Reformed Dogmatics. Herman Hoeksema. Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association. Volume I, 2004. xxi + 621 pages. Volume II, 2005. xv + 719 pages. Each $55.00 (Cloth). [Reviewed by Russell J. Dykstra.]
In Reformed circles, Herman Hoeksema is well known as a clear, exegetical, Reformed theologian. His Reformed Dogmatics is the most concise expression of his theology. The original work was published in 1966, a year after Hoeksema died. The original preface, written by the author’s son Homer C. Hoeksema, points out that the Dogmatics is the fruit of more than thirty years of teaching and writing in the area of dogmatics.
Reprinted several times, the first edition has been out of print for some years. This newest printing is a second edition, having gone through no little revision. The publishers divided the lengthy work into two volumes, the second of which came out early in 2005.
The publishers explain some of the changes made in this second edition.
In this second edition, a concerted effort has been expended to improve the readability without changing the meaning and substance of Hoeksema’s work…. Editorial changes and improvements have been made only to the form of the book, leaving its essence and unique perspective identical with that of the first edition.
Specific changes include: the addition of many Scripture references; movement of all Scripture references from footnotes into the body of the text; more complete footnoting of works cited; and English translations of all the words and paragraphs in foreign languages (not only Greek and Hebrew terms, but the lengthy quotations from Dutch, German, and Latin writings).
Not everyone will agree that it was necessary to make Reformed Dogmatics more readable. Nonetheless, the majority of readers will find some of the changes most welcome, especially the excellent translations of the quotations of the Dutch, Greek, and Latin, to say nothing of the Hebrew and Greek terms.
The second volume contains thoroughly reworked and expanded indexes. The index of subjects is a fine improvement over the index of the previous edition. It is extensive (57 pages) and useful, containing references to doctrines, words, and people. The index of Scripture has been expanded and corrected. A new index, of creeds, adds to the value of the work. It lists references to at least 21 creeds from various traditions.
Herman Hoeksema’s Reformed Dogmatics is a solid work of theology. This theologian’s strengths are evident especially in three areas. First, Herman Hoeksema is exegetical in his development of the doctrine. In this work, Hoeksema is at pains to demonstrate that the doctrine is squarely based on exegesis of Scripture. Secondly, Hoeksema is faithful to the Reformed confessions. Consciously and deliberately he takes his stance within the bounds of the Reformed confessions with which he agrees, and seeks to lift these Reformed doctrines to a higher state of development and clarity. Thirdly, Herman Hoeksema is nothing if not clear. He has a gift for making plain for the reader the difficult doctrines. These three qualities make Reformed Dogmatics a tremendously valuable work both for theologians and for all Reformed believers.
The republication of Hoeksema’s Reformed Dogmatics is long overdue. It is good that this significant work is once again readily available.