The Gospel according to Luke is perhaps the best story in the New Testament, and it is among the best stories in all of Scripture. As a literary work, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the greatest works of world literature.
Hermen Rode, Luke and the Madonna (oil on wood, altar-piece), 1483.
St. Ann Museum Quarter, Lubeck, Germany.
This course consists of 20 video lectures, with extensive powerpoint slides, a course syllabus and bibliography, and resources including maps and a guide to selecting the right Study Bible for you. After each video lecture, you will take a short "Knowledge Check" quiz, designed by our expert staff to help you retain the lessons and give you a sense of the remarkable achievement of your studies.
On top of the interactive online material, you will also be able to contact Dr. Creasy and the Logos Team directly with any questions that arise during your studies.
As you make your way through the lectures, Dr. Creasy will contact you with special opportunities to join him for online "Virtual Office Hours" using our Webinar platform.
May this series on Luke open new vistas for you, take you deeper into the Gospel and bring you closer to Christ.
Lesson #1: Introduction to the Gospel according to Luke
In our study of the Gospel according to Matthew, we defined a “gospel” as a unique literary genre, an account of the “good news” (Greek = euangelion; eu = “good,” angelion = “message”) of the coming kingdom of God and the redemption of humanity through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We noted that a “gospel” is not a biography of a person, although it does contain biographical information; it is not an historical account of a person, although it is rooted in historical time; it is not a fictional account of a person, although it does include miracles, wonders and a large dose of the supernatural. Rather, a “gospel” reflects the understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what he did, in light of a living faith tradition, guided by the Holy Spirit, 30-60 years after the events it portrays.
For the first 30+ years of the Church the “gospel” spread throughout the Roman Empire by the oral teaching and preaching of the Apostles and others. Only in the mid-60s or so was the “gospel” message written down. Many written “gospel” accounts emerged during the first three centuries of the Christian era, but common usage generally applies the term to the four canonical gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In this lesson we explore how the “synoptic” Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) came to be written, and we examine Luke’s position within the synoptic tradition.
Lesson #2: Lukan Voices
Matthew begins his gospel with Jesus’ genealogy, portraying him as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants: Matthew addresses primarily 1st century Jewish-Christians in Palestine. Mark begins his gospel with a dramatic proclamation, in his first sentence asserting that Jesus is the “Son of God”: Mark addresses primarily Gentile Christians in Rome, perhaps during the persecution of the Church under the Emperor Nero, A.D. 64-68. Luke begins his gospel with a single carefully structured sentence consisting of forty-two words in Greek, arranged in a very symmetrical, balanced fashion, with a protasis (verses 1 & 2) and an apodosis (verses 3 & 4), each containing three parallel phrases, all written in the first person, telling his audience—a man named Theophilus—that he has carefully research all of the events he is about to recount, and that he is presenting them in an orderly fashion so that Theophilus may be certain of the things he has been taught. Luke’s Greek in this opening sentence is superb—some of the best in the New Testament. It is certainly the work of a writer trained in classical Greek rhetoric, who chooses to introduce his story in a clearly defined, classical style.
Then beginning with verse 5, Luke’s prose style dramatically changes, as he creates an entire cast of characters—including a narrator—who have individual, distinct voices. Rather than telling the story as Matthew and Mark do, Luke’s narrator allows his characters to tell the story through their interaction and with their distinct voices. This is very sophisticated narrative technique, unique in all of Scripture.
Lesson #3: Infancy Narrative, Part 1 (Luke 1: 5-80)
Luke begins his gospel with the Annunciation, God’s offer to Mary that she become the mother of his Son, an offer framed by God’s announcement to Zechariah that he will become the father of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and forerunner.
Gabriel’s announcement in the Temple to Zechariah structurally parallels his announcement in Nazareth to Mary, followed by Mary’s visit to Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea, where she stays until John’s birth.
