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Book Reviews

Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible:

An Historical and Exegetical Study, Harris, R. Laird, Ph.D., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1957, $4.50, 282 pp., indexed.

Biblical Criticism: Broomall, Wick, A.M., Th.M., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1957, 316 pp., not indexed.

Aligning themselves as they do on the side of supernaturalism, and deal­ ing with matters closely related to yet distinct from Introduction, these two books complement and supple­ment the recent evangelical works on Introduction by E. J. Young, Merrill F. Unger, and H. C. Thiessen. At the same time they complement and sup­plement each other, the one address­ ing itself to inspiration and canonicity, the other to inspiration and criticism.

In his work, Dr. Harris, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Col­lege and Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, devotes 111 pages to the doctrine of inspiration. Of partic­ular interest is his discussion of the many apparent or alleged discrepan­cies in Scripture which seem to under­ mine faith in a verbally inspired, in­ fallible Bible. It would seem that Dr. Harris has made a hobby of seeking solutions to these problems. For the most part his observations are acute and his solutions acceptable, although the reader may at times be left with a question mark in his mind.

The latter half of Dr. Hanis’ book is a discussion of the much neglected problems of canonics. The author con­ siders his chief contribution here to be his study in the “determining prin­ciple of the canon.” He finds the views of the naturalistic theologians untenable on historical grounds, especially in the light of recent archeolog­ical discoveries. His own conclusion is that the books of the Old Testa­ment were recognized as authorita­tive from the date of their writing of soon thereafter on the basis of the recognized authority of the writers. Following in the tradition of Moses these men were all prophets whose prophetic inspiration was evident to their contemporaries. Dr. Harris does not recognize the often posited dis­tinction between the prophetic office and the prophetic gifts. Nor does he recognize the three-fold division of the Old Testament as being original. He finds rather the simple two-fold division of the Law and the Prophets. Consequently he is not bothered by the special problems usually recog­nized in regard to the canonicity of the Writings. All the Old Testament books have been received on the basis of the prophetic inspiration of their authors. Dr. Harris concludes:

“We have here a practical and reasonable test of canonicity that could have been applied by all the generations of the Jews and, except for a few places where evidence now is more slender, can be readily applied even today. What was pro­phetic was regarded as the Word of God. What was not prophetic was, as we know from I Maccabees 4:46, etc., not regarded as the Word of God. The canon grew as the prophets succeeded one another in their ministry; it was finished, as Josephus says, when the Holy Spirit ceased speaking through prophets in Israel. Moses, the great precur­sor of the prophetic line, specified tests to be applied in determining the reality of prophecy….When all these tests were applied and a prophet was acknowledged to be true, his words and writings were received forthwith by the faithful as from God, i.e., canonical.” pp. 174, 175.

For the New Testament Dr. Harris concludes that the determining prin­ciple of the canon is the Apostolic character of the writings.

“As in the case of the Old Testa­ment prophet, what (an apostle) wrote was naturally as authorita­tive as what he spoke, and, there­ fore, any production of an apostle would at once be accepted as di­vine. It is this which the apostles in their writings command and ex­pect. It is this which Jesus’ commis­sion to them would imply. W e need speak of no strong intuition in the Early Church, as does Westcott, whereby these holy writings were distinguished from others. I t was not an intuition; it was simple obedience to the known commands of Christ and His apostles. This view would fully explain the sudden rise of the New Testament as an author­itative corpus of undoubted author­ity.” pp. 233, 234.

To maintain this thesis the author must posit that Mark acted as the amanuensis of Peter, Luke as the amanuensis of Paul, and the unknown writer of Hebrews as also an amanu­ensis of Paul. Furthermore, the James and Jude of the epistles must be considered to be apostles, either from among the original twelve or from among those later raised like Paul to the apostolic office.

This points up one of the outstand­ing weaknesses of this book. The writer is definitely guilty of oversim­plifying both the problems and the solutions. To maintain his oversimpli­fications he must ignore or belittle certain historical evidences. The reader is inclined at times to question whether or not this is responsible scholarship. On the whole, however, this work is a worthy addition to a Bible student’s library. It is well documented and has a useful index.

