Survey Of Biblical Lands

The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas, edited by E. M. Blaiklock (Zondervan, 1969, 491 pp., $9.95), is reviewed by Wilbur M. Smith, professor of English Bible, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

We have in this attractively printed volume the work of a number of biblical scholars from outside our own country, including the editor himself, who is the emeritus professor of classics of the University College, Auckland, New Zealand. The articles on geology are written by D. R. Bowes, senior lecturer in geology in the University of Glasgow, and J. M. Houston, university lecturer in geography at Oxford. Many pages are from the hand of that indefatigable evangelical scholar F. F. Bruce. Among the contributors from this country are two professors at the Wheaton College Graduate School of Theology, J. Barton Payne and Merrill C. Tenney. One does not read far into this book before he is aware that what is here is the product of rich scholarship and deserved authority.

Apart from the opening chapter, “A Geographical Background to the Bible Lands,” and four appendices (on the cities of the Bible, archaeology and the Bible, the languages of the Bible lands, and the geology of the Holy Lands and adjacent regions), what we have here is a history of biblical events with emphasis upon their geographical aspects. Interspersed between chapters on Israel’s major historical periods are chapters on the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persian Empire, the Hellenistic Empires, and Rome. Of course, we cannot expect much of the material in a book of this type to be altogether new, though it is fully up to date archaeologically.

I found Bruce’s chapter on “The Palestine of the Gospels,” in which he guides us through the very complex details of the rule of the Herods and the procurators in Palestine, to be unusually well done. Probably the most unusual chapter of this volume is the editor’s thirty-five-page discussion of the cities of the New Testament. The following statement will present for many a new theme in the study of biblical history:

Cities are not prominent in the Old Testament. There are the twin capitals, Jerusalem and Samaria, and the two aggressors, Nineveh and Babylon, of which the latter became a Biblical symbol for organized evil.
In the New Testament the whole situation is diametrically different. Cities dominate the story, and that fact makes the study of the New Testament and the processes of the first Christian evangelism such relevant reading in a century in which history has come full circle, in which cities dominate cultures, and the looming megalopolis threatens a Babylon of apocalyptic proportions.
Article continues below

One must not expect to find in this volume a consideration of theological matters, or even of some of the great prophetic utterances of the Old Testament. This is not a history of Israel’s religion but an atlas. Thus, for example, in the two columns devoted to Daniel, it is a little irritating to read that “his book contained predictive elements,” without being told what these were.

There seems to be a contradiction between a statement appearing in the first chapter and one relating to the same subject in the second chapter. Dr. Houston says, “Contrary to previous views, that the great river valleys of Egypt and Mesopotamia were the environment where man first passed from the stage of the pastoral nomad to that of the farmer, it is more likely this took place first in Palestine.” Dr. Harrison begins his chapter on the world of Genesis by affirming something quite different: “The most casual reading of the early chapters of Genesis indicates that the geographical setting for the earliest activities of mankind was in an area dominated by two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Toynbee’s famous theory of the river origins of human cultures finds cogent illustration here.”

One very important factor, especially for the early history of Israel, seems to be more or less ignored here, and that is the matter of chronology. It is suggested that the Pharaoh of the oppression was Rameses II (1290–1224 B.C.), but I do not see any hint as to actually when the exodus took place or at what specific time the Israelites entered Palestine under Joshua.

Some of the 220 pictures in this volume relate to recent excavations and and have not yet appeared in Bible atlases. The aerial views of Susa, the Euphrates River, the Sinai Peninsula, and Anathoth have been possible only in recent years. The views of Rome and Athens are well chosen, and we can be grateful for the full-page plate of Delphi. One could wish that all the pictures were as clear as those of the site of Capernaum and the Arch of Galerius.

When examining this new Pictorial Bible Atlas, one thinks at once of Zondervan’s earlier Pictorial Bible Dictionary. A few of the pictures are identical. But we regret to note that some of the pictorial accompaniments in the earlier dictionary are far superior to those in the atlas, such as those that relate to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran, the Jordan Valley, the River Jabbok, Mt. Hermon, Mt. Tabor, Petra, the Plains of Esdraelon, the mound of Megiddo, and the Appian Way. Many of the illustrations in the new volume are poorly reproduced—as the view from the top of the great pyramid, the city of Jerusalem, and Byblos.

