Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke is widely considered one of the most beautiful books of its length written (of the four Gospel accounts Luke's is the longest). It tells the story of the life of Jesus, being written to Theophilus. Luke does not claim to be an eyewitness, but instead one who has "carefully investigated everything from the beginning" (Luke 1:3) and now wants to "write an orderly account" so that Theophilus would "know the certainty of the things" he had been taught. (Luke 1:3-4) The author Luke was a Gentile, as confirmed by Paul at Colossians 4:11,14. The Gospel of Luke is the 3rd book in the New Testament coming after the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and before the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of Luke was written in flawless Greek and has been called "the most beautiful book ever written." Only this Gospel tells the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, and Luke recounts them with exquisite, emotional detail. Only the Gospel of Luke recounts with literary skill the meeting of the risen Lord with the two men walking on their way to Emmaus, whose "eyes were kept from recognizing him."
Luke may have been inspired by the Epistles to the Hebrews, which is perhaps the best-written Greek work in all of history, and which some of Luke's writings (especially parts of the Acts of the Apostles) appear to imitate in style and word choice. Luke is considered one of the synoptic gospels and Luke is generally considered to have borrowed from Mark as one of his sources as did Matthew. It is unknown if Matthew or Luke borrowed from each other or which came first.
The Gospel of Luke does not name its author, but as a companion volume to the book of Acts, it can be inferred by the use of "we" when describing part of Paul's journeys that the author traveled with Paul and Luke, the doctor, becomes the most likely candidate. The extremely sophisticated Greek of Luke also argues for a man who was very educated as does his attention to detail and the medical language in use matches that of other ancient Greek doctors. The ancient church father Irenaeus ascribed the work to Luke as does the Muratorian Canon. It is also mentioned by Clemente of Alexandria.
Place of Writing
Based on the descriptions of places in Palestine, it is generally assumed that the reader was unfamiliar with that land. It's not known where Luke was written, but it is assumed it is outside of Palestine and to an audience that is non-Jewish.
Luke is generally believed to have been written in the 70's or 80's, but it is also possible it was written in the late 50's or early 60's based upon the abrupt ending in Acts.
The arguments for an earlier date are as follows:
- Why wouldn't Luke have continued the history in Acts if he had written it later?
- Why wouldn't he have mentioned the martyrdom of Paul?
- Why is there no mention of the fall of Jerusalem (which took place in 70 A.D.)?
- See, e.g., NRSV Study Bible at 1502.
- Luke 24:13-35.