Acts: A New Vision of the People of God (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2016) is a narrative analysis of Luke’s post-ascension story of Jesus challenging orthodoxies in the interpretation of Acts and Paul. Carefully constructed narrative arguments from within the story in Acts use the themes of Pentecost, the Hellenists, and the character development of Saul-Paul to reveal Luke’s insight that the future of the Jesus story is in the Hellenist movement realizing the promise of Pentecost in Israel. These Hellenists are at odds with the Jerusalem church on the implications of the out-poured Spirit of Pentecost. Further, the Saul-Paul of Acts is not what most readers presume from Paul’s letters. For Luke, Paul finds his narrative significance in Acts only within the Hellenist movement and Pentecost fulfillment. Paul himself becomes Luke’s premier example of the God active, God resisted themes of the speech of Stephen that drives the plot of Acts. This plot mechanism provides illuminating exegesis of Paul’s insistence on going to Jerusalem from Ephesus with its dramatic conclusion in the shipwreck of Paul. Stevens concludes by integrating the ending of Acts into Luke’s three major themes and overall narrative strategy—an impressive, compelling, and thoroughly freshreading of Acts.
Sylvie T. Raquel, Associate Professor of New Testament, Trinity International University, Chicago, IL “Faithful to his engaging, dynamic, and entertaining writing style, Gerald Stevens embarks his readers on Luke’s thrilling narrative race against status-quo and preconception, where the contestants keep on breaking down racial, social, and religious conventions to reach the ultimate destiny: the realization of Pentecost fulfillment. Stevens keeps his readers abreast in this world of surprising twists and turns: God-resisting characters may retard Pentecost abundance, but Pentecost facilitators, infused with the power of the Holy Spirit, renew and extend its bountifulness. This book will engage and inspire students of all ages.” George H. Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible, Union University, Jackson, TN “Gerald Stevens has been living in the book of Acts for a long time and has walked the archaeological sites of Luke’s world extensively, both giving a deep, rich foundation for his narrative study of this fascinating New Testament book. Like a craftsman holding up a massive, beautiful diamond to the light, analyzing it from a wide variety of perspectives, Stevens’s extensive narrative analysis yields numerous suggestive insights that push against some of our most commonly-accepted interpretations of Luke’s ‘Volume Two,’ benefitting scholar and student alike.” E. Randolph Richards, Dean, School of Ministry, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL “This work richly illustrated with over 450 images offers a narrative analysis of Acts using the Hellenists as the interpretive focal point. Drawing upon 25 years of research, including personally walking the paths, Gerald Stevens argues Pentecost, the Hellenist movement, and the dual character of Saul-Paul are the keys to Luke’s unfolding of Jesus’ ministry. An appendix provides descriptions and links to 187 short, online videos by Stevens of his own on-location visits connected to the story in Acts, modern travel blogs, and museum images, all coordinated with the book, that provide the reader with supplemental resources for understanding Luke’s story of the Early Church.”