A Look at Books

THE WORLD OF MISSION by Bengt Sundkler (translated from Swedish by Eric J. Sharpe), Eerdmans, 1965. 307 pages. Price $6.95.

This is an historical survey of missions that tries to stress especially the environment in which mission work has been carried on. In Part One the author discusses the Kingship of Christ as proclaimed by Christian missionaries. In Part Two he gives an account of the relation between missions and politics thru the years; while in Part Three he discusses the milieu of missions in Asia. Africa, and Latin America.

There is little in this hook that commends it to evangelical Christians. Mr. Sundkler stands within the orbit of thought generated by the World Council of Churches (and the former International Missionary Council). He seems to lack a vital concern for the salvation of the lost and the dynamic expansion of the Church of Christ. “The missionary task,” says Sundkler, “Is to proclaim Christ as King, and to make Him known to the nations” (p. 56). The “social gospel” can be fitted within this definition and the chapter on “Mission and Culture” bears this out.

Not only is there a conspicuous absence of evangelical warmth, the organization of the book also leaves something to be desired. According to the jacket, Sundkler follows an “ecological” approach in treating his subject matter. He is “concerned with the environment in which the church exists, and with which it interacts” (jacket). But in actuality the author’s treatment seems to be more eclectic than ecological. Many different topics are treated in rapid succession, with the result that the organic relation between them all is not very clear.

Although the book contains some interesting facts and figures, it does not contain, in my judgment, a significant contribution toward either the historiography of missions or the expounding of missionary principles.


UNDER GOD, A Government Textbook for Junior High Schools, by William G. Hendricks, produced by the National Union of Christian Schools, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. $4.95. 252 pages.

Those who have used Mr. Hendricks’ earlier edition of this volume will be pleasantly surprised when this enlarged and revised edition comes into their hands. This textbook, designed for use in the Junior High School Government class, will, more than ever, meet the growing needs for the student and the teacher in this significant area of social studies. A cursory pursual of the contents reveals that it is comprehensive in its coverage, broadly based as to its presuppositions, and definitely up-to-date, including pictures and commentary on the most recent happenings and changes within our Federal government.

Technically, this edition is far superior to any of its predecessors. There is a copious supply of well produced and recent pictures which will enhance the readers interest. There are numerous charts produced for the purpose of clarifying facts and findings. And for the teacher each chapter contains some or all of the following items: review questions, questions for further thought, ideas for research, suggestions for class room procedure, vocabulary charts, activities for research, and challenges for the future. These aids will certainly prove to be all asset to the teacher in preparing for the course and the class.

All of these factors are secondary however. What is even more important is the content of the book. It is one of the few texts now in use which provides a running commentary on the United States Constitution. And even more importantly, it may be the only one which does this from a Christian point of view.

For those of us who are teaching with a Christian framework, we will possess an ally in instilling a Christian world view in our students. We will be able to teach our students to be better citizens not only because the law requires it, but because they are Christians. Through the study of this book the student will come to see that our nation is great not only because of a strong political heritage, but also because of a strong religious heritage which has permeated the major decisions of our nation. These ideas are clearly spelled out within the opening chapters, and summarized succinctly in the concluding chapter of the book.

Every reviewer of a book notices certain areas which could be improved or changed. This reviewer is no exception. But the improvements can be considered minor in view of the many improvements already made over the soft-covered editions. However, the present edition could profit from a bibliography or a suggested reading list of both fact and fiction in this area. Perhaps a glossary would also prove helpful. Also, this reviewer found the cover colors to be inadequate. The attractiveness of the cover structure loses its effectiveness because of the color scheme. It is not a cover that immediately attracts a person’s attention. As far as content is concerned it will have to be judged by the individual teacher. For this reviewer it is more than adequate.

Certainly much more could be said in favor of this book. It is a book that deserves to be considered and then used in our NUCS member schools. In fact, it is a book that should be used in all Christian schools seeking to train youth to live the Christian life. In a “Christian” America which is Under God, one wonders why this volume should not be used in our tax supported schools as well. This text will certainly have a strong appeal to such schools in the so called “Bible Belt.”


