J. Gordon McConville’s forthcoming Being Human in God’s World recently received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. They called it “scholarly, accessible, and beautifully written,” and “a work of literature to be savored.”
The following is an excerpt from Acts, Volume 4, by Craig Keener, commenting on Paul’s trial in Acts 24:1–26:32.
Where are members of the Jerusalem church? According to ancient friendship ideals, friends (which could include recipients of benefactions) should not desert one another in hardship, when friendship was most needed. Second-century Christians might visit their imprisoned leader, bring food, bribe guards to let them stay with him at night, read Scripture, and so forth. Why do we not read of such activity here?
Although the narrative does not inform us that James or other Jerusalemite believers traveled to Caesarea to defend Paul, the idea that they “abandoned” Paul “concludes far too much from Luke’s silence”; they “had no influence with either the chief priests or the Romans.” Whatever they did for Paul, they would have probably done privately.
Although the majority of the Jerusalem church had heard negative rumors about Paul (Acts 21:21), the apparent lack of support in this narrative does not render implausible their leaders’ earlier hospitable reception of Paul (21:17). Paul may have had some support in Jerusalem, but those who welcomed him in Jerusalem had no reason to make the journey to Caesarea.
Friends in Caesarea surely did visit (21:8–9; 24:23), but Luke does not have reason to elaborate on this point; we should use his silence to condemn neither the Caesarean believers nor the Jerusalem church. For that matter, Luke is not explicit about his own presence, despite surely remaining on hand (21:18; 27:1).
Still, the chief priests likely believed that some of Paul’s supporters could have come; presumably unaware of available witnesses in Caesarea, they may have expected that Paul could call some from Jerusalem. This could explain why, in the narrative world, Paul’s opponents offer no false witnesses here, in contrast to Stephen’s opponents in 6:13. (That the Romans would cross-examine witnesses less sympathetically than hearers did in 6:13–14 might have also provided a significant deterrent for potential witnesses.)
©2015 by Craig Keener. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
For more information on Acts, Volume 4, click here.
This commentary on Acts, Craig Keener’s magnum opus, may be the largest and most thoroughly documented Acts commentary ever written. Useful not only for the study of Acts but also early Christianity, this work sets Acts in its first-century context.
In this volume, the last of four, Keener finishes his detailed exegesis of Acts, utilizing an unparalleled range of ancient sources and offering a wealth of fresh insights. This magisterial commentary will be an invaluable resource for New Testament professors and students, pastors, Acts scholars, and libraries.
“With this enormous commentary, Craig Keener deploys his breathtaking knowledge of the classical world to shine a bright light on both the big picture of Acts and ten thousand small details. Students of Acts will be in his debt for generations to come.” – N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews
“No wise and patient scholar will tackle a passage in Acts without engaging Keener….The richness of detail and depth of immersion in primary sources guarantee a long and honored life for these volumes.” – Richard I. Pervo, author of Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia)
“Keener’s work is essential for its survey of and detailed interaction with Acts scholarship. The New Testament researcher must have it! This is a remarkable scholarly achievement that will be eagerly used by a wide range of readers.” – I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen
“This final volume on Acts is full of the meticulous scholarship and original insight we’ve come to expect of Keener. Despite the abundance of ancient sources and unparalleled discussion of secondary literature, the prose is beautifully clear and the commentary is a delight to use….The premier commentator on Acts for academics and ministers alike.” – Helen K. Bond, University of Edinburgh
“This work constitutes a definitive and yet surprisingly accessible go-to reference for this biblical book. Professor Keener here supplies an entire library on Acts in commentary form, a landmark compendium characterized throughout by a lively critical sympathy for its text.” – Markus Bockmuehl, Keble College, University of Oxford
Craig S. Keener (PhD, Duke University) is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, the bestseller The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation.
For more information on Acts, Volume 4, click here.
The following is an excerpt from Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 3, by Craig Keener.
Given our evidence for Paul’s later reconciliation with Mark (Phlm 24; Col 4:10) and appreciation of Barnabas (1 Cor 9:6), either this separation did not lead to enmity or relations were later reconciled (whether in person or by letter).
….Luke does not provide us this information, however, because his interests lie elsewhere. Luke thus is certainly not “covering up” for Paul; he may well have known of the reconciliation (especially since he ends up in Rome himself, Acts 28:16; and this was where Mark joined Paul, Phlm 24). Because it is not his focus, he does not revisit their reconciliation, though one topic that interested some ancient writers was notable reconciliation between famous men (Aul. Gel. 12.8).
Although Luke tells us no more about Barnabas (his focus being Paul), later legends filled in Barnabas’s story, many or all of them fancifully. The fullest source, Acts of Barnabas, is from the fifth or sixth century C.E. In it, Barnabas ordained as Cyprus’s bishop one Heracleides, who had spent time with Paul at Kition (Latin, Citium); given that such bishops probably do not predate Ignatius by many decades, this tradition is likely false, though Heracleides may have been an early bishop. The legend claims that Barnabas carried an early gospel from Matthew (on the basis of Papias’s tradition that Matthew wrote first).He confronted Bar-Jesus again, through whose instigation Cyprian Jews burned Barnabas alive in the hippodrome; Mark then went on to Alexandria (the last claim according with earlier tradition).
Tradition also claims that in 478 C.E. Barnabas’s tomb was revealed through a dream to Cyprus’s bishop, Anthemius; Barnabas was supposedly still holding Matthew’s Gospel. Some earlier traditions claim that Barnabas authored Hebrews. What is relevant for the text of Acts is that revisiting the churches was originally Barnabas’s plan (15:36); Barnabas chose to revisit those in Cyprus with Mark (who had remained with them during their Cyprus mission), leaving Paul to deal with southern Asia Minor.
©2014 by Craig Keener. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
For more information on Acts: An Exegetical Commentary,Volume 3, click here.
Highly respected New Testament scholar Craig Keener is known for his meticulous and comprehensive research. This commentary on Acts, his magnum opus, may be the largest and most thoroughly documented Acts commentary available. Useful not only for the study of Acts but also early Christianity, this work sets Acts in its first-century context.
In this volume, the third of four, Keener continues his detailed exegesis of Acts, utilizing an unparalleled range of ancient sources and offering a wealth of fresh insights. This magisterial commentary will be an invaluable resource for New Testament professors and students, pastors, Acts scholars, and libraries.
“A scholarly achievement that is unlikely to be surpassed in the foreseeable future….Every serious student of Acts owes it to herself or himself to carefully work through this significant contribution to scholarship.” – David E. Aune, University of Notre Dame
“This detailed commentary will deservedly be a major resource on Acts in many libraries–personal and public–for years to come.” – John J. Pilch, Johns Hopkins University
“Scholars of the New Testament, theologians, and classicists, but also laypersons, will want to consult and will benefit from Keener’s erudite, impressive work.” – Andreas Bendlin, University of Toronto
“A gold mine of valuable information….The vast amount of references to ancient sources and literature will be helpful for anyone interested in doing serious research on Acts.” – Samuel Byrskog, Lund University
Craig S. Keener (PhD, Duke University) is the F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, the bestseller The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation.