The past year was an excellent one for readers of religious books, especially in the New Testament area. Although prices continue to rise (especially in the United Kingdom, where the inexpensive British edition has virtually disappeared), publishers continue to churn out a surprising amount of good material. Most noteworthy were offerings in New Testament theology, commentaries, translations of important German works, and books for the general reader.
My choice for the year’s most significant book in New Testament studies is The Love Command in the New Testament by Victor Paul Furnish (Abingdon). Furnish’s study is a masterly example of exegetical and theological methodology and should counteract the superficiality of much of the current discussion about Christian ethics. He first carefully exegetes Jesus’ commandments to love and then discusses the various emphases given this teaching in the Synoptic Gospels. Next comes a careful analysis of the adaptation of Jesus’ love command by Paul, John, the general epistles, and the apostolic fathers. An appendix discusses the various New Testament words for “love.” The Love Command is absolutely essential reading for anyone wrestling with theological ethics and is highly recommended to all serious students of the New Testament. It is one of a number of testimonies to the coming of age of American biblical scholarship. One does not have to agree with all the author says about the historical setting of the various Gospels or the authorship of the epistles to benefit from his insights into these most important biblical texts.
In the same general area of concern is a more modest volume by Paul S. Minear called Commands of Christ (Abingdon), a very practically oriented but scholarly based discussion of ten basic imperatives of Jesus and their implications for present-day Christian thinking and living. This work will be of interest to layman and theologian alike.
GENERAL An important study of the history of New Testament criticism now available in English is The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems by Werner Georg Kümmel (Abingdon). The author is successor to Rudolf Bultmann as professor of New Testament at Marburg. One would be well advised to balance his account with the more conservatively oriented history by Stephen Neill, The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861–1961 (Oxford, 1964). Nevertheless, this work is indispensable for any who wish to understand the course of the past two centuries of biblical research.
Three volumes for the student of the Greek New Testament are An Index to the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Lexicon by John R. Alsop (Zondervan), A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Sakae Kubo (Andrews University), and A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce Metzger (American Bible Society). The first lists all the words discussed in the alphabetical lexicon in the order in which they appear from Matthew to Revelation and refers the student to the appropriate page and section in Bauer. The second is designed to help the inexperienced student of Greek to improve his reading skill and hence lists vocabulary according to chapter and verse. Both are time-saving devices that will be a great boon to struggling students. The third is an indispensable companion to the forthcoming third edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament. Wherever significant conflicting readings exist, Metzger explains why the UBS committee made the choice it did.
For the serious student who lacks Greek, Ralph Winter has made an excellent tool (intended to be the first of a series) by taking the old Bagster’s Greek Concordance and adding to each word the numbers that appear adjacent to each entry in Strong’s English Concordance; the result is The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance (William Carey Library). The student can now readily move from his English testament through Strong’s to a list in English of every other occurrence of the Greek word behind the particular translation. A concordance is the basic reference tool (a dictionary being essentially a summary of a concordance), and proper use of it keeps the student from putting more weight on a particular word than its uses in various contexts warrant.
THEOLOGY The general reader has two differing but reliable and very interestingly written overviews of the subject: A. M. Hunter, Probing the New Testament (John Knox), and H. D. McDonald, Living Doctrines of the New Testament (Zondervan). Hunter deals with representative words, phrases, and themes. McDonald expounds the message of each section of the New Testament in its canonical order and deals with themes such as God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, and grace. Be sure to look for the superb Message of the New Testament by F. F. Bruce, to be published soon in North America by Eerdmans.
Of interest to both scholar and ordinary churchman is The Signs of an Apostle by the British theologian C. K. Barrett (Fortress). Barrett discusses some of the main issues in contemporary ecumenics that bear on the doctrine of the ministry; his study is both ecumenical and practical. Nine other papers by Barrett have been published in the volume New Testament Essays (SPCK). Also dealing with a controversial aspect of contemporary Christian belief and experience is Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism by William J. Samarin (Macmillan). Samarin offers a linguistic interpretation of the New Testament and contemporary phenomenon of glossolalia (speaking in tongues); regardless of whether it proves to be ultimately convincing, his work must be reckoned with by anyone who ventures an opinion on the subject. It brings together the insights of linguistic, anthropological, and sociological research, as well as biblical exegesis, and should be regarded as a prototype for other cross-disciplinary projects in this area.
