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5.0 out of 5 stars From Schweizer's Historical Jesus to The Christ of Word & sacrament, October 17, 2008
This review is from: Luke, a Challenge to Present Theology (Paperback)
"The more I delved into the book of Luke, the more intrigued I became. To my own surprise I discovered that Luke's approach helped me to a new understanding of the meaning of the Christ event." Eduard Schweizer

Luke, the Beloved Physician:
Already in the second century the author of the Third Gospel was identified as "Luke, the beloved physician" mentioned by Paul in Colossians 4:14. (1) For centuries afterward readers of the Bible saw abundant proof of the medical expertise that informed the gospel that bears Luke's name. When historical criticism tested long-held assumptions about biblical authorship, one of the notions to fall by the wayside was the conviction that the Third Gospel is a text written by a physician. However, beginning in the late twentieth century, scholarship has again begun to see in the Gospel according to Luke a text that exhibits a focused interest on issues of health and healing. By Roschke's count, there are more than sixty episodic references to healing and health in Luke; ... some of the current research being advanced to challenge us to think about biblical healing in new ways.

Re-examination of Luke's import:
Luke-Acts is often characterized in terms of God's "preferential option for the poor" as epitomized in Jesus' inaugural sermon on Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18-19. A quick read-through of Luke-Acts confirms that the narrative is often critical of 'the rich.' This engagement with the theme of wealth and poverty begins with the Magnificat (1:51-52) and moves on to include such well-known texts as the woes against the rich in the beatitudes (6:24), the special Lukan parable of the Rich Fool (12:13-21), the first/last saying of 13:31, the special Lukan parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (16:19-31), .... While the emergence of Liberation theology in the 1970s may have been the impetus for a re-examination of the economic import of Luke among biblical scholars, a recognition of the scathing critique of privilege in Luke-Acts has long since traveled beyond these circles. The advancement of 'the poor' at the expense of 'the rich' by Luke has become an accepted reading of Luke-Acts. Ronald Roschke

Schweizer's Historical Jesus:
So what are we doing now, talking about the historical Jesus and Christian theology?
The quest for the historical Jesus began as a protest against traditional Christian dogma, but when the supposedly 'neutral' historians peered into the well, all they saw was a featureless Jesus. Even when scholars decided that other biblical figures; John the Baptist, the evangelists, Paul, the "Q" people, and so on, were at home in a richly-storied and symbolic world. Jesus himself was not allowed to act symbolically, to criticize his contemporaries, to think theologically, to reflect on his own vocation, or to evoke any of the various meta-narratives with which his Jewish world was replete. ...
We are taking Hermann Reimarus's challenge seriously: investigate Jesus and see whether Christianity is not based on a mistake. We are taking Albert Schweitzer's challenge seriously: put Jesus within apocalyptic Judaism and watch bland unthinking dogma shiver in its shoes. If this is too dangerous, escape routes are available. First, Wilhelm Wrede: Mark is theological fiction, and Jesus is a non-apocalpytic, teasing teacher. This is alive and well over one hundred years later. Second, Martin Kähler: the true Christ is a Christ of faith detached from the Jesus of history. This, too, is alive and well today. The church may urge this latter escape route, part of the academic guild may urge the former. Both should be resisted. Instead, we should accept both Reimarus's challenge and Schweitzer's proposal. NT Wright

A Challenge to Theology?
'Theology' identifies the concern of the discipline as theos, 'God'. A Biblical Theology will deal with God as he has revealed himself in the biblical tradition, and by common consent this includes God's relation to the world and to humankind. There is certainly room for difference of opinion regarding the boundaries of such a theology. For example, should it include at least the theological basis of ethics, or is Biblical Ethics a completely different subject from Biblical Theology? 'Theology' means the logos of theos, and this raises perhaps the most contentious aspect of any definition of Biblical Theology. Logos (word/reason) in compounds of this type generally denotes the written, rational, systematic, and scientific study of a given subject area. There are those who would contend that since the biblical material is so diverse, and with its varied literary forms (history, poetry, drama, epistles, and so on) actually contains very little 'theology', therefore a Biblical Theology is virtually impossible. Such a view, it may be argued, presupposes a very narrow conception of theology as rigid, systematized, doctrinal and propositional in form. Through its diverse literary forms the Bible does give expression to an understanding of God in his relation to the world and to humankind. It is the testimony of the community which accepts the Bible as canonical scripture that this understanding, though diverse and culturally conditioned, nevertheless is based on the revelation of God; in and through the human words can be discerned the Word of God. This understanding of God's revelation can be the subject of scholarly study. Such study, as in any discipline, must be ordered in some way; what is important is that the 'order' is one that arises from and is appropriate to the subject matter itself. (Charles Scobie, Prof. Emeritus of Religious Studies, New Brunswick)

Good News to the Poor:
The good news to the poor has everything to do with the Son of God becoming someone of lowly status and dying on the accursed cross with utmost shame among the criminals (Lk 4:18; Gal 3:13; Phil 2:6-11). He was not born among the rich but the poor. By identifying with those with least privileges Jesus brought salvation to humankind and called his disciples to take on the same value system he had. Obviously salvation is not only for the poor. There were rich Christians in the early church. But the gospel cannot be fully understood unless discipleship is interpreted in terms of one's willingness to identify with the lowly and the weak. What should be noted is that Jesus did not demand Zaachaeus to sell all his possessions - something that Luke emphasises in his gospel (14:33; 18:22). Zaachaeus probably remained relatively well off. But for Jesus, wealth is not to be measured in monetary terms. In this story Luke has shown us how the poor outcast) has been restored, and how he now, by the use of his possession, has included the poor in his circle of kin.

Socialist or Kenotic Theology:
In Luke 18:18-30 we hear the famous story of the rich ruler, who asked Jesus how one could inherit eternal life. Jesus' demand was hard to meet. He asked him to sell everything and give to the poor, and then, follow him. Three things must be understood here. First, as already noted, the poor in Palestinian antiquity were those who lived on the margin of the society and had little social status. Second, "giving" in those days had much to do with enhancing one's honour in the community and the recipients of gifts were expected to reciprocate. Jesus' demand was great because his suggested way of "giving" would not enhance the ruler's honour, and his recipients could hardly return him anything. Third, the call to follow Jesus meant no possession of a home and indeed implied sharing life with the social outcasts and sinners - people of lowest status in the society (9:58; 4:17-21).
The challenge to the rich ruler was thus not simply a matter of giving up money. It was about identifying with the poor and the subsequent loss of privileges and social standing. Too much was at stake for him. Similarly, the challenge of discipleship for us today is not so much about our willingness to sell our hi-fi equipment and luxury cars so as to give money to the poor. Instead, the question is whether we are ready to give up the status, power and privileges that our wealth can bring us. For it is in identifying with the weak, the humble and the lowly that the kingdom of God may manifest in our lives.

Book Contents:
I. The Historico-critical Method - An avenue to theological understanding
II. The Continental background of Modern theology
III. History and Salvation History - what do they mean today?
IV. The Crucified and Risen Christ - how is He present today?
V. Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament

Theology Renewal Book:
Professor Schweizer, 1913-2006, who wrote a number of impressing books, many translated into English, represents the continental approach to theology as Hermeneutics. He wrote," this work which focuses on the basic theological questions of Luke emerged from my preparations on my critical commentary on Luke."
A grace filling study for one of the critical minds of sound faith.

Luke the Theologian: Fifty-Five Years of Research (1950-2005)
The Paradox of Salvation: Luke's Theology of the Cross (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series)
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