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HOLOCAUST POETRY: BEARING WITNESS IN LITERATURE

Jews loading onto trains at the Umschlagplatz in Warsaw during the German occupation of Poland (1942-43) from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Umschlagplatz_loading.jpg

Jews loading onto trains at the Umschlagplatz in Warsaw during the German occupation of Poland (1942-43) from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Umschlagplatz_loading.jpg

Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway car (by: Dan Pagis)

here in this carload
I am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him I 

 

This poem was found on http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/lesson_plans/dan_pagis.asp#5 . Dan Pagis (1930-86) was a Holocaust survivor who was interned in a Ukrainian concentration camp.

Professor Murray Baumgarten of the University of California (Santa Cruz) argues that the study of the Holocaust should be an interdisciplinary study. While  his own background is as a professor of literature, he argues that a variety of disciplines would be appropriate as companions to historical study in order to build a more complete understanding of the incomprehensible atrocities that took place during the 1940s.

When considering literature of the Holocaust, Baumgarten notes the power of the use of first person narration as writers bear witness and testify to their experiences. The use of first person is transformative for the reader and transports the reader into the context experienced by the author. First person gives a power and connection that is seldom found in the traditional genre of historical writing. By it’s very nature, literature is personal and subjective. These characteristics give Holocaust literature great power.

Dan Pagis’ poem (above) is an example of this. In Pagis’ voice, “Eve” is the mother of us all. His first person voice becomes our voice and we are transported into the place of his experience. The reader gives the voice “breath” in the present. By reading in the first person, we become one with the text as it provides testimony of the human experience of another person. Baumgarten argues that,  in this case, Pagis is testifying to his experience and therefore the reader becomes part of that witnessing. Pagis is creating a “chain of witnesses” to what happened during the Holocaust by including the reader in the experience. There is power in the words and testimony through what Baumgarten refers to, enthusiastically, as the “the magic of culture”.

The place of Holocaust literature in education is a powerful tool when one makes plain to students that the Nazis intended to make even the very memory of the Jewish culture extinct. Baumgarten argues that by allowing students to experience the power of first person Holocaust narratives, the students themselves become witnesses to the atrocities and thereby defeat the Nazi intention of a cultural erasure of European Jewry. The student, therefore, is fighting against the Nazi attempt to exterminate the memory of Jewish Europe.

A powerful thought indeed!

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STALIN: “THE DEATH OF MILLIONS”

famine in ukraine

 

“The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

 (Attributed to Stalin)

 

Before moving onto other aspects of Stalin’s regime between 1927/8 and 1953, it is worth raising a historical debate that has taken place regarding Stalin. The debate rages over just how many people in the Soviet Union died under the government led by Stalin. This question is of great significance especially to those citizens of the modern Ukraine who lived through the famines of the Collectivization era.

Certainly it is undisputed that, during the period of Collectivisation, “the Russian country-side degenerated into something akin to civil war” (C. Condon, (1991) The Making of the Modern World, p.244).

Certainly Stalin’s government was responsible for events that led to violence and loss of life: The Soviets ordered the confiscation of kulak homes and possessions. The kulaks, in turn, often responded by burning their homes and slaughtering their livestock rather than hand them over to the state. There is a huge mass of historical material to demonstrate that police, secret police and even the army were sent into the countryside in order to impose Stalin’s laws. In this time many peasant families were arrested, deported to Siberia, while people were indiscriminately shot and unco-operative villages burnt to the ground. Further, the process of Collectivisation led to famine in the USSR. But what exactly was the death toll? It is difficult to know given the nature of the totalitarian regime.

