Old Testament Capsules
Archaeology and the Ancient Testament, by James L. Kelso (Zondervan, 1968, 214 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Gleason L. Archer, professor of Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.
The subtitle for this interesting little work by one of America’s foremost archaeologists is, “The Christian’s God of the Old Testament vs. Canaanite Religion.” Dr. Kelso’s extensive experience in Palestinian archaeology and in the Old Testament department at Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary would lead the reader to expect an emphasis upon areas of Old Testament study that have been illumined by excavation. But this is not his intention in this volume, which he says is written especially for laymen. The aim here is to capsulize the essential message of each of the Old Testament books (except Jonah and Amos, which Kelso dealt with in an earlier work). His usual method is to bring out a few highlights of the book under discussion, illustrated with a few significant quotations.
Two emphases appear in these brief analyses: (a) the polar contrast between the divinely revealed faith of Israel and the humanly invented religions of her pagan neighbors (this rules out the possibility of borrowing or mechanistic evolution in the development of Hebrew religion); and (b) the preparation for the New Testament Gospel contained in the successive revelations of the Hebrew Scriptures (this gives continuity and organic unity to the two Testaments). The material is presented in a vivid, personal way, with a careful effort to make the ancient authors and heroes seem relevant to our lives today.
There is a bit of unevenness of treatment. Lamentations and Obadiah are granted only a single paragraph each, and Zephaniah rates only two, largely quotations. Some of the interpretations are, to say the least, questionable. For example: the Egyptians had no tradition of the Flood (notwithstanding Plato’s report of the Egyptian account in Timaeus); Jacob used Mendelian techniques in influencing the birth of ringstraked sheep but employed peeled rods as a bluff to “mislead competitors”; Rameses the Great is the Pharaoh of the Exodus (there is no discussion of the difficulties this creates with 1 Kings 6:1; Judges 11:26, and Acts 13:19, 20, all of which indicate a fifteenth-century date for the Exodus, rather than 1290 B.C.
At times the author draws rather dubious inferences from silence. For example, since there is no explicit reference in Ugaritic literature to the application of the blood of a sacrifice to the altar, he confidently asserts that this “did not occur in Canaanite sacrifices.” And he says: “No music was used in Israelite services until David introduced it,” a fact of which we have no certain knowledge. He seems to imply brutality on the part of the Levite “who butchers his concubine and parcels her out to the twelve tribes”; what he fails to mention is that the concubine had been brutally murdered by others, and that the Levite dismembered her corpse as a forceful appeal for vengeance against her murderers. Surely the interpretation of David’s census of Israel as “an attempt to destroy the tribal system and make the federal state everything” calls for a little more supporting argument than merely a footnote reference to an earlier work. Highly debatable also is the assertion that Psalm 29 “is actually a converted Canaanite poem where Yahweh justly replaces Baal as God of the natural world”; this should have been carefully supported. Quite astonishing is the information that Daniel was thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace along with his three friends; this is hard to reconcile with the King’s amazement at seeing a fourth figure walking about in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Kelso sedulously avoids discussion of higher critical problems. He assumes the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and the unity of Isaiah without the slightest indication that these are treated as moot points in the Sunday-school curriculum of his own denomination. On Solomon’s authorship of Ecclesiastes and Canticles he has nothing whatever to say, and he makes no attempt to put them into a historical setting of any kind. He interprets the apparently cynical or anti-religious sentiments of Ecclesiastes as contributed by some skeptical member of an assumed discussion panel, rather than as the pronouncements of the authoritative chairman, who leads the discussion to the orthodox conclusion of 12:13. Without mentioning any other theory as possible, the author assumes that Joel is a fifth-century prophet, even though he presupposes a ninth-century set of adversaries menacing Judah (Phoenicians, Philistines, Egyptians, and Edomites) and makes no mention of Assyrians, Chaldeans, or Persians. Likewise questionable is the interpretation of Yahweh as a Creator God (“the One who causes to be what comes into existence”), even though Elohim is the term constantly used of God in creation contexts.
