The Ministry in Historical Perspectives, edited by H. Richard Niebuhr and Daniel D. Williams. Harper, New York, 1956. $5.00.
Making surveys is one of the most popular scholarly occupations of our day. It is a relatively painless way of educating not only the surveyed but the surveyor. Sometimes it is pointed at one, sometimes at the other, but usually both benefit if there is any organization at all in the undertaking.
The theological seminaries of the United States and Canada have recently been undergoing such a survey. It has been under the direction of the two editors of this present book and of James M. Gustafson. Some preliminary results appeared in a series of mimeographed bulletins and the final statements are now appearing in three books. The volume under review is the second of the three to appear. It has less to do directly with the survey than either of the other two but may prove, in the long run, to be the most useful of all. Judgment on that point must be reserved until the third appears and time has passed to note the effects. In any case, this volume is a real bonanza for anyone interested in the ministry and how it has reached its present state.
The editors of the volume are not among the contributors, most of whom are professors of church history in American theological schools. They include, in order, John Knox who deals with the ministry in the primitive church, George H. Williams who covers the ante-nicene and patristic periods, Roland H. Bainton for the middle ages and Wilhelm Pauck for the Reformation. Edward R. Hardy deals with modern priestly ministries, Winthrop S. Hudson with the Puritans and Sidney E. Mead and Robert Michaelsen with the American scene.
The post-apostolic age always ...1
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