None greater than John : towards a social-description and narrative-theological study of John the Baptist in Luke-Acts.
"I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John" (Luke 7:28). Thus the author of Luke-Acts expresses his basic assessment of John the Baptist. The present study aims to understand the role of John the Baptist as he is portrayed in Luke-Acts through a reading that combines social description and narrative-theological analysis in order to gain hermeneutical access to the subject of our investigation. This study seeks to achieve this aim in two ways. In the first instance there is an attempt (through recourse to a combination of the stated critical methodologies) to provide a reading of Luke-Acts that interfaces social description and narrative-theological analysis in order to make possible a rhetorical engagement with the text in a way that provides hermeneutical access to John the Baptist as he is portrayed in Luke-Acts. In his portrayal of John the Baptist as a prophet and witness who plays a unique role in the history of salvation, the author of Luke-Acts weaves a spell over his readers that draws them into his narrative world and into his particular theological perspective. In the second instance, this study also aims to show how Luke-Acts preserves a unique dynamic of John the Baptist which has rather been buried in the other Gospel traditions. Through this dynamic, Luke seeks to transmit his own ideal of the authentic prophet and witness in such a way that his audience may be moved to emulate John's example with conviction and imagination both in living out their Christian ideal as well as in proclaiming the good news.