Welcome to the first Wine and the Word Wednesday! I’m beginning to work my way through the book of Luke. This is a relaxed, informal reading of what Luke has to say about how Jesus lived His life. The purpose is to understand Jesus better out of a desire to more closely follow His example and reflect His image.
Since it’s summer and fairly warm today, I’ve poured a glass of dry rosé to accompany today’s Wine and the Word. In fact, this particular dry rosé is one of my husband’s creations. My advice is, whenever possible, make sure you marry a man who roasts his own coffee and makes his own wine! Hopefully you’ve poured a glass for yourself and are settling in for a relaxing evening.
I’m reading from Today’s New International Version, and comparing the Jewish New Testament, The Message and the New American Standard Versions. These are my go to translations even though, as with most people in the United States who grew up in protestant churches before the 1980s, I was raised with the King James Version. Although the language in the King James Version is lovely, and experts generally agree that it’s a remarkably accurate and beautiful version, I no longer use it regularly. (For a greater understanding of the circumstances surrounding the creation of the King James Version, I strongly recommend the fascinating “God’s Secretaries” by Adam Nicolson. It’s a relatively quick and easy read, and is particularly appropriate now with the KJV’s 400th anniversary this year.) I like the TNIV for it’s modern language, commitment to accurate translation and respect for including everyone. I like the NJT for respecting the Jewish cultural foundations of Christianity. The Message is a great paraphrase in modern English. I like the NASV for its commitment to academically accurate translation. Since I did grow up in church, with weekly memory verses, Sunday School and children’s church, when I read the KJV, my first thoughts invariably are from those earliest lessons. I find it refreshing to read these other translations. It’s a way of continuing to try and bring fresh eyes to the bible. Now, to Luke!
Today’s section is Luke chapter 1, verses 1-4. This is the only story of Jesus’ life that starts out by identifying so clearly why it was written and for whom. The first thing that stands out to me is Luke’s statement that MANY have written or tried to write accounts of what happened during Jesus’ life. On this side of history where the bible is a static, established document, it’s interesting to think about a time when the history of Jesus was still being written down. I’m accustomed to the four books documenting Jesus’ life, in fact those are probably the first four books of the bible that I learned the names of…..Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The idea of MANY people writing down a history of Jesus’ life indicates to me a level of intense interest, excitement and desire to interact directly with the information about Jesus.
The next thing that stands out to me is how clearly you can see the mind of an educated man….a physician….as he states he will be writing an orderly account. Some of the versions say he will be writing a consecutive account. He will be laying out the information in a way that can be easily taken in. He also makes it clear that his account is based on extensive investigation, information from eyewitnesses, again pointing to his thoughtful, educated mind. He makes his intent even more clear at the end of the passage. Luke is providing an account that Theophilus can rely on to confirm what he has been taught. There is no explanation given of who Theophilus was or what his relationship is to Luke. However, he appears to be someone of high rank based on the description “most excellent.” This is a title Luke uses later in his writings in Acts to refer to two different Roman officials so it’s reasonable to conclude that Theophilus is someone with a position in the Roman government or military structure.
In just those few lines Luke has painted a picture for us. It’s a time of excitement and curiosity about what has happened as a result of Jesus and His life. Many people are attempting to write down what happened. There are oral stories and eyewitness accounts being shared and spread. People are being taught about Jesus in many places. In the midst of this, Luke, either by his choice or at the request of Theophilus, has done extensive research to learn about Jesus’ life and has now written it all down in an orderly fashion, so that Theophilus, and now anyone reading it, can be assured that they have heard the truth.
That’s all for today. Please enjoy the rest of your wine and your evening!