The Beautified Feet of Jesus: Retelling Gospel Tradition Using Isaiah in Luke 7:36-50

The famous story of Jesus and the woman with the alabaster jar survives in all four canonical gospels (Mark 14:3-9 // Matt 26:6-13 // Luke 7:36-50 // John 12:1-8), yet comes down to us with distinct features in each telling. With reference to the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), some have argued that two distinct historical events (or traditions) must be represented there due to the significant differences between Matthew and Mark’s version of the story and Luke’s version. Of the many explanations offered to explain these seemingly different traditions, I suggest (alongside D. S. A. Ravens, 1988) that Luke is in fact retelling previous gospel tradition in service of his wider narrative project in portraying Jesus as Isaiah’s prophet whose beautiful feet brings the good news of the kingdom of God, intentionally echoing Isa 52:7. I will consider the differences in narrative placement, setting, characterization, and other important distinctive features in the Lukan account to demonstrate a pattern within Luke of using Isaiah to reconfigure preexistent gospel tradition for his narrative purposes. This study will provide helpful insights into how the gospel writers used their sources, how they used scripture, and how to understand the relationship between theology and history in the earliest Christian gospels.