Commentary On Luke. (New International Greek Testament Commentary), I. Howard Marshall; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; 928 pages, $24.95 (cloth). (Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema)
This large volume is one in a projected new series of New Testament Commentaries to be published jointly by the Paternoster Press Ltd. and the Wm. B. Eerdmans Co. As to the general character of this series we are informed as follows: “This new commentary series is established on the presupposition that the theological character of the New Testament documents calls for exegesis which is sensitive to theological themes as well as to the details of the historical, linguistic, textual, and critical context. Such thorough exegetical work lies at the heart of these commentaries, with general comments on sections and sub-sections being followed by a detailed verse-by-verse treatment of the text.
“An important aim of the authors is to interact with the .most significant results of the New Testament research published in recent articles and monographs. This serves as a background for their own contributions to the ongoing effort to explore in greater depth the meaning of the biblical text.”
This volume on Luke is faithful to the stated purpose just quoted.
It does not take long, however, to discover that this commentary, though highly technical and very “scholarly,” is replete with higher criticism. The author makes no effort to hide this in fact, he very frankly informs us of his approach in the Preface:
“Creed wrote before the development of tradition criticism and redaction Criticism. A modern commentator must inevitably make use of these critical methods, and the present commentary attempts to assess and elucidate the gospel in the light of these new aids to its study. It can indeed be argued that the time is not yet ripe for a definitive commentary on Luke. It is perhaps still too early to assess the results of the revolution in Lucan studies which has been proceeding during the last quarter of a century. Nevertheless, there is a great need for a commentary which will at least provide some sort of guide to the present state of scholarship, and in particular the needs, of students of the Greek text cry out to be met.”
The fundamental outlook of this commentary, therefore, differs radically from that of the believing student of Scripture. For that reason, while this commentary is very learned and scholarly, it is of little use to a student of Scripture who stands in the Reformed tradition. For our ministers and students it is not worth the high price.
An indication of the colossal pride of these critics is found in the statements, “It can indeed be argued that the time is not yet ripe for a definitive commentary on Luke. It is perhaps still too early to assess the results of the revolution in Lucan studies which has been proceeding during the last quarter of a century.” One wonders whether we have to wait until the Lord’s return for “a definitive commentary on Luke” to be written. But when Luke’s Lord and mine returns, that will at least be the end of all tradition criticism and redaction criticism. Nor will we any longer need “a definitive commentary on Luke.”
Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity, by E. Earle Ellis; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978; 289 pp., $15.00 (paper). (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko)
In an extremely technical book the author develops the thesis that prophets in the apostolic church who were primarily engaged in the teaching and missionary work of the church were also largely responsible for formulating New Testament doctrine. They did this by restating the truths of the Old Testament in the New Testament situation and by defending the Scriptures of the Old Testament against false prophets who perverted these doctrines. He discusses how disputes within the Church helped this development and what interpretive principles were used. While the book has many interesting and valuable features, two criticisms especially come to mind. The first is that the book approaches Scripture from the viewpoint of form criticism and belongs therefore to the writings of higher critics. The second is that the book is so obsessed with trivia that the meaning of the Scriptures themselves is obscured. It is a book which can be read only by those who are thoroughly acquainted with Hebrew and Greek.