According to the Twentieth Century Atlas – Death Tolls the following sometimes contradictory estimates of deaths due to famine have been made by numerous sources:

  • 3,333,000 total non-deliberate famine deaths in the USSR (estimate by Rummel).
  • 3,100,000 – 3,200,000 in just the Ukraine in 1933 alone (estimate by Nove)
  • 4,400,000 in just the Ukraine between 1927-38 (estimate by Maksudov)
  • Total: 5,000,000 – 7000,000M in just the Ukraine (estimate by Mace)
  • 3,350,000 in USSR, 1933 (estimate by Osokin)
  • Total in USSR in 1932-33 alone: 4,000,000 – 5,000,000 in USSR (estimate by Wheatcraft)
  • Total in USSR in 1926-37 alone: 11,000,000 (estimate by Conquest)

It is important to note, that these figures do not include estimates of deliberate deaths by the regime during the famine / collectivisation era. Those deaths are often included in statistics related to the 5 Year Plans and the Great Terror. That said, Heidenrich is cited as identifying an additional 7,000,000 deliberate “kulak” deaths during this era.

To put this in context, another author, Rummel, is cited as claiming that, in addition to deaths by famine, during the entire Stalin period, the Soviet government was responsible for the deliberate deaths of 51,755,000 people. This is perhaps a “high estimate”. Most writers seem to suggest that the total was more like 20,000,000.

STALIN, COLLECTIVIZATION AND THE KULAKS

kulak

In 1928, Stalin faced three problems in the agricultural sector of the Soviet economy. These were:

1.            Production of food could not meet demand and urban areas were suffering food shortages.

2.            The industrialization program of the FIVE-YEAR PLANS could only be carried out if the USSR was able to import machinery from capitalist western nations. These machines would have to be paid for by the export of the one saleable item possessed by the USSR that the west wanted at the time… grain.

3.            The existence of small private capitalists with private holdings of land (Kulaks) in the farming sector was contrary to Communist ideology and Stalin was determined to stamp it out.

In order to resolve these problems Stalin introduced the policy of COLLECTIVIZATION of farms whereby small peasant holdings were joined together into larger (often communal) Soviet run farms. It was hoped that this policy would lead to greater agricultural output. In some senses, this was similar to the process of enclosure that took place in Britain during the Agricultural Revolution over a century earlier. In the place of small peasant holdings (the traditional form of Russian farming), two new types of large mechanised farms were introduced:

1.            The Sovkhozy or State Farm: These farms were extremely large and concentrated upon one specific crop or on livestock. The peasants on the State Farm were state employees (“public servants”) and were paid wages by the government. Each peasant family had a little land of their own on which they were allowed to grow its own crops. All housing was provided by the state.

2.            The Kolkhozy or Collective Farm: These farms were created by amalgamating a large number of private holdings the collective farms were jointly owned by its members. After the state had received its “quota”, the produce of the farms was shared out among the members according to their contribution to the farm.

Each collective was provided with a state owned Machine Tractor Station, which supplied and maintained machinery in exchange for a share of the crop.Opposition to the policy of Collectivisation came largely from the wealthier members of the peasantry, the Kulaks.

Kulaks were poor peasants who owned some land and usually a few head of livestock. In some cases they even hired a labourer and rented land to other peasants. The kulaks were successful farmers. To resist the introduction of collectives many kulaks cut production (and therefore the supply of food). In response, Stalin ordered the confiscation of kulak homes and possessions. They were forbidden to join collectives. The kulaks, in turn, often responded by burning their homes and slaughtering their livestock rather than hand them over to the state. Police, secret police and even the army were sent into the countryside in order to impose Stalin’s wishes. Kulak families were arrested, deported to Siberia, people were indiscriminately shot and unco-operative villages burnt to the ground. “The Russian country-side degenerated into something akin to civil war” (C. Condon, (1991) The Making of the Modern World, p.244). Within the 1930s, the term “kulak” was used by the Soviet government to denounce anyone in the countryside who in any way questioned their methods or rule. The result of Collectivisation and the violence associated with it was a dramatic decrease in agricultural output. A severe famine gripped the USSR. In 1938, agricultural production finally regained its 1928 levels

TEACHING THE HUMANITIES: A CONTESTED EDUCATIONAL SPACE

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Since the 1990s there has been a renewed political focus on the teaching of history (and to a lesser extent other social science / humanities subjects) within Australian schools. In 1994, two significant surveys  found that:

