Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 34:4 (December 1991) p. 521
The Book of Acts. By F. F. Bruce. NICNT. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988, 541 pp., $24.95.
The late F. F. Bruce revised his 1954 commentary, resulting in the present volume. He has extensively updated his bibliographic sources, provided a new translation, improved the style of writing at many points and interacted with some new research in Acts. The revision also has a helpful new general index and a select bibliography.
In place of the ASV, Bruce provides his own excellent translation of the Greek text, which captures Luke’s meaning effectively. Although there are some places where the translation is strained (e.g. 4:12, “there is no saving health in anyone else”), overall it greatly enriches the commentary. The outline for Acts has been improved, and the comments are focused on smaller pericopes of text.
Bruce shows that Acts is the second part of Luke’s history of Christian origins (the first part being the gospel of Luke). Acts provided the canonical bridge between the gospels and the Pauline corpus. Furthermore, Acts was a crucial volume in the second-century conflicts of the Church with Marcion because it upheld the validity of Paul’s apostleship. Bruce sees the purpose of Acts as tied directly to Luke’s purpose in the gospel. Luke was concerned to accurately record the origins of Christianity and defend the Christian faith to Theophilus (someone already partially familiar with it) and to others, whether Christian or pagan, who had questions about the legitimacy of the Christian faith. Acts was written between A.D. 69 and 96, and Lukan authorship is assumed. It is unfortunate that Bruce’s introduction is particularly weak; there is no real discussion of the theology or text of Acts. Extensive footnotes on the readings of the Western text in the commentary are most helpful, but there is no explanation in the introduction about the various textual traditions.
In spite of these weaknesses, Bruce’s real strength is in making the book of Acts understandable in light of its historical background. In this regard the discussion of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 and Paul in Corinth are examples of Bruce at his best. The reader will understand the text not only in light of its Sitz im Leben but also in light of its relationship to other events in the NT. While one will differ with Bruce on certain matters, his comments are well founded and insightful. The pastor or student will particularly benefit from Bruce’s careful exegesis.
A revised edition like this one must be evaluated not only from the perspective of its present form but also in comparison to its first edition. Bruce’s co...
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