vrijdag 1 februari 2013

Review of: Richard B. Vinson, Luke (SHBC), Smyth & Helwys, 2008

Richard B. Vinson, Luke (SHBC), Smyth & Helwys, 2008

Review in: Interpretation 2010 64: 186
Review door: Sharon H. Ringe
Gevonden op: http://int.sagepub.com/content/64/2/186.full.pdf+html

by Richard B. Vinson
Smyth and Helwys, Macon, 2008.792 pp. $67.00 (cloth).
ISBN 978-1-57312-078-4.

To CALL THIS VOLUME A COMMENTARY so undersells it as to be an inaccurate label. It is that and much more. Like any good commentary, this one begins with a concise introduction to the biblical book. That introduction addresses such issues as historical setting (date, audience, provenance, and sources), literary design or structure, and theological themes of the book as a whole. Richard Vinson does not attempt to break new ground in these explorations, but to bring readers to an understanding of the state of current scholarship and to prepare them for an informed study of the Third Gospel.

The commentary itself addresses the entire text of the Gospel according to its logical divisions, whether or not these follow the traditional chapter and verse designations. This distinction is crucial to the critical reading Vinson hopes to foster, which involves an immersion in the Gospel's own logic and patterns. The "commentary" section examines the language, the history reflected in the text, and the literary forms by which the meaning is conveyed, to the end of exploring the theological issues presented by a particular passage. Each passage is also examined through a set of "connections" that presents approaches and resources useful for teaching or preaching on the passage.

Both the "commentary" and the "connections" sections are strengthened through a system of "sidebars"—a hyperlink format that guides readers via appropriate icons to additional information and insights that include drawings, photos, literary quotations (both ancient and modern), maps, charts, and prints of art works that have interpreted a passage. That same format is carried through on the enclosed compact disc in a form that is fully searchable and able to be projected to accompany teaching or as a resource for worship.

The format and the multimedia resources provided for each text have moved this commentary from its more traditional forebears into a new genre that is immediately accessible for teaching in the contemporary academic or church setting. Many of the charts, diagrams, and drawings or art reproductions that students take for granted, but that teachers have to spend hours tracking down, are already present in this volume and its companion disc. For that reason alone, this book is worth adding to one's library.

What I find even more important is the author's sensitivity to the ancient social and cultural world of this Gospel and of the time of Jesus, and his gift of making clear and vivid the impact the proclamation of Jesus would have had on those contexts. Furthermore, he transcends the bounds of usual academic biblical studies by exploring those implications for the contemporary North American (or Western European) context as well. The commentary is thus at once informative and provocative. While I do not often read commentaries as I do books, from start to finish, this one kept pulling me forward to the next section. In addition to being a valuable reference volume, it is simply a good read.

While I will use this commentary in my exegetical courses on Luke, what keeps me from an absolutely unqualified endorsement of this book as a textbook is the careless copyediting. More than a mechanical spell-checking program is necessary to catch the misuse of homonyms and other syntactical errors. While in this case, those errors do not invalidate Vinson's excellent work, they risk conveying to students the conclusion that such concerns are unimportant in their own work. That is a lesson I do not want to teach, either in itself or as an appropriate response to the elegant and careful scholarship of Luke, and otherwise of Vinson.

Sharon H. Ringe

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