Like all the other Gospels (with the partial exception of St. Mark), the Gospel according to St. Luke was never a merely private initiative. It was, from the beginning, an official Church teaching text for use at Mass. In each of the new churches to be established by Saul, a copy of this Gospel was to be left to be jealously guarded, carefully studied and regularly and formally read out at Mass.* 11
St. Luke knew that ‘many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events which have taken place among us’. He used St. Mark’s work, but used neither St. Matthew’s nor St. John’s. In 44 these were not yet available in Greek. St. Luke’s own command of Greek was excellent, but his careful respect for his sources caused him to preserve many Semitic forms. This is especially true for his first two chapters, his magnificent ‘infancy narratives’. For these it seems most likely that he visited our Lady who at this time was living under St. John’s protection at Ephesus. The bulk of St. Luke’s material came from St. Mark’s work which he trimmed down and cleaned up its Latinisms and some of its Semitisms. (For example, he freely used ‘Truly’ rather than ‘Amen’. In these earliest days he could not take it for granted that his ex-pagans could understand what ‘Amen’ meant.) Thus by 45 was completed the last of the three ‘synoptic’ Gospels.* 12
In 44 in Antioch Saul was visited by our Lord and entrusted with a final and most important set of revelations. In 57 he spoke of ‘the visions and revelations I have received from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago…was caught up into…heaven…I was given an angel of Satan to beat me and prevent me from pride.’ Later in that same year, then, Saul journeyed to Jerusalem to obtain the Church’s (i.e. the Apostles’) approval for his revelations. His instructions from our Lord were presumably with regard to St. Luke’s Gospel and his planned systematic missions to the Gentiles. As he wrote in 49: ‘I went up to Jerusalem again…because of a revelation, and I brought…the Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles…so James, Cephas and John, these leading pillars, shook hands with Barnabas and me to token our unity: we were to go to the Gentiles...’ 13
After the sudden death of King Herod Agrippa I in the spring of 44 direct Roman rule was restored in Judaea. St. Peter therefore was able to return to Jerusalem. As a suitable Gospel for his church in Rome must have been on his mind, this appears to have been the most likely occasion for his obtaining a translation of St. Matthew’s Gospel into Greek. The crops of 44 had failed. Saul and Barnabas therefore also brought with them money collected in Antioch. This was to be used for buying Egyptian grain for the poor of the church in Jerusalem.* 14
After their meeting with the Apostles in Jerusalem, Saul and St. Barnabas returned to Antioch for preparations for their first mission, due to begin with the sailing season of 45. St. Peter too came to Antioch to consecrate them as missionary bishops. It was at this time (in early 45) that Saul’s famous confrontation with St. Peter took place. At Antioch at this time Saul was still only of deacon status, a
Published on Nov 29, 2011
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...