Among the very few things on which our diverse church can agree is the sorry state of biblical literacy. The complaint comes, not unexpectedly from biblicist precincts, that lay people lack sufficient familiarity, and clergy sufficient facility, with the Bible’s narratives and precepts. Meanwhile, on the “left” comes the rejoinder, not without basis, that the self-styled advocates of scriptural authority construe its contents selectively and self-interestedly, and especially that biblical cries for justice go unheard in favor of a too tidy account of “orthodoxy” and an unreflective fortification of the status quo. And from the academy comes the more recent observation that the standard academic approaches to Scripture are so mired in historical and comparative questions that the results are scarcely useful to the Church at all.
That there is not only a problem but even a crisis is agreed by most. And that there need to be resources to reinvigorate the Church’s engagement with Scripture is a matter of common sense. Surely we ought to be able to bridge biblical scholarship to address the practical life of the Church and formative needs of her clergy and members. But here the picture complicates, for it turns out that the task of producing such resources is more difficult than might be supposed. If, as some allege, biblical scholars are not carrying out an agenda useful to the Church, then it will do little good to translate their results into a more accessible form. But “amateur” reflections too often perpetuate interpretive “urban myths,” for good reason long abandoned in the guild. With the deceptive difficulty of the task in mind, here we sample some recent, diverse offerings on the Lukan corpus which seek and succeed to various degrees to fill the gap between biblical scholarship and the Church.