Academic journal article
By Oehler, Markus
Journal of Biblical Literature , Vol. 123, No. 1
I was working on the preparation for a lecture on the Lukan travel narrative when I was confronted with Bendemann's monograph on this topic. First I was doubtful whether I had read correctly, for the subtitle reference to "the so-called travel narrative" was slightly irritating. As readers in the face of a flood of studies commonly do, I started with the summary (pp. 382-411): "Die vielumratselte Hypothese eines mit Lk 9,51 initiierten und bis zum 18. oder 19. Kapitel zu verfolgenden 'ReiseberichtsVeiner 'central section' im Lukas-evangelium bildet ein Konstrukt der fruhen uberlieferungsgeschichtlichen und quellenkritischen Analytik der synoptischen Evangelien, das als unlukanisch erwiesen worden ist" (p. 382). This thesis is startling, especially if one is preparing a lecture on this part of the Gospel of Luke. Skeptically, I started to read this book and was finally convinced.
Bendemann starts his book with an illuminating history of previous research (pp. 6-48). He distinguishes five major ways exegetes have tried to understand the "central section": the interpretation of the travel narrative as a historical or biographical document (e.g., E. Lohse, W. H. Cadman), form- and redaction-critical studies (e.g., H. Conzehnann, B. Reicke, M. Korn, H. Schurmann), the interpretation in view of the problem of Israel's future (e.g., A. Denaux, F. J. Matera), intertextual studies (C. F. Evans, D. P. Moessner), and attempts to find a chiastic structure in Luke 9-19 (e.g., C. H. Talbert, E. Mayer). This historical review is very instructive and highlights one point of Bendemann's thesis: although all exegetes are convinced that there is, beginning in Luke 9:51, a travel narrative or central section in Luke, there is no consensus on the Lukan intent in constructing this part, on its role for the whole of Luke's Gospel, or on the theological viewpoint the author had. Maybe, as Bendemann maintains several times, these problems all come from the thesis that there is a central section in Luke. In the development of his argumentation, Bendemann successfully proves that it does not exist.
His first point against the common viewpoint is based on a thorough source-critical analysis of the material Luke used in this part of the Gospel (pp. 49-62). One point of the hypothesis of a travel narrative is that from 9:51 through 18:15 Luke incorporated only material from Q and the Sondergut. Bendemann tries to show that Luke in fact used in these chapters also Markan material, especially from Mark 6:45-8:26 ("große Auslassung"; pp. 52-55; see also pp. 415-39). I was not convinced in all instances, but Bendemann made some points to weaken the common position. In this part Bendemann also goes beyond the borders of Luke 9-19 and includes Luke 8 as well as Luke 20-21, which points to a new structure developed later in his book.
The second and more convincing point is made in the discussion about the end of the travel narrative (pp. 65-70). Bendemann presents all proposals for an ending (e.g., 18:30, 34; 19:10, 27, 29, 40, 41, 44, 46, 48) and shows that none of these verses corresponds to the beginning in 9:51. If Luke had so much interest in presenting Jesus as a traveler to Jerusalem, why did he never note that Jesus reached the Holy City? If the journey was thus important, why did Luke not mention when it ended?
Third (pp. 70-79), Bendemann deals with the description of Jesus as wandering (13:22; 17:11; 18:31; 19:11, 28) and shows that these verses neither provide data for a geographical location of Jesus in Samaria all through Luke 9-19 nor can be used as structural features. …