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5 - The future of the past: Luke's vision of salvation history and its bearing on his writing of history

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2010

Ben Witherington, III
Affiliation:
Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky
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Summary

Luke does not know the term “salvation history.” He does not employ the word στíρία. But he knows about one particular history, and this history has salvation as its theme. This is the history of Israel. The church, its message and life, is in itself the final part of this history. This is because Luke writes the history of the people of God. Israel is the only nation Luke names “people,” λαό¸. Luke, of course, is aware of the fact that other people have a history, but he does not deal with their history; rather, he only gives slight hints of its existence. This is not because he has chosen to write only the history of Israel and does not want to take other people into account, or because salvation history to him was something isolated within or outside world history. There is, of course, a connection between salvation history and world history. But God has – sit venia verbo – neglected the history of other people.4 Their history is not worth mentioning since it is an “empty” history, as is clearly expressed in Acts 14.16. “The Gentiles were all left alone to go their own way.” As an excuse, Luke adds that God has not “left himself without witness,” for example rain, fruitful seasons, food and gladness (14.17). But the history of other people is a history of idolatry and ignorance, even if God is the Creator and the universal giver of life who has fixed the epochs of history in general and the limits of the territories of the people (Acts 17.25f 30).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1996

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