Why Did Luke Not Like Jesus’ Family?

We talked a few weeks ago how the author of Luke/Acts was a huge fan of Paul. But when it came to Jesus’ brother James —- not so much. And the author of Luke doesn’t much care for any of Jesus’ family for that matter. What makes us think so?

Anonymous family members. Mark, the gospel written first, frequently mentions the brothers and sisters of Jesus, even naming them. Luke, despite having Mark open on the kitchen table as a reference, makes no mention of any of Jesus’ siblings by name. This is true even at the crucifixion scene, where Mark identifies Mary, the mother of James and Jesus. But Luke just says “the women” were there.

Jerusalem vs Galilee. Luke also wants to eliminate any association of Jesus and his followers with Galilee. In contrast to some of the other gospels, in Luke the followers of Jesus did not retreat to Galilee after Jesus’ death (Jesus even forbids the apostles to leave Jerusalem in Luke’s version). And he puts all the “sightings” of Jesus in Jerusalem.

Why’s that? To Luke Galilee represents the native, Jewish origins of Jesus and his family. It is also where the leadership of James apparently took root following Jesus’ death, with the influence of Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene, and Jesus’ other brothers. Galilee was also known, from the time of the Maccabees (c. 165 B.C.) as the center of political and religious unrest. Sooooo, if you recall from an earlier post, Luke was writing his gospel in the midst of the Jewish/Roman battles that resulted in the destruction of the Temple. And he wanted to be clear that the Jesus movement was not to be associated with any kind of rebel activity coming out of Galilee.

Most of this week’s observations are from a book entitled Paul and Jesus by James Tabor. Tabor also has a blog, which we have featured here before too.

Question of the week:  Who wrote Luke?

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