Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church
The Challenge of Luke-Acts to Contemporary Christians
Luke Timothy Johnson
Eerdmans, $23, 206 pp.
The parable of the sower in St. Luke’s Gospel concludes with Jesus explaining that the seed that fell on good ground and yielded a hundred fold represents “those who, hearing the word [of God], hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience” (8:15).
Jesus’ words certainly apply to the life and work of the Scripture scholar Luke Timothy Johnson, and to his most recent book, Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church. Johnson’s newest volume is a sustained, substantive, readable study developing his long-held thesis that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles must be read as a continuous narrative, a two-part symphony as it were. Never intended to be bifurcated into freestanding parts, Luke-Acts is a unified text in which the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus are seamlessly linked to the story of his disciples following the Ascension. In fact, it was precisely the embodiment of Jesus’ prophetic life and teaching among his followers post-Pentecost that inaugurated a revolutionary understanding of salvation history and illuminated the purpose of human community itself.
Johnson is very familiar to readers of Commonweal; his work has appeared in these pages consistently over the past twenty years. He has written on matters scriptural, theological, and spiritual; his articles have ranged from historical subjects to current Gordian...