Biography of Saint Luke
The name Lucas (Luke) is probably an abbreviation from Lucanus, like Annas from Ananus, Apollos from Apollonius, Artemas from Artemidorus, Demas from Demetrius, etc. (Schanz, “Evang. des heiligen Lucas”, 1, 2; Lightfoot on “Col.”, iv, 14; Plummer, “St. Luke”, introd.)
The word Lucas seems to have been unknown before the Christian Era; but Lucanus is common in inscriptions, and is found at the beginning and end of the Gospel in some Old Latin manuscripts (ibid.). It is generally held that Saint Luke was a native of Antioch. Eusebius (Church History III.4.6) has: Loukas de to men genos on ton ap Antiocheias, ten episteuen iatros, ta pleista suggegonos to Paulo, kai rots laipois de ou parergos ton apostolon homilnkos–“Lucas vero domo Antiochenus, arte medicus, qui et cum Paulo diu conjunctissime vixit, et cum reliquis Apostolis studiose versatus est.” Eusebius has a clearer statement in his “Quæstiones Evangelicæ”, IV, i, 270: ho de Loukas to men genos apo tes Boomenes Antiocheias en–“Luke was by birth a native of the renowned Antioch” (Schmiedel, “Encyc. Bib.”). Spitta, Schmiedel, and Harnack think this is a quotation from Julius Africanus (first half of the third century). In Codex Bezæ (D) Luke is introduced by a “we” as early as Acts 11:28; and, though this is not a correct reading, it represents a very ancient tradition. The writer of Acts took a special interest in Antioch and was well acquainted with it (Acts 11:19-27; 13:1; 14:18-21, 14:25, 15:22, 23, 30, 35; 18:22). We are told the locality of only one deacon, “Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch”, 6:5; and it has been pointed out by Plummer that, out of eight writers who describe the Russian campaign of 1812, only two, who were Scottish, mention that the Russian general, Barclay de Tolly, was of Scottish extraction. These considerations seem to exclude the conjecture of Renan and Ramsay that Saint Luke was a native of Philippi.
Saint Luke was not a Jew. He is separated by Saint Paul from those of the circumcision (Colossians 4:14), and his style proves that he was a Greek. Hence he cannot be identified with Lucius the prophet of Acts 13:1, nor with Lucius of Romans 16:21, who was cognatus of Saint Paul. From this and the prologue of the Gospel it follows that Epiphanius errs when he calls him one of the Seventy Disciples; nor was he the companion of Cleophas in the journey to Emmaus after the Resurrection (as stated by Theophylact and the Greek Menologium). Saint Luke had a great knowledge of the Septuagint and of things Jewish, which he acquired either as a Jewish proselyte (St. Jerome) or after he became a Christian, through his close intercourse with the Apostles and disciples. Besides Greek, he had many opportunities of acquiring Aramaic in his native Antioch, the capital of Syria. He was a physician by profession, and Saint Paul calls him “the most dear physician” (Colossians 4:14). This avocation implied a liberal education, and his medical training is evidenced by his choice of medical language. Plummer suggests that he may have studied medicine at the famous school of Tarsus, the rival of Alexandria and Athens, and possibly met Saint Paul there. From his intimate knowledge of the eastern Mediterranean, it has been conjectured that he had lengthened experience as a doctor on board ship. He travailed a good deal, and sends greetings to the Colossians, which seems to indicate that he had visited them.
Saint Luke first appears in the Acts at Troas (16:8 sqq.), where he meets Saint Paul, and, after the vision, crossed over with him to Europe as an Evangelist, landing at Neapolis and going on to Philippi, “being assured that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them” (note especially the transition into first person plural at verse 10). He was, therefore, already an Evangelist. He was present at the conversion of Lydia and her companions, and lodged in her house. He, together with Saint Paul and his companions, was recognized by the pythonical spirit: “This same following Paul and us, cried out, saying: These men are the servants of the most high God, who preach unto you the way of salvation” (verse 17). He beheld Paul and Silas arrested, dragged before the Roman magistrates, charged with disturbing the city, “being Jews”, beaten with rods and thrown into prison. Luke and Timothy escaped, probably because they did not look like Jews (Timothy’s father was a gentile). When Paul departed from Philippi, Luke was left behind, in all probability to carry on the work of Evangelist. At Thessalonica the Apostle received highly appreciated pecuniary aid from Philippi (Philippians 4:15-16), doubtless through the good offices of Saint Luke. It is not unlikely that the latter remained at Philippi all the time that Saint Paul was preaching at Athens and Corinth, and while he was travelling to Jerusalem and back to Ephesus, and during the three years that the Apostle was engaged at Ephesus. When Saint Paul revisited Macedonia, he again met Saint Luke at Philippi, and there wrote his Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Saint Jerome thinks it is most likely that Saint Luke is “the brother, whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches” (2 Corinthians 8:18), and that he was one of the bearers of the letter to Corinth. Shortly afterwards, when Saint Paul returned from Greece, Saint Luke accompanied him from Philippi to Troas, and with him made the long coasting voyage described in Acts 20. He went up to Jerusalem, was present at the uproar, saw the attack on the Apostle, and heard him speaking “in the Hebrew tongue” from the steps outside the fortress Antonia to the silenced crowd. Then he witnessed the infuriated Jews, in their impotent rage, rending their garments, yelling, and flinging dust into the air. We may be sure that he was a constant visitor to Saint Paul during the two years of the latter’s imprisonment at Cæarea. In that period he might well become acquainted with the circumstances of the death of Herod Agrippa I, who had died there eaten up by worms” (skolekobrotos), and he was likely to be better informed on the subject than Josephus. Ample opportunities were given him, “having diligently attained to all things from the beginning”, concerning the Gospel and early Acts, to write in order what had been delivered by those “who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2, 3). It is held by many writers that the Gospel was written during this time, Ramsay is of opinion that the Epistle to the Hebrews was then composed, and that Saint Luke had a considerable share in it. When Paul appealed to Cæsar, Luke and Aristarchus accompanied him from Cæsarea, and were with him during the stormy voyage from Crete to Malta. Thence they went on to Rome, where, during the two years that Saint Paul was kept in prison, Saint Luke was frequently at his side, though not continuously, as he is not mentioned in the greetings of the Epistle to the Philippians (Lightfoot, “Phil.”, 35). He was present when the Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon were written, and is mentioned in the salutations given in two of them: “Luke the most dear physician, saluteth you” (Colossians 4:14); “There salute thee . . . Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke my fellow labourers” (Philem., 24). Saint Jerome holds that it was during these two years Acts was written.
