Christian Conviction And Scholarship
Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, edited by E. F. Harrison, G. W. Bromiley, and Carl F. H. Henry (Baker, 1960, 566 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by William Childs Robinson, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia.
Add to the three respective editors of this volume the numerous American scholars whose labors have produced a score of articles, and the German scholarship available in such works as TWNT (Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament), and you have an evangelical masterpiece for which the reviewer predicts a phenomenal circulation. The articles are written to acquaint the reader with the tension points in theological discussion and to provide, in each case, a positive exposition of the biblical content. The minister who ponders these affirmations will find himself growing in wisdom and bringing out of his storehouse things new and old. Church members will find here a treasure of Christian information and a biblical answer to many questions.
Editor Harrison has planned each part of the book and has himself written excellent articles. Professor Bromiley, a Church of England scholar and authority on Barth, has drawn upon British scholarship from London to Melbourne, Edinburgh to Montreal, and from Cambridge to Sierre Leone. As the editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Dr. Henry may be regarded as a symbol of our common Christian conviction with liberty of detailed dissent. He is also the writer of major articles on God, man, revelation, and inspiration.
Where to start in calling attention to the riches of this work is somewhat a problem. For Rector T. H. L. Parker, of England, “The essence of the doctrine of grace is that God is for us.… He is for us who in ourselves are against Him.… He has effectively acted toward us. Grace is summed up in the name Jesus Christ.” For Dr. James I. Packer of Tyndale Hall, justification is the justifying act of the Creator declaring a verdict of acquittal upon the believing sinner. For it, faith is the instrumental means whereby Christ and his righteousness are appropriated. Here as also in O. Raymond Johnston’s treatment of law, belief in Christ’s atoning death and justifying resurrection brings forth Christian morality—“law keeping out of gratitude to the Saviour whose gift of righteousness made law keeping needless for acceptance.” Adoption is an act of God’s gracious Spirit giving those who believe the status of children of God the Father (Prof. John Murray of Westminster).
One who wishes to keep abreast of the ever-changing field of eschatology can find no better introduction than Prof. F. F. Bruce’s treatment of this theme. Here is not only Schweitzer’s “consistent eschatology” but the “realized eschatology” of Dodd and Jeremias, and the “inaugurated eschatology” of J. A. T. Robinson, as well as the more positive statements of the Christian hope in Kuemmel’s Promise and Fulfillment and Cullman’s analogy of D-Day and V-Day.
With discrimination, Bromiley fairly evaluates the current revival of biblical theology. The origins of this revival are to be found in such studies as Kittel’s TWNT, the critical rejection of liberal misunderstanding of the Bible, Hunter’s Unity of the New Testament, and Barth’s biblical dogmatics. The gains that have resulted consist in the lexical studies, the exposure of nonbiblical assumptions under which we all lie, a new sense of the unity of the Bible, and the rediscovery of the relevance and power of great biblical theologies of the past such as those of the Fathers and of the Reformation. On the other hand, there are evident dangers as to whether the movement has attained a genuinely biblical view of inspiration and historical reliability of the Bible, particularly with regard to the miracles which make clear the saving work of God in history.
An intensely interesting feature of the work is the way in which the same contributor writes the several positions on controversial issues. Thus, Principal E. F. Kevan of London writes all of the three views on the millennium. Bromiley states the case for believers’ baptism in a fashion that could please Barth and the Baptists, and then he reverses his field and states the position for infant or family baptism in a way suitable to Cullmann and the paedo-baptists. Vice Principal Leon Morris, of Melbourne, presents the views of church government held by the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and the Congregationalists. Which denominationalist will be the first to throw a stone? Professor Cornelius Van Til properly insists that Calvinism is not “a system of truth” based upon one a priori principle such as the sovereignty of God, but is drawn from the Scriptures as the self-authenticating revelation of God in Christ. Professor J. K. Jewett warns against rejecting the historicity of the First Adam if one would do full justice to the Second Adam who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was raised again the third day. As the second wrought our redemption in history, so also in history did the first fall. Professor Bernard Ramm makes revelation central to Christian Apologetics. Professor Alexander Ross’ fervent exposition of the Ascension will furnish good material for sermons on this theme to every clime and continent for the next generation. In His ascension, “the dust of the earth is on the throne of the majesty on high.” There He is our Advocate, the Pledge that he will take us to himself, and the source from which he sends his Spirit as the earnest of the promised inheritance. Treating the Atonement, President V. C. Grounds does not shrink from declaring that Christ bore penal suffering for us in our stead.
