A Major Old Testament Study

Introduction to the Old Testament, by R. K. Harrison (Eerdmans, 1969, 1,338 pp., $12.50), is reviewed by R. Laird Harris, dean of faculty, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

This magnum opus of Dr. Harrison is a welcome addition to the literature on Old Testament introduction. The book falls into two major sections: about 500 pages of general material on Old Testament study, and about 700 pages of special introduction treating the individual books. There is also a helpful section on the Apocrypha. The first section, which could well have been bound as Volume I, gives material on the history of the science, archaeology, chronology, the text of the Old Testament and its canon, and the theology and worship of the Old Testament.

As is obvious from the bulk of the book, it is a major study. Not only does Harrison range widely in the topics he treats; he also shows a tremendous grasp of the literature of the field. His work is especially valuable for citations of British and Continental authors. A few American key studies have not been noted, as, for instance, the article by Jack Lewis (“What Do We Mean by Jabneh?,” Journal of Bible and Religion, 1964), which brings into question the Council of Jamnia (cf. pp. 278 and 1186). But in general American authors are also used extensively, and writers of all shades of theological opinion are cited.

Although the work is extensive, it still is somewhat of a survey in some areas for the simple reason that it covers so wide a field. For instance, Part Two on archaeology covers only sixty-two pages, whereas J. A. Thompson’s book The Bible and Archaeology covers almost 500 pages. Harrison’s Part Seven, Old Testament theology, covers seventy-eight pages, whereas Payne’s Theology of the Older Testament has 550 pages. (In my opinion, incidentally, Parts Six and Seven, Old Testament religion and Old Testament theology, could well have been treated together.) The section on Old Testament history has a discerning section on historiography. Harrison’s treatment of problems of text or material in the Old Testament is in general very satisfactory. In such discussions he carefully gives the history of the matters concerned and a moderate statement of the situation with helpful suggestions for answers to the difficulty.

On the whole the work is from the evangelical viewpoint and a valuable contribution to such literature. I found it a bit more concessive at some points than was necessary; e.g., a local flood, the late date of the Exodus, the low value of the Psalm titles, monolatry rather than monotheism for the Patriarchs’ religion, and inaccuracy of the censuses in Numbers. On the other hand, there seems to be too much trust in the early date of the Samaritan Pentateuch. Harrison holds that the Cyrus passage in Isaiah 45 is a gloss but argues that the disputed word in Isaiah 7:14 really means “virgin.” He strongly opposes the documentary divisions of the Pentateuch, drawing heavily on the archaeological arguments advanced by C. H. Gordon, W. F. Albright, and others.

The section on textual criticism might have been strengthened, which is not surprising, inasmuch as only recently have orthodox Old Testament scholars entered this field and likewise only recently have critical scholars become more cautious. Both groups would profit by attention to such study of the New Testament, where the principles have been better worked out. On page 259 it could be added that, as Warfield observed years ago (Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p. 10), another objective of the textual critic is the validation of our present texts. The new discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls help mightily here. These are criticisms of individual points and should not negate the positive value of the work as a whole.

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The book is to be highly recommended and the author commended for his industry, patience, and wisdom. He has given us a book that should be widely used as a text and reference book by Old Testament scholars.

Especially For Children

The Children’s New Testament, by Gleason H. Ledyard (Word, 1969, 628 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Donald W. Burdick, professor of New Testament, Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.

Paul said of Timothy, “You have known the Holy Writings since you were a child” (2 Tim. 3:15, Children’s New Testament). And it is no less true today that familiarity with the Scriptures ought to begin in early childhood. To meet this need, veteran missionary Gleason H. Ledyard has attempted to render the New Testament “in language children can read and understand.” He limited himself to a vocabulary of about 850 words and replaced such technical terms as “propitiation,” “sanctification,” “Pharisee,” “synagogue,” and “resurrection” with simpler explanatory expressions. The work reflects a theologically conservative viewpoint.

To make the New Testament understandable for children, a considerable amount of paraphrase is necessary. However, the more a translation moves toward paraphrase, the more it must be interpretative, and the greater is the possibility that it may miss the point.

