Luke 1:1-9:50 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament): No 1-4 Vol 1 Hardcover – 1 Dec 1994
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From the Back Cover
Luke is the most linguistically up-to-date and comprehensive evangelical commentary on the Gospel now available. For quick or detailed reference, Luke unites depth and clarity to create a tool usable by scholars and laypeople alike.
About the Author
Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of many books, including Acts in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series, Jesus according to Scripture, and Studying the Historical Jesus.
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Bock's practice of providing clear explanation as to different approaches to the text or problems of history or sources extends to an excellent series of "Excursuses" at the end of the book. Topics covered include the Census of Quirinius, Sources and Synoptic Relationships, The Genealogies of Matthew and Luke, and discussions about the Son of Man sayings. Each section is well written and provides the reader with a clear picture of the possible conclusions. Bock is more emphatic in his own conclusions in some sections than others. This section greatly enhances his commentary.
Another feature that distinguishes this book from other commentaries on Luke is its focus on sources and historicity. Bock spends more time on these issues, obviously linked in his mind, than most other commentaries. He also highlights the discussions in their own sections. Though they are well written, the degree of satisfaction I felt after reading each one varied. Some left me wanting much more discussion. I realize that there are space limitations in gospel-specific commentaries, but sometimes felt that Bock had bitten off more than he could chew. Not that he could not handle the issues in an informed manner, but that he simply had insufficient space to do so.
The introduction is well written, but did not spend as much time on issues like authorship and dating than I would have liked. I am sure Bock has more to offer on those issues. Instead, the introduction spends more time dealing with specific topics in the Lucan text, such as Jerusalem: The Innocent One Slain and Raised, Faith and Dependence, and Prayer. Most commentaries introduce the reader to some of the gospel's authors theology and focus, but I thought some of these discussions would have been better served as Special Notes within the general discussion of the text, or as more Excursuses on the end. This is simply an organizational preference of mine. The sections are well written.
Finally, I have one other organizational criticism. He usually begins his discussion of a particular set of passage with an overview of his opinions on the passages. Then he discusses "Source and History", and includes an examination of the structure and outline of the passage. Only then does he actually repeat the text in full in a section on "Exegesis and Exposition." Bock then includes a Summary and Additional Notes. Placing the actual text in the middle of the discussion seemed odd to me and bugged me throughout. Again, this is just an organizational, ergonomic, preference of mine. The actual discussions were good. I simply believe they could have been enhanced with a different organization.
Overall, though I have my organizational quibbles, a valuable commentary that exposes the reader to many different perspectives on and potential solutions to problematic passages in Luke.
In this first volume, Bock unleashes 1,000 pages of exegetical work on the first 9 chapters of the Gospel of Luke.
If you haven't utilized any of the Baker Exegetical Commentaries, then you don't know what you are missing in terms of page layout, font, side-bars, etc. The editors and designers have done all they could to increase the ease of reading.
As for the content, you can trust Bock to clearly lay out various positions on issues, then state his opinion. Rarely did I find myself differing from his conclusions.
Thoughtful outlines break down text into manageable chunks, and these seem to be about right for walking across the bridge from exegesis to exposition.
Which brings me to the main point. If you need a commentary to aid you in expository preaching of the Gospel of Luke, you will not be disappointed with this volume. Save your money on 2-3 lesser-quality volumes, and invest instead in Bock.
Bock avoids all that stuff and goes to the meat of the issues at hand. For example, on the cross references he sometimes provides great insights as in when discussing Bethphage, one of the little towns Jesus was near when he sent his disciples to get the colt for him to ride on...that Bock points out the Aramaic meaning of Bethphage, which was 'House of unripe figs'. The cross reference in the Greek text to the pronouncement of judgment on the fig tree earlier in Luke was augmented by this information. The clear allusion then is to the judgment pronounced on the Jews for being an unripe fig tree by Jesus as he passes through 'the house of unripe figs' just before his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem which ends up with his grief over Jerusalem's judgment for rejecting his kingship.
Bock has a lot of detail like this that I have not found as much of in most commentaries.
He also cued me in on the angaria concept without too much information so that I could see crucial points without wasting a lot of time on minutia. (Angaria was the custom of demanding citizens provide transportation...which may relate to the provision of the colt for Jesus triumphal entry).
This commentary is a wealth of very helpful information that is based on solid exegesis. His information provided also blends well with the sermon crafting process for those who are careful to use tried and true hermeneutical principles.
I have found that these two Luke commentaries (Baker Exegetical) are more helpful to me than even the NICNT on Luke...and I love that one as well.
A whole hearted recommendation here. I completely agree with Marc Axelrod's review as well. Thank you Marc!
One noteworthy point is that this two volume set came out right when the left wing Jesus Seminar was coming into its own as a study group, and Bock consistently defends the historicity of the text in response to statements the Seminar has made. This may make his two volume exposition of Luke something of a period piece.
But coming from a pastor who has all the major studies on Luke, this commentary rocks. This one is the best.
One more point: The print is really large for an academic book like this, too. It is easy on the eyes.