CHAPTER XI
POPULAR FORMS

In the preceding chapter a distinction has been made between the popular and the literary forms of composition, and both have been claimed as component factors in the work of Luke. The former consists of the natural forms of expression and narrative which belong to common speech and daily life; the latter applies to the formal writing of the littérateur, especially to the contemporary standards in Greek and Roman biography and history. The former affected Luke primarily through the material that came to him, whether oral or written; the latter enters in as part of his own editorial method. To the former, therefore, we first direct our attention.

In its origin, at least, Christian story had nothing to do with Greek literary culture. It arose from the life of Palestinian peasants and missionaries, and its language never quite lost that plebeian flavor which in the circles of culture became a ground of ridicule to its enemies and of embarrassment to its friends. In the gospels especially the strong Semitic coloring bears evidence of the near connection of the written Greek to the spoken Aramaic. The whole synoptic tradition, says Harnack,1 is Palestinian and has had nothing to do with Gentile Christian circles except in the redaction of Luke. But the gospel story reveals its humble origin as well by the very simplicity, naïveté and artlessness of its style and matter. And herein its affinity is not merely to the writing of one land or one race, but

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1
Luke the Physician, p. 166.

-140-

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