from those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry, he repeatedly uses the word "we" in describing the Pauline missions in Acts of the Apostles, indicating that he was personally there at those times.
The composition of the writings, as well as the range of vocabulary used, indicate that the author was an educated man. A quote in the Epistle to the Colossians differentiates between Luke and other colleagues "of the circumcision."
¹⁰My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. ¹¹Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. …¹⁴Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
This comment has traditionally caused commentators to conclude that Luke was a gentile. If this were true, it would make Luke the only writer of the New Testament who can clearly be identified as not being Jewish. However, that is not the only possibility. Although Luke is considered likely to have been a gentile Christian, some scholars believe him to have been a Hellenized Jew. The phrase could just as easily be used to differentiate between those Christians who strictly observed the rituals of Judaism and those who did not.
Luke's presence in Rome with the Apostle Paul near the end of Paul's life was attested by 2 Timothy 4:11: "Only Luke is with me". In the last chapter of the Book of Acts, widely attributed to Luke, there are several accounts in the first person also affirming Luke's presence in Rome, including Acts 28:16: "And when we came to Rome…" According to some accounts, Luke also contributed to the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Luke died at age 84 in Boeotia, according to a "fairly early and widespread tradition". According to Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos, Greek historian of the 14th century (and others), Luke's tomb was located in Thebes, whence his relics were transferred to Constantinople in the year 357.
Authorship of Luke and Acts
The Gospel of Luke does not name its author. The Gospel was not, nor does it claim to be, written by direct witnesses to the reported events, unlike Acts beginning in the sixteenth chapter. However, in most translations the author suggests that they have investigated the book's events and notes the name (Theophilus) of that to whom they are writing.
The earliest manuscript of the Gospel (Papyrus 75 = Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV), dated c. AD 200, ascribes the work to Luke; as did Irenaeus writing c. AD 180, and the Muratorian fragment, a 7th-century Latin manuscript thought to be copied and translated from a Greek manuscript as old as AD 170.
The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles make up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts. Together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament, the largest contribution by a single author.
As a historian
Most scholars understand Luke's works (Luke–Acts) in the tradition of Greek historiography. Luke 1:1–4, drawing on historical investigation, identified the work to the readers as belonging to the genre of history. There is disagreement about how best to treat Luke's writings, with some historians regarding Luke as highly accurate, and others taking a more critical approach.[c]
Based on his accurate description of towns, cities and islands, as well as correctly naming various official titles, archaeologist William Mitchell Ramsay wrote that "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy. …[He] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians." Professor of Classics at Auckland University, Edward Musgrave Blaiklock, wrote: "For accuracy of detail, and for evocation of atmosphere, Luke stands, in fact, with Thucydides. The Acts of the Apostles is not shoddy product of pious imagining, but a trustworthy record. …It was the spadework of archaeology which first revealed the truth." New Testament scholar Colin Hemer has made a number of advancements in understanding the historical nature and accuracy of Luke's writings.
On the purpose of Acts, New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson has noted that "Luke's account is selected and shaped to suit his apologetic interests, not in defiance of but in conformity to ancient standards of historiography." Such a position is shared by Richard Heard, who sees historical deficiencies as arising from "special objects in writing and to the limitations of his sources of information."
In modern times, Luke's competence as a historian is questioned, depending upon one's a priori view of the supernatural. Since post-Enlightenment historians work with methodological naturalism,[c][d] such historians would see a narrative that relates supernatural, fantastic things like angels, demons etc., as problematic as a historical source. Mark Powell claims that "it is doubtful whether the writing of history was ever Luke's intent. Luke wrote to proclaim, to persuade, and to interpret; he did not write to preserve records for posterity. An awareness of this, has been, for many, the final nail in Luke the historian's coffin."
Robert M. Grant has noted that although Luke saw himself within the historical tradition, his work contains a number of statistical improbabilities, such as the sizable crowd addressed by Peter in Acts 4:4. He has also noted chronological difficulties whereby Luke "has Gamaliel refer to Theudas and Judas in the wrong order, and Theudas actually rebelled about a decade after Gamaliel spoke (5:36–7)", though this report's status as a chronological difficulty is hotly disputed.
