Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 27:2 (June 1984) p. 219
From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation. Edited by D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982, 444 pp.
This is a book about the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exod 20:8–11 NIV). It is also a book about Sunday worship and the relationship between Sabbath and Sunday. A team of seven—mostly British—scholars have undertaken to study and present a fresh interpretation of the topic that challenges the prevailing opinion throughout most of the Church on this issue.
A spate of books has been pouring out on the question of the fourth commandment and the Lord’s Day in recent years (e.g. Rordorf, 1968; Francke, 1973; Jewett, 1971; Bacchiocchi, 1977; Beckwith and Stott, 1978; and others). The editor points out that this is surely due to the fact that this subject is fraught with implications involving the history of Christian doctrine, theology and ethics. In a sense it becomes a test case for one’s views on the relationship between creation ordinance and law, the OT and NT, prophecy and fulfillment, and other important areas (p. 17).
In twelve tightly-packed, thoroughly-researched and well-documented chapters the authors develop their central thesis. The predominant view in the Church today holds that Sunday is the Christian day of worship and rest that corresponds to the Jewish observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath principle of one day in seven for rest and worship was established at creation, incorporated into the Mosaic code, and formally presented as moral law. Furthermore this view states that the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week effected a legitimate shift to Sunday.
Contrary to the above understanding the present authors offer a reconstructed interpretation. First of all they deny four assumptions of the predominant viewpoint: (1) that the NT unambiguously develops a transfer theology from Sabbath to Sunday; (2) that the OT links the Sabbath command to a creation ordinance, thus making it a permanent norm; (3) that Sunday observance arose in the second century rather than in the apostolic Church; and (4) that the NT develops patterns of continuity and discontinuity to the OT law on the basis of the pa...
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