vrijdag 8 februari 2013

Review of: Richard I. Pervo, Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia), Fortress, 2010; in: JSNT

Richard I. Pervo, Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia), Fortress, 2010.

Review in: Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2010 32: 53
Review door: Ruth B. Edwards
Gevonden op: http://jnt.sagepub.com/content/32/5/53.full.pdf+html

Acts: A Commentary
Richard I. Pervo
Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009,
978-0-8006-6045-1, $85.00, £56.99, xxxvi + 812 hb

This commentary follows the normal Hermeneia pattern with ET, textual notes, analysis and comment. The short Introduction (26 pp.) summarizes Pervo’s views on standard introductory issues. The translation includes a separate rendering of the D-text where it varies significantly from the conventional one. Documentation is thorough with extensive footnotes, 37 (unnumbered) excurses, a 64-page bibliography, 50 pages of indexes (the subject-index is over-restricted) and 5 appendixes on Graeco-Roman materials. The work embodies Pervo’s views on Acts, as evidenced in his earlier publications: composed c. 115 ce by an anonymous author, in ‘middlebrow’ Greek, and not a genuine two-part work with Luke’s Gospel, Acts is a ‘history’, written to ‘legitimate’ the early church (this does not imply that what it relates is historical; Pervo finds strong affinities with Greek novels). He believes its author used a collection of Paul’s letters and, probably, Josephus. He takes a ‘low’ view of Luke as a theologian, but is perceptive on how he expresses his theology in narrated action.

The Introduction and Commentary are written in a terse, at times sardonic, style with some exceedingly short sentences. The translation is fresh but very free: e.g., ‘On one of these occasions . . .’ (Acts 1.6), ‘he investigated the sights’ (17.16), ‘Best Wishes,/Your brothers and sisters,/The Apostles and Elders’ (15.29), with the very doubtful addition of ‘sisters’ to the official senders of the apostolic decree. One especially difficult feature is Pervo’s tendency to state his personal conclu­sions as if they are facts (see, e.g., p. 5 on date and authorship); it would have been helpful here to have a summary of his arguments for these. Pervo is extremely sceptical about the historical worth of Acts, at times unduly so (e.g., on Paul’s circumcision of Timothy), especially as he seems happy to accept the testimony of other writers, like Justin on Simon Magus. Some of the source criticism is specula­tive (see pp. 239f. on Paul’s Damascus Road experience). Despite these criticisms, this work is a major achievement, which will provoke and challenge scholars for many years to come.

Ruth B. Edwards

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