Cool Stuff in Luke
April 12, 2004

Victor M. Wilson’s book, Divine Symmetries , studies literary and numerological patterns in the Bible. He has a chapter on Luke-Acts, and includes some fairly standard material about the structural parallels between the two books, but draws some interesting conclusions. Here is a reproduction of his page summarizing the parallel plot of Luke and Acts:

Luke Introduction and Preparation Acts

1:1-4 preface, with dedication to Theophilus 1:1-5
1:5-3:21 time of preparation 1:6-26
3:22 baptism with HS 2:1-4
4:16-30 inaugural sermon 2:14-40

Local Ministry

4:31-8:56 Galilee/Jerusalem 2:41-8:3
5:17-25 Lame man healed 3:1-10
5:29-6:11 conflicts with leaders 4:1-8:3
9:9 martyr: John and Stephen 7:54-8:1
7:1-10 centurion sends for Jesus/apostle 10:1-48
7:11-17 widow?s son and resurrection 9:36-43


9:51-53 resolve to journey to Jerusalem 19:21
9:51-19:27 missionary journey 13:1
9:31, 51; 12:50 passion journey 20:3, 22-24
9:45; 18:34 friends and disciples 21:4, 12-13
13:22 ready to die in Jerusalem 21:13

Jerusalem, Arrest, Trial
19:37 joyously received in Jerusalem 21:17-21
19:45-48 visit to the temple 21:26
20:27-39 dispute re resurrection 23:6-9
22:14-38 farewell address 20:17-38
22:14-20 last meal 27:33-38
22:47-54 seizure by a mob 21:30
22:63-64 slap before high priest 23:2
22-23 four trials bfore 3 courts 24-26
23:4, 14, 22 declarations of innocence 23:9; 25:25; 26:31
23:6-12 sent to Herod for questioning 25:13-26:32
23:16, 22 opportunity for release 26:32
23:18 ?away with this man?E 21:36
23:47 centurion with a favorable opinion 27:3, 43
24 fulfillment of Scripture 28
24:46-49 to nations/Gentiles 28:28

The most interesting thing that Wilson makes of this structure comes out in his interpretation of the shipwreck in Acts 27. He raises the question that many commentators on Acts have raised: Why does the book end before Paul’s trial and death, when the whole narrative trajectory is leading in that direction? He suggests that the shipwreck of Paul, parallel to the passion of Jesus, is in fact a death and resurrection experience, a Jonah experience. Paul “dies” in the water (Rom 6) and is raised up to eat a meal on the shore of Malta on the next day. As Wilson says, ?With this interpretation, for which the text offers some intriguing support, the troublesome ending of Acts is stripped of many of the problems that have plagued it. The parallel events of Luke?s Gospel and Acts and the interpretation thus laid upon the storm scene tell us that Paul?s ?death?Ehas already passed. The early morning gathering on the Maltese shore has the feel of a resurrection morning. The old has passed away; the new has come.?E

Another section of this chapter provides a chiastic outline of the Lukan journey narrative, chapters 9-19.

Structure of Luke?s Journey Narrative

A. 9:51-56: Departure/rejection
B. 9:57-10:24: following Jesus
C. 10:25-42: way to eternal life
D. 11:1-13: Prayer
E. 11:14-28: Signs of kingdom
F. 11:29-36: faith among foreigners
G. 11:37-12:3: stumbling blocks
H. 12:4-34: True riches, the Spirit
I. 12:35-39: Master returns
J. 13:1-9: cost of discipleship
K. 13:10-30: exiled home
L. 13:31-35: Jerusalem, Jerusalem
K?E 14:1-24: exiled home
J?E 14:25-35: cost of discipleship
I?E 15:1-32: Lost returned
H?E 16:1-31: false riches
G?E 17:1-10: stumbling blocks
F?E 17:11-19: faith among foreigners
E?E 17:20-37: signs of kingdom
D?E 18:1-14: Prayer
C?E 18:15-34: way to eternal life
B’. 18:35-19:27: following Jesus
A?E 19:28-40: arrival and acceptance

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