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.
"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
"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, Professorial Research Fellow in New Testament, St Mary's University, Twickenham, and Honorary Research Fellow, Tyndale House, Cambridge
Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is a prominent evangelical scholar and Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of Christianity, The Gospel Code, A Week in the Life of Corinth, and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet.
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 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline, and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul—The Word and the Witness.
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 Thinking through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology, coauthored with Bruce W. Longenecker, Philippians & Philemon, and Jesus and Paul Reconnected: Fresh Pathways into an Old Debate. He has also coedited Tertullian & Paul (with David Wilhite) and After the First Urban Christians (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, TX, with his wife and two sons.