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.

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