Book Notice: James Dunn on the Acts of the Apostles

James D. G. Dunn
The Acts of the Apostles
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014 [1996].
Available at

While there are several exhaustive multi-volume commentaries on the Acts of the Apostles, there is a certain strength to the brevity of any commentary that can do it in one volume, which James Dunn does in this book. According to Dunn, “The Acts of the Apostles is the most exciting book in the New Testament, probably the whole Christian Bible.” This book reminded me that deep down Jimmy Dunn still has affinities with the Pentecostal movement which he encountered in the 60s and 70s. Dunn lists several reasons why Luke wrote Acts: (1) To identify the movement who’s history is connected to the story of Jesus; (2) to describe the spread of the new movement and its success through the power of the Spirit; (3) to describe the developing schism with the leaders of Judaism in Jerusalem; (4) to describe the beginning and justification of the mission to the Gentiles; (5) the unity of the expanding movement; (6) an apologetic posture in relation to the power of Rome; and (7) outlines the social behaviour of Christians in accepting outsiders.

The commentary provides short comments and clarifications to the Acts the Apostles raising issues of background and the internal dynamics of the story itself. Dunn draws on his vast experience as a NT scholar as he explains various episodes and stories from the narrative. Dunn is able to balance brevity and an eye for details, explaining things the reader will be interested to know, and offering his own thoughts on Luke’s theological enterprise. A genuinely concise and valuable commentary on the Book of Acts.


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