Double History
Old Testament History, by Charles F. Pfeiffer (Baker and Canon, 1973, 640 pp., $12.95), is reviewed by Leon Wood, dean of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Seven books written earlier in a series on Old Testament history are now in one volume. They constitute a history of the years of the Old Testament and the intertestamentary period. Pfeiffer states that his purpose is “to draw on the abundance of archaeological, historical, and linguistic studies now available to help in the understanding of the events described in the Old Testament.” This he does well. His principal source of information is the Old Testament, but he makes wide use as well of materials from archaeological research. (He earlier edited The Biblical World: A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology.) Furthermore, he is acquainted with modern writers and frequently refers to them. One criticism is that on certain controversial matters I wished he had made his own view a little clearer.

The book is divided into eight parts, from “The Patriarchal Age” to “Between the Testaments—The Hellenistic Period.” A main strength is the presentation of background information from the history of the Old Testament world. Excellent sections are to be found in each of the main divisions. In the first division, for instance, one finds a detailed presentation of the world in which the patriarchs lived; in the second, a survey of Egyptian history at the time of Israel’s sojourn there. By the close of the book the reader has not only a running history of Old Testament material but also a nearly complete history of the Middle East.

Sometimes this background history seems to take the center stage away from the religious, Old Testament presentation. This is probably more true in the first period than in any other; here, out of the eighteen subtopics treated, only one—entitled, “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob”—deals with Old Testament history proper. The others concern background history, under such topics as, “Before Abraham,” “The Biblical Patriarchs: History or Fancy,” “Patriarchal Organization,” “Men and Tribes,” and “The Peoples Among Whom the Patriarchs Lived.” These background topics are all pertinent, but one finds himself wondering if he is reading “Old Testament History” or “A Background to Old Testament History.” This same proportion does not carry through in the later divisions, but frequently nearly as much space is given to background information as to Old Testament history itself.

Pfeiffer is clearly conservative in his view of Scripture with a strong appreciation of the authority of the sacred text; still, one wishes this were more apparent at certain points. For instance, in supporting the “late date” of the Exodus, he seems to find no difficulty in ascribing the 480 years of First Kings 6:1—as the duration between the Exodus and Solomon’s building of the temple—to a multiple of twelve generations. This permits him to reduce the 480 years to 300 years (1320–1020 B.C.). This procedure is followed by others who hold to the “late date” view, but many conservatives find such a change in a biblical number difficult to approve. Again, in discussing the miracle that occurred when Joshua asked the sun to “stand still,” he presents possible viewpoints but does not mention the possibility that the day may have actually been prolonged, as held traditionally by conservatives. Further, in respect to the Deborah and Barak episode, he correctly accepts the Jabin, King of Hazor, then involved, as living well after the Jabin, King of Hazor, of Joshua’s earlier day, but he does not then tell how the second Jabin could have so ruled in Hazor when Hazor would have been fully abandoned by the time of Deborah and Barak, on the basis of the “late date” that he espouses.

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The reader will find the wide margins of this book helpful for making notes. There are seventeen well selected maps scattered throughout and, at the close of the book, a list of dates, a bibliography, and a subject index.

Never So Attractive

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, edited by David and Pat Alexander (Eerdmans, 1973, 680 pp., $12.95), is reviewed by F. F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism, University of Manchester, Manchester, England.

This work, first issued in Britain by newly founded Lion publishers, catches the eye immediately with its lavish illustrations, most of them in color. We have had Bible handbooks before, but never one so attractive as this. The illustrations include photographs of modern scenes and of antiquities from Bible times, maps, and diagrams. The editors have enlisted five consulting editors, of whom Donald Guthrie, Howard Marshall, and Alan Millard are internationally known; among the other contributors are E. M. Blaiklock, George Cansdale, Michael Green, J. M. Houston, Derek Kidner, Kenneth Kitchen, Leon Morris, and John Wenham. The contributors (thirty-two in all) deal with aspects of Bible study in which they are specially well qualified; for instance, John Wenham covers “The Large Numbers of the Old Testament,” his son Gordon Wenham gives an excellent account of “Literary Criticism and the Old Testament,” and J. M. Houston writes on “The Bible in its Environment.” The articles are aimed not at the specialist but at the ordinary intelligent Bible reader who wants help in understanding what he reads.

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Part One contains introductory articles on the Bible as a whole, relating it both to its own times and to the present day. It includes such diverse matters as an account of the Hebrew calendar and a discriminating survey of the chief twentieth-century English versions of the Bible.

