Original Research

Characters and ambivalence in Luke: An emic reading of Luke’s gospel, focusing on the Jewish peasantry

Mbengu D. Nyiawung, Ernest van Eck
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 68, No 1 | a829 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.829 | © 2012 Mbengu D. Nyiawung, Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 April 2010 | Published: 11 January 2012

About the author(s)

Mbengu D. Nyiawung, University of Pretoria, Cameroon
Ernest van Eck, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The Jewish peasantry as a character group in the Gospel of Luke has, thus far, not really attracted much attention in Lukan scholarship. In cases where it has been studied, scholars have often treated ὄχλος [crowd] and λαὸς [people] as synonymous characters. But the question of Jesus’ identity, as depicted in the New Testament, was crucial to the early church and it is this exact question that animates the relationship between Jesus and the various ‘systems’ functioning as part of Luke’s Gospel. From an etic viewpoint, the context of Luke’s Gospel indicates that Jesus’ leadership was characterised by conflict, opposition and rejection. Therefore, this article attempted, through an emic reading of Luke, to differentiate between (and describe) the role played by each of these character groups in Luke’s narrative, focusing on the relationship between Jesus and the Jewish peasantry – with special reference to the ambivalent attitude of the latter. It was argued that each Lukan character group has to be read and understood in terms of their attitude, as well as in the broader context of Luke’s intention with their inclusion and specific description. Therefore the various terminologies used when referring to the Jewish peasantry were also discussed; for any analysis of a biblical character group should begin with a reading of the Greek text, because working only with translations can lead to a misappropriation of the text. In order to attain the goals as set out above, this study used a character group which seemed ambivalent and hypocritical in their attitude to analyse Jesus’ leadership approach.

Keywords

Leadership; identity; conflict

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