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Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) [Hardcover]

By Jaroslav Pelikan (Author)
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Item description for Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by Jaroslav Pelikan...

This study on the Book of Acts begins a new 40-volume commentary series designed to serve the church--through aid in preaching, teaching, and study groups--and demonstrates the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.

Publishers Description
Jaroslav Pelikan initiates this forty-volume commentary series with his work on Acts. This commentary, like each in the series, is designed to serve the church--through aid in preaching, teaching, study groups, and so forth--and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.
Pastors and leaders of the classical church--such as Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and Wesley--interpreted the Bible theologically, believing Scripture as a whole witnessed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Modern interpreters of the Bible questioned this premise. But in recent decades, a critical mass of theologians and biblical scholars has begun to reassert the priority of a theological reading of Scripture.
The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series enlists leading theologians to read and interpret Scripture for the twenty-first century, just as the church fathers, the Reformers, and other orthodox Christians did for their times and places.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by Jaroslav Pelikan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 11/14/2005
  • Christian Century - 09/05/2006 page 44

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Brazos Press
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.16" Width: 6.7" Height: 1.11"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2006
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
Edition  Reprinted  
Series  Brazos Theological Commentary  
Series Number  1  
ISBN  1587430940  
ISBN13  9781587430947  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jaroslav Pelikan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University and past president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many books include the five-volume The Christian Tradition, Jesus Through the Centuries, and Mary Through the Centuries. He has received the Thomas Jefferson Medal of the National Endowment for the Humanities and an honorary degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America as well as forty-one other honorary degrees.

Jaroslav Pelikan was born in 1923 and died in 2006.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General

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Books > Bible Study > Commentaries > New Testament

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Reviews - What do customers think about Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)?

A Theologian's Interpretation Of Acts  Sep 22, 2007
I am still reading/referencing Pelikan's unique presentation of the Acts of the Apostles. His theological acumen is first-class and original.

What makes this book a pleasure to use, is the 3-per-chapter anecdotes, stories, of the developing church. They are all listed in front of this edition. It makes a pleasurable read to discover alongside the 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. It is not a verse-by-verse commentary.

The 'catholic' church in its embryo stage is brilliantly analyzed by a theologian whose strength was early church history. An informative and factual presentation, with the added anecdotes definitely a worthwhile resource for students and pastors alike. It remains to be seen how this new work will impact our Christian academia.

'It bears explaining, on the basis of the distinction between 'theology' and 'economy' (15:8, 9), that this 'sending' of the Holy Spirit by Father and the Son was described as 'economic', that is, within the dispensation of human history, by contrast with the eternal 'proceeding' within the Godhead (John 15:26).' pg 51

On Acts 6:2-4:
'The selection of these 7 deacons, with the allocation to them of certain duties that had previously fallen on the apostles themselves, has long been interpreted as the institution of the traditional threefold ministry of bishop, presbyter and deacon...' pg 91

'The distinction between Scripture and the word of the gospel (Anglo-Saxon good spell) was that the word of God in the gospel was primarily oral, because it did not come by reading, but 'faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ' (Roman 10:17). The verb that went with 'the word of God' in the book of Acts was not 'write', but 'speak' or 'preach' or 'proclaim' or 'announce' or 'teach'.' pg 112 - 113
What a Disappointment  Aug 18, 2007
This is not a commentary on the Book of Acts. It is instead a discourse by Professor Pelikan, telling us how much he knows about the ways the Church Fathers and the Greek Orthodox Church interpreted the Book of Acts.
It includes far, far too many sentences like this one: "The resurrection of Christ was the supreme manifestation of the divine dialectic that had been typologically foreshadowed in the recognition scene between the patriarch Joseh and his brothers: . . . "
The Brazos commentary on Matthew, by Stanley Hauerwas, is one of the most helpful and enlightening commentaries I have ever read. But this one on Acts is deadly dull. Be warned.
theological and church historical commentary on Acts  Jan 18, 2007
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. For each of the twenty-eight chapters in the book of Acts he focuses on three distinct theological themes. Acts 15, for example, provides opportunity to discuss controversy and polemics, along with the emergence of creeds and councils, while for Acts 17 natural revelation takes center stage. The eighty-four themes traverse most all of Christian theology.