We have no information about Saint Luke during the interval between Saint Paul’s two Roman imprisonments, but he must have met several of the Apostles and disciples during his various journeys. He stood beside Saint Paul in his last imprisonment; for the Apostle, writing for the last time to Timothy, says: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. . . . Make haste to come to me quickly. For Demas hath left me, loving this world. . . . Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:7-11). It is worthy of note that, in the three places where he is mentioned in the Epistles (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11) he is named with Saint Mark (cf. Colossians 4:10), the other Evangelist who was not an Apostle (Plummer), and it is clear from his Gospel that he was well acquainted with the Gospel according to Saint Mark; and in the Acts he knows all the details of Saint Peter’s delivery—what happened at the house of Saint Mark’s mother, and the name of the girl who ran to the outer door when Saint Peter knocked. He must have frequently met Saint Peter, and may have assisted him to draw up his First Epistle in Greek, which affords many reminiscences of Luke’s style. After Saint Paul’s martyrdom practically all that is known about him is contained in the ancient “Prefatio vel Argumentum Lucæ”, dating back to Julius Africanus, who was born about A.D. 165. This states that he was unmarried, that he wrote the Gospel, in Achaia, and that he died at the age of seventy-four in Bithynia (probably a copyist’s error for Bœotia), filled with the Holy Ghost. Epiphanius has it that he preached in Dalmatia (where there is a tradition to that effect), Gallia (Galatia?), Italy, and Macedonia. As an Evangelist, he must have suffered much for the Faith, but it is controverted whether he actually died a martyr’s death. Saint Jerome writes of him (De Vir. III., vii). “Sepultus est Constantinopoli, ad quam urbem vigesimo Constantii anno, ossa ejus cum reliquiis Andreæ Apostoli translata sunt [de Achaia?].”
Saint Luke its always represented by the calf or ox, the sacrificial animal, because his Gospel begins with the account of Zachary, the priest, the father of John the Baptist. He is called a painter by Nicephorus Callistus (fourteenth century), and by the Menology of Basil II, A.D. 980. A picture of the Virgin in S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, is ascribed to him, and can be traced to A.D. 847 It is probably a copy of that mentioned by Theodore Lector, in the sixth century. This writer states that the Empress Eudoxia found a picture of the Mother of God at Jerusalem, which she sent to Constantinople (see “Acta SS.”, 18 Oct.). As Plummer observes. it is certain that Saint Luke was an artist, at least to the extent that his graphic descriptions of the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Shepherds. Presentation, the Shepherd and lost sheep, etc., have become the inspiring and favourite themes of Christian painters.
Saint Luke is one of the most extensive writers of the New Testament. His Gospel is considerably longer than Saint Matthew’s, his two books are about as long as Saint Paul’s fourteen Epistles: and Acts exceeds in length the Seven Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse. The style of the Gospel is superior to any N.T. writing except Hebrews. Renan says (Les Evangiles, xiii) that it is the most literary of the Gospels. Saint Luke is a painter in words. “The author of the Third Gospel and of the Acts is the most versatile of all New Testament writers. He can be as Hebraistic as the Septuagint, and as free from Hebraisms as Plutarch. . . He is Hebraistic in describing Hebrew society and Greek when describing Greek society” (Plummer, introd.). His great command of Greek is shown by the richness of his vocabulary and the freedom of his constructions.
Authenticity of the Gospel
The internal evidence may be briefly summarized as follows:
The author of Acts was a companion of Saint Paul, namely, Saint Luke; and
the author of Acts was the author of the Gospel.
The arguments are given at length by Plummer, “St. Luke” in “Int. Crit. Com.” (4th ed., Edinburgh, 1901); Harnack, “Luke the Physician” (London, 1907); “The Acts of the Apostles” (London, 1909); etc.
(1) The Author of Acts was a companion of Saint Paul, namely, Saint Luke
There is nothing more certain in Biblical criticism than this proposition. The writer of the “we” sections claims to be a companion of Saint Paul. The “we” begins at Acts 16:10, and continues to 16:17 (the action is at Philippi). It reappears at 20:5 (Philippi), and continues to 21:18 (Jerusalem). It reappears again at the departure for Rome, 27:1 (Greek text), and continues to the end of the book.
Plummer argues that these sections are by the same author as the rest of the Acts:
from the natural way in which they fit in;
from references to them in other parts; and
from the identity of style.
The change of person seems natural and true to the narrative, but there is no change of language. The characteristic expressions of the writer run through the whole book, and are as frequent in the “we” as in the other sections. There is no change of style perceptible. Harnack (Luke the Physician, 40) makes an exhaustive examination of every word and phrase in the first of the “we” sections (xvi, 10-17), and shows how frequent they are in the rest of the Acts and the Gospel, when compared with the other Gospels. His manner of dealing with the first word (hos) will indicate his method: “This temporal hos is never found in Saint Matthew and Saint Mark, but it occurs forty-eight times in Saint Luke (Gospels and Acts), and that in all parts of the work.” When he comes to the end of his study of this section he is able to write: “After this demonstration those who declare that this passage was derived from a source, and so was not composed by the author of the whole work, take up a most difficult position. What may we suppose the author to have left unaltered in the source? Only the ‘we’. For, in fact, nothing else remains. In regard to vocabulary, syntax, and style, he must have transformed everything else into his own language. As such a procedure is absolutely unimaginable, we are simply left to infer that the author is here himself speaking.” He even thinks it improbable, on account of the uniformity of style, that the author was copying from a diary of his own, made at an earlier period. After this, Harnack proceeds to deal with the remaining “we” sections, with like results. But it is not alone in vocabulary, syntax and style, that this uniformity is manifest. In “The Acts of the Apostles”, Harnack devotes many pages to a detailed consideration of the manner in which chronological data, and terms dealing with lands, nations, cities, and houses, are employed throughout the Acts, as well as the mode of dealing with persons and miracles, and he everywhere shows that the unity of authorship cannot be denied except by those who ignore the facts. This same conclusion is corroborated by the recurrence of medical language in all parts of the Acts and the Gospel.
That the companion of Saint Paul who wrote the Acts was Saint Luke is the unanimous voice of antiquity. His choice of medical language proves that the author was a physician. Westein, in his preface to the Gospel (“Novum Test. Græcum”, Amsterdam, 1741, 643), states that there are clear indications of his medical profession throughout Saint Luke’s writings; and in the course of his commentary he points out several technical expressions common to the Evangelist and the medical writings of Galen. These were brought together by the Bollandists (“Acta SS.”, 18 Oct.). In the “Gentleman’s Magazine” for June, 1841, a paper appeared on the medical language of Saint Luke. To the instances given in that article, Plummer and Harnack add several others; but the great book on the subject is Hobart “The Medical Language of Saint Luke” (Dublin, 1882). Hobart works right through the Gospel and Acts and points out numerous words and phrases identical with those employed by such medical writers as Hippocrates, Arctæus, Galen, and Dioscorides. A few are found in Aristotle, but he was a doctor’s son. The words and phrases cited are either peculiar to the Third Gospel and Acts, or are more frequent than in other New Testament writings. The argument is cumulative, and does not give way with its weakest strands. When doubtful cases and expressions common to the Septuagint, are set aside, a large number remain that seem quite unassailable. Harnack (Luke the Physician! 13) says: “It is as good as certain from the subject-matter, and more especially from the style, of this great work that the author was a physician by profession. Of course, in making such a statement one still exposes oneself to the scorn of the critics, and yet the arguments which are alleged in its support are simply convincing. . . . Those, however, who have studied it [Hobart’s book] carefully, will, I think, find it impossible to escape the conclusion that the question here is not one of merely accidental linguistic coloring, but that this great historical work was composed by a writer who was either a physician or was quite intimately acquainted with medical language and science. And, indeed, this conclusion holds good not only for the ‘we’ sections, but for the whole book.” Harnack gives the subject special treatment in an appendix of twenty-two pages. Hawkins and Zahn come to the same conclusion. The latter observes (Einl., II, 427): “Hobart has proved for everyone who can appreciate proof that the author of the Lucan work was a man practised in the scientific language of Greek medicine–in short, a Greek physician” (quoted by Harnack, op. cit.).
