Lectionary Year A
April 14, 2002
Luke 24:13-35

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(CB)Following the inner margins of the Nestle-Aland text, it can be observed that the subject text, Lk. 24:13-35, is a portion of the much larger kephalaia, which begins at Lk. 24:13 but which runs through the end of the chapter. The preceding kephalaia to the subject pericope begins at Lk. 23:50 and runs through Lk 24:12.

According to the Eusebian section and canon numbers, the subject pericope would begin at Lk 24:10 and end at verse 35. Prior to this larger pericope, the preceding text then becomes Lk. 24:9 and the following pericope would be Lk. 24:36-40.

If one were to follow the larger kephalaia pericope which includes the subject text, the story of Joseph of Arimathea asking for Jesus' body and the story of the women finding Jesus' tomb empty and telling the apostles of the resurrection would also be included. As with the subject text, the kephalaia ends at verse 35 whereby the disciples tell of what happened on the road to Emmaus and how Jesus was made known in the breaking of the bread.

In following the Eusebian section and cannon numbers, the preceding pericope would tell of the women returning from the tomb and telling the eleven and all the rest what had transpired. The subject pericope would then begin with the identification of some of the women prior to the Emmaus story. The following pericope, according to Eusebius, would be another resurrection appearance story whereby Jesus "stood among them" as they are telling of the events that happened on the road to Emmaus. An interesting twist in this story is that Jesus asks for something to eat and is given a piece of broiled fish. Though Eusebian text cuts the subject pericope at vs. 35, it seems to me the following text should begin with vs. 35 rather than 36, at least if the two stories are to remain separate rather than a greater whole, as the kephalaia treats the passages. However, there is no critical evidence to support this!

(CA)In the preface to Luke, 1: 1-4, the author of the gospel tells the "most excellent" Theophilus that after carefully investigating reports of the "events that have been fulfilled among us" (v. 1) - those concerning Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection - he, too, is carefully writing down the truth of what has been seen. Today's pericope, chapter 24, verses 13-35, is the focus of the last segment of the story of Jesus' life, his resurrection as reported by witnesses. The first 12 verses of chapter 24 relate how the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee (as we learn in the final verses chapter 23), go to Jesus tomb after the Sabbath carrying with them spices and ointments for anointing of Jesus' body. They did not find the body but saw instead two men "in dazzling clothes." The men remind the women that Jesus had told them that the Son of Man would be handed over, crucified and on the third day would rise again. When the women reported what they had seen and heard to the disciples and others, the audience did not believe what seemed like idle words. Peter ran to the tomb and was amazed to find it empty.
The pericope for this exegesis beginning with verse 24: 13, opens with people walking to Emmaus discussing what they had heard about the tomb. The readers are told that Jesus joined them as they were walking, "but their eyes were kept from recognizing him" (v.16). When Jesus asks them what they are discussing, they ask him whether he was the only one who had not heard about the crucified prophet whom they had hoped was the one to redeem Israel (21). In verse 21b Jesus reminds them that three days had passed since the crucifixion. He reminds the people how foolish they are and tells them all the things about himself in scripture. Near the end of the pericope (v. 30-31) they understand. He breaks bread with them, then "their eyes were opened and they recognized him." Jesus vanishes. Verse 35 closes the pericope, reinforcing "how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread."
The following pericope, or pericopes (depending on where one decides to break verses 36 through 53) contain another "Christophony" or appearance of Jesus. As they continue talking, Jesus stands among them (vs. 36-43), startles them by saying "Peace be with you," and then asks them for something to eat. Verses 44-49 reiterate and amplify the role of Jesus and everything that has been written about him. The message is heightened in verse 46 when Jesus tells them that it is written that the Messiah will rise from the dead on the third day, repeating the final words of verse 7 in the pericope immediately before 24: 13-35, and adding that "repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations." Verse 49 emphasizes the people's roles as witnesses. The final four verses of the chapter end with Jesus' benediction to the witnesses and his ascension (which is in the NRSV, but not the RSV).
While both sources I consulted (Anchor Bible and Interpretation) classify chapter 24 as Resurrection Narrative, the chapter is about the appearance of and revelation of Jesus, the Messiah who brings repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations. Common threads - such as his rising in three days, the startling appearances of Jesus, the repeated discussion of his role in Scripture, the inability of witnesses to recognize Jesus until he is made known to them in the breaking of the bread, the people's role as witnesses - tie this chapter together and close out Luke's account of "the events that have been fulfilled among us."

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

(CB)I have followed the Harper Study Bible (RSV, 1985, p. 1528) for the breakdown of Luke's gospel.

