Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


Richard Alan Fuhr


Bible, Theology, Luke, Synoptics, Christology, Jesus


Christianity | Religion


A growing number of scholars have proposed that Luke, or his sources, fabricated the story of Jesus reading a text in the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:14–30) in order to appeal to the literate sensibilities of Luke’s Greek audience. The thesis of this dissertation is that Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as a capable public reader and expositor of the Scripture is historically credible and Christologically significant. Rather than implying that Jesus was a scribal-literate reader, Luke’s synagogue narrative signals that Jesus was a capable and a welcomed lay-reader of the Prophets, and a capable yet unwelcomed expositor who appeared to have interpreted the Isaian Jubilee with divine authority. The historical issue of Jewish education and Luke's Christological aims require an explicitly theological-historiographical approach to the subject. The hypothesis of this dissertation is first supported by the existence of non-specialized education through first-century synagogues. This general education likely produced lay-readers who were less than scribal-literate but able to handle and read certain texts in public. The thesis is further supported by Luke’s Christological focus of the unit and Jesus’s exposition of Isaiah 61:1–2 and 58:6, whereby he unilaterally subverts a well-established Jewish liberation tradition that envisioned God’s favor on Israel and vengeance for Gentiles (Luke 4:18–19). This Christological perspective and its implications for the Nazarenes best explains the furious response to Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue, resulting in his expulsion from their town and the escalating tensions between him and the scribal-literate class.

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