Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:1 (Mar 1998)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

From Old Revelation to New: A Tradition-Historical & Redaction-Critical Study of Temporal Transitions in Prophetic Prediction. By Simon J. De Vries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995, xxiv + 383 pp., $29.99 paper.

This volume is a sequel to the author’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1975), which explored the use of Biblical words for time in the prophetic literature. De Vries extends the previous discussion by exhaustively examining the use of phrases referring to the future in the prophetic corpus, phrases like “in that day,” “after this” and “in the sequence of days.” The study focuses on those futuristic phrases that occur at the seams of redactional activity. According to the author, these transitional phrases “offer the clue for understanding both eschatological tradition and redactional methodology” (p. xix).

In part 1 De Vries describes the meaning and use of each futuristic phrase in the prophetic corpus. These phrases are catalogued as “integral” (occurring within redaction) or “introductory” (introducing redaction), and a semantic value is assigned to each. De Vries is only concerned with the “introductory” phrases. The “integral” phrases are only used as a control over conclusions drawn about the “introductory” phrases.

Part 2 explores the function of temporal transitions in the individual prophetic books. Every use of a futuristic phrase is described for its effect on the book that it appears in, and general conclusions are drawn about the redaction of each book.

Part 3 outlines the resulting tradition-history of the prophetic books. The different temporal phrases are linked to individual levels of redaction, and developmental periods in the eschatological awareness of the Biblical writers are delineated. The redaction of the prophetic books is described as a sixfold process moving from individual oral utterance to final composition. De Vries is confident that the prophetic books, without exception, share the same six levels of redactional activity.

De Vries concludes from his analysis that prophetic redaction is typically “congruent.” That is, the redactors merely extend the meaning of the text into the future. Salvation oracles remain salvific; judgment oracles remain judgmental. What this implies is integrity of meaning throughout the redactional process. The redactors shifted the reference of their texts from specific historical situations to an eschatological one but left the meaning largely unchanged.

De Vries draws the faulty conclusion that this eschatological future is not perceived as a specific point in future time but as a generic concern for history in general. De Vries does this because he takes the...

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