COMMENTARIES Of special interest is A Commentary on the Revelation of John by George Eldon Ladd (Eerdmans). Even though the format is non-technical, this is a most important work, for it reflects a lifetime of study of eschatology by one who as much as any other person has influenced younger evangelical biblical scholars in North America. Ladd takes a moderately premillennial viewpoint with a futurist method of interpretation that blends in some preterist aspects. He finds no reason to see in the seven letters of chapters two and three a forecast of seven stages of church history, nor does he draw as sharp a line of demarcation as do many between Israel and the Church. Of course no commentator on Revelation can expect to please all evangelicals, but I think Ladd’s is easily the best available treatment of this most difficult book for the pastor or layman. Similar in outlook and spirit are Highlights of the Book of Revelation by G. R. Beasley-Murray (Broadman) and “Revelation” by M. Ashcraft in volume twelve of “The Broadman Bible Commentary.” Also included in the latter volume are competent treatments of Hebrews (C. A. Trentham), James (H. S. Songer), First and Second Peter and Jude (R. Summers), and the letters of John (E. A. McDowell). In a more technical study, The Future of the World (SCM), Mathias Rissi offers an exegesis of Revelation 19:11–22:15 together with reflection on the message of the book as a whole.
A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of Luke by J. Reiling and J. L. Swellengrebel and A Translator’s Handbook on the Acts by B. M. Newman and E. A. Nida were prepared for the American Bible Society primarily with missionary translators in mind but will be of help to all serious Bible students and of value to those with only an elementary knowledge of Greek. The second volume published in the new “Hermeneia” series is another translation from German, The Pastoral Epistles by Martin Dibelius and Hans Conzelmann (Fortress). Although both shorter and more technical than last year’s volume, it is a “must” for all theological libraries. Two conservatively oriented commentaries on an intermediate level worthy of special mention are The Gospel According to Luke (“New Clarendon Bible”) by G. H. P. Thompson (Oxford) and The Epistle to the Hebrews by H. A. Kent, Jr. (Baker). Truth on Fire, a slender paperback exposition of the message of Galatians by Clark Pinnock (Baker), brings together theology and exegesis in an exemplary manner. The “New Century Bible” is about half complete and now has an American distributor, Attic. The Gospel of John by B. Lindars and The Gospel of Matthew by D. Hill are the latest New Testament offerings. The “Anchor Bible” of Doubleday continues with G. W. Buchanan’s To the Hebrews.
JESUS AND THE GOSPELS All who have read the writings of Stephen Neill, currently professor of religious studies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, have come to expect a high standard, even when he writes for the non-specialist. His little book What We Know About Jesus (Eerdmans) is an introduction to the historical foundation of the Christian faith that is as profound as it is simply written. The Gospels in Current Study by Simon Kistemaker (Baker) presents a student’s-eye view of such matters as manuscript discoveries, textual criticism, hermeneutics, and theological emphases. Though bearing some marks of hasty writing, this is a handbook of worth. Donald Guthrie’s Jesus the Messiah (Zondervan) is a simple exposition of the gospel narratives of the life and ministry of Jesus by a respected scholar and will doubtless have a wide readership. The Consciousness of Jesus by Jacques Guillet (Newman) is a reverent and scholarly treatment of the claims of Christ in the Gospels; the author is a French Roman Catholic scholar. Jesus and the Old Testament by R. T. France (Inter-Varsity) is a careful study of Jesus’ use of the Old Testament and application of certain passages to himself and his mission according to the Synoptic Gospels. Although a very technical work—it was written as a Ph.D. thesis at Bristol University in England—France’s monograph should have a wide circulation, for it deals with a subject that is at the heart of the Christian faith. Charles Anderson, who earlier surveyed other scholars’ Critical Quests of Jesus, now offers his own positive conclusions as The Historical Jesus: A Continuing Quest (Eerdmans). It is good to see an able presentation of the evangelical position by one who has so thoroughly familiarized himself with divergent arguments. James Boice, an able young preacher, offers his thoughts on The Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan), and they are well worth pondering.
