I made an off the cuff comment in a previous post that there was a certain logic that has led readers over the years to identify “Luke” as the author of the Third Gospel. Let me stress again that the book itself is written anonymously; the author never identifies himself in any way. Moreover, we do not have the identification of the author as Luke until some 100 years after he wrote, in a statement by Irenaeus in his book Against Heresies, where he names the four Gospels as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
So why Luke? Irenaeus doesn’t tell us, but there appears to be a kind of “exegetical logic” that led to this decision. The way it works is a bit complicated, but it goes like this:
I mentioned in the previous post that the author of this Gospel also wrote the book of Acts. It too is anonymous. But in four passages in the book of Acts, when the author is describing some of the journeys and activities of the apostle Paul, he moves from third person narrative (what “they” were doing) to first-person narrative (what “we” were doing). These are called the “we passages” of Acts, and it appears on first reading that the author is including himself as Paul’s companion at these points. The passages – you can look them up – are Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; and 27:1-28:16.
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