Article continues below

There are eighty-five maps, of which nine are in full color, and four bibliographies, covering the Old Testament period, the return from captivity, Bible archaeology, and cities of the Bible.

The book concludes with three indexes—of Scripture references (about 900), of persons, subjects, and places (about 3,000, including numerous items entered variously), and of full-color maps. Even in such full indexing, important matters are ignored; for example, although George Adam Smith does not appear anywhere in the index, not only is he quoted four times but more than half a page is devoted to him, in tribute, in the preface.

The indexing is in some places rather technical. Under “geology,” for instance, nearly 200 items are listed, and under the subentry “sandstone” there are seven general references and then a list of ten kinds of sandstone, each with its page reference! All the geological periods are listed under “Geology.” I could wish that other items in the index were equally informative; under the entry “Jerusalem,” for instance, we have sixty page references, but no hint of what aspect of Jerusalem’s history or geographical factors or excavations is treated on these various pages.

In Opposition To Evolution

Evolution and Christian Faith, by Bolton Davidheiser (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969, 372 pp., $6.50), is reviewed by R. L. Mixter, professor of zoology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

Bolton Davidheiser holds a doctorate from Johns Hopkins with an emphasis in genetics. His knowledge of the voluminous literature in the areas of heredity and evolution is impressive.

Following a testimony to his Christian conversion (which came after he took his doctorate), Davidheiser carefully defines evolution and Christian faith and states the issue. He clears up the misconception that Darwin did not believe man evolved from monkeys, referring to Darwin’s Descent of Man, in which he wrote, “The Simiadae then branched off into two great stems, the New World [western hemisphere] and Old World [eastern hemisphere] monkeys; and from the latter, at a remote period, Man, the wonder and glory of the universe proceeded.”

In discussing the history of evolutionary thought, the author cites much interesting material not often found in anti-evolutionary writings. For example, he discounts the story of Lady Hope that Darwin in later life regretted his evolutionary views and reminds us that Darwin’s wife, who was very religious, would surely have announced his conversion.

Article continues below

Davidheiser evaluates the views of fellow Christians who differ with him. His criticism of the American Scientific Affiliation would have been tempered had he quoted its present statement of faith, “The Holy Scriptures are the Inspired Word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and through His Atonement is the one and only Mediator between God and man.” The ASA puts no restrictions on its members in any other fields of thought, and it brings to its conventions speakers who explain theories not acceptable to the majority of members.

Davidheiser deals with the trend in education toward permeation of evolutionary thought into all schools, including those with a Christian philosophy. His chapters on teleology and the brands of evolution, such as atheistic, theistic, and threshold evolution, show the refinements in his own thinking and will sharpen the reader’s understanding of these variants of evolutionary faith.

The bulk of his disproof of evolution consists of carefully selected quotations from many sources to emphasize that although the evolutionists believe in their theory, they often are hesitant about the reliability of its evidence. A critic should be very careful, in selecting quotations, to show the total view of an author. This anti-evolutionary work is commendable for its attempt to state accurately the essential view of all writers quoted; it is to be expected, however, that some of those criticized will feel that their full intent has not been realized.

I find many helpful ideas in David-heiser’s sections on the mechanism and evidences of evolution. He says:

Mutations and artificial and natural selection, together with hybridization and chromosomal changes, can produce new forms of animals and plants which may be designated as new species, or even new genera, by the taxonomists, but it remains to be shown that any known phenomenon or series of phenomena could produce the kinds of changes which had to be produced if, as the great majority of biologists profess to believe, life on earth evolved from simple beginnings. This is quite a different problem.

Most readers who are acquainted thoroughly with the multiplicity and diversity of organic life will admit some change in living forms since their creation. We can spend pleasant hours arguing how much change has occurred and is also allowed by our interpretations of Scripture.

Article continues below
Preaching Christ In New York

The Challenge, by Billy Graham (Doubleday, 1969, 173 pp., $4.50), is reviewed by Stephen F. Olford, minister, Calvary Baptist Church, New York City.

