THE GRACE OF LAW, A Study of Puritan Theology, by Ernest F. Kevan; Baker Book House, 1965; $4.95.
This is the second printing of the book, first published in 1964 in England as a doctoral thesis. It is intended to explore the teaching of the Puritans on the subject of God’s law. A justification for such a study is found in the foreword where the author says: “It is at this place in the discussion (i.e., that many Christian people believe that the teaching of Jesus goes beyond the Law of Moses and therefore the law is no longer binding) that the teaching of the Puritans on the Law of God shows itself to be so appropriate to the modern situation. The Puritans stemmed the tide of moral indifference in their day by the use of the Ten Commandments, and it may well be that part of the answer to the modern dilemma is to be found by listening again to the voice of the Puritans and receiving the truth to which they bore testimony.”
This is a good book and an interesting one. After briefly discussing the Puritan scene, the author investigates the teachings of the Puritans in chapters entitled “The Law of God for Man”, “The Law and Sin”, “The Place of Law in the Purpose of God”, “The End of the Law”, “The Continuance of Moral Obligation'”, “Christian Law-Keeping”, “Perfect Freedom’ , concluding the book with an assessment in the light of recent critical studies. Especially is the author concerned with demonstrating that the Puritans maintained the teaching of Scripture and the Calvinistic tradition on this subject over against the Antinomians — some of whom were themselves Puritans and who denied the validity of the law for the believer, and the Neonomians — who wanted to return to the law as a means of salvation. In the latter group belonged Richard Baxter, who taught that Christ did not satisfy the law but secured instead a change in the law — the common Arminian interpretation.
There is also some history given on the covenant of works. The author points out that the covenant of works did not originate with Calvin but was introduced into British theology by William Perkins.
The many quotations from Puritan authors bring out the colorful writing of the Puritan divines. The book is highly recommended.
Prof. H. Hanko
Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, Albert Barnes; Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1463 pages, $14.95.
To many Bible students “Barnes’ Notes” needs no introduction. It is a familiar work, found in many a library, and probably used rather frequently in preparation for Bible discussion in society meetings, etc.
This is a new issue of Barnes and it has the advantage of being, in one neat, well-bound volume. Two facts must be remembered when using Barnes: 1) Although Albert Barnes was a Presbyterian and a graduate of old Princeton, he is not strongly Reformed in his comments. In fact, the Reformed reader will be compelled to disagree with his explanations at more than one point. 2) These are notes, not a thoroughgoing commentary. When using this volume, therefore, the reader must expect this, and not be disappointed when these notes are not more detailed.
Nevertheless, I can recommend this volume as a very handy source of quick reference material. It is informative; it suggests many a good thought in connection with the text; and even though it is brief, it stimulates the thinking and understanding of the text by its brief insights. Use of the original Greek is not abundant; and where it is used, it is parenthetical, so that the popular style of the commentary is not spoiled.