July 2012


Last year, under the editorial direction of Andreas Kostenberger, Zondervan began the Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series.  The first installment was Kostenberger’s contribution A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters. The BTNT series seeks to provide a biblical theology of the entire NT in eight volumes with a biblical/thematic approach.

This year the next volume is A Theology of Luke and Acts by well known Luke commentator Darrell Bock. Darrell Bock has written a few other books on Luke and Acts: Luke (IVP), Luke (NIVAC), Luke (BECNT), and Acts (BECNT). A Theology of Luke and Acts is not a commentary but rather a thematic look at the biblical theology of Luke and Acts as a literary unit.

PURPOSE OF LUKE-ACTS

The essential purpose for Luke-Acts is “to show that the coming of Jesus, Christ, and Son of God launched the long-promised new movement of God. The community that has come from his ministry, the suffering these believers experienced, and the inclusion of Gentiles are part of God’s program promised in Scripture.” (p. 29) According to Bock, Theophilus needed assurance that this new movement (Christianity) was a legitimate work of God given the amount of persecution it underwent. Luke assures him that the persecution is not a judgment of God but rather part of the plan of God to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.

UNITY OF LUKE-ACTS

There has been a long history in regards to the unity of Luke and Acts. Bock’s argument is that Luke and Acts are to be read together, as was intended by Luke. After handling the objections to the unity of the two books Bock responds with the argument that Luke and Acts are to be viewed as Luke-Acts on the basis of literary and theological grounds rather than their shared authorship (p. 60). Two of the literary aspects that point to their unity are the beginning of both books (Lk. 1:1-4; Acts 1) and the clear connection between Luke 24 and Acts 1. “The two volumes link together in the telling of the ascension, which concludes Luke and also begins the book of Acts.” (p. 65) One of the other subtle literary pointers to their unity is the geographical movement of the books. Luke begins in Jerusalem and Acts ends in Rome (p. 66) In regards to the theological point of unity, well, that’s the main content of the book. In each chapter Bock discusses the contribution of both books towards the biblical theological theme discussed. Through the pairing of these books side by side the theological unity of the books clearly shines through.

BIBLICAL THEOLOGICAL THEMES

The bulk of the book is taken up by the intent of the book – to provide a biblical thematic look at Luke-Acts together. In the seventeen chapters dedicated to the major themes in Luke-Acts we see discussion on God as the primary acting agent in the book (chap. 5), Jesus as the promised Messiah and bringer of the new era of salvation (chap. 7), the Holy Spirit (chap. 9), Israel (chap. 12), the church (chap. 14), the law (chap. 18) and eschatology, judgment and hope (chap. 20). With few exceptions, each chapter tackles 2-3 common themes and brings them together through a common thread.

There are a number of elements which Bock utilizes in order to discuss the many themes within Luke-Acts:

  1. Infancy Material of Luke – Perhaps the predominate and driving lens through which Bock sees and draws out the various biblical theological themes of Luke-Acts is in the infancy material of Luke 1-2. Chapter after chapter Bock anchors his discussion within Luke’s infancy material. It is truly the bedrock for the various theological themes in both books.
  2. Israel and the Church – As a Progressive Dispensationalist (though he never mentions this in the book) Bock is committed to the position that since the OT promises were given to national Israel they will be fulfilled to a reconstituted national Israel. However, this does NOT mean Gentiles will not partake in these blessing and promises. In fact, from the beginning with God’s promises to Abraham they were always in view as being recipients of God’s promises and blessings. Though it shows up from time to time throughout the book, Bock primarily fleshes out his view of how this works out in the chapters on Israel (chap. 12), the Gentiles nations (chap. 13) the church (chap. 14) and ecclesiology (chap. 19).
  3. Word Studies – One way in which Bock picks out the major theological themes is by observing the dominate words used by Luke in both books. Here Bock provides a great example for the reader on the proper use of word studies. For instance, in chapter ten on salvation, Bock discusses all of uses of the sozo word group.
  4. OT Background – A reading through of any chapter will alert the reader to the fact that Bock sees Luke-Acts as having their roots in the OT. This is one of the great strengths of the book. As Bock discusses in the book, it is this anchoring in the OT which Bock uses to show that Luke believed what God was doing through Christ, during and after his life on earth, was rooted in the OT plan of God for all nations.
  5. Continuity of Themes in Both Books – As each chapter bears out, Bock begins with the theme under discussion in Luke and then moves to Acts. It is here that the theological unity of the books shines through. What Luke begins in his gospel he continues in Acts.

