We recently featured Alan Thompson’s new Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament on Luke’s Gospel and we’re happy that he was able to conduct a little interview with us. You’ll learn much here about the exegetical process, about Greek, and about Dr. Thompson and his labors for the kingdom.

ET

These EGGNT volumes are excellent for readers trying to improve their Greek. Which types of readers do you expect to profit most from this volume, and in what ways?

Thompson

I still remember my own encounter with Murray Harris’ first edition of his Colossians volume when I was in Seminary. I had completed a year of Greek and was entering into Greek exegesis with the paradigms and some vocab under my belt and with Wallace’s Grammar and the Greek text at my side. I thought I knew what participles and genitives were but I was only beginning to see the various ways these were used and I was in danger of missing the flow of thought as I grappled with the details. Murray Harris’ Colossians volume was such a blessing in guiding me though the text, helping me to see the details and exegetical options at a glance, and directing me to the grammars and commentaries where further information and discussion could be tracked down. My hope is that this experience will be replicated for readers of this volume on Luke! So, I hope that students who have completed one year of Greek and who are in their second or third year of Greek at Seminary or College will find this a helpful guide. I also hope that pastors who are preparing sermons and who still use the Greek text or at least remember some of their Greek or even those who want to renew their use of Greek will profit from this volume. I have tried to structure the various sections of Luke’s Gospel and provide brief exegetical comments and homiletical suggestions with preachers in mind.


ET

Did you learn much about Greek throughout the project? Anything particularly useful or helpful to remember?

Thompson

As I worked on this volume I was especially reminded of the benefit of working through an entire book for getting the feel of an author’s style and idiolect. The introduction to Fitzmyer’s commentary on Luke is still helpful in this regard. In my own volume I hope that readers will use the grammar index and also note places throughout the guide where I provide a summary of a grammatical construction (or a repeated theme or key term) that occurs throughout Luke’s Gospel (and list other places where the construction/theme/term may be found).

ET

This series focuses (purposefully) on the clause/sentence level and does not move higher to the paragraph/section etc. level. In researching this volume, how did considerations of the wider discourse affect your analysis on the clause level, or did it?

Thompson

Readers of my volume on Luke and Murray Harris’ volume on John (as well as other forthcoming volumes on the narratives of Matthew, Mark, and Acts) will notice that due to the size of these Gospels and the nature of narrative texts, we don’t provide lengthy paragraph level structural outlines as are found in the volumes on shorter letters such as Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, James, and 1 Peter. The broader paragraph/section, however, always remains in view of course. So structural markers such as γάρ or μὲν … δέ, introductory summary phrases that provide background information, repeated terms or lexical items, a chiastic structure or an inclusio, etc, are noted and contribute to the explanation of the text.

Sometimes the broader paragraph/section is brought to bear on the meaning of debated terms/constructions (e.g., 11:8 and views of “shamelessness;” 19:8 and views of the present tense “I give/give back”). Generally throughout the volume, and in keeping with the format of all EGGNT volumes, I note representative translations, lexicons, grammarians, and commentators for these differing views, and point to further discussions of the grammar/construction in the major grammars (and in some instances, more recent volumes such as Fantin’s and Huffman’s monographs in the Studies in Biblical Greek series, Murray Harris’ book on prepositions, Pao and Schnabel’s chapter on Luke’s use of the OT in Beale and Carson’s Commentary on the NT use of the OT).

Where it is helpful to explain a complex development I outline the flow of argument, for example, of sequences of verses (e.g., 1:51–54; 68–75; 14:8–12; 16:9–12), whole pericopes (e.g., 6:17–49; 8:1–21; 10:25–37; 11:1–13; 15:1–32; 20:45–21:4; 22:39–46), and broader narrative units (e.g., 7:1–8:56; 13:10–14:35; 18:31–19:44). As noted above, I have also tried to structure the larger sections of Luke’s Gospel with preachers in mind. So, for example, I identify main themes and repeated emphases and highlight those in the headings and sub-headings throughout the Gospel. These sub-headings (together with the homiletical suggestions), if read in conjunction with introductory paragraphs, exegetical analysis of the details, and brief summary explanations throughout the text, will help readers understand the flow of argument in the immediate context as well as the wider discourse.

The Luke volume (as with other EGGNT volumes) is much more than a parsing guide with grammatical observations.

ET

Are there any practical or devotional points you pulled from Luke that were particularly memorable? Would you mind sharing?

Thompson

Well this is one of the main benefits of examining the Bible closely. There were too many devotional highlights to list here! I was reminded again and again of the authority and compassion of Jesus (note e.g., references in the EGGNT Luke volume to the power of Jesus’ word in 4:14–6:49; 7:1–8:56; and the use of κύριος in Luke’s Gospel). I was also reminded of the number of times Luke’s Gospel draws attention to the impact that eternity, what lies beyond the grave, and the judgment to come should have on our lives now. There are of course well-known specific references to this (for example in 12:20; 16:22–23; and 23:43). As I thought through wider thematic issues with wider discourse observations in view, however, I was also struck by how often this theme was prominent in whole sections of Luke’s Gospel, for example in 12:1–13:9, again in 13:10–15:32, and yet again in 16:1–18:8 (these are noted in my headings and sub-headings for these sections). Themes such as persecution, wealth, worry, faithful service, prayer, as well as the need to repent and trust in Jesus are all tied to Jesus’ teaching on heaven and hell in various ways and serve to strengthen trust in the Lord Jesus.

ET

What can we expect to see coming out from you in the next 5-10 years?

Thompson

Lord willing, in the near future I will continue to focus on Luke and Acts. I’m looking forward to drawing out the exegetical observations from my work on Luke and making them accessible in notes on Luke’s Gospel for a Study Bible. I’m also working on a commentary on Acts for the new B&H series, Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation. Beyond this, although Luke and Acts are the longest books in the New Testament, I’m also looking forward to writing on other parts of the New Testament (!) as I’m contracted to write a commentary on Colossians. I have some other ideas in the back of my head related again to biblical theology (building on my NSBT volume) for a little further down the track, but in God’s kindness these three projects provide enough for me to focus on in the near future!

ET

Our great thanks to Dr. Thompson for taking the time to speak with us about the Greek text of Luke and all that went into his research. Check out his volume on our post or on Amazon.