Justo González is one of today’s most influential theologians and church historians. Born in Havana, González has taught at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He has published more than 100 books, including the 3-volume A History of Christian Thought, the 2-volume The Story of Christianity, and Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective. His latest release—The Story Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to the Gospel (Eerdmans)—applies a Latin American lens to familiar parts of Scripture. Gary Burge, New Testament professor at Wheaton College, spoke with González about underappreciated themes in Luke and Acts.
How does a church historian end up writing on Luke?
I’m interested in Luke because he is the closest thing in the New Testament to a historian. His history functions as a kind of evangelistic invitation. He wants us to join the story that began with Jesus.
Another reason I’m drawn to Luke’s gospel is because of the themes he emphasizes. Luke pays great attention to issues of gender equality, justice, and caring for the poor. These issues have always been important in my own writing.
When a Latin American theologian reads Luke, what themes get noticed that others might underplay?
When you read Luke with poor people who have no hope, or with people hiding from dictators and death patrols, you see things you might not see otherwise. The most important underappreciated theme is what’s often called “the great reversal.” This is the idea, from Luke 13, that when the kingdom of God arrives, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.
Or take Mary’s song ...1