Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Book Review -- A Study Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles

"Why one more?" asks Guy Prentiss Waters in the Preface to his A Study Commentary on the Acts of Apostles, noting the proliferation of publications on this book of the Bible. "What will this commentary contribute to the burgeoning literature?" As Waters explains, he intends his commentary to be 1) brief and clear, 2) geared towards the exposition of the text, and 3) distinctively Reformed in orientation. Waters is successful in each of these three areas, providing a commentary that is both readable and useful for serious students of the Bible.

Waters' commentary is published by EP Books as part of the EP Study Commentary series, which is intended for a general audience and written from a Reformed perspective. Due to its length, Acts has tended to produce commentaries of ever-increasing length (consider Craig Keener's soon-to-be-completed four volume monster), but Waters' volume clocks in at just over 600 pages of reasonably-sized type. In his Introduction, Waters briefly surveys the standard questions of authorship, date, title, genre and purpose, arguing that Luke has written Acts to edify Christians by highlighting "the continued word and deeds of the exalted Jesus through his apostles." He then divides the text into 18 major sections, with further subdivisions under each. After providing his own English translation of the text, Waters walks verse-by-verse through the pertinent exegetical details and interacts with the secondary literature. The volume is well-researched, with copious footnotes provided for further study, yet Waters never lets the main commentary get bogged down with extraneous details or arcane technical discussions. For example, Waters often highlights significant details from the Greek text, but in such a way that readers need not be students of Greek to grasp Waters' arguments. In addition to examining Acts itself, Waters also focuses on connections with other Scriptures, such as the use of the Old Testament in Acts and its links with the Gospel of Luke.

Another key feature of Waters' commentary is that the exegetical analysis of each subdivision of the text is followed by several paragraphs of Application. In these sections, Waters demonstrates how the Scriptural texts inform the lives of Christians today. These sections are very much pastoral in nature, and address many of the practical questions that naturally arise from reading Acts, such as the nature of the continued role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, the fact of conflict inside the church, and the reality of opposition to the Gospel from outside, just to name a few. In these sections Waters often makes use of Calvin or the Westminster Standards to integrate the text with a broader Reformed perspective.

All in all, Waters does an admirable job of providing a detailed yet readable commentary on Acts. The depth of engagement makes the book ideal for use in preparing sermons or Bible study lessons, yet anyone interested in growing in their faith through studying the Acts of the Apostles would benefit from this commentary.

(Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book in exchange for providing a review, with no obligations as to its content.)

No comments:

Post a Comment