When Will It All End?

Bible Prophecy, by Paul Erb (Herald Press, 1978, 208 pp., $4.95 pb), Count-Down to Rapture, by Salem Kirban (Harvest, 1977, 189 pp., $2.95 pb), Biblical Prophecy for Today, by J. Barton Payne (Baker, 1978, 93 pp., $2.95 pb), The Last Things, by George Eldon Ladd (Eerdmans, 1978, 119 pp., $2.95 pb), Things to Come for Planet Earth, by Aaron Luther Plueger (Concordia, 1977, 104 pp., $2.95 pb), and After the Rapture, by Raymond Schafer (Vision, 1977, 159 pp., $2.95 pb), are reviewed by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., pastor, Midway Presbyterian Church, Jonesboro, Tennessee.

Apparently the last word on the last things has not been published. These six books represent just a small number of books of prophetic literature now being published.

Ladd’s Last Things is by far the most significant work of the six for the serious Bible student who is interested in eschatology. Ladd is an evangelical scholar of international repute whose work is always characterized by cautious theological precision rather than the more marketable sensationalism so rampant today. He deals with the problem of Israel, personal (as well as cosmic) eschatology, terminology surrounding the Second Advent, and the kingdom of God.

The theme of his book is the organic-progressive relationship between the Old and New Testaments. By emphasizing the progressive unity of God’s redemptive program Ladd, though a premillennialist, can talk with post- and amillennialists. He takes issue with dispensational theologians in several areas of major concern including: the church in the Old Testament, a New Testament hermeneutic that emphasizes a “re-interpretive” approach to the Old Testament rather than a presupposed literalism, and his assertion that “the return of Christ will be a single, indivisible, glorious event.”

A problem that consistently nags at premillennial eschatology is that of Christ’s second humiliation. All premillennialists teach that the exalted Lord will leave the majesty of eternity and return to a sin-laden world to personally administer a 1,000 year kingdom. At the end of the millennium “fire from heaven” must intervene to rescue the glorified Lord from an overthrow by a seething, rebellious kingdom. The millennium, the clearest and most directly administered expression of the kingdom of God on earth, ends in failure.

Mennonite minister Paul Erb uses a readable question-and-answer format in his Bible Prophecy. Characteristic of this work is a modest prophetic restraint coupled with simplicity of expression. It is well-suited to the beginning student of prophecy because of its nontechnical nature. Such key terms as eschatology, millennium, apocalyptic, denouement, protoevangelium, and parousia are simply defined. Erb avoids what he calls “rapture fever” and emphasizes that the end of the age may be as close as tomorrow or as distant as a century. Warfield spoke of “the great principle that all prophecy is ethical in purpose.” To this Erb would give hearty consent: he is more concerned with “how can the church make a faithful witness [until] the end” than with the identity of anti-Christ or the time of the Lord’s return. The thrust of the book concerns itself with a christocentric view of history, which looks beyond impending disaster to ultimate victory. Erb speaks from what he terms a “transmillennial” position. Myron Augsburger, president of Eastern Mennonite College, coined this term to describe a cautious posttribulation premillennialism. His brief descriptions of the various millennial positions were helpful but could have been a good deal more perspicuous.

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An amillennial polemic against dispensationalism can be found in Plueger’s Things to Come for Planet Earth. He wants “to give a rather comprehensive treatment of last things and the problem areas of interpretation.” Plueger does not develop any new arguments against dispensationalism but opponents would agree that the old arguments are still valid. He charges that there are several serious errors in dispensationalism such as its attempt to distinguish between the kingdom of God and of heaven, the kingdom postponement theory, the discontinuity in God’s redemptive program, literalism, second chance (after the rapture) salvation, a diplopic conception of the complex of end-time events, and Zionism.

Plueger’s work suffers greatly from extreme brevity. His arguments will be less than convincing to dispensationalists. The Abrahamic Covenant, which is considered basic to the entire system, is treated in only three sentences. Anti-Christ, Armageddon, the Tribulation, and the first resurrection receive only six or seven sentences each of explication. Not infrequently his use of quotations was either irrelevant or was employed for non sequitur argumentation.