The Challenge is a book of ten sermons preached by Billy Graham during his 1969 New York crusade “to overflow audiences at the Madison Square Garden and to the largest nightly TV audiences ever to follow a religious event.” In his introduction, Graham laments that “it is impossible to capture in print the rapport, the camaraderies and the banter of oral delivery between speaker and audience.” As one who heard every one of these sermons, this reviewer feels that the spirit and style of delivery have been remarkably preserved. In fact, as a book of sermons, the collection could well have had a little more editing to give the material greater lasting value.

To study these sermons is to encounter proclamation in the great evangelical tradition. Here is a Moody or a Torrey preaching for today. The messages are biblical, yet simple (note the recurring phrase “The Bible says”); they are expository and yet evangelistic; they are theological and yet intensely practical; they are evangelical and yet refreshingly relevant (observe the evidence of research in current literature and events); and they are pointed and personal, ever pressing for a verdict.

Some might feel that the sermons are not sufficiently weighted on social issues, but this seems an unfair criticism of evangelistic preaching. Introducing the evangelist to an American Jewish community after the crusade, a noted rabbi in New York said, “In auditing his sermons at the Madison Square Garden, we were all surprised at the amount of social content in his preaching.”

God signally honored the delivery of these sermons by convicting and converting tens of thousands of young and old from all strata of society—as if to show once again that, contrary to the claims of some religious thinkers of our day, God’s man, preaching God’s Word and anointed by God’s Spirit, always reaps God’s harvest. The Challenge is truly a challenge to our age.

Theology Without God

The Secular Search for a New Christ, by Gustave H. Todrank (Westminster, 1969, 174 pp., $2.65), is reviewed by Warren C. Young, professor of Christian philosophy, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, Illinois.

Article continues below

In a sense this little volume is an attempt to produce a systematic approach to the recent secular theology. After an introduction to the contemporary scene the author turns to such themes as the person of Christ, salvation, the Christian community (Church), the new life, and finally, the mission of the Church in our age.

The treatment is radical from the first page: Indeed the preface begins with the blunt assertion: “Traditional Christianity is largely irrelevant to the current world situation.” We must write a new “Christian” theology for this new age.

What is needed to accomplish this task? The author has the answer. We need a theology without God, a Bible without authority, a Church without clergy, salvation without immortality, and morality without immorality. The solution is nothing short of the complete secularization of life. This world is enough—what more does man need?

A glance at the author’s Christology will be sufficient to show the tone of the work. Traditional Christianity has transformed a man into a deity, says Todrank, when in fact Jesus is simply a man of his own times. Although the New Testament tries to make him unique, there were many Christs before Jesus. Jesus was not and is not the only Christ for man. His uniqueness must be rejected. “We cannot continue to refer to Jesus as ‘the Christ’ today.… There are Christs besides Jesus.” Indeed, the role of the Christ is not unique to Judaism or Christianity but is found in other faiths; and in our world we have the Christ symbol fulfilled in such persons as Gandhi, Schweitzer, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Mao Tse-tung.

What can one say about this work? That it is not traditional Christianity! But the author has indicated this in the first line of the preface. Yet his concern seems sincere: he sees a world to which traditional Christianity has become irrelevant. We can proceed by condemning his program of social betterment because he wants to label it Christian. Would it not be much better to try to discover why many feel that traditional Christianity is irrelevant and see what can be done about the situation?

Book Briefs

Privilege and Burden, by Robert G. Middleton (Judson, 1969, 157 pp., $4.95). A fresh look at the role of the pastor in the light of changing attitudes toward the institutional church.

Christian Initiation, by Geoffrey Wainwright (John Knox, 1969, 107 pp., paperback, $2.45). A study of baptism from a biblical and historical perspective, with special emphasis on the theology of initiation as it relates to the ecumenical movement.

Article continues below

Reconciliation in Today’s World, edited by Allen O. Miller (Eerdmans, 1969, 122 pp., paperback, $1.95). Six authors, speaking with differing theological accents, wrestle with the meaning of reconciliation in today’s world.

