Posted by: chuckbumgardner | August 29, 2012

Keener on Acts

Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1--2:47

I was able today to take a look at the first volume of FOUR total volumes of Craig Keener’s Acts: An Exegetical Commentary (Baker, 2012).  The first volume handles introduction (640 pages) and the first two chapters (400 pages).  The bibliography for the four-volume set will be printed in the last volume, but because the four volumes are not being released simultaneously, the full bibliography (over 282 pages) will be included on a CD-rom that comes with each of the first three volumes. In the acknowledgements, Keener notes that the commentary runs over 2.5 million words. Little wonder that he refers to it as “my most significant academic work.”

Those familiar with Keener’s works on Matthew and John will find familiar emphases in Acts.  Keener notes that while the term “exegetical” is included in the subtitle, the emphasis is more strongly on social, historical, and rhetorical dimensions, and less on matters of lexis, grammar, textual criticism, and the like.  In his own words, “This commentary’s primary focus is what the text meant to its first audience.  Its primary contributions lie in often providing further documentation for, and sometimes further elaboration of, the social and historical framework in which Acts was first written, read, and heard” (4).

After a prolegomenon, the introduction covers the following:
(1) The writing and publishing of Acts
(2) Proposed genres for Acts
(3) Acts as a work of ancient historiography
(4) The character of ancient historiography
(5) Historical perspectives, Tendenz, and purpose
(6) Approaching Acts as a historical source
(7) Acts and Paul
(8) Speeches in Acts
(9) Signs and historiography
(10) Date
(11) Authorship (with an excursis on ancient physicians)
(12) Luke’s Audience
(13) Purpose of Acts
(14) Israel’s story
(15) Some Lukan emphases (with an excursis on background for Luke’s view of the Spirit)
(16) The unity and structure of Luke-Acts
(17) Geographic background
(18) Luke’s perspective on women and gender

Given Keener’s mastery of backgrounds, I anticipate savoring the many excurses throughout the commentary (and I’m sure these alone would be well worth the price of the book):
* God’s Kingdom in early Jewish and Christian teaching
* The Sabbath in Early Judaism
* Zealots
* Astrology
* Wine and excessive drinking
* Prophecy
* Dreams and visions
* Providence, fate, and predestination
* The cross and crucifixion
* Messiahship
* Proposed backgrounds for baptism (ritual washings and conversion baptism)
* Possessions



  1. Has anything struck you as new and important in this volume?

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