In this connection, Plummer, though he speaks more cautiously of Hobart’s argument, is practically in agreement with these writers. He says that when Hobart’s list has been well sifted a considerable number of words remains. “The argument”, he goes on to say “is cumulative. Any two or three instances of coincidence with medical writers may be explained as mere coincidences; but the large number of coincidences renders their explanation unsatisfactory for all of them, especially where the word is either rare in the LXX, or not found there at all” (64). In “The Expositor” (Nov. 1909, 385 sqq.), Mayor says of Harnack’s two above-cited works: “He has in opposition to the Tübingen school of critics, successfully vindicated for Saint Luke the authorship of the two canonical books ascribed to him, and has further proved that, with some few omissions, they may be accepted as trustworthy documents. . . . I am glad to see that the English translator . . . has now been converted by Harnack’s argument, founded in part, as he himself confesses, on the researches of English scholars, especially Dr. Hobart, Sir W. M. Ramsay, and Sir John Hawkins.” There is a striking resemblance between the prologue of the Gospel and a preface written by Dioscorides, a medical writer who studied at Tarsus in the first century (see Blass, “Philology of the Gospels”). The words with which Hippocrates begins his treatise “On Ancient Medicine” should be noted in this connection: ‘Okosoi epecheiresan peri iatrikes legein he graphein, K. T. L. (Plummer, 4). When all these considerations are fully taken into account, they prove that the companion of Saint Paul who wrote the Acts (and the Gospel) was a physician. Now, we learn from Saint Paul that he had such a companion. Writing to the Colossians (iv, 11), he says: “Luke, the most dear physician, saluteth you.” He was, therefore, with Saint Paul when he wrote to the Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians; and also when he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy. From the manner in which he is spoken of, a long period of intercourse is implied.
(2) The Author of Acts was the Author of the Gospel
“This position”, says Plummer, “is so generally admitted by critics of all schools that not much time need be spent in discussing it.” Harnack may be said to be the latest prominent convert to this view, to which he gives elaborate support in the two books above mentioned. He claims to have shown that the earlier critics went hopelessly astray, and that the traditional view is the right one. This opinion is fast gaining ground even amongst ultra critics, and Harnack declares that the others hold out because there exists a disposition amongst them to ignore the facts that tell against them, and he speaks of “the truly pitiful history of the criticism of the Acts”. Only the briefest summary of the arguments can be given here. The Gospel and Acts are both dedicated to Theophilus and the author of the latter work claims to be the author of the former (Acts 1:1). The style and arrangement of both are so much alike that the supposition that one was written by a forger in imitation of the other is absolutely excluded. The required power of literary analysis was then unknown, and, if it were possible, we know of no writer of that age who had the wonderful skill necessary to produce such an imitation. It is to postulate a literary miracle, says Plummer, to suppose that one of the books was a forgery written in Imitation of the other. Such an idea would not have occurred to anyone; and, if it had, he could not have carried it out with such marvellous success. If we take a few chapters of the Gospel and note down the special, peculiar, and characteristic words, phrases and constructions, and then open the Acts at random, we shall find the same literary peculiarities constantly recurring. Or, if we begin with the Acts, and proceed conversely, the same results will follow. In addition to similarity, there are parallels of description, arrangement, and points of view, and the recurrence of medical language, in both books, has been mentioned under the previous heading.
We should naturally expect that the long intercourse between Saint Paul and Saint Luke would mutually influence their vocabulary, and their writings show that this was really the case. Hawkins (Horæ Synopticæ) and Bebb (Hast., “Dict. of the Bible”, s.v. “Luke, Gospel of”) state that there are 32 words found only in Saint Matt. and Saint Paul; 22 in Saint Mark and Saint Paul; 21 in Saint John and Saint Paul; while there are 101 found only in Saint Luke and Saint Paul. Of the characteristic words and phrases which mark the three Synoptic Gospels a little more than half are common to Saint Matt. and Saint Paul, less than half to Saint Mark and Saint Paul and two-thirds to Saint Luke and Saint Paul. Several writers have given examples of parallelism between the Gospel and the Pauline Epistles. Among the most striking are those given by Plummer (44). The same author gives long lists of words and expressions found in the Gospel and Acts and in Saint Paul, and nowhere else in the New Testament. But more than this, Eager in “The Expositor” (July and August, 1894), in his attempt to prove that Saint Luke was the author of Hebrews, has drawn attention to the remarkable fact that the Lucan influence on the language of Saint Paul is much more marked in those Epistles where we know that Saint Luke was his constant companion. Summing up, he observes: “There is in fact sufficient ground for believing that these books. Colossians, II Corinthians, the Pastoral Epistles, First (and to a lesser extent Second) Peter, possess a Lucan character.” When all these points are taken into consideration, they afford convincing proof that the author of the Gospel and Acts was Saint Luke, the beloved physician, the companion of Saint Paul, and this is fully borne out by the external evidence.
