Luke (Evangelist)

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The inspiration of St. Lukas , inner wing of the altar of Luke by Hermen Rode , Lübeck (1484)
Statue of St. Lukas in the collegiate church in Baden-Baden

The evangelist Luke ( ancient Greek Λουκᾶς Loukãs ) is traditionally referred to as the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament . It has a name that is also well documented epigraphically, a nickname of Lucius . In Col 4,14  EU a doctor named Luke is mentioned, whom the early church tradition identified with the evangelist. The time of writing the Gospel of Luke is controversial. Some researchers put the years 60–65, others the years 80–85.


Linguistic and theological similarities and cross-references between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles indicate that they come from the same author. The Gospel of Luke is one of the three synoptics . The two-part historical work is aimed particularly at Hellenistic readers.

According to the church fathers Irenaeus , Eusebius and Hieronymus as well as the canon Muratori , the evangelist Luke was the co-worker of St. Paul ( Phlm 24  EU ), who is referred to as “beloved doctor” in Col 4,14  EU and who was with some of the journeys of the apostle Paul ( 2 Tim 4,11  EU ). The tradition of St. Paul's companion Luke as the author of the Gospel of Luke was widespread in the first half of the 2nd century.

The same church fathers report that Luke came from Antioch in Syria . Some exegetes are convinced that these statements correspond to history and see this thesis also supported by the title "Gospel according to Luke", which was present from the beginning.

Most recent research, however, assumes that the author of the double works by Luke and the companion of Paul of Tarsus were not the same person. There is evidence for this; Thus, for example, nowhere does the author adopt Paul's specific theology in his writings and the mention of the name of the companion of Paul is never linked to the duplicate work. The book of Acts also reports other details from Paul's life than Paul himself gives them in his letters.

Luke is occasionally seen as one of the seventy disciples who Jesus Christ sent out ( Lk 10.1–16  EU ) or as one of the disciples of Emmaus ( Lk 24.13–35  EU ). This view, however, contradicts the prologue of the Gospel of Luke, where he explicitly does not count himself as an eyewitness ( Lk 1,1-4  EU ).

Tradition has it that Luke died around 63 at the age of 84 as Bishop of Thebes , but it is uncertain whether he also suffered martyrdom . His legendary tomb is located in Ephesus.


Winged bull (here in the Bleiburg coat of arms)


The feast of St. Luke is celebrated in the Orthodox , Roman Catholic , Armenian and Anglican churches on October 18th . The Evangelical Worship Book and Lutheran Worship also fix the commemoration on October 18. The Orthodox churches also celebrate January 4th and April 22nd as additional festivals, the Armenian Church on April 9th ​​and the Coptic Church on October 19th.


The relics of St. Luke came to Constantinople on March 3, 357 , then probably in the 12th century to Padua , where they have been resting in a marble sarcophagus in the left transept in the Basilica of Santa Giustina since 1562 . Part of the skull is in Prague , where Charles IV had it transferred to St. Vitus Cathedral in 1354 , and another part in the Panteleimon monastery on Mount Athos in Greece.

In 1992 Metropolitan Hieronymos II asked Archbishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua to return a substantial part of the relics for the place venerated as the tomb of the Evangelist. This resulted in the opening of the reliquary in Padua for the first time in over 600 years on September 17, 1998, as well as the examination of the relics using modern methods. Using the radiocarbon method and comparing DNA from teeth with residents of the ancient cities of Constantinople and Antioch, it was found, among other things, that the relics in Prague and those in Padua belong together and come from a Syrian who lived between 416 BC. And the year 72 died. The reliquary came to Constantinople around 338 and was later brought to Padua. The Metropolitan Hieronymos received a rib of St. Luke, who was near the heart, for the tomb of Luke in Thebes.


The evangelist symbol and attribute of St. Luke is a (winged) bull ; this is also called winged bull in heraldry . In addition, the Gospels or a scroll with words from his Gospel are often assigned to him as attributes.


Saint Luke is considered the patron saint of doctors, surgeons and the sick, butchers and cattle, painters, which is why their guild is also known as the Guild of Luke , as well as other artistic professions such as glass painter, embroiderer, bookbinder and goldsmith.

The connection to the medical profession goes back to the mention in Col 4,14  EU . The connection of Saint Luke to the painters is based on the tradition of early church scribes that the saint painted an image of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus at the request of the early Christians , which is why he is also considered the first iconographer and he made some iconographic representations when painting this picture demonstrate.

In this context, the medical historian and art historian Bergdolt pointed out that painting, visual arts and medicine all belonged to art (Téchne) as opposed to technology (Epistéme) and to the fact that in the Middle Ages painters and craft surgeons belonged to the same guild.

Farmer rules

Peasant rules for the festival on October 18th are:

  • "Anyone who sprinkles rye on Lukas does not regret it the following year"
  • "If Saint Luke is mild and warm, a winter follows that God will have mercy"

Web links

Commons : Luke (Evangelist)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Walter Bauer: Greek-German dictionary on the writings of the New Testament and early Christian literature , ed. by Kurt and Barbara Aland, Walter de Gruyter, 6th completely revised edition Berlin / New York 1988, Sp. 974.
  2. ^ Udo Schnelle : The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings , p. 259.
  3. ^ Claus Westermann : Outline of Biblical Studies. Berlin + Altenburg 1981, p. 172 speaks of the two parts of a “work of history”.
  4. Udo Schnelle: Introduction to the New Testament . Göttingen 1996, p. 281f.
  5. Martin Hengel : The four gospels and the one gospel of Jesus Christ: studies of their collection and origin . Tübingen 2008, pp. 62, 172-179.
  6. ^ Raymond E. Brown: Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday, New York 1997, ISBN 0-385-24767-2 , pp. 267-8.
  7. Thomas Söding: Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles 1. Development relationships. Retrieved May 1, 2018 Archived copy ( Memento of May 1, 2018 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ Wolfgang Stegemann : Lukas. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 7, Metzler, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-476-01477-0 , column 491 f.
  11. Cristiano Vernesi [and a.]: Genetic characterization of the body attributed to the evangelist Luke . In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Vol. 98, No. 23 , 2001, doi : 10.1073 / pnas.211540498 .
  13. Gisela Kraut: Lukas paints the Madonna: evidence of the artistic self-image in painting . Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 1986, ISBN 978-3-88462-045-8 .
  14. Klaus Bergdolt : Fine arts and medicine. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 177 f.