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The one thing that this 2016 presidential election in America has brought to the forefront is the integrity of professional journalism and fact-checking. The importance of this practice cannot be understated, especially when it involves the dissemination of relevant information to the public. There are two terms which have been tossed back and forth in the media coverage of the campaign, election, presidential inauguration and its aftermath, namely, “Fake News” and “Alternative facts.” I was thinking about this conundrum while reading the gospel “according” to Luke. In the opening introduction the anonymous editor, reporter, or redactor says: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilledamong us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly (chronological??) account for you, most Excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1: 1-3).
Since Luke was corresponding with a government official, I think it would seem prudent to provide accurate information. There were apparently other written versions of the New Movement and its controversial leader, but hearsay and oral testimonies have to be corroborated by the facts as they existed back then. Rumor had to be investigated, witnesses interviewed and vetted, and document sources authenticated for accuracy. If you stop and think about it for a moment, this just might have been the only gospel that had a historical basis. The information was not something spurious like an unofficial entry in ‘Wikiperia’ but rather, these claims were more closely subjected to the rigor of a one-person modern version of FactCheck.org. I mean, it is from this lone gospel that gives us the Annunciation, Nativity, and Christmas imagery which has been so profitable for Hallmark greeting cards and national retailers during the Winter holiday season. This study will comprise the first twenty one chapters of Luke’s gospel as more of a comparative overview, highlighting some of the information not included in the other narratives, as well as listing these broader themes in chronological order.
Luke 2: 41-42
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.
Luke 3: 1a
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea.
NOTE: Since the emperor ruled from 14 to 37AD, this time period would be 29 AD.
Luke 3: 21, 23a
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph.
NOTE: Jesus was 30 years old in 29 AD so that means he was born around 2 BC, and eighteen years has elapsed between the second and third chapter.
Jesus is rejected at Nazareth (Luke 4: 1-30); The Beatitudes: Woes (Luke 6: 24-27); Jesus raises a widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7: 11-18); the parable of the Sower (Luke 8: 4-15/short version); The Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36/short version); the disciples wanted to rain down fire on a Samaritan village (Luke 9: 51-56); Jesus sends out the seventy-two missionaries (Luke 10: 1-12, 16-17, 19-20); parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 28-37); Jesus teaching on Prayer (Luke 11: 5-8); Jesus talks about an impure spirit (Luke 11: 24-28); Jesus pronounces the Six Woes (Luke 11: 37-54); parable of the rich fool (Luke 12: 13-21); interpreting the Times (Luke 12: 54-59); repent or perish (Luke 13: 1-9); a cripple woman healed on the Sabbath (Luke 13: 10-17; the narrow door (Luke 13: 22-30); Jesus at a Pharisee house (Luke 14: 1-14); the cost of being a disciple (Luke 14: 28-33; parable of the lost coin (Luke 15: 8-10); parable of the Prodigal/Lost Son (Luke 15: 11-32); parable of the shrewd manager (Luke 16: 1-15); parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31); Jesus teaches about having mustard seed faith (Luke 17: 6-10; Jesus heals ten lepers (Luke 17: 11-19); coming of the kingdom of God and the example of Lot (Luke 17: 28-29); parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18: 1-8); parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 9-14); Jesus predicts his death (Luke 18: 31-33, esp. 34); Zacchaeus the tax Collector (Luke 19: 1-10); Jesus at the Temple (Luke 19: 45-48/NOTE: This is a lot different than Matthew 21: 12-17 or Mark 11: 11, 15-19, and Luke omits Jesus cursing the fig tree);
Signs of the End of the Age: Luke excludes the Lord shortening the day and the gospel must be preached to the nations; Luke includes Jerusalem trampled until the Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled; Luke excludes mentioning false Christs and false prophets; Luke includes the phrase “your redemption draws near.” Luke includes the admonition about watchfulness (Luke 21: 34-36); Luke excludes “No man knows the day or the hour” (Mark’s version in 13: 32-36 is really short and totally different from Matthew 24: 36-51); the last few things that are excluded in Luke’s narrative for this study are: Parable of the Ten Virgins/Parable of the Talents/Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25: 1-13; 14-30; and 31-46), respectively.
Final Points: Luke doesn’t say that the other accounts “according to” the writers of Matthew, Mark, and/or John aren’t true, but possibly suggests that they just might contain some ‘alternative facts’ to the sources that he used. This is sort of a freebie- Jesus’ fate was sealed (in this narrative) the moment when his actions or statements affected economic issues, such as, the interruption of temple revenues controlled by the banking cartel (money lenders), and the unpopular issue of paying taxes (Cp. Luke 19: 45-47 and 20: 20-22).
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