Gerhard Kittel (editor), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1966. Vol. III. $22.50.

The value of this work, of which the third volume (theta-kappa), is here introduced, can hardly be overestimated. Also, the tremendous energy, as well as ability, of the translator, certainly deserves praise. Within a very short period of time he has produced three volumes, each of which contains between 800 and 1,100 pages1 Now anyone who has tried to translate a book from the Swedish or the Dutch, or, as in the present case, from German into English, will agree that, due to the change in sentence-structure, idioms, etc., the obstacles seem at times to be almost insuperable. Yet, here it is, and in excellent, fluent English!

Moreover, Volume III also contains an Introduction by the translator, G. W. Bromiley. He reminds us again that “Kittel” is neither a lexicon nor a commentary. It mediates between the two, and strives to arrive at the “inner” or “theological” meaning of the important words that occur in the Greek New Testament. When one lays side by side the New Testament lexicon and this theological dictionary, as this reviewer has done, it becomes apparent at once that the one who originally conceived the work was very generous and included all the really important words. Moreover, the grouping of words that belong to the same family, so that, for example, the terms Israel, Israelite, Jew, Hebrew, etc., are all discussed in one thirty-five page article, is a very valuable feature.

All this does not mean that the discussion is always completely satisfying. Sometimes the naturalistic philosophy of the author is rather evident, and sometimes there is a deplorable omission of any recognition of interpretations other than the writer’s own. The latter is true with respect to the article with reference to therion (the “beast” out of the sea, Rev. 13:1, 2), where the correct observation that this “beast unites all the features of the four beasts of Daniel” does not lead to the most natural interpretation of the symbol. The author of that article evidently paid little attention to the explanation of this “beast” offered by John himself in Rev. 17:7ff.

Indeed, some articles could have been more thorough. Subjective views, instead of diligent research, are in evidence at times. Nevertheless, there are also many excellent articles. There is information not always available elsewhere. The work—including also this third volume—is a must to every true exegete, a delight to every true student of the Word.


THE SYNOPTIC TRADITIONS IN THE APOCALYPSE by Louis A. Vos. J. H. Kok, N.V., Kampen, the Netherlands. 1965. 126 pages. Price fl 12.75.

The intent of this dissertation is to investigate the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and the sayings of Jesus recorded in the book of Revelation. The author has drawn attention to the numerous references in Revelation to the words of Jesus; he questions whether this last book of the New Testament shows only similarity to and no dependence upon the written Gospels.

The results of this investigation establish the truth that the author of Revelation was conversant with the traditions behind the first three Gospels, that he does not rely upon the written Gospels, and that his knowledge of the sayings of Jesus includes the whole tradition of these sayings.

One of the basic weaknesses of the dissertation is the omission of a discussion on the authorship of the book of Revelation. Although the name John is used from the beginning, the reader is never certain whether John the apostle is considered to be the author. Had this been explained at the outset, the reader would not have been puzzled by statements such as, “The sayings to which the Apocalyptist alludes are most generally limited to the Q tradition…” (p. 195). Helpful would have been an explanatory note about the so-called Q (Quelle, the German word for source) tradition on p. 90, where the term is first introduced. Hence the question concerning authorship frequently enters the reader’s mind. For if the author is one of the twelve apostles, he would not have to depend upon a Q tradition. A mere admission that John was the apostle whom Jesus loved would not only have identified the author of Revelation as an eyewitness of the things that happened “all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out…beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up” (Acts 1:21, 22), but also would have made many conclusive remarks superfluous.

To give the study of the sayings of Jesus perspective and depth, the author of this dissertation has analyzed the references to the Old Testament in Revelation. It is noted that John uses not so much the words as the concepts of the Old Testament. Therefore, it is inferred, if this methodology is used in employing Old Testament material, the same may be expected for the use of Gospel accounts—for whenever John refers to an Old Testament passage he appears to rely on memory, not on a manuscript. Thus, chapters three and four treat the direct and indirect employment of the sayings of Jesus. And the conclusion at the end of these chapters confirms the presumption: John is not relying on a manuscript when referring to the synoptic traditions. Reading these two chapters, however, one wonders what the criterion has been in separating those sayings of Jesus which have been used directly from those used indirectly.