A. Gabriel speaks with Zachariah (5-25)
a. The offer (5-17)
b. Zachariah’s question (18)
c. Gabriel’s response (19-20)
d. The result (21-25)
B. Gabriel speaks with Mary (26-38)
a. The offer (26-33)
b. Mary’s question (34)
c. Gabriel’s response (35-37)
d. The result (38)
C. Mary visits Elizabeth (39-80)
a. Mary’s stay (39-56)
1. Mary’s song (Magnificat) (46-55)
b. Birth of John the Baptist (57-80)
1. Zechariah’s song (Benedictus) (67-79)
Creating an exact parallel between the announcements to Zechariah and Mary, and then sending Mary to Elizabeth’s home while awaiting the birth of John, creates a cohesive narrative with finely woven details, from which the gospel story will emerge, all the while pushing the story forward in linear time.
This is excellent craftsmanship on Luke’s part!
Lesson #4: Infancy Narrative, Part 2 (Luke 2: 1-52)
With John’s birth in Chapter 1, we move seamlessly to Jesus’ birth in Chapter 2. As Lesson #4 opens, Luke sets the scene, both historically and geographically. Historically, the scene opens when Caesar Augustus (in Rome) issues a decree that a census of the Roman world be taken; this was “when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Mary and Joseph make their way 100 miles south from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home and the town of David, where Jesus will be born, fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5: 2.
The time: c. 6 B.C.
The place: Rome è Syria è Nazareth è Bethlehem è Manger
Lesson #5: Prelude to Ministry (Luke 3: 1 – 4: 13)
As we enter Lesson #5 Jesus is “about thirty years of age” (3: 23): eighteen years have flashed by between closing chapter 2 and opening chapter 3, eighteen years during which Jesus grew up in Nazareth. As chapter 3 opens, Luke again anchors his narrative in historical time and place, creating verisimilitude: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas . . .” (3: 1-2): it is now A.D. 27-29.
As Luke began his gospel with John the Baptist’s birth, so he introduces Jesus’ public ministry with John the Baptist’s baptizing in the wilderness region of the Jordan River, opposite Jericho and a bit north of the Dead Sea.
On the feast of Passover, A.D. 27-29, John baptizes Jesus, and as in Matthew and Mark, Jesus then spends forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. As we learned in our study of Matthew, Luke’s gospel to this point follows the underlying archetypical structure of the “hero’s journey,” which begins with the hero’s prophetic, miraculous birth; followed by his childhood in obscurity; then his being commissioned for his task; and finally his first “trial.” Between Jesus’ commissioning (his baptism) and his first trial (his temptation in the wilderness), Luke inserts Jesus’ genealogy (3: 23-38). Unlike Matthew’s genealogy, which begins with Abraham and moves through Israel’s Davidic kings to Jesus, Luke’s genealogy begins with Jesus and works backward to Adam, emphasizing Jesus’ link to all of humanity, not simply to the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.
Lesson #6: Companions on the Quest (Luke 4: 14 – 6: 16)
Following the “hero’s journey” motif, after Jesus’ first trial (his temptation by Satan in the wilderness), Jesus relocates to Capernaum, initiates his quest and gathers companions to accompany him.
In this sequence we find Jesus teaching and performing miracles, but we also find that opposition against him quickly emerges, beginning in his own hometown of Nazareth, where he is driven out of town and nearly thrown off a cliff! Nonetheless, he presses on, gathering a band of unlikely followers.
Lesson #7: Things Are Not What They Seem (Luke 6: 17 – 7: 50)
As we enter Lesson #7 we must ask ourselves: “What did people expect of Jesus?” Unlike Jesus’ portrayal as a fiery revolutionary in the Gospel according to Mark, Luke portrays him as a profound moral and ethical teacher who says, rather meekly: “Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me” (7: 23). To this point in Luke, Jesus is far from the confrontational firebrand we meet in the Gospel according to Mark.
