Liberty, Equality, Fraternity-In What Order?
The Idea of Fraternity in America, by Wilson Carey McWilliams (University of California, 1973, 695 pp., $14.95), is reviewed by George M. Marsden, professor of history, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Fraternity,” in the liberal slogan “liberty, equality, fraternity,” seems the most innocuous and ambiguous of these three ideals. Yet according to Professor McWilliams it is precisely a misguided concept of fraternity that has led inevitably to the bankruptcy of the dominant liberal tradition in America. McWilliams supports this original interpretation and indictment of American liberal culture with impressively well-informed and competent (though sometimes by his own admission “torturous”) analyses of a remarkable number of topics in American political and literary history. Liberals, he says, have repeatedly made the mistake of assuming that brotherhood would automatically emerge once liberty and equality were achieved. This accusation applies not only to those who today might call themselves “liberals” but also to twentieth-century “conservatives,” both of whom share the assumptions of the Lockean tradition concerning the moral freedom and natural rights of individuals. “Liberals” may place more emphasis on equality, and “conservatives” more on liberty, but both assume naively that their programs are shortcuts to achieving fraternity. Contemporary radicals, with whom McWilliams has only a “lover’s quarrel,” reflect similar naïvetè in their extravagant but unrealistic proclamations of “brotherhood.” “Under modern conditions,” McWilliams argues, “general political fraternity is impossible.”

Despite this seeming pessimism, Professor McWilliams presents a helpful analysis of the source of the problem of modern ideologies and hence points the way toward finding at least partial solutions. Fraternity, he argues, should not be assumed to be the end toward which man’s social relationships are directed, but rather should be seen as the essential means or first step toward human improvement. We should start out, therefore, as McWilliams himself does, with an analysis of man’s needs for fraternity and of realistic (even if limited) ways to meet those needs. To make such an analysis McWilliams departs significantly from most other contemporary social theorists by suggesting that a consideration of man’s nature is the crucial issue. He subscribes to what he calls a “reactionary” assumption that man’s nature has certain essential qualities that do not change through the course of history. Unlike the liberal, he views man as the product of nature, rather than assuming that man will inevitably dominate nature. Hence an analysis of nature (including man’s nature) is the best way to discover the essential qualities of man’s perennial needs such as fraternity. McWilliams concludes, for instance, that any adequate brotherhood must be based not only on qualities such as “intense personal affection” and “shared values or goals” but also on recognition that genuine fraternity must be limited by numbers and space, that it “implies a necessary tension with loyalty to society at large” and “includes a recognition of shortcomings and failure in the attainment of ultimate values.”

Article continues below

The Idea of Fraternity should interest Christians concerned with man’s social relationships. Recognition that man’s nature is at the heart of his social problems, and that therefore the contemporary “conservative,” “liberal,” and “radical” political options share common defects, places McWilliams close to where Christian social theorists should be focusing their attention. McWilliams himself, though indicating no Christian profession, nevertheless exalts the Judaeo-Christian tradition as a major source of the “old tradition” that provides a significant alternative to post-Lockean forms of liberalism. Christianity emphasized the importance of authority, honor, duties, and obligations in contrast to liberals’ emphases simply on man’s rights. Moreover, Christian social theory in America, at least before it drifted into either individualism or the social gospel, recognized that the establishment of genuine fraternity was an essential first step if men were to promote liberty and equality in society.

McWilliams holds the early American Puritans in particularly high esteem. Following John Calvin they had an acute awareness of the importance of developing a clear understanding of man’s social relationships and responsibilities. Accordingly, the Puritan theories of covenants precisely defined men’s relationships in nature, to the state, and to the church, as well as to God. These covenantal definitions meet McWilliams’s ideals for the understanding of fraternity because they view men not simply as individuals but as ideally related to exclusive groups with definite mutual responsibilities.

