Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of A THEOLOGY OF LUKE AND ACTS by Darrell Bock

Photo Credit: Zondervan

Who the book is for: Pastors, teachers, theologians, Bible students
Rating: 5 out of 5

I love writing, and I love the gospel of Luke and his “sequel” Acts because Luke purposely set out to write down a story that he believed would change the world. And it has. Luke began his gospel by stating how he thoroughly he researched the events he was about to unfold, and he did this for a man named Theophilus. The message of Jesus was spreading, people were responding, and Luke saw the need for people to have “an orderly account” of just what people were coming to believe in and what led to their new way of life. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are a powerful narrative of what Jesus did during his time on earth, as well as the events that flowed out of his life when he returned to heaven through his followers.

Because Luke set out to write two large historical works that are undoubtedly intimately connected, it’s a good idea to study them together. Is this what Luke intended? Did he see Luke-Acts as one grand work, or two separate and unrelated works?

Darrell L. Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, looks at some of these questions and others as he expounds upon Luke’s two great writings in his new book from Zondervan called A THEOLOGY OF LUKE AND ACTS. This book is part of Zondervan’s BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT SERIES. It is a thorough and scholarly look into the theology of Luke’s writings, with a special of showing that Luke set out to write his Gospel and Acts to be read and studied together. Bock has a history of writing scholarly works on Luke’s writings, and that is a clear benefit to this book.

A THEOLOGY OF LUKE AND ACTS looks at important issues such as the authorship of the books, who exactly Luke was, and whether or not his intention was to record history. These are important discussions. I especially loved his discussion on Luke’s writing of history with clear poetic elements that reveal that God is the major player behind the events recorded in Luke’s writings. Bock carefully argues the case that Luke and Acts be read together, and throughout the book he uses a variety of scholarly sources. The Narrative Survey of Luke-Acts is a helpful overview of the events Luke records. This is all included in Part 1 of the book.

In Part 2, Bock looks at the different themes Luke touches upon in his Gospel and Acts. Luke was especially interested in showing the plan and activity of God in his writings. The same God who made promises in the past was acting in history to fulfill those promises. This is expanded in Bock’s look at other themes revealed in Luke’s writings such as the Holy Spirit’s activity, the work of Christ, Luke’s pictures of salvation, ecclesiology, and eschatology, among several others. I especially appreciate the focus on Luke’s showing that the gospel reaching the Gentiles flowed out of promises that God had made to Abraham and the nation of Israel in the past.

Part 3 looks at Luke’s writings in the overall Scriptural canon. Bock looks at Luke’s contributions to the canon and parallels of Luke’s writings with other New Testament writings.

The writers of Scripture were theologians. They had certain ideas they wanted to communicate about God and what he was doing in human history. It’s a great idea to study the theology behind a specific writer in the Bible, and Zondervan’s BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT SERIES gives great opportunity for that. I’m looking forward to more books in the series. A THEOLOGY OF LUKE AND ACTS looks at one of the most complete and time-spanning recordings of history in the early Christian movement, and it does so in a way that is clear and comprehensive. The book clocks in at almost 500 pages, and as a theology textbook, it’s a little heady, but it’s an informative look at God’s plan in history and how his activity has fulfilled his promises.

I received this book for free for review from Zondervan, and the opinions contained in this review are completely my own

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