Was Jesus a public figure? A political figure? Yes, according to Luke's gospel, Jesus was a Christ who was both public and political. Recent developments in the theory and practice of the study of space have provided tools to classify ancient social-spatial spheres with greater nuance and depth. A broad survey of literary and archaeological resources in the ancient world, as well as an in-depth look at Plutarch's Political Precepts and Philostratus's Life of Apollonius, reveals that the familiar dichotomy of public and private does not suffice to describe the Hellenistic-Roman milieu that shaped the author and audience of the third gospel.
This study employs social-spatial analysis to explore how Luke uses the power of place to portray Jesus frequently engaging the unofficial public sphere and local politics, specifically in 18:35--19:43--the public healing of the blind beggar, the unexpected impact of Zacchaeus's hospitality, the political implications of the parable of the king and his subjects, and the publicity and politics of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The result is an illuminating look at the overall spatial character of Luke's gospel, the development of Christianity in the latter half of the first century, and the role of place in contemporary Christianity.