Wick Broomall’s Biblical Criticism is a more ambitious work. After dis­cussing inspiration more briefly and less adequately than does Dr. Harris, Professor Broomall lets his pen range over such a wide range of subjects as “Revelation and Criticism,” “Princi­ples of Criticism,” “The Higher Criti­cal Position Stated and Refuted,” “The Text and Canon of the Old Tes­tament in the Light of Criticism,” “Ar­cheology and Criticism,” “The Book of Daniel in the Light of Criticism,” and “Criticism and Interpretation.” Each of these subjects is no doubt worthy of a separate monograph, but this writer must limit himself. Conse­quently we find as a constant refrain throughout the book such expressions as this, “There are many points of importance that must be passed by…” This leaves the reader dissatis­fied and discouraged.

In addition to being at once too am­bitious and too brief, this book has many other defects. It is in large part an apology, but the author still as­sumes that there is a “reasonable,” “unbiased” mind to which defenders of the Scriptures may appeal. Again, his defense of the traditional view of the Bible is sometimes weakened by unsupported generalizations. He re­ minds us, for example, that Zoroastri­anism and Mohammedanism obvi­ously borrowed their essential ideas from the inspired writings of the Jews and Christians respectively, and then he adds, “The same can be said about the other religions of the world.” Of Shintoism? we could ask. The author would also defend the improbable hy­pothesis that the Greeks borrowed the best of their ideas from Moses and the Prophets. “Everything,” he tells us, “is in favor of the supposition that the Greeks borrowed from the Jews.” p. 147. At other times tlle author em­ ploys weak logic. When refuting the modern assertion that the prophets were often mistaken in their predic­tions he gives a double reply: (1) “…no such case has been proved,” and (2) “If it can be proved that the prophets were wrong in their predictions, then there is no reason why we should accept them as right in their other statements.” The former of these two statements is pertinent but the latter, while true, is hardly adrem.

Biblical Criticism is not all weak. The chapter on “Principles of Criti­cism” is worthy of careful study. The discussion of the higher critical posi­tion is helpful. The chief virtue of this work is its resurrection of many worthy defenses of the Bible by schol­ars of another generation. The author has read widely and is able to point the avenge reader to works of whose existence he may not have been aware. But even this service is only imper­fectly rendered since the book lacks both footnotes and an index. A help­ful bibliography is included, however.

JOHN H. STEK

                                   

Christ and the Church in the Old Tes­tament by Howard Hanke

Published by Zondervan Publishing House, 1957, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 187 pages. Price $2.50.

The subtitle, “A Survey of Re­demptive Unity in the Testaments,” is actually more exact, since the author shows the Unity of Christ and the Church in all the Scriptures. As such this is a worthwhile study and gives a wealth of Biblical materials on such topics as “salvation, the di­vine names, divine revelation, redemp­tive economy” and these all in rela­tion to Christ and the Church. Much is made of the fact, not new to those who are acquainted with Reformation theology, that the Church is eternally the same and that there is a counter­feit Church opposing the true Church of Jesus Christ – namely, the Church of the antichrist.

I have one misgiving. It is the fact that the author assumes the Essene community, of which we hear so much of late since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, to be the con­tinuation of the true Church (pp. 154 ff. ). But if the Lord preserved seven thousand in the day of Ahab, who had not bowed the knee to Baal, may he not have kept his own in the days of apostasy just before the com­ ing of Christ among those who re­ turned from exile? What of the sim­ple shepherds, Joseph and Mary, John and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, and others? Of course, one can call them Essenes, which the author suggests; but I am not ready to go along with tins interpretation.

Furthermore, Christ is cited as wit­ness to the fact that Moses “was held up as a kind of personification of the ‘ideal believer.’” However, Moses is quoted by Christ not on the basis of his ideal faith, but on the basis of His divine inspiration. Moses spoke the words of God and was therefore authoritative even in Jesus’ day.

