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The Book of Acts as Story

A Narrative-Critical Study

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New Testament scholar and teacher David Bauer helps students understand the historical, literary, and theological issues of the book of Acts and introduces key concepts in the field of narrative criticism.

This volume captures the message of the book of Acts by taking seriously the book's essential character as an engaging and powerful story through which Luke communicates profound theological truth. While giving attention at appropriate points to historical background, its purpose is to lead readers through a close reading that yields fresh insights into the deeper meaning of passages throughout the book of Acts. It thus demonstrates that a narrative-critical study can yield exciting theological fruit.

The Book of Acts as Story will appeal to professors, students, and scholars of Acts and hermeneutics.

1. Approaching Acts
2. Narrative Criticism and Acts
3. Literary Structure of Acts
4. The Promise and the Preparation: Acts 1:1-26
5. The Witness to Jerusalem: Acts 2:1-8:1a
6. The Witness to All Judea and Samaria as Far as Antioch: Acts 8:1b-12:25
7. The Witness to the End of the Earth: Acts 13:1-28:31


"Do we have a more accomplished reader of biblical stories than David Bauer? Here he provides an engaging (and manageable) commentary on the Acts of the Apostles--complete with a sensible orientation to narrative criticism and its significance for reading Luke's second volume. Both students and pastors will benefit from this literary-theological exploration of Luke's story of the still-active, exalted Lord Jesus."

Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

"In this work, noted narrative critic David Bauer brings to bear his sophisticated skills to provide an indispensable literary-theological reading of the book of Acts. In addition to an essential foundation for further narrative scholarship on Acts, the book provides a helpful primer for anyone seeking to learn the nomenclature and methods of narrative criticism and provides a model for how to apply them in an ancient narrative work."

Craig S. Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Here is a volume packed with riches. Bauer's study showcases brilliantly the wide-ranging gifts of narrative criticism for interpreting the book of Acts. Without question Bauer's signal interpretive move is to identify Jesus himself (a.k.a. 'the exalted Christ') as the 'dominant character' within the narrative. This move not only unifies the plotline instantaneously but also obviates the need to resolve the otherwise widely debated questions concerning Paul's death at the end of the story. Bauer's narrative commentary throughout the volume is rich in substance, solidly grounded on exegesis, and deeply insightful in its depiction of Luke's overarching story. Bauer's work provides an outstanding tool for students and scholars alike as they seek to mine the narrative--and accompanying theological--riches of the book of Acts."

Dorothy Jean Weaver, professor emerita of New Testament, Eastern Mennonite Seminary

"David R. Bauer uses the tools of narrative criticism to lead readers on a guided tour of the world of Acts with competence and grace. His treatment of Acts offers insight into the literary architecture and theological shape of its narrative world, while his generous footnotes engage other interpreters in constructive conversations that illumine and often persuade. The result is a fine reading of an indispensable story that will benefit both the teacher's classroom and the pastor's congregation for years to come."

Robert W. Wall, Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture and Wesleyan Studies, Seattle Pacific University and Seminary

"Church leaders and scholars do not always know what to do with the book of Acts. It's not a Gospel, not an epistle--what is it? David Bauer tells us it is a story, a story of the early church--or better, a story of the exalted Christ still active in the world through the early church. Bauer is one of the pioneers of narrative criticism, an approach to biblical literature that appreciates the nuances of classical storytelling. He has been doing narrative criticism for more than thirty years, and there may be no one who does it better. Anyone who loves the Bible (or the exalted Christ) will benefit from this wonderful analysis of the longest and most exciting story found in the New Testament."

Mark Allan Powell, professor of New Testament (retired), Trinity Lutheran Seminary

The Author

  1. David R. Bauer

    David R. Bauer

    David R. Bauer (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia) is Ralph Waldo Beeson Professor of Inductive Biblical Studies and dean of the School of Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he has taught for more than...

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