Article continues below

McWilliams himself, for whom the idea of fraternity seems to be the only operative religion, is not interested in the biblical rationale for the Puritan understanding of man’s relationships. He sees these Christian ideals as “symbols” in the American tradition, apparently no more significant than the insights that writers such as Hawthorne, Melville, or Twain had for alternatives to the liberal American concepts of fraternity. Yet Christian social theorists, who take the sources of Puritan thought seriously, might learn from those sources (with some of McWilliams’s insights well taken) that it is among our tasks to provide some analysis of men’s proper relationships to one another in communities, churches, and society. Such analysis might then provide some realistic alternatives to the commonplace social options of “conservative,” “liberal,” or “radical” by which we have so often been seduced.

Shakespeare’s Religion

Shakespeare’s God, by Ivor Morris (St. Martin’s, 1972, 496 pp., $15), and Shakespeare’s Religious Background, by Peter Milward (Indiana University, 1973, 312 pp., $12.50), are reviewed by Troy D. Reeves, assistant professor of English. Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas.

Ivor Morris proposes in Shakespeare’s God to locate “an area of compatibility” between theology and drama. This “common ground” he finds in the preoccupation of both with the profligate will of fallen man. Desiring what he thinks is good, man really seeks only evil, non-being, and death. Consequently, the destruction of man—the primary action of tragedy—is salutary, for it annihilates man’s capacity for self-assertion and throws him upon the mercy of the providential Other. The “tragic flaw,” mistakenly ascribed by Aristotle to the character of the hero, is, in truth, the flaw of every man—his birthright by virtue of mortality. The puzzling exhilaration or joy produced by tragedy, perplexing to generations of critics, is simply the pleasure of seeing man destroyed and forced to turn, if only in the throes of death, to a being beyond himself. This pleasure, “unattainable by a Godless criticism,” is comprehensible only to Christian readers and critics. To all others, Aristotle included, it just seems pitiful.

Article continues below

After setting forth his thesis in three hundred pages of preliminaries, Morris, who maintains early in his book that “the commentary on human existence … lies in its finality in the plays and can scarcely be separated from them,” finally arrives at the “big four”—Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet. Of the great tragic heroes, Hamlet has all the advantages; for, while Macbeth, Othello, and Lear must pass through personal disintegration en route to their respective recognitions of the futility of existence, Hamlet already knows from the outset that life is rotten. He cannot will self-aggrandizement because he has a healthy contempt for his self. He cannot will power because he rightfully recognizes that all power is corrupt. Hamlet never places membership in the church of his choice, but “near the play’s end a faith is declared; and the elements of it that are made clear, together with the movements in the direction of spiritual maturity that have been perceptible in his nature, form a sufficient basis for a religious trust.…”

One might object to a number of things in regard to this book—Morris’s exclusive use of the tragedies to determine Shakespeare’s religious outlook, his identification of moral content solely with didacticism, his use of characters’ speeches to ascertain Shakespeare’s own beliefs (a fallacy Morris heartily condemns in other critics)—but the central problem is clearly theological. To Morris’s way of thinking, theology is all eschatology, the abstract, and the other-worldly. Drama, on the other hand, is all existence, the concrete, the imperfect here-and-now. Totally absent from Morris’s book is Christology, with all its profound artistic implications. Existence is necessarily and pervasively secular because it has never been entered into by God himself. So long as the ultimate Good remains separate and inaccessible, man can know no good whatsoever, either through indwelling or regeneration. “Adhering to good” is invariably, for Morris, repudiating, not only the world, but existence itself; man must transcend this life in order to enter into that enlightenment which is, according to Morris, salvation. This nebulous theology leads Morris into two substantial errors: his minimizing of Shakespeare’s characterization and his exempting of the “tragic flaw” from human moral responsibility.

Article continues below


Once Upon a Time, God, by Thomas Howard (Holman, 114 pp., $4.50). Stimulating dialogue between a modern skeptic and a Christian. Warm and readable presentation of the Christian story that answers criticisms leveled at Christianity and presents the beliefs clearly. In a style like that of C. S. Lewis.

