The Catholic University of America

Casimir B. Stroik

Final Examination of Casimir B. Stroik

For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

November 17, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. in Caldwell Hall Room 125


Casimir B. Stroik, Ph.D.

Director: Francis T. Gignac, S.J., D.Phil.


The Benedictus, Lucan Narrative, and Poetic Discourse

The Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79) is closer to Luke’s literary project than previous studies have admitted.  The Benedictus has been assessed as having more in common with Jewish discourse or the story about John the Baptist than Luke’s authorial persona, based on its supposed divergence from Luke’s stylistic range and introduction of themes (vv. 68-69, 71-75, and/or vv. 78-79) that are not seen to be particularly relevant to its literary context (especially, Luke 1:5-25, 57-66).

This study argues the contrary, that the Benedictus is closely related to its literary context and exhibits features that are consistent with Luke’s stylistic range.  There are four claims made in this argument.  First, the message of the Benedictus is best understood through an evaluation of the structure of the Benedictus (vv. 68a + 68b-71 + 72-75; 76a + 76b-78a + 78b-79), which is indicated by the syntax of its clauses, whose predicates have the sequence indicative + infinitive + articular infinitive in the genitive.  Second, the argument of its two parts (vv. 68-75, 76-79) are interdependent in their use of an exodus typology, the first part predicting that a God-appointed savior figure (vv. 69) will accomplish a Reed Sea-type deliverance (v. 71), and the second part instructing the child to precede the savior, as the angel preceded the Israelites in the wilderness (v. 76b), and give people hope of this deliverance.  Each part has two sections whose cola correspond, as is characteristic of an isocolon.  Third, the Benedictus is integral to Luke 1:5-25, 57-67, 80, resolving narrative tensions and complementing issues introduced through allusion.  Fourth, the Benedictus displays phrasing, a structure of argument, and themes that reappear in Luke-Acts, indicating that Luke either was the author of the Benedictus or had a significant role in its shaping, integrating features of Jewish liturgy into a form of poetic discourse that may have been influenced by liturgy in synagogues and/or church communities.