My major disappointment was with Old Testament theologian J. Barton Payne’s Biblical Prophecy for Today. He intended to cover “every relevant verse … whose fulfillments are either happening now or at least possible within the next few days or weeks.” Supposedly only prophecies “clearly for our immediate future are dealt with.” The thrust of the book was more in the speculative, doom-oriented vein of the current bestsellers; it offers a scenario for the curious. Two problems plague this work: undue proof-texting and questionable speculation. An example will suffice: Psalm 110:3 is said to be a prophecy that “young believers will willingly volunteer for Christ’s campaign” immediately after anti-Christ’s assault on Egypt (Dan. 11) and before a group of “principle men” (Mic. 5:5) become particular leaders. I wonder how he could accurately place Psalm 110:3 in his list.

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I hoped that Schafer’s After the Rapture was a rare dispensational book that would look beyond the tribulation horrors to the future life. However, it turned out to be a hodge-podge of crass speculation to the point of incredulity. He deals with such “clear” prophetic themes as what translation of Scripture we will use in our eternal Bible studies to why there have been so many malevolent leaders whose names have been numerically equivalent to 666: “Satan had to have one or more Antichrist candidates waiting in the wings, lest the Rapture … find him unprepared.” Also our “dual-purpose” resurrection bodies are very practical: They allow us to commute between heaven and earth during the millennium.

Kirbans’s Countdown to Rapture represents his latest attempt at what has been called “newspaper exegesis.” His work insists that “we have reached the point of no return. We are on an irreversible course for world disaster.” The overriding message of the book is anything but the readiness of God’s covenantal blessing in response to repentance as promised in Second Chronicles 7:14. In 189 pages hundreds of news sources are quoted but only twenty-four Bible verses.

Five of these six were premillennial and this reflects the usual ratio of writings on prophecy. Unfortunately neither pre- nor amillennialism can break from the chains of pessimism concerning the future course of this world. Some people think that this mindset of doom has a debilitating effect on long-range Christian cultural and political endeavor: “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). Long thought moribund, there are signs of a revival of postmillennialism as evidenced in the writings of such Reformed scholars as Norman Shephard, Greg Bahnsen, J. R. deWitt, Iain Murray, R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, and Francis Nigel Lee. It will be interesting to observe how pre- and amillennialists respond to this resurgence of postmillennialism. To paraphrase Matthew 24:6: “The end of the eschatological debate is not yet.” Think of it: If postmillennialism is right the debate could rage for several more centuries.

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Women Worldwide

Woman: New Dimensions, edited by Walter Burkhardt (Paulist, 1977, 189 pp., $5.95 pb) is reviewed by Patricia Gundry, Wheaton, Illinois.

This book reproduces a special theme issue (December, 1975) of the scholarly journal Theological Studies. It presents a varied representation of woman’s situation worldwide, and particularly within the Roman Catholic Church. The writers largely reflect the liberal theological perspective, but that does not undercut the value of their messages for evangelicals. Roman Catholics are wrestling with the issue of equality for women with many of the same conflicts as evangelicals, though sometimes for different reasons.

The first chapter gives a necessary appraisal of women’s status around the world. It points out that though “feminine” occupations vary from country to country, wherever they are thus labeled, pay and status are always lower than they are in “masculine” occupations. Sex-role stereotyping results in an overall bottom-of-the-ladder position for women economically, politically, nutritionally, and educationally.

Rosemary Radford Ruether’s chapter, “Home and Work: Women’s Roles and the Transformation of Values,” is particularly helpful in its analysis of our polarization of society into public and private segments, with female relegated to the private and male to the public. It is illuminating for those wondering just how the “feminine mystique” and “total woman” ideal came about.

The gradual elimination of women from ministry in the early centuries of the church and the eventual forcing of ministering women into cloisters is traced in chapter five. A call to personhood is issued to both men and women. Of note is the section calling the church to structural reform in ministry. In this section Elizabeth Carroll identifies the tension between traditional structures and unmet personal needs. Traditional structures stultify and restrict the ministry of individuals and of the church as a body, she says, and many women now hesitate to move into this kind of a structure even if the opportunity becomes available. Instead, they seek a fluid fellowship of believers where service is open to all according to the gifts and leading of the Holy Spirit.

