Luke the Evangelist

Luke the Evangelist

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Luke
death_date="c". 84
feast_day=October 18
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, some other Protestant Churches

caption= Luke writing down the Gospel attributed to him.
birth_place=Antioch, Turkey
death_place=near Boeotia, Greece
titles= Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr
canonized_by=pope john paul 2
attributes=Evangelist, Physician, a bishop, a book and/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 and/or a palette (referring to the tradition that he was a painter).
patronage=Artists, Physicians, Surgeons, and others [cite web|url=|title=Luke the Apostle|publisher=Star Quest Production Network|accessdate=2008-12-27]
major_shrine= Padua, Italy

Luke the Evangelist (Hebrew: לוּקָֻא; Greek: Polytonic|Λουκάς "Loukás") was an early Christian leader who is said by tradition to be the author of both the "Gospel of Luke" and the "Acts of the Apostles", the third and the fifth books, respectively, of the New Testament.

Catholicism venerates him as the patron saint of physicians and surgeons. His traditional Catholic feast day is October 18.


Saint Luke was born of Greek origin in the city of Antioch. "The New Testament Documents: Their Origin and Early History", George Milligan, 1913, Macmillan and co. limited, p.149 ] [ [ Saint Luke Catholic Online article] ] "Saints: A Visual Guide", Edward Mornin, Lorna Mornin, 2006, Eerdmans Books, p.74 ] [ [ Saint Luke Catholic Encyclopedia article] ] "New Outlook", Alfred Emanuel Smith, 1935, Outlook Pub. Co., p.792 ] "New Testament Studies. I. Luke the Physician: The Author of the Third Gospel", Adolf von Harnack, 1907, Williams & Norgate; G.P. Putnam's Sons, p.5 ]

His earliest notice is in Paul's Epistle to Philemon, verse 24. He is also mentioned in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11, two works commonly ascribed to Paul. 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 AD, but which has more recently been dated to the later 4th century. Helmut Koester, however, claims that the following part – the only part preserved in the original Greek – may have been composed in the late 2nd century:

Some manuscripts add that Luke died "in Thebes, the capital of Boeotia". All of these facts support the conclusion that Luke was associated with Paul.

Later tradition elaborates on these few facts. Epiphanius states that Luke was one of the Seventy ("Panarion" 51.11), and John Chrysostom indicates at one point that the "brother" Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas. J. Wenham asserts that Luke was "one of the Seventy, the Emmaus disciple, Lucius of Cyrene and Paul's kinsman." Not all scholars are as confident of all of these attributes as Wenham is, not least because Luke's own statement at the beginning of Acts freely admits that he was not an eyewitness to the events of the Gospel.

If we accept that Luke was in fact the author of the Gospel bearing his name and also 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."Encyclopedia Britannica", Micropedia vol. 7, p.554-555. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc, 1998. ISBN 0-85229-633-0.] There is similar evidence that Luke resided in Troas, the province which included the ruins of ancient Troy, in that he writes in "Acts" in the third person about Paul and his travels until they get to Troas, where he switches to the first person plural. The "we" section of "Acts" continues until the group returns to Troas, where his writing goes back to the third person. This change happens again the second time the group gets to Troas. There are three "we sections" in "Acts", all following this rule. Luke never stated, however, that he lived in Troas, and this is the only evidence that he did.

The composition of the writings, as well as the range of vocabulary used, indicate that the author was an educated man. The quote in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians differentiating between Luke and other colleagues "of the circumcision" has caused many to speculate that this indicates 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. The phrase could just as easily be used to differentiate between those Christians who strictly observed the rituals of Judaism and those who didn't.

Luke as a historian

The two documents most widely attributed to Luke, The Gospel According to Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, are held in high regard by biblical historians and archaeologists for their historical accuracy and trustworthiness. [MacDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 64]

Archaeologist Sir William Ramsay wrote that "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trusworthy... [he] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians." [Ramsay, BRDTNT, 222] Professor of classics at Auckland University, E.M. Blaiklock, concurs: "Luke is a consummate historian, to be ranked in his own right with the great writers of the Greeks." [Blaiklock, AA, 89]

Dr. Norman L. Geisler observed, "In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities and nine islands without a [factual or historical] error." [Geisler, BECA, 47]