The impression ought not to be conveyed that the various contributors were pressured to agree with the editors or with one another. As a matter of fact there are differences. For example, according to the article on Alpha and Omega this term is applied to Christ in Revelation once; according to another article on Eschatology the term is applied to our Lord three times. Your reviewer, with highest appreciation for the notable work of these many scholars, found other disagreements here and there. Dr. Ronald S. Wallace of Edinburgh gives an excellent conservative summary of Christology in which he courageously lists seven or eight places in which the New Testament ascribes the term Theos (God) to Jesus. He might have added, at least for the consideration of the reader, three or four other places, namely, 1 John 5:20; Hebrews 1:8–9; Acts 20:28 and 18:26.
One appreciates the voluminous scholarship and strong position apparent in the Resurrection of Christ without agreeing with every interpretation presented. For example, the reviewer is not of the opinion that “Our Lord appeared only to believers” (p. 451b). He appeared to Saul of Tarsus who obtained mercy because his persecuting of the Church was done in the ignorance of unbelief. He also appeared to James, hitherto an unbeliever. His appearances brought the 11 disciples from unbelief to faith in his risen presence by such evidences as their handling him with their hands and his words, “be not faithless but believing.” It is interesting to note that the article on hardening in this dictionary is written by Professor M. A. Schmidt, the same scholar who collaborated with his father in writing on the same theme for TWNT.
WILLIAM CHILDS ROBINSON
Monument Of Corruption
Hawaii, by James A. Michener (Random House, 1959, 937 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Sherwood E. Wirt, Author of Crusade at the Golden Gate.
This is a profoundly depressing book. Intended as a literary accolade to our new fiftieth state, it is called by the publishers “the first major chronicle of the land and its people—a monumental tribute.” Conceived as a novel, the work traces fictionally the arrival of a few (by no means all) of the races that settled in the islands.
The story is interesting, however, and moves easily through some 900 pages. Occasionally there is depth of feeling when pagan superstition is dramatized, or when we see the plight of the lepers on Molokai, or the helplessness of the workers on the sugar plantations. The early New England traders are depicted in all their brutality and aggressiveness. The dogged endurance of the Chinese and Japanese immigrants is highlighted, and the heroism of the Nisei soldiers in World War II is given proper recognition.
There is evident hostility toward the economic oligarchy that still controls the islands. Like nearly all historical books on Hawaii, however, this one pours its heaviest ammunition on the Congregational missionaries who sailed from New England in 1821, and whose descendants remained to become wealthy through land management. Having no need to stick to truth in a work of fiction, Michener draws the archetype of the missionary in the Reverend Abner Hale, a runty, stringy-haired, sallow, mangy-faced New England farm boy, a hopeless introvert and bigot who alienates the Hawaiians, the other missionaries (most of Michener’s became fed up and quit), and even his own family. The unpleasant little man is not clever enough to be a hypocrite like Elmer Gantry. His narrow asceticism contrasts as starkly as possible with the lush life of the islands.
Abner Hale is poorly drawn because, like Gantry, he never existed except in someone’s mind. He is as far from the true Hawaiian missionary of the period as, we presume, the author is from the rippling-muscled Polynesians he writes about. No doubt research went into this book, yet how could it fail so completely to convey the spirit and motivation of these men and women? The young Hawaiian lad, whose presence in New Haven led to the forming of the mission, is grossly caricatured. There is considerably more perception of the cultic gods that tyrannized the early Bora Bora immigrants to Hawaii than there is of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Robert Southey proposed to write the life of John Wesley, an old minister told the poet, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.” Some of the malapropisms that occur when a man gets over his depth appear in this work. Christians call each other “brothers in God.” They adhere not to the Word of God but “to the word of Calvin as preached by … Jonathan Edwards in Boston” (sic). When a man asks how to be saved, he is told to pray and read his Bible—a pure covenant of works (p. 161). Conversion means being “initiated into a sense of sin” (p. 135). When a man gets seasick, it means to the missionaries that he has rejected God (p. 164). The sea captain is urged to have his men “take the pledge” several decades before the first pledge was composed. No one uses the proper title in addressing the missionaries; it is always wearisomely “Reverend Hale” and “Reverend Thorn.” But this kind of knowledge comes from life, not books.
