Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 24:4 (December 1981) p. 343
Millennialism: The Two Major Views. By Charles L. Feinberg. Chicago: Moody, 1980, 372 pp., $9.95.
This book is described by the publishers as a “newly revised and enlarged edition of Feinberg’s classic work on millennialism.” Feinberg is dean emeritus of Talbot Theological Seminary and has had a long career of teaching and writing. Forty-four years ago the first edition of this book was published under the title Premillennialism or Amillennialism? In 1954 a second edition was published under the same title and enlarged by an extensive appendix of more than one hundred pages of supplementary material. The present work is a third edition with a new title in which the author has made some minor changes in wording and introduced new paragraphs for ease in reading. The chapters in the appendix of the second edition have been integrated into the body of the new work. Additional materials have discussed relevant works written since 1954, and extensive footnotes have been added at the end of each chapter. However, the basic structure and argument of the earlier work has been maintained. A bibliography is included at the end, but unfortunately there is no index to the book.
Feinberg’s contention is that there are really only two views of the millennium question and in this he follows traditional dispensationalism’s claims. This is in contrast to the recent work edited by Robert G. Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium, in which four views were discussed and responded to: historic premillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism. Clouse’s book is included in Feinberg’s discussions. He contends that postmillennialism is dead as a present option, and that so-called “historic premillennialism” is really a “new premillennialism…that seeks to make itself more acceptable to amillennialism” (p. 69). He argues that premillennialism that is normative has always been dispensational and is not a new nineteenth-century creation. Thus only two basic positions are left: dispensationalism and amillennialism.
The real issue between these two views for him as for other dispensationalists is one of interpretation of the Bible. He contends that literal interpretation in both the OT and the NT is followed by dispensationalism, while the major weakness of amillennialism is that it follows a “spiritualizing and/or allegorizing” principle of interpretation, particularly in prophecy (p. 41). To this he devotes considerable space in his discussion. He also compares dispensationalism and “covenant ism,” setting forth the seven dispensations ft)und in the Scofield Reference Bible and rejecting the more numerous ultradispensational system and the threefold system of the pre-Mosaic. Mosaic and C...
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