Luke (ZECNT)

December 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

David E. Garland, Luke (ZECNT). Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, December, 2011. 1040 pp. Hardcover, $49.99.

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Thanks to Zondervan Academic for the review copy!

David Garland is Dean and The William B. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at George W. Truett Seminary, Baylor University. He’s a graduate of SBTS (Ph.D) and is no stranger to commentary writing. So far, he’s written on 1 Cortinthians (BECNT), 2 Corinthians (NAC), Mark (NIVAC), and Colossians/Philemon (NIVAC), as well as several forthcoming.

Here, he has offered us the installment on Luke in Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Like the other volumes, it follows this format:

  • Literary Context
  • Main Idea
  • Translation and Graphical Layout
  • Structure
  • Exegetical Outline
  • Explanation of the Text
  • Theology in Application

As Garland proceeds, there are few surprises. His introduction is concise, and he breaks the text of Luke up into manageable sections. As far as in-depth sidebars, they are rather few and far between. The only really “in-depth” ones are:

  • Synagogue Worship (196-198)
  • Jews and Samaritans: An Adversarial History (443-444)
  • The Rabbis and The Sabbath (569)

There are a few other very short (2 paragraphs or so) ones, but Garland devotes the bulk of his space to exegeting the text. Issues are for the most part, taken care of in the main body of exposition.

Likewise, the footnotes are sparse for an exegetical commentary (compared say to a NICNT volume). However, Garland interacts with all the major commentators, and more often than not, a journal article or special study he references is fairly recent. So, while the majority of Garland’s focus is on explaining the text, he is not doing so in a vacuum, and he is doing so in light of other recent works on Luke.

Since I’ve had this commentary in my possession, I’ve taught a survey section through Luke for my 10th grade Bible class and helped prepare exegetical research for several sermons. On both occasions, I’ve consulted Garland’s work. Because of the layout of this series, it is almost always helpful to see his summary of the big idea as well as his exegetical breakdown. For my teaching and preaching prep, I found Garland’s “Theology in Application” sections useful and usually thought provoking. Unlike Zondervan’s other series, the NIV Application Commentaries, this series is much heavier focused on exegetical work in the commentary, particularly along lines of how you are taught to do exegesis in seminary. Given that, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how theologically helpful many of the volumes in this series are in bridging the gap into a contemporary context. Garland can be provocative in his theological directions suggested for the text (e.g. his “Fantasy Christmas vs. Real Christmas” in the second chapter of Luke), and though he doesn’t move explicitly into application, he nonetheless leaves the door open for you to do so in a theologically grounded way.

All that to say, this volume covers a wide range, all the way from an exegetically rigorous harvesting of the text to a theologically astute analysis of those exegetical fruits. The best way to think of this particular work is that it is situated between Bock’s BECNT volumes and his NIVAC volume, not quite as exegetically detailed as the former, not quite as application oriented as the latter, but bridging the gap between both. While it probably won’t replace Bock’s volumes as the standard exegetical works, it definitely deserves a place alongside them in serious teaching and preaching study.


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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