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Rejected Prophets

Jesus and His Witnesses in Luke-Acts

By Jocelyn McWhirter

Publication Year: 2014

Although several scholars have written in the past about how Luke portrays Jesus and the apostles as prophets, no one has yet provided a comprehensive theory as to why Luke’s main protagonists resemble Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and Jeremiah. McWhirter shows that Luke uses these biblical prophets as precedents, seeking to legitimate the things about which his audience has been instructed in the face of events that seem to contradict those teachings. By the 80s of the first century, the Romans had killed Jesus, Peter, and Paul; ravaged Jerusalem; and destroyed the temple. Many Gentiles believed in Jesus, while most Jews did not. In order to show that all this was part of God’s plan, Luke—whom McWhirter, with David Tiede and others, identifies as a Diaspora Jew—compares Jesus and his witnesses to Israel’s prophets who also went to the nations and were rejected by some of their own people.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-8

This book got its start in a classroom at Saint Joseph’s University. I was teaching Luke’s Gospel for the first time. Since my graduate career had focused mainly on Paul, Mark, and John, this meant that I was seriously analyzing Luke’s Gospel for the first time as well. I wanted to make sense of it, not only for my students...

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The Role of Prophets in Luke-Acts

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pp. 9-20

All four Gospels report that Jesus raised people from the dead. Together, they relate a total of three incidents. In Matt. 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:40-56, Jesus restores a twelve-year-old girl to life. In John 11:1-44, he calls Lazarus out of the tomb. In Luke 7:11-17, he raises a widow’s only son. This third miracle, found only in Luke’s Gospel, evokes the story of the...

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Messiah and Savior

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pp. 21-30

Prophetic precedents cannot address the chief objection to early Christian faith: its central claim that Jesus, a condemned and crucified criminal, is actually the prophesied Messiah. Judging from the vocabulary of his purpose statement, Luke seeks above all to answer this objection. “I too decided . . . to write an...

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Trustworthy Prophets

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pp. 31-44

Prophets set the precedent from the first two chapters of Luke’s story. These chapters contain infancy narratives of Jesus and John the Baptist that do not appear in Mark or Q. They therefore bear the imprint of Luke’s agenda. They introduce God’s plan of salvation: a plan that includes everyone; a plan rejected...

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“A Light for the Gentiles”

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pp. 45-56

The prophet Samuel does not provide an appropriate model for the adult Messiah as Luke portrays him. Samuel’s wars with the Philistines, confrontations with Saul, and anointing of Jesus’ royal progenitor David serve no useful purpose in illuminating Jesus’ ministry and death. After Luke recounts Jesus'...

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A Rejected Prophet

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pp. 57-74

Salvation is for everyone, says Luke—but not everyone accepted the offer. Jews in particular found it hard to believe in a messiah who had not saved them from Roman rule. Paul laments the fact in his letter written around 58 CE to believers in Rome: “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ...

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The Doom of Jerusalem

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pp. 75-86

In the summer of 66 CE, the Roman governor of Judea appropriated a large sum from the temple treasury. This move sparked a rebellion that quickly spread from Jerusalem to Galilee. By the spring of 67, Vespasian was in Galilee with four Roman legions. It took him about a year to secure the region. In...

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Prophets Like Jesus

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pp. 87-94

The Acts of the Apostles begins with a flashback to the ending of Luke’s Gospel. The apostles are in Jerusalem. The Messiah had been executed, but God has raised him from the dead. Naturally, the apostles wonder what will happen next. “Lord,” they ask, “is it at this time when you will restore the kingdom...

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Rejected Prophets

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pp. 95-110

In chapter 5, we saw how Luke depicts immediate and consistent Jewish rejection. Starting with Jesus’ sermon in Nazareth and ending with his crucifixion in Jerusalem, Jews object to his sabbath breaking, his assumption of God’s prerogative to forgive sins, and his gestures toward Gentile inclusion...

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“To the Ends of the Earth”

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pp. 111-122

Stephen’s death sets up a new procedure for Jesus’ witnesses. Having been rejected by Jews, they turn to non-Jews. Jesus foreshadows this modus operandi in his inaugural sermon. “No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown,” he says, and goes on to describe how the prophets Elijah and Elisha were sent...

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pp. 123-126

If Jesus was the one to redeem Israel, why did the chief priests hand him over to be condemned and crucified? Why did Jesus eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? Should uncircumcision prevent Spirit-filled Gentiles from being baptized? Why does the temple, adorned with beautiful stones and...

Index of Names

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pp. 127-128

Index of Biblical References

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pp. 129-144

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781451480269
E-ISBN-10: 1451480261
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451470024
Print-ISBN-10: 1451470029

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bible. -- Luke -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.
  • Bible. -- Acts -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.
  • Apostles -- Biblical teaching.
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