In a few places, insights from archaeology are used with telling effect, as in the quotation of Albright’s vivid assertion that the bloody brutality of the Canaanite goddess Anath shows the extreme degeneracy of the culture that Israel overthrew. Kelso points out that infant sacrifice was practiced in Carthage (a Phoenician colony) until its final destruction by Rome in the second century B.C. He makes effective use of an anecdote of his experiences in Palestinian excavation in the opening paragraphs of his chapter on Job, which is perhaps the finest part of the book, with its profound analysis of the difficult final section that records God’s direct confrontation of Job.
Kelso’s special strength in this work lies in drawing practical applications from the Hebrew Scriptures, such as this: “New Testament service, just as Old Testament service, still demands 100 percent allegiance to God, at least one-seventh of our time for His worship, and more than one-tenth of our income devoted to His service.” And: “The ‘simple ones’ of Proverbs are the ‘teen-agers’ of every generation. They are the people who think that good and bad can be learned only in the school of experience. They are totally unaware that Christ knows infinitely more about sin than anyone who has ever experimented with it.” Thus the author of this book, for all his technical training and his decades as a classroom professor, turns out to be an earnest pastor at heart, deeply concerned to convince those whom he teaches not to substitute intellectual comprehension for heartfelt obedience and the practice of the holy life.
A Shaky Bridge
The Dialogue Between Theology and Psychology, edited by Peter Homans (University of Chicago, 1968, 295 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Orville S. Walters, professor of health science and lecturer in psychiatry, University of Illinois, Urbana.
Can psychodynamic theory as elaborated by the personality sciences help to clarify the nature of faith? This symposium, originating in a 1966 centennial conference at the University of Chicago Divinity School, offers an answer. Most of the eleven authors studied with Seward Hiltner, to whom the volume is dedicated. As the introduction forecasts, the contributors all reflect in some degree the Chicago school’s position on the psychology of religion and theological liberalism.
The tone of the symposium is set in the editor’s essay, “Toward a Psychology of Religion: Via Freud and Tillich.” Homans notes the demise of the traditional psychology of religion, attributing its decline to the rise of psychoanalysis and Watsonian behaviorism, which removed the conversion experience from the domain of psychology. At the same time, theology rejected religious experience in favor of an existential approach. The resultant splitting of the psychology of religion into theology and psychology produced the pastoral-psychology movement, which is deeply committed to a psychoanalytic orientation. Pastoral psychology has substituted psychotherapy for the conversion experience. Still an applied discipline, it lacks adequate theological integration, recalling the similar plight of the religious-education movement.
Homans proposes to transcend the traditional view of theological anthropology, that there is a realm of reality beyond the processes open to psychological categories and methods. Seeking to formulate a dynamic psychology of the self that will include the subject matter of theology, he points to the propriate striving of Allport, the self-actualization of Maslow, the fully functioning person of Carl Rogers, and the identity formation of Erikson, as lying within the proper territory of theology. He finds in the use of the superego concept by both Freud and Tillich a common element that he believes is amenable both to psychological analysis and religious interpretation.
The dynamic root of sin in the human personality is the subject of an essay by Fred Berthold, who believes that Protestant discussions of sin have refused to face the question of why man turns pridefully away from God. He finds an answer in the psychoanalytic concept of narcissism, which is traced to the “primal anxiety” of the nursing period. The child responds to his awareness of helplessness and maternal dependency with anxiety and aggression, and seeks to turn away from the mother in independence and mastery. The feelings of guilt and unworthiness that follow evoke inordinate self-love to compensate. The basic sin of narcissism is therefore a response to one’s feeling of smallness and unworthiness. Berthold does not clarify the source of the child’s aggression.
For several of the essayists, Erik Erikson’s concept of ego-identity becomes the medium of synthesis between theology and psychology. Psychotherapy concerns itself with insight into identity, and theology concerns itself with revelation. Since both processes lead to transfiguring knowledge, concludes Charles Stinnette, they represent not human achievement and divine gift but one process of knowing. “Christ enters man’s biographical history as the ultimate answer to man’s quest for identity and meaning.” For Leland Elhard, faith and identity coincide. “Both point to the self-in-God, where one is fully God’s self and fully one’s own self at the same time.”
The chapter by Leroy Aden on pastoral counseling stands out because of its simple thesis and its lack of ambiguity. Pastoral psychology has been more concerned with a psychological than with a theological perspective. A psychological framework such as the Freudian or the Rogerian has displaced the counselor’s own faith. Since Christian faith is the dominant concern in the pastor’s profession, it should be the distinctive mark of pastoral counseling. The client’s basic struggle is with finitude, alienation, and guilt. These must be met “in the light of the revelation which is disclosed and embodied in Jesus Christ.”
The essayists make a strenuous effort to bring theology and psychology into some kind of synthesis. They succeed in placing the two disciplines near each other and throwing across a bridge built of myth, symbol, and elements of personality theory. But the bridge is hardly solid enough for traffic and is not likely to satisfy either side. Indeed, no synthesis is likely to succeed so long as psychology insists upon being rigidly empirical and so long as the Cross remains a scandal.
Should We Guarantee Income?
Guaranteed Annual Income—The Moral Issue, by Philip Wogaman (Abingdon, 1968, 158 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Edmund A. Opitz, staff member, The Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.
An individual may be impoverished as the result of an unfortunate chain of circumstances, but if a society is poor the reason is low productivity. The general level of material well-being of a people can be raised only by increased production, which calls for working harder, using natural resources more wisely, and having more and better tools. These limitations and requirements are marks of our creaturehood, and so we rebel against them.
There’s no room for magic at this level—at the level where goods come into existence only as the axioms of economics are obeyed. But at the next level—at the point where produced wealth is taken for granted and the economic problem is viewed simply as a reshuffle and a new deal—fantasy has a field day. Schemes for the redistribution of income and property are much more exciting than plans to increase production, and, because they need not be pinned down to any verifiable reality, there are many more of them. A number of these redistributionist schemes are described in Mr. Wogaman’s book, together with the rationale which makes them attractive to a minority of Americans.
Wogaman cites a poll that shows 60 per cent of the people opposed to a guaranteed income, with another 12 per cent undecided. He admits that there is a moral case against redistribution, but thinks it is weak. Those who believe that a man should not receive an income from the government, apart from services rendered, are bemused by the “Protestant ethic” (italicized in the book). That is to say, they believe in work as a virtue as well as a necessity, and they practice thrift. Furthermore, they string along with the old-fashioned American disposition toward individualism and personal liberty; and they believe that an injustice is done to the man who is deprived of his property for another’s assumed benefit. The case against the guaranteed annual income is much broader than this, but these in themselves are strong arguments—far more cogent, in my view, than the reasons Wogaman marshalls to support his contentions.
The Christian does have a binding obligation to respond sensitively to the needs of his neighbor, and this includes sharing his material possessions when required, as an act of love. But this does not mean society should be organized for the political redistribution of the existing stock of goods. The two situations are not congruent. The love commandment, translated into political terms, is the rule of law. In a society of equal justice under the law, men are free, and each man may pursue his own goals. Such a society is far from perfect; but we were never promised the Kingdom on earth. As a matter of record, societies that have tried to approximate the ideal of freedom under law are uniformly more productive than those that turn their backs on this ideal. These latter may promise a guaranteed income, but they do not produce the goods; only free societies do that.
Telling It Like It Is
Black and Free, by Tom Skinner (Zondervan, 1968, 154 pp., $2.95), is reviewed by John E. Steeg, Jr., general missioner, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Vividly, honestly, without compromise, evangelist Tom Skinner tells it like it is. Black and Free is a prophetic call to the body of Christ. As Mr. Skinner sees it, evangelical Christians’ indifference to the plight of the black man is bringing on a catastrophe.
Skinner’s estimate of the current scene is devastatingly accurate. He lays bare the total hypocrisy of the racism that exists in many who claim Christ as their personal Saviour. Through the eyes of this black brother in Christ we see the shame of “trial by color.”
