THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOMEN IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE, pt 1

Moving from the studies of the Trinity now to focusing mainly on the Gospels, we start off this new series by looking at the Gospel of Luke.

Even though the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report many of the same events and episodes in Jesus’ life, one would expect many similarities as well. However, each writer focuses on their own distinct emphasis and points of interests. Luke’s major characteristic themes include:

  1. universality, recognition of Gentiles as well as Jews in God’s plan (19:10);
  2. emphasis on prayer, especially Jesus’ praying before important occasions (3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:39-46; 23:34, 46);
  3. prominent place given to women (chs. 1, 2; 7:11-13, 36-50; 8:1-3; 10:38-42; 21:1-4; 23:27-31, 49; 23:55–24:11);
  4. special interest in poverty and wealth (1:52-53; 4:16-22; 6:20, 24-25; 12:13-21; 14:12-13; 19:19-31) [some of the rich were included among Jesus’ followers, but he seemed closest to the poor];
  5. concern for individuals, especially “sinners” (good Samaritan, 10:29-37; prodigal son, 15:11-32; thankful leper, 17:11-19; penitent tax collector, 18:9-14; Zacchaeus, 19:1-10; penitent thief, 23:39-43) [Jesus was a friend to those deep in sin];
  6. stress on the family circle (Jesus’ activity included men, women and children, with the setting frequently in the home);
  7. repeated use of the title “Son of Man” (e.g., 19:10);
  8. emphasis on joy (e.g., 1:14) and the Holy Spirit (e.g., 4:1).

From these themes, we see that it is important for Luke to discuss the significance of minorities and the forgotten of that period. From his background in the Greek culture, he had more exposure to the changing cultural attitudes of the day.

So what this post and the next few posts will focus on is how Luke gives women a prominent place in the inspired Gospel and possible reasons why. Luke includes many details in his writing that the other gospels do not, and some of those bring women into the mix. With this gospel, Luke is able to show the Jesus did not just come for a few, but for all. Instead of just taking the claim that Luke gave women a special role, let us look at the book of Luke and go through it carefully, examining every mention of a woman and how that fits in the overall theme of the book, which is Jesus (The Son of Man to use Luke’s words) brings salvation to all.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOMEN IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

The Gospel of Luke has often been regarded as sympathetic to women, as it provides more passages about women than any other Gospel, including 23 unique stories. Without the inspired writings of Luke, we would not know about the miraculous conception of Elizabeth, the prophetess Anna, Mary’s Magnificat, the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with her tears and costly oil, and of the women who accompanied Jesus in his travels and supported his ministry. The inspired writings of Luke describe the prominence of women in Christ’s ministry as he consistently portrays them as true examples of faith in spite of a culture that minimized women. Luke’s Gospel most importantly describes the significant roles women play from the very beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry.[1] The Gospel reveals Christ’s perfect love and tender compassion towards all women especially towards the suffering. The significance of women in the Gospel of Luke is demonstrated by the writer showcasing women’s faith and service and how Jesus reversed the societal norms by proclaiming a gospel of equality and inclusion. This paper will examine why Luke concentrates on women more than the other gospel writers, his possible motivation, his “pairing” writing style, and will examine individual passages.

Women and the Gospel of Luke

The author of Luke does increase the number of stories about the women in the Gospel, and that increase seems to be a deliberate choice.[2] It is significant that Luke pays so much attention to women in a culture dominated with focus on men. Luke mentions thirteen women not spoken of elsewhere in the Gospels, including two who formed the subject of parables. Luke, as a Gentile, would know much of the degradation of women and would be concerned to emphasize all he had heard of the attitude of the Lord towards them.[3] Luke’s Gospel begins and ends with the focus on women and their part in the story.[4] Luke focuses on women from the very beginning of Jesus’ life by pointing to Mary, not Joseph, who praised God with the birth announcement (Luke 1:46-55). Both Elizabeth (1:41-45) and Anna (2:36-38) also praised and blessed the Lord. There are many women in the Gospel, and there seems to be tendency for Luke to defend and praise women.

[1] Eugene H. Maly, “Women and the Gospel of Luke,” Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology 10 (1980): 99.

[2] Mary Rose D’Angelo, “Women in Luke-Acts: A Redactional View,” Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1990): 443, accessed March 14, 2015, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267051.

[3] D. Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, 4th ed. (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996), 103-4.

[4] T. C. Butler, Luke, vol. 3 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 132.

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3 thoughts on “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOMEN IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE, pt 1

  1. Pingback: The Significance of Women in Luke: A Radical Reversal | Seeking Our God

  2. Pingback: The Significance of Women in Luke: Luke’s Writing Style, pt 3 | Seeking Our God

  3. Pingback: Significance of Women in Luke: Seeing Through Eyes of Faith | Seeking Our God

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