Wellsprings of Renewal, by Donald G. Bloesch (Eerdmans, 123 pp., $3.25 pb). Biblical, historical, and illustrated review of Protestant communal life. Special attention to evangelical ventures. Not an in-depth treatment, but useful as an overview.

The New Anti-Semitism, by Arnold Forster and Benjamin Epstein (McGraw-Hill, 368 pp., $7.95). As the memory of the Nazi holocaust fades, a new anti-Semitism is growing. This relatively objective, documented report reveals the current strength of anti-Jewish activity from old sources like Gerald Smith as well as from new sources such as portions of black nationalism, the media and the arts, the radical left, and Arab sympathizers.

The Wonder of Being, by Charles A. Malik (Word, 150 pp., $4.95). A Greek Orthodox defense of the Church, the existence of God, and the power of Jesus from a philosophical perspective. By a former president of the United Nations General Assembly.

David Friedrich Strauss and His Theology, by Horton Harris (Cambridge, 301 pp., $16). Theological biography of the author of Life of Jesus (1835), who first publicly championed a mythical interpretation of the Gospels, denying their historicity.

Myths, Models and Paradigms, by Ian G. Barbour (Harper & Row, 198 pp., $6.95). Comparative study by a leading scholar of the definitions and uses of myth, model, and paradigm in science and religion. Demonstrates that science is not as objective and religion is not as subjective as is often assumed.

The Responsible Pulpit, by James Earl Massey (Warner, 128 pp., $5.95). Lectures to students at several schools by a Church of God pastor. Deals with responsibility to Christ, the minister’s personal life, hermeneutics, and homiletics. Though addressed to all ministers, it includes special insights from the black preaching tradition.

The Occult Underground, by James Webb (Open Court, 387 pp., $8.95). Focuses on the revival of occultism of various forms during the nineteenth century, noting parallels with the contemporary revival.

Major Bible Themes, by Lewis Sperry Chafer (Zondervan, 384 pp., $5.95). A major, expanded revision, (in form, not substance) by John Walvoord, Chafer’s successor as president of Dallas Seminary. Fifty-two doctrines are presented such as “God the Trinity,” “The Covenants,” “Sanctification,” and “Israel in History and Prophecy.” A clear overview of the basic areas of systematic theology, designed for self-study.

Article continues below

The Trial of Chaplain Jensen, by Andrew Jensen (Arbor House, 288 pp., $7.95). Personal account of the only chaplain ever to be court-martialed and the only officer to be tried solely for adultery. He was cleared of all wrongdoing, and in the process much of the seamy side of Navy life was exposed.

Young Lions of Judah, by Mike Evans (Logos, 116 pp., $1.25 pb). Another collection of accounts of Jews who have accepted Jesus as Messiah.

Hide or Seek, by James Dobson (Revell, 159 pp., $4.95). Practical observations and suggestions for dealing with children’s self-esteem and society’s false value systems. Psychological training blended with Christian commitment to produce meaningful advice. By the author of Dare to Discipline.

The Counter Reformation 1559–1610, by Marvin R. O’Connell (Harper & Row, 390 pp., $10). Study of the Catholic reaction to the Reformation, but lacks depth and is too partisanly Catholic.

The Origins of Christian Art, by Michael Gough (Praeger, 216 pp., $10). Traces the development of the first eight centuries of Christian art. Includes 191 illustrations, many in color, of mosaics, sculptured jewelry, and architecture.

A Rabbinic Anthology, edited by C. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe (Schocken, 971 pp., $20, $7.50 pb). Reprint of a valuable compendium of Talmudic lore from the early centuries of the Christian era and deriving from even earlier oral tradition.

Death by Choice, by Daniel Maguire (Doubleday, 223 pp., $6.95). A Catholic theology professor’s examination of euthanasia. Probing investigation into a variety of aspects, concluding that one has the right to choose. Readable and thought-provoking.

