Luke 1:1 Commentary - Godet Commentary (Luke, John, Romans and 1 Corinthians)PROLOGUE, Luk 1:1-4.
THE first of our synoptic Gospels opens with a genealogy. This mode of entering upon the subject transports us into a completely Jewish world. This preamble is, as it were, a continuation of the genealogical registers of Genesis; in the βίβλος γενέσεως of Matthew (Mat 1:1) we have again the Ellé Tholedoth of Moses.
How different Luke's prologue, and in what an entirely different atmosphere it places us from the first! Not only is it written in most classical Greek, but it reminds us by its contents of the similar preambles of the most illustrious Greek historians, especially those of Herodotus and Thucydides. The more thoroughly we examine it, the more we find of that delicacy of sentiment and refinement of mind which constitute the predominant traits of the Hellenic character. Baur, it is true, thought he discerned in it the work of a forger. Ewald, on the contrary, admires its true simplicity, noble modesty, and terse conciseness. It appears to us, as to Holtzmann, “that between these two opinions the choice is not difficult.” The author does not seek to put himself in the rank of the Christian authorities; he places himself modestly among men of the second order. He feels it necessary to excuse the boldness of his enterprise, by referring to the numerous analogous attempts that have preceded his own. He does not permit himself to undertake the work of writing a Gospel history until he has furnished himself with all the aids fitted to enable him to attain the lofty aim he sets before him. There is a striking contrast between his frank and modest attitude and that of a forger. It excludes even the ambitious part of a secretary of the Apostle Paul, which tradition has not been slow to claim for the author of our Gospel.
This prologue is not least interesting for the information it contains respecting the earliest attempts at writing histories of the Gospel. Apart from these first lines of Luke, we know absolutely nothing definite about the more ancient narratives of the life of Jesus which preceded the composition of our Gospels. Therefore every theory as to the origin of the synoptics, which is not constructed out of the materials furnished by this preface, runs the risk of being thrown aside as a tissue of vain hypotheses the day after it has seen the light.
This introduction is a dedication, in which Luke initiates the reader into the idea, method, and aim of his work. He is far from being the first who has attempted to handle this great subject (Luk 1:1). Numerous written narratives on the history of Jesus are already in existence; they all of them rest on the oral narrations of the apostles (Luk 1:2). But while drawing also on this original source, Luke has collected more particular information, in order to supplement, select, and properly arrange the materials for which the Church is indebted to apostolic tradition. His aim, lastly, is to furnish his readers, by this connected account of the facts, with the means of establishing their certainty (Luk 1:4).
Consult other comments:
Godet Commentary (Luke, John, Romans and 1 Corinthians)
Frédéric Louis Godet (1812 - 1900) was a Swiss Protestant theologian.
One of the most influential and widely-cited conservative scholars from nineteenth-century Europe, Frédéric Louis Godet contributed enormously to New Testament scholarship and the debate over biblical inspiration.