Darrell Bock displays why he is one of the world's foremost Lukan scholars in his recent work A Theology of Luke and Acts. This book is the second installment in Zondervan's Biblical Theology of the New Testament series, which is edited by Andreas J. Kostenberger, who wrote the first book in the series, A Theology of John's Gospel and Letters. If these two tomes of theology boast of what is to come in this series then I expect that we will see this series sitting next to Cambridge's New Testament Theology set on every serious student's of the New Testament shelf.
Very similar to Kostenberger's work, Bock divides his study of Lukes' writings in three parts: Introductory Matters, Major Theological Themes, and Luke and the Canon. With the continued rise of interest in canonical theology, part three of this resource is very welcomed.
As a reference work for students of theology and pastors who are pressed for time, this series offers a detailed table of contents. This is quite helpful for those who are looking for some fact-finding or validation on a particular matter that Luke addresses. For instance, a pastor may swiftly look up the different speeches in Acts (2.4.5, p. 51) or a student may quickly find a survey involving the theme of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts (6.5.7, p. 143; 9, pp. 211-225).
This work also makes for an excellent textbook in the classroom both from a professor's and a student's standpoint. Student's will appreciate how each chapter is between 10-30 pages, making for manageable reading for each class. Professors will appreciate how masterfully Bock organizes the content, especially Part Two, which is the main body of the text.
Part One of A Theology of Luke and Acts covers the importance of Luke-Acts (Chapter 1), the context of these two books (Chapter 2), the unity of Luke-Acts (Chapter 3), and the Outline and Narrative Survey of Luke-Acts (Chapter 4). Chapter three is of a special value. Though this chapter is brief in nature, only seven pages, it sets a tone for the theological study of Luke-Acts. This chapter helps readers understand the approach at which Bock reads, exegetes, and makes theological observations in Luke-Acts. Bock writes, "In viewing this unity in the midst of diverse application of these volumes, we contend that Luke-Acts as well as Luke and Acts is intended to set forth the program of God as delivered through Jesus. The Christ was sent to bring the kingdom and Spirit to people of all nations who embraced his message of promise and deliverance (Bock, p. 60)." This chapter also gives a wonderful introduction to the background and discussion surrounding the unity of Luke-Acts.
Part Two of A Theology of Luke and Acts covers the many theological themes of these two books. Being that Bock covers these various themes over seventeen chapters, it does not seem helpful for me to go into great detail on each of these chapters. However, I will highlight some of my favorite material in Part Two.
I found Chapters 12-14 to be fascinating. These chapters discuss Israel, Gentiles and the expression of "the nations", and the Church/the Way in Luke-Acts. Studying the continuity and discontinuity in God's revelation to God's elect people is always of interest and a great challenge. Bock argues, "Luke's story about Jesus is Israel's story...All through the two volumes, those who preach the message present it as Israel's story and identify with Israel's God and hope. Nothing in any of this shows that Israel has been set aside ( Bock, p. 289)."
Meanwhile, Bock addresses the mixed view that Luke has concerning the Gentiles. Sometimes the book of Luke seems to have positive perspective and then in other places cities are set aside for judgment, and the lifestyle of the Gentiles is rebuked. Yet, the Gentiles play a role of growing significance as we approach Acts and throughout Acts. Bock rightly identifies how the last use of the term in the commission to bring the message of "repentance for forgiveness of sins...to all nations" is pivotal in Luke 24.47. He says, "This is a key part of the story that will drive Acts (Bock, p. 296)." Bock concludes about the Gentiles, "Acts describes how the gospel went out to the Gentiles, who needed salvation because of their association with idolatry. This inclusion did not take place at the expense of mission to Israel but out of it and alongside of it (Bock, p. 300)."
I appreciate how Bock helps us see the purpose of Christ's mission to Israel and the continuation of those efforts as Paul brings the message to Israel faithfully, while extending salvation to all people. Bock discusses how the Church surfaces in the book of Acts. He observes, "What we see is a group developing a distinct identity. They are gathering in various locales, most often in homes, but they also still connect to Israel and her story (Bock, p. 303)." Later he writes, "...the Church is a new entity with connection to old promises...They were a community that formed a new household of God (Bock, 310)." Bock maintains the high importance of the history of God's people, Israel, while emphasizing God's new initiative with the Church.
Part Three of A Theology of Luke and Acts covers the canonical understanding of Luke-Acts. He highlights the unique contributions that Luke-Acts offers to the New Testament and traces the parallels that Luke-Acts share with the other New Testament writings.
I strongly encourage students of the Word to add A Theology of Luke and Acts to their theological library. You may purchase this work here* on Amazon. Students will turn to this source often as they continue to delve into the riches of Luke's message concerning the Kingdom of God displayed in the people of God as seen through the visible Church today.
You are reading this post because Zondervan offered me this book in return for an honest review. Read more book reviews by Joey Cochran at jtcochran.com.
* I receive no benefit from you if purchased through this link.