Lesson #7 alternates Jesus’ teaching with miraculous healings, including raising the widow of Nain’s son from the dead. Like the first seismic rumblings deep beneath the earth, barely noticeable, something big is about to happen, something that will shake the very foundations of the earth.
Lesson #8: Deeper Rumblings (Luke 8: 1-56)
In Lesson #8 the seismic rumblings we noticed in Lesson #7 deepen. Still barely discernable on the surface—causing but a quick ripple on the water or the brief vibration of a cup—Jesus’ activities escalate: women join his band of disciples; parable piles on parable; Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee; he casts out demons; and again, he raises the dead.
Lesson #9: Jesus Revealed (Luke 9: 1-50)
Jesus “scales” his ministry, sending out his inner circle of twelve to teach and preach, giving them power and authority over demons, and the ability to heal. Meanwhile, Jesus lands on Herod Antipas’ radar, causing him to ask who Jesus is, and we learn—in a brief mention—that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. John’s murder—the catalyst in Mark, galvanizing Jesus and driving him relentlessly to the cross—has only passing mention here in Luke. After feeding the 5,000 on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus heads north with his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, Peter’s confession of faith, the Transfiguration and statements about his coming crucifixion and cost of discipleship.
Where’s the drama that we witnessed in Mark; where’s the unrelenting, escalating tension? In Luke we witness a decided calm, with Jesus in full control of events that appear to be careening quickly out of control: in Luke, Peter doesn’t object to Jesus’ announcement of his impending crucifixion; Jesus doesn’t say to Peter, “Get behind me Satan”; the disciples are not conflicted and confused. Indeed, after the stunning revelation at the Transfiguration that Jesus is the Son of God and that he will be arrested, tried crucified, buried and raised, all we read is that the disciples “did not understand this saying . . .” (9: 45). What is going on here?
Lesson #10: On the Road to Jerusalem (Luke 9: 51 – 11: 54)
In Lesson #10, Jesus and his disciples head south toward Jerusalem and the cross. En route, Jesus sends ahead seventy-two disciples, an “advance team” for his 100-mile journey. Fascination with Jesus—and opposition—continues to increase, and the crowds following him continue to grow.
Along the way Jesus reproaches Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin for their unbelief, while at the same time, Luke pointedly includes stories of Jesus elevating marginalized people: the good Samaritan over the priests and Levites, Mary over Martha; and those who oppose him say it is “by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he drives out demons,” while others demand a sign validating his words and actions.
As a result, Jesus finally loses patience with his opponents, slamming them with a series of scathing indictments, a series that Luke places on the road to Jerusalem, but that Matthew places in Jerusalem on “Holy Thursday,” an encounter that triggers Jesus’ arrest later that evening.
Lesson #11: Parables, Part 1 (Luke 12: 1 – 14: 35)
On the road to Jerusalem Jesus enthralls the crowds with his teaching, responding to questions people ask him, commenting on current events and warning the crowds of conflict to come. His teaching takes many forms, but the parable is the form most identified with Jesus. It was not unique to him—many teachers used it—but he was especially adept at it.
The word “parable” is a compound of the Greek para (“alongside,” as in paramedic or paralegal) and the verb ballo (“to throw”). A “parable” is a short story or illustration thrown alongside an old truth to illuminate that truth in a striking and memorable fashion. The gospels contain 39 parables: Luke includes 27 of them.
In Lesson #11 we take a close look at some of these parables.
Lesson #12: Parables, Part 2 (Luke 15: 1 – 19: 27)
In Lesson #12 we continue our examination of Jesus’ parables, beginning with a triptych: 1) the lost sheep; 2) the lost coin; and 3) the lost son. More follow as we continue south on the road to Jerusalem.
Along the way, interspersed among the parables, we encounter the persistent widow, the rich young man, the blind beggar of Jericho . . . and Zacchaeus.
Lesson #13: Excursus: The Roman Empire at the Time of Luke
All three synoptic gospels were written 30-40 years after Jesus walked this earth, and each one of the gospels portrays Jesus in light of events that followed his death, burial and resurrection. Consequently, each gospel writer looks back at Jesus’ life, and his view is colored by his understanding of those historical events.
