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9 - The appropriate form of words for the occasion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2009

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Summary

We turn now from the general to the particular. In chapter 8 we argue that Luke's ‘scientific’ preface can be seen as part of a wider pattern reflecting general socio-cultural aspects of the life of the first-century churches. We are now in a position to return to the questions adumbrated in chapter 1 concerning the immediate context of the preface. We have suggested that a ‘minimal’ conclusion to be drawn from Luke's use of scientific preface-convention might be formulated thus: ‘If Luke chooses a “scientific” preface for the beginning of his Gospel, it is because, for him, this is the appropriate form of words for the occasion.’ In this final chapter we shall consider in more detail what the occasion was: first in relation to the dedication and its social context, and then in relation to the text itself and the literary expectations aroused by the preface.

The social occasion: Luke and Theophilus

It is easy to forget that the primary announcement of purpose in Luke–Acts comes in the preface, with the statement that Luke is writing ‘so that you (that is, Theophilus) may have assured knowledge about the things in which you have been instructed’. At the surface level, the text is a personal communication to a named individual.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1993

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