The proof in favour of the unity of authorship, derived from the internal character of the two books, is strengthened when taken in connection with the external evidence. Every ancient testimony for the authenticity of Acts tells equally in favour of the Gospel; and every passage for the Lucan authorship of the Gospel gives a like support to the authenticity of Acts. Besides, in many places of the early Fathers both books are ascribed to Saint Luke. The external evidence can be touched upon here only in the briefest manner. For external evidence in favour of Acts, see ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
The many passages in Saint Jerome, Eusebius, and Origen, ascribing the books to Saint Luke, are important not only as testifying to the belief of their own, but also of earlier times. Saint Jerome and Origen were great travellers, and all three were omnivorous readers. They had access to practically the whole Christian literature of preceding centuries; but they nowhere hint that the authorship of the Gospel (and Acts) was ever called in question. This, taken by itself, would be a stronger argument than can be adduced for the majority of classical works. But we have much earlier testimony. Clement of Alexandria was probably born at Athens about A.D. 150. He travelled much and had for instructors in the Faith an Ionian, an Italian, a Syrian, an Egyptian, an Assyrian, and a Hebrew in Palestine. “And these men, preserving the true tradition of the blessed teaching directly from Peter and James, John and Paul, the holy Apostles, son receiving it from father, came by God’s providence even unto us, to deposit among us those seeds [of truth] which were derived from their ancestors and the Apostles”. (Stromata I.1.11; cf. Euseb., Church History V.11). He holds that Saint Luke’s Gospel was written before that of Saint Mark, and he uses the four Gospels just as any modern Catholic writer. Tertullian was born at Carthage, lived some time in Rome, and then returned to Carthage. His quotations from the Gospels, when brought together by Rönsch, cover two hundred pages. He attacks Marcion for mutilating Saint Luke’s Gospel. and writes: “I say then that among them, and not only among the Apostolic Churches, but among all the Churches which are united with them in Christian fellowship, the Gospel of Luke, which we earnestly defend, has been maintained from its first publication” (Adv. Marc., IV, v).
The testimony of Saint Irenæus is of special importance. He was born in Asia Minor, where he heard Saint Polycarp give his reminiscences of Saint John the Apostle, and in his numerous writings he frequently mentions other disciples of the Apostles. He was priest in Lyons during the persecution in 177, and was the bearer of the letter of the confessors to Rome. His bishop, Pothinus, whom be succeeded, was ninety years of age when he gained the crown of martyrdom in 177, and must have been born while some of the Apostles and very many of their hearers were still living. Saint Irenæus, who was born about A.D. 130 (some say much earlier), is, therefore, a witness for the early tradition of Asia Minor, Rome, and Gaul. He quotes the Gospels just as any modern bishop would do, he calls them Scripture, believes even in their verbal inspiration; shows how congruous it is that there are four and only four Gospels; and says that Luke, who begins with the priesthood and sacrifice of Zachary, is the calf. When we compare his quotations with those of Clement of Alexandria, variant readings of text present themselves. There was already established an Alexandrian type of text different from that used in the West. The Gospels had been copied and recopied so often, that, through errors of copying, etc., distinct families of text had time to establish themselves. The Gospels were so widespread that they became known to pagans. Celsus in his attack on the Christian religion was acquainted with the genealogy in Saint Luke’s Gospel, and his quotations show the same phenomena of variant readings.
The next witness, Saint Justin Martyr, shows the position of honour the Gospels held in the Church, in the early portion of the century. Justin was born in Palestine about A.D. 105, and converted in 132-135. In his “Apology” he speaks of the memoirs of the Lord which are called Gospels, and which were written by Apostles (Matthew, John) and disciples of the Apostles (Mark, Luke). In connection with the disciples of the Apostles he cites the verses of Saint Luke on the Sweat of Blood, and he has numerous quotations from all four. Westcott shows that there is no trace in Justin of the use of any written document on the life of Christ except our Gospels. “He [Justin] tells us that Christ was descended from Abraham through Jacob, Judah, Phares, Jesse, David–that the Angel Gabriel was sent to announce His birth to the Virgin Mary—that it was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah . . . that His parents went thither [to Bethlehem] in consequence of an enrolment under Cyrinius–that as they could not find a lodging in the village they lodged in a cave close by it, where Christ was born, and laid by Mary in a manger”, etc. (Westcott, “Canon”, 104). There is a constant intermixture in Justin’s quotations of the narratives of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke. As usual in apologetical works, such as the apologies of Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian, and Eusebius, he does not name his sources because he was addressing outsiders. He states, however, that the memoirs which were called Gospels were read in the churches on Sunday along with the writings of the Prophets, in other words, they were placed on an equal rank with the Old Testament. In the “Dialogue”, cv, we have a passage peculiar to Saint Luke. “Jesus as He gave up His Spirit upon the Cross said, Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit?’ [Luke, xxiii. 46], even as I learned from the Memoirs of this fact also.” These Gospels which were read every Sunday must be the same as our four, which soon after, in the time of Irenæus, were in such long established honour, and regarded by him as inspired by the Holy Ghost. We never hear, says Salmon, of any revolution dethroning one set of Gospels and replacing them by another; so we may be sure that the Gospels honoured by the Church in Justin’s day were the same as those to which the same respect was paid in the days of Irenæus, not many years after. This conclusion is strengthened not only by the nature of Justin’s quotations, but by the evidence afforded by his pupil Tatian, the Assyrian, who lived a long time with him in Rome, and afterwards compiled his harmony of the Gospels, his famous “Diatessaron”, in Syriac, from our four Gospels. He had travelled a great deal, and the fact that he uses only those shows that they alone were recognized by Saint Justin and the Catholic Church between 130-150. This takes us back to the time when many of the hearers of the Apostles and Evangelists were still alive; for it is held by many scholars that Saint Luke lived till towards the end of the first century.
Irenæus, Clement, Tatian, Justin, etc., were in as good a position for forming a judgment on the authenticity of the Gospels as we are of knowing who were the authors of Scott’s novels, Macaulay’s essays, Dickens’s early novels, Longfellow’s poems, no. xc of “Tracts for the Times” etc. But the argument does not end here. Many of the heretics who flourished from the beginning of the second century till A.D. 150 admitted Saint Luke’s Gospel as authoritative. This proves that it had acquired an unassailable position long before these heretics broke away from the Church. The Apocryphal Gospel of Peter, about A.D. 150, makes use of our Gospels. About the same time the Gospels, together with their titles, were translated into Latin; and here, again, we meet the phenomena of variant readings, to be found in Clement, Irenæus, Old Syriac, Justin, and Celsus, pointing to a long period of previous copying. Finally, we may ask, if the author of the two books were not Saint Luke, who was he?
Harnack (Luke the Physician, 2) holds that as the Gospel begins with a prologue addressed to an individual (Theophilus) it must, of necessity, have contained in its title the name of its author. How can we explain, if Saint Luke were not the author, that the name of the real, and truly great, writer came to be completely buried in oblivion, to make room for the name of such a comparatively obscure disciple as Saint Luke? Apart from his connection, as supposed author, with the Third Gospel and Acts, was no more prominent than Aristarchus and Epaphras; and he is mentioned only in three places in the whole of the New Testament. If a false name were substituted for the true author, some more prominent individual would have been selected.
Integrity of the Gospel
Marcion rejected the first two chapters and some shorter passages of the gospel, and it was at one time maintained by rationalistic writers that his was the original Gospel of which ours is a later expansion. This is now universally rejected by scholars. Saint Irenæus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius charged him with mutilating the Gospel; and it is known that the reasons for his rejection of those portions were doctrinal. He cut out the account of the infancy and the genealogy, because he denied the human birth of Christ. As he rejected the Old Testament all reference to it had to be excluded. That the parts rejected by Marcion belong to the Gospel is clear from their unity of style with the remainder of the book. The characteristics of Saint Luke’s style run through the whole work, but are more frequent in the first two chapters than anywhere else; and they are present in the other portions omitted by Marcion. No writer in those days was capable of successfully forging such additions. The first two chapters, etc., are contained in all the manuscripts and versions, and were known to Justin Martyr and other competent witnesses. On the authenticity of the verses on the Bloody Sweat, see AGONY OF CHRIST.