The Gospel according to Luke was probably written sometime in the early to mid 70s, a time of enormous turmoil in the Roman Empire. The back-story begins with Julia Agrippina (A.D. 15-59), great granddaughter of Caesar Augustus; adoptive granddaughter of the Emperor Tiberius; sister of the Emperor Caligula; wife of the Emperor Claudius; and mother of the Emperor Nero. Through incestuous marriages, imperial intrigue and duplicitous assassinations, Agrippina engineered her son Nero’s rise to power in A.D. 54. A brutal sociopath, Nero murdered his mother Agrippina in A.D. 59, set fire to Rome in A.D. 64 (blaming the fire on the Christians) and began the first state-sponsored persecution of the Church in Rome, A.D. 64-68.
During Nero’s reign the great Jewish revolt of A.D. 66-73 began, a revolt that resulted in the death of 1.2 million Jews, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the Jewish exile from Palestine that lasted nearly 2,000 years, until the founding of the modern state of Israel on May 14, 1948.
This experience was a current event at the time the Gospel according to Luke was composed, and it could not help but color our author’s understanding of Jesus’ thoughts and actions.
Lesson #14: Confrontation (Luke 19: 28 - 21: 38)
Jesus enters Jerusalem on the feast of Passover, A.D. 32. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have arrived from every corner of the Roman Empire, and the atmosphere crackles with discontent under the heavy hand of Roman rule. The procurator, Pontius Pilate, has brought a portion of the 10th Roman Legion up from Caesarea Maritima on the coast, and they have taken up residence in the Antonia Fortress near the northwestern corner of the Temple platform. The religious authorities tread carefully, striving mightily to avoid any hint of civil unrest or insipient insurrection.
In the midst of it all, Jesus enters Jerusalem publically, and with his prompting huge crowds loudly proclaim him King. Then, after physically attacking the moneychangers and merchants at the Temple’s southern steps, Jesus engages the religious leaders in a series of escalating encounters, playing to the crowds and denouncing the religious authorities with scathing, barbed criticism.
Lesson #15: Signs of the End (Luke 21: 1-38)
Judaism viewed history as linear, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Many in Jesus’ day—including Jesus himself—believed that the end was near, just around the corner, and Jesus believed that he would be instrumental in bringing it about. Luke 21 is Luke’s version of Matthew’s “Olivet Discourse,” an apocalyptic vision of the future that “will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory,” ushering in the Kingdom of God.
Lesson #15 explores this apocalyptic vision.
Lesson #16: Jesus’ Arrest (Luke 22: 1-71)
Events unfold exactly as Jesus planned. In Lesson #16, Judas betrays Jesus; Jesus and his disciples share the Passover meal; Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane; Jesus appears before an executive session of the Sanhedrin; Peter denies Jesus; and Jesus is sent to Pontius Pilate for a death sentence.
In a single chapter, events unfold smoothly, but quickly, as we move inexorably toward the cross.
Lesson #17: Excursus: Judas, the Betrayer
Judas is a much more complex character than we often experience in a liturgical context. A disciple from the start, Judas was with Jesus for his entire 3-year public ministry; Judas witnessed Jesus’ teaching, preaching and healing; Judas was present at Peter’s confession of faith; and Judas firmly believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
So why does Judas betray Jesus?
In Lesson #17 we explore the character of Judas, drawing on the gospels—and a few outside sources—for additional information.
Lesson #18: Excursus: Peter’s Denial
At Caesarea Philippi Peter said with great certainty, you are “the Messiah of God” (9: 20); across the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, Peter emerged as leader of the disciples; after the Last Supper Peter pledged with conviction: “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you” (22: 33). And yet, Peter denies the Lord, not once, but three times.
In Lesson #18 we explore Peter’s possible motives and actions.