The One and Only You, by Bruce Larson (Word, 141 pp., $4.95). This popular author probes practical ways for Christians to draw on the liberating security of God’s love.

Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, by William L. Lane (Eerdmans, 652 pp,, $12.95), and Mark: A Portrait of the Servant, by D. Edmond Hiebert (Moody, 437 pp., $7.95). Lane has made a major addition to the “New International Commentary” series with what may well be the foremost study of Mark by an evangelical. Hiebert has written many other commentaries and is not so thorough.

Article continues below

The Kingdom in Mark, by Werner Kelber (Fortress, 173 pp., $8.50). The author argues that the Second Gospel was written in response to the crisis of early Christian faith resulting from the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Aimed at scholars.

Matthew: His Mind and His Message, by Peter F. Ellis (Liturgical Press, 179 pp., $4.95 pb). Examination of Matthew’s style, composition, and theology. Deals more with the work as a whole than with bits and pieces. For scholars.

Mark the Road, by Wilson O. Weldon (The Upper Room, 104 pp., $1.50). A thoughtful and deeply perceptive devotional book, by the editor of The Upper Room.

The Christian, the Atheist and Freedom, by Joseph Magno and Victor LaMotte (Precedent, 99 pp., $4.50). A look at the varieties of atheism, indicating the “faiths” they represent, and a brief defense of Christianity.

Peers, Tents and Owls, by James L. Lowery (Morehouse-Barlow, 155 pp., $3.95 pb). Designed for the clergy, this is an Episcopalian’s look at problems facing the local minister. Little reference to Scripture.

Go Free, by Elliott Wright (Friendship, 96 pp., $1.75 pb). Bible-study guide on justice, freedom, and human development. Useful introduction as far as it goes.

Becoming Transformed, by Orien Johnson (Judson, 126 pp., $2.50 pb). Guide to personal growth through examination of Scriptures and reinforcement through direct action. Designed primarily for group use.

God’s Strategy For the Church, by Jerry Haughton (Living Spring (801 DeLisle, Portageville, Mo. 63873], 265 pp., $2 pb). A young minister shares his experience with congregational renewal.

Reflective Faith, by Austin Farrer (Eerdmans, 237 pp., $3.45 pb). Essays on rational and philosophical theology by the late British theologian.

The effect of this “Christian” (minus the Incarnation) view is a flattening of Shakespeare’s world, an ignoring of the variety and complexity of his characters. Morris, in effect, places Iago on a plane with Othello, makes Hal’s courage equal with Falstaff’s, and sees Portia as no more virtuous than Cressida. The only pertinent fact about the characters is that they live in a fallen world and are victims of their own depravity. Moral responsibility is minimal; after all, whatever choices man makes have to be the wrong choices. But such a one-dimensional view hardly corresponds to the rugged moral topography of Shakespeare’s world. When Morris asserts that Christianity “discerns the working out of moral judgments in man’s world, but appreciates that they cannot be made with precision because of the morally irrelevant fact of power,” one may point to the anonymous servant who, outside the power structure, stands up against the blinding of Gloucester in King Lear and thereby redeems himself within the moral order of the plays (in which a distinction is clearly made between that power which corresponds with righteousness and that power which does not), as well as in the eyes of the viewer.

Article continues below

In short, Morris’s theology is not vital enough, it does not have at its heart enough life, to survive confrontation with Shakespeare’s magnificently vibrant and varied world without paling by comparison. And one cannot but feel that there is something wrong with a Christianity that cannot survive immersion into mortal existence.

That Shakespeare “held a mirror up to nature” and therein reflected the religious heterodoxy of Elizabethan England is hardly disputable. This Peter Milward amply documents in Shakespeare’s Religious Background, which is a virtual handbook to religious allusions in Shakespeare’s plays. That the plays, as “abstracts and brief chronicles of the time,” portray different religious personages in a variety of lights is equally beyond dispute. What is open to question is the nature of Shakespeare’s own religious beliefs and the influence of these beliefs on the plays. On these issues Milward is eager to speculate.

