Matthew Leonard & Dr. John Bergsma: Unveiling the Writings of St. Luke



hi everybody my name is Matthew Leonard I'm the executive director of the st. Paul Center for biblical theology and the feast day of Saint Luke is upon us and so I asked my friend dr. John Bergsma who is a biblical guru to come and talk to us about this great biblical author and John is a convert to the church and an associate professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville but he's not just any professor he's actually been voted faculty of the year not once but twice by graduating students and John gets around so maybe you've seen him on EWTN heard him on the radio or maybe one of the many conferences which he now speaks and draws those crazy little pictures for which he's becoming so well known in fact you can see those great little pictures in his excellent new book called Bible basics for Catholics a new picture of salvation history which you can find in the bookstore at salvation history calm so welcome John it's great to be here man who was Saint Luke now you know lots of times I think we have a tendency to confuse him with one of the Twelve Apostles because he wrote one of the Gospels right he wasn't so who was he right well he's what we call an apostolic man the the church talks about the Gospels being written either by apostles or apostolic men and apostolic men are is the term that we give to those who associated with the Apostles even though they may not have been impossible themselves so two Apostles wrote Gospels Matthew and John and two apostolic men wrote Gospels Luke and Mark so Luke is a pivotal figure in the early church and in the history of our faith he's the only Gentile to write a book of the New Testament and he wrote more of the New Testament than any other biblical author so in addition to his gospel on the gospel Luke which is the longest Old Testament book he also penned a sequel Acts which is the second-longest of the New Testament books and together they make up around 1/3 of the length of the New Testament so we're greatly indebted to to st. Luke for giving us so many memories of our Lord the early church no sometimes we hear he was a doctor maybe he was well educated what can you bring out about that sure well there's different traditions that have been passed down the church about his profession but the dominant one is that he was a doctor we can't prove that but it is evident from his writings that he certainly was an educated professional he had a fabulous grasp of the Greek language and could write in several different Greek styles including very high style he could also write in the language of the man on the street and he could write with a Jewish idiom and he could make himself sound like the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was widely used by the Jews so he was a very skilful well-educated writer wide vocabulary so definitely an educated man and remembered as I said for for being a doctor and also for his association with our Blessed Mother the the first eight chapters of Luke are the longest accounts of the childhood of our Lord and he speaks of Mary having pondered those events in her heart and blessed john paul ii expressed the common tradition of church that that was indicating where Luke was getting his information from that he got his first two chapters of his gospel for the ones the mother who was he writing for he was definitely writing primarily to educated greco-roman citizens who were had at least some openness to learning about the gospel learning about this man that they were hearing about uh named Jesus of Nazareth he might have been writing specifically for Greek speaking Gentiles who were what we call God fears that is Gentiles who did not completely convert to Judaism which would have involved circumcision but did at least come to the synagogues to hear the scriptures being read and I would say that that was probably the bullseye of his target audience and then if you went to the next ring it was probably educated Greek speakers in the Roman Empire generally and then the next ring out would be just anybody who picked up his gospel okay now lots of times a lot of our viewers will notice that there are sometimes the same stories you read about it in multiple Gospels what is it that makes Luke unique because even though he follows the same storyline as Matthew and Mark generally speaking there are some unique features here so we'll get some of those absolutely first of all his first two chapters his stories about the childhood and infancy of our Lord you know the holy pants of our Lord and Saint John the Baptist all that's unique to Luke so around Christmastime were so reliant on Luke for our information for that great feast and in the literature the hours the New Testament canticles like the song of Zachariah the Magnificat the Benedictus those those canticles that are prayed in the liturgy those are all coming from Luke so definitely his first two chapters are are unique to him also Luke 10 through 19 it's a lot of unique material treasured stories of the gospel that we would be greatly and dad if we didn't have things like the Good Samaritan the prodigal son the rich man and Lazarus all those parables are recorded only by Luke and if we didn't have his gospel we would never have known those those accounts and then in the passion narrative he has unique points he's the one who records our Lord saying this is the New Covenant over the cup which of course is very important in terms of biblical theology going back to the prophets like Jeremiah 31:31 you prophesied the coming of a new covenant st. Luke picks that up as your chords our awards Lord's words and then the the the story of the road to Emmaus that's so meaningful to so many people that too is unique to Luke and and that we only have it recorded in his gospel you mentioned earlier that there Luke wrote Luke but he also wrote acts and there's a connection between the two of them isn't it yeah absolutely Luke strives very hard to show a continuity between the Ministry of our Lord and the ministries of Peter and Paul especially in the book of Acts and so when you look at the ministries of Peter and Paul in acts you'll see them performing similar miracles to our Lord as in raising a dead young girl okay Peter does that in acts our Lord did that in the Gospels healing the lame exorcisms and so on we see repetition of similar kinds of great signs in the ministries of Peter and Paul showing that the same Holy Spirit that was at work at our Lord is still now work in the Apostles in addition there's an interesting theme especially for us Catholics when we look at Luke and X that there are 10 meal scenes with our Lord in the Book of Luke and then there's a continuity at the beginning of Acts where our Lord eats with the Apostles in acts 1:4 and then throughout the rest of Acts the Apostles do it Luke calls breaking the bread which is his early terminology for the Eucharist and so when you put the Gospel of Luke together with Acts you see a continuity between the meals our Lord and then the Eucharist that celebrated that by the Apostles and ultimately by the Apostles successors in the early church following up on that you both of us are conversed and so we didn't really grow up seeing the book of Acts is very Catholic right but it really is yes and he lays out for us the four fundamental elements of the Holy Mass yeah that down for us absolutely in acts 2 we have the account of Pentecost of course and after we have the mass conversion and baptism of those 3,000 first Christians around about acts 2:38 you move down to acts 2:42 and it talks about them devoting themselves to the Apostles teaching to the fellowship to the prayers and the breaking of bread so those four elements are really the fundamentals of an ask the Apostles teaching a course would be the scripture readings the fellowship would be things like the passing of the peace that expressed our community as Christians the prayers run throughout and then the breaking of the bread is specifically the early language for the Eucharistic liturgy John and I were talking to Kay's ago here at the center and one of the things that you mentioned to me was that Luke more so than any of the other Gospel writers emphasizes three things and I found this really fascinating so you said the Holy Spirit women and prayer that's right so how so my start with the Holy Spirit yeah well it's interesting when you read the first two chapters of Luke again the infancy narratives that that we all know and love as Catholics as Christians generally the Holy Spirit is already active there on these holy men and women st. Elizabeth's in Zachariah our Blessed Mother you just read through those stories and that the spear is always moving on them causing them to to cry out in prayer and in song to the Lord and and their that the Holy Spirit is impelling their prayer so the Magnificat is kind of a prayer of praise from our from our our Blessed Mother and it's motivated by the Holy Spirit as the spirit moves on her so you see that and then and then in the Gospels it's in the rest of the Gospel of Luke it's very interesting that in stories where Matthew or mark omit or forget to mention that our Lord is praying Luke never does so at the baptism Luke makes it clear our Lord was praying when he came up out of the water and then the Holy Spirit came upon him so Luke stresses that connection between prayer in the Holy Spirit in one sense the Holy Spirit causes us to pray in another sense the Holy Spirit comes as a response to our prayer and if Jesus had to pray we have to you have to do that well well great thank you very much you know I appreciate it and if you're looking for any more free great resources on Sacred Scripture we got a lot by dr. Bergsma at Salvation history calm as well as dr. Scott Hahn and many others so please see us there salvation history calm and don't forget to check us out on Facebook as well thank you

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