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The Theology of the Gospel of Luke (New Testament Theology) [Paperback]

By Joel B. Green (Author)
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Item description for The Theology of the Gospel of Luke (New Testament Theology) by Joel B. Green...

Lecturers can request examination copies for course consideration. The Gospel of Luke, often mined for information about the life of Jesus, is also one of the earliest Christian examples of narrative theology. Luke goes to great lengths to ground the work of Jesus in the continuing story of God's redemptive plan, and his emphasis on the ongoing character of that story challenges his audience to discern the purpose of God and order their lives around it. This exploration of the way in which he accomplishes his theological task in the first century is both informative and illuminating for contemporary readers.

Publishers Description
The Gospel of Luke, often mined for information about the life of Jesus, is also one of the earliest Christian examples of narrative theology. Unlike some writers of New Testament books, Luke has engaged in the theological task by shaping a narrative representation of the coming and mission of Jesus. In doing so, he goes to great lengths to ground the work of Jesus in the continuing story of God's redemptive plan, especially witnessed in the Scriptures, and he also emphasises the ongoing character of that story, with the result that Luke's audience is challenged to discern the purpose of God in order that they may embrace it and order their lives around it.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Cambridge University Press
Pages   184
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 11, 2015
Publisher   Cambridge University Press
Series  Cambridge New Testament Theology  
ISBN  0521469325  
ISBN13  9780521469326  

Availability  56 units.
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More About Joel B. Green

Joel B. Green Joel B. Green (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is dean of the School of Theology and professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Theological Interpretation and has authored or edited numerous books, including the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics.
Lee Martin McDonald (PhD, University of Edinburgh), before his retirement, was professor of New Testament studies and president of Acadia Divinity College. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including The Story of Jesus in History and Faith, The Biblical Canon, and coeditor of The Canon Debate (with James Sanders). McDonald now lives in Mesa, Arizona.

Joel B. Green currently resides in Wilmore, in the state of Kentucky. Joel B. Green was born in 1956 and has an academic affiliation as follows - American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, California Fuller Th.

Joel B. Green has published or released items in the following series...
  1. IVP Bible Dictionary
  2. New International Commentary on the New Testament
  3. New Testament Theology
  4. Reframing New Testament Theology
  5. Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Theology of the Gospel of Luke (New Testament Theology)?

The "story" in Luke's Narrative  Jan 1, 2008
This book is a must have for any serious student of scripture. Joel Green unravels and studies the major theological themes that Luke weaves into his narrative. The outcome is a rich and deep understanding of God's goodness to humankind that Luke wants to present to his audience. This book is easy to read and understand. It will make a great adjunct to commentaries on Luke.
Very Good Summary of Lucan Themes. Not Theology  Dec 13, 2007
`The Theology of the Gospel of Luke' is by Joel B. Green, Associate Professor of New Testament, American Baptist Seminary of the West and Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, California. This is a very useful book on its subject. I deduct one star in my rating as a warning that it may not give the reader the Lucan insights for which they were looking.
It is part of a learned series of books on New Testament Theology published by none less than Cambridge University Press. These things may impress, but they are not as important as the fact that Professor Green is also the author of a superb source of Pastoral guidance on `The Gospel of Luke' in `The New International Commentary on the New Testament', which I have found to be one of the very best sources for understanding some of Luke's more difficult pericopes.
Both books reveal a tendency of Green to draw outside the lines. His `commentary', for example, has little of the usual reams of bibliographical references and lexical reflections. This is to the good, as he often provides the best guidance for understanding difficult passages. And, as long as you have the other scholarly tomes at hand, you aren't missing much.
This book on Theology, unfortunately, also strays from the expectations created by its title. As I read the book, I forget Professor Green's academic credentials and start wondering if he knows what `theology' really is. To me, the word brings to mind the medieval system builders such as St. Thomas Aquinas and the great reform theologians such as John Calvin. What Green gives us is a very good summary of a pastoral interpretation of the third Gospel, but very little theology. Looking at his Table of Contents, one gets the sense that the book is a survey of all the themes in the Gospel, but with no attempt to tie them all together, even as St. Paul did in his Epistle to the Romans. The book is superb as a summary of the Gospel's emphasis on prophesy, the women's' role in discipleship, and the messages to the poor of Galilee and Judea. But, it doesn't seem to adduce the THEOLOGICAL aspects of these themes.
My best evidence for this observation is that Luke's unique parable of `the prodigal son' is cited several times in the text, although Green never reveals the importance of this parable. It is not even considered important enough to place in the index, even though there are three different mentions of the parable in the text. In Rudolph Bultmann's Theology of the New Testament, (pp 23 - 24) for example, `the prodigal son' is cited as an illustration of the supreme difference between Jesus' preaching and Luke's depiction of the Pharisees of the day.
If you are seriously studying the third Gospel, I suggest you get Professor Green's superb commentary (which was written after this little book). And, since no commentary should be read by itself, you can pair this with one of the more bibliographically rich commentaries such as Joseph A. Fitzmyer's two volume exegesis standard. Both provide the authors' own translation and Fitzmyer will provide all the guidance you may need on writings discussing individual pericopes. And, I think Fitzmyer's section on Lucan theology in his first volume is much closer to the point.
Excellent Resource for New Testament Studies  Dec 7, 2007
Summary of Chapter Five: "Let them take up the cross daily": the way of discipleship
The treatment of the subject of discipleship in Luke's Gospel is largely pedagogical in nature and serves to educate the disciples prior to their commissioning and continuation of the work of Christ in the book of Acts. To link his two-volume work with the theme of discipleship, Luke introduces his readers to "The Way," the community of disciples in Acts who have become the Spirit-empowered witnesses to the resurrected Christ. Though applied as a designative term in Acts, Luke's usage of the term "way" can be traced back to the desert ministry of John the Baptist. Drawing on Isaiahic prophecies, John's role as the forerunner of Christ was to prepare "the way" for his coming. In this approach, Luke associates the "way of the Lord" with "The Way" as the community of Christ, creatively weaving a journey motif throughout the Lukan texts and providing a metaphor for the unfolding of the theme of discipleship.