Considering all the excellent qualities of The Children’s New Testament, I would like to give the volume unqualified endorsement. But there are some weak spots. In some instances where passages are obscure and open to more than one interpretation, Ledyard arbitrarily adopts a specific interpretation. For example, in Acts 2:4 the apostles speak in “other languages,” but in First Corinthians 12:10, 28, 30glossa is translated as “special sounds,” suggesting ecstatic speech in heavenly languages not current among the nations of earth.

In a number of passages the words righteous and righteousness are interpreted forensically where the context clearly refers to a righteous life. For example, in First John 2:29 Christ is described as “right with God” (dikaios) and his children are characterized likewise as “right with God.” In the second instance, however, the Greek poion ten dikaiosunen means “practicing righteousness.” John refers, not to standing before God, but to right living.

The term for “kingdom” is always rendered “nation,” so that John declares, “The holy nation of heaven is near” (Matt. 3:2). One wonders if even a child would not find it easier to understand “The kingdom of heaven is near.”

If such deficiencies as these could be remedied, this translation would be of inestimable value for family Bible reading and for use by children themselves. It is to be hoped that publisher and translator will perform this useful service.

Victims Of Persecution

Strangers and Exiles: A History of Religious Refugees, Volumes I and II, by Frederick A. Norwood (Abingdon, 1969, 1,023 pp., $25), is reviewed by C. George Fry, assistant professor of history, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.

What is the proper response of a Christian to persecution? Should he be “a roaring lion of defiance (rebellion), a meek lamb of peaceful resistance (martyrdom), or a wise fox maneuvering (flight as refugee)”? Through the centuries, multitudes have chosen the way of the fox. This work tells their story.

This “straight-forward and comprehensive history of religious refugees” by Frederick A. Norwood, professor of the history of Christianity at Garrett Theological Seminary, was written for three reasons. First, Dr. Norwood has had a lifelong personal interest in the plight of the refugee. This concern began during his student days at Yale in the 1930s and was reflected in his doctoral dissertation, prepared under Roland H. Bainton and published as The Reformation Refugees as an Economic Force. These volumes, therefore, are the ripe fruit of research and reflection. But second, the problem of the refugee is a challenge to the entire Christian community today in this “century of the homeless man” when millions have been uprooted. And third, in the career of the refugee Norwood finds a new life style for the Church—that of the Lord’s diaspora in secular society.

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The story of the religious refugee has its roots in the Old Testament. As Norwood observes, “almost the entire history of the Jews is refugee history.” In this work he traces the wanderings of the Jews from the time of Abraham to that of David Ben-Gurion. But the main emphasis is on Christian refugees. The process by which the Church changed from a persecuted minority into the persecutor of its dissenting brethren is discussed. The primary stress in the first volume is on persecution in the medieval and early modern periods. It concludes with the dawn of legal toleration in the Enlightenment. Quite properly, Norwood devotes an entire second volume to the problem of persecution in modern times. Half of this volume focuses on the twentieth century. We are again reminded, as the late Kenneth Scott Latourette once noted, that there have been more martyrs and pilgrims for the sake of the Gospel in our century than in the nineteen preceding ones combined.

This was a difficult work to write. Norwood has handled his subjects in a sensitive and thorough manner. Through the exploration of a vast body of literature in English and the Continental languages, he has collected an amazing amount of data about the many pilgrim peoples—from the little-known Christian Assyrians of the Middle East to the much publicized Waldensians and Huguenots of Europe. The diverse strands are woven together with a goodly degree of continuity.

In spite of great care, some errors have crept into print. Transylvania was never part of the Holy Roman Empire (I, 443), “Hanoverians” is preferred to “Hanovers” (I, 489), and to refer to the Palatines, Dutch, and Norwegians as part of a colonial “Celtic” migration is unfortunate (II, 192). But these are very minor matters when compared with the conscientious and exhaustive scholarship on which this history rests.

