Book Reviews

Studies In The Book Of Daniel, Vols. I, II, by Robert Dick Wilson (Baker, 11972, 688 pp., $9.95). Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema. 

This is a very worthwhile volume in a series of publications which, on the whole, already contains several works worthy of preservation through reprinting, works which deserve a place in the libraries of preachers and theologians. I refer to Baker’s “Limited Editions Library.” 

Dr. Robert Dick Wilson was Professor of Semitic Languages and Old Testament Criticism at Princeton Theological Seminary in “the good old days” of Princeton. He has .a place among the giants of Princeton. As is stated on the dust jacket of this volume, “His writings, the result of painstaking investigations, reflect his firm belief that the whole Bible is the Word of God and therefore entirely trust worthy.” 

This work, which is actually two volumes in one, belongs in the field of Old Testament Isagogics, or Introduction. And, like so many works in this field, it is apologetic; that is, it is a defense of the Book of Daniel over against the higher critics, an attempt to meet, to answer, and to destroy their arguments against the authenticity and the accuracy of the Book of Daniel. An accurate summary of the nature of these two reprinted volumes is found on the dust jacket: “In his first book he tackles incisively some of the questions raised regarding the historical statements in the Book of Daniel. Each of the eighteen chapters in his first book deals with a separate allegation, and with characteristic thoroughness he defends the book against its critics. In the second volume Dr. Wilson continues his defense of the book of Daniel, this time dealing forthrightly with the relationship of Daniel to the canon of the Old Testament, discussing the apocalypses and date of Daniel, and then scientifically measuring the influence, background, and prophecies of Daniel.” 

The value of the book, in this reviewer’s opinion, does not lie in the fact that it meets and answers the allegations of the critics. There are many works by orthodox scholars which attempt to do this. And while we do not question their loyalty to the Scriptures and the success of many of their arguments, we have but little esteem for work of this kind. For one thing, the critics are not convinced by these arguments. For another, the child of God, whose acceptance of the Scriptures is an a priori of faith, has no basic need of these defenses. And besides, this entire method and practice of apologetics is not without its pitfalls. 

Why, then, do we nevertheless recommend this volume? In our opinion, the value of the book lies chiefly in the many worthwhile. studies and observations of a positive nature which the book contains. For in answering the allegations of the critics, the author engages necessarily in many such studies. As an illustration of what I mean, I refer the reader to the several chapters in Volume I on the question of the identity of Darius the Mede. Anyone making a thorough study of the Book of Daniel should by all means take into account the studies and the help proffered in this excellent book. The reader should perhaps be warned that this is not a book to relax with; one must expect to put on his “thinking cap.” 

A NEW BREED OF CLERGY, by Charles Prestwood; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich. (108 pp., $1.95, paper) [Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema] 

This book is written by a Methodist preacher who became deeply involved in the civil rights movement, who is at present teaching sociology, and who still considers himself a Methodist preacher. The book is supposed to deal with the problem of a “new breed of clergy,” that is, men who have graduated from seminary, or who have entered the ministry as preachers and pastors, but who are not in the pulpit, but have found positions in the ecclesiastical bureaucracy, or in social service, or with educational institutions. 

But the author has neither the correct insight into the problem nor the correct solution.

The reading value of this book is, in this reviewer’s opinion, strictly negative. 

THE CHURCH AND THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS, by H. Barnette; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972; 114 pp., $2.25 (paper). [reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]

With everybody talking about ecology these days, it is not surprising that the religious press should also take up the issue and make an effort to put the whole matter into Scriptural perspective. This could conceivably be a welcome thing. 

We have in this book an j attempt to define the ecological problems troubling our planet in the light of Scripture. While it is in matters of ecology and scripture interesting reading, the writer falls short at key points. He accepts evolutionism which, quite obviously, is going to color his discussion of the problem. He strongly favors population control—even by law if necessary. He pleads for a theology of ecology and falls into the trap of pleading for a reworking of all theology to take into account ecological problems. If theologians would rework their theology to take into account every passing fad—as many do nowadays—there would be no end to the changes of theology.

COMMENTAAR OP HET OUDE TESTAMENT—MALEACHI, by Prof. Dr. P. A. Verhoef; J. H. Kok N.V., Kampen, The Netherlands. (278 pp., f 37, 50) [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema] 

This is another in a projected series of Old Testament commentaries being published by the well-known firm of J.H. Kok. The series is under the editorship of Prof. Dr. W.H. Gispen and Prof. Dr. Nit. H: Ridderbos. On the whole, this entire Old Testament series (for those who can handle the language) is worth adding to one’s library. This particular volume is written by a South African professor, from the Theological School at Stellenbosch. 

In checking the reliability of a commentary on Malachi, I always turn first to: what the writer has to say about the passage in Malachi 1:2-5. Especially the well-known words concerning God’s love of Jacob and His hatred of Esau are the object of my inquiry. My judgment is that this commentary does not measure up. This is evident when the author writes: “Toch is het ook duidelijk dat de tegenstelling tussen de haat en de liefde van God niet identiek is met verkiezing tot het eeuwige leven en verwerping tot eeuwige rampzaligheid.” 

Nevertheless, there is much helpful exposition and also reference material in this commentary. Perhaps it should be added, too, that this commentary will be useful only to those who can read Hebrew; the author works with the original throughout.

Recommended, provided it is used with discretion.