Though qualified with mild disclaimers and faint apologies, Milward’s thesis sounds through loud and clear: Shakespeare was, by heritage, a Roman Catholic. To escape the rampant anti-Catholic persecution that Elizabeth permitted, he maintained a respectable Anglican front, putting in enough appearances at church to stay off the recusancy lists. But in his heart Shakespeare knew that Rome was right. He despised Henry VIII, adored the Virgin, bore contempt for Puritans and atheists, toed the theological mainline of Aquinas and Augustine, and longed for the reconciliation of London and Rome. How, one may ask, can we know all this, considering the paucity of evidence about Shakespeare’s life and beliefs? Milward assures us that Shakespeare wanted to tell but couldn’t. Like Hamlet, he held his tongue, though it almost broke his heart to do so. However, in the plays, analogically and allegorically, he represented his “deep religious convictions.” Milward advises us that “beneath all the plays may be heard the ‘still, sad music of humanity,’ lamenting the plight of his ‘poor country’ since the day Henry VIII decided to break with Rome.”

Article continues below

In place of proof, Milward offers the inevitable aggregation of circumstantial evidence. He points to Shakespeare’s frequent use of grace and gracious to describe his heroines, reminds us that the Virgin was so addressed, and concludes that Shakespeare’s virtuous heroines are subtly patterned after the Virgin Mary. He observes that the fleet approaching England in King Lear, bearing Cordelia (Catholicism) back home, is greeted with happy anticipation and suggests that Shakespeare is here letting perceptive readers know how he and his fellow Catholics really felt about the Spanish Armada. He notes that Shylock is depicted as parsimonious, legalistic, and hypocritical. Puritans were so described by contemporary clergymen; it follows that Shylock is Shakespeare’s Puritan, incognito. Attempting to make Hamlet into an oblique attack upon Elizabeth, Milward maintains that Polonius is none other than Elizabeth’s advisor Lord Cecil. ‘The very name Polonius, invented by the dramatist, may be a Latinized form of Cecil’s title, Burghley, pronounced in the Welsh manner.” While acknowledging that a near monomania would be required to motivate such a sustained and intense religious subterfuge, readers will probably be unwilling to relegate Shakespeare’s genius to a knack for writing cloaked propaganda and to agree that Shakespeare generally said the opposite of what he meant.

Ironically, Milward is most intriguing when least “factual” and “scientific.” In his concluding chapters on ethics and theology, he offers a personal reading of the tragedies in light of the Christian themes of love and forgiveness, but without endeavoring to establish an objectively defined “Christian influence.” Milward’s paralleling of the redemptive roles of Cordelia and Christ—though indebted to previous criticism, particularly that of John Dover Wilson—is convincing. On the other hand, his effort to show that Hamlet delays in killing Claudius in order to allow the villain opportunity for repentance and salvation does considerable violence to Shakespeare’s text. By his own testimony, Hamlet delays in the famous prayer scene, to which Milward refers, in order to catch Claudius “drunk asleep” or “in the incestuous pleasure of his bed” and kill him in an act of sin, thereby sending his “damn’d and black” soul to hell. This is a most peculiar plan of salvation and a most unconvincing example of agape.

Article continues below

Both Morris, a literary scholar and Congregational minister, and Milward, a Jesuit professor of literature, wind up finding in Shakespeare’s plays their own images. This may itself be a tribute to Shakespeare’s genius, but it leaves the reader still wondering about the vast “undiscovered country” of Shakespeare’s religious thought.