After developing his case with commendable spiritual honesty, Skinner appears to advocate “hit-and-run evangelism” as a simplistic answer to the problems. There can certainly be no quarrel with his emphasis on the Gospel as the cure for racism. However, pharisaism is no more acceptable in 1968 than it was in our Lord’s lifetime. Without Christ-centered concern for the welfare of the total man, a cold understanding of John 3:16 and Romans 3:23 makes a mockery of God’s love.
A “for real” Saviour who was wounded for our transgressions and who poured out his life for the least, a compassionate Christ, truly God and truly man—this Christ rings true to the perceptive black man fed up with pie-in-the-sky churchianity and a middle-class white Jesus. I wish Mr. Skinner had said this as forthrightly as he said many other things. Nevertheless, his book is one that should be read by every serious Christian.
The New Testament Era, by Bo Reicke (Fortress, 1968, 349 pp., $5.75). An internationally known New Testament scholar and historian presents a concise history of the period from the Jewish exile (500 B.C.) to the completion of the writing of the New Testament (A.D. 100).
Ferdinand Christian Baur—On the Writing of Church History, edited by Peter C. Hodgson (Oxford, 1968, 380 pp., $8). An English translation of two earlier works by the founder of the Tübingen school.
Peril by Choice, by James C. Hefley (Zondervan, 1968, 226 pp., $4.95). The story of Wycliffe Bible translators John and Elaine Beekman as they translated the New Testament into the language of the Chol Indians, a primitive tribe living in the remote Mexican state of Chiapas.
The Missionary Between the Times, by R. Pierce Beaver (Doubleday, 1968, 197 pp., $5.95). A helpful study of the role of the missionary in a rapidly changing world with suggestions for developing more effective means of carrying out the Great Commission.
A City Set on a Hill, by Theodore A. Aaberg (Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1968, 299 pp., $5.95). An up-to-date history of the fifty-year-old Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
Radical Christianity and Its Sources, by John Charles Cooper (Westminster, 1968, 171 pp., $5.95). The author of The Roots of the Radical Theology offers a less technical work in which he criticizes the Present-day Church and calls for a new reformation stressing the activism of involvement in political, social, and international activities.
When Death Takes a Father, by Gladys Kooiman (Baker, 1968, 171 pp., $3.95). A young widow and mother of eight children shares her deepest feelings—from heartache to triumph—after the death of her husband. Particularly helpful for those who have undergone a similar experience.
Land of Christ, by André Parrot (Fortress, 1968, 166 pp., $5.95). A renowned archaeologist offers a tour of the Holy Land with photographs, biblical texts, description, and archaeological and historical notes that bring the setting of the Gospels to life.
The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, by Albert Schweitzer (Seabury, 1968, 411 pp., $2.95). Schweitzer’s monumental work on Paul, first published in 1931.
Introductory Studies in Contemporary Theology, by Robert L. Reymond (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1968, $2.95). The theological systems of Mascall, Wieman, Brunner, Barth, Bultmann, and Tillich evaluated from a biblically oriented frame of reference.
Does Inspiration Demand Inerrancy?, by Stewart Custer (Craig, 1968, 120 pp., $3.50). A defense of biblical inerrancy, defined as “that characteristic of Scripture which renders it without mistake and therefore infallible, not just in religious matters, but also in matters of historic and scientific fact.”
Christ and the Jews, by Cornelius Van Til (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1968, 99 pp., $1.95). A thoughtful comparison of Jewish and Christian thought clarifying the fact that response to the person of Christ is the irreconcilable issue that separates Judaism and Christianity.
Dialogue in Medicine and Theology, edited by Dale White, 1968, 176 pp., $1.95). Papers presented at a Convocation in Medicine and Theology at Mayo Clinic in 1967. A provocative give-and-take discussion in an area of great importance.
Tinder in Tabasco, by Charles Bennett (Eerdmans, 1968, 213 pp., $2.95). A well-documented account of the growth and problems of the Church in the Mexican province of Tabasco. Especially helpful in showing how a church becomes static.
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