Holy Scripture, by G. C. Berkouwer; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. 377 pages, $8.95 (cloth). [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema]
This is another of the English translations of Dr. Berkouwer’s “Studies In Dogmatics.” This one volume in English covers the original two volumesof the Dutch edition. I reviewed the Dutch volumes in the Standard Bearer when they were published, and I offered an extensive critique of the Dutch edition a few years ago in our Theological Journal. I shall not repeat my criticisms of this work, nor offer an extensive review here. I only wish to repeat: 1) Dr. Berkouwer’s “Studies In Dogmatics” are must reading for all ministers and seminarians who wish to be up-to-date with respect to current theological trends. There is no question about it that Dr. Berkouwer is one of the most influential theologians of our time. This is especially true with regard to the doctrine of Holy Scripture. If you have not read, or cannot read, the original Dutch volumes, then by all means read the English edition. 2) I am of the conviction that this work on Holy Scripture represents a serious departure from the Reformed confession concerning Scripture. I explained my criticisms in this regard in the reviews previously mentioned, and shall not repeat them here. I do wish to sound the warning that he who reads this book ought to study it very carefully and critically, and should not absorb the teachings of Dr. Berkouwer.
This is an abridged translation. This is mentioned and explained in the “Translator’s Introduction” as follows:
“This work has not only been translated but edited. The material of the, original two-volume work, De Heilige Schrift, has been decreased by approximately one-third. Such editing is always subject to question and the rationale for it needs to be made clear.
“My chief concern has been to make Berkouwer’s central message regarding the nature of Holy Scripture accessible to the largest English-speaking public. Accordingly, I have concentrated on the development of Berkouwer’s own point of view and its immediate sources rather than detailing all of his interaction with persons holding other viewpoints. While this will deprive the scholar of some bibliography, it has hopefully made the main body of this important work more understandable to the non-specialist. Berkouwer has always been concerned that theology be relevant to those in the pulpit and the pew as well as to those in the study. It is my hope that this work will prove useful to members of all three groups in their work and in their daily interaction with Holy Scripture.”
It is certainly true that the two volumes of the Dutch edition were filled with details of Berkouwer’s “interaction with persons holding other viewpoints.” And this undoubtedly made these volumes somewhat difficult to read. They certainly were not what one would call “popular reading.” And from this point of view, I believe that the translator by his editing has made his translation more readable. Nevertheless, while I have not made a detailed comparison, my general impression is that the abridgment has somewhat detracted from the value of this translation, at least for anyone who wishes to make a careful study of Berkouwer. I do not believe that one can properly understand Berkouwer’s point of view without paying careful attention to “his interaction with persons holding other viewpoints.” It is plain, too, that considerable material has been omitted: for the original two-volume work has been decreased by approximately one-third. In my opinion, this means that anyone who wishes to make a careful study of Dr. Berkouwer’s views concerning Holy Scripture will still have to go back to the Dutch edition.
Nevertheless, I recommend the reading and study of this volume for those who are limited to the English language.