Part Two contains introductory articles on the Old Testament and on its successive divisions and individual books; Part Three does the same for the New Testament. In Part Three Howard Marshall writes on “The Gospels and Jesus Christ” and Leon Morris on “The Gospels and Modern Criticism”; the reader who consults these two articles will be armed against the most recently publicized theory (whatever it may be) allegedly proving that the Gospels are totally unreliable and that nothing can be known about Jesus. Colin Hemer, who writes on “The Historical and Political Background of the New Testament,” is probably not so well known as some of the other contributors, but the editors could not have made a better choice of author for this article.

Part Four includes lists of key themes of the Bible, nations and peoples of Bible lands, and who’s who in the Bible, a gazetteer of places, an index of subjects and events, and other material.

The general outlook is that of well informed conservatism. Much thought and work have gone into the production of this handsome volume, and the editors and their helpers are to be congratulated on furnishing this “guide to the perplexed.”

Varieties Of Form And Function

Christianity Without Walls (Creation, 1972, 135 pp., $1.95 pb) and Paced by God (Word, 1973, 129 pp., $4.95), both by Morris Inch, are reviewed by James Allen Hewett, Bury St. Edmunds, England.

In Christianity Without Walls Inch suggests that whereas the early Church “brought together persons of very differing social background and status, the contemporary church has become a middle-class haven, relocating away from the alien inner city and in the midst of familiar and friendly suburbia.” In contrast to this isolationist move, the Church, if it is to exercise “good faith,” must follow “Jesus into the world of contradiction, apathy, and absurdity.” It must mediate life, and Jesus the Christ is Life.

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The early Church worked with a “Divine pragmatism” as it “set out to take the world by storm”: “if it works, use it; if not, fix it; if you cannot fix it, replace it with something you can use.” The Church today must also adopt a pragmatic stance; it must have an openness to need and a flexibility of form so that it can meet modern persons where they are. The author cites two examples. The Reba Fellowship of Evanston, Illinois, is an example of what Inch calls “disestablishment”: a group of Christian radicals has rejected traditional institutional forms and ties in favor of a community in which members seek to apply Christ’s teachings in their daily lives. The congregation of St. John the Baptist of the Bronx, New York, is an example of “reestablishment”: while remaining within the institutional church, the group has sought to modify its form so as to provide an ongoing, relevant ministry.

Inch’s plea is that the Church seriously reflect on the nature of the Christian faith, revive the Church’s life-giving functions, and manifest them in a variety of effective forms.

In Paced by God Inch addresses himself to what he deems the major interest of orthodoxy: the proper relation of man to God. Among quotable quotes and seeds for thought he advances his themes: let the real Christian discover who he is and stand up; let him find out what is going on in the world; and let him make a responsible, Christian impact upon the world on the basis of his perception of and allegiance to God’s revelation (not on the basis of “a blind loyalty to a given way of doing things”). The evangelical Christian must learn that life involves walking “with One who … acts in predictable and yet unimaginably creative ways.” Consequently, the Christian, while refusing to be assimilated to culture, must tear down walls that separate the Church from culture. Following his creative Master, he must respond to divinely given filial, political, economic, and ecclesiastical mandates to love his neighbor in all these arenas as he loves himself.

These two books basically call the Church and the Christian to seek a knowledge of self in relation to one’s fellows, and one’s Master and to make an appropriate response to this knowledge. It may be suggested that the theme could have been developed adequately in one volume rather than two without any appreciable loss to the reader.

The Greek Fathers

Gospel Message and Hellenistic Culture, by Jean Daniélou (Westminster, 1973, 540 pp., $17.50), is reviewed by Edwin M. Yamauchi, professor of history, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

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Cardinal Daniélou, who is renowned as an authority on early Christianity, has completed two-thirds of an ambitious history of Christian doctrine before the Council of Nicaea. The first volume to appear was an important work, Theology of Jewish Christianity, published in French in 1958 and translated into English in 1964. Gospel Message and Hellenistic Culture, the second volume in the series, appeared in French in 1961 and has now been skillfully translated into English by John Austin Baker. A third volume will cover the development of Latin theology.

Daniélou’s volume on the Greek patristic writers is divided into five parts: (I) Preparation for the Gospel, (II) Expounding the Faith, (III) Proof of the Gospel, (IV) Theological Problems, and (V) Christian Gnosis.

