The Gospel According to Luke ((ギリシア語:Τὸ κατὰ Λουκᾶν εὐαγγέλιον), ''to kata Loukan euangelion''), commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. It tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Luke and Acts of the Apostles make up a two-volume work from the same pen, called Luke–Acts. The cornerstone of Luke-Acts' theology is "salvation history", the author's understanding that God's purpose is seen in the way he has acted, and will continue to act, in history. It divides the history of first century Christianity into three stages: first the arrival among men of Jesus the Messiah, from his birth to the beginning of his earthly mission in the meeting with John the Baptist; second the earthly career of Jesus, ending in his Passion, death and resurrection (concluding the gospel story ''per se''); and finally the times of James, Peter and Paul, from Jerusalem to Rome (the story told in Acts).
Luke-Acts does not name an author. According to Church tradition this was the Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul, but the majority of scholars reject this identification due to the many contradictions between Acts and the authentic Pauline letters. The most probable date for its composition is around 80-100 AD, and there is evidence that it was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century, the author taking for his sources the gospel of Mark, the sayings collection called the Q source, and a collection of material called the L (for Luke) source.
==Composition and setting==
Autographs (original copies) of Luke and the other Gospels have not been preserved; the texts available to us today are copies of copies of copies, with no two identical. The earliest witnesses (the technical term for written manuscripts) for Luke's gospel fall into two "families" with considerable differences between them, the Western and the Alexandrian, and the dominant view is that the Western text represents a process of deliberate revision, as the variations seem to form specific patterns. The oldest witness is a fragment dating from the late 2nd century, while the oldest complete texts are the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the Alexandrian family; Codex Bezae,a 5th- or 6th-century Western text-type manuscript that contains Luke in Greek and Latin versions on facing pages, appears to have descended from an offshoot of the main manuscript tradition, departing from more familiar readings at many points.〔Verses are omitted in Codex Bezae and a handful of Old Latin manuscripts. Nearly all other manuscripts including Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus and Church Fathers contain the "longer" reading of Luke 22:19 and 20. Verse 22:20, which is very similar to , provides the only gospel support for the doctrine of the New Covenant. Verses are found in Western text-type, are omitted by a diverse number of ancient witnesses, and are generally marked as such in modern translations. See Bruce M. Metzger's ''Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament'' for details.
is probably the earliest witness, dating from the late 2nd century. It contains Lk 1:58–59, 62–2:1,6–7; 3:8–4:2, 29–32, 34–35; 5:3–8; 5:30–6:16. dates from the late 2nd century/early 3rd century and contains Lk 3:18–4:2+; 4:34–5:10; 5:37–18:18+; 22:4–24:53 and John 1:1–11:45, 48–57; 12:3–13:10; 14:8–15:10. Finally, (mid-3rd century) contains extensive portions of all four Gospels. In addition to these major early papyri there are 6 other papyri (, , , , and ) dating from between the 3rd–8th century which also have small portions of Luke's Gospel. (See List of New Testament papyri).〕
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