THE MOST REVEALING BOOK OF THE BIBLE: Making Sense Out of Revelation, by Vernard Eller; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974; 214 pp., $3.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]
This book, written by a minister in the Church of the Brethren and a Professor of Religion at LaVerne College in California, is intended to be a commentary on the Book of Revelation.
It is not a very good book. From a formal point of view the book is not good for the following reasons. It is written in a very facetious and off-hand way which is altogether out of keeping with the seriousness of the book of Revelation. It is too brief to be of any real help in understanding John’s prophecies. This is evident, e.g., from the fact that less than a page is devoted to the discussion of the beast out of the sea in Revelation 13, and only slightly more than a page to the beast out of the earth in the same chapter.
From the viewpoint of its contents, we object to the book on the following grounds. It leaves the authorship of the Book of Revelation in doubt. It considers Rev. 13:18, 17:9-l 7 to be additions to the book by a later interpolator who was trying to “calendarize” the book—something which the author detests. The author considers both passages to be some kind of cipher or puzzle which must be figured out through intricate mathematical devices. But more seriously, the book adopts the position of pre-millennialism in Revelation 20. His brand of premillennialism however, is a little different from dispensational pre-millennialism. The author claims that the book teaches a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth in a kingdom which shall include all men. There is never any specific mention of the Jews. And more seriously yet, the author teaches that into all eternity the wicked in hell will have an opportunity to repent of sin and leave hell to join the company of the saints in heaven. In this respect he is an admitted universalist.
THE ORIGIN AND DESTINY OF MAN, by Francis Nigel Lee; Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1974; 119 pp., $2.95 (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]
The author of this book was a professor of philosophy and religion for three years at Shelton College, New Jersey. He was a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa. He is at present a trial lawyer of the Supreme Court of South Africa and a scholar in residence at the Christian Studies Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
In many respects this is an interesting book. Especially the first three chapters (“The Origin of Man,” “The Essence of Man,” “The Plight of Man”) have a great deal of excellent and interesting material in them. The author tells of how he was converted from evolutionism to creationism and explains the creation of man in terms of the historic creationistic position. However, he takes the position that it is impossible to tell the length of the days of the creation week, although he does not argue for long days and for an old earth to make room for evolutionary processes. He has a lot of interesting material from the viewpoint of a Christian psychology in his second chapter, and he describes in some detail the fall into sin in the third.
In the last two chapters, however, (“The Hope of Man,” “The Destiny of Man”) he adopts a post-millennial position. He speaks in glowing terms of man’s future and is optimistic about the position which the people of God shall occupy in the future age. His is not the liberal post-millennialism of the social gospel; it is rather the more fundamentalistic postmillennialism which is so common in these circles.
To learn what this type of post-millennialism is like makes this book worthwhile.