Jerusalem In Five Pages

Cities of the New Testament, by E. M. Blaiklock (Pickering and Inglis, 1965, 128 pp., 15s.), is reviewed by David F. Wright, lecturer in ecclesiastical history, New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Professor E. M. Blaiklock holds the chair of classics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and for this reason we are not surprised that when he turns to the New Testament his forte lies in the elucidation of its historical and cultural background. In his latest work twenty-three cities are covered from this standpoint, sixteen in the order of Paul’s journeyings from Antioch to Rome and six as the addressees of the John of Revelation. The two groups are separated by Alexandria, which, though acknowledged to have “only a precarious place in this list of cities” (albeit the author believes Apollos to have been converted there), curiously receives the longest treatment of all.

Details of historical origins, prehistorical legends, local pagan cults, local trade and industry, archaeological discoveries—such is the staple diet that Professor Blaiklock offers, though he is often ready to serve up some of the quainter fruits in his vast storehouse of classical learning. He is always on the lookout for independent corroboration of the New Testament narratives and owes a considerable indebtedness to the pioneer work of Sir William Ramsay. There is a great deal here to illuminate the Acts and the Epistles for the Bible student, and to set them firmly amid the living flesh and blood of the first-century world.

Yet this reviewer admits to some disappointment both in the basic outlines of the work and in some of the details. Space does not seem to have been allotted on the basis of importance; hence the breathless compression of the five pages on Jerusalem. We perhaps discern the author’s classical bias in the omission of cities (towns?) from the Gospels, such as Capernaum, Tiberias, Samaria, and even Gerasa, whose remains constitute probably one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman provincial town and which has at least as good a claim to inclusion as Alexandria. We certainly detect the classicist in the enthusiastic chapter on “Athens, Intellectual Capital of the World”—which, of course, it had long since ceased to be by the first century of our era. A map or two would have been of immense help in following the geographical information.

It is doubtful whether in the light of Van Unnik’s Tarsus or Jerusalem: The City of Paul’s Youth we will ever again be able to speak with confidence, if at all, of Tarsus as the scene of Paul’s early years. Was Tarsus (p. 21) or Damascus (p. 15) the locus of Paul’s first preaching? Is there really any evidence for Troas as the place of Paul’s final arrest? What is anyone but an expert to make of the tantalizing mention of the “Nazareth Decree” (pp. 41, 86)? The Codex Bezae is described as “Beza’s version,” and the chapter on Corinth could have been much enriched with archaeological data concerning the quite possible site of the synagogue (Acts 18:4), the bema (the tribunal of 18:12 ff.), and the meat-market (1 Cor. 10:25, RSV). The calculation of the size of the Christian community at Rome (pp. 86, 87) goes astray by not allowing for the influx that must have followed Constantine’s conversion; scholars like Harnack, Lietzmann, and Baus judge Gibbon’s estimate if anything too high for A.D. 250! The author’s statements concerning the legal status of Christianity in the Empire are wide of the mark; it was never “officially proscribed” (p. 104—cf. pp. 100, 101) till the third century. All in all, we are sure that the professor could have done much better.

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Justification And Justification

The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, Volume V: Romans through Philemon, by Wilber T. Dayton, Charles W. Carter, and others (Eerdmans, 1965, 675 pp., $8.95), is reviewed by Donald W. Burdick, professor of New Testament, Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.

Here is a commentary whose distinctiveness justifies its existence. Written by Wesleyans and for Wesleyans, it is meant to provide an exposition of the biblical text in the tradition of John Wesley and Adam Clarke, but based on recent scholarship and couched in contemporary terms. The theological slant of the volume, however, is not so extreme as to make it impractical for students of Calvinistic persuasion. While the treatment is non-technical, the text in cludes helpful discussions of first-century customs and historical backgrounds, as well as an enlightening use of the Greek text, always explained in terms understandable to one who reads only English. A thorough analytical outline and an introduction, sometimes rather brief, precede each epistle.

