This is the fourth and last volume of a series originally published in the Netherlands under the title:Verbondsgeschiedenis, (History of the Covenant). The author, the late S. G. DeGraaf, was a minister in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. The translators, H. Evan and Elisabeth Wichers Runner, have provided a very readable English translation and are to be commended for that.
These volumes sketch the history of God’s Covenant from Genesis to Revelation. Volume Four, Christ and the Nations, covers the history of the incarnation, the ministry, the cross, and resurrection of Christ from the viewpoint of the Gospel According to John. The history of Acts is covered. The realization of all things, “Christ’s World Wide Reign,” is treated from the viewpoint of Matthew 24, 25 and selected passages from Revelation. All of this is done in 294 pages. Obviously this is no more than a sketch.
There are some helpful insights. There is some questionable exegesis. If used with discretion the book could prove helpful for students and teachers as well as the layman.
All three of these books are part of Kregel’s “Bible Study Classics.” These are reprints of works by preachers and theologians of the 18th and 19th centuries. The book entitled, LESSER PARABLES OF OUR LORD, contains what must have been the author’s sermons on various passages of Scripture. There are four divisions: Lesser Parables Of Our Lord, Lessons Of Grace, Lessons In I Peter, Life In Christ. Why the book has this title is a mystery. Even in the first section many of the passages expounded are not even parables. For the most part the expositions are sound. The author’s treatment of I Peter 2:6-8 is not merely less than satisfactory, it is simply erroneous. If used with discretion the book would make edifying devotional reading.
GOSPEL IN LEVITICUS is a good book. As the title itself would indicate, the typology is sound. The author proceeds exegetically and allows Scripture to interpret itself. The exposition of chapter 23, the feasts and holy convocations, is particularly good. The book would be useful for ministers and teachers, but also for any others in the church.
GOSPEL OF LUKE is the strangest commentary I have ever seen. It is a good book and worth having even at the cost of $22.95. The more than one thousand pages are filled with exposition and homiletical aids, all in very small print. It is almost a word by word exposition. There are numerous references to other good commentaries (Calvin., e.g.) as well as numerous cross references to other passages of Scripture. Much of the exposition, and this is what I mean by “strange,” is not even given in full sentences or paragraphs. The exegesis is just in terse phrases. But it will set the reader to thinking and aid him in seeing “things new and old” in the Gospel According To Luke. Ministers and students would no doubt benefit most from this book.
This volume is Number 5 in “The Historical Series Of The Reformed Church In America.” It covers in great detail the history of the Reformed Church in America from the time of its founding in 1628 until 1772, shortly before the Revolutionary War. Incidentally, there is a discrepancy between the Foreword and the Preface with respect to the terminal date of this history. The former makes it 1792, while the latter—correctly—makes it 1772.
It is impossible in a review to give any kind of detailed account of the contents of a book like this. Suffice it to say that it is evident that there is a tremendous amount of research behind the writing of this book. It goes into great detail concerning the early beginnings of the RCA. The book appears to be well documented at every point. Yet the author has succeeded in writing this history in an interesting manner. There is a sufficient number of anecdotes to spice the book with a bit of humor here and there.
For anyone interested in this particular aspect of church history, this book is a worthwhile purchase. The copy sent me for review is a paperback, and I do not know whether there is also a hard-cover edition. To my mind, there should be.
One personal note. I was interested in the history of the translation of the confessions, particularly in the translation of the Canons of Dordrecht and the question why the RCA did not include the Rejection of Errors. While there is considerable information in this book about the transition to the use of English during the early history of the RCA, I looked in vain for any information about this particular subject.