The Testimony of Luke

by S. Kent Brown, BYU Studies

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Enthroned above all creation towers the exalted, glorified Christ. Descending into the darkest recesses of human agony and sin reaches the warm, caring Jesus. These two are the same person. Luke’s testimony introduces us to this man become God—God the Son. He comes into our world already bearing a divine nature, already carrying divine qualities. His birth is a miracle; he is “Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

The most distinguishing element of this line-by-line, word-by-word commentary is the introduction of Latter-­day Saint scriptures—the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price—to illuminate Luke’s Gospel. For example, important LDS doctrines arise from Jesus’ activity in the spirit world immediately after his death.

More than all other Gospel accounts, Luke captures the compassion and love of the Savior. Such sweet concern manifests itself particularly for the downtrodden and those forced to the margins of society. Within his text, Luke discloses the deep, divine love that runs through his narrative of the Christ.

Prof. Brown's Commentary is, to put it bluntly, an astonishing achievement. . . . I learned a lot from it, and that learning took place on multiple levels. . . . Prof. Brown's book is a virtuoso performance. . . . The focus on family is not surprising, given that Mormons are well known for putting family at the center of their religious practices, but Prof. Brown's commentary is the first, as far as I know, to show how fruitful it is to put family at the center of the reading of the Gospels. Luke's Jesus, in Brown's hands, is not the solitary hero, sadly misunderstood, of much modern biblical theology, nor is he a downtrodden man who is born into solidarity with the poor and dispossessed. This is a Jesus who is from a stable, loving, and quite traditional family, who is well educated (knowing four languages, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Spoken Egyptian), who rises early in the morning to worship and work, and who is a lover of conversation, indeed, a consummate talker who always has an appropriate story on hand to deal with any situation. The result is that details of the Gospel come alive in new ways, like the easily overlooked mention that Peter and his wife have been taking care of Peter's mother-in-law (Luke 4:38–39).

— Stephen H. Webb, former Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Wabash College

About the Authors

S. Kent Brown

Dr. S. Kent Brown is an emeritus professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and is the former director of the BYU Jerusalem Center in Near Eastern Studies. He is the author of Mary and Elisabeth: Noble Daughters of God, as well as many other books and articles. In the world of documentary films, he was the executive producer of Journey of Faith, Journey of Faith: The New World and Messiah: Behold the Lamb of God.

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Average rating:

(based upon 7 reviews)

By , Submitted on 2019-03-20

S. Kent Brown’s A Testimony of Luke is an astonishing voice in my heart and mind for many reasons.

The pure polish of its scholarship almost blinded me. I was so impressed with the monumental research, logical development, literary clarity, overwhelming supporting references, links to other Bible references and scholarship, and unusual insights that I admired the work almost more than the ideas.

The accessibility of the language brought serious Biblical scholarship to me, a non-scholar. I have failed to understand many Biblical discussions because the discussions demanded academic experience that I did not have. Luke made me feel a part of many of those discussions by making the language accessible.

The Joseph Smith Translation gave spiritual insight to Luke’s testimony and Brown’s ideas without destroying academic Biblical scholarship. Adding JST insight without detracting from serous scholarship is an astonishing balancing act.

Brown suggests an apparently unpopular idea – Luke’s gospel is not as dependent on Mark’s gospel as so many believe. Brown’s evidences are strong and defensible. More importantly to me, his evidences suggest that Luke is at least importantly independent of Mark and presents a corroborating witness of the life and message of Jesus Christ.

In summary, A Testimony of Luke created nearly unassailable intellectual confidence in my mind and, therefore, nearly immovable spiritual confidence in my heart, that I should have unshakeable faith in Jesus Christ.

The Testimony of Luke
By , Submitted on 2018-11-24

This is an outstanding book. Full of insights and knowledge about each verse.
I especially enjoyed the information provided on each chapter about the setting, context and background.
It really helped me to better understand what was going on in each chapter.
I found it so enjoyable to read and study the book of Luke with this book as an additional reference.
It would be a tremendous help in my scripture study if the author would publish more guides, just like this one, for the other books in the NT.
Excellent work, thank you so much.

