Saturday, April 20, 2013

Questions in the Gospel of Luke?

Just out of curiosity, and partly inspired by Douglas Estes' new book, The Questions of Jesus in John: Logic, Rhetoric, and Persuasive Discourse, I've been snooping around the Gospel of Luke and taking note of all the questions/nondeclarative sentences. After counting them all up, I color-coded and categorized each question according to who spoke it.
  • Angels/heavenly messengers ask only one question in the entire Gospel—Luke 24:5. Interestingly though, this question is somewhat mirrored in Acts 1:11, which raises the question of what the author was trying to communicate by using these angelic rhetorical questions.
  • Demons and the demonically possessed ask three questions of Jesus (two in 4:34 and one in 8:28).
  • Disciples (including those who are not part of the Twelve, like Mary/Martha) ask a total of ten questions variously among themselves and directly to Jesus.
  • I lumped several characters into a single category of miscellaneous, generally "good" characters (including Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, John the Baptizer, and Jesus-sympathetic crowds). This category comprised eighteen interrogatives.
  • Those who challenge Jesus and are otherwise adversarial in their question-asking (including the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Romans) account for nineteen total questions.
  • Finally, Jesus takes the cake with a whopping one-hundred and six questions.
All in all, the Gospel of Luke features a grand total of 157 questions/nondeclarative sentences—an impressive number for such a relatively short piece of literature, to be sure. 

Curiously enough (and unlike his character in the Gospel of John), many of the questions asked by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke are spoken as the words of someone else—i.e., characters in parables (including "bad/evil" characters!) and, in at least one case, God.

I have also tallied the number of questions in The Acts of the Apostles, and will post the results as soon as I've finished categorizing them.

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