Somehow the author failed completely in his document study to uncover the story of such a man as Titus Coan, a true, live New Englander whose mission in Hawaii resulted in a revival in which three-fourths of the big island came into the Church. A strong man (whether his muscles rippled, who can say—and who cares?) with a loving heart, Coan, with his wife and their devoted colleagues, represented an influence for Jesus Christ and the Christian life that is still felt in Hawaii today. Imperfect servants the missionaries were, yet they were welcomed and gladly followed. It is a calumny to say that they did not care for their people. Let the record speak for itself. They won the love of the Hawaiians because they offered them something better than the life they knew and of which they were sick to death: a life of nakedness, lust, disease, cruelty, murder, human sacrifice, tabu, and oppression.
A final word must be spoken about the sexualization of this book. Most of the characters seem at one time or another to be either sadists or exhibitionists. We are told that the author “has become an active participant in the civic affairs of Hawaii.” Yet there is not a child in the English-speaking world whose mind could not be corrupted through the reading of this “monument.” It disgraces American womanhood and libels the people of Hawaii. One of the best civic actions that the citizens of the fiftieth state could take would be to put this book on a high shelf and forget it. When the real story of Hawaii is written, it will not be a fantasy of glorified garbage.
SHERWOOD E. WIRT
The Gospel According to Thomas, Coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H. Ch. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till, and Yassah Abd A1 Masih (Harper, 1959, 62 pp., $2), is reviewed by George Eldon Ladd, Professor of Biblical Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary.
Scholarly and popular excitement over the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has overshadowed another archaeological find of equal importance for the history of early Christianity. About 1945, some Egyptian farmers discovered a jar containing 13 papyrus books bound in leather containing some 44 separate writings in the Coptic language. These constituted the library of a Gnostic community which lived in Egypt in the fourth or fifth century some 32 miles down the Nile from modern Luxor. The Gospel of Thomas is the second of these books to be published. The present edition consists of a brief introduction, the Coptic text with an English translation, and an index of “Scriptural Parallels and Echoes.” It is to be followed by a larger work containing a lengthy introduction and a detailed commentary.
Some writers have jumped to the conclusion that here is a fifth Gospel. Thomas is really not a Gospel at all but a collection of “the secret words which the Living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote” (p. 3). “The Living Jesus” probably is not meant to refer to the historical Jesus but to a heavenly being who is the Revealer of esoteric truths to his disciples (according to Otto Piper). Fragments of a similar collection of sayings of Jesus have been found in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in 1897 and 1903. This Coptic “Gospel” is a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, treasured by the Gnostic community, and is thought to have had its origin in Greek in the middle of the second century. It reflects Gnostic ideas, but it also contains distinct Palestinian elements.
Scholars will debate for years to come the historical and critical problems raised by this new “Gospel.” What is its relation to the Oxyrhynchus sayings? (There is literal agreement between some logia in the two works). What is its relationship to the other known apocryphal gospels? One of the editors thinks that its sources are the Gospels of the Egyptians and of the Hebrews. What is its relationship to the canonical Gospels? Is it dependent upon them or upon the oral tradition lying behind them? About half of the logia in Thomas have parallels in the canonical Gospels, but literal agreement seldom is found. The logia in Thomas appear to have been deliberately modified or amplified. The most important question is whether some genuine saying of Jesus not included in our Gospels (e.g., Acts 20:35) may be preserved in this work. Mature study will help us to understand better the history of our canonical Gospels.
GEORGE ELDON LADD
The 1611 Story
The Learned Men, by Gustavus S. Paine (Crowell, 1959, 212 pp., $4.75), is reviewed by Gleason L. Archer Jr., Professor of Biblical Languages, Fuller Theological Seminary.
