Editorials -- By: Anonymous
BSac 97:385 (Jan 40) p. 1
The Art of Book Reviewing
”‘I write this more in sorrow than in anger’ ...says the reviewer, dipping his pen in the gall and wormwood.” Thus runs the legend under a cartoon portraying a sour-visaged writer industriously grinding out his periodic grist of reviews. To some readers there may be more fire under this facetious smoke than would be generally admitted. Especially this might be the case with writers of Christian literature who are jealous for their position as disseminators of Scripture statements in connection with the interpretation of which equally loyal and well-equipped men differ.
Reviewers of religious books, like other commentators, fall respectively into one of several classes. First, we may divide them into two grand divisions, namely: those who write from a conservative viewpoint and those, on the other hand, who follow a liberalistic outlook. We may take it for granted that in general what these reviewers write will be colored by their convictions; provided, of course, they have the courage of those convictions. Each of these groups may be divided between those whose evaluations are characterized by strict fairness and those, in contrast, who are governed largely by ingrained prejudices, with little or no inclination to allow credit where credit is due. It was a favorite saying of the late Dr. Melvin Grove Kyle, the highly respected former editor of this Quarterly, that almost anyone may have a lucid moment and say something worth-while, and in that case credit should go to that one.
The Lord revealed a divine rule in His postascension messages to the seven churches of Asia (Rev 2 and 3) by commending what was worthy in their life and service before pointing out their shortcomings and failures. The conscientious critic recognizes his responsibility to be fair and just in the light of this divine example. On the other hand, the one criticized under the spirit of this rule must have the capacity
BSac 97:385 (Jan 40) p. 2
to give it careful examination if profit is to be experienced therefrom.
Apart from the treatment of books saturated with the errors of modern religious liberalism, the reviewers on the staff of this Quarterly have been careful to commend whatever in their judgment is found to be true and profitable in the works coming to their desks. Moreover, the editor has always been ready to pass on to writers of articles and book reviews the comments of our readers. We believe that the following bit of Baconian wisdom has its place here: “Read not to contradict and refute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider... Some books...
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