Important studies of individual Gospels include New Light on the Earliest Gospel by T. A. Burkill (Cornell), seven essays on Mark (not related to the O’Callaghan thesis), and The Hidden Kingdom by A. M. Ambrozic (Catholic Biblical Association), a redaction-critical study of references to the kingdom of God in Mark. In a posthumously published work, The Passion Narrative of St. Luke (Cambridge), Vincent Taylor attempts to refine and buttress his “proto-Luke” hypothesis. Whether or not the reader accepts the author’s special theory, he will have to admit that Taylor has put his finger on important data that cannot be ignored. Barnabas Lindars outlines some of his views on critical matters related to John in Behind the Fourth Gospel (SPCK); his suggestions concerning the various sources and editions of the Gospel are, of necessity, speculative, but are also interesting. A fascinating book in a category by itself is Mark of the Tau by Jack Finegan (John Knox). This is historical fiction by an author who, as is rarely the case, is a scholar with a firm grip on the historical realities of the period and circumstances of his story, as well as a good grasp of literary technique. Hero of the book is John Mark, member of the Jerusalem church and author of the Gospel that traditionally bears his name. This is a book for bedside reading or for study; it might even turn a few theological students on to the importance, and even excitement, of historical research!
PAUL Three non-technical books on the Apostle to the Gentiles are Paul: Envoy Extraordinary by Malcolm Muggeridge and Alec Vidler (Harper & Row), My Brother Paul by Richard L. Rubenstein (Harper & Row), and Reapproaching Paul by Morton Scott Enslin (Westminster). Each is very individualistic and tells us at least as much about the author as about Paul, but dullness is certainly not a characteristic of any one of them. Paul: Envoy Extraordinary originated as the script of a five-part BBC television series and is a discussion of his life and thought between a journalist recently attracted to the Christian faith and a theologian of long standing. Very attractively produced and containing twenty-four beautiful color plates, this probably gives the best introduction to the man Paul for the general reader. Rubenstein attempts to apply the insights of psychoanalytic theory to the study of the letters of Paul and comes out with a surprisingly sympathetic account. He is a non-orthodox Jew who identifies with Paul (hence the title), albeit a Paul whose theology is thoroughly demythologized. Enslin attempts to rescue Paul from “the theologians into whose possessive hands he has fallen” and also from “Luke.” His work is so full of dogmatic assertions of the most extreme criticism of the Gospels, Acts, and Pauline epistles that it will be difficult for anyone but an old-time liberal theologian like the author himself to read his book with any degree of appreciation.
Wayne A. Meeks has added brief introductions and notes to the RSV text of the letters of Paul and has collected excerpts and essays by students of Paul from the first century to the present day in a volume entitled The Writings of St. Paul (Norton). This will be a useful volume for students, though conservative scholarship has not been represented at all. Paul: Messenger and Exile by John J. Gunther (Judson) is a combined study of the life and letters of Paul in the context of problems of chronology. Gunther takes the narrative of Acts seriously, though he rightly regards Paul’s letters as the primary source of information on his life and thought. The author has come to some extremely original conclusions and must be taken seriously by scholars. Paul and the Gnostics by Walter Schmithals (Abingdon) is the English translation of a work that will be of interest to scholars, though not very many are likely to agree with his thesis that the enemies of Paul in nearly every case were Jewish Christian Gnostics. Robert Jewett in Paul’s Anthropological Terms: A Study of Their Use in Conflict Settings (Brill) allows for a greater diversity among the opponents of Paul, but he is much too dogmatic about matters of chronology and hypothetical life-settings for the various epistles. J. A. Zieller in The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul (Cambridge) argues for an understanding of the term that is closer to the traditional Roman Catholic view than to the Reformers’ view—and this at a time when many Catholic scholars are embracing Luther’s interpretation of Paul as the correct one! Still, Protestants should not be so entirely prejudiced that they fail to benefit from this careful and scholarly work.