Of Limited Value

Communication in the Pulpit and Parish, by Merrill R. Abbey (Westminster, 1973, 237 pp., $7.50), and The Teaching Ministry of the Pulpit: Its History, Theology, Psychology, and Practice For Today, by Craig Skinner (Baker, 1973, 255 pp., $5.95), are reviewed by James M. Boice, minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The trouble with most books on preaching is not that they are not helpful—to a degree. It is that they so seldom get to the heart of what true preaching is and therefore leave the reader, usually a seminarian, with the impression that the work of preaching is largely a matter of technique. In this way they actually ruin many who might otherwise have proclaimed the Word of God effectively. Neither of these works escapes that criticism.

To be sure, both are conceived as textbooks. The first (Communication in Pulpit and Parish) is written by a professor of preaching from Garrett Theological Seminary, the second (The Teaching Ministry of the Pulpit) by a well-known lecturer on homiletics from Australia. But even along these lines they could be better. Both books are heavy on surveys of past and current approaches to preaching and teaching, diagrams, tables, and what strike me as pedantic summaries for the dull student of what has already been said. Abbey’s book even has little assignments at the end of each chapter. It is only at the end of each book and in very small compass that the theological dimension of preaching as the communication of the authoritative word of God to men, which should have under-girded the whole, is mentioned.

Each work is of value in limited areas, however. Skinner’s book contains an informative summary of teaching and preaching theories from Old Testament days to the present. There are helpful suggestions for planning and delivering sermons. A unique feature is an appendix on Southern Baptist teaching materials. And there are many good statements. For example, “Leaders are not chosen to lift the load of responsibility from the shoulders of others, but to help them discharge their individual responsibilities more effectively.” Or again, “We talk far too much in the pulpit about why persons should do certain things, and far too little on how these should be done, and helping them to begin.”

Article continues below

Unfortunately, the value even of these sections is weakened by a neglect of the truth that all the proper elements of preaching—such as content, emotion, a variety of materials and methods, knowledge of the listeners and their needs—can be present and yet there still be no genuine preaching because the preacher has not himself first wrestled with the Scriptures and heard the sure voice of God.

This weakness is even more prominent in Abbey, to the degree that the student reading him might wonder why the Bible should necessarily be used in preaching at all. Indeed, at one point Abbey seems to suggest that the reason is that the preacher will suffer in the eyes of his congregation if he does not—“No matter how urgent the minister’s convictions concerning the contemporary scene, no matter how eager he may be to get on with present tasks in the world around him, he will be hindered by heightened barriers of role-image conflict unless he is perceived as a careful and credible interpreter of the Bible.” What do you say after a man says that? Only that while he may know something about communication—Abbey does—he certainly knows nothing of that overpowering spiritual compulsion that caused the Apostle Paul to cry out, “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel,” or that enabled the prophets to hurl their “Thus saith the Lord” before monarchs.

Abbey’s strength lies in his presentation of contemporary communication theory. But one would have to be more impressed with communication jargon than I am if he is to get by some of it without gagging. I do not find a description of a minister being awakened by his clock radio as the minister’s “personally predesigned interaction with the media of mass communication” or a parable involving the Reverend Ernest Sheppard and the young Bible school teacher Will Teachem amusing.

Article continues below

If you must buy one of these books, Skinner’s is better. But there are better books than either. In fact, one would be better served simply by plunging into the actual sermons of such pulpit giants as Lloyd-Jones, Spurgeon, or any of the Puritan fathers. For these at least knew the Scriptures, believed them, loved them, and effectively shared them with their world.

Worthwhile Introductions

You Can Understand the Bible, by Nelson B. Baker (Holman, 1973, 144 pp., $2.95), Introducing the Bible, by William Barclay (Abingdon, 1973, 151 pp., $1.45), and The Message of the New Testament, by F. F. Bruce (Eerdmans, 1973, 120 pp., $1.95), are reviewed by Allison A. Triles, assistant professor of biblical studies, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfvill, Nova Scotia.