Lesson #19: The Crucifixion (Luke 23: 1-56)
The Persians introduced crucifixion as a capital punishment as early as the 6th century B.C., and the Carthaginians, Macedonians and Romans employed it until the Emperor Constantine outlawed crucifixion in A.D. 337, out of deference to Christ.
The Greeks had an aversion to crucifixion, although the historian Herodotus tells of the crucifixion of the Persian General Artayctes, who commanded forces in the 2nd Persian invasion of Greece under, Xerxes (a main character in the Book of Esther), 480-479 B.C.
The Romans used crucifixion frequently, however; indeed, Crassus, the Roman General who defeated Spartacus in the slave revolt of 73-71 B.C., crucified 6,000 captive slaves, lining the Via Appia with them, and the historian Tacitus tells us that during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 no fewer than 600,000 Jews fought the Romans and those captured were crucified, up to 500 per day.
Crucifixion involved a prolonged, excruciatingly painful death by being nailed to a cross with tapered iron spikes, 7-9” long, generally taking three or more days to die.
In Lesson #19 we bring Jesus before Pontius Pilate, and we witness his crucifixion.
Lesson #20: The Resurrection (Luke 24: 1–53)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in Scripture. Indeed, in addressing the church in Corinth St. Paul writes: “But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Corinthians 15: 12-14). Without the resurrection of Christ, our faith—no matter how authentic, how deeply felt, or how worthily expressed—is worthless.
The Gospel according to Luke recounts Jesus’ resurrection, and then it focuses on Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. In Luke, the resurrection and Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances conclude the gospel, but they also function as a transition to “Part 2” of Luke’s 2-volume work, the Acts of the Apostles, in which we witness the birth of the Church on the feast of Pentecost A.D. 32, and the growth of the Church in the Roman Empire, until A.D. 60.
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Note to All Users
Note to California Residents
Your California Privacy Rights. California Civil Code Section 1798.83 permits California residents who have provided personal information to us or our third-party advertisers and marketing partners, if any, to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for direct-marketing purposes. Requests should be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include CALIFORNIA PRIVACY RIGHTS in the subject line. We will need your first and last name, mailing address, and email address in order to process your request. Within thirty days of receiving such a request, we will provide a list of the categories of personal information disclosed to third parties for direct marketing purposes during the immediately preceding calendar year, if any, along with the names and addresses of these third parties, if any. Please be aware that not all information sharing is covered by the requirements of Section 1798.83 and only information regarding covered sharing will be included in our response. This request may be made no more than once per calendar year.
Note to European Union Residents
Personally-Identifying Information We Collect
Personally-identifying information is collected when you voluntarily register, join our mailing list, submit an online enrollment form, request information, and/or purchase online courses from Logos (“Personal Information”). Personal Information we may collect includes, but is not limited to, your first and last name, email address, username and password, training history, and use data. If you communicate to us by e-mail, we will record the e-mail address from which you send your message. Any telephone calls to and from Logos may be monitored and recorded for quality assurance and training purposes. When you download or use apps created by Logos, we may receive information about your mobile device, including a unique identifier for your device.
Non-Personally-Identifying Information We Collect
Internet Protocol (IP) Address. Logos’ servers also automatically identify your computer by its Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. An IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer by your Internet service provider. Your IP address does not identify you by name; however, it may reveal your geographic area and your Internet service provider. Logos may match your IP address to your Personal Information.
Click Through URLS. Logos may send you e-mail messages with a “click-through URL” linked to the content of our Services. When you click onto one of these URLs, you will pass through our server before arriving at the destination webpage. Logos may track this click-through data to help us determine subscriber interest in the subject matter and measure the effectiveness of our subscriber communications. You can avoid being tracked simply by not clicking on any links or images in the e-mail.
Domain Name Tracking. When you use our Services, we automatically record the name of the domain from which you accessed the Services. Additionally, if you reach our Services by means of a link from another site, our computers will note the fact that you came to us from that linked site.
