Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
MSJ 2:2 (Fall 91) p. 199
Cyril J. Barber. Judges, A Narrative of God’s Power. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1990. 293 pp. $18.95 (cloth). Reviewed by James E. Rosscup, Professor of Bible Exposition.
The author, presently a counsellor with “Insight for Living,” is best known for his work The Minister’s Library. To his prolific list of books he here he adds fifteen readable chapters expounding the whole book of Judges. His exposition displays the high relevance of Judges to Christian life today, showing that present problems were problems in Israel, too—problems such as depression, lukewarmness, idol worship, homosexuality, rape, etc. He directs attention to spiritual solutions for these both in the days of the Judges and now.
“Many see Judges as a dismal record of Israel’s failure, but to me it illustrates God’s power, a message both timely and relevant” (p. 9). God’s Spirit, operating through ordinary men and women, can accomplish the will of God. The work’s introduction discusses various views of Judges’ theme and concludes it is the power of God displayed through His representatives (p. 24). Barber gears his book for Christian lay people, not scholars or seminarians (p. 9).
Spiritual lessons are plentiful throughout, and aptly worded headings in bold-faced print mark out subdivisions. Short paragraphs carry the reader’s thought through the text quickly. Frequent illustrations spice the content. For example, Pogo the cartoon character returns from a battle saying, “We have met the enemy and he is us” (p. 53). A line at the bottom of each page shows the exact verses dealt with on that page. Barber weaves in timely quotes from other sources.
Graphic sections depict Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. Along with Gideon’s faith, commitment, and perseverance, Barber is quite candid about the ephod marring his later years (p. 108). He favors the view that Jephthah gave his daughter over to perpetual virginity (pp. 149-50), but his reasons for doing so are sometimes rather arbitrary and not difficult to answer for those who hold the popular view that Jephthah gave the girl as a burnt offering (cf. among evangelicals, J. J. Davis, Conquest and Crisis [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969] 124-28; F. D. Lindsey, “Judges,” in Bible Knowledge Commentary [Wheaton: Victor, 1983] 1:402). A better balance in supporting both views would strengthen the book here. It seems arbitrary to argue, as Barber does, “It is difficult to imagine the Holy Spirit using Jephthah [a man who sacrificed his daughter] as an example of faith if his act
MSJ 2:2 (Fall 91) p. 200
was so contrary to God’s revealed will” (p. 150). What, then, of other characters who are noted f...
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