A Positive Contribution

Old Testament Times, by R. K. Harrison (Eerdmans, 1970, 357 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Gleason L. Archer, Jr., professor of Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

R. K. Harrison, the well-known scholar from Wycliffe College in Toronto, here surveys Israelite history from the prehistoric beginnings in Jericho to the first century A.D., correlating the pertinent data from archaeology. His purpose is to present this highly technical field on a college level, and so he tends to avoid extensive footnoting and to discuss topics as briefly as clarity permits. This means that many points are made without the benefit of the thorough, scholarly discussion that characterizes his Old Testament Introduction (Eerdmans, 1969). Yet on some questions he goes into detailed discussion, especially when dealing with opposing views.

His approach may be described as evangelical empiricism: he examines each matter of history or criticism on its own merits, in the light of all known pertinent data, rather than attempting to bring everything into line with his basic assumption of the trustworthiness of Scripture. Thus he is consistent with his stricture against the doctrinaire liberal scholarship of the Wellhausen school:

No longer is it permissible or desirable for scholars to formulate some concept of development, whether of a biological order or not, and then attempt to fit the facts into such a structure, regardless of the outcome. Instead, all of the relevant factual material, of which at present there is an abundance, must be considered first, and on this basis some cautious conclusions may then be adopted, with the proviso that they be subjected to change in the light of whatever material ...
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