  1. Australians “showed a very poor comprehension of Australia’s constitution… as well as its federation and political history”.
  2. “Students in our schools simply don’t possess acceptable levels of political knowledge and understanding to become effective citizens”. (Clark, 2008, p. 22)

In 1994, as a response to the findings, the Keating government committed $2.4m to implement the findings of a review by the Civics Expert Group.In 1997, a further survey for the National Council for the Centenary of Federation found that only 18% of those interviewed knew the name of Australia’s first prime minister (Edmund Barton) and 43% didn’t know what “federation” meant. Further, it found that, more students knew the presidents of the USA than Australia’s own leaders. (The findings prompted a national ad campaign!) (Clark, 2008, p. 22)

Such was the level of concern in the public during the mid- to late-1990s that successive governments began to actively promote the importance of Australian history in school. Momentum only grew for change as the 2001 centenary approached. Moves towards change in the teaching of history (and the social sciences) on a national basis was bipartisan.

In 1997, the Keating government’s history project was renamed “Discovering Democracy” by the Howard government. The Howard government, in addition, announced its intention to see the compulsory teaching of civics and citizenship in schools (for years 4-10). Further, a new National Inquiry was launched into the teaching of history in Australian schools. This in turn led to the creation of the Commonwealth History Project. By 2001, publicly funded resources had flooded into Australian schools (such as the Discovering Democracy kits), websites were created and new “readers” published as guides for teachers and students. It seems questionable whether these projects made any substantial impact on the teaching of classroom history, civics or citizenship.

“Discovering Democracy is a great resource but too frequently it’s sitting on principal’s shelves because good teachers didn’t need it and bad teachers didn’t know it existed”  (Neil, a teacher in Canberra, in Clark, 2008, p. 22)

Politicians and the media were quick to point the finger of blame at schools for the continued low levels of historical and civic knowledge. In 2006, the Howard government flagged a “root and branch renewal” of the teaching of history in Australia and, by 2008, Commonwealth government policy had entrenched a move to widespread reform in the delivery of curriculum in Australian schools. The Melbourne Declaration (2008) underpinned what became the transition to a national curriculum and, subsequently, rafts of school curriculum changes have been implemented as the solution to the perceived crisis in history teaching (Marsh & Hart, 2011, p. 219). In 2010, History (along with Maths, English and Science) became part of the first phase in the Australian Curriculum. Historical studies are now compulsory as part of the Australian Curriculum.

Bibliography:

Clark, A. (2008). History’s Children: History Wars in the Classroom. Sydney: New South Books – University of Sydney Press.

Culatta, R. (2013). Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner). (Innovative Learning) Retrieved February 8, 2013, from Instructional Design: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html

Marsh, C., & Hart, C. (2011). Teaching the Social Sciences and Humanities in an Australian Curriculum (6 ed.). NSW: Pearson.

Taylor, T., & Young, C. (2003). Making History: A Guide for the Teaching and Learning of History in Australian Schools. Carlton South, Victoria: Curriculum Corporation. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://www.hyperhistory.org/images/assets/pdf/complete.pdf

NAZI RACIAL POLICIES: BEGINNING TO TRY TO COMPREHEND THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE

Jews in Vienna forced to scrub the streets. Source: Images of the Holocaust in Vienna; available at: The Holocaust Research Project, http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/viennagal/Jews%20in%20Vienna%20forced%20to%20scrub%20the%20streets.html

Jews in Vienna forced to scrub the streets. Source: Images of the Holocaust in Vienna; available at: The Holocaust Research Project, http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/viennagal/Jews%20in%20Vienna%20forced%20to%20scrub%20the%20streets.html