In “Preparation for the Gospel,” Daniélou examines the work of the Apologists—men such as Justin, Athenagoras, and Clement, who had been pagan philosophers before their conversions. He shows how they attacked pagan teachings and morals by using polemical weapons drawn from the arsenal of pagan literature itself. It is especially interesting to note how they used texts from Homer and ideas from Middle Platonism. Like Philo, Clement attempted to prove that the Greek philosophers were dependent upon the Jews inasmuch as Plato came after Moses! There can also be found some stirring and still cogent arguments from the apologetic writings, such as the appeal of Athenagoras to the evidence of unlettered believers who demonstrate their faith by acts: “For they do not rehearse speeches, but evidence good deeds” (can the same be said now?).


The Holy Spirit in Viet Nam, by Orvel N. Steinkamp (Creation, 83 pp., $3.95). Eyewitness account by a Christian and Missionary Alliance missionary of the revival that began in Viet Nam in 1971 and is continuing. Well written and stirring retelling of many miraculous happenings.

All About Angels: The Other Side of the Spirit World, by C. Leslie Miller (Regal, 128 pp., $1.25 pb). An examination from Scripture of the qualities of angels and their dealings with men, interspersed with modern accounts of angelic activity. Easy reading.

How to Really Live It Up, by James M. Boice (Zondervan, 127 pp., $.95 pb). The basics of the Christian faith presented in easy how-to form. Most chapters are taken from radio messages of the “Bible Study Hour.”

Turnabout Teaching, by Marlene D. LeFever (Cook, 155 pp., $1.95 pb). Practical suggestions for innovative methods in teaching older teen and adult Sunday school.

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Soul-Force, by Leonard E. Barrett (Anchor, 251 pp., $7.95, $3.50 pb). Overview of African influences that have persisted in black religion in the states and the Caribbean. Includes studies of particular movements like Garveyism and the Rastafarians.

What a Way to Go, by Bob Laurent (Cook, 127 pp., $1.25 pb). Story of the author’s discovery of Christ and his growth in discipleship. Lots of slang, and many will consider it too flippant. Others will be “turned on” or whatever they say.

The Caring God, edited by Carl Meyer and Herbert Mayer (Concordia, 240 pp., $8.95). Eight Lutheran scholars offer essays on the relation of divine providence to their various fields of study. Worth-while.

Charles Hartshorne, by Alan Gragg (Word, 126 pp., $4.95). A generally friendly introduction to one of the great sources of process theology, drawing attention to things that evangelicals might learn from him and passing over his major conflicts with historic biblical Christianity.

I Believe in Hope, by José María Diez-Alegría (Doubleday, 187 pp., $5.95). Translation of a Spanish Jesuit’s attempt to state honestly what he has come to believe. It resulted in his immediate dismissal from the faculty of Rome’s Gregorian University and suspension from his order. One wonders why he did not first resign.

A Charismatic Approach to Social Action, by Larry Christenson (Bethany Fellowship, 122 pp., $3.95). A best-selling writer on the family here gives an approach to social action that is based on the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than the clamors of society. Conclusions grounded in Scripture. For serious study.

God the Son, edited by R. E. Harlow (Everyday Publications [230 Glebemount Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4C 3T4], 95 pp., $1 pb). Nine essays defending historic orthodoxy on such crucial topics as “Is Jesus God?,” “The Unique Person of Christ,” “He Emptied Himself,” and “God All in All.”

Let Us Praise, by Judson Cornwall (Logos, 148 pp., $2.50 pb). Attempts to provide the scriptural basis for the various applications of praise.

Man of God, by Charles R. Meyer (Doubleday, 168 pp., $5.95) and These Priests Stay, by Paul Wilkes (Simon and Schuster, 250 pp., $6.95). Both books deal with Catholic priests who have remained priests since Vatican II. The first is a historical survey of the priesthood, plus a definition of its function in today’s society. The second has ten interviews with men discussing such priestly problems as insensitivity, authority, and sex and why they have (so far) remained priests.

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Handbook For Christian Writers, by Christian Writers Institute (Creation, 155 pp., $3.95 pb). For the aspiring writer, the sixth edition of a manual on how to get manuscripts published. Practical suggestions and many helpful addresses.

Spirit and Sacrament: The Humanizing Experience, by Joseph Powers (Seabury, 211 pp., $6.95). A process-oriented, anthropocentric restatement of the doctrines of God, Christ, man and the Church, by a Jesuit professor. Well written, imaginative, hardly in the orthodox tradition.

The New Polytheism, by David L. Miller (Harper & Row, 86 pp., $4.95). Rejoices in the “death” of monotheism and celebrates the rebirth of polytheism. Believers in the one true God are of course aware that many false gods call for, and receive, the attention and worship of men. But it is one thing to describe polytheism and another thing to endorse it as does this religion professor at Syracuse University.

