The Acts of the Apostles: A New Commentary by J. B. Lightfoot
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The Acts of the Apostles: A New Commentary by J. B. Lightfoot

IVP Academic / 2014 / Hardcover

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Stock No: WW829440

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Product Description

InterVarsity Press is proud to present The Lightfoot Legacy, a three-volume set of previously unpublished material from J. B. Lightfoot, one of the great biblical scholars of the modern era. In the spring of 2013, Ben Witherington III discovered hundreds of pages of biblical commentary by Lightfoot in the Durham Cathedral Library. While incomplete, these commentaries represent a goldmine for historians and biblical scholars, as well as for the many people who have found Lightfoot's work both informative and edifying, deeply learned and pastorally sensitive.

Among those many pages were two sets of lecture notes on the Acts of the Apostles. Together they amount to a richly detailed, albeit unfinished, commentary on Acts 1-21. The project of writing a commentary on Acts had long been on Lightfoot's mind, and in the 1880s he wrote an article about the book for the second British edition of William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. Thankfully, that is not all he left behind.

Now on display for all to see, these commentary notes reveal a scholar well ahead of his time, one of the great minds of his or any generation. Well over a century later, The Acts of the Apostles remains a relevant and significant resource for the church today.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 083082944X
ISBN-13: 9780830829446

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Author Bio

Joseph Barber Lightfoot (18281889), also known as J. B. Lightfoot, was an English theologian, preacher, canon of St Paul's Cathedral and bishop of Durham. His writings include essays on biblical and historical subject matter, commentaries on Pauline epistles and studies on the Apostolic Fathers as well as four posthumously published volumes of sermons. Lightfoot attended King Edward’s School in Birmingham before attending Trinity College in Cambridge where he was elected a Fellow of his college. He became a tutor of Trinity College in 1857 and later a professor of divinity, editing the from 1854 to 1859. In 1871, Lightfoot became canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, preaching regularly and participating in various ecclesiastical activities. He gained enormous popularity for his work a defense of the New Testament in response to Walter Richard Cassel’s In 1870, Lightfoot became Bishop of Durham, where he continued his theological study, writing, and preaching. Lightfoot wrote commentaries on Galatians, Philippians and Colossians and Philemon, and his newly discovered commentary notes on Acts, John, 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter are being published in the three-volume Lightfoot Legacy set. Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. A prominent evangelical scholar, he is also on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Witherington has written over forty books, including and both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by His other works include , , , and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to and . Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as , , and the Peter Jennings ABC special . Todd D. Still (PhD, University of Glasgow) serves as Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran DeLancey Dean and the William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. He previously occupied the Bob D. Shepherd Chair of New Testament Interpretation at Gardner-Webb University's School of Divinity and served on faculty at Dallas Baptist University. In addition to numerous articles, reviews and Bible study materials, Still is the author of , coauthored with Bruce W. Longenecker, , and . He has also coedited (with David Wilhite) and (with David G. Horrell). Beyond the classroom, Still is committed to and involved in local churches. A licensed and ordained Baptist minister, he has had the opportunity to preach and teach in many congregational and conference settings and has served in a variety of ministry capacities, including music minister, youth minister, Sunday school teacher, chaplain and pastor. Still lives in Waco, Texas with his wife and two sons.


J. B. Lightfoot was perhaps the greatest New Testament exegete in the nineteenth-century English-speaking world, and his works remain useful today. The discovery of his previously unpublished research, which addresses in a balanced and informed way many issues still debated today, is an epochal event in New Testament studies.
-Craig Keener,
Asbury Theological Seminary

To have Lightfoot on Acts is astonishingly valuable, for three reasons. First, Lightfoot is peerless among biblical commentators of his day, and shows a breadth of learning and understanding which always illuminates the text he comments on. Second, Lightfoot deals in this commentary with key issues that are current today in study of Acts, such as the text, the historical value of the Acts narrative, the speeches of Acts and the portrait of Paul. Third, this book enlarges our understanding of Lightfoot's massive scholarship; he is truly a giant among New Testament scholars, and to watch him work - as in this book on Acts - is an education in the questions to ask, approaches to take and ways to draw evidence from disparate sources together to produce a coherent whole. We are greatly in debt to Ben Witherington, Todd Still and their collaborators for bringing this material to light for our day.
-Steve Walton,
Tyndale House, Cambridge