For the rest I heartily recommend this book to our reading public.

H. R. VAN TIL

Messianic Prophecy in the Old Testa­ment by Aaron J. Klingerman

Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1957, 155 pages, $2.95.

This is but one of the great num­ber of Biblical studies that are ap­pearing in quick succession from Zon­dervan’s presses. It is a pleasure for me to introduce this work of Dr. Kligerman, a converted Jew of Rus­sian origin.

The material is divided into six chapters dealing with the Messianic prophecies in tlle Torah, the historical books, the Psalms, the Pre- and Post­ Exilic periods, Isaiah and the period of invasion by Assyrians and Babylo­nians. A final chapter is added in which the author glowingly speaks of his faith in the Messiah, Israel’s Sa­viour, as the true world-conqueror, who fulfilled the predictions made by the prophets. There are four hundred and fifty-six such references. The author contends that the chief method of the prophets for preparing “the Way of the Lord was by setting forth THE PERSON” who was to implement the heavenly kingdom.

In conclusion, the author presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the only hope of Israel, “for this is He of whom Moses and all the prophets wrote! He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. He is the Prince of Peace, the King of Israel, the Lord our Righteousness, King of kings and Lord of lords!” (p. 147).

H. R. VAN TIL

She Shall Be Called Woman by Frances Vander Velde

Grand Rapids International Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1957, 258 pp.

In the not-too-far distant past, the Bible study groups of the Christian chmch .were, almost without excep­ tion, under the leadership of a min­ ister or a gifted elder. Today the pic­ tlll’e has changed. More and more women are taking active part in the presentation of the Bible lessons of our week-day study of the Scriptures.

It is, therefore, gratifying to the women lay workers who desire to pre­sent the Bible lessons in a way that will be of spiritual benefit to the groups which they serve, to know that Christian Reformed writers are emerging with fresh, easily under­stood material written with a view to be helpful to just such societies and Bible study classes.

Mrs. Frances Vander Velde in her book, “She Shall Be Called Woman,” has produced a good treatise on some thirty women of the Bible, and has added to each lesson a number of questions which require thought and study to answer. Subjects which formerly were studiously avoided, are brought out with a view to gaining Biblical answers. Marriage, families, child care, “Mariolatry,” gossip, way­ ward children, and many other sub­jects are given thought in the light of some special lesson or Scripture pas­ sage. All of this makes the book a valuable asset to the women’s groups as well as the teenage girls’ classes in our churches.

This gifted author realizes the great benefit of reading related Scripture passages in any given lesson and often refers to these passages in her clear­ cut explanation of the subject mate­ rial. Her outlines are almost too sim­ple, but cover the character study adequately for the particular goal each lesson presents.

Of special interest to women’s groups is the way Mrs. Vander Velde has searched out the heart of the story, in each case weaving great spiritual truths into the character study, for example: faith at work in the life of Jochebed and Rahab; mother-love in the story of Elisabeth, and prayer in the life of Hannah. One even finds a paragraph hew and there on modem ideas compared to the old methods of dealing with home problems, such as Herodias and her dancing daughter who clearly portray the result of worldly training; or the life of a godly Timothy which was molded and influenced by a saintly mother and grandmother. The author refers to other influential women whose sons left a worthy imprint on the sands of time. She refers to Mon­ica, the mother of St. Augustine, and also the mothers of great men of his­ tory such a Clay, Washington, Crom­well, and Cowper.

While “She Shall Be Called Wo­man” is by no means exhaustive, we recognize in it a real contribution to the study material for the earnest Bible students of our day and their leaders who have long searched for modem ideas in the age-old Book and who discover more and more that the Bible has the answer to all our problems.

We heartily recommend it to all Bible students, and hope our women will gain new inspiration and instruc­tion from its pages. May other writ­ers be inspired to contribute more of such worth-while material to our Bible loving laymen.

(MRS.) ETHEL HOEKSTRA