This admirable account of the translators of the King James Bible of 1611 represents the last work of an English professor, journalist (editor of the Christian Science Monitor), and novelist, Gustavus Swift Paine, who passed away in 1958. Here he has attempted to bring together into the 200-odd pages of a very readable book all of the available information about the 60 contributors to the Authorized Version, including their home background, their academic training, and their ecclesiastical career. At times this recital is necessarily a bit dry, but here and there he livens up these thumbnail sketches by anecdotes from the translator’s married life, or his recorded idiosyncrasies. One cannot always be sure that these horney touches represent completely unbiased reports; for example, a disapproving contemporary is quoted as terming the Arminian translator, Richard Thomson, as “a debauched drunken English Dutchman who seldom went to bed one night sober.” But at least the author adheres quite faithfully to his sources and does not draw too freely upon his imagination to supply missing details.
The plan of the book is logical and orderly. The first chapter deals with the conference at Hampton Court, January 16, 1604, where King James conferred with his leading ecclesiastics concerning complaints and grievances within the Church of England, and hit upon a new Bible translation as the one reform to which he would consent. Next comes a survey of the High Church party and the small Puritan faction, more or less at loggerheads with each other and yet willing to unite on so fundamental a need as an improved and up-to-date translation of the Holy Scriptures. The following three chapters deal with the three main companies of translators: the Westminster group, the Oxford group, and the Cambridge group, each of which was, of course, subdivided into New Testament and Old Testament experts. Some of the most outstanding figures are presented in four pages of photographic reproductions of contemporary portraits, along with several other fine photographs of King James, of Hampton Court, and of a royal decree.
Subsequent chapters afford colorful glimpses into the king’s social and political life, particularly in connection with the Guy Fawkes episode, when in 1605 some Catholic extremists attempted to blow up Parliament. Highlights from the careers of the translators follow in a chapter entitled “Private Fortunes.” One of the most colorful was the marital misfortune of John Overall, Dean of St. Paul’s, who at the age of 40 married the beauteous Anne Orwell, only to have her run off with another man. Fortunately (or unfortunately) both elopers were apprehended, and the lady was returned to her churchly husband to continue on with him “in holy deadlock” (as Paine aptly puts it). Two chapters are devoted to the final revision of a committee of six who carefully went over the whole English text at Stationers’ Hall over a nine months’ period. The notes of one of the six, John Bois, are quoted at length to show how undecided the committee was over many difficult passages of the New Testament—difficulties due in part to uncertainties as to the proper reading of the Greek original.
Several little-known facts emerge in connection with the publication and reception of this monumental translation. For one thing, it is extremely dubious how justified is the term “authorized” in the title “the Authorized Version,” for it never received official sanction by any ecclesiastical body, even though the leading scholars of the Church of England were sharers in the effort, including George Abbot himself who, in 1611, was elevated to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. Actually it was only King James himself who gave any official authorization, but perhaps that was sufficient since he was theoretically the head of the Church.
Another interesting circumstance was the slowness with which the 1611 translation displaced the earlier versions in popular use. The Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, for example, never accepted it at all, so far as their extant writings reveal, but largely adhered to the good old Geneva Bible, untainted by association with the tyrannical King James and his unscriptural episcopacy. But failure to quote from the new version was not always to be attributed to unsympathetic reception, for oddly enough many of the translation committeemen themselves quoted from such earlier translations as the Bishop’s Bible or Coverdale, or else resorted to original translations of their own. Although the sale of the new Bible went very well, and new impressions and editions were speedily sold out, it was 30 years before the preachers and authors of that period began to follow the King James rendering in a really consistent fashion.
Easily the most remarkable portion of the book is to be found in the final chapter, “The Bible of the Learned Men Lasts.” Summing up the results of the investigation recorded throughout the earlier chapters, Paine points to the intriguing paradox that this translation committee produced a work far exceeding their own literary abilities, so far as they are discernible from their own extant writings. He asks (p. 167): “How did this come to be? How explain that sixty or more men, none a genius, none even as great a writer as Marlowe or Ben Jonson, together produced writing to be compared with … the words of Shakespeare?” It certainly was not the natural result of the age in which it was fashioned, as if writers of that period had somehow attained a golden-age virtuosity in English prose comparable to the Attic Greek of the fourth century B.C., or the Ciceronian age of Latin literature. This explanation seems hardly tenable in view of the definitely inferior standard attained by other English prose of that period, as compared with the 1611 Version. Even the Douay Catholic translation, published the year before, attains a substantially lower literary standard. For one thing, it fails to exploit the advantage of adherence to simple Anglo-Saxon words which characterized the Authorized Version and gave it so much of its penetrative, soul-stirring power. Nor was it because of the self-denying industry of the committee members, nor their pre-eminent saintliness. They were “subject to like passions as we are” (p. 168).
Even though Paine himself betrays uncertainty in his personal theology (p. 179), he cannot escape the conclusion that somehow God himself was the only answer for this amazing achievement. “Are we to say that God walked with them in their gardens? Insofar as they believed in their own calling and election, they must have believed that they would have God’s help in their task.… They agreed, not with other men like themselves, but with God as their guide, and they followed not as thinking themselves righteous but as led by a righteousness beyond them” (pp. 169–170). “Though we may challenge the idea of word-by-word inspiration, we surely must conclude that these were men able, in their profound moods, to transcend their human limits. In their own words, they spake as no other man spake because they were filled with the Holy Ghost” (p. 173). Particularly eloquent is the judgment quoted on page 182 from George Bernard Shaw: “The translation was extraordinarily well done because to the translators what they were translating was not merely a curious collection of ancient books written by different authors in different stages of culture, but the word of God divinely revealed through His chosen and expressly inspired scribes. In this conviction they carried out their work with boundless reverence and care and achieved a beautifully artistic result.”
In conclusion, your reviewer would heartily commend this book to the reader as worth acquiring and keeping on the shelf for ready reference. Perhaps the price is a bit high for a production scarcely over 200 pages long. One can only regret that the author did not have a little more personal acquaintance with the sacred tongues, or he might have sized up the problem of Matthew 16:13 a little more adequately. He suggests that the reason the translators resorted to “Whom do men say that I am” was a tendency we find expressed in their colloquial solecism, “It is me” for “It is I.” He does not observe that the Greek original here happens to put the interrogative pronoun in the accusative case (tina, rather than tis), and that possibly the translators hoped to preserve this flavor of the original even at the expense of grammatical rules. Every reviewer has to demonstrate his keen-eyed alertness by pointing out a misprint or two. This reviewer found only one: the text states on page 164 that Leonard Hutton died in 1732. Actually his death was in 1632.
GLEASON L. ARCHER, JR.
The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, by Henry R. Van Til (Baker, 1959, 245 pp., $4.50) and The Cultural Significance of the Reformation, by Karl Holl (Meridian Books, 1959, 191 pp., $1.25, reprint), are reviewed by C. Gregg Singer, Professor of History, Catawba College.
The momentous events of the first half of the twentieth century have had a sobering effect on the cultural optimism of the liberals, and have likewise brought about a most significant change in the attitude of many evangelicals toward the problem of the relationship between Christianity and contemporary culture. The older attitude of many fundamentalists that Jerusalem had nothing to say to Athens has been replaced by a new awareness of their cultural obligations as Christians. This change of attitude is clearly reflected in the writings of evangelical scholars who are now searching the Scriptures in a sincere attempt to find out what they have to say with regard to this problem.
For those who are truly concerned with the cultural issues of our day, Dr. Van Til, professor of Bible at Calvin College, has provided a consistent biblical answer. The author begins with a penetrating discussion of those tensions that exist between the historic Christian faith on the one hand and all forms of pagan culture on the other (pp. 42–44). Yet, at the same time, he rightly insists that religion and culture are inseparable because “the basic covenantal relationship in which man stands to God comes to expression both in his cultus and his culture” (p. 44). Yet because of the fall of Adam, man is unable to fulfill that cultural mandate which God has given to him as a creature in his image. Man faces a dilemma of tragic proportions in that he is bound by mandate which he cannot possibly fulfill because of his sinful nature.
Dr. Van Til then presents the solution that is found only in the high biblical doctrines of Calvinism. He points out that in Augustine we find the beginning of that theology which, rightly interprets all of pagan culture, but only in Calvinism was full justice done to both the biblical doctrines of God and creation on the one hand, and sin and redemption on the other.
It is the lot of a reviewer to read many books of dubious merit, to read and review some that are definitely superior, and to read a very few that make a profound impression on him as he reads. The Calvinistic Concept of Culture is one of those truly great books which will enrich the literature of the Church. It is a book of real merit for both minister and layman, liberal and conservative.
