You Will Have Joy and Gladness: A Narrative Analysis of the Conditions that Lead to Lukan Joy

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Contributing both to scholarship on Lukan joy and to the recent surge of publications on emotions in biblical literature, this dissertation examines the conditions—that is, the circumstances, dispositions, practices, commitments, and so forth—that lead to joy in Luke’s narrative. Many have recognized that Luke emphasizes the joy motif; my study advances the conversation by asking: What leads to joy, according to Luke?

Working with a carefully circumscribed list of joy terms and narratively sensitive judgments about the presence of unnamed joy in certain passages, I trace Lukan joy’s interconnection with the wider life of discipleship, focusing primarily on the Gospel but with a few forays into Acts. The study is eclectically interdisciplinary, drawing on selected insights from fields such as psychology or philosophy while privileging literary-theological analysis. In light of the role of Israel’s Scriptures in several Lukan characters’ movement into joy, I also attend to issues of intertextuality.

For Luke, I argue, the conditions that lead to appropriate joy include both divine action to bring about joy-conducive circumstances and human receptivity that is bound up with factors such as faithfulness/trust, properly oriented hope, and the generous use of possessions. The latter half of this claim relates to a significant further finding: Lukan joy’s relation to the rest of life renders intelligible joy’s moral weightiness according to Luke—a characteristic conveyed narratively through the portrayal of joy(lessness) as mandatory, praiseworthy, or even blameworthy in particular circumstances.






Newberry, Julie Nicole (2020). You Will Have Joy and Gladness: A Narrative Analysis of the Conditions that Lead to Lukan Joy. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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