A response to the comment by Anonymous, from S. Kent Brown
By , Submitted on 2015-10-09

The quote from I. H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (1978), 172, on Luke 4:8, is:
“Luke does not have the phrase "hypage, Satana," found in Mt., which suggests the successful conclusion of the series of temptations, and which is probably original (Schulz, 181).”
As we all know, the order of temptations in Matthew and Luke differs. In Matthew, Jesus’ command to the devil, “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4:10), is likely original in the account of the temptations from which Matthew and Luke drew, as Marshall holds, even though the expression is missing from the earlier manuscript copies of Luke’s gospel. This is the point I sought to make. Perhaps I needed to add two or three words to make myself a little clearer. — S. Kent Brown

The Testimony of LUke
By , Submitted on 2015-06-22

For someone so well qualified, this book is a rather poor effort. For example, at Luke 4:8 he rightly suggests that the evidence for the wording "get behind me, Satan" is "textually suspect." However, he completely misrepresented the position of I. Howard Marshall on Luke 4:8, saying that Marshall supports the addition, when he states that "Luke does not have the phrase."

This is the book to help you understand the Gospel of Luke and Jesus as never before
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

While auditing a New Testament class at Brigham Young University I used The Testimony of Luke as I read the Gospel of Luke. We were studying the gospels individually rather than harmonizing them, so this was a great time to focus in depth on Luke. This study guide is long and daunting, but I resolved to finish it and was greatly rewarded for my effort.

The guide begins each chapter of Luke with an overview. Then there is an easy to understand rendering of each verse, followed by notes explaining difficult phrases or terms that need further elucidation. At the end the chapter is analyzed in depth. I think I must have read the New Testament very superficially in the past and missed much. I especially enjoyed the notes about hints of when Luke is using eyewitness accounts (for example the phrase "Jesus turned to look at the woman...." shows that someone made note of Jesus' actions as he/she listened to him). Also enjoyable is to have pointed out when Jesus pays particular attention to women and children.

This guide will be of use to me as a reference for many years to come and the only thing I would prefer is to have it in book form in addition to the digital version.

There's so much in Luke's Gospel that I had missed until I read this!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This ebook helped me see the Savior as both God and as a person who lived in a family. It has a helpful new rendition of the King James Version, and the commentary explains the cultural context of what's going on, verse by verse. This is an excellent study resource.

Finally, a scholarly yet faithful commentary on the writing of the New Testament
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Review of Kent Brown’s Testimony of Luke.

I have hungered for an updated, scholarly reference by a devoted LDS scholar to assist me in my study of the New Testament. With this book, my wait is over. I thoroughly enjoyed Professor Browns’ insights as well as his testimony as I read this book.

The introduction is very valuable. It sets Luke forth as a premier chronicler of the life of Jesus dependant on external sources (1:1) yet with a voice all his own. I learned more about the arguments for and against Luke and Matthew’s dependence on Mark’s gospel and the writings of “Q”. I had not appreciated the connections between Luke and John until now. I have often wondered how Luke could possibly have detailed information about the annunciation and nativity of John and Jesus. Brother Brown provides a very plausible answer.
Luke is especially sensitive to those with the least power. Far more is written about women in Luke than any other gospel (or book of all the scriptures I suppose). We owe a debt of gratitude to him for that.
The layout of most of the book is to take a “paragraph” from the King James Version of the bible and in parallel with a “New Rendition” lay out the text. (I am curious why he choose to use a translation of Eric Huntsman rather than one of the other newer English translations. This is not a criticism but only a question) But I feel that there is value in having both translations side by side. Then, in a verse by verse manner, he explores nearly every aspect of the verses or words of the text. Unlike other commentaries one might consult, Prof. Brown reserves criticism and sheds like including the light of all of the Standard Works on each verse. I feel I was able to absorb the information and be strengthened in my beliefs at the same time.
Finally, a note about Kent Brown’s writing style. I appreciate that chooses carefully his words and constructs his sentences in an enjoyable, fluid and artistic manner. Rather than using technical, dull and overly complicated words and phrases, he chooses to write in an accurate but artistic manner. I have long felt that Brown’s writing style was among my favorites of LDS authors. This book did not disappoint.
I highly recommend this as a companion volume in your study of the life of Jesus.

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