Several of the seven authors insist that justification is more than forensic. Both Wilber Dayton, on Romans and Galatians, and Charles Carter, on First Corinthians, assert that in justification, righteousness is not only imputed but imparted. Exception must be taken to George Turner’s comment on Philippians 2:5–11 that Christ “divested himself of many divine prerogatives that he had as God” including “omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence” (p. 464). While the desire to be non-polemical is commendable, some may wish for a stronger presentation of Wesleyan theology, especially in comments on such passages as Romans 8:28–30. Others may find the rather extensive use of previous commentaries to be a weakness. On the whole, however, and in view of their stated purpose, the authors have succeeded in producing a commentary profitable for both pastors and lay people.

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The Content Is Good

The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert E. Coleman (Revell, 1961. 126 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by Harold Lindsell, associate editor, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

Jesus, the Master, had a plan for evangelizing men. Coleman has analyzed the plan and found eight guiding principles which are neatly outlined for the reader: (1) Selection—men were his method; (2) Association—he stayed with them: (3) Consecration—he required obedience; (4) lmpartation—he gave himself away; (5) Demonstration—he showed them how to live; (6) Delegation—he assigned them work; (7) Supervision—he kept check on them: and (8) Reproduction—he expected them to reproduce.

The bibliographic material contained in the footnotes is impressive. The author breathes out a spirit of passion and concern for the lost. He has put his principles to the test in his own evangelistic outreach. The dust jacket contains high commendations from splendid sources.

No one will take exception to the points the author has made. Many will take exception to the way he writes. The book reads like a first draft, as shown by the following samples taken at random: “This principle of establishing a beachhead in a new place of labor by getting with a potentially key follow-up leader is not to be minimized”; “the patience with which Jesus brought this out to His disciples reflects upon His consideration for their ability to learn”; “He found the distraught father with the sick child having a fit before the helpless disciples”; “that is why His demands upon discipline were accepted without argument”; “Christ gave a special gift … for the purpose of perfecting the saints to do the service they have each to perform”; “He concentrated Himself upon those who were to be the beginning of this leadership.” The publisher cannot escape his responsibility, either. He should employ a first-rate copy editor.

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Strangely, this is a good book badly written.


The Beginning Is Where?

Pascal’s Recovery of Man’s Wholeness, by Albert N. Wells (John Knox, 1965, 174 pp., $4.25), is reviewed by George Ensworth, lecturer in pastoral theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Chestnut Hill. Pennsylvania.

Albert N. Wells, minister of the Laurinburg, North Carolina, Presbyterian Church, received his Th.D. from Princeton Seminary, where he studied Pascal extensively under Emile Cailliet. In this little volume he attempts to show that Pascal’s concept of order in life can bring “wholeness” to the “splitness” of today’s life and thought. For one who has never read the religious writings of this seventeenth-century Christian mathematician and scientist, this book will be a good introduction. Wells has written a lucid biography of Pascal showing his development as a Christian philosopher climaxing in his Pensée 792. In this Pensée Pascal describes life as being of three orders: the physical, the intellectual, and the spiritual. Although Pascal saw certain truth on each level, there is discontinuity in the ascending order from physical to spiritual. One cannot reason from a lower to a higher order. According to Wells, Pascal leans heavily on Augustine to show that meaning and continuity in the orders come only when one starts “with man himself.…” “Faith in God was for Augustine the existential beginning …” (p. 42). It seems to this reviewer that to consider beginning with “faith in God” as “starting with man” is a reflection of Wells’s own thinking rather than Pascal’s or Augustine’s. Would they not consider faith in God as beginning with God?

Wells shows how important philosophers since Pascal have failed to realize “wholeness” because they have tried to reason from a lower to a higher order. This is a helpful section for anyone concerned about the relation of science and religion, but the impression is given that the problem of modern man is an intellectual discontinuity rather than a spiritual discontinuity caused by man’s guilt before a holy God.

If one can overlook the heavy existential emphasis, there is a refreshing attempt in the early chapters to make God supreme. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …” (Prov. 9:10). But the concluding chapters in which the author attempts to show Pascal’s relevance to today are very disappointing. Wells lets his own view of the world and life show too much. Although trying to keep faith in God supreme, he seems to fall into the error of making experience the final authority. In the last analysis he sees a Christianity that must be subjected to the corrective influence of modern science and thought, the very thing Pascal wished to avoid! For this reviewer the author has failed to make existentialism intellectually more acceptable.