Everyone who has read J. B. Lightfoot's great commentaries on the letters of Paul wishes for more. Thanks to Ben Witherington's diligent search and editorial labors we now have more. What could be better? We are now in possession of Lightfoot's commentary on a substantial portion of the book of Acts, which will allow us to see more clearly how the bishop of Durham understood the circumstances in which Paul's letters were written. As we would expect, Lightfoot's comments on the text of Acts are rich with pertinent parallels from Greek and Latin authors. The publication of Lightfoot's long-lost commentary is momentous.
-Craig A. Evans,
Acadia University

When I was a seminary student, one of my professors had given a full explanation of a critical passage in Galatians when a student across the room asked aloud, 'So then, do you disagree with J. B. Lightfoot?' The professor, given to the well-timed pause, looked first to the right and then to the left and then ended the silence with the rhetorical question, 'What does a mouse say to a lion?' Lightfoot, indeed, is an exegetical lion, and this incredible discovery by Ben Witherington and now publication of fresh materials by Lightfoot will mean a whole new generation can be exposed to the stalking, roaring presence of the nineteenth century's finest exegete of the life of Paul.
-Scot McKnight,
Northern Seminary

Thanks to Witherington and his associates and to IVP for bringing this cache of material from the great J. B. Lightfoot into the public domain. His previously published works have remained important (his multivolume study of the apostolic fathers is essential for these writings), and this hitherto unpublished material will now also likely come to be seen as a valuable resource.
-Larry Hurtado,
University of Edinburgh

Joseph Barber Lightfoot has been, for me, in many ways the epitome of what the commentator on New Testament and early church texts can and should aspire to. His detailed knowledge of the literature of the time was unsurpassed, and his ability to shed the light of that knowledge on the New Testament writings was without peer. His commentaries on New Testament texts and the early Fathers retain a relevance and a value to this day almost unique for nineteenth-century scholarship. That a fuller publication of his writings is now available in these volumes is a wonderful bonus for those who want to hear these New Testament and early church texts as they were first heard.
-James D. G. Dunn,
Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham

The discovery of hitherto unknown exegetical works by J. B. Lightfoot is a rare gift, full of potential for fresh insight both about the man himself (acknowledged worldwide as the leading scholar of his day) and, as he would have wished, about texts which he knew so well and which themselves express the heart of the gospel. Hearty congratulations to finder, editor and publisher on an unexpected and exciting addition to the core library of seminal biblical studies.
-N. T. Wright,
University of St. Andrews, and former bishop of Durham

A profound debt of gratitude is owed to Professors Witherington and Still for relentlessly pursuing, recovering, and editing J. B. Lightfoot's notes on Acts. Harnack said it best: Lightfoot was a true liberal for he was 'an independent, free scholar . . . in the absolute sense of the word. He has never defended tradition for the tradition's sake.' We need more liberals like that today!
-Daniel B. Wallace,
Dallas Theological Seminary