The NSDAP (Nazi Party) developed race policies based upon four sets of ideas. These ideas were a mix of deep historical prejudices, nationalistic myths of identity, a mix of scientific and pseudoscientific thought, and the fashionable field of social philosophy (in the 1920s) called eugenics. Many of these ideas – especially eugenics – were not particular to Germany. Eugenics was also extremely popular in the USA during the post-war era. Central to eugenics is a form of rank-ordaining in which people were classified and placed into what was consider by some to be a scientifically proven hierarchy.
An illustration from a 19th century American publication produced to emphasise the danger to society posed by the “feeble-minded”. Source: Manjoo, F. (2007) Progressive Genocide, Salon.com, www.salon.com/.../2006/03/04/bruinius/index.html

An illustration from a 19th century American publication produced to emphasise the danger to society posed by the “feeble-minded”.
Source: Manjoo, F. (2007) Progressive Genocide, Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/…/2006/03/04/bruinius/index.html

After the study of languages, a number of European writers in the 19th century had begun to “rank order” the peoples of the world. The highest rank was attributed to a cultured group who (it was believed) had migrated from the region of India to northern Europe – this group were referred to as Aryans. The NSDAP discovered these “pseudoscientific” views and integrated them into a glorified myth of German national identity – the true German, it was believed, was ethnically Aryan.
In this same ranking system, racial “pollutants” were identified within Europe. These inferior groups included slavs, Roma and, significantly, the Jews.
4 THEORIES

The combination of these ideas formed the theoretical basis upon which the NSDAP built its policies of anti-Semitism. As Nazi theorists adapted eugenics and mixed it with nationalist myths and fanciful theories of racial development over centuries in Europe, they soon considered ways in which they might attempt to “restore” an Aryan order to the societies of Europe. The theories they were developing would soon influence public policy and practice in many aspects of life.

eugenics theory to action

A simply timeline of the implementation of NSDAP racial policies is instructive in demonstrating the way in which the policies of eugenics were applied incrementally and increasingly targeted the Jewish people of Germany (and later it’s neighbours).

timeline

In September 1939, when the Second World War commenced Germany’s borders closes to crossings. The ongoing emigration of Jews from Germany soon came to a close as warfare ensured that Jews could no longer escape German territory. By 1941, Nazi Germany controlled large areas of Europe. Many Jews were summarily executed in these areas by both the Wehrmacht and the SS. In numerous areas (especially on the Eastern Front) Jewish settlements were depopulated and many dues walled in to closely guarded urban ghettos. In 1942, as the war in Eastern Europe intensified and large Jewish populations fell under the control of German forces, the Wansee Conference in Berlin decided on the fate of the Jews (and other similar “out groups”) in Nazi Europe. The so-called “Final Solution” called for the SS to carry out an extermination of Jews through a variety of means. This remained policy of the NSDAP until the collapse of Nazi Germany at war’s end in 1945. The death toll as a result of the Final Solution is horrific.

Total killed: Approximately 10 – 11 million people
Approximately: 6 million Jews
•Most Jews were killed in Eastern European extermination / death camps such as Auschwitz-Berkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Sobilor, Chelmno, and Majdanek.
•Camps were run by a section of the SS.
•In addition to extermination camps were slave labour camps such as Dachau.
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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY WARS: PERSPECTIVES ON AUSTRALIAN HISTORY

2003-09-27-History-Wars-deaths-Aborigines-Adams-600wb

History isn’t what happened, but a story of what happened. And there are always different versions, different stories, about the same events. One version might revolve mainly around a specific set of facts while another version might minimize them or not include them at all”  (JQuery – JSon, 2013)[1].

In Australia, there has been a debate over our history. Through the late 1980s and into the 1990s, there was a major debate in the Australian media, in Australia’s parliaments and in homes across the nation regarding how our history should be told. Perhaps more importantly for us, this debate concerned also how Australia’s history should be taught in our schools. The debates between politicians, historians, journalists, teachers and others became known as “the history wars” and one of the central issues being argued over was how Australians should (or should not) teach Australia’s aboriginal history. There were two sides in these “wars” over the telling of Australian history.

