Did you notice what Luke has done with the raw material?
It is clear Luke is familiar with all this material. He knew it, but chose to use some of it, not all of it. Notice how the order matches Mark’s order. He includes all Mark’s material except for the last 3 parables and some earlier material. But then he also omits the pericope on Beelzebul and the kingdom divided and puts the Who is my mother and my father element in a different order. Luke is doing what he has done before. When Luke told us he has thoroughly research the stories about Jesus and put them in an ordered account for Theophilus (God Lover) he wasn’t kidding. That is exactly what he is doing. I have marked the missing or moved pieces above with X’s. The X which relates the moved element I have shaded with a black background. But notice the segments in between have been edited. They are considerably shorter than Mark and Matthew. If Luke were the first gospel writer we would conclude Matthew and Mark were the ones adding material. But because Mark is the first it is clear that Luke is omitting the material or shortening it. So often he is making a point by omitting things or putting things in a different order; in the same way we found in John. He often shortens a pericope that he has borrowed from Mark or Matthew, trimming it to fit his purpose. Luke is an editor of established material which he is using to new effect. Our task is to find out why or ask God’s Holy Spirit for help in working it all out.
When Luke returns again to synoptic material after his shorter insertion (6:20-8:3) he goes straight to the parable of the seed/soils. He cuts straight to the chase. We have to ask ourselves the question as to why he omits the material in between? There are some differences in the way Luke handles the first parable from the others. Matthew and Mark take 7 verses to cover the first parable Luke covers it in 4 verses. Luke covers the explanation in 7 verses where as Matthew takes 13 and Mark takes 10 verses to cover the same sense unit. Luke then includes the following units Mark includes but not Matthew’s, while also shedding a bit here and there. He then places the early unit he has clipped from Matthew and Mark “who is mother and my father” and once again shortens it from five verses down to three. He omits all of the other parables which he certainly must know about and he goes straight to the Calming of the Storm story. Note that Matthew takes the time to add another “explanation segment” for the Parable of the Tares as well. But Mark and Luke only use the one related to Seed/Soil.
I trust that you see the reason why I got you to find out for yourself how Luke is handling the material. You have a wealth of information available to you if you use the other synoptic gospel writers to compare with the one you are studying. They shed light on the way each particular writer is handling the established traditional material. Not just in terms of each individual story but also the order in which they placed the segments and what they do with them.
At this point you may be asking, “So what Ian? These are just small insignificant details.” The problem for a detective at a crime scene is (s)he doesn’t know what is significant and what is not until they examine all of the detail. When you examine it all you are in a better position to determine what is useful and what is not. Now our task is to find out why has Luke done these things as we read through Luke’s account compared with the others.
A very useful resource to use for doing this kind of study is a harmony of the Gospels. The one I have used for years is A Harmony of the Gospels by Robert L Thomas and Stanley Gundry published by Moody Press. You are not likely to get that now as it was first published in 1978, although you may be able to pick it up in a second hand Christian bookshop if you are lucky. It is a very good one with lots of extras. But you are also have a Harmony of the Gospel available to you through E-Sword. A few years I suggested to Rick Meyers who developed E-Sword that it would be good to have a harmony of the Gospels built into E-Sword and year or two later Rick and his team had developed that. (Thanks Rick on behalf of us all]. Use it. You will find it under <Bible> and <Harmony> on the top menu line. It makes finding the kind of thing I am telling you now easy. Go practice.
Next Gem we will start the Parable of the Seed / Soils.
Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.Bobby Salinas
People who shine from within don’t need the spotlight.Anon
Light travels faster than sound – that’s why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.Anon
When a Christian stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs.Corrie ten Boom
You may not always know the details of your journey or clearly see where the trail is leading, but God will always give you enough light to take the next step.Ian Vail
PS – It is like that for me with these Gems in Luke. I have not applied Deeper Bible principles to Luke before. I am doing it for the first time in these live Quiet Times that I share with you as Bible Gems. I don’t know what I will find. Oh there are some things I know from my previous times reading Luke each year. But not at this depth. I don’t know the answers to these things I suggest you do. I am finding them as I go along. Hint hint.