CONCLUSION

In Bock’s words, the canonical theological contribution of Luke-Acts is that it “presents the continuity of Israel’s story with the new era that Jesus brought and the new community that his ministry generated.” (p. 447) Though much of national Israel rejected Jesus and His message, many still believed and God did not reject His people. There was a remnant that believed (which is typical of believing Israel in the OT). In Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God is continuing to pursue His people and spread the gospel to all nations.

A Theology of Luke and Acts is a very readable biblical theology of Luke-Acts. Bock has done a great job synthesizing the biblical theological themes that no doubt run through his commentaries. Though not a commentary, this is an essential book along side Bock’s, or any other commentators book on Luke and Acts, as it gives the reader the big picture of what Luke wrote to Theophilus and for us. It is clearly organized, exegetically mindful, OT rooted, eye-opening and lay friendly.

BLOG TOUR – If you would like to read some more on certain chapters in the book check out the Zondervan blog tour that was held last week: Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an unbiased review. The views and thoughts expressed in this review are mine.

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HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ churst555@gmail.com and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!

REVIEWS:

Called to the Ministry by Edmund Clowney is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Galatians: Lectio Continuo Expository Commentary on the NT by J.V. Fesko is reviewed by Kevin Fiske.

Mapping Modern Theology by Kelly Kapic & Bruce McCormack is reviewed by Matthew Sims.

For Calvinism and Against Calvinism are reviewed by David Schrock.

Disciple: Getting Your Identity From Jesus by Bill Clem is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax is reviewed by Joey Cochran.

1 Samuel (Reformed Expository Commentary) by Richard Phillips is reviewed by Matthew Sims.

Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology by Greg Dutcher is reviewed by Dave Jenkins and Frank Turk.

Why You Think The Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home by Glenn Sunshine is reviewed by Leslie Kenney. [HT: Z]

Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox is reviewed by Alan Anderson.

How Sermons Work by David Murray is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Dallas and the Spitfire by Ted Kluck & Dallas Jahncke is reviewed by Dave Jenkins.

Matthew Henry: His Life & Influence by Allan Harman is reviewed by Bob Hayton.

Between Babel and the Beast by Peter Leithart is reviewed at Mere-Orthodoxy by Brian Auten in Part 1 &  Part 2.

A Shot of Faith (To the Head) by Mitch Stokes is reviewed by Jared Totten.

The Jesus Scandals: Why He Shocked His Contemporaries (And Still Shocks Today) by David Instone-Brewer is reviewed by Dave Jenkins.

INTERVIEWS:

Justin Taylor interviews Tim Savage about his book No Ordinary Marriage: Together For God’s Glory.

Kevin Fiske interviews Jon D. Payne about the new Lectio Continuo Expository Commentary on the New Testament.

Kevin Fiske interviews J.V. Fesko on his inaugural commentary on Galatians in the new Lectio Continuo Expository Commentary on the New Testament.

Peter Enns is interviewed about his book Inspiration & Incarnation and The Evolution of Adam.

John Piper is interviewed by Tim Challies.

Alan Thompson is interviewed by CredoMag about his recent book The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus (NSBT) which I also reviewed here.

Ed Stetzer interviews Justin Buzzard about his new book Date Your Wife.

Greg Beale is interviewed by CredoMag about his recent book A New Testament Biblical Theology.

R.C. Sproul is interviewed by Tim Challies.

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHTS:

Kelly Kapic discusses his book A Little Book for New Theologians.

Listen to Piper, Carson & Keller have a very insightful discussion on the trinity.

CredoMag has posted a teaching series by R.C. Sproul on Free Will & Divine Sovereignty.

Larry Hurtado with some pre-reading thoughts on Bart Erhman’s new book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.

John Dickson with some great thoughts on Violence in the OT.

John Munson lectures at the Lanier Theological Library on Physical theology: The Bible in It’s Land, Time & Culture.

