Commentaries: August 2009 Archives

Acts Commentary Bleg

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I'm expecting to begin reading a commentary on Acts in a few months or so. I suspect that it will be one of the following: Ben Witherington's Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, Darrell Bock's BECNT, or David Peterson's brand-new Pillar volume. I expect that there might be several people reading this who have some experience with commentaries on Acts, and I'm interested in any information or evaluations anyone might have to offer about any of these three books, especially if you can detect specific reasons to prefer one to the others or over one of the others on a particular issue.

Some of the issues that come to my mind include:

1. I know that Bock had access to Witherington, and Peterson had access to both of the other two, and that gives the more recent ones priority in my mind over the earlier ones, all other things being equal (which is often not the case). So my presumption is to prefer Peterson to Bock and Bock to Witherington if no other factors influence my preferences. Bock had a chance to learn from Witherington, and Peterson had a chance to learn from Witherington and Bock. Of course, if they didn't fully avail themselves of those chances then it's still possible that they don't present the best of what came before them.

2. Witherington doesn't include the text of the book of Acts, which would mean having a copy of that in addition. That gets unwieldy the way I read books, because I carry them around with me and pull them out to read when I get a chance while waiting for something or while walking. Bock and Peterson, I believe, both include a translation of the text of each section before the discussion of that section.

3. Some reviews I've seen claim that Bock does a lot of commenting on other commentaries, which some people claimed meant that he didn't discuss the text as much for himself and often didn't indicate his own view on the issue he was discussing, but I don't know if this is true. The suggestion was that it's better to read Witherington than to read Bock's comments on Witherington and several others, which is true only if Witherington's discussion is better at sifting through the information than Bock's.

4. Bock had the advantage of writing a hefty commentary on Luke before writing his Acts commentary, and Luke-Acts is a two-volume work by the same author. The other two don't have that. (Witherington will eventually do every NT book, but his Acts commentary was one of his earliest, and he hadn't done Luke yet at that time.)

I'm currently leaning toward Peterson at the moment, but anything anyone might say to sway me in a different direction or to confirm that choice is welcome.


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