David Lipscomb on Acts reviewed in Christian Standard, 1897

I notice today is the 27th, and, so, a happy 27th to all.  But I come empty-handed as far as a new installment for Explorations in Stone-Campbell Bibliography is concerned.  As a substitute I offer this review of David Lipscomb’s Commentary on Acts.



“A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, with Questions, Suited for the Use of Families and Schools.”  By D. Lipscomb.  Nashville, Tenn.: Gospel Advocate Publishing Company, 1896.

This is a volume of 249 pages, octavo, neatly printed and well bound.  The commentary proper is preceded by “Biographies of the Apostles,” among whom Barnabas is accorded a place.  An Introduction sets forth briefly the work of the Holy Spirit, and the general purpose of the Book of Acts.  In the body of the  work the text of both the A. V. and the R. V. is printed in parallel columns at the top of the page–a waste of space as respects the former.  The commentary is in no sense a critical one.  The author has not subjected his own literary style to criticism, but writes with the same improprieties of diction and awkward construction of sentences which characterizes his newspaper articles.  This is a defect which should have been avoided in a commentary.

The comments in the main are judicious, and will meet the general approval of scholars.  The study of it in families, in schools, or in any other way, must prove decidedly beneficial to all who are beginners in the study of the New Testament.  It is to be regretted, however, that it contains many slips in matters of detail which might easily have been avoided with more care.  For example, it is said “The two letters to the Corinthians were written during his second tour from Ephesus;” the name Theophilus is said to be a Latin word (p. 25); on Thursday they had seen him arrested, tried, buffeted; and on Friday they saw him in open day nailed to the cross [; sic] the catching away of Philip after the baptism of the eunuch was “Back to Azotus” (p. 95); “Cyprus was on the road from Jerusalem to Tarsus” (p. 113); “The ‘world’ frequently means the land of Judea” (p. 114); “The first and second ward mean the first and second gates” (p. 116); “It is certain that Silas and Titus did this for Paul at Corinth, since he baptized only the first fruits of his preaching there’ (p. 121); James is called, just as the school of Baur would have him, “the head of the Judaizing party,” and in the conference on circumcision it is said, “The apostles and elders at first disagreed” (p. 142); Paul and his company are said to have made the trip from Troas to Macedonia in one day (p. 147); of Paul’s journey from Athens to Corinth, a distance of forty-five miles, it is said: “He probably went by water” (p. 163).  But enough of these.  All such mistakes should be corrected in a second edition.

Christian Standard, January 23, 1897, p. 121.


The Book Table for this issue of the Standard contains reviews of two books: DL on Acts, and the “Practical Commentary: S. S. Lessons, 1897” published by Fleming H. Revell.  J. W. McGarvey, Lexington, Ky. is the author of the second, and I assume also of the first.  It is natural that JWM reviews a commentary on Acts, given that the second edition of his commentary on Acts was published in 1892.  From this review it appears that Little Mac and Uncle Dave stand in basic agreement on Acts.  JWM raises no serious objection (the reference to Baur is as bad as it gets, but I doubt that JWM could find much more agreement between FC Baur and David Lipscomb) and his criticism is limited to matters of style and negligence in detail.  One would want McGarvey to proof-read a mss.!  For McGarvey, that Lipscomb’s work is “in no sense a critical one” may well be compliment, not a criticism.  I thought this review is a nice complement to the recent posts of “memories” of McGarvey.  Your comments welcome.

1 thought on “David Lipscomb on Acts reviewed in Christian Standard, 1897

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Mac. This is a very pedantic review. Methodologically, these two men are on the same page, the Tuebingen School reference notwithstanding. Neither Tuebingen’s dialectial historiography, nor their tendency criticism, nor the fact that early Christianity is to be understood as a conflict model, registers in any meaningful way. The minor issues that McGarvey raises hardly qualify as criticism. Hans.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s