1. Introduction 1:1-4
2. Birth and childhood of John the Baptist and of Jesus. 1:5-2:52
3. The Ministry of John the Baptist. 3:1-20 4. The Baptism and temptation of Jesus. 3:21-4:13 5. Public Ministry in Galilee 4:14-9:50
Beginning in Nazareth; miracles, calling of disciples,teachings,conflicts with religious leaders. Mission of the Twelve. The great confession at Caesarea Philippi and the Transfiguration.
6. The Journey to Jerusalem 9:51-19:27
The mission of the Seventy. Teachings, miracles, cures, and disputes. Going through Jericho.
7. The last week in Jerusalem. 19:28-24:53
Triumphal entry, lament over Jerusalem, cleaning of the Temple. Disputes with religious leaders, and teachings; the apocalyptic discourse. The supper, Gethsemane, arrest trial, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Appearances and Ascension.

(CA)Both sources I consulted (Fitzmeyer in the Anchor Bible Series and Craddock in the Interpretation series) provide nearly identical divisions of the gospel into a four line preface or prologue and seven divisions in the life and ministry of Jesus. Their composite outline follows:

1: 1-4 Prologue
1: 5 - 2: 52 Infancy (Childhood) Narrative
3: 1 - 4:13 Jesus' Preparation for Ministry
4: 14 - 9: 50 Jesus' Ministry in Galilee
9: 51 - 19: 27 Jesus' Journey to Jerusalem
19: 28 - 21: 38 Jesus' Ministry in Jerusalem
22: 1 - 23: 56 The Passion Narrative
24: 1 - 24: 53 The Resurrection Narrative
These two sources have minor variations in transitions in verses 1(: 27 or 28 and 23: 56. One commentator (Fitzmeyer) notes that that while much of the gospel follows the Markan tradition in its story line, verses 9: 51 to 18:14 are the Lukan author's own travel account. At 18:14 the Markan account continues again. Both sources divide the Resurrection Narrative into 1.) the women at the tomb (vs. 24: 1 - 12) and 2.) Jesus on the road to Emmaus (24: 13 - 35). Craddock divides the remaining verses into two parts: a) the appearance in Jerusalem in verses 36 - 49 and b) the blessing and departure in verses 50 - 53.
Fitzmeyer divides the final verses into three parts: a) verses 36 - 43, Jesus' appearance to the disciples; b) 44 - 49, his final commission, and c) 50 - 53, his ascension.

C. Issues of Authorship

(CB)In the Harper Study Bible, (p. 1527) Luke is noted as the "beloved physician" (Col4:14) and the friend and companion of Paul. The editor observes that this Gospel bears the name of Luke, a Gentile, and credits the author with also penning the book of Acts. Luke is said to have joined Paul's missionary journey at Troas and went with Paul to Philippi. Other historical references are given to the Luke and Paul relationship but are tied in reference to the book of Acts.

The editors of the Harper Study Bible acknowledge the differing of opinion as to the dating of the gospel. Some place the document before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, while others prefer the period 80-90 AD.

The New Interpreter's Bible (p. 4-10) states that the Gospel of Luke is of anonymous penmanship. The earliest manuscript, P 75, dates from 175-225 CE and contains many portions of the Gospel. Though many accept that the author of Luke is also the author of the book of Acts, it cannot be said with absolute certainty that this is the case. Further, though Luke is among those sending greetings in Col. 4:14 and Phil. 24 and therefore appears once again to be linked to Paul and Paul's missionary journeys, this cannot be concluded with absolute certainty. The NIB suggests reading Luke on its own terms rather than against the background of Pauline theology! Good advice for any exegete : )

(CA)Fitzmeyer raises an interesting issue of authorship of the gospel of Luke in his commentary (143). He offers that any discussion of Lukan theology is usually brief and is "lumped together with other representatives of late development and treated in the context of concern for the church's emerging understanding of itself, of ministry and church order, of developing doctrine of the effects of the delayed parousia, and of problems of Christian living." He suggests that "modern interpreters" have a negative attitude toward the theology in the gospel. This might be an interesting theme to explore, because the theology in chapter 24 seems rather rich.
Perhaps clues to Luke's authorship can be found in his themes. In the passages examined for this pericope the author shows a strong interest in the Jewish roots of Jesus. It refers to him as "Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" (v. 19). "We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" (21). Jesus was the interpreter of all things about himself from the beginning with Moses and all the prophets. Later in the chapter (v. 44) Jesus reminds them that he had told his people that everything written about him in the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. As the chapter closes, the people are in the temple "continually" worshipping Jesus.
The very strong tie of the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to his Jewish roots is what makes me hesitate to call the genre "Christophony" instead of a Jesus appearance story. Perhaps this emphasis drives some commentators disinterest in the theology of the chapter.
As far as authorship in general is concerned, Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, both addressed to Theophilus, are considered the unified work of the same author, a work that was later separated into the two books of the Bible (the Albright and Mann revision of the Anchor Bible The Acts of the Apostles, p. xv). Some scholars thought the author to be a physician because of his vocabulary. Others found nothing distinctive about the vocabulary to support that conclusion. The writer has a command of Greek. Many clues exist to the type of writer he was and much has been written about that authorship, but no definitive answer exists to the identity of the author.

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