The Children’s King James’ Bible – New Testament by Jay Green and ‘Peter’ Palmer Modern Bible Translators, Inc., 1124 S.E. First St., Evansville, Indiana, 1960, 687 pp., $6.95.
This, the first volume of the entire Bible, has been published so that Johnny can read.* The translator believes that any normal nine-year-old can both read and un· demand the New Testament in this modernized version of the King James Version.
The thing that intrigues one is the fact that this Children’s Bible has also one hundred stories with four hundred pictures setting forth the Gospel as presented by all the four Evangelists. And that is not all. Twenty-one of the stories arc about the Epistles, setting forth in dramatic action some of the main teachings of the apostles. If only this “Bible” could be put into the hands of the children of America, what a blessing that would be! The Communists are covering the world with their refarious literature. What are we doing to counteract this? “The entrance of thy Word givcth light,” says the sacred writer. How the Church of Christ ought to work to spread the Word to the homes of those who do not attend church. Many would buy such a Bible as this for their children.
The Modern Bible Translators are to be congratulated with the publication of this Children’s Bible. I shall not trespass into the field of New Testament scholarship, but speak merely as a pater familias, when I say that this is an excellent production that we can safely place into the hands of our children. A few years ago a new five-volume children’s Bible was published with the King James Version, but the comment was all written from the liberal point of view. Abraham, for example, became a religious genius rather than n man of faith, and Saul was rejected because of his bad temper rather than for his unbelief and disobedience. But here we have the historic, orthodox emphasis plus attractive child-centered illustrations. What is more, it serves as Bible Story for the little ones, while making the Bible itself available for those who ought to begin reading the Sacred Writings for themselves.
HENRY R. VAN TlL
*Cf. Why Johnny Can’t Read, by R. Flesch
An Exposition of Ephesians by Paul Bayne Sovereign Grace Publishers, Evansville, 1959. 678 pp. $7.95.
This is the second volume of a three-volume Puritan commentary which the publisher has assembled on the epistle to the Ephesians. The first volume of 832 pp. by Thomas Goodwin deals with the text of Ephesians 1:1–2:10. This second volume, by Paul Bayne, a sixteenth century preacher and lecturer at St. Andrews Church of Cambridge University, consists of his lectures on Ephesians 2:11 through 6:18. Calvin’s exposition of the final six verses of the epistle, appended at the end of this volume, completes the commentary. The publisher, though, urges that the third volume of the trilogy, The Christian In Complete Armor, an exposition of Ephesians 6:10–17 by William Gurnall consisting of 600 pp., also be obtained to round out this Puritan output on Ephesians to the aggregate total of almost a million words (the publisher’s claim). 1be complete set sells for $18.95, a saving of 90¢ over the total price if each volume were purchased singly (i.e., $5.95 for Goodwin, $7.95 for Bayne, and $6.95 for Gurnall, respectively). And that possession of the complete set is rendered practically n necessity may be seen from the fact that, despite the individual bulk and expense of each volume, commentary on only a part of the contents of the Ephesian epistle is to be found in each single volume. The major portion by far, however, of the unequal proportionment of the commentary on the text is to be found in this second volume of the set.
Those familiar with Puritan works, of which this volume under review is a typical example, are doubtless aware of the fact that they are by and large period pieces in the same way as grandfather clocks, spinning wheels, and Chippendale furniture. Not that their doctrine is outmoded, for the truth of God’s Word is eternal and changeless. But the dress of the Puritan work is that of another age. Consider, for example, this comment on Ephesians 5:22 dealing with the submission of the wife to the husband. She should “learn with all submission; yea, if a man should go to blows, she must endure with patience, not striking again, not railing; this is to shoot with the devil in his own bow” (p. 494). Wives, at least, today would hope that this is a dated application belonging to a former age! Or this statement on 6:1 with respect to the obedience of children to their parents. “We must obey them (our parents), in taking the callings of life to which they train us; for children are under the power of the parent to be ordered this way” (p. 539). Let us hope that this is also an application of a by-gone age which is no longer followed today, for it hardly comports with the God-given duty of parents to see that their children develop into independent personalities serving God according to his Word and who thus themselves become able and willing best to decide where their Divinely bestowed talents may most properly be employed to the honor of God and the well-being of their fellow-man.