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An Injustice To Christianity?

Athens or Jerusalem?, by L. A. Garrard (Allen and Unwin, 1965, 185 pp., 21s.), is reviewed by Martin H. Cressey, minister, St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Coventry, England.

The author, a distinguished Unitarian who formerly was principal of Manchester College, Oxford, and now is professor of philosophy and religion at Emerson College, Boston, here sets out his convictions about liberalism past and present. Many early Church Fathers, medieval scholars, and Enlightenment philosophers tried to produce a synthesis of biblical thought with Hellenic, Platonic, Aristotelian, or Stoic thought. Conservative and liberal readers alike will appreciate Dr. Garrard’s useful survey of these attempts, even if they do not accept all his summary comments (e.g., the Lutheran group of churches “has been largely characterized by emotional pietism”).

The real debate about this book will center on its first two and last chapters. In the first two, Dr. Garrard argues that, while there is in the sixty-six books of the Bible a unity of theme that makes them a unique collection, there is also a variation in theology that takes back into Scripture the kind of comprehensive diversity which he wishes to see in the Christian community today. He quotes with approval E. F. Scott’s statement that “the effort to harmonize the New Testament teaching does an injustice to Christianity itself, which is identified with one given form of belief, while it embraces many.” In particular he argues that there are in the New Testament teaching about Jesus “two fundamentally different main lines. One … is in the main adoptionist. Jesus became divine, or perhaps only the Lord’s anointed, at some specific point in his career.… The other view is concerned with the Incarnation of a pre-existent Divine being.… It is not really possible to accept both views at once.… It is very doubtful whether either is particularly helpful to us today.”

If all this is true, then the Church ought indeed to tolerate diversity and becomes sectarian if it does not do so. If all this is true, Dr. Garrard is right in his strictures upon the World Council of Churches for adopting a trinitarian formula. To accept his view would not, be it said, lead to pure relativism. The liberal does not necessarily hold that all religions have an equal contribution to the truth about God. “There is nothing in the liberal faith that precludes him from believing that Christianity is the best of existing religions or committing himself in personal loyalty to Jesus as his master.” Nor does liberalism in religion necessarily imply a blurring of all sharp distinctions. Dr. Garrard has no use for a tolerance which is “a huddling together for warmth in the face of the chill blasts of growing popular indifference to all forms of organized Christianity.” The last chapter of the book is indeed a helpful restatement of what liberalism means over against certain hostile distortions of its intention.

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The basic question remains whether the liberal commitment of personal loyalty to Jesus is or is not an appropriate response to the teaching of Scripture. Those who disagree with Dr. Garrard, and they will be many, must be ready to search the Scriptures with him.


Mission Failures

Christian Missionaries and the Creation of Northern Rhodesia, 1880–1924, by Robert I. Rotberg (Princeton University, 1965, 240 pp., $6.50), is reviewed by Virgil A. Olson, professor of history and missions, Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.

The recent cry in Africa has been, as James Scherer entitled his book, Missionary, Co Home! Bewildering questions are raised when the modern mission situation is surveyed: Why do nationals who have been trained in mission schools turn against the Church and the missionaries? Are these revolutionary forces in African nationalism that oppose missionaries the result of Communistic agitation?

Rotberg partially answers these disturbing modern queries by presenting a documentary probe into the formative history of missionary action in Northern Rhodesia. Culling his material from correspondence of missionaries, diaries, interviews, and field studies, he further documents the findings of the famous sociologist and missionary leader Maurice Leenhardt, who came up with many of the same conclusions two decades ago.

The book does not overlook the heroic dedication of men and women, nor is their zeal for winning Africans to Christ minimized. And this is the story that we have usually heard. Why, then, the apparent failure? Why are missionaries often looked upon as foes rather than friends of Africans?