NEW TESTAMENT BACKGROUNDS Offerings in this area range from very technical to moderately popular. On Qumran there is a new volume by William Sanford LaSor, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament (Eerdmans), that offers an excellent account both of the discoveries and of the light they throw on the New Testament. This topic unfortunately continues to be greatly distorted in sensationalistic books by normally reputable secular publishers. An essential volume for all college and seminary libraries is A Classified Bibliography of the Finds of the Desert of Judah, 1958–1969 by B. Jongeling (Brill), which brings an earlier bibliography by LaSor up to date. On Judaism there are a number of new works and an important reprint. Emil Schürer, The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus (Schocken), is a reprint of a section of his monumental nineteenth century History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ with an introduction and supplementary bibliography by Nahum Glatzer. Although dated, this is still a valuable work, and it is good to have it available in an inexpensive paperback. Jacob Neusner has two new works, one for the general reader and the other for the scholar. There We Sat Down (Abingdon) is the story of classical Judaism in the making (in Babylonia) and provides the Gentile with a good introduction. The Rabbinic Traditions About the Pharisees before [A.D.] 70, three volumes (Brill), provides the scholar with a mine of information about Judaism in the time of Jesus. In Targum and Testament (Eerdmans) Martin McNamara offers a guide to the Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible and the light they shed on the New Testament.
Herod Antipas by Harold Hoehner (Cambridge) bridges the world of Judaism and Roman Hellenism to fill in one portion of the background to the life of Jesus. Hoehner, who teaches at Dallas Seminary, has woven together all the available data over a large part of the land of Palestine during the public ministry of Jesus. The work will probably be the definitive study for several decades to come. John Gager, in a study entitled Moses in Greco-Roman Paganism (Abingdon), examines all the important references to the person or teaching of Moses by pagan authors; although not directly related to the study of the New Testament, his study does tell us something about the impact of Judaism on the general culture at the time of Christ. Arthur Darby Nock was widely regarded as the leading authority earlier this century on the religious scene surrounding the first century A.D. Fifty-eight of his papers and reviews are now conveniently available in two volumes as Essays on Religion and the Ancient World (Harvard).
MISCELLANEOUS Despite the rising costs of printing for technical monographs, a surprising number continue to roll from the presses. The following are a sample of those recently published that do not fit easily into any of the above categories. Anton Fridrichsen, who died in 1953, was the single most influential figure behind the large group of New Testament scholars coming out of the University of Uppsala in Sweden during the past four decades. An early work of his, The Problem of Miracle in Primitive Christianity, originally published in French in 1925, is now available in English from Augsburg. Manfred Kwiran, The Resurrection of the Dead (Basel, Switzerland: F. Reinhardt) presents an account of the interpretation of First Corinthians 15 by German Protestant theologians from Baur to Künneth. J. Paul Sampley, in a study of Ephesians 5:21–33‘And the Two Shall Become One Flesh’ (Cambridge), concentrates on the sources and background of Ephesians and on the use of the Old Testament in the epistle. Richard R. DeRidder, The Dispersion of the People of God (Baker), takes a look at the covenant basis of Matthew 28:18–20 against the background of Jewish proselytizing and the apostleship of Jesus Christ and draws important lessons for the mission of the Church in our day. David Aune, in The Cultic Setting of Realized Eschatology in Early Christianity (Brill), seeks to understand the variety of ways in which the expression of eschatological salvation in the New Testament arose out of Christian worship and life. Aune also edited Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature (Brill) to honor Allen Wikgren of Chicago. Among the essays: O. Linton raises some acute problems for redaction-critics, B. Reicke argues that the gospel accounts predicting the destruction of Jerusalem give no evidence that they were written after the fact, and E. Colwell discusses limitations on any Greek testament that lacks full critical apparatus. Many scholars have joined in well deserved tribute to Oscar Cullmann in Neues Testament und Geschichte (New Testament and History), edited by H. Baltensweiler and B. Reicke (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr). Some of the essays are in English.
George M. Marsden is associate professor of history at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has the Ph.D. (Yale University) and has written “The Evangelical Mind and the New School Presbyterian Experience.”
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