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Rethinking Luke’s Purpose: The Effect of First-Century Social Conflict*

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This article addresses the issue of Luke’s authorial purpose for the composition of the Luke-Acts literature. Observing that existing theories are inadequate in that they fail to provide a comprehensive cohesive program for the literature’s content and are anachronistically complex, the article suggests an authorial purpose paradigm natural to the early Jesus movement’s status as a newly emerging society. Through application of Berger and Luckmann’s sociology of knowledge models, this article argues that reading Luke-Acts as the author’s legitimation of the Jesus movement’s social world is a valid, even preferred reading of the literature. By tracing key elements in the development of Luke’s legitimation conceptual machinery, the social conflict background is established–further indicating that it is the social conflicts that motivated the document’s writing and organized its content. This article lays a foundation for Luke’s legitimating strategy, which was in response to a purity conflict theme. It is argued that this was Luke’s primary purpose for writing Luke-Acts.

Affiliations: 1: Global University, 1211 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, MO 65807, rhedlun@globaluniversity.edu

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