Others have already shared their thoughts on various chapters from Darrell L. Bock’s A Theology of Luke and Acts: Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012). I recommend you mosey on over to those blogs as well if you get a chance (blogs in Round 1, Round 2). I have been given the assignment of Chapter 21: The Scriptures in Luke-Acts. Since I have been studying this subject over the summer I was quite excited to read Bock’s thoughts.
Obviously the use of Scripture in Luke-Acts centers on the narrative of Luke 24, especially vv. 43-47. The resurrected Jesus appears veiled to two distraught disciples who do not understand why Jesus was crucified. Jesus shows them from Scripture that Messiah had to suffer and die before making himself known through the breaking of bread. Bock ties this together with our last words on the matter in Acts 26.22-23 (p. 407):
“So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles (NASB).”
“This citation serves as both an adequate introduction to, and summary of, Luke’s use of Scripture. It notes three central themes: (1) the message of the newly emerged Christian teaching spans the full array of scriptural hope from Moses to the prophets; (2) at the center of that hope is the Christ event, especially his death and resurrection-ascension; and (3) God’s vindication of Jesus becomes the occasion for his new appeal both to the Jews and the nations to enter into divine promise and life (light) (p. 408).”
Bock begins by exploring the “hermeneutical axioms” for Luke’s reading of Scripture. This is not “techniques” (p. 409), as if Luke had a textbook with rules for interpretation. Rather, axioms are Luke’s “interpretive grid (p. 409).” Bock lists the following axioms:
(1) “God’s design and new era of realization.”
For Bock Luke saw Scripture as providing the story and context that pointed toward Christ. The message was present in Scripture waiting to be fulfilled in Christ. Bock writes, “The gospel is the presence of something new and something old. The old era of expectation leads to the new era of realization (p. 410).”
(2) “Christ at the center.”
“The literary flow of Luke’s use of Scripture reveals that once Jesus’ messianic and lordship credentials are established (“He is Lord of all and judge of the living and the dead”), then scriptural attention can concentrate on how Gentiles are included and how Israel must not reject the opportunity to share in the promise. The plan argues that Jesus is Lord of all, so the gospel can go to all (p. 411).” In other words, Jesus’s fulfillment of Scripture makes him the focus of God’s universal plan (think Psalm 2). Now readers of Scripture can go and proclaim this Christ who has been shown from Scripture to be “Lord of all.” If he is Lord of all then this means he Lord over more than just Israel.
(3) “Scripture as an interpreter of divine event and current critical discussion.”
Luke sought “divine patterns” in history and typological figures and events. These foreshadowing elements pointed to Christ. In Christ the story would reach its telos. ”The center of that hope involved a pivitol figure. Luke’s claim is that the events of Jesus’ life and ministry began the arrival of that promised era. Scripture is an interpreter of those events, explaining them and their design. At the same time, the events themselves, as unusual and unique as they are, draw one to Scripture to seek explanation (p 412).”
Bock uses these axioms to present five “central Scriptural themes,” which include the following:
(1) Covenant and Promise.
(3) Community, Mission, Community Guidance, and Ethical Direction.
(4) Commission to the Gentiles.
(5) Challenge with Warning to Israel.
Of course, Bock spends much time unpacking how each of these themes run through Luke-Acts, how they are informed by the person of Jesus and the narrative of Scripture, and the message they present in the book.
Once Bock has finished his thorough examination of these themes he summarizes his view on this matter:
“The use of Scripture in Luke-Acts serves as variety of roles. Many texts set forth who Jesus is and explain what he is doing in conjunction with the divine plan and covenants. Many texts in Acts support this new community’s claim to the heritage of God revealed in Moses and the prophets. The early church asserted that a faithful response to God would mean: (1) the embracing of Jesus as the promised one, and (2) the inclusion of Gentiles into the community of blessing. Failure to respond has left the nation culpable (p. 426).”
Again, I hope you have time to browse the other reviews and I hope this summary of Chapter 21 helped you get an idea of what kind of book this is and the audience it serves.
As a blog tour participant, I received a free review copy of the book from Zondervan, but without obligation to write a positive review. The blog tour continues through the end of this week. You can follow it here.