Purpose and contents
The Gospel was written, as is gathered from the prologue (i, 1-4), for the purpose of giving Theophilus (and others like him) increased confidence in the unshakable firmness of the Christian truths in which he had been instructed, or “catechized”–the latter word being used, according to Harnack, in its technical sense. The Gospel naturally falls into four divisions:
Gospel of the infancy, roughly covered by the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (ch. i, ii);
ministry in Galilee, from the preaching of John the Baptist (iii, 1, to ix, 50);
journeyings towards Jerusalem (ix, 51-xix, 27);
Holy Week: preaching in and near Jerusalem, Passion, and Resurrection (xix, 28, to end of xxiv).
We owe a great deal to the industry of Saint Luke. Out of twenty miracles which he records six are not found in the other Gospels: draught of fishes, widow of Naim’s son, man with dropsy, ten lepers, Malchus’s ear, spirit of infirmity. He alone has the following eighteen parables: good Samaritan, friend at midnight, rich fool, servants watching, two debtors, barren fig-tree, chief seats, great supper, rash builder, rash king, lost groat, prodigal son, unjust steward, rich man and Lazarus, unprofitable servants, unjust judge, Pharisee and publican, pounds. The account of the journeys towards Jerusalem (ix, 51-xix, 27) is found only in Saint Luke; and he gives special prominence to the duty of prayer.
Sources of the Gospel; synoptic problem
The best information as to his sources is given by Saint Luke, in the beginning of his Gospel. As many had written accounts as they heard them from “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word”, it seemed good to him also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write an ordered narrative. He had two sources of information, then, eyewitnesses (including Apostles) and written documents taken down from the words of eyewitnesses. The accuracy of these documents he was in a position to test by his knowledge of the character of the writers, and by comparing them with the actual words of the Apostles and other eyewitnesses.
That he used written documents seems evident on comparing his Gospel with the other two Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark. All three frequently agree even in minute details, but in other respects there is often a remarkable divergence, and to explain these phenomena is the Synoptic Problem. Saint Matthew and Saint Luke alone give an account of the infancy of Christ, both accounts are independent. But when they begin the public preaching they describe it in the same way, here agreeing with Saint Mark. When Saint Mark ends, the two others again diverge. They agree in the main both in matter and arrangement within the limits covered by Saint Mark, whose order they generally follow. Frequently all agree in the order of the narrative, but, where two agree, Mark and Luke agree against the order of Matthew, or Mark and Matthew agree against the order of Luke; Mark is always in the majority, and it is not proved that the other two ever agree against the order followed by him. Within the limits of the ground covered by Saint Mark, the two other Gospels have several sections in common not found in Saint Mark, consisting for the most part of discourses, and there is a closer resemblance between them than between any two Gospels where the three go over the same ground. The whole of Saint Mark is practically contained in the other two. Saint Matthew and Saint Luke have large sections peculiar to themselves, such as the different accounts of the infancy, and the journeys towards Jerusalem in Saint Luke. The parallel records have remarkable verbal coincidences. Sometimes the Greek phrases are identical, sometimes but slightly different, and again more divergent. There are various theories to explain the fact of the matter and language common to the Evangelists. Some hold that it is due to the oral teaching of the Apostles, which soon became stereotyped from constant repetition. Others hold that it is due to written sources, taken down from such teaching. Others, again, strongly maintain that Matthew and Luke used Mark or a written source extremely like it. In that case, we have evidence how very closely they kept to the original. The agreement between the discourses given by Saint Luke and Saint Matthew is accounted for, by some authors, by saying that both embodied the discourses of Christ that had been collected and originally written in Aramaic by Saint Matthew. The long narratives of Saint Luke not found in these two documents are, it is said, accounted for by his employment of what he knew to be other reliable sources, either oral or written. (The question is concisely but clearly stated by Peake “A Critical Introduction to the New Testament”, London, 1909, 101. Several other works on the subject are given in the literature at the end of this article.)
Saint Luke’s accuracy
Very few writers have ever had their accuracy put to such a severe test as Saint Luke, on account of the wide field covered by his writings, and the consequent liability (humanly speaking) of making mistakes; and on account of the fierce attacks to which he has been subjected.
It was the fashion, during the nineteenth century, with German rationalists and their imitators, to ridicule the “blunders” of Luke, but that is all being rapidly changed by the recent progress of archæological research. Harnack does not hesitate to say that these attacks were shameful, and calculated to bring discredit, not on the Evangelist, but upon his critics, and Ramsay is but voicing the opinion of the best modern scholars when he calls Saint Luke a great and accurate historian. Very few have done so much as this latter writer, in his numerous works and in his articles in “The Expositor”, to vindicate the extreme accuracy of Saint Luke. Wherever archæology has afforded the means of testing Saint Luke’s statements, they have been found to be correct; and this gives confidence that he is equally reliable where no such corroboration is as yet available. For some of the details see ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, where a very full bibliography is given.
For the sake of illustration, one or two examples may here be given:
(1) Sergius Paulus, Proconsul in Cyprus
Saint Luke says (Acts 13) that when Saint Paul visited Cyprus (in the reign of Claudius) Sergius Paulus was proconsul (anthupatos) there. Grotius asserted that this was an abuse of language, on the part of the natives, who wished to flatter the governor by calling him proconsul, instead of proprætor (antistrategos), which he really was; and that Saint Luke used the popular appellation. Even Baronius (Annales, ad Ann. 46) supposed that, though Cyprus was only a prætorian province, it was honoured by being ruled by the proconsul of Cilicia, who must have been Sergius Paulus. But this is all a mistake. Cato captured Cyprus, Cicero was proconsul of Cilicia and Cyprus in 52 B.C.; Mark Antony gave the island to Cleopatra; Augustus made it a prætorian province in 27 B.C., but in 22 B.C. he transferred it to the senate, and it became again a proconsular province. This latter fact is not stated by Strabo, but it is mentioned by Dion Cassius (LIII). In Hadrian’s time it was once more under a proprætor, while under Severus it was again administered by a proconsul. There can be no doubt that in the reign of Claudius, when Saint Paul visited it, Cyprus was under a proconsul (anthupatos), as stated by Saint Luke. Numerous coins have been discovered in Cyprus, bearing the head and name of Claudius on one side, and the names of the proconsuls of Cyprus on the other. A woodcut engraving of one is given in Conybeare and Howson’s “St. Paul”, at the end of chapter v. On the reverse it has: EPI KOMINOU PROKAU ANTHUPATOU: KUPRION–“Money of the Cyprians under Cominius Proclus, Proconsul.” The head of Claudius (with his name) is figured on the other side. General Cesnola discovered a long inscription on a pedestal of white marble, at Solvi, in the north of the island, having the words: EPI PAULOU ANTHUPATOU–“Under Paulus Proconsul.” Lightfoot, Zochler, Ramsay, Knabenbauer, Zahn, and Vigouroux hold that this was the actual (Sergius) Paulus of Acts 13:7.
