That great unexplained issue in Luke’s writing. Who was Theophilus?
Was he a real person? If so, why don’t we hear about him elsewhere? No Theophilus in the lists of Paul’s posse in any of the Epistles. No mention at all. I don’t know of any Theophili in the martyrologies, although I’m sure Archimandrite Simon will, if I’m wrong, put me right. He normally does.
So, Theophilus is a real guy, he’s well-connected enough to have had two books addressed to him – and he’s the only person in history to have received a Gospel, personally-addressed, in the post.
Or, alternatively, he’s a literary conceit. He’s the Biblical equivalent of Burton Dasset’s “Dear Readers” – which is a real conceit, Burton having anyone dear or any readers.
But if that’s right, then Luke means someone quite surprising, and oddly challenging. Because if ‘Theophilus” is, literally, the “God-lover” who reads his books – well, that’s me, isn’t it? Rather cheekily, he co-opts us all. If you read Luke or Acts, you’re a God-lover whether you mean to be or not – he’s given you a new name, and expects you to live up to it.
I hope, thinking about it, that Theophilus was a real bloke. I’m not sure I could cope with the responsibility.