Justo González, The Story that Luke Tells (Gupta)

GonzalezJusto L. González is an impressive theologian – not only is he the author of the popular The Story of Christianity textbook, but he has written as well on preaching, Christian theology, and even biblical studies. In particular, has written books on Revelation and Acts. In 2010, he published the Luke volume in the WJK Belief series. This year (2015) he wrote a book, probably growing out of his commentary, called The Story that Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to the Gospel (Eerdmans).

It is more of a popular-level theology of Luke – there are no footnotes or bibliography. González treats eight themes: history of humankind, history of Israel, “the great reversal” (of the gospel), gender, salvation, food and drink, worship, and the Holy Spirit. It is a very enjoyable read, and perhaps would work well for a Sunday school class or Bible study.

My favorite chapter of the book is González’s discussion of women in Luke-Acts. On the subject of Acts 16, González says this:

There is a measure of irony in this story. The Spirit sent Paul a vision of a man, and what he found in Philippi was a group of women! What is often said about Paul’s anti-feminine prejudices is probably at least an exaggeration, and perhaps even an error. But if Paul did have such prejudices, which were common in that time, Luke presents the Holy Spirit as overcoming them by sending Paul the vision of the Macedonian man, when what he is to find in Philippi is a group of women” (57).

Also, González notes that the Western text-tradition tends to suppress attention given to women in Acts. For example, on one occasion, when the text should read “Priscilla and Aquila,” the Western text reverses the order (see p. 58). In Acts 17:12, the text says that in Beroea there were “not a few Greek women and men of high standing,” but the Western text says there were “women and not a few men of high standing.” González also notes that in Acts 17:34, the Western text leaves the female name “Damaris” out of the text entirely. These are interesting observations and I am inspired to look further into ostensible biases of the Western text tradition.

González is a winsome and gifted communicator, and he “holds his own” in the Biblical Studies arena. If you want to dip into Luke’s theology and his message for the church today, this is a pretty good place to start.

Book Notice: The Role of the Jewish Feasts in John’s Gospel (Skinner)

Wheaton BookYesterday I checked my campus mailbox and found that, to my delight, I had received a copy of Gerry Wheaton’s recently published monograph, The Role of the Jewish Feasts in John’s Gospel (SNTSMS 162; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). This monograph is a revised version of Wheaton’s dissertation, written at St. Andrews, initially under the direction of Richard Bauckham, who was then passed on to Kelly Iverson after Bauckham’s departure from St. Andrews. Wheaton is currently Professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA in San Jose, Costa Rica. Here’s a description of the book:

In the first three Gospels, Jesus rarely travels to Jerusalem prior to his final week. The Fourth Gospel, however, features Jesus’ repeated visits to the city, which occur primarily during major festivals. This volume elucidates the role of the Jewish feasts of Passover, Tabernacles, and Dedication in John’s presentation of Jesus. Gerry Wheaton examines the Fourth Gospel in relation to pertinent sources from the second-Temple and rabbinic periods, offering a fresh understanding of how John appropriates the symbolic and traditional backgrounds of these feasts. Wheaton situates his inquiry within the larger question of Judaism in John’s Gospel, which many consider to be the most anti-Semitic New Testament text. The findings of this study significantly contribute to the ongoing debate surrounding the alleged anti-Jewish posture of the Fourth Gospel as a whole, and it offers new insights that will appeal to scholars of Johannine theology, New Testament studies, and Jewish studies.

I was excited to get this book; I only wish I had had access to it six months ago when I was writing a chapter on John and Judaism for my forthcoming book. I look forward to working through Wheaton’s argument. Thanks to the good people at CUP for the copy!