Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
MSJ 13:1 (Spring 2002) p. 101
C. K. Barrett. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. International Critical Commentary, edited by J. A. Emerton, C. E. B. Cranfield, and G. N. Stanton. 2 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1994 [vol. 1], 1998 [vol. 2]. 25, 117 + 1272 pp. $69.95 & $69.95 (cloth). Reviewed by Keith Essex, Assistant Professor of Bible Exposition.
C. K. (Charles Kingsley) Barrett, Emeritus Professor of Divinity in Durham University, England, is a well-known NT scholar. Among his voluminous writings are commentaries on the Gospel of John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and the Pastoral Epistles. He is also the compiler of the very helpful collection of background documents The New Testament Background: Selected Documents (Harper, 1961, 1989). From this wealth of background, Barrett has written this extensive commentary on Acts in the prestigious ICC series. These volumes at once take their place as the standard English commentary on Acts written from the historical-critical perspective.
Like Luke/Acts, this work has been issued in two volumes. Volume one begins with an introduction that includes material germane to both volumes (1–25). Page numbers in the commentary proper are continuous (vol. 1, 1–694; vol. 2, 695–1272). Before commenting on the biblical text, Barrett provides a preliminary introduction to his volume(s) (1–58). This “introduces Acts to the reader by setting out the tradition by which the book has reached us” (1–2), namely, a discussion of the textual history and testimony of the early church concerning Acts (1–48). The preliminary introduction concludes with a presentation of the author’s conclusions concerning the sources, plan, and contents of Acts 1–14, the chapters discussed in volume one (49–58). According to Barrett, the four sources Luke used were Philip the Evangelist, Caesarean Christians, the Antioch church, and Paul (50–52). However, this is pure speculation on the commentator’s part since Luke nowhere in Acts specifies the written or oral sources he used. Volume two begins with an introduction that includes added bibliographic references and material on the text of Acts not included in the first volume (1–23). Further, a discussion of the supposed sources and contents of Acts 15–28, the focus of the commentary in the second volume, is included (24–32, 119–120). The major part of the introduction of volume two is given over to Barrett’s views concerning the historicity, authorship, dating, purpose, and theology of Acts (33–113). These conclusions should logically be read, according to the author’s design, after working through the commentary proper.
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