(2) The Politarchs in Thessalonica
An excellent example of Saint Luke’s accuracy is afforded by his statement that rulers of Thessalonica were called “politarchs” (politarchai–Acts 17:6, 8). The word is not found in the Greek classics; but there is a large stone in the British Museum, which was found in an arch in Thessalonica, containing an inscription which is supposed to date from the time of Vespasian. Here we find the word used by Saint Luke together with the names of several such politarchs, among them being names identical with some of Saint Paul’s converts: Sopater, Gaius, Secundus. Burton in “American Journal of Theology” (July, 1898) has drawn attention to seventeen inscriptions proving the existence of politarchs in ancient times. Thirteen were found in Macedonia, and five were discovered in Thessalonica, dating from the middle of the first to the end of the second century.
(3) Knowledge of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe
The geographical, municipal, and political knowledge of Saint Luke, when speaking of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, is fully borne out by recent research (see Ramsay, “St. Paul the Traveller”, and other references given in EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS).
(4) Knowledge of Philippian customs
He is equally sure when speaking of Philippi, a Roman colony, where the duumviri were called “prætors” (strategoi–Acts 16:20, 35), a lofty title which duumviri assumed in Capua and elsewhere, as we learn from Cicero and Horace (Sat., I, v, 34). They also had lictors (rabsouchoi), after the manner of real prætors.
(5) References to Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth
His references to Ephesus, Athens, Corinth, are altogether in keeping with everything that is now known of these cities. Take a single instance: “In Ephesus Saint Paul taught in the school of Tyrannus, in the city of Socrates he discussed moral questions in the market-place. How incongruous it would seem if the methods were transposed! But the narrative never makes a false step amid all the many details as the scene changes from city to city; and that is the conclusive proof that it is a picture of real life” (Ramsay, op. cit., 238). Saint Luke mentions (Acts 18:2) that when Saint Paul was at Corinth the Jews had been recently expelled from Rome by Claudius, and this is confirmed by a chance statement of Suetonius. He tells us (ibid., 12) that Gallio was then proconsul in Corinth (the capital of the Roman province of Achaia). There is no direct evidence that he was proconsul in Achaia, but his brother Seneca writes that Gallio caught a fever there, and went on a voyage for his health. The description of the riot at Ephesus (Acts 19) brings together, in the space of eighteen verses, an extraordinary amount of knowledge of the city, that is fully corroborated by numerous inscriptions, and representations on coins, medals, etc., recently discovered. There are allusions to the temple of Diana (one of the seven wonders of the world), to the fact that Ephesus gloried in being her temple-sweeper her caretaker (neokoros), to the theatre as the place of assembly for the people, to the town clerk (grammateus), to the Asiarchs, to sacrilegious (ierosuloi), to proconsular sessions, artificers, etc. The ecclesia (the usual word in Ephesus for the assembly of the people) and the grammateus or town-clerk (the title of a high official frequent on Ephesian coins) completely puzzled Cornelius a Lapide, Baronius, and other commentators, who imagined the ecclesia meant a synagogue, etc. (see Vigouroux, “Le Nouveau Testament et les Découvertes Archéologiques”, Paris, 1890).
(6) The Shipwreck
The account of the voyage and shipwreck described in Acts (27 and 28) is regarded by competent authorities on nautical matters as a marvellous instance of accurate description (see Smith’s classical work on the subject, “Voyage and Shipwreck of Saint Paul” (4th ed., London, 1880). Blass (Acta Apostolorum, 186) says: “Extrema duo capita habent descriptionem clarissimam itineris maritimi quod Paulus in Italiam fecit: quæ descriptio ab homine harum rerum perito judicata est monumentum omnium pretiosissimum, quæ rei navalis ex tote antiquitate nobis relicta est. V. Breusing, ‘Die Nautik der Alten’ (Bremen, 1886).” See also Knowling “The Acts of the Apostles” in “Exp. Gr. Test.” (London, 1900).
Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene
Gfrörer, B. Bauer, Hilgenfeld, Keim, and Holtzmann assert that Saint Luke perpetrated a gross chronological blunder of sixty years by making Lysanias, the son of Ptolemy, who lived 36 B.C., and was put to death by Mark Antony, tetrarch of Abilene when John the Baptist began to preach (iii, 1). Strauss says: “He [Luke] makes rule, 30 years after the birth of Christ, a certain Lysanias, who had certainly been slain 30 years previous to that birth–a slight error of 60 years.” On the face of it, it is highly improbable that such a careful writer as Saint Luke would have gone out of his way to run the risk of making such a blunder, for the mere purpose of helping to fix the date of the public ministry. Fortunately, we have a complete refutation supplied by Schürer, a writer by no means over friendly to Saint Luke, as we shall see when treating of the Census of Quirinius. Ptolemy Mennæus was King of the Itureans (whose kingdom embraced the Lebanon and plain of Massyas with the capital Chalcis, between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon) from 85-40 B.C. His territories extended on the east towards Damascus, and on the south embraced Panias, and part, at least, of Galilee. Lysanias the older succeeded his father Ptolemy about 40 B.C. (Josephus, “Ant.”, XIV, xii, 3; “Bell Jud.”, I, xiii, 1), and is styled by Dion Cassius “King of the Itureans” (XLIX, 32). After reigning about four or five years he was put to death by Mark Antony, at the instigation of Cleopatra, who received a large portion of his territory (Josephus, “Ant.”, XV, iv, 1; “Bel. Jud.”, I, xxii, 3; Dion Cassius, op. cit.).
As the latter and Porphyry call him “king”, it is doubtful whether the coins bearing the superscription “Lysanias tetrarch and high priest” belong to him, for there were one or more later princes called Lysanias. After his death his kingdom was gradually divided up into at least four districts, and the three principal ones were certainly not called after him. A certain Zenodorus took on lease the possessions of Lysanias, 23 B.C., but Trachonitis was soon taken from him and given to Herod. On the death of Zenodorus in 20 B.C., Ulatha and Panias, the territories over which he ruled, were given by Augustus to Herod. This is called the tetrarchy of Zenodorus by Dion Cassius. “It seems therefore that Zenodorus, after the death of Lysanias, had received on rent a portion of his territory from Cleopatra, and that after Cleopatra’s death this ‘rented’ domain, subject to tribute, was continued to him with the title of tetrarch” (Schürer, I, II app., 333, i). Mention is made on a monument, at Heliopolis, of “Zenodorus, son of the tetrarch Lysanias”. It has been generally supposed that this is the Zenodorus just mentioned, but it is uncertain whether the first Lysanias was ever called tetrarch. It is proved from the inscriptions that there was a genealogical connection between the families of Lysanias and Zenodorus, and the same name may have been often repeated in the family. Coins for 32, 30, and 25 B.C., belonging to our Zenodorus, have the superscription, “Zenodorus tetrarch and high priest.’ After the death of Herod the Great a portion of the tetrarchy of Zenodorus went to Herod’s son, Philip (Jos., “Ant.”, XVII, xi, 4), referred to by Saint Luke, “Philip being tetrarch of Iturea” (Luke 3:1).