The way of discipleship commences when Jesus takes the initiative and calls people to unite with him in his ongoing mission to liberate and restore broken humanity. Following the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, Jesus calls Peter to become a "fisher of men", a term that parallels Peter's vocation and analogically describes the missional nature of discipleship as a means of reaching people with the gospel message. Though readers are unaware of Peter's qualifications for such an endeavour, Luke gives the impression that Jesus is confident that Peter is a suitable selection. In addition to Peter, Jesus goes beyond conventional social and religious boundaries and calls a cross-section of people to join him on the journey of discipleship including a "sinner", a tax-collector, and even women- selections that would later become a source of contention and criticism among his antagonists.

Those whom Jesus calls to his journey exhibit four common characteristics that define the marks of a true disciple: faith, repentance, a desire to follow Jesus, and a commitment to his redemptive mission. First, throughout the journey, Jesus often alludes to faith as a critical feature of discipleship and, though the Twelve struggle in their understanding of the true identity of their leader, many followers of Christ put their trust in him for healing and forgiveness. Second, despite the fact that the term "repentance" is rarely used in Luke, the theme of repentance as it relates to discipleship is consistently weaved throughout the text. John's preaching and baptizing ministry centres on repentance; Jesus teaches how repentance is a corollary of faith and a necessary constituent for receiving the kingdom of God. Throughout Luke, repentance is presented as an essential component of discipleship and involves redirecting the heart and life towards the plans and purposes of God. Third, Luke emphasizes that the marks of a true disciple are those who follow Jesus. Luke illustrates this numerous times by identifying how the disciples are constantly "with" Jesus, implying a shared missional experience. Set within the context of self-denial and cross bearing, the disciples allow their life to be shaped by Jesus and participate with him in the successes as well as the hardships of ministry. Fourth, discipleship involves sharing in Jesus' missionary agenda of proclaiming the kingdom of God, driving out demons, and healing the sick. Anticipating the Spirit-empowered preaching and healing ministry in Acts, the disciples in Luke's Gospel are empowered and sent out into the community to represent Jesus and carry out his programmic mission of liberation and redemption.

Luke emphasizes two additional responses to the grace of Christ in the lives of disciples, namely praise and prayer. The theme of praise, first seen in the birth narratives in response to the coming of John and Jesus, returns in Jesus' ministry. When Jesus miraculously heals people, those who recognize him as being sent from God or the expected deliverer of Israel commonly respond with praise and rejoicing, contrasting those who fail to believe, causing Jesus to mourn over their lost condition. Moreover, Luke's understanding of discipleship also includes the importance of prayer as illustrated by Jesus' example and his teachings. Through his teaching and modelling a personal prayer life, Jesus conveys to his disciples the privilege they also have in praying to the Father, the faithfulness of the Father to hear and act on their behalf, and the importance of prayer when facing worry, hardship, and temptation. For Luke, both praise and prayer mark the path of discipleship throughout the narrative, serving as outward expressions of an inward change.

