Luke's Sermon on the Plain and the Restoration of Israel: Luke 6:12-20 as Prolegomenon

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Historical Theology

First Advisor

Dana Harris


In the history of New Testament interpretation, Luke's Sermon on the Plain has struggled to emerge from the shadow of its elder brother-the Sermon on the Mount. The size and breadth of content in Matthew's sermon has captured the attention of interpreters for centuries at the expense of Luke's unique composition. Recent developments in New Testament scholarship, especially in narrative criticism, restoration eschatology and intertextuality have yet to be fully explored as they relate to the setting of the Sermon on the Plain.

"Luke's Sermon on the Plain and the Restoration of Israel" is an analysis of the setting of Luke's sermon with the aim of understanding it as an event evoking Israel's long-awaited eschatological restoration. Investigation into Luke's literary setting for the sermon will show that, in contradistinction to Matthew, Luke composes a unique prolegomenon (Luke 6: 12-20), which functions to evoke the restoration of eschatological Israel by the appointment of the Twelve.

A thorough analysis of Luke's intentional ordering of Markan and Q material illuminates the intentional design and continuity between the prolegomenon and Luke's Sermon. This is followed by a critique of Hans Conzelmann's theory that Luke is writing under the delay of the Parousia along with a detailed discussion of restoration eschatology and its significance for interpreting Luke-Acts. It is shown that Luke's eschatology is caught in tension between the restorative actions of Jesus and Jesus' imminent return. Finally, examination of the lexical correspondence between Isaiah 40:3-5 and the literary context of the plain (τὀπον πεδινὀν̃) instills the setting of Luke's sermon with echoes of the Isaianic restoration program.

The hope of this study is to open up new interpretative possibilities of how the Sermon on the Plain functioned within the aims of Jesus, and consequently, within Luke's comprehensive vision to articulate the restoration of Israel over the course of his two-volume work.


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