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The Paradox of Salvation: Luke's Theology of the Cross.

By Peter Doble. PP. xiv+272. (Society for New Testament Studies, Monograph Series, 87.) Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0 521 55212 5. 35 [pounds sterling]/$54.55

Doble persuasively argues the case that the key to understanding Luke's passion narrative lies in the recognition that he is deeply influenced by the model of the righteous one in Wisdom 1-5. Three key elements in Luke 23:46 f.,[GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and the language of Ps. 30(31):6 with [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] prefixed are shown to be related not only to what is said of [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Wisdom but to what Luke has to say elsewhere in Luke-Acts when presenting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

[GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is a formula which signals recognition of God's saving purposes, as foretold in Scripture, now being fulfilled. [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] generally in Luke-Acts has a positive religious content of those who are devoted to God, live blamelessly and humbly, longing for the kingdom, and prepared to die, if need be, in confidence that God will ultimately vindicate them. Pace Kilpatrick and most modern translations, therefore, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; in Luke 23:47 must be translated, not `innocent' (a translation with only slender lexical support, relying mainly on earlier references in the narrative to Jesus being declared guiltless), but `righteous'. The background to Luke's presentation is thus the righteous one of Wisdom 1-5, who is persecuted by the ungodly because they resent his goodness and his calling himself son of God (cf. Luke 22:70 f.) and desire to put him to the test by a shameful death, but who is vindicated beyond death, while the ignorance of his persecutors is exposed by their confrontation with [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

Once detected in Luke 23:46 f. this pattern is traced elsewhere in the passion narrative and more widely in Luke-Acts. Luke thus has a clear and coherent theologia crucis. Cross and resurrection are God's testing of his righteous one, who becomes pattern and leader for those called to a similar life of righteousness, testing, and promised vindication. In God's plan of salvation the cross was the event necessary to turn the ages.

The case is argued in detail; sometimes indeed one has the feeling of repetition as evidence and arguments are re-presented in relation to each topic. Not all the detail is equally convincing. Is Luke 9:17 so `distinct' an `echo' of 2 Kgs. 4:44 (p. 44)? Is it wise to put so much weight on an unidentified varia lectio in Ps. 118(119):1 (p.96)? If [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Luke generally indicates not those who rebel against the moral law but those who do not study Torah (p. 110), why are they called to repentance? The link between [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and suffering at 9:31 is hardly `characteristic' (p.211). Can [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Wisd. 3:2, 7:6 carry all the weight of the exodus from Egypt when it is paired with [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in 7:6 (p.212)? P. 210 fails to acknowledge [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] at Heb. 11:22 and on p.152 n. 27 the reference should presumably be to Isa. 35:6. But overall the exegetical case for Wisdom as a primary scriptural influence upon Luke's narrative is well made and hard to gainsay.

Does it amount to a Lukan theologia crucis? The answer depends upon what one expects such a theology to yield. If it is only to be a theological framework within which the crucifixion can be accommodated, that is provided by Wisdom. Jesus' death was not a disaster nor shameful, but a positive act of loyalty to God, appropriately vindicated. If the question is why it was necessary (Luke's oft-repeated [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), the Wisdom-pattern again provides an answer: in a wicked world God exposes the righteous to testing; only so can the folly of evil be exposed for what it is.

But the question can be pressed: does this death make a difference? What is achieved by it? Essentially Doble's answer is, if Israel and the Gentiles are to be called to a life of righteousness, one person must go all the way, to set a pattern of loyalty and give assurance of vindication. `Jesus' death stood in God's plan of salvation as that willing act of faithful response to God's call which turned the ages' (p. 243, italics omitted). There are hints in the book however that might have been taken further. On p. 216, discussing the `ignorance' theme of Acts 3:17 et al., Doble draws attention to the point that the message of Jesus' vindication provides those in Jerusalem with the opportunity to repent, and refers to Wisd. 11:23. Attention might have been given also to Wisd. 5:1-3 and Acts 17:30 f. Is the message of Jesus' death and vindication the necessary leverage to bring about the repentance Luke sees as essential to salvation?
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Author:Beck, Brian E.
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1997
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