The Imminent Appearing of Christ, by J. Barton Payne. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $3.75. This book I consider a rather thorough study of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in His final advent. After a historical introduction, the author discusses the hope of the appearing of Christ, the imminence of His appearing and antecedents to, His imminent appearing. He weighs and refutes the arguments in favor of pretribulations, the doctrine that Christ will come again before what is called the great tribulation (dispensationalism, the “rapture”). He closes with an outline of the Book of Revelation, and with a brief discussion of “Fifty Arguments of Pretribulationism.” The whole is based on many passages of Scripture.
You may find the author’s method of interpreting prophecy on pages 104ff. He writes: “It is therefore proposed in the following sections to undertake a synthesis that will embody the strong points of all three methods of prophetic interpretation: historical, futurist, and past, and doing so to maintain the doctrine of the imminence of Christ’s appearing. Historical interpretation will thus embrace a number of prophecies which may be considered as, at least potentially, of present day fulfillment. Futurist interpretation may be applied to numerous predictions that are not relevant to the Lord’s appearing . . . but future antecedents to Christ’s coming are, of necessity, sharply limited by a belief in the imminence of His advent . . . Preterist interpretation, if utilized exclusively, destroys all genuine eschatology.”
These three methods the author applies in his outline on the Book of Revelation. Personally, I am of the opinion that, to say the least, this outline is not very clear. The chief contents of the Book of Revelation are presented in the seven seals in such a way that the seventh seal is dissolved in the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet is presented in the seven vials. There are also several interludes.
But this is by the way. I will heartily recommend this book to our readers.
New Testament Commentary, Philippians, by William Hendriksen. Published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $4.95 till Dec. 31, 1962; after that, $5.95.
This commentary is preceded by an introduction in which the author gives the reasons for studying Philippians, gives a brief description of the city of Philippi, of the church in that city, of Paul’s purpose in writing to that church, writes about the place and time of writing this epistle, of its authorship and unity, and gives the general contents of the epistle. Thereupon follows the commentary proper. As for the latter, at the head of every chapter the author presents a brief outline of the section of the epistle which is explained in the chapter. Whether, however, he always expresses the main thought of the particular section which he thus outlines, I consider questionable. Thus, for instance, the main thought in section 1-18 of chapter II, according to him, is “Paul the Humble Cross-bearer.” I would rather find the main thought in the humiliation and exaltation of Christ.
The exegesis in this commentary I find quite thorough and correct and, to my mind, that is of chief importance in any commentary. Hendriksen is a good exegete. And he, evidently, bestowed a good deal of labor in exegeting this epistle to the Philippians. Here, too, however, I wish to make a remark. It is this: the author elaborates too much upon certain terms in the epistle. Thus, for instance, when the author, in 1:27, meets with the term “gospel of Christ” he elaborates very broadly upon that term even devoting four pages to it with quotations from several passages from Scripture.
Another example of this being too elaborate I find in a long note of more than two pages explaining the term koinonia, fellowship, found in ch. 2:1. A brief interpretation of this term is found on p. 9S. But a very long note on this term is found on pages 93-95 (where, besides, it is out of place).
However, I gladly recommend this commentary to our readers. It is, as I said before, based on sound exegesis of the text and, besides, it is also full of practical applications.
The Gospel According to St. John, Part One, 1-10. The Gospel According to St. John., Part Two, 11-21. In the same volume, The First Epistle of John.Price $4.50.
Both these volumes belong to Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries and they are “A New Translation.” They are translated by T.H.L. Parker. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
In an Introduction the translator informs us that: “The present translation is a revision of Pringle’s. How complete, may be judged from a comparison of the two. With the best will in the world, it cannot be said that Pringle’s was a good attempt. His inability to grasp the close coherence of Calvin’s ideas, and his missing many of the characteristic images, are the least of his faults. Far worse is his carelessness in omitting negatives or even whole passages and putting in the wrong word altogether. Nevertheless, he has provided a basis.”
In how far this opinion of Parker is true, I have no time to ascertain. Besides, I have no copy of the Latin, original nor of the French translation which was made by Calvin himself. All I have is Pringle’s translation, which is also called a new translation.
However, I compared a few passages and whether the opinion of Parker on Pringle’s translation is correct or not [and I gladly take his word for it), the present new translation I prefer for its very clear language.
Hence, I gladly recommend it to our readers.