Brent Landau writes:
So how do we account for a Gospel that is believable about minor events but implausible about a major one? One possible explanation is that Luke believed that Jesus’ birth was of such importance for the entire world that he dramatically juxtaposed this event against an (imagined) act of worldwide domination by a Roman emperor who was himself called “savior” and “son of God”—but who was nothing of the sort. For an ancient historian following in the footsteps of Thucydides, such a procedure would have been perfectly acceptable.
As an artist
Christian tradition, starting from the 8th century, states that Luke was the first icon painter. He is said to have painted pictures of the Virgin Mary and Child, in particular the Hodegetria image in Constantinople (now lost). Starting from the 11th century, a number of painted images were venerated as his autograph works, including the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and Our Lady of Vladimir. He was also said to have painted Saints Peter and Paul, and to have illustrated a gospel book with a full cycle of miniatures.[e]
Late medieval Guilds of Saint Luke in the cities of Late Medieval Europe, especially Flanders, or the "Accademia di San Luca" (Academy of Saint Luke) in Rome—imitated in many other European cities during the 16th century—gathered together and protected painters. The tradition that Luke painted icons of Mary and Jesus has been common, particularly in Eastern Orthodoxy. The tradition also has support from the Saint Thomas Christians of India who claim to still have one of the Theotokos icons that Saint Luke painted and which Saint Thomas brought to India.[f]
In traditional depictions, such as paintings, evangelist portraits, and church mosaics, Saint Luke is often accompanied by an ox or bull, usually having wings. Sometimes only the symbol is shown, especially when in a combination of those of all Four Evangelists.
- 22 April – Feast of Apostles of the Seventy: Nathaniel (Nathanael), Luke the Evangelist, Clement of Sardice or Clement of Rome and Apelles of Heraklion (Greek sources say that Saint Luke (Loukias) was someone other than the Evangelist Luke), the commoration is held second time commemorated together on September 10.
- 20 June – Translation of the relics and garments of the Apostles Luke, Andrew, and Thomas, the Prophet Eliseus, and Martyr Lazarus of Persia found c. 960, during the time of the emperor Romanos Lakapenos (919–44) in a monastery of Saint Augusta into the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople under Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus (c. 956–70) by Saint Patriarch Polyeuctus of Constantinople (956–70).
- 10 September – Feast of Apostles of the Seventy: Nathaniel (Nathanael), Luke the Evangelist, Clement of Sardice or Clement of Rome and Apelles of Heraklion (Greek sources say that Saint Luke (Loukias) was someone other than the Evangelist Luke), the commemoration is held first time commemorated together on April 22.
- 18 October – Feast of Apostle Luke
- 4 January – Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles
- Synaxis of All Saints of Achaia – moveable holiday on Sunday between 23 and 29 November
- Synaxis of All Saints of Boeotia – moveable holiday on Saturday between 25 and 31 May
Despot George of Serbia purportedly bought the relics from the Ottoman sultan Murad II for 30,000 gold coins. After the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia, the kingdom's last queen, George's granddaughter Mary, who had brought the relics with her from Serbia as her dowry, sold them to the Venetian Republic.
In 1992, the then Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Ieronymos of Thebes and Levathia (who subsequently became Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece) requested from Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua the return of "a significant fragment of the relics of St. Luke to be placed on the site where the holy tomb of the Evangelist is located and venerated today". This prompted a scientific investigation of the relics in Padua, and by numerous lines of empirical evidence (archeological analyses of the Tomb in Thebes and the Reliquary of Padua, anatomical analyses of the remains, carbon-14 dating, comparison with the purported skull of the Evangelist located in Prague) confirmed that these were the remains of an individual of Syrian descent who died between AD 72 and AD 416. The Bishop of Padua then delivered to Metropolitan Ieronymos the rib of Saint Luke that was closest to his heart to be kept at his tomb in Thebes.
Thus, the relics of Saint Luke are divided as follows:
- The body, in the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua;
- The head, in the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague;
- A rib, at his tomb in Thebes.
We also collected and typed modern samples from Syria and Greece. By comparison with these population samples, and with samples from Anatolia that were already available in the literature, we could reject the hypothesis that the body belonged to a Greek, rather than a Syrian, individual. However, the probability of an origin in the area of modern Turkey was only insignificantly lower than the probability of a Syrian origin. The genetic evidence is therefore compatible with the possibility that the body comes from Syria, but also with its replacement in Constantinople.— Genetic characterization of the body attributed to the evangelist Luke
- Aherne 1910 notes that it is controversial whether he actually died a martyr's death
- Luke, was born in Antioch, by profession was a physician. He had become a disciple of the apostle Paul and later followed Paul until his [Paul's] martyrdom. He died at the age of 84 years.
