Book Reviews

COMMENTARY ON GALATIANS, by F. F. Bruce; Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982; 305 pp., no price given. (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko)

This book is part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary, edited by I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque. The following quote from the jacket will give some idea of the goal of the editors in this commentary series. This new commentary series is established on the presuppositions 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. 

The text on which these commentaries are based is the 1973 UBS Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland and others. While engaging the major questions of text and interpretation at the appropriate level of scholarship, the authors will bear in mind the needs of the beginning student of Greek as well as the pastor or layperson who may have studied the language at some time but does not now use it on a regular basis.It is difficult to evaluate a commentary properly in a short review of this sort. There is no doubt about it that F. F. Bruce, who has published many works in the field of New Testament studies, is certainly one of the great scholars of modern times. His commentary reflects his great abilities and his wide knowledge in the field. 

The commentary is, on the whole, an excellent one. It is based on sound principles of exegesis and is thorough in its exposition of the text. Anyone who contemplates preaching on the book of Galatians or who is preparing to lead a Bible-study group in this epistle could profit immensely from the book. It is almost a necessary addition to one’s library on this important book of Scripture. 

There are certain characteristics of the book which ought to-be mentioned in a review. It is not a commentary for those who have not had some training in the original Greek. The commentary is directly from the Greek, contains textual notes, and refers extensively to the rest of the Greek New Testament. 

One weakness of the book in my estimation was its lack of homiletical application. It might be answered that this is not included in the book because the purpose of the series of commentaries is not primarily to aid in sermon making. Nevertheless, this is so completely lacking that there is almost no treatment of the importance and relevance of this Word of God to the whole New Testament Church including the Church of today.

One doctrinal weakness which struck me was its insufficient emphasis on the juridical relation between Christ and His people in the central truth of the book: justification by faith in Christ apart from the works of the law. 

There is some historical and literary criticism, but of a more “conservative” kind. 

The book is a valuable addition to a pastor’s library.

THREE MEN CAME TO HEIDELBERG AND GLORIOUS HERETIC: THE STORY OF GUIDO DE BRES; Thea B. Van Halsema; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; 134 pp. (paper), $3.95 [Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema]

The two sections of this book were originally published separately, the first by the Christian Reformed Publishing House in 1963, and the second by Eerdmans in 1961. Baker Book House has now republished them in a neat and attractive little paperback.

As the titles suggest, this book contains the stories of the origin of our Heidelberg Catechism and our Belgic Confession. The stories are historically accurate and interestingly told. The book is easy reading for a winter’s evening. 

Our teenagers could profitably read a book like this, either in connection with their catechism classes or their church history courses at school. And I mean they could read it not as a “must” assignment and a burden, but they could read it with interest and fascination and at the same time be instructed. 


IN RETROSPECT: REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST, F.F. Bruce; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 319 pp., cloth, $13.95. [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema]

This is a very interesting autobiographical account by this well-known English New Testament scholar. As the dust jacket informs us, this book is actually “a rewritten version of 24 reminiscent articles by F.F. Bruce published over a two-year period in The Witness, a British magazine addressed largely to members of the Plymouth Brethren.” I must confess I was surprised to learn from this book that the author is a member of the Open Brethren. 

The book is, of course, not a contribution in the areas of theology or New Testament scholarship. It is rather in the nature of a “human interest” work. I found it very interesting, however; and it is helpful in understanding Dr. Bruce’s writings to know “where he comes from.” Recommended.