In this new commentary for the Belief series, award-winning author and theologian Willie James Jennings explores the relevance of the book of Acts for the struggles of today. While some see Acts as the story of the founding of the Christian church, Jennings argues that it is so much more, depicting revolution—life in the disrupting presence of the Spirit of God. According to Jennings, Acts is like Genesis, revealing a God who is moving over the land, "putting into place a holy repetition that speaks of the willingness of God to invade our every day and our every moment." He reminds us that Acts took place in a time of Empire, when the people were caught between diaspora Israel and the Empire of Rome. The spirit of God intervened, offering new life to both. Jennings shows that Acts teaches how people of faith can yield to the Spirit to overcome the divisions of our present world.
"A treat for the mind, the heart, and the flesh. This moving meditation on God's 'divine desire placed in us by the Spirit' is a powerful theological commentary on how it is possible for us to break down our categories and barriers that separate us and journey, together, to the new, to our next. This is a book of hope and possibilities about a book of hope and possibilities . . . and this is good news."
—Emilie M. Townes, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
"Willie Jennings has long called us toward the truly Christian imagination needed for a post-Christendom and post-colonial (both contested notions and realities) world. Here he announces that such an imaginative revolution was long ago heralded by the divinely poured-out Spirit on the Day of Pentecost two thousand years ago that inspired cross-Mediterranean diasporic witness, a new form of Jew-Greek cosmopolitanism, and empire-resisting messianic citizenship. The book of Acts thus ignites faithful discipleship for a plurimorphic and polyglot people of God navigating the nationalisms, ethnocentrisms, and globalisms of the third millennium!"
—Amos Yong, Professor of Theology and Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, and author of Who Is the Holy Spirit: A Walk with the Apostles
"Jennings writes as poet, preacher, and prophet. He takes the reader on a theological tour of Acts, and like a good tour guide, he describes the familiar places thoughtfully. Like the best of tour guides, he also takes the reader to places of importance that are often unnoticed. We are familiar with Paul's beatings and imprisonment, but Jennings invites us to think theologically about prisons and beatings. We are familiar with the Jewish-Christian struggles in Acts, but Jennings guides us to think more deeply about the Jewish diaspora and the trauma that empire imposes. These visits to neglected places engender new understanding and perspective on the events recounted in Acts. This commentary preaches as faithfully as it teaches."
—Daniel Aleshire, Executive Director, The Association of Theological Schools
"The latest addition to the Belief series is a remarkable commentary. Through his fresh, stimulating interpretation of the book of Acts, Jennings offers profound and deep theological-ethical engagement with Luke's second volume. This beautifully written commentary will inspire readers who seek to listen with care to what Acts has to say to the theological and ethical challenges of contemporary life. Page after page, readers of Jennings's work, like the Saul of Acts 9, may find vision-obscuring scales falling away from their eyes. This is an important voice for our time."
—John T. Carroll, Harriet Robertson Fitts Memorial Professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary
"This commentary on Acts is unlike any I've read, for Willie Jennings is not afraid to read against the grain. His distinctive voice and prophetic reading is essential, especially in these days of social turmoil, days in which the church is seeking to make sense of its seeming loss of cultural power, days in which clarity about Scripture and its transformative power is needed more than ever."
—Eric D. Barreto, Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary