The Epistle to the Hebrews, by Hugh Montefiore (Harper and Row, 1964, 272 pp., $5), is reviewed by F. F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism and exegesis, University of Manchester, Manchester, England.

This latest addition to a distinguished series of commentaries admirably maintains the high standard set by its predecessors. English biblical scholarship has made contributions of peculiar value to the exegesis of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but there is always something new to say about this fascinating book, which has now found another able commentator in Canon Hugh Montefiore, vicar of Great St. Mary’s, Cambridge, and canon theologian of Chichester.

No one knows who wrote Hebrews, and no one knows to whom it was written. That it was written in the apostolic age, before the fall of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70, is a reasonable inference from its contents. Canon Montefiore agrees and would date it rather early in the apostolic age, between A.D. 52 and 54, in fact. The arguments that its author was Apollos, while they “fall short of proof,” seem to him to be impressively strong. He suggests a life-setting for the letter which links up with Paul’s reference to Apollos in First Corinthians 16:12, “As for our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brethren, but it was not at all God’s will for him to go now.” So Apollos did not go to Corinth just then; instead, he sent the church there a letter (the Epistle to the Hebrews) that reached it before the full development of the situation addressed by Paul in First Corinthians. Canon Montefiore is not the first to suggest that Hebrews was sent to Corinth, but he has sustained this thesis more persuasively than any of his predecessors. The reviewer, who has preferred a rival thesis, is not convinced by Canon Montefiore’s arguments. But before the thesis is rejected, due account must be taken of the impressive list of undesigned coincidences between the situation of Apollos and the Corinthian church and the Epistle to the Hebrews which he marshals in support of his case. For example—and this is but a minor one—“they of Italy salute you” (Heb. 13:24). Who are “they of Italy”? If Apollos stayed in Ephesus instead of going to Corinth, were there any Italians in Ephesus who would send greetings to Corinth? Of course there were—Priscilla and Aquila, well known in Corinth, and the only people in the whole New Testament who are mentioned by name as having “come from Italy” (Acts 18:2)! Here is another: why “baptisms” in the plural in Hebrews 6:2? Because Apollos had had to do with two baptisms, the baptism of John and Christian baptism; and perhaps the reference in the same verse to the laying on of hands indicates that Apollos underwent such an experience as the other disciples in Ephesus in Acts 19:6. While the arguments in the epistle would be directed chiefly to the Jewish members of the Corinthian church, Canon Montefiore thinks that some of its injunctions (e.g., in Heb. 12:16; 13:4) would have been more relevant to former pagans.

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But the straightforward exegesis of Hebrews is unusually independent of the exegete’s conclusions on such matters of introduction. Canon Montefiore agrees that “details of authorship, date, destination and structure commonly convince a writer more than his readers,” and so he has constructed the commentary proper “in the hope that it may be of use to those for whom there is as yet no convincing solution to the difficult problems which this Epistle poses.”

Let us then sample his handling of a few of the crucial passages in the epistle. What of the difficult reading “apart from God” in Hebrews 2:9? Mainly because it is the more difficult reading he accepts it in preference to “by the grace of God” and gives the rendering: “so that, separated from God, he might taste death on behalf of all men.” (The reviewer likewise accepts the more difficult reading but regards it as originally a marginal note interpreting Hebrews 2:8 in the light of First Corinthians 15:27.) And who are the fallers away of Hebrews 6:6 who cannot be renewed to repentance? Apostates. Is the “covenant” sense to be maintained, with Westcott and others, in Hebrews 9:16, 17? No; the word “inheritance” at the end of verse 15 suggests to the author the “testament” sense of Greek diatheke, and it is this sense that is uppermost in his mind in the next couple of verses. As for “we have an altar” in Hebrews 13:10, the author “is referring not to the altar itself but to the victim upon it.… Calvary is meant, not some heavenly altar of the true sanctuary.… Our author is simply not thinking of the Eucharist at all.”

As in the other volumes in this series, the commentator supplies his own translation direct from the Greek. Canon Montefiore bases his translation on the Greek text of the new diglot at present being prepared for the British and Foreign Bible Society. He does not clutter up his exposition with technicalities or with summaries and refutations of what other commentators have written. He acknowledges that he has confined himself to exegesis and not gone on to hermeneutics (the interpretation of the lessons of the book for the situation of its readers today); the remoteness of the sacrificial ritual with which Hebrews is so much concerned makes the hermeneutical task specially difficult in this epistle.

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Yet Canon Montefiore is surely not the man to be deterred from a task because it is difficult; may we hope that one day he will address himself to the hermeneutics of Hebrews and put us further in his debt? There are few scholars who are better equipped for this task. Meanwhile, he has earned our great gratitude for this scholarly, helpful, and readable commentary.

The Pastor’S Life And Work

Parson to Parson, by Adolph Bedsole (Baker, 1964, 149 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by H. Franklin Paschall, pastor, First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee.

Every pastor will be greatly blessed by this book. The author, a pastor of wide experience and long tenure, writes poignantly of the problems and privileges in the life of a modern minister. His insights and suggestions are helpful and inspiring.

Most writers today criticize the preacher for using worn-out clichés that have little meaning to the people of our day. Dr. Bedsole observes that many a minister has lost his audience by using the technical terms of the scholars and by revealing his own uncertainty on vital doctrines and issues. He admonishes the preacher to “march those scholarship stallions back to the stables,” “bridle the champions of academic freedom,” “corral the fillies of higher criticism.” He recognizes the value of true scholarship but believes that it should not be on parade and should not be thrust upon people who are not intellectually equipped to receive it. He deplores the despair and uncertainty of many contemporary religious leaders. The foundations of God stand sure.

The chief contribution of Dr. Bedsole concerns practical affairs in the pastor’s life and work. He deals with such subjects as “The Preacher’s Other Cheek,” “The Preacher and His Time,” “The Preacher’s Burdens,” “The Preacher and the Staff,” “When Halos Sprout Horns,” and “The Preacher on the Shelf.” His analyses and recommendations are based on a knowledge of the Scriptures and a rich experience of Christian living and pastoral ministry. He knows first-hand the problems, privileges, responsibilities, and possibilities of a minister of Jesus Christ. If a pastor wants to be more like Jesus in all things, this book will help him attain the goal.

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The Cover’S The Thing

Protestantism in Suburban Life, by Frederick A. Shippey (Abingdon, 1964, 221 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Ivan J. Falls, associate professor of sociology. Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota.

When Harold Larrabee evaluated Vilfredo Pareto’s Mind and Society, he said: “Pareto disappoints all those who look for completeness; his wisdom is in insights and details” (Harold A. Larrabee, “Pareto and the Philosophers,” Journal of Philosophy, XXXII [Sept. 12, 1935], pp. 507, 508). Shippey may be summarized in much the same way.

Like a patchwork quilt done by a large number of chatty women, Protestantism in Suburban Life has a few pieces that are done extraordinarily well; other parts are of only passable workmanship, and still other patches are simply worthless. One cannot say categorically that it is a bad book without pointing to some paragraphs that approach belles lettres in quality—paragraphs that will be quoted from the pulpit and in popular magazines. Overall, however, the book is a string of miscellaneous items held together only by the covers of a book, with a facade of orderliness (1, 2, 3, 4 …), a mirage of documentation, and clever verbiage here and there. If his frame of reference were deliberately interdisciplinary, then one would be able to put his comments into some meaningful perspective. This is not possible with a book that appears accidentally eclectic.

In his attempt to provide the Protestant reader with a rationale for ministering in suburbia, Shippey comes off badly. An operational definition for “suburb” is not apparent, and he does not characterize Protestantism in a way that gives it uniqueness. In the first chapter he commits himself to the necessity for empirical data, the dangers of generalizing beyond one’s sample, and the mandate to make reliable information available to relevant persons with suburban church problems, and then he throws a scorching indictment against some who, he thinks, have fallen into errors in these matters. When any author opens his book with a volley like that, the reader takes a “wait and see” attitude and asks himself, Can this author do better? And, unfortunately, Shippey does not.

Despite his page-after-page insistence on the need for empirical proof and his intention to use primary sources, the author leans much too heavily upon quasi-sociologists and novelists who have written about suburbia. Many of his sources could be found on the book rack at a suburban drugstore. He promises to present new information, some of which he has personally researched; but it is not properly footnoted, and he displays a remarkable inability to distinguish between fact and opinion. A sociologist should know better.

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It is not clear how he feels about the reality of spiritual phenomena. The reader will wonder if the social gospel is the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if sin is indicated only by the crime rate, if membership growth is the same as population growth, and if “Satan” (with quotation marks, p. 108 and elsewhere) is really Satan. Shippey is perceptive when he says: “What needs to be held in mind is that a profound evangelistic motivation underlies the impulse to establish new congregations” (p. 163). He is on the way to a crucial point about those Spirit-directed urges that lead the Protestant Christian to establish the work of Jesus Christ in the suburbs—a point he embraces very vaguely.

Christians need guidance concerning God’s work in the suburbs and would be favorably disposed to accept a book that promises such. But when a book like this fulfills so little, they will have to wait for another try.


Many Excellent Things

A Body of Divinity, by Thomas Watson (Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, 316 pp., 15s.), is reviewed by W. J. Cameron, professor of New Testament, Free Church of Scotland College, Edinburgh, Scotland.

“By popularizing ancient works, their readers are multiplied and their meaning may often be more readily apprehended.” In this belief the principal of Pastors’ College, London, carefully modernized the style and vocabulary of Thomas Watson’s seventeenth-century work, A Body of Divinity. for reprinting in 1890, at the request of C. H. Spurgeon. But such had been the demand for this posthumously published book that it already had been reissued several times since its original printing in 1692. Readers of successive generations evidently found themselves in agreement with William Lorimer, who remarked in his preface to the first edition that “there are many excellent things” in the sermons of which the book is composed. Not even the vast and varied output of religious literature in the second half of the twentieth century has served to extinguish interest in this Puritan classic.

Seven years ago the Banner of Truth Trust made its debut in the publication of older religious works of value with a reprint of Watson’s book, based on the 1890 edition. The book’s reception so commended the judgment of the Trust’s editors that this year, recognizing it as one of the best sellers in their considerable list of publications, they felt justified in issuing a revised edition in a more attractive format.

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The author, who was no mean scholar, ministered to an appreciative London congregation until the Act of Uniformity imposed such conditions upon the clergy of the Church of England that he felt unable to retain his living. For a period he preached in secret as he had opportunity, but accepting the Indulgence in 1672, he began again to preach publicly in London, where Stephen Charnock became his colleague at Crosby Hall. Watson is regarded as the most readable of the Puritans, and competent judges esteem his published works very highly. A Body of Divinity, as originally published, consisted of 176 sermons on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The present volume contains the earlier part of the original collection, which deals with the first thirty-eight questions. Its main divisions are God and His Creation, the Fall, the Covenant of Grace and Its Mediator, the Application of Redemption, Death and the Last Day.

At a time when the conflict of many opinions on matters of belief is productive of much confusion of thought, few things are more necessary for the establishing of personal Christian faith than judicious and balanced instruction in the teaching of Scripture. It is the great merit of this book that it faithfully expounds biblical doctrine in a clear, concise, and very practical manner.


A Preferred Freedom

Religion and the Constitution, by Paul G. Kauper (Louisiana State University, 1964, 137 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by William A. Mueller, professor of church history, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Professor Kauper of the University of Michigan, well-known author, lawyer, and expert on constitutional law, gave the lectures contained in this book at the University of Louisiana in March, 1964. After some introductory considerations he confronts the issue of religious liberty in chapter one. Is religious liberty but one aspect of a “broader freedom of expression” or does it denote “an independent substantive liberty of American citizens”? What, essentially, is religious liberty and how may it be properly defined within the First Amendment of our Constitution? Moreover, to what extent is religious liberty encompassed in the freedom of speech, press, and assembly? Surely, freedom from discrimination on religious grounds in, for instance, securing a government job is part of religious liberty. Likewise, a man’s religious beliefs are not subject to any governmental restraints or coercion or denial. Since government is not capable of determining ultimate truth, it is in our way of life forbidden to sanction or forbid religious practice or belief. This latter interpretation of government is traceable to the thinking of men like Thomas Jefferson whose ideas are rooted in the Enlightenment and its secular interpretation of limited government. Hence, religious liberty is a multi-dimensional issue, and our author credits the United States Supreme Court with having elevated religious liberty to a preferred freedom within the larger freedoms all citizens enjoy (pp. 43, 44).

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Chapter three deals with interpretation of the First Amendment. Shall the Supreme Court interpret the establishment clause in terms of (1) a no-aid or strict separation theory, (2) the strict neutrality theory, or (3) the accommodation theory? Although the Supreme Court, according to Kauper’s measured judgment, has not yet fully committed itself to an overall rationale, the trend seems to be in the direction of the third alternative. “The problem we face cannot be solved by simple rules or absolute propositions. The accommodation theory recognizes the task of the judiciary in arriving at judgment by weighing a variety of considerations” (pp. vi, vii).

What of the present attitude of the churches toward this burning issue? How may they, in a pluralistic society, best approach the issue of religious liberty? It is far easier to recite ancient traditions than to solve concrete issues bearing on church-state relations. What of parochial schools wanting support from the government? Here we think primarily of demands made by our Roman Catholic friends. In the Southland, Southern Baptists have established, since 1954, their own elementary schools, primarily with the aim of evading the law calling for integrated public schools. As a people with a rich religious heritage we feel uneasy about a government that is outspokenly secular in character. Kauper, in his concluding chapter, wisely warns the churches against the perils of government assistance. Our author is convinced that “the American experiment in religious liberty, buttressed by the separation of church and state, has vindicated itself” (p. 118). May the churches continue to rely on their own spiritual vitality rather than on handouts from the government in order to perpetuate and enlarge their witness to the living God and their contribution to the common good.

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The Retarded

The Church’s Ministry in Mental Retardation, by Harold W. Stubblefield (Broadman, 1965, 147 pp., $4), is reviewed by Dorothy L. Hampton, publicity and scholarship committee chairman, Metropolitan Association for Retarded Children, Denver, Colorado, and member of the Colorado Governor’s Committee for the Employment of the Mentally and Physically Handicapped.

This volume is an extremely fine informational tool that should be required reading for every pastor and seminary student. There is a national upsurge of interest in our 5½ million retarded persons, and the Church must not be left behind in an area calling for authentic Christian concern. Stubblefield’s book will help clear away a great deal of confusion about the Church’s and the pastor’s role with the retarded and their families. Through up-to-date and relevant observations, many based on his experiences as a chaplain at a state institution for the retarded, the author makes telling points; yet he never resorts to material that is too technical or uninteresting.

This book has a challenge: the ministry for the retarded is a total ministry, not just a fragmented condescension to a group otherwise outside the Church’s fellowship. Most encouraging is Stubblefield’s constant reference to a retarded person as a “whole person,” as a human being whose need is to be understood relative to his developmental stage and social adjustment, as well as to his level of mental ability and degree of retardation. Pastors will find the sections dealing with a comprehensive ministry to the retarded very helpful. The author confronts such subjects as confirmation and baptism, church membership, and partaking of communion, as well as the retarded person’s understanding of death, need in bereavement, and problems of marriage and childbearing.

The chapters on the religious consciousness and Christian education for the retarded are excellent. The description of comprehension levels of theology and doctrines in the various I.Q. ranges will be very useful. Many ways for a total ministry are given, and many misconceptions about retardation are treated. The author shows the necessity for secular parent associations and for professional workers in the field as referral sources. He clarifies such points as the meaning of “trainable” and “educable” and the difference between mental retardation and mental illness. A good bibliography points to further reading on such subjects as the causes of mental retardation and the meaning of terms like I.Q., brain damage, and mongolism—terms used in this book but not fully explained.

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Our responsibility to the retarded is clear. Challenged by this volume, many a church and pastor will be able to see the responsibility and act upon it sensibly, practically, and immediately.


Essays For Protestants

Word and Revelation: Essays in Theology I, by Hans Urs von Balthasar (Herder and Herder, 1964, 191 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Franklin van Halsema, instructor in philosophy, Grand Valley College, Allendale, Michigan.

Although no Christian theology worth the name ever neglected to take Christology seriously, it has become a fashion of our time to demand of a theology that it be “Christological” before anything else. And although verbum caro has recently been made the persistent theme of theologies of diverse and even antipathetic types, it is an interesting coincidence that this first volume of Father von Balthasar’s essays shares the Vulgate phrase as a title with the journal of the Reformed community at Taizé. The fact supplies a perspective in which to take a measure of the new book’s importance. The book is based on a conception of what comprehensive and consistent Christological thinking means that comes closer to the conception basic to Taizé’s de-puritanizing of Reformed theology than to the conception basic to Barth’s de-scholasticizing of it. The novelty and importance of these essays, and to a degree of the movement at Taizé, can be compared with that which belongs to the Theologie Nouvelle as a whole. However full the information in the Church Dogmatics about the theological tradition, there is little (it can be said without disparagement) of that information by the tradition, notably biblico-patristic, which gives the Christological emphasis of the Theologie Nouvelle its distinctive character. Father von Balthasar is not a Protestant theologian, but the general method and resources of his theology, if not his stance as a churchman (most recently illustrated by his position in the Opus Dei controversy), show him to be a Protestant’s theologian; he is unlike the official Roman catechists in the way the theologians of Taizé are unlike the Presbyterian catechists of Westminster.

Neither Barth nor Taizé holds to the evangelical doctrine of revelation and Scripture. Among evangelical theologians inspiration is usually regarded as a completed act of God by which the biblical autographa were preserved from error; infallibility and inerrancy are generally used interchangeably; confident appeal is made to the historic Church in support of the claim that verbal inspiration is a classic, not a modern, conception; and the “true” meaning of Scripture is generally identified with the one discoverable by historical exegesis. The formidable array of questions that such features as these give rise to is seldom recognized. Is restricting inspiration to the biblical originals compatible with the conviction that our Bibles are infallible divine revelation? If the meaning of biblical infallibility is exhausted by the concept of inerrancy, which accounts for accuracy, by what complementary concept is the relevance of biblical truth accounted for? Does the classic theory of verbal inspiration retain any utility if it is divorced from the equally classic, closely related theory of the “spiritual senses” of Scripture? Historical exegesis can determine what Paul of Tarsus meant; but is it able to disclose what good preaching must disclose, namely, what Saint Paul means?

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Here these questions have been introduced, not in order that they may be pressed, but in order that certain aspects of our author’s Christological approach to the subject may be set in relief. “Just as the word Christ spoke as man is inspired by the Holy Spirit, so also is the written word; its inspiration is not something past and concluded but a permanent, vital quality adhering in it at all times.” The principal effect of inspiration is not to be seen in the absence of error, which is only “a by-product” of it and cannot explain how Scripture is “food of the soul.” Inspiration means that “the Holy Spirit as auctor primarius is always behind the word,” and guarantees that “the primary content of scripture is always God himself.” If that is so, “the idea that one has understood a passage of scripture finally and completely, has drawn out all that God meant in it, is equivalent to denying that it is the word of God and inspired by him.” To affirm inspiration, then, is to affirm that the Bible has that fecundity of meaning classically referred to as the sensus plenior. But we must take care to affirm Scripture’s transliteral meaning with due regard to its content, which means, once more, a Christological affirmation. The problem of how to relate the literal and spiritual meanings is soluble if we grasp that they “are to each other what the two natures of Christ are to each other.” In so far as “the spiritual sense is never to be sought ‘behind’ the letter but within it,” the literal sense has a kind of priority; but just as “Christ’s divinity cannot be wholly comprehended through his humanity,” so cannot “the divine sense of scripture ever be fully plumbed through the letter.”

