Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament Edited by INGRAM COSBIN I Volume (complete and unabridged). 1763 pages, published by Kregel, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Price $14.95.
Barnes has long been for many Bible students a standby and a standard. Through the years (almost a century), it has been found on family bookshelves, in pastors’ libraries, church reading rooms, seminaries and Bible Schools. It is one of the most popular commentaries ever published, and is on sale wherever religious books may be purchased.
The edition being reviewed is the first American Edition, dated 1002. The entire original eleven volumes are included in this one.
It would be too much to expect that every reader would agree with a commentator on every point in so large a work as this. To cite one example, this reviewer could not agree with Barnes on his exposition of Romans 5:12 and following. Barnes does not subscribe to the doctrine of imputed sin, and does hold an Arminian idea of the work of Christ. Also Barnes errs when he states: “the name Adam was given to the created pair…” thus weakening the Biblical teaching of the headship of Adam, the man. The error of a universal (“for each and all, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free, high or low, elect or non-elect”) atonement is emphatically stated in Barnes’ comments on such a passage as Hebrews 2:9.
Barnes was not averse to availing himself of the insights of other students, among them John Calvin, wham he quotes occasionally in his work. But this Commentary is definitely Barnes’ work. It is not, as some are, a mere compilation of opinions and quotations from other writers. One who reads Barnes is not going to find himself confronted with columns of disjointed quotations from dozens of other commentators. There is unity of thought and direction of thought in Barnes’ Notes.
In addition to the explanations of every verse in the New Testament, there are many other valuable features in this edition which make it desirable for home and family use. One of these is a brief introduction to the various books of the New Testament.
The New Testament specialist would find them too brief, and not as well documented as they might he, but for family use and for gaining general background knowledge of the various books of the New Testament, they are of value. Another worth.while feature is the chronological table at the conclusion of the Gospel of John, briefly outlining the main historical events in Bible lands prior to and following the birth of Christ. And at the end of the book appear over one hundred notes in which the Editor comments upon the Commentator, and these certainly add a great deal to the value of the work. For the most: part these appendix notes are very fine and doctrinally sound.
Taken an in all, Barnes’ Notes is a very worth-while and valuable addition to any Bible student’s library. It must be used critically, as is true of all human writing. But it is evangelical and honors both the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word.
W. VANDER HOVEN
Cults and Isms: Twenty Alternates to Evangelical Christianity by RUSSELL SPITTLER, Baker, 140 pages, price $2.95.
Of making many boob; on cults and isms there seems to be no end. Here Is another. The author is Instructor in Theology at Central Bible Institute at Springfield, Missouri and is at present on leave for graduate study at Harvard.
The book is written in outline form for individual and group study. Twenty alternates to evangelical Christianity arc presented. Indebtedness is acknowledged to several authors, notably J. K. Van Baalen. All the familiar—and some not so familiar cults are treated. Each is described under three headings: History, Doctrines, and Evaluation. Some questions are posed at the end of each chapter and a list of works for further reading. The book is handy for reference rather than a complete statement of the cult or ism under discussion. A rather unusual feature is that a chapter on Roman Catholicism is included. And also one on Modernism under which heading he includes Humanism, Unitarianism and Universalism, and Neo-Orthodox. The author realizes though that these are not to be classified among the cults, but rather just a deviation from evangelical Christianity.
ln the introductory and concluding chapters the author describes the rise of cults and how to combat them. He takes pains to warn us not to ridicule, nor to judge the devotees who often show a sincerity and devotion that puts Christians to shame. There is much we can learn from their methods of propaganda. As a handy little reference work the book is heartily recommended.