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on 5 February 2015
I hope to give a more detailed review when I've read more of this tome. But for now here is why I bought it and will get the other three volumes.

Books by Keener, whether commentaries or otherwise, are a vast and detailed mine of information about the Greco-Roman world around the first century AD. You find out about customs, rhetoric, opinions, processes...all sorts of things that shed some times fascinating light on the Biblical text. If you are reading a Keener commentary, you will get this in spades, but not so much in the way of a normal higher end commentary. His aim is to focus on the socio-rhetorical aspects of the text, and will not spend a long or equal time on each verse, hammering out all the details such as you might find in a commentary from series such as New International Commentary on the Greek Testament, International Critical Commentary, Hermeneia, or even New International Commentary on the New Testament or the Pillar series, etc. So I find Keener (Ben Witherington offers the same kind of commentary) to be an essential addition to one or two of these major commentaries which will handles the whole text and the scholarly issues. Keener in this first volume does devote most of it to introductory scholarly issues, though he does write clearly and should be accessible to the interested non-scholars. As far as I can tell, Keener has translations for Greek and Hebrew, but often will offer the original word in brackets rather than present the Greek without explanation.

What I really like about these volumes (I own 1 and 3 so far) are the excurses. These are often fascinating and I really applaud the layout of the detailed contents page for each volume, where the various excurses are highlighted and therefore easy to find. Some examples are 'Ancient Physicians', 'The Sabbath in Early Judaism', 'Astrology', 'Proposed Backgrounds for Baptism', and from vol. 3, 'Dreams', 'Pythoness Spirits', 'Patrons, Clients, and Reciprocity', 'Demons and Spirit Possession'. In each excursus, Keener will go through the various sources, Jewish, Roman, Greek, Christian, etc, and will show how the topic in question operated or was viewed in all its shades and differences. Two striking ones for me in vol. 3 were on 'Purple' (as in the production of) and 'Suicide in Antiquity', the latter of which went into detail about what were the approved of and despised reasons for suicide (some reasons were romantic, others military, others for honour etc) and what methods or weapons were approved of (some were approved for women but not for men). This was in relation to the jailer who was preparing to commit suicide when he thought Paul had escaped.

Everything has a source - Keener doesn't make a statement without a footnote to a source. He seems to have read everything. It also helps you organise material and think through data. Unsurprisingly the bibliographies and indexes are so large that there are contained on CDs at the end of each volume!

Anyway, I hope to update this review later when I have read more, but to summarise - these volumes are very readable and a wealth of information on the ancient Greco-Roman world. The excurses alone will keep you dipping into these volumes, and they are easy to find thanks to the excellent layout of the contents. You will need another commentary, however, for detailed exegesis on each and every verse with more attention to the usual scholarly details. You also don't need to be a scholar to read these, or need to know the Biblical languages.
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on 6 November 2015
These are an astonishing and exhausting set of commentaries (just holding one of them to read for any length of time will hurt your hand !), which provide a massive amount of historical and social background, explanation and comment, in a beautifully digested and very readable form. One could easily spend hours browsing in here, learning something new on every page.

On the other hand, as always, it all depends what you want from a commentary; and even a commentary as long as this four volume set (over 4000 pages) is far from comprehensive. Keener has written, as he makes clear at the outset, a socio-historical commentary. So if you want to do detailed textual study, for example, you’d need to look elsewhere. Or if your interest is more explicitly in theology or in contemporary application, again there would be better, shorter, and cheaper (!) commentaries to consult.

But if you’re looking simply to be enriched, awed, and educated in your study of the scriptures, this is a remarkable set on which to spend your time and money !
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on 4 June 2014
This is the first volume in a proposed 4 volume commentary on Acts. This first volume covers background, introductory essays and chapters 1 & 2. It is a mammoth undertaking and the Christian church is much indebted to the author's years of research and preparation.

I have found this book useful for both sermon preparation, essay writing and general interest and browsing. As such I would highly recommend it (as well as volume 2 which is also currently available).
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on 23 November 2015
This is an excellent commentary volume, and although somewhat academic in nature it is clear and comprehensive. I find it ideal for preaching because you can dip in to what you need to use being a 'go to' reference when I need to dig a little deeper in socio-historic understanding.
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on 28 February 2014
This book consists of two parts, the introduction to Acts which exceeds over 600 pages and then a commentary which is just under 400 pages in length. This is a great resource if you are interested in the background and history of the New Testament, with specific regards to the book of Acts, but will probably be a disappointment if you are looking for a resource for sermon preparation. There is a lot of information in this text, such as background information on Israel and Luke's perspective on women; all of which are important, but not necessarily helpful for a lay leader or pastor. If you are looking for a resource to help you with a Seminary paper, or if you simply enjoying reading historiography, then you will enjoy this lengthy, informative read. There are other books however, that will be a cheaper, helpful and a more succinct resource that covers the book of Acts. I would recommend the Acts commentary in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary series by Echhard J. Schnabel; this commentary series is probably the best, up to date resource for preaching and sermon preparation available.
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