Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 27:4 (Dec 1984)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Princeton Theology 1812–1921: Scripture, Science, and Theological Method from Archibald Alexander to Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. Edited by Mark A. Noll. Baker, 1983, 344 pp., $14.95.

The evangelical controversy over issues of Biblical authority and inerrancy often gravitates toward differing interpretations of the Old Princeton theology as this relates to contemporary formulations of the doctrine of Scripture. Well aware of this, Noll has here done the evangelical community a great service by providing this splendid anthology of selections from the writings of the four dominant theologians of the Old Princeton school: Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield. The selections are narrow in focus, offering characteristic treatments of these theologians’ writings on theological method, Scripture and science. In addition, selections from the polemical writings of C. Hodge and Warfield—largely on the same topics but in response to contemporaries—add historical perspective to the issues with which they dealt. Noll bemoans what he sees as the “relatively scant historical scrutiny” (p. 11) the Princetonians have received, both by evangelicals and nonevangelicals, and hence he here endeavors to place the writings of these great thinkers in their proper historical contexts.

Certain features of the volume commend it as equally to evangelical theologians as to historians of nineteenth-century American culture and religion. First, the selections presented here are largely from sources to which there is no easy access. Reference is always made, however, to the sources so that readers who wish may seek out the complete works from which these selections come.

Second, Noll presents here a substantial (both in length—38 pp.—and in content) introduction in which he provides background to the four main Princeton theologians along with their contemporaries and successors at Princeton, the institutions of Princeton theology, major themes of the Princetonians, and the place of the Princeton theology in the modern controversy over Scripture. Noll’s assessment of the Princeton theology is marked by balance and scholarship. For example, in discussing the role that Francis Turretin’s Institutio theologiae elencticae played on the Old Princeton school Noll acknowledges the modern view that sees Turretin’s influence as the dominant note in Princeton theology but then shows this view to be overstated, and hence reductionistic, in light of the multiple important influences on the Princetonians. Likewise Noll’s discussion of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy in relation to the Princetonians resists the course of overemphasizing the impact of Reid and Witherspoon on these theologians. Again, because the thought...

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