Editorial Reviews

" The Acts of the Apostles is a helpful addition to the library of any student of the New Testament and the early church. Pastors may also find his discussion questions and lecture style helpful as they prepare to teach and preach."
"While the commentary may not specifically address a particular passage or issue, the volume is a worthwhile addition to any scholar or pastor's Acts shelf simply because for those passages and topics Lightfoot does address, he provides not only well-reasoned, well-grounded arguments but also often offers unexpected intertextual connections that carry profound interpretive implications. . . . It would be a shame indeed to miss it, for reading Lightfoot's notes is an unprecedented opportunity to watch one of the greatest academic minds of the last century at work on a text that has held special significance for members of the Stone-Campbell Movement."
"This volume of Lightfoot's notes will guide you patiently and reverently through much of the text of Acts. You will be encouraged to pause to notice the details of the text and occasionally look over the broad landscape to see how the details of the text relate to the broader picture of the New Testament account of the work of the Lord Jesus in building his church."
"Here is a Lightfoot feast indeed. Although long deceased, Lightfoot speaks new and afresh once again."
"Editors Witherington and Still have compiled a volume that has something for everyone. The pastor and seminarian will benefit from the articles and lectures that both precede and follow the main commentary. The scholar will thoroughly enjoy this candid look in to the personal notes of a towering figure in biblical scholarship and will find in the concise commentary a number of suggestive observations that merit further exploration. . . . We can be grateful to the editors for unearthing Lightfoot's notes, making them available in this unique volume, and acquainting us with a man whose learning and piety is an inspiration to scholar and pastor alike."

Product Reviews

4.8 Stars Out Of 5
4.8 out of 5
4.8 out Of 5
(4.8 out of 5)
4.8 out Of 5
(4.8 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4.8 out Of 5
(4.8 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. The Geeky Calvinist
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Wonderful Unfinished Commentary
    October 6, 2017
    The Geeky Calvinist
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    J. B. Lightfoot was one of the greatest Greek critical expositors to have ever lived. He and his legacy are respected by those in the conservative Camp as well those in the liberal camp. His commentaries which usual and somewhere in the middle are saw out by all scholarly students of the Bible.

    While Lightfoot has been dead for many years his commentaries have still become a Bastion for many pastors to flee to. It is fortunate for us then that several of his unfinished commentaries have been recently discovered. One of these recently discovered commentaries is that of the work, the Acts of the fossils. In this recent publication of a previously unpublished work Lightfoot, with the aid of editors Ben Worthington III and Todd D still, expanded this new testament book with fervor that has been yet unseen today.

    It has been stated that this work is unfinished yet even in its unfinished manuscript this commentary give superb Greek exegesis while aiding in exposition. I recommend this commentary to any and all pastors who seek to exposito the scriptures in a way they had previously been unable to do.

    This work is just the first volume in The Lightfoot Legacy set which encompasses three volumes dedicated to for previously unpublished and unfinished commentaries of this legendary exegete.

    This book was provided to me free of charge from IVP Academic in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
  2. John M Kight
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Nostalgia and Faithful Exegesis in a Single Book!
    October 26, 2015
    John M Kight
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The discovery of new manuscripts from a well-known author is certain to perk the interest of any historical enthusiasts. The excitement quickly builds and the mystery continues to linger. This was the landscape of biblical scholarship in 2013 when news broke surrounding the discovery of previously unpublished J. B. Lightfoot manuscriptsseveral hundred pages of unpublished biblical commentary tucked away gathering dust in the Durham Cathedral Library. Pages upon pages of biblical exposition and exegetical studies on the Gospel of John, Acts, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter, written by one of nineteenth centuries most influential biblical scholars. It was exciting news for Lightfoot fans everywhere. Now, thanks to the effort of Ben Witherington III, Todd D. Still, Jeanette M. Hagen, and the entire team at IVP Academic, the world of biblical studies is able to once again sink fresh teeth into the judicious exegesis of Joseph Barber Lightfoot.

    The Lightfoot Legacy Set is the outpouring of the publication of these previously unpublished Lightfoot discoveries in Durham. There are three volumes projected to release by 2016. At this present time the team has completed one volume, the present volume under review, The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary, with the Gospel of John docked for a December 2015 release. These are exciting times for both Lightfoot fans and biblical studies enthusiasts alike, and with the release of this first volume the future looks very bright.