Upon the suggestion of K. L. Schmidt, Aus der Johannes Apokalypse (1944), Rev. 6:2 – “And I saw, and. behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon had a bow; and there was given unto him a crown: and he came forth conquering and to conquer”—is interpreted to portray the demonic forces of the Antichrists (pp. 189f.). But this interpretation hardly fits the context because Revelation is a book of symbolism, and the symbols employed are explained in many instances by the author himself. The picture of a horse, color, rider and equipment must be seen as a composite symbol. White is the color of holiness throughout the book of Revelation. To say that “this color of this horse was undoubtedly suggested by the horses in Zechariah, and therefore we cannot press the symbolism in the color itself” (p. 190) is inconclusive in view of the composite nature of the symbol. For in Rev. 19:11ff. the explanation of this composite symbol is given: the rider of the white horse is the Word of God. Because of the color white and the subsequent interpretation of the composite symbol, the explanation that the rider of the white horse in Rev. 6:2 personifies the anti-christian forces and personalities ought to be rejected.

Careful rereading of the manuscript could have eliminated some technical inaccuracies which tend to mar a book nearly free from typographical errors, Frequently (pp. 146, 182, 188, 189), the reader will note the word “secondly” and cannot find the corresponding “first.” Especially in chapter four, a synonym for the word “noteworthy” would have been appreciated. And the footnote on p. 215, explaining the term logion tradition, should have been introduced on p. 122, where the concept is used first.

Even though the fifth chapter docs not treat the sayings of Jesus as such, it nevertheless gives the reader some interesting insights in the tradition of “the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus” during the first century of the Christian era. The view of Harald Riesenfeld, The Gospel Tradition and its Beginnings ( 1957)—that Jesus is the heart as well as the source of the gospel tradition—is elaborated in this chapter. And this emphasis makes chapter five one of the best in the dissertation. To be sure, the fifth chapter is somewhat of a contribution to the study of the synoptic problem.


Edwin R. Thiele; THE MYSTERIOUS NUMBERS OF THE HEBREW KINGS. Grand Rapids; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co. 1965. xxiv, 232. $6.00.

This book is the second printing—only slightly revised—of a work that was first published in 1951 by the University of Chicago Press. That a publisher apparently saw the need for a second printing is something to be grateful for. It seems to be an indication that there are still scholars and others who have not given up on the seemingly hopelessly confused chronological data recorded in the Old Testament.

The problem of Old Testament chronology is indeed phenomenal. In this book Thiele tackles the problem of the seemingly insoluble matter of the chronology of the kings of Judah and Israel. The reading of only a few pages in Thiele’s book make one aware of the staggering difficulties faced by the historian who enters this field. There are the numerous seemingly self-contradictory details in biblical chronology, the apparent discrepancies between biblical and extra-biblical chronology, and related difficulties. Here are some examples of the difficulties the biblical historian is confronted with, and these examples can be multiplied many times over, Writes Thiele; “Thus in one place we are told that Ahaziah of Judah came to the throne in the eleventh year of Joram of Israel (II Kings 9:29), while another reference states that it was the twelfth year (II Kings 8:25). And Joram the son of Ahab began to reign in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat of Judah according to II Kings 3:1, while according to H Kings 1:17 it was the second year of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat. If II Kings 1:17 is correct, then Jehoram of Judah began his reign before Joram of Israel. But according to II Kings 8;16, Jehoram of Judah came to the throne in the fifth year of Joram of Israel” (p. 7).

How to solve these and other riddles? Thiele’s essential key is his discovery that the Jewish chroniclers employed a number of different chronological procedures. For instance, the length of a kings reign can be measured by including the year in which he took the throne or by regarding the next year as the first year of his reign. The type of calendar employed (Tishri-Tishri or Nisan-Nisan) also has a bearing on the exact dates of a king’s reign. There is also the fact of occasional overlapping reigns and regencies.

