The good people over at Zondervan Academic have been working on a new series of textbooks called The Biblical Theology of the New Testament. The purpose is pretty straight-forward: cover every book of the New Testament by having various biblical scholars hash out the theology inherent in different groups of writings. I have the privilege of being part of a blog tour regarding the second book in the series, A Theology of Luke and Acts by Darrell L. Bock. Here’s a quick snippet to give you an introductory look:
What really sets this book apart from the other textbooks I’ve read regarding Luke, Acts, or the New Testament in general is the focus. Bock does spend some time on foundational issues like authorship, date and what-not. He also writes about Luke’s place in the canon of Scripture. But these are not the centerpiece of his work. The bulk of the text, “Part Two” of the three sections, is entirely devoted to the thematic theological elements of Luke and Acts. Curious about the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts? There’s a chapter for that. Women, Rome, Israel, the Gentiles, eschatology and the use of Scripture are some of the themes Bock deals with, and he does so with great clarity.
While written on the graduate level, I never felt like Bock was talking over my head. This level of writing is important to consider when examining the author’s treatment of introductory material. Bock does not bother investing in lengthy debates. He does, however, summarize them in order for the reader to better comprehend the idea that informs his perspective on Luke’s writings: Luke and Acts are two volumes of essentially one work.
Bock explains why this unified reading is so important to understanding Luke-Acts:
…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. Jesus is the promised Messiah who also was vindicated by God to show he is Lord of all. So the kingdom message can go to all (p. 60).
This argument may not be unique in the great history of Christian theology, but it is offered with clarity and integrity in A Theology of Luke and Acts. Bock’s assessment is critical, in my opinion, to understanding how Christian’s today should respond to the kingdom of God. Because in order to respond and take part, we must first discover the kingdom. By reading Luke and Acts as Luke-Acts, and subsequently drawing upon the themes of both volumes, we see a kingdom that is robust, diverse and ecumenical.
All in all, Bock’s book is a worthwhile read. It may not be the kind of reading that every Christian enjoys, but the insights and breakdowns offered within the text are incredibly valuable for all Christians.