Interweaving Innocence: A Rhetorical Analysis of Luke’s Passion Narrative (Lk 22:66-23:49)

By Heather M. Gorman

A study of the rhetorical techniques employed by the passion narrative in the Gospel of Luke, and the light they shed on Luke’s themes and narrative sources.

ISBN: 9780227176108


In this study Heather Gorman analyses Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’ death in light of the ancient rhetorical tradition, particularly the progymnasmata and the rhetorical handbooks. In addition to providing a detailed, up-to-date exegetical study of Luke 22:66-23:49, she argues three things. First, through the strategic placement of rhetorical figures and the use of common topics associated with refutation and confirmation, Luke structures his passion narrative as a debate about Jesus’ innocence, which suggests that one of Luke’s primary concerns is to portray Jesus as politically innocent. Second, ancient examples of synkrisis suggest that part of the purpose of Luke’s characterisation of Jesus in the passion narrative, especially when set in parallel to Paul and Stephen in Acts, was to set up Jesus as a model for his followers lest they face similar persecution or death. Finally, Luke’s special material and his variations from Mark are explicable in terms of ancient compositional techniques, especially paraphrase and narration, and thus recourse to a special Passion Source is unnecessary.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 206

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Heather M. Gorman, PhD, is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee.


List of Tables

1. Introduction
2. Tools for a Rhetorical Analysis
3. Scene 1: Pre-Trial Hearing (22:66-71) and the Formal Trial (23:1-25)
4. Scene 2: Transition to the Cross (23:26-32) and the Informal Trial (23:33-49)
5. Synthesis and Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

With careful analysis and clear prose Gorman provides a new lens for exploring some of the most oft-debated features of Luke’s passion narrative. Highlighting practices from classical rhetoric, Gorman makes a compelling case for Luke’s careful shaping of Mark to reinforce his emphasis on Jesus’s political innocence. In this way, Gorman firmly establishes Jesus’s innocence as a primary theme in Luke’s account, one that stands as a model for Jesus’s disciples in Acts and beyond.
Alicia D. Meyers, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek, Campbell University Divinity School

In Interweaving Innocence, Dr. Gorman brings a fresh look at Luke’s passion narrative. She helpfully moves the discussion on the formation and shape of Luke’s passion narrative beyond simple source critical solutions. Employing a sophisticated knowledge of ancient rhetorical practices, the well-argued thesis is that Luke’s rhetorical composition technique adequately explains significant variations from Mark’s account without recourse to a non-canonical source. This is a must-read for Lukan scholars.
Mark A. Matson, Milligan College, Co-chair, Gospel of Luke section, SBL annual meeting

… offers significant insights which complement source, literary or redaction-critical perspectives in exploring the sophisticated nuances of Luke’s narrative artistry. … This is a noteworthy gracious contribution to Lukan studies which will richly reward attentive analysis.
Anthony O’Leary, in Journal for the Study of The New Testament: Booklist 2017, Vol 39, No 5

… a very good survey of the Passion account and Luke’s characteristic shaping of it. Even if one is not persuaded by Gorman’s specific conclusions, there is still much to gain from engaging with the close textual attention she encourages.
David M. Allen, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 24, Issue 4

This book is highly recommended to those with interest in the Lucan passion in particular, and in the principles of Gospel composition in general.
Shelly Matthews, in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol 80, No 4