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This sample conveys nothing of the variety or continuity of the thinking embodied in the book’s six essays. There is, for example, the extraordinary meditation on silence, or “the dialectic of word and superword,” which, as a Christological attempt to tread the via negativa, appropriately concludes the book. (Whoever knows the author’s first published work, now entitled Prometheus, should read this essay.) Another essay is a highly original and provocative contribution to theological aesthetics, which develops the theme that “Christ, God’s greatest work of art, is in the unity of God and man the expression both of God’s absolute divinity and sovereignty and of the perfect creature.” It is sensitivity to the “form” of Christ which accounts for the place of eros in catholic theology. “The loss of the erotic element of the Canticle and of the esthetic element of the dionysian writings has resulted in a dessication of theology. What it needs is to be steeped anew in the very heart of the love mystery of scripture, and to be remolded by the force it exerts.” But one’s way into such essays as these is a reward earned only by traversing the territory of the essays that precede them. These, on revelation, word, history, and tradition, are basic.

If it is true that Roman Catholic theologians are “rediscovering” the Bible, it is also true that Protestant theologians are rediscovering the catholic tradition, and along with it a less familiar side of the Reformers themselves. If Father von Balthasar’s volume of essays is a good specimen of the “new” Roman Catholic thought, it is also a good chance, from which evangelical Protestants are not the least prepared to profit, to learn some old, classic, catholic theology and its relevance to modern theological concerns. And one thing more. Whoever seeks a respite from the many mansions of the Church Dogmatics will find the charterhouse of these few, neat, compact essays a perfect place for retreat.


Book Briefs

The New Testament in Modern English: Student Edition, by J. B. Phillips (Macmillan, 1965, 558 pp., $3). With verse numbers, index, and introductory notes.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls: A College Textbook and a Study Guide, by Menaham Mansoor (Eerdmans, 1964, 210 pp., $4). An outline-style, fact-packed presentation.

The Letter on Apologetics and History and Dogma, by Maurice Blondel, translated by Alexander Dru and Illtyd Trethowan (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964, 301 pp., $6.95). The first book of an influential twentieth-century Roman Catholic philosopher to be translated into English.

Jesus and Logotherapy: The Ministry of Jesus as Interpreted Through the Psychotherapy of Viktor Frankl,by Robert C. Leslie (Abingdon, 1965, 144 pp., $3).

Planning for Protestantism in Urban America, by Lyle E. Schaller (Abingdon, 1965, 224 pp., $4.50). How long-range urban planning and church planning interact.

Renewing Your Faith Day by Day: Based on the Christian Herald Daily Meditations with a Supplement for Special Days, by Robert W. Youngs (Doubleday, 1965, 198 pp., $3.95). Very brief but often very much to the point.

Constitution on Ecumenism, Constitution on the Church, and Constitution on the Oriental Churches, promulgated by Pope Paul VI (Daughters of St. Paul; 1965; 28, 85, and 14 pp.; $.25, $.40, and $.15).

So You Want a Mountain: 12 Evangelistic Sermons, by Ford Philpot, introduction by Bishop Nolan B. Harmon (Baker, 1964, 113 pp., $2.50).

The Shoemaker Who Gave India the Bible: The Story of William Carey, by James S. and Velma B. Keifer (Baker, 1964, 63 pp., $1.95). For children.

Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City, by G. Ernest Wright (McGraw-Hill, 1964, 270 pp., $7.95). An account of the archaeological excavation of Shechem.

Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey, by Kenneth Ch’en (Princeton, 1964, 560 pp., $12.50).

The Epistles to the Corinthians, by Julian C. McPheeters, from the “Proclaiming the New Testament” series (Baker, 1964, 154 pp., $2.95). Homiletical applications with little exegetical interpretation.

The Pulpit Speaks on Race, edited by Alfred T. Davies (Abingdon, 1965, 191 pp. $3.95). Colorful sermons.

The Holy Spirit and You, by Donald M. Joy (Abingdon, 1965, 160 pp., $2.75). Practical discussions in a fireside style.

Father Coughlin and the New Deal, by Charles J. Tull (Syracuse University, 1965, 292 pp., $6.50). The story of the colorful, petulant Roman Catholic Michigan radio priest of the 1930s.

Preface to Bonhoeffer: The Man and Two of His Writings, by John D. Godsey (Fortress, 1965, 73 pp., $2). An excellent introduction to the life and significance of Bonhoeffer, plus two of his shorter writings as substantiating evidence.

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