The Roman Catholic woman with a ministry has a problem Protestant women probably do not face. This problem is poignantly felt by those with ministries to the sick and needy: They can go only so far in giving counsel and comfort and then must call in a male priest to give the “real spiritual meat” in the form of communion, absolution, or last rites. The continuity of care and concern is broken by an often automatic and lifeless “going through the motions” by the one called in. This disrupts and dilutes the woman’s ministry and discourages both her and those she wants to help.

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The two final chapters survey relevant literature both secular (chapter eight) and religious (chapter nine). These listings and evaluations will be valuable resources for the student and professional researching the whole complex issue.

And this book makes it clearer than ever to the evangelical reader that this is a complex issue. It confirms the belief that it is irresponsible for those in religious fields of study or authority to dismiss the women’s movement as a scurrying on the edges that does not profoundly affect the church.

This volume will be a useful tool in college and seminary libraries. I can also recommend it to those seriously concerned with the issue as it relates to the church generally.

Marketing The Gospel

How Can I Get Them to Listen?, by James Engel (Zondervan, 1977, 185 pp., $4.95 pb), is reviewed by Mel White, assistant professor of communications, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

Today’s air will be good to unhealthful.” City dwellers hear this not-too-helpful forecast from our smognosticators almost daily during the hot, humid summer months. I will join the cowardly weatherman in my critique of Engel’s handbook on communication strategy and research. This sequel to What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest? (co-written with Will Norton) is in my not-too-helpful forecast, both good and unhealthy. The book is good (or does well) in what it intends: “to help the Christian leader (especially in the developing countries) to develop and implement relatively non-complicated research projects and to interpret and use the research done by others.”

Engel’s first assumption is that “communication begins with the audience.” He goes on to explain how a communication strategist would go about winning the world to Christ through a careful analysis of audience awareness and attitudes, styles of life, and decision making. The author has held office in the American Marketing Association, is on the editorial board of the “Journal of Marketing,” and was founder and first chairman of the Association for Consumer Research. Currently he is chairman of the communications department at Wheaton Graduate School. His academic knowledge and practical experience are obvious as he leads lay readers skillfully through the basics of audience analysis (define the problem, identify data needs, decide on collection procedures, select your sample and design sampling tool, collect, tabulate, and analyze the data) and on to phasing the research results into effective strategies of communication. There are many practical hints, helpful warnings, creative suggestions for anyone concerned about better communicating the faith. Even if you hate the idea of integrating marketing procedures into Christian communication, Engel’s little primer will acquaint you with the science most widely used by those who know and exploit us all so well with their junk food, junk media, and junk theology.

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Even so there is an unhealthful aspect of How Can I Get Them to Listen? It relates to something the author did not intend to discuss—the serious theological and ethical issues raised by the church’s current rush to adapt marketing skills to the Christian communication task. Rather than fault this book for its incompleteness, I simply want to call attention to a potentially harmful way that it might be used. There have been few if any evangelical attempts to integrate biblical teaching with the marketing assumptions that are sneaking into Christian communication circles. Christian media executives and mass evangelism experts were the first church people to apply research principles to the Christian context. After years of practicing on the Christian public, they have become skilled practitioners of the marketing arts. The Christian communication enterprise has become a multibillion dollar industry. Unfortunately, these all-too-successful communicators have lived and worked too long in environments virtually untouched by serious theological examination. As a result the primary criterion applied to evaluate the marketability of Christian people and product is the golden rule of secular marketing, “Will it sell?” Consequently, Christian “stars,” books, magazines, films, various products, people, and programs are sold like toothpaste and deodorant. The prophetic or near-prophetic, the unpopular but true, the controversial and open ended, even the mildly amusing or satiric voices are muted. As the Christian merchants reach for ever-widening clientel the truth becomes thinner and less persuasive. We need better communication strategy, yet at the heart of building that strategy we may be losing Christian truth altogether.