Another tetrarchy sliced off from the dominions of Zenodorus lay to the east between Chalcis and Damascus, and went by the name of Abila or Abilene. Abila is frequently spoken of by Josephus as a tetrarchy, and in “Ant.”, XVIII, vi, 10, he calls it the “tetrarchy of Lysanias”. Claudius, in A.D. 41, conferred “Abila of Lysanias” on Agrippa I (Ant., XIX, v, 1). In a. D. 53, Agrippa II obtained Abila, “which last had been the tetrarchy of Lysanias” (Ant., XX., vii, 1). “From these passages we see that the tetrarchy of Abila had belonged previously to A.D. 37 to a certain Lysanias, and seeing that Josephus nowhere previously makes any mention of another Lysanias, except the contemporary of Anthony and Cleopatra, 40-36 B.C. . . . criticism has endeavoured in various ways to show that there had not afterwards been any other, and that the tetrarchy of Abilene had its name from the older Lysanias. But this is impossible” (Schürer, 337). Lysanias I inherited the Iturean empire of his father Ptolemy, of which Abila was but a small and very obscure portion. Calchis in Coele-Syria was the capital of his kingdom, not Abila in Abilene. He reigned only about four years and was a comparatively obscure individual when compared with his father Ptolemy, or his successor Zenodorus, both of whom reigned many years. There is no reason why any portion of his kingdom should have been called after his name rather than theirs, and it is highly improbable that Josephus speaks of Abilene as called after him seventy years after his death. As Lysanias I was king over the whole region, one small portion of it could not be called his tetrarchy or kingdom, as is done by Josephus (Bel. Jud., II, xii, 8). “It must therefore be assumed as certain that at a later date the district of Abilene had been severed from the kingdom of Calchis, and had been governed by a younger Lysanias as tetrarch” (Schürer, 337). The existence of such a late Lysanias is shown by an inscription found at Abila, containing the statement that a certain Nymphaios, the freedman of Lysanias, built a street and erected a temple in the time of the “August Emperors”. Augusti (Sebastoi) in the plural was never used before the death of Augustus, A.D. 14. The first contemporary Sebastoi were Tiberius and his mother Livia, i.e. at a time fifty years after the first Lysanias. An inscription at Heliopolis, in the same region, makes it probable that there were several princes of this name. “The Evangelist Luke is thoroughly correct when he assumes (iii, 1) that in the fifteenth year of Tiberius there was a Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene” (Schürer, op. cit., where full literature is given; Vigouroux, op. cit.).
Who spoke the Magnificat?
Lately an attempt has been made to ascribe the Magnificat to Elizabeth instead of to the Blessed Virgin. All the early Fathers, all the Greek manuscripts, all the versions, all the Latin manuscripts (except three) have the reading in Luke 1:46: Kai eipen Mariam–Et ait Maria [And Mary said]: Magnificat anima mea Dominum, etc. Three Old Latin manuscripts (the earliest dating from the end of the fourth cent.), a, b, l (called rhe by Westcott and Hort), have Et ait Elisabeth. These tend to such close agreement that their combined evidence is single rather than threefold. They are full of gross blunders and palpable corruptions, and the attempt to pit their evidence against the many thousands of Greek, Latin, and other manuscripts, is anything but scientific. If the evidence were reversed, Catholics would be held up to ridicule if they ascribed the Magnificat to Mary. The three manuscripts gain little or no support from the internal evidence of the passage. The Magnificat is a cento from the song of Anna (1 Samuel 2), the Psalms, and other places of the Old Testament. If it were spoken by Elizabeth it is remarkable that the portion of Anna’s song that was most applicable to her is omitted: “The barren hath borne many: and she that had many children is weakened.” See, on this subject, Emmet in “The Expositor” (Dec., 1909); Bernard, ibid. (March, 1907); and the exhaustive works of two Catholic writers: Ladeuze, “Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique” (Louvain, Oct., 1903); Bardenhewer, “Maria Verkündigung” (Freiburg, 1905).
The census of Quirinius
No portion of the New Testament has been so fiercely attacked as Luke 2:1-5. Schürer has brought together, under six heads, a formidable array of all the objections that can he urged against it. There is not space to refute them here; but Ramsay in his “Was Christ born in Bethlehem?” has shown that they all fall to the ground:–
(1) Saint Luke does not assert that a census took place all over the Roman Empire before the death of Herod, but that a decision emanated from Augustus that regular census were to be made. Whether they were carried out in general, or not, was no concern of Saint Luke’s. If history does not prove the existence of such a decree it certainly proves nothing against it. It was thought for a long time that the system of Indictions was inaugurated under the early Roman emperors, it is now known that they owe their origin to Constantine the Great (the first taking place fifteen years after his victory of 312), and this in spite of the fact that history knew nothing of the matter. Kenyon holds that it is very probable that Pope Damasus ordered the Vulgate to be regarded as the only authoritative edition of the Latin Bible; but it would be difficult to Prove it historically. If “history knows nothing” of the census in Palestine before 4 B.C. neither did it know anything of the fact that under the Romans in Egypt regular personal census were held every fourteen years, at least from A.D. 20 till the time of Constantine. Many of these census papers have been discovered, and they were called apographai, the name used by Saint Luke. They were made without any reference to property or taxation. The head of the household gave his name and age, the name and age of his wife, children, and slaves. He mentioned how many were included in the previous census, and how many born since that time. Valuation returns were made every year. The fourteen years’ cycle did not originate in Egypt (they had a different system before 19 B.C.), but most probably owed its origin to Augustus, 8 B.C., the fourteenth year of his tribunitia potestas, which was a great year in Rome, and is called the year I in some inscriptions. Apart from Saint Luke and Josephus, history is equally ignorant of the second enrolling in Palestine, A.D. 6. So many discoveries about ancient times, concerning which history has been silent, have been made during the last thirty years that it is surprising modern authors should brush aside a statement of Saint Luke’s, a respectable first-century writer, with a mere appeal to the silence of history on the matter.
