Item description for The Acts of the Apostles : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Socio-Rhetorical Commentary) by Ben Witherington...
Overview While other commentaries concentrate on minute textual questions, Witherington's explores such basic questions as the historicity of the events recorded, how they compare with Paul's epistles, early Christianity's relationship with Judaism and the Roman empire, and how the church expanded and developed.
Publishers Description This groundbreaking commentary is the first to provide a detailed social and rhetorical analysis of the book of Acts. Ben Witherington draws on the best new insights from a number of disciplines to provide readers with the benefits of recent innovative ways of analyzing the text of Acts. In addition, Witherington gives detailed attention to major theological and historical issues, including the question of the relationship of Acts to the Pauline letters, the question of early Christian history and how the church grew and developed, the relationship between early Judaism and early Christianity, and the relationship between Christians and the officials of the Roman Empire.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.2" Width: 6.36" Height: 1.9" Weight: 2.85 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2000
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Series Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
ISBN 0802845010 ISBN13 9780802845016
Reviews - What do customers think about The Acts of the Apostles : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary?
Big, Thorough, Great Commentary Apr 23, 2008
You don't know "Acts" until you've read through it with Witherington. Money well spent. The best of the wonderful, newer commentaries quote this book--extensively. That's a reminder that you need to read this one.
Excellent Reading and Background Source. Buy It. Apr 17, 2008
`The Acts of the Apostles, A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary' by the distinguished and prolific professor, Ben Witherington III may be one of the most readable Bible commentaries I have found. For that and several other reasons, it may be the very best commentary for any reader who approaches the Christian scriptures as literature rather than as Gospel. The author's subtitle emphasizes the fact that unlike so many other commentaries, such as the superior volumes from Luke Timothy Johnson (Sacra Pagina series) and Joseph Fitzmyer (Anchor Bible series) as well as Pastoral aids such as the Robert W. Wall contribution on `Acts' in `The New Interpreter's Bible', this volume is far less dedicated to linguistic studies or theological interpretation. One symptom of this emphasis is that the book does NOT include either the author's own translation of the text, or anyone else's translation. You need a copy of the Bible open to `Acts' as you read Witheringtons book. This is especially true since much of Witheringtons text is a verse by verse commentary on the text. But, unlike Johnson, Fitzmyer, and others, the text flows in one continuous narrative rather than being broken up into different sections on `interpretation', `exegesis', and `commentary'. The other side of the coin is that unlike Robert Tannehill's widely quoted `The Narrative Unity of Luke - Acts', Witherington deals with the text from beginning to end, rather than dealing with topics, with common material taken from different parts of the text, making it a difficult resource when one is studying the text chapter by chapter. In addition to these organizational aspects, Witherington's text is simply better written than many commentaries, and therefore, it yields its insights far more readily than those texts weighed down with references to every scholarly work on `Acts' since Eusebius. That is not to say there are no scholarly references. It's just that Witherington integrates them into his writing in a far smoother manner. It also helps in that Witherington is dealing with his subject's (Luke) writing style and social and historical context. This adds to the interest to a lay reader. To highlight this emphasis, Witherington often digresses into historical asides to aid in understanding the context. Witherington also discusses certain aspects in depth that other commentators may ignore or pass over with the briefest comment. One example is the occurrence of the `we' passages which pop up in parts of the narration of Paul's missionary journeys. These have no theological or linguistic significance, but they are fascinating evidence for the fact that either author Luke accompanied Paul on some of his trips or Luke was copying material verbatim from another travel companion's journals. Overall, Witherington's works are a real breath of fresh air when compared to many other Biblical commentary writers. I have seen other commentaries on `Acts' and some Hebrew scriptures which are simply one scholarly reference piled upon the next, making them unreadable except to someone doing a dissertation on the subject. Witherington does not ignore comments on Luke's Greek, but his reflections seem to have more substance than most. The problem is that one needs a second volume to see the Greek in context. One is best served by having an interlinear text open as you read Witherington's linguistic comments. If you are doing a Lay Bible study of `Acts', Witherington's book should really be one of your sources, but you should supplement it with Johnson, Fitzmyer, or F. F. Bruce's `The Book of the Acts'.
Very Readable Dec 11, 2007
This is very detailed for a person without a vast seminary education but it is a very readable book. The "closer look" sections are filled with information that makes certain issues in Acts much more understandable. Just an excellent book.
Pretty Helpful Tool May 21, 2007
If you are a student taking Acts or Luke-Acts in an undergrad or grad class, you really cannot afford to ignore this book. If you are teaching a bible class on Acts or Luke-Acts, this book is packed with goodies that will help you. If you are a pastor preaching through Acts or Luke-Acts this volume is surprisingly helpful. (that's what I am doing...preaching through Acts).
For example, Witherington gives a 35 page bibliography with all kinds of books and articles on Acts that give you more if you need or want it. In his 102 page introduction to Acts he deals with everything from the symmetrical balance of the book with Luke (well illustrated...and photos of those illustrations are really easy to find online), all the way to the hermeneutical application of Acts in contemporary theology.
His bibliography and introduction alone are probably worth the price of the book.
I have found in my limited research in Acts (I have only had an undergrad course in Acts and then done my own studies for sermon prep)...but I've found that Witherington adds helpful insight in his textual exegesis. I think so far I like Marshall and Witherington's stuff the best. I only wish Bock was done with his Acts BECNT...but it won't be on the market until I am done with my Acts series...such is life.
After I spent all my book money on Acts books, I had one regret. I wish I had purchased Witherington. I interlibrary loaned it instead. I did that because one time I borrowed a Witherington commentary on another book, and ended up not really using it much. But this one of his is far superior in my view. I don't know why, but I suppose another reviewer who said this is is best work may be correct? It's over 850 pages of well organized and very helpful material.
His stuff is fresh and carefully nuanced. I feel he complements Marshall's commentary well.
Here is his comment on part of Acts 1:8, which some believe references Rome in the phrase 'end of the earth'.
"...vs. 8 is seen as to a certain extent to be programmatic for Acts. Yet it is possible to see this verse as programmatic without identifying Rome with the ends of the earth, since Acts 28 is an intentionally open ended conclusion. It is programmatic in the sense that it alludes to a worldwide mission, and probably also to a mission to both jew and gentile in the Diaspora, not that it alludes to Rome."
This net effect is slightly different than Marshall's and in my view makes one pause and truly reflect. Acts 1:8 and it's meaning has been the subject of many dissertations...and I have to say that Witherington's perspective was fresh and perhaps somewhat convincing.
This also gives you a feel for how he handles most situations in the book. Although he did not interact in 1:8 on why he feels the 'end of the earth' cannot be Rome as much as I wanted(see Marshall for that)...he does give you his view and some support for why he likes it.
Overall I would encourage the use of his commentary as one of your top two or three on Acts. It's an A plus work in my view. I wish I owned a copy for myself. Buy this one if you have funds to work with!
Also worth noting is the fact that C.K. Barrett & Joel Green endorse this particular commentary!
Required Text Mar 28, 2007
This was required text for a college class on the Acts of the Apostles. Technically, this book is superior, and yet on a level where most undergraduates should not have any trouble. Personally, I prefer a commentary that not only addresses the technical but also leads me in the direction of application. On the latter, I felt that brother Witherington was a bit weak. Still, he does an exhaustive job!