HOLY BOOK AND HOLY TRADITION, edited by F.F. Bruce and E.G. Rupp; W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968; 244 pp., $5.95.
This book contains a series of papers delivered at the International Colloquium held in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Manchester. The purpose of the conference is described on p. 21:
This conference aims among other things at clarifying the relation of scripture and tradition in the non-Christian religions. There are good reasons for entering upon this research. Most religions possess holy books. In some religions these books function as a canon. On the other hand, tradition plays an important part in many religions. There are even religions, primarily those of illiterate peoples, which are totally based on tradition. Therefore an inquiry into the function and relation of scripture and tradition in the non-Christian religions is quite relevant.
A listing of the chapter headings will give the best idea of the contents of the book: “The Holy Book, the Holy Tradition and the Holy Ikon”, “Religious Tradition and Sacred Books in Ancient Egypt”, Holy Book and Holy Tradition in Iran: The Problem of the Sassanid Avesta”, “Oral Torah and Written Records”, “Scripture and Tradition in the New Testament”, “The Ancient Church and Rabbinical Tradition”, “Scripture, Tradition and Sacrament in the Middle Ages and in Luther”, Scripture and Tradition in Modern British Church Relations”, “Present-day Frontiers in the Discussion about Tradition”, “Scripture and Tradition in Catholic Thought”.
Since the book is a scholarly discussion of the relation between tradition and various holy writings, it is difficult reading. Of interest to me were the chapters which deal specifically with the whole question of the relation between the Bible and tradition—an issue which is receiving renewed study in our day. These chapters especially were interesting and instructive although little in the way of solutions to the problem appears.
THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE TO A CHANGING WORLD, International Reformed Bulletin, 1968; 113 pp., $1.00 (paper).
This is the October, 1968 issue of the International Reformed Bulletin, the official organ of the International Association for Reformed Faith and Action. The book contains the conference papers of the RES Baarn Missions Conference held in 1968. The authors of these papers are John Galbraith from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Shigero Yoshioka from the Reformed Seminary in Japan, P.E.S. Smith from the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, D.C. Mulder from the Free University in Amsterdam, J.W. Deenick from the Reformed Church in Australia, John M.L. Young from Covenant College in Tennessee, Robert Reeker from Calvin Seminary, Hugo Du Plesis from South Africa and Paul Schrotenboer who is General Secretary of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod.
The conference papers were intended to deal with the problems which are faced by the Church in her calling in the 20th Century to fulfill the mandate of Christ to preach the gospel in all nations. As is quite naturally the case with a variety of authors, the quality of the papers differs considerably. Yet, on the whole, the papers were interesting and well-done. Many of the practical problems faced in the sending churches and on the mission field were discussed. The threats of false religions and false ecumenicity were faced and solutions to these problems were discussed.
A major disappointment to this reviewer was the fact that no attempt was made to put the whole mission calling of the church in Reformed perspective. The conference, was intended of course to face practical problems. This is evident from the title. But a distinctively Reformed emphasis and a Reformed approach to missions should have been evident. It seldom was.
The book is required reading however for all those who in any way engage in the mission calling of the church.
THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL, by H.L. Ellison; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969; 176 pp., $4.50.
The author of this book is the son of a Hebrew Christian missionary and was himself missionary to the Jews in Poland and Rumania. His profound acquaintance with the Jewish people and with the Hebrew language is evident in this volume.
The book treats the prophets who were sent by God to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It begins with the nameless prophet who was sent to curse the altar in Bethel and ends with the treatment of the prophecy of Hosea. Special emphasis is placed upon the prophecies of Amos and Hosea; almost a complete translation of these books appears in the text.
The author engages in a great deal of textual criticism which makes the book somewhat difficult reading for those not acquainted with the Hebrew language. But the author gives much valuable background material to the prophets and their work and emphasizes especially the spiritual and moral decline of the Northern kingdom which finally brought the judgments of God upon the nation.
The commentary on the text is not intended to be exhaustive and the book will hardly serve as a commentary. But as an aid to understanding the prophets it is very helpful. The author has many fresh insights and new ideas which he propounds. These ideas have to be weighed carefully. The reader will not be inclined to accept them all. Recommended to those who are making a study of the prophets.
BLACK SELF-DETERMINATION, by Arthur M. Brazier, edited by Roberta G. and Robert F. De Haan; Wm.. B: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969; 148 pp., $4.95.
The author of this book is the negro pastor of the Apostolic Church in Chicago and served as president of The Woodlawn Organization, an organization the story of which is told in this book.
The Woodlawn Organization was formed in one of the negro ghettos of Chicago with the express purpose of organizing black power. The book is a militant book. Its thesis is that only through organization of black power will the blacks achieve any kind of equality in a country where the white power structure is determined to deny the blacks their rights.
While such organizational power is passed off in the book as being Christian, there is no attempt whatsoever to put the entire racial problem in the perspective of Scripture and reach solutions on Scriptural ground.