(2) The first census in Palestine, as described by Saint Luke, was not made according to Roman, but Jewish, methods. Saint Luke, who travelled so much, could not be ignorant of the Roman system, and his description deliberately excludes it. The Romans did not run counter to the feelings of provincials more than they could help. Jews, who were proud of being able to prove their descent, would have no objection to the enrolling described in Luke 2. Schürer’s arguments are vitiated throughout by the supposition that the census mentioned by Saint Luke could be made only for taxation purposes. His discussion of imperial taxation learned but beside the mark (cf. the practice in Egypt). It was to the advantage of Augustus to know the number of possible enemies in Palestine, in case of revolt.
(3) King Herod was not as independent as he is described for controversial purposes. A few years before Herod’s death Augustus wrote to him. Josephus, “Ant.”, XVI, ix., 3, has: “Cæsar [Augustus] . . . grew very angry, and wrote to Herod sharply. The sum of his epistle was this, that whereas of old he used him as a friend, he should now use him as his subject.” It was after this that Herod was asked to number his people. That some such enrolling took place we gather from a passing remark of Josephus, “Ant.”, XVII, ii, 4, “Accordingly, when all the people of the Jews gave assurance of their good will to Cæsar [Augustus], and to the king’s [Herod’s] government, these very men [the Pharisees] did not swear, being above six thousand.” The best scholars think they were asked to swear allegiance to Augustus.
(4) It is said there was no room for Quirinius, in Syria, before the death of Herod in 4 B.C. C. Sentius Saturninus was governor there from 9-6 B.C.; and Quintilius Varus, from 6 B.C. till after the death of Herod. But in turbulent provinces there were sometimes times two Roman officials of equal standing. In the time of Caligula the administration of Africa was divided in such a way that the military power, with the foreign policy, was under the control of the lieutenant of the emperor, who could be called a hegemon (as in Saint Luke), while the internal affairs were under the ordinary proconsul. The same position was held by Vespasian when he conducted the war in Palestine, which belonged to the province of Syria–a province governed by an officer of equal rank. Josephus speaks of Volumnius as being Kaisaros hegemon, together with C. Sentius Saturninus, in Syria (9-6 B.C.): “There was a hearing before Saturninus and Volumnius, who were then the presidents of Syria” (Ant., XVI, ix, 1). He is called procurator in “Bel. Jud.”, I, xxvii, 1, 2. Corbulo commanded the armies of Syria against the Parthians, while Quadratus and Gallus were successively governors of Syria. Though Josephus speaks of Gallus, he knows nothing of Corbulo; but he was there nevertheless (Mommsen, “Röm. Gesch.”, V, 382). A similar position to that of Corbulo must have been held by Quirinius for a few years between 7 and 4 B.C.
The best treatment of the subject is that by Ramsay “Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?” See also the valuable essays of two Catholic writers: Marucchi in “Il Bessarione” (Rome, 1897); Bour, “L’lnscription de Quirinius et le Recensement de S. Luc” (Rome, 1897). Vigouroux, “Le N. T. et les Découvertes Modernes” (Paris, 1890), has a good deal of useful information. It has been suggested that Quirinius is a copyist’s error for Quintilius (Varus).
Saint Luke and Josephus
The attempt to prove that Saint Luke used Josephus (but inaccurately) has completely broken down. Belser successfully refutes Krenkel in “Theol. Quartalschrift”, 1895, 1896. The differences can be explained only on the supposition of entire independence. The resemblances are sufficiently accounted for by the use of the Septuagint and the common literary Greek of the time by both. See Bebb and Headlam in Hast., “Dict. of the Bible”, s. vv. “Luke, Gospel” and “Acts of the Apostles”, respectively. Schürer (Zeit. für W. Th., 1876) brushes aside the opinion that Saint Luke read Josephus. When Acts is compared with the Septuagint and Josephus, there is convincing evidence that Josephus was not the source from which the writer of Acts derived his knowledge of Jewish history. There are numerous verbal and other coincidences with the Septuagint (Cross in “Expository Times”, XI, 5:38, against Schmiedel and the exploded author of “Sup. Religion”). Saint Luke did not get his names from Josephus, as contended by this last writer, thereby making the whole history a concoction. Wright in his “Some New Test. Problems” gives the names of fifty persons mentioned in Saint Luke’s Gospel. Thirty-two are common to the other two Synoptics, and therefore not taken from Josephus. Only five of the remaining eighteen are found in him, namely, Augustus Cæsar, Tiberius, Lysanias, Quirinius, and Annas. As Annas is always called Ananus in Josephus, the name was evidently not taken from him. This is corroborated by the way the Gospel speaks of Caiphas. Saint Luke’s employment of the other four names shows no connection with the Jewish historian. The mention of numerous countries, cities, and islands in Acts shows complete independence of the latter writer. Saint Luke’s preface bears a much closer resemblance to those of Greek medical writers than to that of Josephus. The absurdity of concluding that Saint Luke must necessarily be wrong when not in agreement with Josephus is apparent when we remember the frequent contradictions and blunders in the latter writer.
Biblical Commission decisions
The following answers to questions about this Gospel, and that of Saint Mark, were issued, 26 June, 1913, by the Biblical Commission. That Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, and Luke, a doctor, the assistant and companion of Paul, are really the authors of the Gospels respectively attributed to them is clear from Tradition, the testimonies of the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, by quotations in their writings, the usage of early heretics, by versions of the New Testament in the most ancient and common manuscripts, and by intrinsic evidence in the text of the Sacred Books. The reasons adduced by some critics against Mark’s authorship of the last twelve versicles of his Gospel (xvi, 9-20) do not prove that these versicles are not inspired or canonical, or that Mark is not their author. It is not lawful to doubt of the inspiration and canonicity of the narratives of Luke on the infancy of Christ (i-ii), on the apparition of the Angel and of the bloody sweat (xxii, 43-44); nor can it be proved that these narratives do not belong to the genuine Gospel of Luke.
The very few exceptional documents attributing the Magnificat to Elizabeth and not to the Blessed Virgin should not prevail against the testimony of nearly all the codices of the original Greek and of the versions, the interpretation required by the context, the mind of the Virgin herself, and the constant tradition of the Church.
It is according to most ancient and constant tradition that after Matthew, Mark wrote his Gospel second and Luke third; though it may be held that the second and third Gospels were composed before the Greek version of the first Gospel. It is not lawful to put the date of the Gospels of Mark and Luke as late as the destruction of Jerusalem or after the siege had begun. The Gospel of Luke preceded his Acts of the Apostles, and was therefore composed before the end of the Roman imprisonment, when the Acts was finished (Acts 28:30-31). In view of Tradition and of internal evidence it cannot be doubted that Mark wrote according to the preaching of Peter, and Luke according to that of Paul, and that both had at their disposal other trustworthy sources, oral or written.
- Cornelius Aherne. “Gospel of Saint Luke”. . CatholicSaints.Info. 7 August 2013. Web. 28 August 2016. <>