DANIEL, SIGNS AND WONDERS (International Theological Commentary), by Robert A. Anderson; Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984; 158 pages, $5.95 (paper). (Reviewed by Prof. R.D. Decker).

The author of this commentary: 1) does not believe Daniel to be the secondary author of this book of the Bible; 2) refers to the author as “the compiler” or “storyteller”; 3) dates the book very late (174-164 B.C.); 4) finds a historical inaccuracy in chapter 1:1, 2. For a good explanation of these verses one should consult the late Edward J. Young’s Commentary on Daniel (also an Eerdmans’ publication). 

The following quotation is part of the author’s comments on chapter 4:28-33 (the account of Nebuchadnezzar becoming as a beast). It will furnish the reader a sample of the kind of exegesis found in this commentary. “Does this (Nebuchadnezzar becoming as a beast, R.D.D.) have any historical basis? Are there any records suggesting that what is described in vs. 33 did befall Nebuchadnezzar? If a negative reply is given to these questions, it is not wholly on the grounds of an argument from silence. Nebuchadnezzar was an extremely important king; his reign extended a little over four decades from 605 to 562 B.C. and was well documented. Nothing would indicate an absence from regal duties nor give any evidence of abnormal behavior” (p. 48). Then follows a rather elaborate explanation suggesting that the reference might be to Nabonidus, the last of the new-Babylonian rulers who reigned from 556 to 539 B.C. 

When Jesus spoke of the signs of the coming of His Kingdom He called attention to Daniel the Prophet who spoke of the abomination of desolation (Matthew 25:15Mark 13:14). Concerning this reference the author writes: “The Book of Daniel has from time to time exerted considerable influence on Christian thought. This influence extends as far back as some of the New Testament writers, if not to Jesus Himself. A thorough investigation of this would amount to a study in itself. Our immediate purpose is met if we single out two areas for relatively brief mention. 

“The first Gospel to be written, Mark, contains a long discourse in its thirteenth chapter, attributed by the writer to Jesus. This chapter contains some thirty instances of knowledge or use of the text of Daniel. In an exhaustive treatment of the provenance of Mark 13, L. Hartman concluded that ‘perhaps the apocalyptic ideas in Daniel played a more important part in Jesus’ thinking than modern, nonapocalyptic, sober-minded western scholars may imagine at first glance’ (Prophecy Interpreted, 250). Not all scholars have been unaware of this possible influence on Jesus, but at times the suggestion that it may have been formative has been stoutly resisted . . .” (pp. 153, 154).

The believing student will not get much assistance exegetically from this commentary. If one wishes to know (and one ought to) what is currently being done in Old Testament Exegesis and Isagogics he should read this and similar books. 

The book would be “tough going” for anyone who lacks a formal, theological education.

CALVIN’S DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT, Robert A. Peterson; Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Phillipsburg, New Jersey; 113 pp., $4.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema]

The subject matter of this book is set forth by the title. The book deals with the question, “What was Calvin’s doctrine of the atonement?” And this is, of course, a worthwhile subject. 

As I have stated before when commenting on books about Calvin, one must always be cautious about accepting what a book says that Calvin taught. The same is true of this book. There are numerous quotations from Calvin as well as references to Calvin’s writings in this book. This is a plus. However, to appreciate Calvin and to be sure that Calvin is correctly represented in the book, it is necessary to check up on the quotations and to consult the writings of Calvin himself in their context. Only then can one fully grasp and appreciate Calvin’s doctrine. 

In as far as I have checked, Calvin is for the most part correctly represented in this little work. 

There are two exceptions to this statement. In the first place, I would disagree with the author’s contention that it is uncertain what position Calvin would have taken on the question of the extent of the atonement, i.e., the question whether the atonement was limited or unlimited. The argumentation on this subject (pp. 90, 91) is extremely weak, in my opinion. In the second place, I would be inclined to question the claim that Calvin largely bypassed Anselm with respect to the doctrine of satisfaction. 

Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile book on an interesting and important subject.