In their own words: Character speech in the Gospel of Luke

Karl Allen Kuhn, Marquette University

Abstract

Throughout the past century, much attention has been given to the study of the speeches in Acts. For many interpreters, the speeches in Luke's second volume are to be seen as clear counterparts to the speeches appearing in the works of Greco-Roman historians. Others have found that the use of direct discourse among Jewish historians offers models for Luke's adoption of this literary convention. These observations have yielded a host of studies offering fruitful, comparative research between Luke's use of speeches in Acts and the employment of direct discourse among other ancient historians. Little work, however, has been done to apply the insights gained from this comparative research to Luke's shaping of direct speech in his gospel. The present study seeks to remedy the lack of focused attention given to the evangelist's use of direct speech in his first volume. I argue that in a manner similar to the use of direct discourse in Greco-Roman and Jewish historians--as well as in Acts--Luke employs the words of his characters in Luke 1-2 and 24 to interpret the significance of particular events and to unify his narrative under a complex yet consistent vision of salvation history. While the following investigation utilizes insights from literary-critical analyses of the gospel, its approach is primarily historical-critical in nature: it seeks to discern what the real author, here called Luke, intended to express through his use of direct discourse in his gospel. However, my interest in this topic stems from a larger concern to show that aspects of compositional or narrative artistry which literary-critical studies often attribute to the gospel writers are rooted in the literary milieu of the evangelists' themselves, and are not simply projections from our contemporary understandings of narrative. Thus, I argue that Luke's characters often express the equivalent of what literary critics call a "normative point of characters" often express the equivalent of what literary critics call a "normative point of view" or a "focalizing interpretation" or "intradiegetic narration" not simply because these are useful concepts born out of modern literary criticism, but because this is what Luke really intended as a historian of his time.

Recommended Citation

Kuhn, Karl Allen, "In their own words: Character speech in the Gospel of Luke" (1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9945508.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9945508

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