Two of these three paperbacks are concerned with the whole Bible, and the other is restricted to the New Testament. All three are addressed to the lay reader, and therefore footnotes and technical points are reduced to a minimum. Each book ends with helpful suggestions for further reading.

Dr. Baker’s book is perhaps the simplest. In fifteen short chapters he give a bird’s-eye view of the Bible in terms of the unifying themes that control the unfolding story from beginning to end. The first of these themes is God’s people, viewed in relation to God and to one another, and also in the light of the witness they bear to God. The second theme is the inheritance: God has promised peace and prosperity to those who trust and obey him, as well as a final glorious inheritance. The third theme is the means God uses for the restoration and nurture of people, including persons, institutions (e.g., covenant, kingdom, law), and his people’s experience. Baker’s aim is to help the non-specialist understand the Scripture as “one God-inspired, coherent, unified volume.” The Bible is seen through the eyes of faith, and frequent attempts are made to apply its abiding message to modern man. Each chapter closes with biblical references and four or five questions for discussion; the book would be useful for group Bible study.

The work by the prolific Scottish writer and theologian William Barclay testifies to the Bible’s uniqueness, gives clear advice on how best to read it, tells how the biblical writings came into being and finally gained acceptance as Scripture, and explains the significance and status of the Apocrypha. Most important of all, Professor Barclay presents the Bible as a book to be read and enjoyed today. The book opens with five prayers for Bible study, explores the question of canonicity at some length, and goes into a number of issues raised by biblical criticism such as the use of form criticism, the limitations of the allegorical method, the case for modern translations, and the nature of biblical inspiration. It examines the need for a “developing grasp of revelation” and takes seriously G. E. Ladd’s assertion that the Bible is the Word of God in the words of men. Many will doubtless take issue with some of Barclay’s positions (e.g., “It is clear God never wanted the sacrifice of animals”), but there is much useful material in this little book, illustrated with the skill that has made Barclay for some years one of the best-known biblical expositors in Britain.

Article continues below

The third work serves as a companion volume to H. L. Ellison’s The Message of the Old Testament and comes from the pen of F. F. Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of Manchester, England. Dr. Bruce, who serves as editor of the Evangelical Quarterly and The New International Commentary on the New Testament, is well known as the author of many critical and devotional works. While this book tries “not to obtrude the common apparatus of critical study,” it is nonetheless able to pass on some of the rich fruits of a lifetime devoted to the Scriptures. Professor Bruce attempts to bring out the individuality of the New Testament writers and their unique contributions to its message. In ten pithy chapters he canvasses the New Testament documents, beginning with Mark and working through the earlier epistles, the prison epistles, the pastoral epistles, Luke and Acts, Hebrews, Matthew, the general epistles, Revelation, and finally the Johannine epistles and gospel. Like the other two writers under review, Bruce writes in language simple enough to be understood by beginning Bible students, yet rich enough to stimulate and challenge those who have been studying the Scriptures for years. Because he concentrates on major themes and not on minute detail, Bruce succeeds in presenting the central message of the New Testament in a creative and invigorating way.

These three books may also be of interest to theological students who wish to gain a general impression of biblical matters before launching on detailed academic study.

Periodical Notes

Church Growth: Canada is the title of a twelve-page bulletin launched in March by Canadian Theological College (a graduate-level Christian and Missionary Alliance school). All theological libraries serving Canadian students should subscribe. (3 issues/year; $1/year; 4400 Fourth Ave., Regina, Sask. S4T OH8, Canada.)

Article continues below

The Association of Baptist Professors of Religion has launched a semi-annual scholarly journal, Perspectives in Religious Studies. This will be a source for Southern Baptists who are looking for evidence that some teachers at their church-related schools don’t exactly hold the view of scriptural authority that used to permeate the denomination. It also adds one more title to the list of journals that theological libraries should receive. The first issue (Spring, 1974) includes articles on love, the canon, and contemplation. ($4/year; Chowan College, Murfreesboro, N. C. 27855.)

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.