In sharp contrast to Van Til in both purpose and spirit is Karl Holl’s The Cultural Significance of the Reformation. The author was a colleague of the famous church historian, Adolph Harnack, at the University of Berlin from 1902 until 1926. He wrote in the tradition of liberal German scholarship. This book is more of an historical survey of the cultural influence of Luther and Calvin than an attempt to offer a theological solution to the present tensions existing between Western culture and Christianity. Although he offers very little that is new, he does pay a deserved tribute to John Calvin and offers a mild corrective to the thesis of Max Weber in regard to the relationship between Calvinism and the rise of capitalism. The value of this work lies in the fact that it does make available in a paperback edition a scholarly evaluation of the cultural role of these two Reformers.
C. GREGG SINGER
Only Religion Can Save
The Movement of World Revolution, by Christopher Dawson (Sheed and Ward, 1959, 179 pp., $3), is reviewed by John H. Gerstner, Professor of Church History, Pittsburgh-Xenia Seminary.
Christopher Dawson, the eminent Roman Catholic historian and professor at Harvard Divinity School, finds two revolutions in process: a Western and an Eastern. The Western was set in motion by the Renaissance and Reformation. It has resulted in political, social, and cultural revolutions ending in the prevalence of secularism. This has brought us to the following impasse: “Only two alternatives remain. We can either remain in the half-way house of liberal democracy, striving desperately to maintain the higher standards of economic life which are the main justification of our secularized culture; or we can return to the tradition on which Europe was founded and set about the immense task of the restoration of Christian culture” (p. 65).
The analysis of the Eastern Revolution or revolutions is more interesting because it is less familiar to Westerners. According to the author, the Eastern revolutions are actually the products of Western rather than Eastern civilization (p. 19), and introduced largely by missionaries (p. 135). Oriental nationalism is actually an adoption of Western culture (p. 143). It is as if we gave the East the power to stand on its own feet and it has done so with a vengeance. Indeed, the oriental revolution has moved faster than the earlier revolution in the West, and is still going on. We are now in the time of the plow and not of the harvest (p. 179).
I presume that the overall thesis of this small but interesting volume is this: “When one considers the amount of study that is being devoted to the purely political aspects of oriental nationalisms, Christians cannot but feel ashamed of the little that has been done towards the understanding of the new religious situation arising from the revolutionary changes of the last 50 years. Neither the technological process that is forcing East and West together nor the insurgence of the nationalist forces that is tearing them apart can save the modern world from destruction. Salvation can only come from some power capable of creating a spiritual unity which will transcend and comprehend the material unity of the new world order. And where can this power be found save in religion?” (p. 105).
There is nothing important in this volume with which Protestant historians will not agree. It is quite unsectarian in tone throughout. Its thesis we grant; that is, religion alone is able adequately to bring unity and cohesion out of the present world revolution. But what religion? Romanism? Then, pray God, give us revolutions rather than uniformity imposed by the greatest tyranny of mind and body that the world has ever known. Protestant religion? But which form? No one form; all forms enjoying liberty of expression but expressing their evangelical unity of purpose in some ecumenical vehicle. But will this put down revolution? No, but it will uphold world government which will put down revolution. In other words, we may need a political structure, such as the United Nations, which will give one world its body, and free evangelical religion which will give it its soul. But, what of the non-Christian religions? We must continue to seek to persuade them. If Rome is not built in a day, neither is the New Jerusalem.
JOHN H. GERSTNER
Three Traditions of Moral Thought, by Dorothea Krook (Cambridge University Press, 1959, 355 pp., $5.50), is reviewed by Carl F. H. Henry.
Three divergent views of the nature and importance of love, the author affirms, distinguish three moral traditions in the West: the religious (Plato and the Christian moralists), the secular (Aristotle) and the humanist (a modern synthesis).
In some fine passages Mrs. Krook contrasts views of religious humanists with historic Christian beliefs, even when Jesus Christ is acknowledged “functionally” as God and Saviour (pp. 137 f., 145 ff.). And many high differences between Christian and Greek ethics are soundly put, even if the author provides no definition of revelation, has little room for the wrath of God, and readily speaks of God as “a Person.”
