This is Volume 5 of a series of books under the same title. The general editor is Dr. John H. Skilton, professor emeritus of the New Testament department at Westminster Seminary. This is not a book by one author on one subject, but a collection of essays and articles by many different writers. Neither is it a book for general readership; it is intended for New Testament scholars and students and is in several instances highly technical in nature. Most of the articles are on a wide range of New Testament subjects—on text, archaeology, discourse analysis, tradition criticism, etc. Some of the articles go beyond the New Testament field proper.
As might be expected of a volume of this kind, the quality and value of the essays differ widely, due to the wide variety of subjects treated and even more due to the wide variety of writers.
A general impression which I received in connection with several of the essays is that there is far too much attention given (and respect paid?) to the theories and fruits of higher critics and higher criticism. This reviewer is singularly uninterested in these matters, afraid of the tendency mentioned, and of the opinion that the believing New Testament scholar can spend his time and effort on far better matters which will also be of concern and interest and profit to the church as well as to the New Testament student.
This is not to say that there are not some worthwhile essays in this volume. I found the first essay, written by Dr. Skilton himself, on “The New Testament Text Today,” to be a rather sane and levelheaded approach to the so-called textual question, a question on which some have tended recently to take radical and untenable positions. J. P. Versteeg (“Old Testament Citations In The Gospel According to Matthew”), Thomas L. Wilkinson (“The Man Of Lawlessness in II Thessalonians”), and Robert H. Countess (“Thank God For The Genitive!”) also contribute articles which drew my interest.
Dr. Adams is well-known for his theories and approach in Christian counseling, and he has written many book in this field. I have no doubt that he has made a significant contribution in this area. Neither do I doubt, however, that this area of a pastor’s work has tended to be much over-emphasized, frequently at the expense of quality preaching, which is, after all, the chief and all-important work of a pastor. Perhaps Jay Adams’ books have contributed to this over-emphasis by virtue of their sheer numbers.
This little book is, as its title suggests, a “how to” book. I have always been of the opinion that such “how to” books are the least helpful and the least valuable in the work of pastoral care. It is much more important for a pastor to understand Biblical and Reformed principles and methods. All kinds of manuals and “How to” books will never teach a man to be a pastor. Neither will they be of actual practical help, for the simple reason that every “case” is an individual case and must be dealt with as such.
Not of great value.