Christian apologist Josh MacDowell notes that in specific instances where Luke's texts have been found to disagree with common scholarly knowledge, where archaeology has been able to resolve the difference, the disagreement has consistently been resolved in favor of Luke. Additionally, Luke has brought to light previously unknown details which have later been verified by historians or archaeologists. [MacDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 64-68]

Roman historian Colin Hemer made note of the following attributes of Luke's writing:
* Specialized details, which would not have been widely known except to a contemporary researcher such as Luke who traveled widely. These details include exact titles of officials, identification of army units, and information about major routes.
* Details archaeologists know are accurate but can't verify as to the precise time period. Some of these are unlikely to have been known except to a writer who had visited the districts.
*Correlation of dates of known kings and governors with the chronology of the narrative.
* Facts appropriate to the date of Paul or his immediate contemporary in the church but not to a date earlier or later.
* "Undesigned coincidents" between Acts and the Pauline Epistles.
* Internal correlations within Acts.
* Off-hand geographical references that bespeak familiarity with common knowledge.
* Differences in formulation within Acts that indicate the different categories of sources he used.
* Peculiarities in the selection of detail, as in theology, that are explainable in the context of what is now known of first-century church life.
* Materials the "immediacy" of which suggests that the author was recounting a recent experience, rather than shaping or editing a text long after it had been written.
* Cultural or idiomatic items now known to be peculiar to the first-century atmosphere. [Hemer, BASHH, 104-107, as summarized by MacDowell]


Another Christian tradition states that he was the first iconographer, and painted pictures of the Virgin Mary (The Black Madonna of Częstochowa) and of Peter and Paul. Thus late medieval guilds of St Luke in the cities of Flanders, or the "Accademia di San Luca" ("Academy of St Luke") in Rome, imitated in many other European cities during the 16th century, gathered together and protected painters. There is no scientific evidence to support the tradition that Luke painted icons of Mary and Jesus, though it was widely believed in earlier centuries, 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 St Luke painted and Thomas brought to India. [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 reside in Greece: the Theotokos Mega Spileotissa (Our Lady of the Great Cave, where supposedly St. Luke lived for a period of time in asceticism) and Panagia Soumela, and Panagia Kykkou which resides in Cyprus."]

New Testament books

"See also and

Conservative Christian scholars attribute Luke as being author of the third Gospel and the "Acts of the Apostles", which is clearly meant to be read as a sequel to the Gospel account. However, other scholars are more skeptical about Luke's authorship of these books. Despite this controversy, many secular scholars give credit to Luke's abilities as an historian. Both books are dedicated to one Theophilus and no scholar seriously doubts that the same person wrote both works, though neither work contains the name of its author.

Many argue that the author of the book must have been a companion of the Apostle Paul, due to several passages in Acts written in the first person plural (known as the "We Sections"). These verses (see Acts 16:10-17, 20:5-15, 21:1-18, etc) seem to indicate the author was travelling with Paul during parts of his journeys. Some scholars report that, of the colleagues that Paul mentions in his epistles, the process of elimination leaves Luke as the only person who fits everything known about the author of Luke/Acts.

Additionally, the earliest manuscript of the Gospel (Papyrus Bodmer XIV/XV = P75), dated circa AD 200, ascribes the work to Luke; as did Irenaeus, writing circa AD 180; and the Muratorian fragment from AD 170. [Brown, Raymond E. "An Introduction to the New Testament", p. 267. Anchor Bible; 1st edition (October 13, 1997). ISBN 978-0385247672.] Scholars defending Luke's authorship point out that there is no reason for early Christians to attribute these works to such a minor figure if he did not in fact write them, nor is there any tradition attributing this work to any other author.

ee also

*Gospel of Luke
*Acts of the Apostles
*Order of St. Luke
*St. Luke's
*Icon of the Hodegetria


*Helmut Koester. "Ancient Christian Gospels". Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1999.
*Burton L. Mack. "Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth". San Francisco, California: HarperCollins, 1996.
*J. Wenham, "The Identification of Luke", "Evangelical Quarterly" 63 (1991), 3-44


External links

* [ Biblical Interpretation of Texts of Saint Luke]
* [ Early Christian Writings: "Gospel of Luke" e-texts, introductions]
* [ National Academy of Sciences on Luke the Evangelist]
* [ Gospel of Saint Luke]
* [ Patron Saint Luke]
* [ Photo of the grave of Luke in Padua (in German)]
* [ DNA testing of the Saint Luke corpse]

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