This interestingly written report is the record of equating Christianity with Western civilization and imposing this form upon tribal communities; of a blind disregard of cultural mores, in which national Christians were forced to live under the most stringent Puritan ethic; of imperialistically minded servants of God who kept nationals in a state of servility; of racial discrimination; of limited confidence in national leadership, and the like. The author concludes the text and aptly summarizes the study as follows: “In terms of their early aspirations, missionaries had sown the wind, and apparently, reaped the whirlwind.”

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Rotberg, who is assistant professor of history at Harvard University, has done a great service for missions. Hopefully missionaries, mission administrators, and others interested in missions will read this documentary carefully. A word to the wise should he sufficient.


Book Briefs

Architecture in Worship: The Christian Place of Worship, by André Biéler (Westminster, 1965, 96 pp., $3.75). A sketch of the relationships between the theology of worship and the architectural conception of Christian churches from their beginnings to our own day.

Archaeology and the Living Word, by Jerry Vardaman (Broadman. 1965, 128 pp., $ 1.50). A small book with lots of biblical information for the layman about the world of the Bible.

Signs and Wonders Upon Pharaoh: A History of American Egyptology, by John A. Wilson (University of Chicago, 1964, 243 pp., $5.95). An engaging account of America’s share in the exploration of ancient Egypt.

The Image of God, by Theodore Parker Ferris (Oxford, 1965, 184 pp., $4.25). A striking combination of sense and theological nonsense.

Salt of the Earth: An Informal Portrait of Richard Cardinal Cushing, by John H. Fenton (Coward-McCann, 1965, 242 pp., $5).

The Compassionate Christ, by Walter Russell Bowie (Abingdon, 1965, 320 pp., $5.50). A devotional, very readable running reflection on the Gospel of Luke. Its theological interpretation rakes rather than plows the field.

Dialogue on the Way: Protestants Report from Rome on the Vatican Council, edited by George A. Lindbeck (Augsburg. 1965, 270 pp., $4.75).

Introducing Old Testament Theology, by J. N. Schofield (Westminster, 1964, 126 pp., $2.75). Brief, scholarly, with appreciation of Old Testament theology.

The Dividing of Christendom, by Christopher Dawson (Sliced and Ward, 1965, 304 pp., $5.95). Lecture material covering the period from the Reformation to the French Revolution. Roman Catholic scholar Dawson is the first occupant of Harvard’s Roman Catholic chair—the first in a U. S. Protestant seminary. Profitable reading.

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I & II Samuel: A Commentary, by Hans Wilhelm Hertzberg, translated by J. S. Bowden (Westminster, 1964, 416 pp., $7.50). A theological (not dogmatic) interpretation; refreshingly lucid and readable.

Olavus Petri and the Ecclesiastical Transformation in Sweden, 1521–1552, by Conrad Bergendoff (Fortress, 1965, 267 pp., $3.75). A sympathetic yet critical evaluation of Petri’s influence upon the Swedish church. Petri, a sixteenth-century man, had Luther for a teacher.

New Testament Introduction: The Gospels and Acts, by Donald Guthrie (Inter-Varsity. 1965, 380 pp., $5.95). First-rate scholarship deals with all the critical problems of authorship, date, and composition of the four Gospels and of the Book of Acts. May well become a standard work for a long time.

Speaker’s Resources from Contemporary Literalure, edited by Charles L. Wallis (Harper and Row, 1965, 282 pp., $4.95). It’s hard to conceive of situations in which much of this material would be useful.

The Brothers Harper, by Eugene Exman (Harper and Row, 1965, 415 pp„ $7.95). A unique publishing partnership and its inffuence on the cultural life of America from 1817 to 1853.


Unitive Protestantism: The Ecumenical Spirit and Its Persistent Expression, by John T. McNeill (John Knox, 1964, 352 pp., 84.50). A scholarly but easy-to-read discussion of the history and theology of Protestantism, written to show that authentic Protestantism has always been “ecumenically minded.” One new chapter added to original edition.

History of Palestine and Syria to the Macedonian Conquest, by A. T. Olmstead (Baker, 1965, 664 pp., §9.95). A good history; first published in 1931.

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