Review: A Theology of Luke and Acts by Darrell L. Bock

by on Jul.25, 2012, under Book, Review

Volume being reviewed: Bock, Darrell L. A Theology of Luke and Acts. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger, Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michgian: Zondervan, 2012.1

Readers of Darrell Bock’s A Theology of Luke and Acts who are not familiar with the tenets of Biblical theology (as distinct from, say, commentaries or systematic theology) are fortunate indeed, for they have stumbled upon an examplary instance of the breed.2 After discussing a number of preliminary matters such as the case for the unity of Luke-Acts and a ‘narrative survey’ of the two volumes, Bock surveys a number of the major theological themes that span Luke’s two volumes. His general method is to present a pair of chapters on each theme: the first chapter in each pair surveys the evidence relating to the theme in the narrative order in which it is presented; the second chapter then synthesises this evidence into a more systematic form. Whilst this inevitably leads to some overlap in material, Bock’s precise, cogent prose is always engaging.

For example, chapter 7 explores Luke’s Christology, and the various roles and titles that Luke ascribes to Jesus. Bock arranges his material under three categories: the infancy narratives; the body of Luke’s Gospel; and Acts. The division between infancy material and the remainder of the Gospel seems more or less arbitrarily chosen, but is common across all of the survey chapters. By proceeding in narrative order, Bock allows some insight into the narratological development intended by Luke; it also ensures that all the evidence is tabled before categories are applied, so avoiding pre-judging material.

In chapter 8 Bock draws together and rearranges the material adduced in chapter 7. He re-presents the data under headings familiar to readers of systematic theologies: the person of Christ; the titles of Christ; and the work of Christ. Here he compares, for example, the various titles ascribed to Jesus throughout Luke and Acts as Luke uses them in different contexts. He also draws comparisons with external sources (the Synoptics, rabbinic material etc.) to help underscore both the similarity and dissimilarity of Luke’s presentation.

Bock’s exegesis is obviously based on the Greek text, though all of the (frequent) Greek and (occasional) Hebrew / Aramaic snippets are transliterated for those unfamiliar with the original languages. On the other hand, the occasional grammatical arguments advanced may be somewhat difficult to follow. Similarly, readers unfamiliar with terminology such as ‘eschatology’, ‘christology’, ‘ontology’ etc. may wish to keep a theological dictionary handy. Bock engages regularly with secondary literature in the footnotes, though only rarely in the main text. Each chapter (or pair of chapters) includes a brief bibliography pointing to the most significant secondary literature for the topic, with a more comprehensive bibliography included at the end of the volume. As such, I judge that the target audience is probably beginning to intermediate theological students, though lay people with the appropriate aids will find it readable.

The volume as a whole is neatly presented, with a layout to warm the hearts of the most avid margin-scribblers. There are scripture, subject and author indices, though the subject index seems a little perfunctory. Overall, I found it eminently readable and am happy to recommend it as a worthwhile addition to any theological library. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for future additions to the series.


  1. With thanks to Zondervan for supplying a review copy as part of their blog tour.
  2. Another master of this relatively new way of doing theology is David Peterson, as demonstrated in his Engaging with God.

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