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Engel meant only to write a simple communication strategy handbook for Christian leaders in the developing countries. His book will stand side-by-side with theological tomes and biblical commentaries on their shelves as it stands on ours. But that side-by-side is the unhealthy problem. We are passing on to our third world brothers and sisters questions that North Americans have not resolved, assumptions we have not tested. It is past time for Christian communicators who practice the marketing arts to enter into serious discussion with theologians and ethicists. It is past time to reconsider the possibility that understanding what we have to communicate is more important than communicating it.

James Engel confesses in the preface that “he and his colleagues are deeply immersed in developing a research based, Spirit-led communication strategy.” Such a theology of communication is needed now.

Homosexuality Is Sin

Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion, by Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse (Seabury, 1977, 190 pp., $8.95), and The Gay Theology, by Ken Philpott (Logos, 1977, 194 pp., $1.95 pb), are reviewed by Will Norton, Jr., assistant professor of journalism, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi.

Since Anita Bryant’s heroic but controversial stand against the militant homosexuals of Dade County, the literature on homosexuals and the church has increased.

For most Christians the central issue has not been whether God loves homosexuals nor whether Christ died to save them. The basic debate has been whether God endorses homosexual practice as an option or whether Christian homosexuals must be repentant and practice continence. Moreover, should homosexuals be allowed as leaders in the church? Many denominations are actively debating this question.

Barnhouse destroys the classic arguments of those who assert that the Bible is not against homosexuality and Philpott encourages the ministry of those who have converted homosexuals in their churches.

Barnhouse says that a decision on homosexuality has two sides: the moral and the scientific. It requires the questions, What ought to be? and, What is?

In other words, Barnhouse says that the decision on homosexuality cannot merely be statistical. An individual’s behavior cannot be evaluated only in terms of other people’s behavior. Such judgments are only examples of massmindedness, and only religion can protect us against that.

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Once she has exposed the tension between science and theology and the place for their cooperation, she reviews the scientific information about homosexuality. For example, “in the animal kingdom there is no such thing as homosexual behavior which includes climax or even, between males, intromission. The rare exceptions occur under the extreme circumstances of artificial stress, such as overcrowding of rats in laboratories.” She then raises contemporary ethical questions about homosexuality before considering some basic theological questions. Here she deals with what “ought to be.”

“All conduct, even when the motivations are unconscious, is the result of choice, and that therefore people are ultimately responsible in their depths,” Barnhouse says. Moreover, the biblical position is that homosexuality is sin. Yet, she believes it “cannot possibly be as distasteful to the sight of God as the self-righteous hostility of those who persecute homosexuals.”

For Barnhouse, homosexuality is a rejection of union with the other sex. It is a denial of the wholeness of the sacred order because it denies “half of the image of God.” It is a failure to achieve the “Christian goal of completeness.”

Philpott does not even debate the issue. His focus is on the homosexual who has faith in Jesus Christ and is trying to cope with his old nature.

After question-answer interviews with four homosexuals, he considers the problems of former homosexuals. He explains that after the initial spiritual high of conversion, homosexuals often face severe temptations. They suddenly realize that they haven’t automatically become heterosexual.

As they try to relate with Christians they face three problems. First, some Christians will be closed to relating to anyone associated with homosexuality. Second, a homosexual may feel guilty being with other Christians because his or her expression of affection would be misinterpreted. Third, the former homosexual can feel alone because he is a stranger to family life—a big part of any church.

Nonetheless, Philpott says, the church can minister to homosexuals by offering forgiveness, acceptance, love, and evidence of the power of God. The book offers some practical suggestions for how to provide such ministry.

