3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice 1 of one shouting in the wilderness: 2
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make 3 his paths straight.
3:5 Every valley will be filled, 4
and every mountain and hill will be brought low,
and the crooked will be made straight,
and the rough ways will be made smooth,
1 tn Or “A voice.”
2 tn Or “desert.” The syntactic position of the phrase “in the wilderness” is unclear in both Luke and the LXX. The MT favors taking it with “Prepare a way,” while the LXX takes it with “a voice shouting.” If the former, the meaning would be that such preparation should be done “in the wilderness.” If the latter, the meaning would be that the place from where John’s ministry went forth was “in the wilderness.” There are Jewish materials that support both renderings: 1QS 8:14 and 9.19-20 support the MT while certain rabbinic texts favor the LXX (see D. L. Bock, Luke [BECNT], 1:290-91). While it is not absolutely necessary that a call in the wilderness led to a response in the wilderness, it is not unlikely that such would be the case. Thus, in the final analysis, the net effect between the two choices may be minimal. In any case, a majority of commentators and translations take “in the wilderness” with “The voice of one shouting” (D. L. Bock; R. H. Stein, Luke [NAC], 129; I. H. Marshall, Luke [NIGTC], 136; NIV, NRSV, NKJV, NLT, NASB, REB).
3 tn This call to “make paths straight” in this context is probably an allusion to preparation through repentance as the verb ποιέω (poiew) reappears in vv. 8, 10, 11, 12, 14.
4 sn The figurative language of this verse speaks of the whole creation preparing for the arrival of a major figure, so all obstacles to his approach are removed.
5 tn Grk “all flesh.”
6 sn A quotation from Isa 40:3-5. Though all the synoptic gospels use this citation from Isaiah, only Luke cites the material of vv. 5-6. His goal may well be to get to the declaration of v. 6, where all humanity (i.e., all nations) see God’s salvation (see also Luke 24:47).