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The Writings of Luke and the Jewish Roots of the Christian Way

An Examination of the Aims of the First Christian Historian in the Light of Ancient Politics, Ethnography, and Historiography

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The Writings of Luke and the Jewish Roots of the Christian Way by J. Andrew Cowan

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J. Andrew Cowan challenges the popular theory that Luke sought to boost both his own status and that of the growing Christian religion by investing heavily in the Jewish roots of the movement - associating the new church with an ancient and therefore respected heritage. Cowan instead argues that Luke draws upon the traditions of the Old Testament and its supporting texts as a reassurance to followers, promising that Jesus' life, his works and the church that follow legitimately provide fulfilment of God's plan of salvation. Cowan's argument compares Luke's writings to two near-contemporaries, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and T. Flavius Josephus, who likewise emphasized the ancient heritage of a people in order to pursue cultural or political aims. Focusing upon how Dionysius and Josephus argue for the superiority of, respectively, Roman and Jewish culture, Cowan suggests that this comparison reveals how the writings of Luke do not share the same cultural values or pursue the same ends. Challenging assumptions on Luke's supposed attempts to assuage political concerns, capitalize on antiquity, and glorify the history of the Jewish people and present Christianity as a school of Jewish philosophy, Cowan counters with arguments for Luke being critical of over-valuing tradition and defining the Jewish people as resistant to God and His messages. He finally claims that the apostle does not strive for legitimising the new church by previous cultural standards, but instead provides theological reassurance to Christians that God's aim has been achieved, with implications for broader debate

Author Biography

J. Andrew Cowan holds a PhD in New Testament from the University of St. Andrews, UK.
Release date NZ
February 21st, 2019
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
T.& T.Clark Ltd
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