Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls by PROF. F.F. BRUCE Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most important discoveries in Palestine in the field of archaeology since the second world war. It could not have happened often In the history of the excavations in one of the lands of the Near East that these were of direct interest for the Old as well as the New Testament. This is the case with respect to the discoveries near the Dead Sea.
At first it seemed as if only the Old Testament scholar could rejoice in these discoveries. For they received access to a number of Bible scrolls. However, investigation revealed the fact that these scrolls were much older than those already known. No wonder that the Old Testament exegetes studied these scrolls with keen interest and that the publication oJ the text was studied with great attentiveness.
However, there were great surprises in store also for the New Testament scholars. Through these discoveries they came in much closer contact with the Essenes, at least with a spiritual stream in Jewry which closely resembled them. The Essenes are not mentioned in the New Testament. Our knowledge of these people is derived chiefly from the historian Flavius Josephus, from the philosopher Philo, and from a short statement by the Roman author Plinius. Which view the Essenes held and which objections they had against the course of affairs among their own people has become much clearer to us through the discoveries at the Dead Sea.
Prof. Bruce offers a captivating report of these discoveries. The first edition of this work appeared in 1956. Then the investigation of the discovered manuscripts had not yet proceeded very far and all kinds of opinions had to he expressed with great caution. Now we can speak in many respects with more certainty.
Anyone who wished to be enlightened on the significance of these discoveries in a book of comparatively brief compass will do well to read the book of the professor of the University of Manchester. Meanwhile the investigations continue and, who knows, new surprises may be waiting for us.
DR. HARRY MULDER Delft, Holland
Missions in Crisis by ERIC S. FIFE and ARTHUR F. GLASSER Inter-Varsity Press, Chicago, 1961. 269 pp., cloth, $3.75, paper, $2.25.
In the thirty years since Dr. W. B. Hocking edited Rethinking Missions there have appeared a great number of books in which missionary leaders of the church have reevaluated the ever-changing world to which we arc committed to bring the never-changing Gospel of Christ. Missions in Crisis is a competent and valuable contribution to this series of books seeking to review the past, constructively criticize the present missionary movement, and plan the strategy for future missionary advance.
Tho first major section of this book, Th e Church on the Defensive, traces the major changes among the nations wrought by revolution, the rise of nationalism, and the amazing spread of communism. TIle authors have dwelt primarily on the evils of unrestrained nationalism, virtually identifying it with “a final expression of mankind’s age-long apostasy, Antichrist’s kingdom,” and intimating that it is “incompatible with the Christian faith.” This book has recognized that there are degrees of fervor with which nationalistic spirit is expressed, but after briefly making this distinction, has used the term “nationalism” to indicate a wide spectrum ranging from latent patriotism to political revolution. Some pertinent suggestions are made for the training of Christians who may soon fall under the sway of a Communist regime which has taken control of a rising nationalism, as happened in China. The need of anticipating the wretched prospect of additional mission fields falling under the Red flag is emphasized.
A second section, The Church in Tension, reviews the development of the Ecumenical Movement from 1910 to the present, and the influence which missionary endeavor played in tho ecumenical councils up to and including the 1961 meetings in New Dehli.
In the final section, The Church on the Offensive. the authors suggest areas in which the current missionary strategy could be improved: greater training for the non-professional missionary -that is, the part-time, or foreign-based person working in diplomatic, bUSiness, or educational spheres but who nevertheless can make an excellent contribution to the advance of missions; greater deployment of missionary personnel into the world’s cities; intensification of efforts among the student population of the cities; expanded use of literature, radio. and television in communicating the gospel in foreign lands.
If you have time for rending only one book in review of the current missionary situation, and want an up-to-date survey of the problems facing missionaries on every field open to the church, this is the book you are looking for. The readers of this magazine will readily detect that the premillennial leanings of the authors influence their evaluation of the nationalistic movements in the world. This little detracts, I believe, from the compelling importance of this call for continuing re-evaluation of our missionary strategy.