The Master Theme of the Bible, by J. Sidlow Baxter (Tyndale, 336 pp., $4.95). The well-known expositor on “the doctrine of the lamb” and “dimensions of the cross.”

Temptations of Religion, by Charles Davis (Harper & Row, 89 pp., $4.95). The famous ex-Roman Catholic theologian, now head of Sir George Williams University’s religion department, here takes aim at much of historic Christianity in general. He shows no evidence of interaction with thinkers like C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer when he censures “the lust for certitude.”

Healing Is for Real, by Malcolm Miner (Morehouse-Barlow, 127 pp., $2.95). Affirms that healing is meant for any believer today because this is one of God’s promises. Gives many examples.

Freedom From Sinful Thoughts, by Heini Arnold (Plough, 118 pp., $1.50). Suggestions for release from evil thoughts and temptations.

Give This Man Place, by Billy Graham and Associates (World Wide, 143 pp., $1.45 pb). Sixteen brief messages by the well-known evangelist and some of his associates. Good devotional material dealing with basic Christian principles.

Missions From the Third World, by James Wong, Peter Larson, Edward Pentecost (William Carey Library, 135 pp., n.p., pb). Report on the growth and functioning of missionaries sent from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Great use of statistics to prove the zeal of the Third World in evangelizing.

Psalms in a Minor Key, by Carl Armerding (Moody, 159 pp., $3.95). The older Armerding offers devotional expositions of thirty-five psalms.

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Jesus Wants You Well, by C. S. Lovett (Personal Christianity, 304 pp., $3.95 pb). Presents a program of self-healing through the power of Christ. Resembles mind-over-matter techniques, with faith as a basis.

The Immortality Factor, by Osborn Segerberg, Jr. (Dutton, 392 pp., $10). A secular journalist’s examination of attitudes over the centuries toward death and possible life afterwards combined with reporting of and reflections on recent or probable scientific discoveries that are relevant to the subject.

You Are Somebody, by Ben Johnson (Forum House, 145 pp., $4.95). Another Christian application of the “I’m OK—You’re OK” viewpoint. Informally written.

Why Me, Lord?, by Carl W. Berner (Augsburg, 112 pp., $2.50 pb). Helpful for those experiencing problems.

Protestant readers, who as a rule have but a superficial acquaintance with the patristic backgrounds of the Catholic Church, will find Daniélou’s exposition of the concept of “Tradition” before and after Irenaeus in Part II enlightening.

Examples of the typological and allegorical exegesis of the Scriptures by Justin, Irenaeus, Melito, Clement, and Origen form the fascinating subject of Part III. Daniélou has included magnificent passages of patristic biblical exposition that can hardly be surpassed. On the other hand, some of the flights of fancy found in ancient exegetical writings remind one of the strained allegorical expositions of popular expounders of the Scriptures in our own day.

In Part IV Daniélou discusses the answers that the Greek fathers set forth to questions of philosophy, the transcendence of God, the person of the Word, anthropology, and demonology. Unlike his distinguished predecessor in the study of the history of doctrines, Adolf Harnack, Daniélou denies that Christian theology is the result of the Hellenization of Christianity. “The confrontation with Greek philosophy did, however, present the Christian with a problem—… and that was, how best to use the techniques of Greek philosophy to elaborate Christian dogma.” Daniélou points out, for example, that before Origen the church fathers were limited in their discussions of the Trinity because contemporary philosophy thought that existence as a “person” meant an unacceptable delimitation of the transcendent God.

Clement of Alexandria and Origen are the featured writers in Part V. Clement, who may be seen as the founder of theology, wished to see the development of cultured Christians formed by the application of all that was best in Greek paideia “education.” In spite of Clement’s reference to Christian “gnosis,” which was not erotic esotericism as Morton Smith suggests but which according to Daniélou was derived from Jewish apocalyptic, neither he nor Origen subscribed to the radical dualist heresies of the Gnostics.

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Destined to be a classic, Daniélou’s mastery exposition of the Greek patristic writers has been written not only lucidly but also with an enthusiastic admiration for the lasting achievements of the church fathers. As the translator points out in a postscript on “The Permanent Significance of the Fathers,” their writings can teach us how to interact with openness to the wealth of contemporary thought and can also warn us of the perils of distorting the Gospel in trying to make it relevant to any culture, whether it be the Hellenistic culture of the second and third centuries or our own.

In a work that is richly supplied with footnotes, an excellent bibliography, and textual and general indexes, it may be asking too much to suggest that a valuable addition would be an index to the numerous Greek words that are cited. We are indeed grateful to the publisher for including these Greek words, which make clear exactly what is being discussed.

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