What do the books of Luke and Acts teach us about God, Jesus, and the early church? How do these two books relate to each other? And what do they mean for us today?
In this accessible and compelling introduction, Michael Bird draws us into the wide-ranging narrative of Luke-Acts to discover how Luke frames the life of Jesus and of the first disciples who set out from Jerusalem to "the ends of the earth" proclaiming the Good News. Bird shows us how these two books, when read together, tell a cohesive narrative about Jesus, the Church, and the mission of God—with implications for the whole of our lives today. Situating both books in their historical and literary context, Bird moves through an exploration of their central theological themes and culminates with consideration of the books' relevance for contemporary social issues.
"This overview of Luke and Acts will delight the reader with its accessible detail, helpful questions for discussion, and engaging Birdwinian turn of phrase. I encourage you to journey with Luke in one hand and this book in the other."
"Mike Bird has opened the door wide to everyone wanting an entry into the world of Luke–Acts. Those reading Luke's two-part narrative will find themselves enriched by the way Bird follows Luke's story and attends to its themes. But he also follows the twists and turns of Lukan scholarship—discussing big ideas and principal controversies, as well as naming some key voices in contemporary study. What more could we ask for in an introduction to Luke–Acts?"
"Writing in the vein of I. Howard Marshall's classic Luke: Historian and Theologian, Bird provides an accessible yet rich journey through the historical and theological questions raised by the Lukan writings. This is a perfect volume for a seminary course or for preachers in a sermon series on Luke–Acts."
"Luke and Acts compose 28 percent of the New Testament. Bird is a reliable guide to the various issues and themes that arise in Luke. He carefully navigates nuanced debates while writing a brief but memorable overview. Students, pastors, and professors will be helped by this overview."
"Michael Bird's thoughtful, thorough, engaging, and accessible study of Luke–Acts should be a go-to source for all New Testament readers. Bird treats theological themes (such as the holistic nature of salvation) and questions regarding Luke's historical accuracy (such as the Luke 2 census under Quirinius). By interacting with a range of sources—ancient as well as modern—and also referencing popular culture, Bird helps readers to understand what the ancient author Luke seemed to be doing in his two-volume work and also how he was doing it."
"We have come to expect from the pen of Michael Bird scholarship that is well grounded historically and theologically stimulating. This volume does not disappoint. It is thorough, thoughtful, and well written. I appreciate the special attention to the primary sources and his engagement with theology."
"Michael Bird has the rare talent of communicating dense and often stodgy academic issues in an exuberant spirit and user-friendly fashion. Underlying the amiable tenor is expert knowledge derived from years of research and rumination. He has provided a much-needed service to the urgent need of the church (laity and leadership) to know more intimately the Word of God."
1. What's So Special About Luke–Acts?
2. Luke–Acts: The Origins Story
3. The Purposes of Luke–Acts
4. Luke: Historian or Theologian?
5. "This Jesus": The Christology of Luke–Acts
6. Luke and the Way of Salvation
7. "Beginning with Moses": The Old Testament in Luke–Acts
8. On the Road with Jesus: Lukan Discipleship
9. Luke the Feminist? Jesus, Women, and the Church
10. Luke the Socialist? Possessions and Poverty
11. The Promise of the Father: Luke and the Holy Spirit
12. Luke on Jesus, the Jews, and the Gentile Churches
13. Turning the World Upside Down: Luke and Empire
14. A Hope in God: Luke and the Future