The Church in Experiment, by Rudiger Reitz (Abingdon, 1969, 205 pp., $4.75). An informative analysis of the many changes and reforms—both in structure and function—taking place in American Protestantism.

The Shape of the Christian Life, by David C. Duncombe (Abingdon, 1969, 208 pp., $5). Seeks to identify in a concrete way those things that distinguish a Christian life from the life of one who has never come into contact with Christ.

The Book That Speaks for Itself, by Robert M. Horn (Inter-Varsity, 1969, 127 pp., $1.45). A closely reasoned and well-balanced affirmation of the authority and infallibility of Scripture and of the importance of propositional revelation.

Wild Tongues, by Franklin H. Littell (Macmillan, 1969, 173 pp., $5.95). A survey of pathological extremism—both left and right—in American life.

Is God Necessary?, by Larry Richards (Moody, 1969, 160 pp., paperback, $1.95). In a style that will appeal to young people, this little volume shows that the Christian faith offers an adequate and honest answer to the needs of the young.

A Rigid Scrutiny: Critical Essays on the Old Testament, by Ivan Engnell (Vanderbilt, 1969, 303 pp., $10). Argues that the Old Testament is a product of the Near Eastern culture of which Israel and its national literature are a unique part.

The Crucible of Christianity, edited by Arnold Toynbee (World, 1969, 368 pp., $29.50). In this richly illustrated volume, fourteen authorities explore all aspects of the very complex world in which Christianity first appeared and experienced its early years of growth.

God’s Lost Cause, by Jean Russell (Judson, 1969, 143 pp., paperback, $2.50). A penetrating historical analysis of the relation between Protestant theology and the continuing apathy of American Protestants toward racial problems.

Personal Growth and Social Change, by Harvey Seifert and Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. (Westminster, 1969, 240 pp., $6.95). This volume, described as “a guide for ministers and laymen as change agents,” suggests techniques and tactics for dealing with today’s social problems. Somehow the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t seem to qualify as an effective agent of growth and change.

Article continues below

Tongues as of Fire, by Prodencio Damboriena (Corpus, 1969, 256 pp., $7.50). A Roman Catholic scholar offers a comprehensive account of the rise and spread of Pentecostalism.

Search for Reality, by Gary Collins (Ley, 1969, 207 pp., paperback, $1.95). A thoughtful study of the religious and spiritual implications of psychology, written from an evangelical perspective.

An Introduction to the Theology of Albrecht Ritschl, by David L. Mueller (Westminster, 1969, 214 pp., $8.50). A survey of the thought of one of the most influential theologians of the nineteenth century, with an evaluation of his position as it relates to the contemporary theological discussion.

I PeterRevelation, by H. L. Ellison, (Eerdmans, 1969, 92 pp., paperback, $1.25). A “Scripture Union Bible Study Book.” In the same series: Isaiah 40-Jeremiah, by Arthur E. Cundall.

For Missionaries Only, by Joseph L. Cannon (Baker, 1969, 96 pp., $2.95). This collection of straightforward vignettes of missionary life will prove stimulating and perhaps disturbing to both missionaries and supporting churches.

Profile of the Son of Man, by Ralph G. Turnbull (Baker, 1969, 159 pp., $3.95). A verbal portrait of Christ based upon the presentation of the Son of Man in all his glory recorded in Revelation 1.

Honey for a Child’s Heart, by Gladys Hunt (Zondervan, 1969, 127 pp., $3.50). Directs parents and teachers to the best in books for children and offers suggestions toward the effective use of books in a child’s development.

Dag Hammarskjöld’s White Book, by Gustaf Aulén (Fortress, 1969, 154 pp., $4.75). A distinguished Swedish theologian and lifelong friend of the Hammarskjöld family analyzes the religious faith of Dag Hammarskjöld as presented in his Markings.

The Russian Protestants, by Steve Durasoff (Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1969, 312 pp., $10). Recounts the struggles and triumphs of the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (formed in 1944 by the merger of the Baptists, Evangelical Christians, Pentecostals, and Mennonites) in the U.S.S.R.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.