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Book Review

World Civilization  by Albert Hyma Part I, A Survey of Ancient Civilization, Ann Arbor Publishers—1959

Dr. Albert Hyma, history professor at the University of Michigan, has written his first volume of thirteen chapters of a projected five volume work entitled World Civilization. It has been printed in paperbound cover by the Ann Arbor Publishers. The preface states that eventually “each volume will have a separate Bibliography, Historical Atlas, and Pictorial Gallery.”

The preface also states that in this textbook an “attempt is made…to treat the Hebrew-Christian religion with adequate respect without actually according it support.” The author hopes to be neutral, but it is not difficult to sense that his sympathies lie with the Hebrew·Christian tradition. In his chapters on early beginnings. he submits evidence based on some of the latest archeological discoveries that the Biblical accounts played a vital role in early western life. Professor Hyma is chagrined that although “the Supreme Court forbids the use of the Bible as a text-book in public schools, nothing is said about methods used by those instructors who deliberately teach their students to regard the Bible as misleading…” (p. 184).

On page 183 Professor Hyma quotes and subscribes to a statement of another historian who said, “Christianity…forms the very warp and woof of all history of Western Europe which immediately followed upon Rome. The whole intricate complex of our present political, social, and even economic life is shot through and through with Christian rites and Christian teachings.”

Despite the bias toward tho HebrewChristian tradition, Professor Hyma, is sensitive to the public school system. Throughout he attempts to present an objective view.

This volume purports to be a survey, and that it is, with many of the weaknesses characteristic of surveys. Each topic is discussed very briefly and the account 15 sometimes so skeletal as to have little meaning. All survey writers, however, struggle with the problem of what to exclude. The author does supply selected excerpts from the primary sources and that gives some flesh to the skeleton.

The historical account is usually presented in brief, pithy sentences. eliminating all embellishments. The approach is pointed, positive and the leading facts are gathered to substantiate the account. The style is simple and very readable so that high school students would have no difficulty grasping the meaning of the author. This volume can serve excellently for review purposes.

Calvin College, JOHN DE BIE