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The Apologetic Revisited

Exonerating Luke from an Ancestral Exegetical and Theological Burden


Innocent Emezie Ezeani

The trend in the scholarship of Luke has been that of presenting Luke as being interested in the survival of Christianity within the Power apparatus of the Roman world. To achieve this pivotal aim, he seems to overlook the abysmal social maladies and wrongdoings of the Powerful of his time hoping not to endanger the peace and tranquility of Christianity. The intention of this research, however, is to show the defiance and fearlessness of Luke in dealing with the rich and the Powerful. He did not compromise the basic teachings of Christianity even in his respect for the constituted profane Authorities of the Roman order. A second proper look beholds the critical dynamics of his Gospel and the Acts, beginning with the Magnificat running through the angelic Annunciation scene and the Temptation of Jesus and ending with the punishment of Herod Agrippa. The reader beholds a hitherto unknown Luke, who operates from a particular critical stance and distance to the Powerful from the sociological perspective of hidden transcripts.
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Chapter 3


1. THE BIRTH NARRATIVE: Imperial edict and divine fulfilment

1.1 Greek Text

1.2 English Translation

2. The context of the birth narrative

The Lukan birth narrative is situated between the birth of John the Baptist and the pilgrimage of Jesus and his parents to Jerusalem. Beginning with the information about the census (Lk 2:1), it ends with the statement that the child advanced in wisdom and in strength, with God’s favour (χάρις) being upon him (Lk 2:40). Of exegetical importance for the topic is the appearance of three high Christological titles for Jesus in the eleventh verse of the second chapter of the gospel of Luke: σωτήρ, χριστός and κύριος. Luke not only reserves these titles for Jesus, he also contrasts Jesus with Augustus. The titles, σωτήρ and κύριος remind the reader of the Magnificat, where Mary praised God as his lord and saviour. The God who acts for and on behalf of the lowly in Magnificat 1:48 is now born in a lowly stable.1 That the shepherds received the revelation of the birth of Jesus initiates already the fulfilment of raising the lowly in 1:55.2 The topics in the birth narrative important for the discussion are the elements involved in the contrast theology of Luke. The opposing dynamics between the emperor and Jesus will be discussed from the perspective of σωτήρ and εὐαγγέλια:

In v. 10, Luke uses the verb for bringing the “good news” (εὐαγγελίζομαι) of the birth of Jesus. A...

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