On the one extreme…

There were those who wanted to tell the traditional stories of Australian history. This was generally a story of progress: of convicts,  of wool, gold rushes, squatting, Federation, and Anzacs. A celebration of Australian history. A story of European settlement and development of Australia since 1788. This was a version of  history often told in schools and textbooks. It was familiar and, for many Australians, “safe”. Often this side was accused of “not seeing” anything that wasn’t positive about Australian history and many suggested it was so exclusively European that if could even be branded racist! Some called it, therefore, the “white-blindfold” version of Australian history.

On the other extreme…
There were those who wanted to tell a new version, a non-traditional and revised Australian history. This was generally a story of those left out of the traditional story. A story of conflict and marginalisation, a story of aborigines and immigrants, a story of women and social criticism! Often this side was accused of focussing on the defeats, the dark events, the tragedies, the atrocities and the “hurts and wounds” in Australia’s history and not acknowledging the good of Australian society. It was accused of being very “political” in its version of events. For many Australians it was a confronting version of history! Some called it, therefore, the “black armband” version of Australian history.
At the conclusion of the so-called “history wars”, it was clear that the traditional hypothesis that Australia’s history was a history of success and progress had been successfully challenged by those who proposed its antithesis (opposite). Australians now accept that we have a history that is often overlooked and forgotten… sometimes it has been deliberately hidden from us!


[1] JQuery – JSon. (2013, January 28). History is a weapon. Retrieved from History is a weapon: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/

 

LUKE-ACTS

LUKE

The Gospel according to Luke is best viewed as one “portion” of larger whole, the “missing half” being the Acts of the Apostles. The first “portion”, the Gospel, focuses its attention on the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ while the other, the Acts, focuses on the developing Church which grows out of the life of Jesus and the missionary zeal of the early Christian evangelists. “Virtually all contemporary scholars think that the Gospel and the Acts were conceived and executed as a single literary exercise” (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.1). Longenecker insists that any study of Luke should start with a reading of both texts together as a complete whole (2004, p.147). This “whole” is referred to in the literature as Luke-Acts. It is interesting to note that it’s been proposed that, given the closeness in literary structures and genres between the two volumes, Luke may have been emphasising that “Jesus’ ministry and the Church’s mission together constitute the fullness of God’s redemptive activity on behalf of humanity”  (Longenecker, 2004, p.147). This intriguing theme of the need to end division, to seek and work for wholeness and to “heal wounds” is recurrent in a study of Luke.

Luke’s gospel was written (probably by multiple authors and at a similar time and similar manner to the other synoptic gospels of Mark and Matthew) in Greek in around 75CE. It represented a recording of the proclaimed teachings of the evangelist Luke regarding the gospel[1] (rather than the actual writings of Luke). Therefore, the most correct name for Luke’s gospel is in actuality “the Gospel according to Luke”. By the time of its writing, the proclamation of the Jesus story had gone “beyond the confines of the predominantly Semitic world to the broader Hellenistic, Greek-speaking world of the gentiles” (Bucher, 2009, p.114). As such, each varying version of the one gospel, the good news, grew to reflect the specific needs of its audience and the key focus of its authorship. Little is known of the authorship of the gospel. The author of Luke’s gospel “like other the evangelists, recedes modestly behind his story” (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.3).While tradition holds that Luke was “the beloved physician” (Coles & Gimpel, 2009, p. 113), a doctor, this is far from certain.

Attempts to discover in Luke-Acts the distinctive style or outlook of a physician, for example, have repeatedly been refuted. More helpful insight into the author is provided by the character of the composition. His stylistic fluency is demonstrated by his facile use of several Greek styles. His Hellenistic education is shown by his use of rhetorical conventions. His wide reading in the Torah is manifested by his dense scriptural allusions… (the gospel reveals) an author of synthetic imagination who was able to make the story of Jesus and the story of Christianity’s beginnings into one coherent and interconnected narrative…  (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.3)

This imagination, Johnson and Harrington contest, is what allowed the author(s) of Luke to interweave the Jesus story with the experiences of a wider group of Gentile believers to build a coherent and relevant whole – a Church. In Luke’s gospel is a constant theme in which divisions vanish. While in terms of content and reach, Luke, as a synoptic gospel, is similar to the gospels of Mark and Matthew[2], it is in this healing message and in its literary genre and audience that important distinctions emerge.