Voddie Baucham discusses Jeremiah 29:11 as a life verse.

BOOKS & RESOURCES TO NOTE:

The 2nd edition of An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination by Walter Brueggeman & Tod Linafelt is now available.

Carl Trueman discusses why A Grief Sanctified by J.I. Packer is his best book on Christian suffering.

Andy Naselli points out a new book on limited atonement by Lee Gatiss titled For Us and For Our Salvation: Limited Atonement in the Bible, Doctrine, History and Ministry.

Andy Naselli posts some highlights from Dever & Gilbert’s  new book Preach: Theology Meets Practice.

Justin Taylor lists several books on Being Single in Christ.

From Jonathan Leeman’s book Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus, Andy Naselli posts 22 Mistakes Pastors Make in Practicing Church Discipline.

Kevin DeYoung has a helpful list of Good Book to Read on the Good Book.

Keith Mathison with 10 Books Every New Calvinist Needs to Read.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

Jared Wilson on the Ten Commandments for Writers.

Trevin Wax has a guest post from Eric McKiddie on 10 Tips on Solving Mysterious Bible Passages from Sherlock Holmes.

Mark Dever, Darrin Patrick & Brian Chandler answer the question, “Should Baptism Be Spontaneous?

Greg Thornburry writes for BibleMesh on How Should we Respond to OT Polygamy?

Last year Zondervan published A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters by Andres Kostenberger which was the first volume in a new series edited by Kostenberger, Biblical Theology of the New Testament. This year the second volume has been released titled A Theology of Luke and Acts by Darrell Bock.

As part of a blog tour for Zondervan I will be giving an overview of chapter twelve on Israel in Luke -Acts. Later this week I will be posting a full review of the book.

ISRAEL IN LUKE

As I will mention in my full review of the book, Bock interprets Israel in Luke-Acts from a Progressive Dispensational viewpoint. With this in mind Bock is clear that Israel was the primary people whom Jesus was coming for. It was to Israel as a people that the promises were made and to whom they will be kept (p. 280).

As with the book as a whole, Bock roots this focus on Israel within the infancy material of the first two chapters of Luke. We see the focus in the words of John the Baptist (1:16), Mary’s hymn (1:46-53), Zechariah’s hymn (1:67-75) and finally Simeon’s hymn (2:25). Israel has been waiting for its Messiah and He has come!

But as the Gospels bear out much of Israel did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. Bock points out that there is “division in God’s people” (p. 282):

So God’s program is doing two things at once. It is diving Israel as we know her, but it is also forming a new people made p of Israel and the nations. The new thing is what Luke will refer to as the church, a church that still has roots in God’s old promises because of the faithful in Israel who respond to Messiah. What is new also is really old. (p. 282)

For Bock, though Israel is a national entity was not restored at Christ’s first coming, there was still a remnant that responded. Through the church, the multi-ethnic people of God, Israel is being called back to God and will one day be restored (Rom. 11:11-32).

LUKE IN ACTS

So we see Israel divided in Luke but reconstituted in Acts. The key verse is Acts 1:6 when the disciples ask Jesus if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Following chapter one is the Pentecost event in chapter two with the audience being dispersed Jews with “all the house of Israel” present (2:9-11). From here, throughout the book of Acts we see the Apostles continually going to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. God is not done with Israel. Though their earthly kingdom has not been established the kingdom (rule of God in the hearts of His people) has been inaugurated in Christ and Israel is to take part in this. This hints at the already/not-yet eschatology which Bock discusses in chapter twenty. The kingdom has come, will grow but will not be fully realized until later.

Acts carries this Israel emphasis as we are given the account of Saul’s conversion. In 26:17 Jesus, addressing Saul, tells him that he would deliver him from “his own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them.” Jesus gives Paul his ministry target which includes Israel whom he evangelizes till the end of his life.

