Promise And Deliverance,
Vol. I, by S.G. De Graaf; Introduction and Translation by H. Evan Runner and Elisabeth Withers Runner; Paideia Press, P.O. Box 1450, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada L2R 7J8; 423 pp., $9.95 (hard cover) (Reviewed by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema)
While I deem the claims made for this book in the Translator’s Introduction to be a big extravagant, nevertheless this translation of the Rev. S.G. De Graaf’s well-known book Verbondsgeschiedenis to be a worthwhile project. The Rev. De Graaf (1889-1955) was a disciple of J.C. Sikkel. Like the latter, he for many years led a class of Sunday School teachers, with the purpose of preparing them for their work and equipping them for the proper telling of Bible stories in their classes. This book, therefore, is not in the nature of a collection of Bible stories, but is rather a work designed chiefly as a help to those who must teach children. Each chapter of the work begins with a short discussion of points to bear in mind when studying the story. Then follows a single sentence in which the author formulates the story’s main thought. And then follows the narrative itself, which was really designed to be a guide rather than to be slavishly told word for word.
This first volume covers Bible history from creation to the conquest of Canaan in some 60 chapters.
I am in agreement with the main thrust of this work. Rev. De Graaf himself states the following: “Scripture is prophecy. This is true even of its historical passages. In other words, every story in Scripture reveals something of the counsel of God for our redemption. And in every story God is the prime agent. The entire work of redemption can be seen in each story.” And again: “The entire Scripture is God’s revelation of Himself as the Redeemer. But this is not to say that the whole sweep of redemption is visible in every story. We believe in the progress of revelation. In principle, the whole of redemption is revealed in the mother-promise (Gen. 3:15). Therefore, the seed of redemption is present in every story in the Old Testament. Our job, is to use the light of the New Testament to uncover it.” This theocentric and redemptive-historical approach pervades the entire book.
This is not to say that I agree with every point of interpretation in this work. As I perused the book, I found numerous points at which I disagreed with the author’s interpretation and presentation. Some of these disagreements were serious. The work, therefore, must be used with discretion.
Nevertheless, I heartily recommend this book as a useful volume for parents, for teachers, and for Sunday School teachers. The translators are also to be commended for a very smooth and readable translation.