Luke’s gospel appears to have been written for wider audience than either Matthew’s or Mark’s gospels (Bucher, 2009, p. 115). Luke’s “audience is predominantly Gentile, probably consisting of some of Paul’s coverts in Asia Minor and Greece… His is the earliest pastoral attempt to retell the story of Jesus to the broader Greco-Roman world” (Bucher, 2009, p.115). While in the prologue to his gospel Luke addresses a person called Theophilus, it is accepted that this person represents the wider Hellenistic[3] audience (Bucher, 2009, p.115).  While it is difficult to place either the location of writing or location of Luke’s readership with any certainty, it is widely believed that “Luke’s readers were Greek-speaking and sufficiently acquainted with scriptural traditions to grasp at least the gist of his many allusions. They were also obviously Christian[4]… (and) in all likelihood, Gentiles. A great deal of Luke-Acts, in fact would not make sense if its readers were not Gentile” (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.3). These readers sought to find connection with the roots of Jesus’ story and to be an accepted part of both their own society and the Judaic traditions of their relatively new Christian faith. Luke demonstrates and builds this wholeness through a careful selection of literary genres.

In terms of literary genre, it is possible to argue (as do Kugler and Hartin 2009, p.330) that all the gospels are, in essence, narratives. That point accepted, it is important to note that many other literary genres have been identified within the overall narrative of Luke’s gospel. (Further genres can be identified if Luke-Acts is taken as a whole volume.) It is important to be aware of these genres when reading Luke in order to fully comprehend the messages and issues that it treats and in order to fundamentally comprehend the healing and unifying images of Jesus presented. “If we can determine the generic characteristics of Luke-Acts… we are provided with important clues as to how it would have been read by its first readers – or at least how Luke would have wanted it to be understood” (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.5). Despite other options being proposed, Johnson and Harrington argue that Luke should be best viewed as a combination of Hellenistic history or biography and Jewish apology. By developing a structured prologue, by  claiming that the gospel seeks to provide a sustained and sequential” narrative (Luke 1:4) and by acknowledging oral and written sources and his own research beyond his text (Luke 1:1-3), the gospel conforms to the patterns of Hellenistic historical writing such as those by contemporaries such as Lucian and Josephus. This is further evidenced by references to specific localities and events throughout the text (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.5-6).

The emphasis of the gospel on the the life of Jesus raises academic argument that the genre also closely conforms to that of Hellenistic biography such as those written by Diogenes and Iamblichcus. Through this genre, popular at the time, the births, lives and achievements of great philosophers were often recounted (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.6-7). As such, Luke places Jesus alongside the great thinkers of the Gentile world in literary recognition and elveates him further in the minds of the Gentile faithful. The Gospel, however, moves beyond well the Hellenistic biographical genre by promoting the Christian mission to a wider audience. Johnson and Harrington point out that the Luke-Acts work serves a “political end” in an era of great opposition to evangelists such as Paul in some parts of the Roman empire. In a sense, as a Christian apologist (like those of the Jewish faith who had composed Jewish apologies before him), Luke takes a positive view of Gentiles and Roman officials in particular. Seeking to heal rifts with authorities and within communities, he seeks to move beyond narrative, history and biography to reassure the readers of his texts[5] that “Christians were politically harmless and shold be allowed the same freedoms given by Rome to the Jews” (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.8). It is argued that in this sense, Luke follows in a genre previously attempted by a number of writers including the Jewish historian and apologist Jospehus (notably in The Jewish War) (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.7-9). By chosing to write in this variety of styles, the author(s) of Luke’s Gospel have allowed the audience to connect the life of Jesus to a variety of styles and story narratives to which they were already familiar and to place a new story and religious paradigm into a literary tradition with which they were comfortable. By using devices such as summaries, speeches, prophecy and causality and parrallelism within these genres connections are made, points emphasised and arguments proposed within the guise of narrative  (Johnson & Harrington, 1991, p.10-14). Ultimately, from the gospel, a distinct image of Jesus emerges.