Analytics. Logos may use one or more third party analytics programs, including but not limited to Google Analytics, to help analyze how users utilize the Services. Google Analytics does not collect any Personal Information. Google Analytics uses a single first-party cookie containing an anonymous identifier to distinguish users and to collect standard Internet log information and visitor behavior information. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the Services (including IP address) is transmitted to Google. This information is used to create statistical reports on user activity for Logos. For more information about Google Analytics, including opt-out options, visit the Google Analytics privacy page at https://www.google.com/analytics/learn/privacy.html.
Use of Information Collected
Our primary purpose for collecting Personal Information and Aggregate Information (collectively “User Information”) is to provide you with products and services you request. We may also use your User Information for the following purposes:
· to provide services and customer support that you may request;
· to correct problems, resolve disputes, and collect fees
· improving and optimizing our Services;
· to inform you about service updates and promotional offers;
· to send newsletters and marketing materials;
· to communicate with you about enrolling in one of our Bible study programs;
· to communicate preferences which you have indicated;
· to customize the advertising and content you see;
· to verify information; or
· for any other purpose disclosed at the point of collection.
Information We Share
Logos does not sell, rent, or trade Personal Information to any third party. Additionally, Logos does not disclose any Personal Information to any third party for that party’s own marketing purposes. However, Logos may disclose Personal Information to third party service providers hired to perform internal business functions on our behalf. Logos may also share Aggregate Information with third parties for advertising and promotional purposes. Further, we may disclose Personal Information to government/regulatory agencies as Logos deems reasonably necessary to comply with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
User Disclosures. Some Personal Information is disclosed as a matter of course as a result of your use of the Services. Any Personal Information shared using our Services or on another website (such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter) may become public information. You should exercise caution when disclosing information to third parties or in public forums. Content shared between users of our Services, including advice and opinions, represent the views and are the responsibility of those who post the content. We do not necessarily endorse, support, verify, or agree with the content posted. If you have any questions or comments about any content posted using our Services, please contact us at the address below.
USERS ASSUME ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY LOSS OF PRIVACY OR OTHER HARM RESULTING FROM THEIR OWN VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION IN PUBLIC FORUMS.
Business Transitions. Logos reserves the right to transfer all User Information in its possession in the event Logos goes through a business transition, such as a merger, being acquired by another company, or selling a portion of its assets. Similarly, your User Information may be passed on to a successor in interest in the event of a reorganization, reconstruction, liquidation, bankruptcy or administration. Users will not be notified of any such change of ownership or control of their User Information.
The Services are intended for adult use only and is not directed towards children, minors or anyone under the age of 18. If you are under the age of 13, you are not authorized to provide us with any personally identifying information. If the parent or guardian of a child under 13 believes that the child has provided us with any personal data, the parent or guardian of that child should contact us at the address below and ask to have this personal information deleted from our files. We appreciate your cooperation with this federally mandated requirement.
Links To Third Party Sites
No transmission of data over the Internet is guaranteed to be completely secure. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that your submissions to the Services, any content residing on our servers, or any transmissions from our server will be completely secure. It may be possible for third parties to intercept or access transmissions or private communications unlawfully. Any such transmission is done at your own risk.
Accessing and Updating Personal Information
Additional Information for European Union Users
Data controller. Logos Educational Corporation of P.O. Box 420398, San Diego CA 92142 is the data controller for registration, billing, and other account information that we collect from users in the European Union.
Accessing and correcting your personal data. You have the right to access and correct the personal information that Logos holds about you. This right may be exercised by contacting us at email@example.com.
· the transfer of your data to a data controller and data processors located in countries, including the United States, which do not have data protection laws that provide the same level of protection that exists in countries in the European Economic Area. Your consent is voluntary, and you may revoke your consent by opting out at any time. Please note that if you opt-out, we may no longer be able to provide you our Services.
· us sharing your personal data with relevant persons working for service providers who assist us to provide our Services; and
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