Working with these guidelines Thiele reaches amazing results. He secures 931 B.C. as the time of the schism between Judah and Israel and the creation of the two separate monarchies (ch. 3). Using this date as his point of departure, he manages to establish the chronological pattern of the kings of Judah and Israel till the year 586 B.C. What was a seemingly hopeless puzzle turns out to be a consistent pattern. The chronological data of the books of Kings and Chronicles are seen to be amazingly accurate.

In the biblical record Thiele does find some evidence of late editorial misunderstandings of earlier journalistic notations. An example is the statement in II Kings 8:16, “Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah.” On this phrase Thiele comments:

It was not at that time that Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, for that was the year of his death and the commencement o( Jehoram’s sale reign in the fifth year of Joram of Israel. The statement, “Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah,” should properly have gone with a synchronism of the commencement of Jehoram’s coregency, which began before Joram’s accession in Israel. Joram took the throne of Israel in the second year of Jehoram’s coregcncy (ll Kings 1:17) and in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign ( II Kings 3:1). (pp. 181, 182).

Other examples of a misunderstanding by later editors of the complex chronological data Thiele finds in II Chron. 15:19 and 16:1; in the order of sequences in which the reigns were placed in II Kings 15:23–28; and in the synchronisms of II Kings 17:1 and 18:1, 9, 10 (p. 197).

Some conservative scholars may be inclined to question this assumption of Thiele. They may want a different solution than the one he proposes. They would question him when he writes:

For the task performed by the late Hebrew editor responsible for the synchronisms of II Kings 17 and 18 every serious student of Hebrew history should be grateful. He was a man who was deeply concerned about truth but who did not understand all the truth. He was acquainted with certain facts of Hebrew history and their correlations with contemporary chronology, but he did not possess all the facts. In harmony with what he knew he gave us a partial pattern that enables us today to complete the pattern in its original, intricate, and unusual arrangements (p. 140).

This opinion of Thiele may seem to them to detract from the concept of inerrant inspiration. Let it be noted, however, that Reformed theologians have by and large been hesitant to press the conviction of inerrant inspiration to the point where every biblical numeral and date in our present Hebrew text has to be factually exactly correct. Perhaps one may in this connection refer to what Paul writes in I Tim. 1: 4 where he instructs Timothy to charge certain persons not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith.

The world of biblical scholarship owes a vote of warmest thanks to Dr. Thiele for this detailed and problem-solving study. Particularly Christians who accept the sacred Scriptures as the Book through which God addresses himself to the heart of man should be thankful for this fine study. The Bible is indeed a reliable record of the mighty acts of God, of his entering into the very texture of human history to give salvation to the world.

Incidentally, this study also shows the accuracy of the Masoretic Text, the text which until the present day is the standard Hebrew text. It may be interesting to some to read Thiele’s evaluation of the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint: “In no instance is a Greek variation an improvement over the Hebrew. The fallacies of the Greek innovations may be proved by the wide divergence of the patterns of reign they call for from the years of contemporary chronology” (p. 199).

This is not an easy book to read; owing to the nature of the material it is far too technical for that. Throughout the book many chronological charts are given, elucidating Thiele’s results. To what extent all of his conclusions will stand the test of further scholarship is difficult to say. The work of no man-is infallible. But this observation in no way detracts from this excellent study. This book is a splendid contribution to biblical scholarship. This study also gives one a renewed appreciation of the remarkable Book which the Bible is.


BILLY GRAHAM – The Pastor’s Dilemma by Errol Hulse, 1966; 96 pages, paper.

Hulse, Baptist pastor in Sussex, England, formerly enthusiastic worker in the Graham crusades but now having serious questionings, has faced his “pastor’s dilemma” whether to keep silent or not.

Now speaking out on the crusades, he holds that their results do not match up to the claims made for them: “The fact is that revival has not come through the crusades.”

He raises grave objections to some of Graham’s doctrine; his confusing free will and human responsibility, his distorting the Bible teaching of the new birth, and more.

Finally Hulse protests especially against Graham’s determined co-operation, both regarding sponsorship and referrals, with leaders and churches of unsound faith.

This small book merits careful study as it calls to sound positioning.