EXPOSITION OF ISAIAH, VOL. I, by H.C. Leupold; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich.; 598 pp., $ 7.95.
This is a popular-style, yet rather thorough commentary on the first thirty-nine chapters of the Prophecy of Isaiah, written by the well-known Lutheran Old Testament scholar, Dr. H.C. Leupold, professor of Old Testament at Capital University Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.
To recommend this commentary there are the following features: 1) The author adopts wholeheartedly the conservative, not the liberal-critical, view of the human-writer of this prophecy. Although this volume expounds only the first main section of the prophecy, chapters 1-39, Dr. Leupold correctly holds that ‘the entire prophecy is of, Isaiah. This is important. It is fundamentally impossible to hold to the so-called dual authorship theory and yet to hold a Scripturally correct view of this prophecy or of prophecy in general. 2) There is a. real attempt to expound the text; and, in general, I believe the author’s attempt is successful. This commentary, therefore, can be very helpful to anyone interested in studying Isaiah. 3) The language is clear and simple, and the commentary is unencumbered by those references to the original which can be so annoying to the student who has no knowledge of Hebrew.
This recommendation, of course, does not imply blanket agreement with3 everything written. This commentary, like many, must be used with discretion. In my opinion, for example, the author’s Lutheran bias comes to the fore in his comments on Isaiah 6:8-13; and I find myself in disagreement with statements like the following: “There is never anything of a predestination-character involved in what befalls a man. But he that hardens himself stubbornly and repeatedly, as Pharaoh of old did, finds a special kind of judgment reserved for him and this judgment is that, in addition to his hardening of himself, he experiences a further hardening from the hands of God.”
Nevertheless, I repeat that this is a helpful commentary, neatly published, and reasonably priced. If you wish to add a commentary to your library, here is a good one.
JUS DIVINUM, THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY AND THE DIVINE RIGHT OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT; De J.R. Dewitt; J.H. Kok N.V., Kampen, The Netherlands; 261 pp. (paper), $14.75.
The author, with whom I am personally acquainted, is a minister in the Reformed Church in America. Perhaps some of our readers remember him from his involvement in a struggle about the historicity of the first part of Genesis when he was a pastor in New Jersey,—a struggle in which he took a very sound and staunch position. This book is Rev. Dewitt’s doctoral thesis, written for the attainment of the degree of doctor of theology from the Theological School of Kampen, The Netherlands. Incidentally, during his sojourn abroad Dr. Dewitt spent considerable time in England, during which time he also acted as assistant pastor at Grove Chapel, where the late Rev. Herman Hoeksema was once the pulpit guest of Rev. Henry Atherton’s congregation.
This thesis is of a church-historical nature. It deals with a little known aspect of the famous Westminster Assembly. This assembly is, of course, best remembered for its Westminster Confession of Faith. But it also struggled to establish a Reformed, or Presbyterian, form of church government in England,—a struggle in which it was defeated by Parliament. Dr. Dewitt in this thesis presents a detailed account and analysis of this struggle. Usually these doctoral theses are rather dry reading. And while I would not recommend this one for popular consumption, I nevertheless found it to be interestingly written and to be replete with valuable information and insights, both on church historical and church political matters. The student of church history who wishes to study the Westminster Assembly would do well to consult this book.
Interesting to me was also the leaflet containing 22 propositions, which, I take it, Dr. Dewitt had to defend at his oral examination. My guess is that the defense of these propositions, especially in the present atmosphere in the Netherlands, might have made interesting listening.
Dr. Dewitt is to be congratulated on his thesis and on the attainment of his degree of Doctor of Theology.
PAUL AND HIS EPISTLES, by D.A. Hayes; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids; 508 pp., $6.95.
This volume is one of Baker’s “Limited Editions Library”. The “Limited Editions Library” “consists of reprint editions of scholarly works in the field of Biblical Theology, History, and Philosophical literature.'”
The author of the present volume lived in this country during the last half of the last century.
The book deals with the life of the apostle Paul and is an isogogical introduction to Paul’s epistles. It is written in the tradition of conservative Bible scholarship and is highly recommended to our ministers and teachers. It is also a valuable addition to our school libraries. Except for a minute quantity of Greek, it is eminently readable and can be profitably studied by anyone.
The life of the apostle Paul is very well done and some of the power and grace of the apostle to the Gentiles comes across in these pages. The introduction to the epistles is also excellent and the book, while discussing questions of authorship, date and occasion, gives excellent summaries of the books.
There is one serious flaw in the book. The author does not give a proper place to the doctrine of inspiration. In actual fact, it is not even mentioned in the book. The result of it is that mistaken notions creep in. For example, the author avers that there were many other epistles written by Paul (which is perhaps correct), and that these epistles stand on a par with the epistles included in the canon. This is highly doubtful. But it leads the author to state that our canon would have been immeasurably enriched had these other epistles been preserved. Along the same lines he overemphasizes the influence of Greek philosophy and poetry upon the style and thought of the apostle and explains the development of Paul’s theology along the lines of the apostle’s personal genius and the general guidance of the Spirit in the Church as that Spirit operates even today. It is this same erroneous position of the author which leads him to insist that all the disciples of the Lord, even after Pentecost, had mistaken notions about the time of the Lord’s return and that they had received these mistaken notions from the Lord Himself Who was confused on the issue.
The author presents Paul as being all but sinless after his conversion; and, in the light of this position, interprets Romans 7:15-25 as referring to Paul before his conversion. There are, especially in the material on Colossians, strong hints that the author was a universalist.
There is however, a great deal of valuable material in the book which can be read with profit.
THE CASE FOR BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY, by E.J. Carnell; Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1969; 186 pp., $ 3.95 (paper).
E.J. Carnell, before his early death in 1967, has been called the most articulate voice of evangelical Protestantism. He is indeed an evangelical; perhaps a neo-evangelical—although such labels are deceptive. This book substantiates the claim that he is very articulate.
The book is a collection of writings which appeared in various church papers and in his books, for he was a prolific writer and covers a wide field. In the book such subjects are dealt with as the ecumenical movement (much of which he severely criticizes), liberalism and modernism (the critique of which is very worth-while reading), and extensive evaluation of the theology of Reinbold Niebuhr, essays on ethics (dealing mostly with social problems), a brief discussion of Karl Barth (whom he faults for his subjectivism), and many other subjects of interest.
While there is much in the book with which we do not agree (any more than we agree with the whole theology of neo-evangelicalism), the book makes for interesting, enjoyable and stimulating reading. While Carnell is a very lucid writer, the nature of the subjects treated make this book of value to those who are at home in theology and philosophy. Nevertheless some of the chapters are of interest to anyone who enjoys reading theological literature.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME, by Alexander Whyte; Baker Book House, 1969; 105 pp., $1.50 (paper).
From Baker’s “Preaching Help Series” a book of eight sermons on themes related to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper by the famous minister of St. George, Edinburgh.