The Acts of the Apostles: Interpretation, History and Theology, By Osvaldo Padilla
The Acts of the Apostles
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Published: February 18, 2016
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5130
  • ISBN: 9780830851300

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The book of Acts is a remarkable fusion of the historical and theological, and its account of the early church has fascinated theologians and biblical scholars for centuries. Just who was the author of this work? And what kind of book did he write? How do we classify its genre?

The Acts of the Apostles provides an advanced introduction to the study of Acts, covering important questions about authorship, genre, history and theology. Osvaldo Padilla explores fresh avenues of understanding by examining the text in light of the most recent research on the book of Acts itself, philosophical hermeneutics, genre theory and historiography. In addition, Padilla opens a conversation between the text of Acts and postliberal theology, seeking a fully-orbed engagement with Acts that is equally attuned to questions of interpretation, history and theology.

"This study of the book of Acts presents Luke not only as author but also as exemplary historian, storyteller and theologian. Luke's three-stranded cord of authorial discourse is on conspicuous display in his composition of Peter's, Stephen's, Philip's and Paul's speeches. Where other textbooks often focus on the narratives in Acts (e.g., Pentecost) and the practices of the early church, Padilla highlights the speeches in Acts and their continuing significance, going beyond the call of New Testament duty by dialoguing with postliberal theologians and asking whether they can do justice to the speeches in Acts and in particular their truth claims. The result is an introductory text that not only illumines the book of Acts, but also encourages Christians today to 'act out the acts of the apostles' (John Donne), to speak out their speech acts."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"It is rare to find a work that blends epistemological, hermeneutical and historiographic sophistication with mature handling of the extensive primary and secondary literature, but this is such a work. Padilla's introduction to questions of the authorship and genre of Acts and the character of its speeches is a superbly informed and trustworthy guide."

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

"Osvaldo Padilla has put students and professors in his debt with this lucid and wide-ranging 'advanced introduction' to Acts. He shows a fine grasp of Acts itself and the extensive scholarly discussion over the last two hundred years. He identifies the key points at issue in the debates and provides accessible and well-thought-out assessments that guide readers clearly through the forest of opinions. He addresses issues that particularly concern readers who hold a 'high view' of Scripture and want to relate historical claims to faith. His concluding chapter, engaging with the justification of truth claims as expounded in post-liberalism, is fresh and provocative, showing a thoughtful and nuanced understanding of the claims that Acts makes as part of Christian Scripture. A valuable and helpful book."

Steve Walton, St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London

"Padilla successfully bridges two worlds, past and present. Relying upon in-depth Greco-Roman knowledge, he recreates the historical setting of Acts. Fluent in recent scholarly trends, he offers a fresh reading of Acts. The insights that result benefit both scholar and practitioner. Overviews of narrative criticism, genre theory, ancient history-writing, and postliberalism, for example, can inspire further study and therefore affect a lecture already delivered or yet-to-be-prepared. An abundance of hermeneutical helps can aid sermon-building. Padilla's 'high view of Scripture' undergirds this book."

Ivan Parke, Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, Spring 2017, 14(1)

"The book proves to be well-researched and engaging."

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones, Bible Study Magazine, September/October 2016



1. Who Wrote Acts?
Who Was Luke?
How Important Is the Identity of the Author to Interpret Acts?

2. The Genre of Acts
A Brief History of Genre Theory
Proposals on the Genre of Acts
Conclusion—Acts as Historical Monograph: How Does It Help?

3. How Luke Writes History
Luke the Theological Historian
Luke the Storyteller
Luke the Historian

4. The Speeches in Acts (Part One): The Speeches in Their Ancient Context
The Reporting of Speeches in Ancient History
Luke as a Conservative Reporter of Speeches
Conclusion: Believing the Speeches

5. The Speeches in Acts (Part Two): The Theology of the Speeches
The Speech of Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41)
The Speech of Stephen (Acts 7:1-53)
The Speech at the Home of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-48)
The Speech at Athens (Acts 17:16-31)
The Speech Before Agrippa (Acts 26:1-32)
Summary and Conclusions

6. The Justification of Truth-Claims in Acts: A Conversation with Postliberalism
Postliberalism: A Sketch
Postliberalism and the Question of Truth-Claims
The Justification of Truth-Claims in Acts

Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Osvaldo Padilla

Osvaldo Padilla (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of The Acts of the Apostles, The Speeches of Outsiders in Acts, and he has written articles and reviews for Themelios, Bulletin for Biblical Research, New Testament Studies, and Ex Auditu. He is a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas. Previously, he taught New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and served as pastor of Jesus el Buen Pastor, a Hispanic congregation in the Chicago area. He is married to Kristen, and they have one son.