In Acts 1:4 the disciples were instructed "not to depart from Jerusalem" until so instructed, then in the final chapter we read "and so we came to Rome" (28:16). "Six monosyllables in English (though not in Greek)," writes Pelikan, "this sentence is the signal that the Way (11:26) was being transferred--or rather, already had been--to a world stage and was no longer hidden 'in a corner' (26:26). These words from the first chapter and from the last chapter are the bookends of the Acts of the Apostles" (p. 290). Whether treating matters of history, theology, rhetoric, philology, the Greek and Roman classics, textual variants, creeds, councils, art, music, and the early mothers and fathers of the church, Pelikan displays a deft and judicious touch, an eloquent writing style, a staggering command of the sources, and a sensitivity for "the predicament of the Christian historian" (Florovsky, p. 279) who must abide by the canons of his discipline while not suppressing his own vibrant faith commitment (Pelikan likens it to a young doctor doing brain surgery on his mother)--all of which inspire confidence in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
A good primer on historical the expense of Luke's theology  Jan 2, 2007
This first volume on Acts in the Brazos Theological Commentary by the late modern Church historian, Jaroslav Pelikan, serves as a crash course in historical theology. Instead of providing a verse-by-verse theological reading, Pelikan offers thematic reflections on each chapter. The thesis of the book is that correct doctrine, particularly as it was formulated by the Nicene Creed, is what unites the Church. This is a fitting thesis for this inaugural volume to the Brazos Theological Commentary series. It also serves as a wake-up call for the contemporary Church which is becoming increasingly more theologically ignorant, anti-creedal, and ahistorical.

Pelikan's thematic approach (3 themes per chapter) makes this commentary more suitable for topical preaching than for full, verse-by-verse exposition of the book of Acts. Preachers and teachers will want to supplement Pelikan's volume with a more exegetical Acts commentary that addresses the text of the book in its entirety. Some of the topics discussed by Pelikan are more firmly connected to the text of the book of Acts than others. However, the topics dealt with are so interesting that it's hard to fault Pelikan for taking this approach. Pelikan's discussions of 'The Gospel of the Forty Days,' Mary as Theotokos ('Mother of God'), 'Christus Victor, ' baptism, religious affections, private revelations, the authority of Church councils, the theological importance of textual variants, the Church's relationship to government, and 'due process' are among some of the best articles in this commentary. They provide excellent material for topical preaching and teaching. Pentecostals and Charismatics, who generally view Acts as a mere 'handbook' on ecclesiology and pneumatology, would do well to read Pelikan's commentary. They'll quickly discover that Luke's account is much more than that.

The commentary seems to focus on post-apostolic theological/creedal formulation without firmly connecting it to the texts under discussion in several instances. This volume seems to fall short of the series' goal because of this weakness. While Pelikan offers some perceptive insights regarding Luke's historiography, he offers almost nothing specific to help the reader understand Luke's theological framework, which shapes the book of Acts itself. Having a discussion of Luke's theology in addition to the topical and historical discussions would've made this a more well-rounded commentary. Pelikan seems too quick to enter into historical discussions without addressing the text being highlighted in several instances. Perhaps the decision to approach Acts topically was meant to ensure that Pelikan completed this commentary. He wrote it while battling lung cancer, which ended his life on May 13, 2006, less than three and a half-months after its publication. However, the series preface by general editor R.R. Reno indicates that some of the other contributors to forthcoming volumes also will be using a topical approach when commenting on their respective books of the Bible.

Due to his Orthodox commitments, Pelikan uses the Western text as his primary source material on the book of Acts. It is important to note that the Western text is not used for any Bible translations and is slightly longer than the Greek text traditionally used by translators. Just because one segment of the Church used it does not make it authoritative. The fact that the universal, catholic Church as a majority uses the traditional Greek text instead of the Western text speaks volumes about the dubious nature of its reliability. Pelikan should not have dismissed this fact so easily.

In addition, I would've appreciated a theologian's perspective on some of the other more perplexing events recorded in Acts, such as the unsuccessful attempt by the seven sons of Sceva to perform an exorcism and its apparent juxtoposition with the genuine miracles performed by the apostle Paul. Hopefully, someone will revise the present work with specific discussion of Luke's theology as it unfolds throughout the book of Acts. So much has been written about Luke's theology over the years. It's a shame that Pelikan fails to interact with such a large body of scholarly work. This commentary is still a great read despite that obvious weakness. However, Leithart's volume on 1 & 2 Kings is a much better representation of what a theological commentary should be. It balances theology, historiography and exegesis more adequately than this volume. The end result is a commentary more suitable for preaching and teaching the entire text. Hopefully, future volumes in the series will follow the format of Leithart instead of Pelikan.
Imagine that....a theologian reading the Bible!  Feb 9, 2006
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.

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