A serious disappointment for all evangelical readers, however, will be the author’s acceptance of the view of Vatican II on the Church as a sacrament and the corollary conviction that “salvation will include many who, although they have not received and accepted the gospel, come unknowing under its redeeming grace” (II, 476). While the author is certainly not a universalist, he does feel that “the choir of heaven is being enlarged.” For him the Church is the “advance party” of “that larger company who do not yet know who and what they are—all children of God.…” I cannot concur with Dr. Norwood in drawing this conclusion from the history of religious refugees. But I respect his scholarship and commend this well-researched work to all serious students of church history.

Archaeology Illustrated

Tells, Tombs and Treasure, by Robert T. Boyd (Baker, 1969, 222 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Marvin R. Wilson, chairman, Division of Biblical Studies, Barrington College, Barrington, Rhode Island.

“A Pictorial Guide to Biblical Archaeology” is the fitting subtitle of this work. Robert T. Boyd, a pastor and evangelist, seeks to make a “dead” subject come to life for the general reader. In this he succeeds, and here is the book’s greatest value.

Nearly half the volume is illustrations—320, to be exact, many Boyd’s own. Among the most unusual pictures are the “Lion’s Den,” “ ‘Cup’ of the 23rd Psalm,” and “Earliest Crucifix.” The rest of the book is mainly popularized commentary revolving around the illustrations. The novice will appreciate the frequent explanations of archaeological jargon.

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In seven chapters Boyd covers data from both Old and New Testaments, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many readers will find the second chapter the most interesting. Here the author draws upon his limited field experience (he was a member of Wheaton’s team under J. P. Free at Dothan) to describe the process of a dig.

Boyd fails to interact with many key secondary and primary sources in the field. Consequently, certain issues tend to be oversimplified. There are no footnotes. The King James Version is appealed to throughout. One searches the bibliography in vain for such notables as Kenyon, Wright, and Yadin.

A number of statements are open to question. Boyd fails to note Glueck’s retracted interpretation (1965) of the ruins at Ezion-Geber as a copper refinery. Though he argues that “Sarah was only following a custom of the day when she gave Hagar to Abraham to bear a child,” he seems, on the other hand, to disclaim any relation between

the Mosaic law code and Hammurabi’s. In addition, Boyd is unconvincing in stating that “many scholars accept the book of Job as the oldest in the world.”

Other questionable matters include the suggestion that “since early writing was in the form of marks, or symbols, writing began when God put a ‘mark’ on Cain after he had slain Abel.” Also, Boyd feels it is not unreasonable to assume that our knowledge of creation was handed down from Adam, who in the garden asked countless questions about himself and things around him. One may also ask why “Elephantine” is omitted and why “Mrs. Lot—A Pillar of Salt” gets more space than that allotted for the Gezer Calendar, Megidde, and Masada combined.

Some of Boyd’s analogies are inimitable. In the first chapter we find such lively expressions as “Man Kills Wife While Taking Bath,” “society dame,” and “hit the bottle.” Nude images of ancient religion are likened to the “original ‘pin-up’ girl” and a topless dancer in a California nightclub. A parallel is made between Mesopotamian priests (medical exorcists) and modern psychiatrists. Such expressions may help some to “turn on” to archaeology, but they may turn others off.

Boyd writes with apologetic and evangelistic passion. Throughout, he disagrees with the Bible “critics” (whom he never names). In earnest he writes, “Every broken piece [of pottery] will also be a reminder of a sinner’s heart—broken and completely beyond repair,” and “Thank God His Word is not scientific trash.” To the last statement this reviewer will offer no argument.

Introduction To Psychology

Man in Triumph, by Harold W. Darling, is reviewed by Vernon C. Grounds, president, Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.

Post-Freudian psychology is a bewildering maze of systems and theories. A Christian attempting to find his way through this jungle may soon become so disoriented that he heads back to the highroad of theology and decides that the disciplined study of human nature is forbidden territory for a biblicist. So what the chairman of the social-science division at Spring Arbor College has done is provide a kind of map for would-be explorers. Dr. Darling, a psychologist, helpfully charts the terrain for his fellow believers.