This reviewer would again repeat that he has no basic doctrinal objections to Puritan works. For the most part they are unassailable in this respect. And, even though dated, like antiques they have a certain quaint charm and ornamental appeal in addition to a limited usefulness. But also like antiques, Puritan works share in the same shortcomings, not the least of which is datedness and expensiveness.
It would therefore seem to this reviewer that, everything considered, a wiser investment of time and money could be made by publisher and reader alike in more up-to-date Reformed literature. Perhaps publishers, not to mention authors, need to be encouraged to produce mOre of such. Moreover, those energies now used to republish Puritan works might well be diverted into the translation of more of contemporary Dutch works where a relevant contribution to the English theological scene might well be made by them. An adequate Reformed literature is the need of the hour. But in the humble opinion of this reviewer, it is doubtful whether Puritan works, valuable only as they are to a limited degree, really measure up sufficiently so as to make their reappearance significantly worthwhile.
RAYMOND O. ZORN Fawn Grove, Pa.
Christian Home and Family Living Frances Vander Velde Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 119 pages, $2.00, 1959.
Although the tit1e lacks clarity this book on the Christian family is well written. It deals with the institution of matrimony as instituted by God, the establishment of a Christian home, the harmonious relation,hip between husband and wife, the role of man as father and the woman as mother, children and parents, Christian education and hospitality. From that point on the unity of the book is lost. The author deals with such subjects as envy, faith and calling, friendship, stewardship, persona] Bible study, and the older woman. Of course, in general all these things are related to the home, but the choice is rather arbitrary. Instead of personal Bible study a chapter on family worship would have been more apropos. Instead of considering the older woman, why not look into the problems of old age in general, inasmuch as both partners; in the marriage relationship have to face this eventuality?
This book is Scripturally oriented. It abounds with references to tho Word, which is always cited as authoritative, as the last court of appeal. And we find that the Scriptures actually abound in references to the God-ordained relationship of marriage and the home. It is simply deplorable that even Christian sociologists, because of a blind adherence to tile worldly presupposition that Sociology is a neutral science, wi!! not allow the authority of the Word to determine what is right and wrong in human relationships. Instead, they say sociology is descriptive, not nonnative; consequently, the “thus saith the Lord” is missing in our college class rooms, and a skeptical attitude is fostered among our covenant youth toward the divine institutions clearly delineated in the Word.
Mrs. Vander Velde is to be congratulated on the fact that she has not permitted such a pseudo-scientific approach to dim her appreciation for the Word of God as the final authority in the life of the believer.
I heartily recommend this book. It ought to be found in every Christian home and church-library. Having said that, I must add that I do not subscribe to everything written therein. For example, Jacob is pictured as having accumulated a large fortune “through steady toil and his own business acumen” (p. 34). However, as Dr. Van Haitsema showed years ago in his intriguing The Deceiver Undeceived, God showed Jacob clearly that it was not through his own machinations, which were contrary to the laws of genetics, but through the blessing of Jehovah that Jacob was rich. Moreover, the idea that reason can be singled out as man’s highest possession and one “by which he can know God” is not Christian but a remnant of Greek philosophy. The Scripture references given at this point, namely, Isaiah 1:18, Acts 24:25, and I Peter 1:13 are not relevant. Also the uncritical quoting of J. B. Conant and H. Schultze in one breath is an eclecticism that is unwarranted.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel translated by Gleason L. Archer, Jr. Published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1958. 189 pp. Price $3.95.
If you are looking for a single, good, modern commentary on the book of Daniel, this is not the book to buy. It is a translation of a work of Jerome who lived from A.D. 347 to 420. To anyone who is interested in more careful study of the book of Daniel or in the history of the Christian church this is a book of unusual fascination. In the Introduction Wilbur M. Smith observes: “The most important single work produced by the Church Fathers on any of the prophetic writings of the Old Testament, commenting upon the original Hebrew text. and showing a complete mastery of all the literature of the Church on the subjects touched upon to the time of composition, is without question St. Jerome’s Commentary on the Book of Daniel.” St. Augustine is quoted as having confessed to Jerome, “I have not as great a knowledge of the divine Scriptures as you have, nor could I have such knowledge as I see in you.”
