I want especially to highlight an extended quote from late in Watson's chapter on "Luke the Interpreter" (pp. 156–216), in which Watson focuses especially (and sometimes unhelpfully) on Luke the interpreter of Matthew. Watson snaps his readers' focus back onto Luke as interpreter of Jesus just at that point where we may have lost that angle in our efforts to see how Luke interprets the written Matthean tradition:
The dynamic of tradition would also be lost if we concluded that Luke and not Jesus is the author of the Prodigal Son and the Parable of the Lost Coin. That would be an utterly misleading claim. Luke composes these parables not as an independent author but as an interpreter, responsible for articulating the tradition that begins to form around Jesus during his ministry and that communicates him to ever-widening circles in the decades that follow, through preaching and writing. If oral and written tradition communicates Jesus, then it is also the case that Jesus communicates himself through the tradition. (208; italics in the original)This perspective is revolutionary; just two decades ago it would have been inconceivable to associate the historical Jesus so strongly with texts that bear such distinctive marks of Lukan redaction. These words, however, do not so much effect a revolution in Gospels and Jesus research as much as they reflect the revolution that has been taking place in the last decade or so, especially in that work that has emphasized memory—and especially social or collective memory—in the historical analysis of the Jesus tradition.