Article Review -- By: Anonymous
CTSJ 4:3 (July 1998) p. 44
“Viticulture’s Contribution to the Interpretation of John 15:1–6, ” by Gary W. Derickson, Bibliotheca Sacra 153, January-March 1996: 34–52. Reviewed by Dr. Stephen R. Lewis, professor of Church History at Chafer Theological Seminary, and Senior Pastor of Family Heritage Church of the Valley, La Quinta, California. His email address is: [email protected]
As Jesus shared his last day before His crucifixion with His disciples, he assured them they would not be left “home alone.” These were men who had walked with Jesus for only a little over three years. Moreover, as those who are young (new in the faith) will do, they asked questions of the One who was about to leave them. Questions like “where are you going?” “How do we know how to get there, if we don’t know where you’re going” and “Why can’t we go?” In the midst of answering those and other questions, Jesus instructed them concerning what they were to be doing until He returned. In John 13:31–35 Jesus told His disciples to get along with each other. In fact, He said that they were to love each other, as He had loved them. In so doing, all will know they are His disciples. In John 14:1–31 Jesus saw their anxiety about His impending departure and reassured them that they would not be left alone; the Holy Spirit would come and minister in His place.
Coming to John 15, Jesus introduces the disciples to yet another object lesson concerning their relationship to the Godhead and their responsibilities until He returns for them. He uses common everyday examples from agriculture concerning viticulture (vine keeping). Although Jesus speaks to his disciples, considerable debate rages as to the meanings of “airei” (sometimes translated “removed”) and “kathairei” (sometimes translated “pruned’) in verse two. There is further debate as to whether verse six describes a believer’s or an unbeliever’s destiny (p. 34). The unfruitful branch cannot be both a believer and an unbeliever.
This is where Derickson (a B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture from Texas A&M as well as a Th.M. and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary) helps us discover what Jesus is communicating to His disciples. His article seeks to bridge the understanding gap by describing the cultural practices of grape production in first century Palestine. He then uses this understanding as a basis, though not the sole basis, for answering questions concerning the fate of the unfruitful branches (p. 34).
He presents two views most often arising from Calvinism. The first view see...
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