EDWARD VAN BAAK
Tillich by DAVID H. FREEMAN Presbyterian and Reformed, 42 pages, $1.25
Perhaps no theologian in America today enjoys greater repute than Paul Tillich, whose opinions have carried weight in circles outside the church, been extensively reported by periodicals, and whose writings have influenced wide sectors of American Protestant thought. Freeman’s study, a new title in his own Modern Thinkers series, is a compact and able analysis of Tillich’s thought.
Tho historical grasp Tillich at time; displays, and his awareness of philosophical issues, distinguishes his writings. But what of Tillich’s own thought? At this point, Freeman does a masterly job of. dissection, candidly raising the question, Does Tillich make sense? Tillich clearly and unequivocally rejects Christianity in its orthodox interpretation. Indeed, as Freeman notes, “the one thing Tillich is against is Christianity” (p. 31). For him, moreover, God “is beyond existence.” In Tillich’s words, “God does not exist. He is being-itself, beyond essence and existence. Therefore, to argue that God exists is to deny him” (p. 10). In terms of Christian theism, Tillich is thus an atheist; he is a theist only by redefinition. But Tillich does not want to he classed as a pantheist: somehow this god who is the ground of being transcends itself. Freeman discusses the possibilities with respect to the relationship of a god to the world and makes dear that none apply to Tillich’s thought, so that the valid question remains, “Does it make sense at all” (p. 19)?
Again, with respect to revelation, this is for Tillich a human activity; Inspiration imparts no information; miracles are dis· closures of the mystery of being but have no historical character. To believe in miracles as events in the external world of experience is to be guilty of demonic superstition. Jesus is the Christ or Now Being because he refused to allow himself to be made God. The result of all this is a meaningless evasion of the Scriptures and of history. The only Christ Tillich has, it can be added, is one who says, “Because I am dead, ye shall he dead also.” There is no real salvation because there is neither condemnation nor a savior. As Freeman plainly concludes:
“Not everything that Tillich says is unintelligible. The statements that he makes about orthodox Christianity are very clear. He simply denies that they are true. It is Tillich’s doctrine of God that is unintelligible. For a God that is beyond naturalism and supernaturalism is not simply an unknown idol of Tillich’s creative genius; it is a theological square-circle. It is theological nonsense!”
Freeman’s study is to be strongly commended for its sharp and telling analysis and for its over·due plain speaking.
Christian Perspective, 1961 Guardian Publishing Co. Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario, 1961. 221 pages
Three Christian scholars say some important things which need saying. Professors H. Evan Runner, W. Stanford Reid, and S. U. Zuidema spoke at a study conference in the summer of 1960 at Unionville, Ontario. We are happy their spoken words are fixed in print.
The essays in this book are not for the fainthearted. Here is solid material, tightly written, worthy of careful study and re-study. Each contributor makes a meaningful contribution to the Christian understanding of life.
The nrsl two lectures are entitled “Scientific and Pre-scientific” and “Sphere Sovereignty.” It is impossible to condense and summarize Runner’s thoughts. Buy the book, read these two lectures, for they alone are worth the price of the hook. Runner is convinced that the scientistic thinker, the victim of scientism, has sidetracked many Christians from tlle way to wisdom and the abundant life (p. 52). The victim of scientism is the person who “identifies all proper knowledge with scientific knowledge. in particular with the mathematical methods of physics OT with other areas of science that attempt to apply its method” (p. 27). In connection with the principle of SphereSovereignty Runner says, “There is no evangelical theme that is mote in need of a forceful, relevant interpretation and application to the world of our time than this one…With Professor Van Riesen I believe ‘that here shall fall the decisive blow in the struggle against totalitarianism for a Christian society” (p. 87). After reading his lecture the reader is inclined to agree.