Socrates’ doctrine of virtue and Plato’s affirmation of a single supreme Source of the Good (which transcends even reality in dignity and power) logically lacked the climaxing assurance of “a revealed God and a revealed Gospel.” But Paul by “direct encounter” knew God as “a Person … infinitely tender and loving as … powerful and wise, and [who] sent his only begotten Son to redeem the world” (p. 135). Hence the law of love “subsumes the whole of the moral law” (p. 136). In the person of Jesus the divine Law is made flesh. In view of revelation Paul has “an assurance of being in possession of the Truth—the absolute, complete and final truth.”
Despite tribute to Paul’s “gifts as a moral and religious teacher” (p. 132), reflecting a mind “exercising its powers by the light of the Gospel revelation” (p. 141), Mrs. Krook, an assistant lecturer in English at Cambridge, holds a hesitant view of his apostolic authority and at times even imputes to Paul a rather low ethic (for example, of marriage; note the author’s own theology of sexuality in the appendix).
CARL F. H. HENRY
MONUMENT OF REALISM
Exodus, by Leon Uris (Doubleday, 1958, 626 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Marie Malmin Meyer, Professor of English, St. Olaf College, North-field, Minnesota.
Swastikas painted on a Jewish synagogue in Minneapolis and windows shattered in a Jewish temple in New York—these are newspaper headlines today. Against a setting of this kind of prejudice, we need not think it strange that a book like Exodus, telling dramatically the story of Jewish persecution in the last century, is still near the top of the list of best sellers in fiction, and that it should have stirred up more than ordinary emotional response. “Pro-Jewish propaganda”—“Anti-British”—“overwrought”—“savage”—“searing in intensity”: these are terms used to describe it in the early reviews. But in the same reviews it is designated as “brilliant” and “illuminating in insight.”
Exodus is a historical novel of the period after World War II when Jews from all over the world, but most especially from the concentration camps of Western Europe, were moving back to Palestine and trying to reclaim their ancient home for their people. As is usual in this type of novel, the foreground characters are fictional counterparts of historical figures, while the events of the story are based on historical fact. When Leon Uris says that he read 300 books and traveled 50,000 miles to collect materials for this book, he is trying to assure his readers of the authenticity of his materials.
The opening episode of Exodus sounds like a typical spy story. We meet the usual daring and unconventional news reporter and the usual charming lady, in this case a trained nurse, Kitty Fremont. It does not take long, however, before the sense of the usual is gone and one is caught up in the excitement of an unusual narrative. Kitty remains a main character throughout the novel, and we are invited to focus our attention on Kitty’s relations to Ari Ben Canaan, one of the young leaders of the new Israel movement. The love affair of these two remains a rather tepid business, though references to it give the book a narrative continuity. Actually, what makes the book impressive is the epic sweep of 100 years of Jewish history, with its persecutions, its dreams, and its struggles. As each of the more important Jewish characters is introduced, an extended flashback tells us about his ancestry, his personal background, and his sufferings at the hands of the anti-Semites, especially in the Hitler regime. Much of this is painfully realistic: one hates it, and yet one reads on. In this recording of the fate of the Jew in World War II, Exodus is one of the greatest monuments of raw realism in the contemporary novel.
The style in which Uris writes does much to make the story impressive. There is a directness and lack of ornament in his manner of expression, and this makes possible a growing intensity of style until sentences have the effect of hammer blows. Once the story is under way, he writes at white heat. The simplicity of the language prevents it from becoming melodramatic, even when expressions become downright savage.
In other matters of technique Exodus is not a well-written novel. It is too long, its characters are artificial and contrived, its “story” is too weak, and (especially in the last part of the book) its historical recital is too monotonously detailed.
Despite weaknesses such as these, this is a book worth reading. Granted that it oversimplifies the Jewish situation and sentimentalizes the Jew, the book does give insight into the character and traditions of the Jewish people which is illuminating and instructive. That Uris is himself deeply involved emotionally in the story he is telling does not detract from the importance of the picture which he draws. Even as he discounts some of the accusations against the British and Arabs and some of the idealization of the Hebrew, the reader is enriched in his understanding of the history of European Jewry. And is not knowledge the best weapon against prejudice?
MARIE MALMIN MEYER
Creative Tension, by Stephen Neill (Edinburgh House Press, 1959, 115 pp., 10s. 6d.), is reviewed by R. K. Strachan, General Director of Latin America Mission, Costa Rica.
