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Luke (Teach the Text Commentary Series) Hardcover – November 19, 2013
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From the Back Cover
Focused Biblical Scholarship to Teach the Text Effectively
The Teach the Text Commentary Series gives pastors the best of biblical scholarship and presents the information needed to move seamlessly from the meaning of the text to its effective communication. By keeping the discussion in each carefully selected preaching unit to six pages of focused commentary, the volumes allow pastors to quickly grasp the most important information. Each unit of the commentary includes the big idea and key themes of the passage; sections dedicated to understanding, teaching, and illustrating the text; and full-color images.
"The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost"--so says Jesus of his mission in Luke 19:10. Luke's Gospel is about this salvation Jesus came to bring. It is salvation story, filled with Jesus's encounters with lost, often marginalized people and the change he brought to their lives. And it is salvation history, as Luke carefully sets his narrative both in the historical context of its day and within the prophetic context of God's larger salvation history. In this commentary, noted scholar R. T. France provides valuable historical, theological, and practical insight for those who wish to faithfully teach and preach the powerful message found in Luke.
"Few commentaries help the reader move beyond study to thoughtful application, and fewer still move beyond application to teaching. That's why I am thrilled with the Teach the Text Commentary Series from Baker. I highly recommend it."--George H. Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible, Union University, Jackson, TN
"Teach the Text is the kind of commentary I have wanted for a long time. It deals with the kinds of questions that busy pastors have to ask and answer in order to preach the Scriptures every week."--Haddon Robinson, Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Pastors, communicators, and fellow Bible teachers, shove some books over and make room on your shelves. Here is the best of biblical scholarship made accessible, applicable, and relevant to life right here on the hot pavement where we need it most."--Beth Moore, author and teacher
R. T. France (PhD, Tyndale Hall) was a New Testament scholar and served as a senior lecturer at London Bible College; principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University; and honorary research fellow at Bangor University. He was the author or editor of many books, including the New Bible Commentary, the commentary on Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament, and the commentary on Mark in the New International Greek Testament Commentary.
About the Author
R. T. France (PhD, Tyndale Hall) was a New Testament scholar and served as a senior lecturer at London Bible College; principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University; and honorary research fellow at Bangor University. He was the author or editor of many books, including the New Bible Commentary, the commentary on Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament, and the commentary on Mark in the New International Greek New Testament Commentary.
SERIES GENERAL EDITORS
Mark L. Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He is the author or editor of many books and articles, including How to Read the Bible in Changing Times and Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels.
John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including A Survey of the Old Testament, Old Testament Today, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.
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France introduces the gospel writer of Luke by saying that at the writing of the gospel, Luke already has the book of Acts in mind. That is why Luke-Acts are often taken together as a package. The Luke is the medical doctor, the disciple who followed Jesus during Jesus' time on earth. At various parts of Acts, France notices the change of a "third person" to a "first person" in certain parts of Acts that shows readers that Luke was personally present during those times. Other times, scholars continue to debate whether Luke then was the only author at all. On Luke's relationship to the other gospels, France asserts that Luke is more than simply a re-iteration of Mark, as Luke has substantially more new material. He also argues that the gospel was probably written around AD 64/65, which makes it a "later" gospel compared to Mark, but also additional time to recall what had transpired since the death and resurrection of Christ. There is a fascinating discussion on Luke as a "historian" just on the basis of Luke 1:1 where he talked about many others who have written other narratives. France calls Luke not just a historian or a chronicler of events, but a "man of the message," an "evangelist."
Once readers enter into the commentary proper, they will be greeted with an attractive "Big Idea" to invite readers to pay attention to the primary theme. I like the clear darkened background and the photos accompanying the passage. I appreciate the printing of the biblical text in italics first, before the commentaries. It allows readers to remember that when in doubt, the Bible passage remains supreme. When looking at the "interpretive insights," readers need to remember that they are just an opinion, not the defacto standard interpretation. Those who desire a wider variety of views and interpretations will need to consult other commentaries. That said, the insights given are fairly decent, and will probably not create too many controversies. After all, it is geared toward teaching laypersons, and laypersons will most likely not have the time to tackle the many difficult nuances and scholarship that often comes with increasing theological complexity.
Let me offer three reasons why pastors, teachers, preachers, professors, or anyone in the ministry of teaching and preaching should buy this book. Firstly, this book is a succinct summary of the key ideas in the gospel. One of the most important skills for any teacher is to be able to summarize, summarize, and summarize whatever they are teaching. It is like the standard 3-point method of public speaking. First, tell the audience what you are planning to say. Second, say it. Third, tell the audience again what you have said. Likewise, the summaries enable the speaker to let the big idea remain as the big idea.
Second, most Bible teachers walk a fine balance between reverence for the texts and relevance to the people. It is often not an easy thing to do. On one extreme, spending an incredible amount of time to dig into the details of the texts may seem like faithful scholarship, but what then is the point if hearers do not understand the technical jargon or complexities in theological arguments? On the other extreme, one can tell great stories but be totally off the mark when it comes to understanding what the Bible passage is saying. This book is a wonderful example of balancing the two.
Thirdly, the illustrations are conveniently placed and are ready resources to be used. I appreciate the variety of examples that range from personal stories to testimonies of famous persons; from biographies to movies; from books to movements; from stories in print to stories in life. Having said that, I feel that all preachers and teachers need to try their best to use their own stories and illustrations first. When only after all are exhausted, then use the ones in this book.
Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
So far the Teaching the Text series is a strong entry into the already highly populated world of commentaries. Baker Books has an excellent series Website with videos and samples.
France divides the 24 chapters of Luke into 65 text units (or passages), each of which receives six pages of commentary. It breaks down in this way:
*Understanding the Text
*Teaching the Text
*Illustrating the Text
France is especially adept in the Theological Insights section (part of "Understanding the Text"). He is reliable, creative, and faithful to the text. His experience as both scholar and pastor seems to have helped here.
France offers suggestions for how the preacher might approach the sermon on each text, whether it’s a personal story, someone else’s anecdote, history, literature, film, or art.
His awareness of literary and biblical context throughout the book offers what one might otherwise miss by way of introductory matters, which are short here.
An added bonus is the high quality of the book materials. The hardcover looks pretty indestructible, the binding is sewn, and the pages are thick and glossy (but not too glossy to accept notes from a writing utensil). The full-color pages throughout are a nice touch, too. Translation: this commentary will make it through multiple series and preaching cycles on Luke.
The above is condensed from a full review, which you can read here: abramkj.com/2014/01/18/teach-the-text-luke-by-r-t-france/