Professor Reid gives a lucid lecture on “Absolute Truth and the Relativism of History.” Professor S. U. Zuidema gives two intricate lectures on “Pragmatism” and “Existentialistic Communication.” These contributions merit careful study also. Be sure to purchase this book. It is our prayer that the Lord may bless the Association for Reformed Scientific Studies, the organization which undertook the publication of these essays, and use its efforts for a thoroughly consistent Christian approach to all scientific study.
A. C. DE JONG
New Testament Commentary – Philippians by WILLIAM HENDRIKSEN Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 218 pages, price $5.95
With the publication of this commentary Dr. Hendriksen has again favored w and enriched us. In consulting this book one finds that in it the gifted author has attained the high standard of excellence set by him in his previous publications.
The commentaries of Dr. Hendriksen are not only excellent and, of course, soundly Reformed, but they are likewise so very usable. The language and the style are never involved. As a rule one is able to understand the meaning of the author’s explanation with the first reading. Moreover, the value of these commentaries, and therefore also the one being reviewed now, is that they are fit for use by professional theologians, who have enjoyed training in the technique of exegesis, as well as for such as have not enjoyed that training, that is, for the so-called “laymen.” Indeed, technical matters are at times discussed in the body of the commentary, but most often, if not regularly, in copious foot-notes. To the theologian these notes are, of course, exceedingly valuable, if not indispensable, but the), do not Interfere with the sequence of the explanation given of the texts or sections. Anyone may enjoy consulting and reading this commentary and it should be found not only in the libraries of ministers, but also in the homes of all intelligent Christians.
The Introduction to this Epistle and the commentary on it (pages 3–40) is adequate and valuable. Dr. Hendriksen discusses such matters as the city of and church at Philippi, Paul’s purpose in writing the Epistle as well as the place and time of its writing. He also supplies us with an excellent and comprehensive account of the contents of Philippians.
One eagerly turns to the author’s comments on chapter 2:5–8. This is the so-called and well-known “kenosis-section.” Hendriksen’s translation of this intricate paragraph brings the truth revealed in it, I think, closer to the average reader, Allow me to reproduce it here:
“In your inner being continue to set your mind on this, which (is) also in Christ Jesus, who, though existing in the form of God, did not count his existence-in-a-manner-equal-to-God something to cling to, but emptied himself, as he took on the form of a servant, and became like human beings. So, recognized in fashion as a human being, he humbled himself and became obedient even to the extent of death; yes, death by a cross.”
This is followed by an exceptionally good comparative study of the terms “morphe””(form) and “schema” (fashion). The conclusion is reached that in this teaching “We stand before an adorable mystery, a mystery of power, wisdom, and love!” But at the same time the author maintains, “The text cannot mean that he [the Mediator] exchanged the form of God for the form of a servant…,” and he writes, “What Paul is saying then…is that Christ Jesus had always been (and always continues to be) God by nature, the express image of the Deity. The specific character of the God-head as this is expressed in all the divine attributes was and is his eternally.”
Of course, one is tempted to continue quoting. However, the only way full justice can be done to the work is by reading and/or consulting the commentary itself. For that reason I would recommend it urgently. One will discover that Dr. Hendriksen is not only an exegete of the first rank, but that at the same time he is no mean dogmatician. A happy combination, indeed!
In closing I should like to express a desire to the author and publisher. It is that the translations of the original offered by Dr. Hendriksen throughout the volume, be reproduced in toto at the end. This would enable one to read the rendering of the entire epistle at once, without going through the entire book and locating the pages where the version is found.
NICHOLAS J. MONSMA
Out of the Earth: The Witness of Archaeology to the New Testament by E.M. BLAIKLOCK Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1961. 92 pages. $2.00
This is a delightful little book. The subtitle sounds somewhat formidable for such a few pages. The truth is that a few archaeological subjects are discussed here, such as, Archaeology and the Birth of Christ, Archaeology and tho Sayings of Christ, Archaeology and the Death and Resurrection of Christ, and five others, just a very few out of a great many that might have been discussed. However, the booklet is worthwhile in every respect. It is in line with conservative scholarship and will prove to be delightful reading for those who do not have access to the larger and more complete volumes.