Continuing the thematic string of the discipleship journey, Jesus also deals with the critical issues of poverty and wealth as it relates to the lives of his followers. In accordance with his inaugural synagogue announcement to bring good news to the poor, Jesus warns against the temptation of wealth, regarding it as a counterproductive force in advancing the purposes of God. Stipulating that no one can serve both money and God, Jesus calls on his hearers to surrender everything for the sake of the gospel, an essential component for anyone willing to accompany Christ along the way of discipleship.

Luke's understanding of the problem of wealth is traced to the social construction of first-century Mediterranean culture where the flow of wealth was confined to fixed social boundaries that served to stratify the classes and exclude outsiders. Sharing wealth with someone without the expectation of compensation was to treat them as though they were part of the familial relationship or inner circle; equally, refusing to share with someone was to treat them as though they were a pariah and outside of the circle. Contrasting the embedded social norms, Jesus instructs the disciples to reach out beyond the accepted social boundaries and share their wealth and possessions with those rejected by society. Additionally, Jesus' teaching that disciples give without expecting anything in return upsets the traditional patron-client relationship of early Roman Palestine. Within this social framework, a patron possesses a commodity desired by a client. In exchange for the goods or services, a client bestows honour and devotion to the patron and, upon receipt of the commodity, the client exists in a relative state of obligation to the patron. Countering the patron-client social structure, Jesus calls his followers to exhibit behaviour that is conformed to the principles of the kingdom of God. Highlighted in Jesus' Sermon on the Plain, he instructs his disciples to love, bless, forgive, and pray for their enemies regardless of their responses, turn the other cheek instead of seeking revenge, and willingly give to everyone in need. Urging his listeners to refuse to follow the exclusive social patterns associated with their culture, Jesus exhorts them to conform to a new pattern based on the values of the kingdom of God. For Jesus, the way of discipleship blazes a new trail that upends traditional social behaviours and replicates his mission to liberate and restore humankind.

In addition of the characteristics of faith and practice that defines the way of discipleship in the Third Gospel, Luke also portrays the disciples as an open and accepting community, especially to those ordinarily excluded from traditional social circles. Jesus concretely illustrates the unbiased and welcoming nature of the discipleship community in the parable of the great banquet where the invited guests excuse themselves from attending, but the poor, crippled, blind, and lame are welcomed to table fellowship. Moreover, though children were considered of little value in Roman culture, Jesus' accepting of a small child into his inner circle teaches that the way of discipleship includes the least of society. For Luke, though the theme of discipleship is primarily didactic in the Gospel, readers anticipate that the principles taught will be actualized in the book of Acts when "the way" of discipleship becomes "The Way".
The Gospel of Luke according to Green  May 18, 2007
Highly over-rated.
Difficult reading.
Read the Bible instead.
Excellent overview of Luke's Theology  Jun 12, 2006
One of the deficiencies in single book Bible commentaries is that there is not enough discussion of the author's theological message. So this contribution by Joel Green is a welcome addition to the studies that have been done on Luke's Gospel. He ably surveys the theological landscape of Luke, occasionally making salient comments on whether this differs or is consistent with Luke's work in the book of Acts.

There are six chapters in this 184 page book, and in chapter one, Green discusses the world of Luke's gospel. He suggests that an understanding of Luke's gospel is predicated especially on an understanding of how Luke has grappled with the cultural world of Greco-Roman Palestine, and with how he has shaped his narrative. Green sees Luke as historiography, the story of Jesus within the story of God's purposes.

Chapter two surveys the theme of God as Savior, noting that God's purpose is explained in Luke as a desire to seek and to save that which was lost. We see this theme in the story of the lost coin in Luke 15, and the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, and in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Luke also invites us to make their stories our story by properly responding to the salvation offered by God in Jesus.

Chapter three is a discussion of Jesus as Savior. Luke portrays Christ as Son of David, Son of God (as opposed to simply being son of Joseph), and Savior for all (Luke 2:10) The atonement of Christ is not as emphasized in Luke as it is in Acts.

I appreciated Green's acknowledgement on page 89 that central for Luke is that salvation is to be extended and offered to all people. We see this theme throughout Luke, as Jesus ministers to the marginalized members of society: the widow in Luke 7, the sinful woman mentioned in the same chapter, and in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.

Green has a concluding chapter that helps Christians to apply the message of Luke to our lives today. He says that Luke's message of God's universal offer of salvation should help us to repent of our ageism, our sexism and all the other isms that still plague the body of Christ.

I must confess that I found fault with Green's larger commentary on Luke (published in 1997) because I felt that Green was more concerned about the cultural background of the Gospel of Luke than about the text of Luke itself. But this book shows that Green has an excellent understanding of the text. I highly recommend this book to those who are studying or teaching or preaching through Luke's Gospel.

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