Review: Luke: A Commentary

Fowl_Ephesians_NTL CoverJohn T. Carroll is the Harriet Robertson Fitts Memorial Professor of New Testament and Director of the Program for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Carrol received an M.Div. and Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary, and has since spent the bulk of his academic career primarily within the arena of Lukan studies. Carroll authored and/or edited a number of books, including, Response to the End of History: Eschatology and Situation in Luke-Acts (1998), The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity (1995), The Return of Jesus in Early Christianity (2000), and The Word in This World: Essays in New Testament Exegesis and Theology (2004). Carroll has also published a long list of articles on Luke-Acts and various topics within New Testament Studies. Most recently, Carroll has contributed this present commentary, a good-sized volume on the Gospel of Luke, released as part of the critically acclaimed New Testament Library series: Luke: A Commentary 

Carroll is a fairly well-known scholarly voice within the world of New Testament and Lukan studies, and this commentary visibly parades his expertise. The commentary begins with a bibliography of up-to-date commentaries, monographs, books, and essays related to the Gospel of Luke. If you enjoy these sections, peruse them often, and are well acquainted with Luke-Acts material this section will be reviewable and up-to-date, but far from comprehensive. If none of the above describes your interest, then you can rest assured that Carroll has at least provided a solid and current bibliography of the Third Gospel to catapult your studies. Subsequently, Carroll provides the reader with a useful introduction. Carroll briefly surveys the traditional introductory categories (i.e. authorship, date, purpose, etc.), and addresses how to approach the reading of the Third Gospel and previews the central theological and ethical concerns and commitments therein. The reader will find the introductory section to be a goldmine of helpful information for interacting with Carroll in the commentary ahead. It is an essential and recommended first stop.

The commentary itself is wrought with exegetical and theological insight. Carroll is excellent when it understanding the literary themes and intertextuality within the Gospel of Luke. Each section in the commentary is based on the authors original translation of the Greek text and littered with textual notes. Carroll follows closely with the textual basis of the NA28 and notes clearly when he favors alternative readings. Interestingly, in a number of sections in the commentary Carroll favors the shorter readings attested by the Western text, especially Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D). This is seen in his commentary and translation of several verses within Luke 22 and 24. For example, Carroll does not find Luke 22:43-44 original, but provides a lengthy textual note detailing his decision (p. 444). Because of the flexible text choice within the commentary, many readers will be reluctant to engage Carroll’s work. But this would be an unwarranted endeavor. If anything this should provide added value to your library.

Still the textual decisions may not be the only hindrance for the conservative reader. Carroll affirms “Luke” as the author, but neglects to affirm traditional Lukan authorship. In other words, Carroll names “Luke” as the author but is unwilling to tell affirm that the “Luke” writing the gospel is the individual traditionally understood to be the author (p. 2). Moreover, Carroll is comfortable dating the Third Gospel well into the early second century (75-125 CE). This assertion is largely based on his assumption that Luke consulted the Gospel of Mark (a fair assumption), and that Mark is dated around 70 CE. Therefore, Luke would have had to consult Mark sometime after 70 CE. The problem most will recognize is that there is no real difficulty dating Mark in the mid-50’s. In other words, Luke could have still consulted Mark and completed his gospel account by the early 60’s. Many conservative scholars have argued this point well and in much more depth. But, similar to the textual issue in the prior paragraph, to overlook interaction with Carroll because of these disagreements would be naïve and unwarranted.

Luke: A Commentary is an up-to-date examination of one of the most significant accounts of the person and work of Jesus Christ in all of Scripture. John T. Carroll has provided a well-researched presentation of the current conversation among New Testament scholars, and added additional ground with his sensitivity to literary themes and intertextuality. Carroll’s translation and textual notes are indispensable, and his selective favoritism of Codex Bezae is interesting and helpful for the trained reader. If you are looking for a strong commentary on the Gospel of Luke from a critical perspective, then John T. Carroll has provided you with a commentary that cannot be overlooked. It will be off my bookshelf often.


I received a review copy of these books 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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