The book repeatedly shows a concern about refuting the attacks of Porphyry on the book of Daniel. Interestingly, those attacks of Porphyry, the claims that the book must have been written later as a history of past events, are substantially the Slime as those of “Modernist” critics down to the present day! In other respects, too, this verse by verse commentary on the book of Daniel turns out to be much more useful to present readers than one might expect.
At times there are allusions to the historical events of 1600 years ago, but the reader is left with an impression of how unchangingly relevant the Word of God is to the people of any century. Observing the comment of Jerome, “But the saints shall never possess an earthly kingdom, but only a heavenly. Away, then, with the fable about a millennium!” (p. 81), one finds himself more at home with the sane and scholarly Jerome than with the much less responsible fantasy of many a modern writer on Daniel. Jerome’s comments on the text of Daniel are usually very brief and to the point. Occasionally he takes up a controversial point at considerable length.
This new and first English translation of a very old book may be interesting and valuable to a number of students.
PETER DE JONG Seattle, Wash.
Preaching, Confession, the Lord’s Supper Walter Luthi and Eduard Thurneysen 121 p. John Knox Press; price $2.50
Here are three sparkling essays on significant aspects of the li1e of the church in today’s world. Written by two Swiss theologians, they remind us that the Reformed tradition is still very much alive in that land.
The first by Luthi deals with preaching. He has many fine things to say about the centrality of the Word in evangelical worship, a refreshing note in view of so much poor preaching palmed off on congregations both in Europe and America. Tho essay’s value lies not in many new and profound insights but rather in saying some very important things in a clear and challenging way. As a result of the present emphasis on psychology, psychiatry, and mental hygiene. Protestant voices are heard clamoring for something like the Roman Catholic confessional. Thumeysen vigorously and effectively sets forth the distinction between the Roman confessional and evangelical confession. It is Luthi again who writes about the Lord’s Supper, calling attention to the plight into which its observance has fallen in the Swiss churches. He is convinced that increasing the frequency of its celebration will not cure the churches of their fearful neglect of this ordinance. Rather strange to our ears is his rejection of any disciplinary prohibition to partake. He would make use only of the “key” of preaching to open or close the table to members of the church.
Especially for ministers of the gospel are these essays illuminating and challenging. They deal specifically with questions and problems which repeatedly address also us. The sweeping form evident in not a few statements is hardly in keeping with the best Reformed tradition. Much fine reference is made to Scriptural material, although the choice appears to be one-sided. Some things which this reviewer believes ought to be said in specific connections are not mentioned. The powerful influence of Karl Barth is clearly evident. Much of the music in these essays is sweet and clear indeed, but many of us would feel somewhat out of place in this chorus.
PETER Y. DE JONG
The Biblical Expositor (The Living Theme of the Great Book) Consulting Editor, Carl F.H. Henry, Price $6.95 per vol., A.J. Holman Co., Philadelphia 7, Pa. Vol. I, Genesis–Esther; Vol. II, Job–Malachi; Vol. III, Matthew–Revelation.
As the sub-title of this three-volume commentary on Holy Writ suggests, this is not a verse by verse exposition of the Bible, but the central theme of a given passage is vividly portrayed and set before the mind. This commentary is not only serviceable for the teacher and student, but will prove a great help for the ordinary believer who wishes to grow in the knowledge of his Lord.
Not only have these expositions been written by 65 recognized authorities in their field, but each of them writes from the evangelical, conservative point of view. This is truly an interdenominational and international venture. In the volume on the Old Testament, for example, one finds, among others, such well-known scholars as Allis, W. M. Smith, Leupold, Unger, Payne, Kerr, Harris, Johannes Vos, E. J. Young, M. A. Woudstra, to mention only a few known more particularly to the readers of this magazine. Among those writing on the New Testament, I see the names of Mantey. Bruce, Ladd, Geldenhuys, Henry, Gerstner, Clark, Hughes, Packer, and others—scholars all and committed to the high view of the inspiration of Scripture.
What especially appeals to me in this commentary, from the point of view of the ordinary reader’s needs, are the general and the special introductions as well as the first-rate outlines at the beginning of each book. This commentary will serve excellently as text-book for a college survey course in English Bible. It should be found in every church library to serve all members of the congregation.
HENRY R. VAN TIL