- McGrew's conclusion: historians work with methodological naturalism, which precludes them from establishing miracles as objective historical facts; cf. Bradley 1874, p. 44.
- Historians can only establish what probably happened in the past, and by definition a miracle is the least probable occurrence. And so, by the very nature of the canons of historical research, we can't claim historically that a miracle probably happened. By definition, it probably didn't. And history can only establish what probably did.
- The basic study on the legends concerning Saint Luke as a painter is Bacci 1998
- Father H. Hosten in his book Antiquities notes the following "The picture at the mount is one of the oldest, and, therefore, one of the most venerable Christian paintings to be had in India. Other traditions hold that St. Luke painted two icons which currently are in Greece: the "Theotokos Mega Spileotissa" (Our Lady of the Great Cave, where supposedly Saint Luke lived for a period of time in asceticism) and the "Panagia Soumela", and "Panagia Kykkou" which are in Cyprus."
- S. Swayd, Samy (2009). The A to Z of the Druzes. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-81086836-6.
They also cover the lives and teachings of some biblical personages, such as Job, Jethro, Jesus, John, Luke, and others
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- "St. Luke The Evangelist". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "The Calendar". The Church of England. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
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- Harris 1980, pp. 266–68.
- Strelan 2013, pp. 102–10.
- Koet 1989, pp. 157–58.
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- Philemon 1:24
- Milligan 2006, p. 149.
- Mornin 2006, p. 74.
- Aherne 1910.
- Smith 1935, p. 792.
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- Boring 2012, p. 556.
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- McGrew 2019.
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- Hemer 1989, pp. 104–7.
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- Heard 1950, Ch. 13: The Acts of the Apostles.
- Ehrman 2000, p. 229.
- "Acts 5:36 Commentaries: "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing".
- "Good Question…". Christian thinktank. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
- Landau, Brent (n.d.). "Was Luke a Historian?". Bible odyssey. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
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- Bartlet, James Vernon (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.).
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- Blaiklock, E. M. (1970). The Archaeology of the New Testament. Zondervan.
- Boring, M. Eugene (2012). An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-66425592-3.
- Bradley, Francis Herbert (1874). The Presuppositions of Critical History. J. Parker. ISBN 978-0-598-72059-7.
- Brown, Raymond Edward (1997). An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-24767-2.
- Butler, Alban (1991). Walsh, Michael (ed.). Butler's Lives of the Saints. New York: HarperColllins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-069299-5.
- Craig, Olga (21 October 2001). "DNA test pinpoints St Luke the apostle's remains to Padua". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.
- Craig, William Lane; Ehrman, Bart D. (28 March 2006), Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? : A debate held at College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, archived from the original on 10 August 2010, retrieved 10 August 2010
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2000). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford: University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512639-6.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. Oxford: University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534616-9.
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- Flew, Antony (1966). God & Philosophy. London: Hutchinson.
- Fonck, Leopold (1910). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company. . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.).
- Hackett, Horatio Balch (1858). A Commentary on the Original Text of the Acts of the Apostles. Gould and Lincoln; Sheldon, Blakeman & Co.
- Harris, Stephen L. (1980). Understanding the Bible: a reader's guide and reference. Mayfield. ISBN 978-0-87484-472-6.
- Heard, Richard (1950). "13: The Acts of the Apostles". An Introduction to the New Testament. A. & C. Black. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010.
- Koet, Bart J. (1989). Five Studies on Interpretation of Scripture in Luke-Acts. Leuven: University Press. ISBN 978-90-6186-330-4.
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- Grant, Robert McQueen (1963). "10: The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts". A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Harper & Row. ISBN 9780006427063. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010.
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- Powell, Mark Allan (1989). What are They Saying about Luke?. Paulist Press. ISBN 978-0-8091-3111-2.
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- Zuffi, Stefano (2003). "The Evangelists and their symbols". Gospel Figures in Art. Getty Publications. ISBN 978-0-89236-727-6.
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