Saturday, October 06, 2007

Darrell Bock's Commentary On Acts

I recently got Darrell Bock’s commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007). I haven’t read much of it yet, so these are only my initial impressions.

The obvious comparison is to Bock’s commentary on Luke. The Acts commentary is about 800 pages long, which is a significant length, but it’s shorter than his two-volume commentary on Luke’s gospel. It’s disappointing in that sense, but I still highly recommend it. It carries endorsements from Ben Witherington, Steve Walton, Robert Wall, and W. Ward Gasque.

Bock interacts with a lot of recent sources, including some from 2006. I was pleased to see that he even includes a few references to Richard Bauckham’s book on eyewitness testimony, which didn’t come out until late last year. He often cites previous conservative commentaries on Acts, such as F.F. Bruce’s and Ben Witherington’s, but he also frequently interacts with less conservative sources, like C.K. Barrett and Joseph Fitzmyer.

Unlike many other commentators (R.T. France, in light of his 2007 commentary on Matthew, comes to mind), Bock places a lot of emphasis on harmonization. His material on the death of Judas and how the different accounts of Paul’s conversion relate to each other, for example, is handled well. Bock’s high view of scripture and his willingness to give so much time, effort, and space to issues of harmonization are commendable.

For those not familiar with the Baker series of commentaries, the format is easy to follow, with the commentary marked off by chapter and verse numbers in large, bold print at the side of each page. There’s a subject index, an author index, and an index for scripture references and other ancient sources. These commentaries are meant to be a middle ground between more popular level works aimed at laymen and “encyclopedic commentaries that seek to cover every conceivable issue that may arise” (p. ix).

1 comment:

  1. Something Steve has said before bears repeating. Other conservative scholars are working on Acts commentaries. Craig Keener is working on one, for example, and I’d expect his to be on the more encyclopedic end of the scale. I doubt that it will be as long as his 1600-page commentary on the gospel of John, especially since that gospel is an area of specialization for Keener. But it could go into more depth than Bock’s commentary. Keener’s commentaries are usually good on historical issues. He cites a lot of sources and a wide variety of them (ancient and modern). His material is highly useful for anybody who’s involved in apologetic work. Those of you who don’t want to spend much money on Acts commentaries may want to wait to see how Keener’s commentary and some of the others turn out. But Bock’s is good, so those who are willing to pay for more than one commentary on Acts probably should get it.