CONCLUSION

“Luke’s story about Jesus is Israel’s story.” (p. 289) Throughout Jesus’ earthly life and ministry He is reliving the life of Israel. Bock does not go so far as to say Jesus is the true Israel in that He replaces the nation of Israel but this is pretty close. Here is how Bock finished out the chapter:

She (Israel) is a divided people. Some respond; others do not. 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. What is seen instead is a persistent effort to continue to reach out even in the face of intense opposition and rejection. It is for Israel’s hope that Paul contends at the end of Acts as he preaches a message man Jews reject. For Luke,Israel is still to turn to Gentiles. The church, filled with a believing remnant, is doing in outreach what Israel’s story also had always promised, being people out of Israel who became a blessing and light to the world (Acts 13:46-47). (p. 289)

Desiring God for Kids has two great books to aid in teaching kids the doctrine of God by Sally Michael. Westminster is selling God’s Names and God’s Promises for 50% off at $8.50 each. The sale runs through July 24th.

Here is a video for God’s Names:

There is a new exciting commentary series beginning titled The Lectio Continuo Commentary on the New Testament. The series editor is Dr. Jon D. Payne who is a pastor in Georgia and teacher at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

There is a web site devoted to this new series which has the list of contributors. The first volume is on Galatians by J.V. Fesko. The next three volumes are scheduled to come out this fall and winter: (1) The Gospel of John by Terry Johnson, (2) First Corinthians by Kim Riddlebarger and (3) First Peter by Jon Payne.

This week Kevin Fiske has been doing a lot of work promoting this new series over at his blog. He has the following three posts available:

  1. An interview with series editor Dr. Jon D. Payne.
  2. An interview with J.V. Fesko on his Galatians commentary.
  3. A review of J.V. Fesko’s commentary on Galatians.

This commentary series looks to be a solid contribution in the field of expository commentaries from a Reformed perspective. Here is the publisher description about the LCECNT:

The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament is a new exegetical commentary series published by Tolle Lege Press. The series will be authored by sixteen ministers from five countries representing ten different Reformed denominations. The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary seeks to be rigorously exegetical, God-centered, redemptive-historical, sin-exposing, Gospel-trumpeting and teeming with practical application. It aims to encourage ministers, elders, seminarians and interested laypeople to rediscover the profound spiritual benefits of systematic expository preaching; that is, the faithful preaching of the “whole counsel of God” — verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. It also endeavors, by the power of the Spirit, to help Christ’s kingdom disciples to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).

HELP!: If you see anything that you think would fit into one of these categories then email it to me @ churst555@gmail.com and I will add it to next weeks list and cite you as the referral if I didn’t see it first!

REVIEWS:

Church Discipline by Jonathan Leehman is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside by Greg Dutcher is reviewed by Mike Leake.

The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT) by Gareth Lee Cockerhill is reviewed by Clifford Kvidahl.

Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson is reviewed by Dave Jenkins.

Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard is reviewed by Tim Challies and Aaron Armstrong.

Foolishness to the Greeks by Lesslie Newbigin  is reviewed by Cris Putnam.

Engaging with Martin-Lloyd Jones Ed. by Andrew Atherstone & David Jones is reviewed by Peter Lewis.

Real: Owning Your Faith by Daniel Darling is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong and Dave Jenkins.

Karl Barth and American Evangelicalism Ed. by Bruce McCormick & Clifford Anderson is reviewed by Tyler Wittman at CredoMag.com.

Solid Ground: The Inerrant Word of God in an Errnat World by Gabriel Fluhrer is reviewed by Dave Jenkins.

Is There Meaning in This Text? by Kevin VanHoozer is summarized by Brian Mattson.

From the Garden to the City by John Dyre is reviewed by Doug Wilson.

Matthew Henry’s Life & Influence by Allan Harman is reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

The Henry Morris Study Bible is reviewed by Shaun Tabatt and Dave Jenkins.

Recovering the Unity of the Bible by Walter Kaiser is reviewed by Frank Gantz.

Union with Christ in Scripture, History & Theology by Robert Letham is reviewed by Dave Jenkins.

INTERVIEWS:

John Starke interviews Fred Sanders author of The Deep Things of God.

David Neff at Christianity Today interviews Timothy George about his recent book Reading Scripture with the Reformers.

Trevin Wax interviews Daniel Darling about his recent book Real: Owning Your Faith.

Justin Taylor interviews David Dockery about the new series Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition.

9Marks interviews John Piper about his book Bloodlines.

Aaron Armstrong interview Tad Thompson about is book Intentional Parenting.

the Dove Tv interviews Justin Buzzard about his new book Date Your Wife.