The introduction he provides is, fortunately, free from dry-as-dust pedantry. Almost painlessly he acquaints his readers with key ideas of the pivotal figures in this burgeoning discipline, not only Freud but also Adler, Jung, Rank, Horney, Fromm, Sartre, May, Maslow, Allport, Rogers, Frankel—many of the significant names on the roster of post-Freudians. Crisply he sums up those aspects of their theorizing that impinge on Christian faith, and these summaries, while very condensed and at times somewhat simplistic, are admirably done.

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More specifically, Darling discusses the relation between theology and psychology in four areas: the nature of man, the universality of guilt, the springs of motivation, and the dynamics of motivation. All the while he grapples with moral as well as spiritual issues. His well-informed, balanced, evangelical and yet irenic discussions will do much to enable his fellow believers to find their way through the tangles and thickets of psychology. At the same time, they correct certain misimpressions and show why there is need for a radical transformation of personality that human therapy cannot effect.

Darling’s treatment of extremely recondite matters can be accused of superficiality; but an adequate analysis of them would take a book rather than a paragraph, and would confuse and bore many of those whom the author is trying to assist. Experts may fault him for being too brief, too uncritical, occasionally too hortatory. Non-experts may complain that, though he holds up biblical faith as the way to self-understanding and self-fulfillment, he rarely explains in specific terms how the Gospel is to be changed from theoretical theology into operational technique. But one must not demand that an introductory study be a spiritual panacea.

Book Briefs

The Victorian Church, Part II, by Owen Chadwick (Oxford, 1970, 510 pp., $12.50). This conclusion of an extensive study of the Victorian Church includes detailed accounts of the problems that confronted the Church in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Biblical Predestination, by Gordon H. Clark (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969, 155 pp., paperback, $1.95). Examines this controversial doctrine in the light of the Scriptures.

The Affable Enemy, by Wallace E. Fisher (Abingdon, 1970, 157 pp., $3.95). Uses an exchange of letters by two fictitious characters to challenge the casual Christian (the affable enemy) to a vital Christian commitment through doctrine and deed.

Like It Is, by Mort Crim (Warner, 1970, 124 pp., paperback, $2.50). A former minister, now a radio and television newsman, relates Christianity to the problems of our time and suggests what Christians should be doing to correct injustices.

Time Bomb in the Middle East, by Yehoshafat Harkabi et al. (Friendship, 1969, 96 pp., paperback, $1.35). A bird’s-eye view and analysis of the opposing viewpoints in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Release from Tension, by David A. Blaiklock (Zondervan, 1969, 92 pp., $2.95). Relates the truths of the Christian faith to problems and circumstances that often lead to unbearable stress and tension.

The People Who Couldn’t Be Stopped, by Ethel Barrett (Regal, 1970, 138 pp., paperback, $.69). A look at Acts in the Ethel Barrett style.

I Meet God Through the Strangest People, by Daniel R. Burow (Concordia, 1970, 206 pp., $3.95). Devotions for 9-to-13-year-olds.

General Epistles of James and Jude, by Richard Wolf (Tyndale House, 1969, 113 pp., paperback, $1.95). A verse-by-verse commentary.

The Puritan Lectureships, by Paul S. Seaver (Stanford University, 1970, 402 pp., $12.50). Examines the influence of the Puritan lectureships upon English society during the century after 1560.

The Treasury of Quiet Talks, by S. D. Gordon (Baker, 1970, 251 pp., paperback, $2.50). Those familiar with the S. D. Gordon “Quiet Talks” will appreciate this reprint.

Youth Meditations, by Walter L. Cook (Abingdon, 1970, 96 pp., $2.50). Thirty-nine meditations that compare problems of today’s teen-agers and experiences of biblical characters.

Lamentations-Daniel, by J. Stafford Wright (Eerdmans, 1969, 93 pp. paperback, $1.25). A “Scripture Union Bible Study Book.”

Pauline and Other Studies, by William M. Ramsay (Baker, 1970, 415 pp., $6.95). Reprint of an important work by an outstanding authority on the life of Paul.

Projections: Shaping an American Theology for the Future, edited by Thomas F. O’Meara and Donald M. Weisser (Doubleday, 1970, 233 pp., $5.95). A look into the future by several well-known theologians, each of whom discusses a particular theological trend and its influence on the future of Christian theology.

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