This dissertation explores the image of Moses in Luke-Acts. It argues that in his two volumes, Luke not only uses the figure of Moses to demonstrate that Jesus and his followers stand in continuity with Israel and the Scriptures, but he also shapes Moses into a source of division and means of drawing new boundaries around Israel.
A survey of pagan and Jewish authors up through the early second century CE develops an interpretive context for Luke-Acts. The Jewish authors who develop Moses’ roles and life show great diversity. Most extol Moses in terms of his scriptural roles of prophet and mediator of the law. Many use Moses as a means of competing for Jewish prestige among Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans; in this context, Moses is sometimes shaped into a lawgiver or military hero. The Jewish texts illuminate the examination of Luke-Acts by their treatments of specific episodes in Moses’ life and by their construction of Moses’ larger roles, especially as prophet, ancient witness, lawgiver, and marker of Jewish identity.
The examination of the portrayal and function of Moses in Luke-Acts begins with Acts, in which Moses’ portrait is more complete and more complex. Moses’ dual role as guarantor of the Way’s continuity with Israel and source of division within Israel is seen in Acts 3 and 7. Moses is presented as the pattern for Jesus, the prophet like Moses, to whom he commands Israel to listen. Those Jews who do not obey Moses in this manner are cut out of Israel, and Luke revises Moses’ life so that Israelite rejection of Moses is built into the narrative and serves as a pattern for Jewish rejection of Jesus and his followers.
Elsewhere in Luke-Acts, Moses serves primarily to affirm that Jesus and his followers are the natural continuation of Israel. They are piously observant of the law, though Acts 13 and 15 claim that salvation comes not through the law but through Jesus. The law is claimed to be prophetic, foretelling the ministry of Jesus. Additionally, the identification of Jesus as the prophet like Moses is suggested at the Transfiguration.