The Emotion of Joy and the Rhetoric of Reversal in Luke-Acts
: A Socio-Rhetorical Study

  • David Wenkel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


This dissertation seeks to cover the entire joy theme in Luke-Acts. The Gospel of Luke has been called the ‘gospel of joy’, and the joy theme has been recognized in Acts. Although the joy theme is clearly present in Luke-Acts, it has received relatively little attention in New Testament scholarship. This study seeks to examine the joy theme from a socio-rhetorical vantage point. In order to facilitate a careful study of the persuasive use of the emotion of joy and its social impact, the distinct but interrelated textures of the Lukan tapestry are examined separately. From the wide vantage point of the Lukan corpus, the nature of the treads woven into the tapestry are clearly visible. In order to trace these threads, I examine: (1) the repetition of joy, (2) the use of
intertextuality from Isaiah, (3) the relationship between joy and God, and (4) joy as an ideological tool amidst conflict.
The thesis presented here demonstrates that the joy theme empowers the Lukan rhetoric of reversal. This study contributes to scholarship by connecting the well-known use of ‘reversal’ with the emotion of joy. In other words, Luke’s two-volume corpus is based on a worldview that is totally ‘upside-down’. Objectively, the joy theme provides the reader/auditor with evidence that YHWH has fulfilled or begun to fulfill his promises. Subjectively, the joy theme provides pathos or emotional power that draws the reader/auditor into the narrative and ultimately into the upside-down world. The emotion of joy is one of the primary ways that the narrative seeks to persuade the reader/auditor to enter into the values and beliefs that characterize this ‘upside-down’
world in which YHWH has visited his people in Jesus. This stands in contrast to recent claims that Luke does not utilize emotion as a rhetorical tool.
Date of Award26 Nov 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
SupervisorHector Morrison (Supervisor), Michael Bird (Supervisor) & Howard I Marshall (Supervisor)

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