Reid identifies the key Jesus image to emerge from Luke as that of healer, discussing the traditional view that Luke was, himself, a physician. This image is constantly reinforced by the writing style and tone. She emphasises, however, that a common image of Jesus as purely a physical healer (a spiritual physician?) is far too limited. Reid points to Luke 4:18 as having no equivilent in other synotic gospels. She writes: “Jesus proclaims his mission (in Luke) to be not only one of preaching but also one of healing and releasing people from every kind of bondage” (Reid, 2009, p.118). Luke’s Jesus is one who heals all ills and social divisions. It is an inclusive Jesus welcoming of Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus in Luke embodies the redemptive plan of God for the whole of humanity, something that must have been welcome “good news” for the Gentile audience of Luke’s gospel. As Longenecker (2004, p.147) suggests, Luke’s emphasis on the healing of “Jesus’ ministry… (reflected) the fullness of God’s redemptive activity”.

Jesus, in fact, serves as a healer to the sick – those who by demonic possession, accident of birth, sin or whatever cause, lack physical wholeness… the sick are made well. (But more than this) the oppressed…are set free… Even Samaritans are not outside the reach of Jesus’ mission… Luke brackets his Gospel with references to the inclusion of Gentiles…  (Green, 1995, p. 89-90)

“Jesus the healer” in Luke brings a wholeness to creation and seeks to dissolve the “barriers that separate people” (Green, 1995, p.90). Green explores that semantics of Luke’s gospel to uncover an image of Jesus in which Jesus challenges society’s ills and seeks to make whole and to heal the rifts between the powerful and privileged and those who are oppressed and dispossessed. To the Jesus of Luke’s gospel, “people are not to be predetermined as insiders or outsiders by their sex, family heritage, financial position, location in the city or in rural environs, religious purity and so on. The message of Jesus (in Luke) is that such status markers are no longer binding. Anyone may freely recieve the grace of God. Anyone may join the community of Jesus followers. All are welcome”  (Green, 1995, p.82).

Bibliography:

Bucher, O. (2009). The Gospel for the First Century World. In J. Coles, & P. Gimpel, Module 3: Foundations (An Open Learning Course from the IFE) (pp. 113 – 118). Brisbane: IFE.

Coles, J., & Gimpel, P. (2009). Module 3: Foundations (An Open Learning Course from the IFE). Brisbane: IFE.

Green, J. B. (1995). New Testamnt Theology: The Theology of the Gospel of Luke. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, L. T., & Harrington, D. J. (1991). Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke. Minnesota: Liturgical Press.

Kulger, R., & Hartin, P. (2009). An Introduction to the Bible. Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmanns Publishing.

Longenecker, R. (2004). Studies in Paul, Exegetical and Theological. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press (Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield).

Reid, B. (2009). Healing beyond the Physical: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus the healer. In J. Cole, & P. Gimpel, Module 3: Foundations (An Open Learning Course from the IFE) (pp. 118-122). Brisbane: IFE.


[1] It should always be remembered that there is in fact only ONE Gospel – that is to say, the ONE GOOD NEWS of Jesus, but, in common parlance, four authoritive written versions of that one gospel exist in the New Testament. Thus the one Gospel is proclaimed as the Gospel “according to” Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

[2] The gospel traces the life of Jesus, with particular interest concerning his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. It concludes with an account of the ascension. The author is characteristically concerned with social ethics, the poor, women, and other oppressed groups within society and Jesus’ minsitry as healer to them.

[3] By Hellenistic, I refer to those of the era influenced by both the Greek language and culture. Hellenistic groups were much larger in number than those simply of Greek ethnicity.

[4] Luke 1:4 states that he writes to confirm their beliefs.

[5] It is suggested by some authors that Luke-Acts was published for audiences beyond the Christian communities.

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