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Craig Keener: Acts, Volume Two

Craig Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 2, 3:1-14:28 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 1200 pages, ISBN 9780801048371.

Craig Keener is in the midst of delivering the most ambitious commentary on Acts ever attempted. The volume under review is the second of four – each volume a sprawling treatment in its own right. Each volume’s pages pick up where the previous one left off. The final page of volume two, the halfway point for the entire commentary, is numbered 2191 (As volume four had not yet appeared at the time of this writing, it is unclear how much of the final volume will be taken up by a bibliography for the complete commentary. Volume 2 includes a CD-Rom of “Works cited and indexes for volumes 1-2”).

Anyone with time and an attention span can write a sprawling work, but few can write a work so sprawling and yet so efficient. Keener has mastered the craft of writing a commentary, and he does it better than perhaps anyone since C. K. Barrett. Obviously few people will sit down to read a commentary from beginning to end – they’re not meant to be read that way – but there is no better place to begin a foray into the world of Acts than to consult Keener’s word on a particular passage.

One other aspect of this work should be noted: although Keener never skimps in his use of secondary works, he always allows primary works (that is, the original sources from the ancient world) to guide the discussion. His knowledge of many different categories of primary works is impressive, and his handling of these works adds a great deal to the value of this commentary.

This review is supposed to be primarily about Volume Two, but everything I’ve said relates to the work as a whole. In that vein, it is worth pointing out that the reader is better off, of course, beginning with Volume One (which includes a number of introductory essays for Acts in general). Numerous centrally important events in the spread of Christianity are recorded in Acts chaps. 3–14, however, and those who move on to Keener’s Volume Two will almost certainly gain a clearer understanding of how the earliest readers of Acts understood what Luke was saying.

Reviewed by John C. Poirier


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2016

About the Author: John C. Poirier, Th.M. (Duke Divinity), D.H.L. (Jewish Theological Seminary), has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics and has been named the chair of biblical studies at the newly forming Kingswell Theological Seminary in Middletown (Cincinnati), Ohio.

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