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Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) Hardcover – January 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This significant commentary kicks off the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series, which will eventually grow to a library of 40 volumes. Unlike other commentaries that are written mostly by biblical scholars, these books will be penned by theologians interested in what the Bible has to say about enduring theological questions; as series editor R.R. Reno puts it, the series "was born out of the conviction that dogma clarifies rather than obscures." Pelikan's contribution, for example, is less about the socioeconomic conditions that informed Paul's missionary journeys than it is about systematic theology, Christian doctrine and the formation of the early church. Pelikan asks big questions: what is sin? what were the earliest creeds? what is the nature of apostleship? He is sensitive to nuances of Greek but not obsessed by them. As such, this book will be helpful to preachers and, to a lesser extent, general readers who are sometimes flummoxed by more specialized and technical biblical commentaries. (Jan.)
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From the Series Preface

This series of biblical commentaries was born out of the conviction that dogma clarifies rather than obscures. The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible advances upon the assumption that the Nicene tradition, in all its diversity and controversy, provides the proper basis for the interpretation of the Bible as Christian Scripture. God the Father Almighty, who sends his only begotten Son to die for us and for our salvation and who raises the crucified Son in the power of the Holy Spirit so that the baptized may be joined in one body--faith in this God with this vocation of love for the world is the lens through which to view the heterogeneity and particularity of the biblical texts.

The commentators in this series were chosen because of their knowledge of and expertise in using the Christian doctrinal tradition. They are qualified by virtue of the doctrinal formation of the mental habits, for it is the conceit of this series of biblical commentaries that theological training in the Nicene tradition prepares one for biblical interpretation, and thus it is to theologians and not biblical scholars that we have turned.

The Nicene tradition does not provide a set formula for the solution of exegetical problems. The great tradition of Christian doctrine was not transcribed, bound in folio, and issued in an official, critical edition. As Augustine observed, commenting on Jer. 31:33, "The creed is learned by listening; it is written, not on stone tablets nor on any material, but on the heart." This is why Irenaeus is able to appeal to the rule of faith more than a century before the first ecumenical council, and this is why we need not itemize the contents of the Nicene tradition in order to appeal to its potency and role in the work of interpretation.

R. R. Reno, General Editor

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Product Details

  • Series: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press; First edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587430940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587430947
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had the wonderful opportunity to get this book early as it was offered at the American Academy of Religion conference in November before it hit the shelves.

The concept of this whole series is fascinating and its intention, if carried through, should have a lasting impact on the relationship between biblical and theological studies. Too often there has been a traditional divide between the two fields and Brazos has decided to show how theology not only is "useful" for biblical interpretation - it is the very breath of theological talk.

In this first Volume on Acts, Pelikan has arranged his commentary so that he can pull out major theological "themes" - everything from Mary as Theotokos to the "Gospel of 40 days". With a rich analysis of the greek text and enlightening insights into the strong theological backbone if the book, Pelikan exemplifies the reality that theology is not about the Bible, but the other way around.

If you are looking for the typical textual and historical analysis, dry criticism and a search for redaction, please, go elsewhere. Pelikan, and I suspect the authors of the rest of the series, simply take the Bible to mean what it says. It is a reading "in faith".

What Pelikan has also been able to do is not only present to the reader a great scholarly work that is of interest to those who are in professional ministry, but also to make it accessible to people who may wish to use the book for personal use in biblical reflection. I would love to see this and the subsequent books to be used by bible study groups to really get a sense of the theological "meat" that can be found in all biblical text.

I look forward to reading more from this series.

Read and Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
Any new book by Jaroslav Pelikan is an automatic read for me. I cannot think of another writer whose erudition in the service of the church fires my mind and soul more than him. Magisterial, meticulous, encyclopedic, prolific, and prodigious, Pelikan is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University where he served on the faculty from 1962-96, the past president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2004 the recipient of the Library of Congress's annual John W. Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences (the $1 million award focuses on academic disciplines not covered by the Nobel prizes). Most in his guild would consider him the greatest historian of Christian thought in his generation.

Born in 1923, and showing no signs of scholarly fatigue, Pelikan converted from his Lutheran heritage to Eastern Orthodoxy a few years ago (he dedicates this volume "To my liturgical family at Saint Vladimir's"), and so this book, like many of his recent publications, exemplifies his hearty and unapologetic embrace of Christian orthodoxy. Noting that even the most extravagant claims made about the Bible enjoy their moment in the sun, Pelikan admits that this commentary "is based upon what may turn out to be the most radical presupposition of all: that the church really did get it right in its liturgies, creeds, and councils--yes, and even in its dogmas."

Pelikan's volume is the first in this Brazos series that will publish distinctly theological commentaries, as opposed to traditional exegetical commentaries written by Old and New Testament technical specialists. Stanley Hauerwas of Duke, for example, is writing the volume on the Gospel of Matthew. Pelikan's method, then, is refreshingly different than most commentaries.
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Format: Hardcover
'Hence this commentary will repeatedly have to draw on the use of Acts in the broader corpus of patristic literature and thought, Eastern as well as Western.' p 26

There has been a worldwide steady decline in traditional Protestant church membership, and an increase in churches with more recent origins. Research has proven that the common denominator for this has been an unprecedented return to the Book of Acts and the re-interpreted views on church growth, which was exponentially phenomenal in the first two centuries of the church's existence. Emblematic of this trend, C Peter Wagner includes extra-biblical spiritual gifts and offices in his The Book of Acts - martyrdom, exorcism, voluntary poverty, and modern missionaries as "apostles" based on the Vulgate's Latin poor translation for apostles: "missio". Wagner lists 27 spiritual gifts, but preaching is not one of them. As far as Wagner is concerned, there is no correlation between preaching and church growth.

What makes this commentary great to use, is the 3-per-chapter anecdotes, or loci communes (p 30) of the developing church. All 84 are all listed in front of this edition. It makes a pleasure to discover alongside the Lord's apostles how the church expanded. The formulation of doctrine and tradition is well recorded here, and is standard Lutheran fare, with a good touch of Eastern orthodoxy. The 'catholic' church in its embryo stage is brilliantly analyzed by a theologian whose strength was early church history.
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