Books make good gifts. Here is a random selection of titles issued in the last twelve months or so that merit serious consideration for your shopping list. The brief comments are only a guide as to what to look at in your bookstore; judging the suitability of a book for its intended receiver is one of the joys—and perils—of book giving. In some cases lower prices are in effect until Christmas, and those are the ones we list.
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FAMILY BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIAS are coming in threes. David C. Cook, the well-known Sunday school publisher, has released a two-volume Family Bible Encyclopedia by Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen (204 + 222 pp., $16.95 the set). This is the book of the year for elementary and junior-high age children. It consists of definitions and descriptions in alphabetical order of most of the terms that a Bible reader would come across. There are illustrations, usually in full color, on most pages. I just wish the publishers would have issued it in one volume instead of two.
The entry from Harper & Row is Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life by Madeline S. and J. Lane Miller (416 pp., $ 12.95). This is a major revision and updating of a work first released in 1944 and is aimed for an older readership than the Mickelsen book. Rather than short entries there are longer descriptions. Nearly five pages are devoted to frankincense and myrrh. Chapters are devoted to such everyday subjects as housing, medicine, and agricultural methods.
From Eerdmans we have Eerdmans’ Family Encyclopedia of the Bible edited by Pat Alexander (328 pp., $13.95). This one is the best buy of the three. It is a companion to two previously well-received works (which are also good for giving this year), Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible and Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity. The photography, mostly in full color, is splendid and will attract the nonreaders in the family. The textual material is long, but broken up into convenient subdivisions and short entries. There are ten sections, three of which are dictionaries of Bible teachings, people, and places. Other major sections are extremely intriguing: You look up a particular aspect of home or job or archaeological discovery and find yourself reading more and more. The chief drawback is that the index needs to be much longer.
CHILDREN who like comics should appreciate their own version of the Scriptures, a three-volume Comic-Strip Bible (255 + 253 + 237 pp., $3.95/vol. pb) from the new Chariot Books imprint of David C. Cook. These full-color comics have been running in Sunday school take-home papers and it is good to have them in conveniently bound volumes.
MUSIC-LOVERS will welcome a book (best opened before Christmas) called Carols, a collection of seventy-one advent hymns (words and music) edited by Hughes Huffman and Mark Hunt (InterVarsity, $3.95 pb). Also see A Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson (Good News Publishers, 255 pp., $8.95) based on a series of lectures at Francis Schaeffer’s L’Abri. Among the twenty composers: Bach, Brahms, and Stravinsky. More specific are Handel’s Messiah: A Devotional Commentary by Joseph McCabe (Westminster, 120 pp., $4.95 pb) and Messiah: A Photographic Meditation on Handel’s Messiah by Miriam Frost and Keith McCormick (Winston, 60 pp., $5.95 pb).
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DEVOTIONAL WRITINGS are a favorite of gift-givers. Why not consider some classics rather than the more publicized contemporary writers? The Fire and the Cloud is “an anthology of Catholic spirituality” edited by David Fleming (Paulist, 370 pp., $9.95 pb), but more than half of the selections are pre-Reformation and the later ones are often of broadly Christian value. Since Calvin is not thought of as a mystic, all the more reason to welcome The Piety of John Calvin: An Anthology Illustrative of the Spirituality of the Reformer edited by Ford Lewis Battles (Baker, 180 pp., $9.95). Also see The Doubleday Devotional Classics, a series of three volumes edited by E. Glenn Hinson (Doubleday, 462 pp. + 642 pp. + 257 pp., $4.95 + $5.95 + $3.95 pb). Nine longer writings by Protestants have been abridged somewhat to fit modern reading spans. Among the classics: Bunyan’s Grace Abounding, Brainerd’s Diary, and Kelly’s Testament of Devotion.