Justin Taylor interviews Craig Blomberg on the reliability of the Gosels which he has written One & Two books on.

Kathleen Nielson interview Diane Severance about her book Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History.

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHTS:

Kevin DeYoung has a list of book recommendations for Pastoral Theology.

Justin Taylor compiles the videos in which Scott Klusendorf discusses the pro-life position which comes from his famous book The Case for Life.

Doug Wilson gives two lectures on sexuality and a questions and answer time to follow. This is highly instructive!

4 Benefits of Reading Fiction from Tony Reinke and his book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books.

BOOKS & RESOURCES TO NOTE:

The 3rd edition of Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology is set to release in April 2013.

Andy Naselli highlights the Pictoral Library of Bible Lands Series.

Aaron Armstrong defines apostasy from R.C. Sproul’s new book The Work of Christ.

…….And Just Because it Interests Me:

Do We Still Need Librarians?

Why Evangelicals Can’t Write.

When it comes to learning and articulating theology, students are often more adept at the theology of a certain movement like liberalism, feminism and the like or a certain theologian like Barth, Schleiermacher,  Niebuhr and others. However, when it comes to the historical development of a particular theological branch like soteriology or eschatology students are usually lacking in their ability to understand how they have developed over time from one theologian or movement to another.

In an effort to aid students of theology towards a better understanding of the development of various areas of systematic theology, Kelly Kapic and Bruce McCormick have assembled a team of renowned theologians to produce Mapping Modern Theology: A Thematic and Historical Introduction. Each of the contributors in this volume is known for their adeptness in the field in which they are writing. Among the fourteen contributors Fred Sanders handles the trinity, Kelly Kapic anthropology, Kevin VanHoozer the atonement and Michael Horton finishes with eschatology.

The stated idea of the book is to

Organize modern theology along the lines of classic doctrinal topics or themes so that more complete coverage of significant developments in each area of doctrinal construction might be achieved. (p. 1)

Since modern theology is a slice in the pie of historical theology it stands to question how it came about. McCormick believes it developed when

Church-based theologians ceased trying to defend and protect the received orthodoxies of the past against erosion and took up the more fundamental challenge of asking how the values resident in those orthodoxies might be given an altogether new expression, dressed out in new categories for reflection. (p. 3)

As with all epochs of theological development, the defining question(s) that shaped modern theology was the nature of God and His relation to the world (p. 4). This is fleshed out through three areas of consideration: the doctrine of creation, the being of God in relation to creation and the doctrine of revelation. Admittedly, it is the desire of theologians to interact with the scientific contributions to theology that have driven a good bit of modern theology. So, given the world in which we have discovered certain things about how God has worked in the natural world/revelation, how does that influence (if at all) how we understand God’s special revelation in Scripture.

Like some historical theology books, Mapping Modern Theology focuses on the last 150-200 years of theological development. What the contributors do is weave the theology of theologians and movements together to present a uniform and sequential presentation of their development as they interact with one another. Unlike some historical theology books, Mapping Modern Theology focuses each chapter on an individual theological discipline and traces its development through people and movements. Also unlike some historical theology books, Mapping Modern Theology presents a more fuller presentation of the historical development and takes more time on the thought of the people and movements as well as discusses more movers and shakers than other books might.

Mapping Modern Theology can be used as both a reference book for individual theological disciplines and a text book for a class on modern theology. Teachers and readers will appreciate the list of further resources on each theological discipline so students have a good place to start for writing papers or further study. Readers will notice that several theologians were pillars of modern theology such as Barth, Schliermacher, Rahner, Ritschl, Hegel, Moltmann, Niebuhr and others. Also important to the understanding of modern theology is the work of men like Freud as his works speak to a view of man as well as God. While some more conservative movements have tended to ignore the works of these modern theologians, it would be naive to think their works have no value, as, undoubtedly, their own movements theological convictions have stemmed in various ways as a response or reaction to them.

Mapping Modern Theology is a great addition to the growing literature on modern theology. It serves as a great introduction to the field and hopefully other scholars will take notice.

NOTE: I received this book from Baker and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. The words expressed in this review are my own.

This post was originally posted on Servants of Grace and was re-posted with permission.

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