The Acts of the Apostlesby Ben Witherington III
Pub. Date: 11/13/1997
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Like Ben Witherington's previous commentary Conflict and Community in Corinth, this commentary breaks fresh ground in providing a detailed social and rhetorical analysis of the book of Acts. Written in a readable style, with more detailed interaction with scholarly discussion found in the various excursuses, this commentary draws on the/i>
Like Ben Witherington's previous commentary Conflict and Community in Corinth, this commentary breaks fresh ground in providing a detailed social and rhetorical analysis of the book of Acts. Written in a readable style, with more detailed interaction with scholarly discussion found in the various excursuses, this commentary draws on the best new insights from a number of disciplines (narratological studies of Luke-Acts, archaeological and social scientific study of the New Testament, rhetorical analysis of Acts, comparative studies in ancient historiography) to provide the reader with the benefits of recent innovative ways of analyzing the text of Acts. In addition there is detailed attention to major theological and historical issues, including the question of the relationship of Acts to the Pauline letters, the question of early Christian history and how the church grew and developed, the relationship between early Judaism and early Christianity, and the relationship between Christianity and the officials of the Roman Empire. Acts is seen as a historical monograph with affinities with the approaches of serious Greek historians such as Thucydides and Polybius in terms of methodology, and affinities with some forms of Jewish historiography (including Old Testament history) in terms of content or subject matter. The book is illustrated with various pictures and charts, which help to bring to light the character and setting of these narratives.
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Ben Witherington is simply one of the finest Christian scholars of our day. This work on Acts is another of his colossal achievements. The introduction covers all the ground one would expect (authorship, date, audience, structure, theology, purpose, etc), as well as a tremendous amount of detailed background information regarding Luke's use of rhetoric and the sociological situation of the day. The huge treatment of the question of whether Luke-Acts is biographical or historical monograph is extremely helpful. The detail of this work is immense. The thing I like about Ben Witherington's work is that it is obvious that he is not merely reshaping the work of other writers. He seems to have combed through the text with careful thought and emerged with provocative insights in some areas, and helpful reiteration of historic viewpoints in others. His sections, A CLOSER LOOK, provide detailed information not found in other commentaries. Another great benefit of this work is that Witherington has surely plumbed the depths of the difficult work of C.K. Barrett, which likely influenced his research at times along the way. Barrett's work (ICC) is too difficult for most of us, but we can enjoy some of it through Witherington's work. This commentary is a treasure that will yield great riches to the pastor/teacher in a study through Acts. Use it along with Polhill, Fitzmyer and Marshall for an exhaustive study of Acts.