Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
GJ 7:1 (Wtr 66) p. 35
Slavery, Segregation and Scripture. By James O. Buswell, III. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1964. 101 pages.
In spite of its small size, this is undoubtedly one of the most significant and timely books to be published in recent months. For too long the voice of evangelicals has been still or ambiguous on the question of race, when it has not been actively aligned with the forces of racism. It is high time such a book as this, coming from an evangelical, a Bible student, and a competent anthropologist, should appear to begin to set the record straight.
The most effective part of the book is that in which Buswell draws a parallel between the Southern apologetic for slavery before the Civil War and the present apologetic for racial segregation. By extensive quotations from the works of apologists in both causes, the author permits them to furnish devastating proof of their essential identity. In principle and in expression, the two apologetics are virtually interchangeable. One has only to make minor alterations of vocabulary to make it impossible to distinguish them. Both cases are shakily based on the same misapplied Biblical passages; both are based also on a supposed inferiority of the Negro race.
In fact, this book is so good that it is a shame it is not better. In the chapters where he examines the Bible and the scientific evidence, Buswell almost seems to pull his punches. He simply fails to make full use of the strength of his position. Especially in his refutation of Claude Putnam et al., he too often fails to spell out any of the extensive case from genetics and physical anthropology to which he alludes, thus giving an altogether false impression that he is simply pitting his word against that of the defenders of racism. One can understand a desire to be brief and simple, but it surely would not have made this small work too bulky to specify at least some of the extensive evidence at the author’s disposal.
In short, this is an excellent beginning, and all readers of this journal should read it while awaiting the more complete treatment of this vital issue which Professor Buswell is so eminently qualified to provide. And in any case, the appearance of this book ought to make it clear that one does not have to be a racist in order to be true to the Bible—quite the contrary.
Charles R. Taber
Hartford Seminary Foundation
The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians. Calvin’s Commentaries. Trans. Ross Mackenzie. Eds. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1961. 433 pp., $6.00.
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