My Rating: Must Read
Level: Moderate, written at popular level but Biblical knowledge is helpful; short (less than 200 pages).
The book is broken into seven chapters – The Great Reversal; Peace on Earth as in Heaven; Israel, the Gentiles, and Isaiah’s Servant; The Way of Life; The Success of the Last Adam; The Son of Man’s Rule and the Ancient of Days; and The Year of Jubilee. There is also the series preface, book preface, intro, and an epilogue. If they chapters don’t look chronological to you, it is because they aren’t. The unique aspect of this series is that it seeks to catch all the major theological themes, but in commentary style.
This is the first book I’ve read in Crossway’s New Testament Theology series, and I think it is a fairy unique angle for study. I’ve seen this book (or series) occasionally referred to as a commentary (not by Crossway) and while that isn’t technically correct, I can see where people are coming from. If you took a true scholarly commentary on Luke (e.g. Baker’s) and stripped out just the sections on theological themes or maybe an excurses on angels, you’d end up with something like this book. The series preface says they are seeking, in this series, to take a Biblical Theological approach to the major themes of each book covered. If you aren’t as familiar with the term Biblical, it is as opposed to the more common Systematic way of handling theology; the latter being focused on topics first (sin, the church, etc.), while the former looks at overarching themes that unfold as you read through the Bible (or individual book in this case).
Now, the seven themes Gladd has chosen are probably not the consensus themes among theologians/scholars. I imagine if you asked 10 people to pick seven themes, they might agree on three or four of them. Even as I read, I caught myself wondering whether one or two of the topics really belonged. That being said, I actually think this adds to the potential use for the book. As I read, I kept thinking about how great this would work as a small group or other Bible study. I would have loved to hear others’ feedback on some of the threads Gladd pick’s up on. He obviously makes compelling cases in each chapter and backs up each point with scripture from all over the Bible, so I don’t think any of them are ‘wrong.’ For a pastor a bible study leader, that gives you some compelling material to challenge people.
I was pretty much hooked on this after the intro while long for an intro to a book this size (over 10% of the pages) it makes sense once you read it. Gladd takes you through a quick summary of all of Luke. It was probably one of the most concise, while still being dense and comprehensive, overviews of any book of the Bible I’ve ever read. It really would be a great way to start off a Bible study.
I wouldn’t recommend this book as the first thing someone reads on Luke, or even for a new believer. To be as short as it is, you need some level of scripture to begin. This book would best be used in self study as a supplement to a regular commentary or, as I mentioned, an eight part Bible study with a group. I think getting everyone caught up on Luke from the intro, then spending a study time on each chapter would be a great use of this book and lead to some interesting discussion. For pastors preaching through all of Luke, this would certainly give you some ideas to focus on and themes to pull out and make sure are coming out in your sermons. While being somewhat technical, it is well and is a fair quick and easy read; it is also short at under 200 pages. If you are already familiar with Luke and look for another way to study, or leading a study, or are a preacher, this book is a must read.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.