Study Luke at TGC13: A Conversation with Thomas Schreiner
Did you know you can earn up to six hours of transferable course credit through Southern Seminary in conjunction with our 2013 National Conference in Orlando (April 8-10)? Prolific New Testament scholar Thomas Schreiner will be teaching a course on Luke's Gospel [view syllabus] in correspondence with the conference theme, "His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke." Students will attend exclusive lectures, panel discussions, and events featuring renowned professors and pastors throughout the conference. Here's the course description:
A study of the Third Gospel with particular attention to Lukan theology, to the evangelist as historian, and to relevance for the contemporary church (three hours). This class will function as an elective for most degree programs. Consult your school's registrar to verify how it will transfer to your degree.
The course will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 8, for pre-conference lectures, and will feature other special panels and gatherings during the conference. Attendance for all class-related events is mandatory.
I corresponded with Schreiner about what makes Luke's Gospel unique, whether Luke and Paul agreed on the atonement, what students can expect from this course, and more.
What's unique about Luke among the four Gospels?
On one hand, Luke shares many themes with Matthew and Mark, which is evident to even the most untutored reader. On the other hand, there are distinctives in Luke that can't be chronicled fully here. One striking feature of Luke is that it has a sequel, so that readers are invited to read Luke-Acts together.
Also, certain themes stand out: the Holy Spirit, the importance of prayer, Luke's concern for the disenfranchised (women, the poor, tax collectors, and sinners), the danger of riches, and the inclusion of the Gentiles. Moreover, Luke has unforgettable parables that are not found elsewhere: for example, the good Samaritan (10:35-37); the two lost sons (15:11-32); the unjust steward (16:1-9); and the Pharisee and the tax collector (18:9-14).
Was Luke's view of the atonement Pauline?
Luke doesn't explicate the significance of the atonement in the same way Paul does, and some scholars claim he doesn't have a theology of the atonement. John Kimbell's dissertation at Southern Seminary has shown, I think, that Luke does have a theology of the atonement, which is often overlooked. The Lord's Supper text (Luke 22:14-20) and the shedding of Christ's blood for redemption (Acts 20:28) indicate a theology of atonement. A number of other features in Luke's narrative---the servant of the Lord, the breaking of the bread, the taking of the cup, and so on---point to a theology of atonement that, though not unpacked with the same depth as in Paul, is also present in Luke.
What major biblical themes are uniquely picked up and developed---or perhaps even brought to a climax---in Luke's Gospel?
That is a massive question, which I can't answer fully here. I will focus here on the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham and to David and the promises found in the new covenant. The promises of God, the OT scriptures, are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Luke's way of saying this is that the kingdom has come in Christ. The kingdom has been inaugurated through his ministry and death and resurrection, even though it has not been consummated. The promise of worldwide blessing given to Abraham isn't fulfilled in Luke, but from the beginning of the Gospel it is clear that such promises will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and the Gospel ends with the call to proclaim the gospel to all peoples.
Luke teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Lord. God's promises for Israel are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The new covenant is fulfilled in his death, so that forgiveness of sins is now ours through Jesus Christ.
How is Luke's Gospel particularly relevant for the contemporary church?
Though I can't unpack these themes here, I can mention some of them: the proclamation of the kingdom, the centrality of Jesus Christ, the importance of his death, the call to faith and repentance, the call to discipleship, the need for the Holy Spirit, the call to all peoples to be saved, the danger of riches, and the fulfillment of God's promises.
What should students expect from their experience in this course?
Through the conference, students will hear outstanding expositors teach and apply the message of Luke. One advantage here is that the academic and pastoral will be wedded together so that the relevance of Luke for today will be evident. There will also be panel discussions at which certain themes will be explored in more depth. Students will also attend a couple of lectures at which themes from Luke will be examined. I think it will be a great experience for students to be immersed in Luke for a few days.