• Title: Acts of the Apostles
  • Author: Rev. William Kurz, SJ
  • Series: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture
  • Published by Baker Academic 2013, 397 pages, ($19 to $23)
  • ISBN: 978080103633

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The book has received both a Nihil obstat and an Imprimatur.

Two summers ago, I read cover to cover the Gospel of Matthew in this same series and it was fantastic. This summer I have spent reading and studying this book from cover to cover. This book is of the same quality. I have learned so much, it is difficult to summarize that learning.

I think the most important point I can write about is the author.  Fr. Kurz is a professor of Sacred Scripture at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he has been teaching there for over 35 years.  His expertise is St. Luke, both the Gospel and Acts. Fr. Kurz is not only an expert on St. Luke, but he is also a great teacher. The chapters read like you are listening to his class lectures, but it is important to note not on a difficult intellectual level.  The sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters are understandable and interesting.  While this book can be and should be used in universities and seminaries to teach those types of students, the book is written in a way that it is usable and understandable for anyone who wishes a deep understanding of the Acts of the Apostles. I do mean deep understanding, 400 pages deep.

From the book’s introduction chapter, page 10:

A variety of features are designed to make the commentary as useful as possible. Each volume includes the biblical text of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), the translation approved for liturgical use in the United States. In order to serve readers who use other translations, the most important differences between the NABRE and other widely used translations (RSV, NRSV, JB, NJB, and NIV) are noted and explained. Each unit of the biblical text is followed by a list of references to relevant Scripture passages, Catechism sections, and uses in the Roman Lectionary. The exegesis that follows aims to explain in a clear and engaging way the meaning of the text in its original historical context as well as its perennial meaning for Christians. Reflection and Application sections help readers apply Scripture to Christian life today by responding to questions that the text raises, offering spiritual interpretations drawn from Christian tradition, or providing suggestions for the use of the biblical text in catechesis, preaching, or other forms of pastoral ministry.

Interspersed throughout the commentary are Biblical Background sidebars that present historical, literary, or theological information, and Living Tradition sidebars that offer pertinent material from the postbiblical Christian tradition, including quotations from Church documents and from the writings of saints and Church Fathers. The Biblical Background sidebars are indicated by a photo of urns that were excavated in Jerusalem, signifying the importance of historical study in understanding the sacred text. The Living Tradition sidebars are indicated by an image of Eadwine, a twelfth-century monk and scribe, signifying the growth in the Church’s understanding that comes by the grace of the Holy Spirit as believers study and ponder the Word of God in their hearts (see Dei Verbum 8).

A map and a Glossary are located in the back of each volume for easy reference. The glossary explains key terms from the biblical text as well as theological or exegetical terms, which are marked in the commentary with a cross (†). A list of Suggested Resources, an Index of Pastoral Topics, and an Index of Sidebars are included to enhance the usefulness of these volumes.

There are three important lessons I learned from this book:

1) The main people in Acts: St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Stephen, St. Philip make frequent use of Old Testament Scripture to talk about Jesus. Fr. Kurz explains all these usages of the Old Testament.

2) The Acts of the Apostles is the original evangelization, and Fr. Kurz explains how our new evangelization can learn from the original one.

3) Fr. Kurz does a great job of explaining how St. Luke shows the impact and effect of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Apostles as they go about the mission of establishing and building up the Church.

In conclusion, I have been very impressed with this book. Reading the 400 pages of this book was not a chore or a difficult intellectual exercise, but it has been a joy. I have and continue to look forward to reading and studying it.

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