    The commentary opens with a fascinating firsthand account of the discovery of the manuscripts. The reader will find this brief section to be an enticing transition into the series as Ben Witherington III conveys the process with which the discovery occurred, including several photographs of the discovery itself. For the reader who may be somewhat unfamiliar with Lightfoot, the Editors Introduction provides a concise look into the person and work of J. B. Lightfoot as a Biblical Commentator. This is a great introduction for those faintly familiar with Lightfoot and a true highpoint to the commentary. The content of the commentary itself runs from Acts 1:1-21:39 and includes approximately twelve excursus sections and four additional articles in the appendix. Despite the fact that Lightfoot never completed the commentary, as reflected in the lack of the remaining verses of the book, the content included in this book is highly useful even by todays standards.

    Lightfoot was a master of numerous ancient and modern languages (German, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Classical Greek, Koine Greek, and the Greek of the Church Fathers) and this expertise is evident throughout the pages of this commentary. For the reader trained in the biblical languages, Lightfoots proficiency will encourage further mastery and devotion to the understanding the Scriptures. For the reader not trained in the biblical languages, the frequent use of Greek may be a bit overwhelming at first. But this should not persuade the novice reader away from The Acts of the Apostles. There is certainly still much to be gleaned from this work and there are a number of highpoints that the intimidated reader would, unfortunately, forgo having passed on the opportunity to sit alongside a man of Lightfoots stature. Personally, among other things, I found Lightfoots discussion on the textual basis for Acts interesting and his interaction with the account of Stephens speech and martyrdom (Acts 7) was nothing short of superb. Sure disagreements may arise here and there, but the engagement that Lightfoot provides in The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary is an opportunity only the naivest of readers are willing to dismiss.

    The Acts of the Apostles: A Newly Discovered Commentary is an exciting window into the mind of one of the most brilliant Biblical Commentators of the past centuries. Readers of all backgrounds will benefit greatly from the wisdom and judicious exegetical care of J. B. Lightfoot. This was true for his previously published work, and evidently, it remains true for these newly discovered ones as well. I appreciate and commend the work of IVP Academic in assuming the task of publishing and producing these manuscripts, as well as Ben Witherington III, Todd D. Still, and Jeanette M. Hagen for the tedious work that takes place behind the scene in making a project like this possible. Your labor has truly become our reward.

    I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
  3. cbcarter
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    discovered treasure
    January 4, 2015
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Have just started using this book. Anything you can get from JB lightfoot will return your investment a hundredfold. His expertise with biblical languages was rarely matched. His ability to dig out the "hidden" treasures one can find in scripture is unmatched. What a great find. To think the church may never have had this commentary is unthinkable. Thanks be to our God who in His providence preserved the writings of this faithful and skilled servant. Get this book. You will be blessed from the first page.
  4. Jimmy Reagan
    Leesville, SC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Discovery
    November 14, 2014
    Jimmy Reagan
    Leesville, SC
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    We have a potpourri of good things here. There is the commentary itself, an interesting story of how it was found after so long, and insight into J. B. Lightfoot the prodigious scholar.

    Many of us have had Lightfoots commentaries on our shelves for years. I thought I had all of them. I did have all that was in print. Then Ben Witherington, a modern scholar and Lightfoot admirer, went digging around the dusty corners of the Durham Cathedral Library and found unpublished commentary material. Here we have Acts 1-21 and volumes on John and II Corinthians/ I Peter are forthcoming. The story, with accompanying photos, was fascinating. It is surprising to have a new volume by a guy who died in 1889.

    The commentary is of his high standards. If you are like me, you will need an interlinear handy because the Greek is untranslated. I am glad to have this commentary.

    The biographical sketch and the homage at the end give us a intimate view of the famous scholar. He never married and had an incredible output of work. He spoke several languages fluently. He had encyclopedic knowledge of GreekClassical, Koine, and the Greek of the Fathers. I might not agree with all his doctrinal views, and I certainly do not agree with him on which underlying texts are best, but when he speaks on language I him him worthy of my attention. I will never have his language gift, but I am glad I can glean from his.

    The Appendixes have more goodies including an article on Acts in Smiths Dictionary of the Bible. My edition of that dictionary did not have his article, so I was glad to see it.

    Thanks IVP for printing this unique work. I recommend it.

    I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255.
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