FAMOUS AUTHORS for whom anthologies have recently appeared are Dorothy Sayers with a collection of eighteen essays, The Whimsical Christian (Macmillan, 275 pp., $8.95), J.B. Phillips with 114 readings from his several books thematically arranged and entitled The Newborn Christian (Macmillan, 226 pp., $7.95), and hundreds of short selections, topically arranged, from the fiction of George MacDonald, The World of George MacDonald, edited by Rolland Hein (Harold Shaw, 199 pp., $4.95 pb). C.S. Lewis’s earlier anthology of the writer he admired so much, simply called George MacDonald, was released again this year in a new format (Macmillan, 157 pp., $4.95). Also remember the selections from last year from Lewis himself, The Joyful Christian (Macmillan, 239 pp., $7.95).
CHRISTIAN POETRY, two-thirds of it by contemporary poets, has been compiled by Merle Meeter in The Country of the Risen King (Baker, 446 pp., $12.95). Inspirational excerpts from both prose and poetry have been grouped topically by Joan Winmill Brown in Wings of Joy (Revell, 192 pp.,$7.95).
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PROMISED LAND is the title of a massive book filled with watercolors and pencil sketches by Gordon Wetmore, who spent 500 hours observing modern Israeli life. Israeli government leader Abba Eban provides the accompanying text of this art book, which should have wide appeal (Nelson, 166 pp., $49.50).
LITURGICAL CHURCHES are served by Introducing the Lessons of the Church Year by Frederick Houk Borsch (Seabury, 233 pp., $8.95). Although based on the lectionary schedule of the new Book of Common Prayer for the Episcopal Church it can be adapted for churches that vary from that schedule by the use of an index. A different kind of help has been provided by selections by John McTavish and Harold Wells from the massive Church Dogmatics of Karl Barth, that are arranged to assist sermon preparation, Preaching Through the Christian Year (Eerdmans, 279 pp., $6.95 pb). Ecclesiastical Crafts by Becky King and Jude Martin (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 132 pp., $16.95) is aimed at craftsmen who wish to know what is needed by churches who use textile and other forms of art. Christians who enjoy this kind of aid to worship can also find the book of interest.
NATURE lovers should enjoy Science in the Bible by Jean Sloat Morton (Moody, 272 pp., $9.95). Some 120 natural phenomena (such as frost, crocodiles, dwarfism) are illustrated and discussed with reference to modern scientific understanding and the ancient biblical references. Some of the connections are debatable, but one can appreciate the parallels nevertheless. Restricted to flora and fauna alone, but much more comprehensive within that domain is The Natural History of the Land of the Bible by Azaria Alon (Doubleday, 276 pp., $12.95). Originally published in Israel, it would have been greatly enhanced with an index, but the photographs and accompanying text will be a delight to anyone with a special fondness for plants, animals, and the Bible.
OLD TESTAMENT STUDENTS who already have the basic reference tools might appreciate a work that relates the Old Testament to its cultural milieu. Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by Walter Beyerlin (Westminster, 288 pp., $20) does this for written parallels. The Symbolism of the Biblical World by Othmar Keel (Seabury, 422 pp., $24.50) shows the relationships between motifs found in the reliefs and paintings of the ancient world and various forms of expression in the Old Testament, especially Psalms. Most biblical picture books focus on geography and artifacts, but the stress in Keel is on concepts.
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NEW TESTAMENT STUDENTS would be delighted with a two-volume set, The Word Study Concordance and The Word Study New Testament, a project directed by Ralph Winter (Tyndale or William Carey, 1,115 + 841 pp., $26.95/set). One does not have to know Greek to be able to use this simple guide to all the occurrences of a particular word and its relatives in the New Testament. On the other hand, those who are advanced scholars can appreciate the handy indexes to some of their standard tools. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Eerdmans, 491 pp., $13.95) is by F.F. Bruce, the dean of evangelicals who are New Testament scholars. This work is the fruition of a lifetime of study of the apostle and in it Bruce displays his usual ability to communicate to both advanced and beginning students.
PASTORAL COUNSELORS who are seriously interested in all that relates to that crucial ministry would appreciate The Harvard Guide to Modern Psychiatry edited by Armand Nicholi, Jr. (Harvard, 691 pp., $29.50). It is written to help not only doctors but anyone in the mental health field understand the latest developments. The focus is on the patient not as an object of research but as a person. All but three of the thirty-two contributors are from the Harvard Medical School faculty. Nicholi is a staunch evangelical.
Dating The Life Of Christ

Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, by Harold W. Hoehner (Zondervan, 1977, 176 pp., $3.95 pb) is reviewed by Peter H. Davids, assistant professor of biblical studies, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

The author, whose knowledge as a historian of the Herodian period was established by his Cambridge dissertation, first published this work as a series of articles in Bibliotheca Sacra (1973 to 1975). Here in the scope of just 176 pages he tries to untie the Gordian knot of the chronological framework of the Gospels and to update Sir Robert Anderson’s schema of Daniel’s seventy weeks (The Coming Prince, 1915). Certainly, if one accepts his assumptions, he has done an admirable job on the level of the pastor and educated layperson. Yet because of what he assumes, scholars may find this program too ambitious and the answer too facile.

Assuredly, the general outline of Hoehner’s solution is correct: He dates the birth of Jesus between 6 and 4 B.C., his ministry between A.D. 29 and 30 or 33, his crucifixion in A.D. 30 or 33 (favoring the latter date in each case). But on the details questions remain. Although Hoehner points toward a possible solution of the problem of Quirinius’s census, his argument is too brief and easy to persuade any but the already convinced. The absence of references in Jewish and Roman documents remains a problem. His argument for a late crucifixion depends both upon questionable exegetical assumptions about the forty-six years in John 2:12–22 and upon a doubtful harmonization of John with the synoptics. His argument for a three-year ministry likewise depends upon Johannine chronology. Furthermore, I find his arguments that John presents the last supper as a Passover and that Jews celebrated two days as Passover in Jerusalem (one for Galileans, one for Judeans) unconvincing. Naturally, his working out of the seventy-week scheme will convince only those who assume his starting point and his time gap between weeks sixty-nine and seventy.

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The major problem, then, is not the facts Hoehner cites, but the assumptions he makes, especially about the chronological and historical material of John. Does John intend his chronology to be taken historically or theologically? Does it miss John’s point to posit two temple cleansings or to force his passion chronology to harmonize with the synoptics? All life-of-Jesus presentations must deal with this problem, and not simply assume a solution.

Yet Hoehner does provide a learned array of facts and citations with which any reconstruction of the chronology of Jesus must reckon. He gives new insights into the problems and shows that at least one solution is possible, ruling out total skepticism. As a solution this book is useful, not least because you don’t need to be a specialist to understand it. Many evangelicals, especially those in the dispensational camp, will find this a valuable clarification of Christ’s chronology and a demonstration of the accuracy of Daniel’s prophecy.

Two Ways Of Bible Study

On Genesis, by Bruce Vawter (Doubleday, 1977, 501 pp., $10.00), and Promise and Deliverance: From Creation to the Conquest of Canaan, by S. G. De Graaf (Paideia [Box 1450, St. Catherines, Ontario L2R 7J8], 1977, 423 pp., $9.95), are reviewed by David W. Baker, Ph.D. candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Cambridge, England.

These two books come from different theological persuasions and address different problems; each has something to contribute. Vawter is a leading Catholic biblical scholar. He presents the results of his years of study of the first book of the Bible. The main body of the book consists of a verse-by-verse analysis of the English text of Genesis as found in The New American Bible. Many of Vawter’s astute comments, in conjunction with a translation with which most evangelicals are unfamiliar, can lead to a number of passages being seen in a new light.

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Prior to the verse-by-verse commentary, Vawter briefly discussed the sources, materials, and general interpretation of Genesis. He acknowledges the growing swell of scholarly opinion against the documentary hypothesis, but nevertheless adopts it.

A very different approach was taken by a late Dutch Reformed pastor, S. De Graaf, in From Creation to the Conquest of Canaan, which is the first of several volumes under the general title Promise and Deliverance. The question he addressed is how to tell biblical history, especially to children, so that the stories are both interesting to the hearer and convey their intended message in order to “move him to faith.” The examples, which are to serve as models for story telling rather than the exact words to be told, are each preceded by a brief introduction to the theology of the passage as well as the important points that should be learned by the child as he hears the story. This volume covers Genesis through Joshua and also includes a very brief section on Job, who is thought by the author to be a contemporary of Abraham.

Since there have been so many recent advances in our knowledge of such areas as archaeology, philology, and comparative religion, it is important that books such as Vawter’s be consulted to present the latest data to help in our interpretations of Scripture. It is equally important, and too often forgotten by scholars, that the Bible’s message is basically simple, vibrant, and relevant. There is room not only for academic study but also for listening to the stories for their life transforming effect. De Graaf ably reminds us of this.

