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Theology of Luke & Acts A HB (Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series): God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that’s true, but first impressions are important and first sight of this volume is very pleasing. It’s a large format hardback, very attractively bound and nice to handle. I was fortunate to receive a complimentary copy from the publishers as part of a blog tour and asked to review one chapter, which I will do; but first a few comments on the book as a whole.

This volume is part of a series – Biblical Theology of the New Testament – published by Zondervan and edited by Adnreas J Kostenberger. The series aims to do at least two highly commendable things:

1. While being written “at the highest level of academic excellence by recognised experts in the field” the series is aimed at “upper college and seminary-level” students, whilst also appealing to pastors and other readers. It appears to be an attempt to make scholarly work more accessible, and that is to be applauded.

2. While so many commentaries tend to treat their subjects as stand-alone, isolated, works, this series deliberately “shows how each book (of the NT) relates to the broad picture of New Testament theology.” Frankly, it’s an approach all too rare in my opinion and, again, the publishers are to be commended for working with that objective.

This particular contribution to the series takes Luke-Acts as its combined focus, and Bock points out in his opening chapter that “The biblical material from Luke-Acts is probably the largest and most neglected portion of the N.T.” (p27)

The book itself is in three sections.

Part 1 provides an introduction and background, stessing the unity of Luke-Acts and giving the context as well as an outline and narrative survey.

Part 2 contains the meat of the book with 17 chapters dealing with major theological themes in Luke-Acts; themes such as The Plan, Activity and Character of God; the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts; Discipleship and Ethics in the New Community; How Response to Jesus Divides; Ecclesiology in Luke-Acts and so much more.

Part 3 reflects on Luke-Acts inclusion in and contribution to the canon of Scripture

As you would expect in a volume like this there is an extensive bibliography as well as Scripture, subject and author indices at the rear of the book. But another very helpful feature is a more specific bibliography at the beginning of each chapter, highlighting texts that are particularly pertinent to that chapter’s subject. A great idea.

I chose chapter 13 as my review chapter – The Gentiles and the expression “the nations” in Luke-Acts. I’m glad I did, and if this chapter is representative of the rest of the book – which I haven’t yet read – then I can wholeheartedly commend it.

Bock gives us a facsinating study of the interplay between Israel and the Gentile nations, doing a word study on Luke’s use of ethnos/ethne in Luke and Acts. He shows how the New Testament writer and readers would have understood the use of Old Testament quotations such as Psalm 2, and concludes, correctly in my opinion, that the inclusion of the Gentiles “did not take place at the expense of mission to Israel but out of it and alongside of it.” (p300)

This book is of the highest standard and will, I suspect, become a standard text book for this part of Scripture and deservedly so.

Zondervan; First Edition (1 July 2012)

For the purpose of review, I received a complimentary copy of the book from the Publishers. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

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