THE ZONDERVAN PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE. Merrill C. Tenny, General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House, 1975; $79.95 (five volumes). [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]
Zondervan Publishing House has completed its work on an entirely new Encyclopedia of the Bible. The work was a massive undertaking, and the results, generally speaking, are gratifying.
The scope and theological position of the Encyclopedia are defined in the Preface:
The scope of this ENCYCLOPEDIA is intended to cover directly or indirectly all persons, places, objects, customs, and historical events and major teachings of the Bible. Not all are treated separately; some will necessarily be subsumed under larger topics. It is, however, designed to be a comprehensive survey of general Biblical and theological knowledge.
The critical and theological position of this work is conservative. All viewpoints of Biblical scholarship are mentioned and are given fair representation, but the emphasis is that of historic Christianity. Allowance has been made for varying opinions within this framework, and in some cases more than one article on a given theme has been included in order to represent fairly differing doctrinal interpretations. Occasionally one may find discrepancies between articles on historical and chronological topics. These are often indicative of ambiguity in the original records, on which no final judgment is easily attainable. Authors of articles have been accorded liberty to state their conclusions, provided these conclusions ye founded on a fundamental conviction of the veracity of the Biblical record.
There are many excellent features about this work. We can mention only some of the most important.
Each word is given in the Hebrew and Greek where possible. This is of value to those who are able to use the original languages of Scripture, but it in no way detracts from the value of the set for those who have no acquaintance with these languages.
All the articles of importance have a bibliography at the end of them which is, generally, valuable and will assist the student in pursuing his study of various topics in greater detail.
Some subjects are treated in great detail which makes it possible to use this Encyclopedia for reference work. There are lengthy articles on many doctrinal subjects such as inspiration, Biblical criticism, canonicity, election, ethics, creation, the atonement, the millennium, etc. E.g., there are 35 pages on the canon of Scripture alone. Some of the articles are. excellent and, as the Preface states, take a conservative position. J. Murray, e.g., has an excellent article on the truth of election; G.H. Clark has an excellent article on ethics; there is a fine section on the chronologies of the Old Testament.
The work makes use of all the latest discoveries in archeology and brings much information about the Bible up to date.
There are many maps and pictures, beautiful color plates, and a fine map section at the end of Vol. 5.
Anyone who uses the work will, of course, have to exercise some discretion. While the authors usually present many different viewpoints on controversial subjects, they also state their own views. We cannot always agree with these. The author of the article on genealogies does not want to give them literal significance. W.H. Mare favors a progressive creationism. W.U. Ault holds to a local flood. And there are naturally some disagreements when different authors are writing on similar or related subjects.
The Encyclopedia could be improved by a system of cross references. E.g., while the subject of the millennium is discussed in at least four different places, there are no cross references to aid the searcher in finding all these places.
We recommend this Encyclopedia with the reservations mentioned above. It is a must for our schools. It is a valuable addition to any home library, and we urge our people to purchase it. The price is not high for the amount of material which is contained in it, and it will be used for years as an aid in the study of Scripture.
Herman C. Hanko, The Mysteries of the Kingdom (An Exposition of the Parables), Reformed Free Publishing Association, Grand Rapids. 306 pages.
The readers of the Standard Bearer are familiar with the writings of Prof. Hanko who teaches New Testament in the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches. This is the author’s first full length book. And it is a good one. On the inside front cover of the attractive dust jacket one reads: “This book is an attempt to interpret the parables in such a way that the Lord’s description of their purpose and His guidelines for interpretation are followed. It is in this way, the author believes, that the mysteries of the kingdom will be set forth in their proper light.” The author has succeeded admirably in reaching this purpose.
All of the parables of Jesus are treated. The material is strictly based on solid exegesis of the text. And there is constant practical application of these mysteries to the lives of the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. While the author does not hesitate to grapple with textual or theological problems wherever necessary, he does so in clear, understandable language. Hence the expositions are exhaustive but never too deep for the believer who may lack formal theological training. It is a book which can and ought to be used by preachers, teachers, and laymen. It may be purchased for $5.95 from Reformed Free Publishing Association, P.O. Box 2006, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501.
My colleague and the RFPA are to be commended for publishing this book, a worthwhile addition to any library.
Een Halve Eeuw Theologie (Motieven en Stromingen van 1920 tot Heden), by G. C. Berkouwer; Uitgeversmaatschappij J. H. Kok, Kampen, 1974; 412 ,pages, $37.50 (Dutch money).
On October 12, 1973, Dr. Berkouwer retired as professor of the Theological Faculty of the Free University of Amsterdam. This event occasioned his looking back upon a half-century of being busy within the Gereformeerde Kerken and in Theology. And the book under discussion is the result of his retrospective look. In these theological memoirs he gives account of his motives in his theological and ecclesiastical labor, and he offers a review of the important currents in theology from 1920 until today. In a way this is not a typical Berkouwer book. While in the nature of the case there are many references to the views of others, at many points there is much more of Berkouwer in this book than in some of his Dogmatical Studies. Through reading this book, one certainly obtains a better insight into the theological approach and views of the author. Anyone who has followed the entire series of Dr. Berkouwer’s Dogmatical Studies, as well as his other works, should by all means read this volume. And it is to be hoped that the Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company will eventually publish an English edition of this interesting book by Dr. Berkouwer. This is a very significant volume.
Of special interest to Protestant Reformed readers will be Chapter IV, which deals with the doctrine of election. In this chapter Dr. Berkouwer attributes his own development with respect to the doctrine of election to his reaction against the views of Rev. Herman Hoeksema, whom, therefore, he credits with helping his own development, but by way of contrast. I have paid special attention to this chapter in a review article in the May, 1975 issue of our Protestant Reformed Theological Journal. In this article I quote the pertinent section from Chapter IV, and then I offer some critical, remarks. The interested reader may consult that article. If it was not clear from Berkouwer’s work on Divine Election, it certainly becomes clear from this volume that Dr. Berkouwer denies double predestination, and therewith denies the Reformed doctrine of sovereign predestination, including both election and reprobation.
My recommendation of this volume, therefore, is not due to agreement with Dr. Berkouwer, but is due to the fact that Berkouwer is a very significant and influential theologian. In recent years he has probably been more influential on the Reformed scene than any other single theologian. It is important, therefore, that those who study theology and who are called to maintain and teach and preach the Reformed position, should take into account the teachings of Dr. Berkouwer. And this volume is important for the understanding of Berkouwer. Its careful study, therefore, is highly recommended.