The Jesus Of History

I Believe in the Historical Jesus, by I. Howard Marshall (Eerdmans, 1977, 253 pp., $2.95 pb), and Quests for the Historical Jesus, by Fred H. Klooster (Baker, 1977, 88 pp., $3.95 pb), are reviewed by David E. Aune, professor of religion, Saint Xavier College, Chicago, Illinois.

I Howard Marshall has become one of the more prominent and prolific evangelical New Testament scholars in Great Britain today. New Testament scholars (particularly evangelicals) can be poor theologians, yet Marshall earns high marks in this area through his creative grappling with the problem of faith and history. The scope and perspective of the book are evident in the final paragraph: “I believe in the historical Jesus. I believe that historical study confirms that he lived and ministered and taught in a way that is substantially reproduced in the Gospels. I believe that this Jesus gave his life as a ransom for sinful mankind, and that he rose from the dead and is the living Lord. And in view of these facts I trust in him and commit my life to him” (p. 246).

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In the first part of the book, Marshall deals with what is meant by the historical Jesus, and in the second part he deals with how the historical Jesus can be successfully studied. After rejecting two extreme views, the mythical Jesus and the Gospels as a transcript of the life of Jesus exactly as it happened, Marshall devotes a good deal of space to the definition of “historical” and to the delineation of the nature of historiography. History and faith are rejected as two mutually exclusive modes of knowing the past, since historians, too, operate from a “faith” perspective. The belief of the Christian is not intrinsically unlike other kinds of subjectivities, which historians bring to the task of understanding history. For Marshall the experience of the risen Lord is historical knowledge mediated through faith, and it is from the vantage point of this faith integrated into a historical method that the Christian seeks further knowledge of the historical Jesus. The nature of Scripture plays no role in Marshall’s historical investigation of the Gospels.

The second part of the book begins with a fine survey of the major developments in the quest for the historical Jesus. Turning to the nature of the Gospels themselves, Marshall acknowledges that they are all anonymous documents, yet he agrees with the traditional authorship of Mark and Luke, denies the probability that Matthew is the author of the first Gospel, and suggests that John lurks behind the fourth Gospel in some undefined way. Like many British scholars, Marshall sees a positive role for form criticism, though he doubts whether it can be used to determine authenticity. He rightly objects to the distinction that form critics are wont to make between Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism, since our knowledge of both is incomplete. With C. H. Dodd he thinks that there was a tradition of a connected life of Jesus that provided the evangelists with a framework for Jesus traditions. Marshall also rejects the skeptical attitude toward Gospel traditions characteristic of Bultmann and his school in Germany and (among others) Norman Perrin in America; he regards traditions as authentic unless there are sound reasons to the contrary (in dubio pro traditio). Marshall’s book will admirably serve as a supplementary text for courses on the life and teaching of Jesus in settings in which crucial contemporary issues, problems, and methods in the study of the historical Jesus are faced squarely.

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Fred Klooster’s book on Quests for the Historical Jesus has very little in common with Marshall’s. Klooster is a theologian, and views the quests for the historical Jesus primarily from that perspective. The author divides his subject somewhat awkwardly into four categories, Old Quest, No Quest, New Quest, and Now Quest. The Old Quest based itself squarely on the rationalistic perspectives of the Enlightenment and while pretending historical objectivity proceeded to reject the tenets of historical Christianity. The No Quest of neoorthodoxy, particularly as exemplified by Karl Barth, completely divorced faith from history. The New Quest began through the dissatisfaction of students of Bultmann (a No Quester) with the complete rift between history and faith, yet became saddled with the problem of a resurrection that did not occur. The Now Quest of Wolfhart Pannenberg then came to the “rescue” by focusing on the resurrection as an objective event, yet finally was unable to successfully join history with faith.

Klooster’s book, however, contains a number of really serious flaws. If one were to judge from Klooster’s presentation, progress in theology and New Testament scholarship was nonexistent in England, France, and America. Further, Klooster claims (presumably with a straight face) that Barth is more radical than Bultmann. Although Klooster writes in a folksy, anecdotal style, he regularly punctuates the discussion with untranslated German and Latin phrases. In general (the chapter on Pannenberg is an exception), the author presents a very confusing survey of his subject.

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