Four pertinent missionary problems are treated by Bishop Stephen Neill, noted proponent and historian of the ecumenical movement in the Duff Lectures for 1958, published as Creative Tension.
The contemporary relationship of Christianity to the resurgent non-Christian faiths in our shrinking world needs careful study. Bishop Neill, while insisting frankly on the uniqueness of the Christian faith, suggests, as a possible vantage point to understanding, the Transfiguration Mount where all religious leaders vanish away except Jesus alone, yet from whence their role in God’s dealings with mankind may at the same time be understood.
The resurgence of nationalism brings up the question of Christian duty and relationship to government. Neill’s concern is primarily with the problem as faced by the younger churches.
His frank criticism of both mission and younger church provides a helpful background for a consideration of the third major problem—that of proper partnership between West and East in the discharge of the missionary task.
A final and pressing problem is that of the relation of mission society to church. Here Bishop Neill’s treatment and recommendations, while stimulating, seem to be idealistic and impractical and hence disappointing. Due to prejudice, perhaps, it was difficult for this reviewer to eliminate the impression that the author’s plans and structure for ecumenical action did not per se represent an adequate solution to or treatment of the problems under consideration.
Taken all together, however, Bishop Neill’s skillful treatment of these problems in the tension of nay versus yea may well stimulate the student of missions to do his own creative thinking.
R. K. STRACHAN
Forerunners of Jesus, by Leroy Waterman (Philosophical Library, 1959, 156 pp., $4.75). A liberal interpretation of the “Unknown Prophet” and John the Baptist in the light of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Christian Nurture of Youth, by Ada Brunk and Ethel Metzler (Herald Press, 1960, 158 pp., $3). A practical guide for workers with young people.
Judaism Meets Christ, by Roy Kreider (Herald Press, 1960, 77 pp., $1 paper). A new approach to the problems of Jewish evangelism.
The Pastor and Community Resources, by Charles F. Kemp (Bethany, 1960, 96 pp., $1.50 paper). An aid to cooperative relations with social and religious agencies.
Winning What You Want, by J. Clyde Wheeler (Bethany, 1960, 156 pp., $2.95). Christian solutions of everyday life problems.
The Spirit’s Pilgrimage, an autobiography by Madeleine Slade (Coward-McCann, 1960, 318 pp., $5.75). The life story of an intimate and trusted disciple of Ghandi.
Minister’s Federal Income Tax Guide, by Sidney D. Rosoff (Harper-Channel, 1960, 145 pp., $2 paper).
God’s Remedy, by Donald Grey Barnhouse (Eerdmans, 1954, 387 pp., $3.50)—Third volume in an expository treatment of the Epistle to the Romans.
God in Three Persons, by Carl Brumback (Pathway, 1959, 192 pp., $3)—A searching study of the Trinity especially relevant to current Pentecostal controversy.
Triumphant Living, by Paul E. Adolph (Moody, 1959, 127 pp., $2.50)—Word portraits of Bible personalities and their frustrations and problems in the light of modern psychology and medical science.
The Precious Blood of Christ, by J. Glenn Gould (Beacon Hill, 1959, 110 pp., $1.50)—A study of the historic doctrine of the Atonement from the Arminian Wesleyan theological viewpoint.
Parents of Many, by Victor E. Swenson (Augustana, 1959, 348 pp., $3.75)—A gripping personal witness to the power of the Gospel by a former missionary in China.
Christ on Main Street, by C. Sverre Norborg (T. S. Denison & Co., 1959, 400 pp., $3.95)—The life of Christ written in terms of his ministry to the masses by a distinguished humanitarian.
He Leadeth Me, by V. Raymond Edman (Scripture Press, 1959, 88 pp., $1.50)—Lessons on guidance, first presented in counseling sessions at Wheaton College.
Devotional Studies in Philippians, by Lehman Strauss (Loizeaux Brothers, 1959, 253 pp., $3)—Practical expositions which inspire true Christian living.
The Prophets of Israel, by C. Ross Milley (Philosophical Library, 1959, 143 pp., $3.75)—A liberal interpretation of the theological and social message of the prophets.
Tragic Destiny, by George N. Patterson (Faber & Faber, 1959, 224 pp., 18s)—An English missionary to Tibet gives fresh insights into religious and political trends on “the roof of the world.”
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