1902 Encyclopedia > Luke


LUKE, whose name is traditionally attached to the Third Gospel, appears to have been one of the com-panions of Paul, being mentioned as such in Col. iv. 14, Philem. 24, and 2 Tim. iv. 11 ; even if, as some critics suppose, these epistles were not written by Paul himself, they are at any rate likely to have preserved the local colouring. Assumiug, as is probable, that the same person is intended in all three passages, we gather (1) that Luke was not a born Jew, since in Col. iv. 11, "those who are of the circumcision" appear to be separated from those, among whom is Luke, who are mentioned afterwards (but there is nothing to determine the question, which has since been raised, whether he had been a Jewish proselyte or a Gen-tile), and (2) that he was a physician. There was an early belief, first mentioned by Irenseus, that he is spoken of, though not mentioned by name, in 2 Cor. viii. 18, as " the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches "; and the subscription of that epistle in some MSS., and in the Peschito and other versions, embodies this belief. Of his birth and country nothing is positively known ; but it is a possible inference from his name Lucas, which is a contraction of Lucanus (the full form occurs in some eariy MSS. of the Itala), that he was of Italian (Lucanian) descent.

From the time of Irenseus, whose testimony is soon followed by that of Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen, this companion of Paul has generally been con-sidered to be the author of the third canonical Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles; but no other facts are mentioned by early writers as to his personal history, except such as may be gathered from the writings which are attributed to him. Tertullian, for example, speaks of him as " non apostolus sed apostolicus," and as " posterioris apostolisectator" (drZy.lfarCTore., 4, 2); and the Muratorian fragment says that he had not seen the Lord in the flesh. The most important of these biographical inferences are those which were made by Eusebius, who, translating, or. mistranslating, TraprjKoXovdrjKOTL iracri, in the preface to the Gospel, by "having accompanied all," i.e., the " eyewitnesses and ministers of the word," infers that Luke was a companion not of Paul only but also of the other apostles, and, probably referring to Acts xiii. 1, says that he was " one of those from Antioch."1 These inferences of Eusebius are further elaborated by Jerome, who adds, without quoting any authority, that he wrote the Gospel in Achaia or Bceotia (many MSS. have Bithynia), and the Acts at Rome.2

- Those who a-ccept this tradition of his having been the author of the Acts of the Apostles usually infer from the sections of that work in which the pronoun " we " is employed that he accompanied Paul on part of his second and third missionary journeys, and also on his voyage to Rome. The first of these sections begins with the apostle's determination to go into Macedonia, and ends when he has left Philippi (Acts xvi. 10-40); the second begins when the apostle returns to Philippi, and ends with his arrival at Jerusalem (Acts xx. 6-xxi. 18); the third begins with his sailing from Caesarea, and ends with his arrival at Rome (Acts xxvii. 1-xxviii. 16). Even some of those who assign the greater part of the book to a much later date think that these sections may be extracts from an original diary of a companion of Paul, and that this companion may have been Luke. Others, however, think it.improbable that Luke, without being specially mentioned either in them or elsewhere, should have accompanied Paul on his voyage to Rome, and assign these sections to Timothy, or Titus, or Silas (some have added the very improbable conjecture that Luke and Silas are the same person).

The other biographical details which are found in patristic litera-ture, and which are not inferences from the New Testament, rest upon no certain evidence, and are frequently at variance not only with one another but also with earlier documents. It is sometimes stated that he was one of the seventy disciples ; this statement is found in Epiphanius (Hseres., li. 11), in psetido-Origen (De recta in Deum fide, ed. De la Rue, vol. i. p. 806), in Gregory the Great (Moral, i. 1), and elsewhere ; but it is inconsistent, not only with Tertullian and the Muratorian fragment, but also with the clear in-ference from the preface to the Gospel that its author was not him-self an eyewitness of what he narrates. It is also stated that he was one of the two disciples wdio went to Emmaus (S. Greg. Magn., Moral, i. 1; Paul. Diacon., Homil. 59 in Natali S. Lucse; and others); but this statement is discredited by the same facts as the preceding. Like all the other disciples whose names are mentioned in the New Testament, he is said to have gone forth as a preacher of the gospel ; but statements vary widely as to the place in which he preached : Gregory of Nazianzus says Achaia ; Epiphanius says Dalmatia, Gaul, Italy, and Macedonia ; GJcumonius says Africa ; later legends mention his having been at Enns in Austria (Hansiz, Germ. Sacra, vol. i. p. 15). And also, like most of the other early disciples, he is said not only to have preached the gospel but also to have suffered death for its sake. Gaudentius of Brescia says that this occurred at Patra in Achaia, and Nice-phorus specifies as the manner of his martyrdom that he was hung on an olive tree. But elsewhere it is stated or implied that he died an ordinary death, either at Thebes in Bceotia (Martyrol. Basil.), or in Bithynia (Paulus Diaconus, Isidore of Seville, and the Martyrologies of Ado and Usuardi). Most traditions agree in stating that his body was transferred by Con-stantius to Constantinople ("Chron. Ilieron.," ap. Mai, Nov. Script. Goll; Prosper Aqnitanus, Paulus Diaconus, Nicephorus, arid others), but its place of burial seems to have been for-gotten, and Procopius(De xdif. Justin., i. 4) mentions that it was discovered in Justinian's time in digging the foundations of a new church ; a subsequent tradition stated that it was afterwards removed to Italy, and in the 15th century Pius II. commissioned Cardinal Bessarion to decide upon a violent controversy between the Minorite monastery of S. Job at Venice and the Benedictine monastery of S. Giustina at Padua, each of which claimed to pos-sess the perfect relics of the evangelist.

A late tradition represents Luke to have been a painter as well as a physician ; the tradition first appears in a doubtful fragment of ari author of doubtful date, Theodorus Lector (printed in H. Valois's edition of Theodoret, p. 618), who mentions that the empress Eudocia sent to Pulcheria, from Jerusalem to Constantinople, a picture of the Virgin painted by Luke. The same story is mentioned in an almost certainly spurious oration of John of Damascus (Orat. in Constant. Copron., c. 6., vol. i. p. 618, ed. Le Quien) ; and the first certain authorities for the tradition are Symeon Metaphrastes and the Menologium of Basil the younger, both of which belong to the 10th century. That the tradition is not of much earlier growth is proved by the fact that, if it had ex-isted, it could not fail to have been largely used in the iconoclastic controversy.

The martyrologies and calendars for the most part agree in fixing Luke's festival on October 18; but a doubt is expressed whether that day should be regarded as the anniversary of his birth or of the translation of his remains to Constantinople.

In Christian art he is usually symbolized by an ox (with reference to Ezekiel i. 10, Revelation iv. 7), on the significance of which symbol various statements were made by both Eastern and Western writers (some of them will be found quoted by Ciampini, Vet. Mouum., vol. i. 192). (E. HA.)


1 Some have thought that, like the persons who are mentioned by Origen, Comm. in Rom., chap. x. (vol. iv. p. 686, ed. Pe la Rue), Eusebius here confuses the two names Lucas and Lucius.
3 De Viris lllustr., chap. vii.; Comm. in Matth., pref., vol. vii. E-i3,

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