Review Article -- By: G. K. Beale
TrinJ 25:1 (Spring 04) p. 93
G. K. Beale is Professor of New Testament and holds the Kenneth T. Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
David W. Pao. Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus. WUNT 2/130. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000. X + 311 pp. DM 98, 00. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002. 328 pp. $34.99.)
This monograph is a very good example of an attempt to interpret a NT book in the light of the contextual use of its OT citations, allusions, and echoes. There has been much debate within and outside of evangelical scholarship about whether NT authors are concerned about the wider literary and historical contexts of the OT references that they employ in their writings. Those who render a negative judgment often appeal to rhetorical emphases or to the NT community’s alignment with Jewish exegetical methods which were dominantly (purportedly) atomistic, allegorical, or midrashic (in the sense of a concern only for updated application of Scripture). David Pao argues that the foundational story of Israel’s Exodus as transformed by Isaiah (especially Isaiah 40–55) is a hermeneutical paradigm by which Luke provides a “meaningful and coherent ‘history’ in his structuring” of diverse traditions concerning the early development of the Christian movement (p. 249; see pp. 249-50 for a good summary of the entire thesis). Since this is an important book, its contents and argument deserve careful summary.
Chapter 1 surveys various approaches to the study of Acts and past works that focus on the use of the OT (especially Isaiah) in Luke-Acts. While some have emphasized the significance of Isaiah and especially Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark’s and Luke’s gospel, none have yet attempted to explore the possibility that the Isaianic New Exodus is important for Luke’s second book. Indeed, Pao sets out to argue that Isaiah’s Second Exodus is the hermeneutical framework for understanding the whole book of Acts. In doing so, he builds especially on the prior work of Mark Strauss (The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts: The Promise and Fulfillment in Lukan Christology [JSNTSup 110; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995]) and, above all, on Rikki Watts (Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000]). He concludes the first chapter by discussing authorship (he opts for the viability of Lukan authorship), the date for Acts (“towards AD 70”), and a proposal that his reconstruction of Luke’s employment of Isaiah is plausible within the literary and historical context. Pao offers five considerations to support the last point: (1) the heavy use of Isaiah in Christian works around the same period; (2) the possibility of Luke’s audience being “God...
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