I do not normally review critical, academic commentaries on this site. The new Pillar New Testament Commentary on the Book of Acts is a worthy exception to that rule. David G. Petersen, a senior research fellow in New Testament at the well-known Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, has completed a fifteen year project and the result is surely on of the finest modern commentaries on Acts in decades. The author, with I. Howard Marshall, of Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, Petersen does a masterful job of dealing with the important questions of the text in light of current scholarship. He also draws from the fields of narrative criticism, theological analysis and incorporates insights into historical-social background. He is at his very best when he reverently and carefully studies why Luke presents his material in the way that he does, showing again that a very high view of divine inspiration should not preclude serious work in context and writing styles used by the biblical authors.
This series of commentaries is immensely valuable. We already have volumes in print from Leon Morris (Matthew and Romans), James R. Edwards (Mark), D. A. Carson (John), Peter T. O'Brien (Ephesians), Douglas J. Moo (Colossians and Philemon), Gene L. Green (1 & 2 Thessalonians), Peter H. Davids (2 Peter and Jude) and Colin G. Kruse (Letters of John). More volumes are obviously forthcoming. The series, as a whole, is even, balanced and may be the best buy on the market for pastors and serious students of the New Testament.
Acts is a much more complex book than most readers recognize, including many pastors. There are formidable historical, literary and theological challenges in the book. Consider how widely Christians differ in their approach to the book and then how they use it to prove this or that practice. Recent decades have provided some much needed help to serious students of the book. This informative, rich and challenging commentary will be an invaluable guide for years to come. Petersen's judgments, adds D. A. Carson, are "sane, evenhanded, and judicious."
What makes this volume so special to me is that Petersen unpacks the text while always keeping his eyes fixed on the larger picture of the book, thus rendering this volume a commentary that pastors, teachers and serious non-technical readers should use. The introduction to Acts is nearly fifty pages of material. Perhaps the most important part of this commentary, however, is "The Theology of Acts, " which also reaches to nearly fifty pages in length. This alone is worth the book. Technical apparatus is employed in the footnotes but there is no reason any reader who wants a work out in Acts could not benefit immensely from this fine book. This is the kind of commentary the church desperately needs.
The only downside of this great book is the price. It retails for $65.00 (U.S.). But it is 846 pages bound nicely in a cloth edition. Discounted prices are available online.