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Gospel of Luke

Gospel of Luke

Gospel of Luke Allusions & Cultural References

Technically, the Bible is probably the most alluded to work, ever. Let's take a closer look.

Literary and Philosophical References

Fyodor Dostoevsky's Devils
Fyodor Dostoevsky uses Luke 8:32-35 as an epigraph to his novel the Devils, an exposé of political evil in a small provincial Russian town. In Luke's verses, a gang of demons begs Jesus to allow them to enter a nearby herd of swine. Once they do it, the swine rush off a cliff and drown in the lake. For Dostoevsky, the devils are a metaphor for a brand of contemporary radicals whose crimes leave all sorts of disarray in their wake.

Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
No kids are badder or meaner than the Herdmans, who show up in Sunday school for the snacks and end up playing the leading roles in the yearly Christmas pageant. Read Robinson's novel to see how these poor little ruffians rewrite, reinterpret, subvert, and controvert the major events and characters in Luke's story of Jesus's birth, but in a way that restores the more profound meanings of Christmas. No mama's going to let her baby play baby Jesus with the Herdmans in the roles of Mary and Joseph.

Pop Culture References

"Herod's Song" in Jesus Christ Superstar
Luke is the only New Testament gospel writer to say that Jesus stood trial before Herod (23:8-12). In keeping with Herod's villainous nature throughout the story, Herod asks Jesus to perform a miracle and then ridicules Jesus by dressing him up in royal attire before sending him back to Pilate, who appreciates Herod's joke. Jesus says nothing the entire scene.

Andrew Lloyd Weber based "Herod's Song" in his rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar on this story. Herod is portrayed quite comically as he tells a silent Jesus to "walk across my swimming pool." To be sure, an extravagant and even grotesque humor runs throughout the song, in keeping with Luke's overall negative image of Herod throughout the story.

Kimberly Reed's The Prodigal Sons
Kimberly Reed's award-winning documentary The Prodigal Sons tells the story of two brothers who reunite after ten years of separation. One is now a woman, and the other, who was adopted, has suffered a devastating accident. Themes of reconciliation, reunion, forgiveness, and other familial drama of all kinds abound. It's no wonder Reed too her title from Luke's story of the Prodigal Son (15:11-32).

Justin Roberts's "Shh Shh Shh"
In "Shh Shh Shh," Grammy-nominated musician Justin Roberts turns Luke's story of Martha and Mary (10:28-42) into a real catchy and fun-loving kiddy-rock song. It's of course Mary who's telling Martha, Shh Shh Shh, so that she can listen to Jesus's teachings. Luke's gospel appears to be a favorite for Roberts, who also sings of Zacchaeus (19:1-10) in "What's He Doing Up There?" as well as the Parable of the Great Dinner (14:16-24) in "Guess Who's." These songs and others are on Roberts' CD, Why Not Sea Monsters?: Songs From the New Testament.

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