EERDMAN’S HANDBOOK TO THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS, R. Pierce Beaver et al, Consulting Editors; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 448 pp. (cloth) $21.95. [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema]
This is an excellent reference work. It is loaded with information concerning the ancient religions of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and northern Europe. It has a very interesting and informative section on religions of the Orient, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. It contains a large section on Judaism and Islam. The book has over two hundred photographs, one hundred of which are in full color. It contains numerous charts and maps. And at the end of the book is a section called the “Rapid Fact-finder section,” in which one can very quickly find brief information concerning various aspects of one or another religion. All in all, this very beautifully published book can serve as a good addition to one’s reference shelf.
A note of caution is necessary, however. The approach of the book to the development of religion is evolutionistic. The book’s treatment of Judaism is very faulty because of a serious failure to take into account the unity of the old and the new dispensations and the fact that the religion of the Old Testament and that of the New are one and the same. And the book’s approach to the subject of Christianity also leaves very much to be desired. All of this means that one’s use of the book must be strictly limited to the information and the facts furnished. One has to ignore the evaluations given and the explanations of origin. Naturally, this also detracts from the value of the book.
Nevertheless, if one uses a book of this kind with discretion, it can be a valuable reference work.
THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH (New International Commentary On The Old Testament), J.A. Thompson; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 819 pp. (cloth) $22.50 (Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema)
This large volume is one of a projected series on the Old Testament. In this series, now under the General Editorship of R.K. Harrison, various Old Testament scholars contribute commentaries on the various books of the Old Testament. It stands to reason that the quality of the commentaries differs with the quality of the commentators.
This is a rather helpful volume. Perhaps its strength lies in the large introductory section, which covers one hundred thirty-eight pages. The remaining six hundred-plus pages are devoted to an explanation of the fifty-two chapters of this lengthy prophecy. It is, of course, no small undertaking to write an adequate explanation of this long prophecy in the space of a little more than six hundred pages. This is also, in this reviewer’s opinion, the weak point of this commentary: it is too scant. The seminarian or pastor who wants to preach Jeremiah will discover that while this commentary may be helpful in some respects, he will have to do considerably more exegetical work before he has sufficient material for sermon-making.
With these strictures, we recommend this volume as a suitable addition to one’s library.
TRUMPETER OF GOD, A Biography of John Knox, W. Stanford Reid; Baker Book House, 1982; 353 pp., $8.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hanko]
John Knox is usually considered to be the father of the Reformation in Scotland. Much has been written about Knox both by his spiritual heirs and by his enemies. Reid justifies the addition of another book on this Reformer with the words: “The present work, however, is not a complete story of John Knox’s life. It could not be within a book of this size. Rather it is a biographical study which seeks to interpret Knox in order to provide a better understanding of one who has not infrequently been misrepresented both by his adulators and his critics.”
The book, in this reviewer’s opinion, is only partially successful in attaining this goal. The book is an interesting biography, filled with a great deal of factual data concerning the life of this Reformer. But it does not do the interpreting which one would ordinarily expect. It has very little to say about Knox’s theology and its influence on subsequent Presbyterian thought in Scotland; it does not enter into an evaluation of the great issue of the relation between Church and State which dominated in the Reformation in Scotland.
Nevertheless, this is a good book. It is well researched and written in a scholarly, though easily understood style. It is packed with many details of the life of this great Reformer and gives a sense of the tension and importance of the times. Its style is rather pedantic at times, but this is difficult to avoid in a biography filled with so much information. We recommend the book highly to all those who have an interest in the great battles fought on behalf of the truth and in those heroes of faith who have now joined the company of just men made perfect. It should have a place in every Christian school library and in every home where the people of God have a love for the heritage of the truth given us from the Reformation.