Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 12:1 (Nov 1949)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

John Wick Bowman: The Religion of Maturity. New York and Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press. 1948. 336. $3.00.

Dr. Bowman, who is Robert Dollar professor of New Testament interpretation in the San Francisco Seminary of the Presbyterian Church, was co-winner of the Abingdon-Cokesbury award for 1948 with this book.

The theme, found also in an earlier volume, The Intention of Jesus, but here greatly expanded, can be stated quite simply. Old Testament religion finds its truest and loftiest expression in the message of the writing prophets of the eighth century B. C. and following. Here is revealed the character of God as absolutely and universally righteous, and the challenge to His people to be righteous in the ethical sense. Jesus stood in the center of the prophetic tradition, fulfilling the prophets in His person and mission. In post-exilic Judaism three developments took place which were attempts to interpret and apply prophetism to the current situation. These three continued to exist in the time of Christ, but He did not identify Himself with them, for they represented limitation and even more or less perversion of the prophetic ideal. These three, the religion of the altar, of the book, and of the throne, can also be described as priestism, scribism, and apocalypticism. In so far as similar tendencies prevail in the Christian Church, they represent deviation from the mind of Christ and a falling short of the religion of maturity. A really mature faith is continuous with the prophetic pattern.

Dr. Bowman deals first of all with prophetism, touching both the method of revelation and its content. One is glad to note such affirmations as these, that the prophets were not men of religious genius or men especially noted for their wisdom. They became vehicles of God’s message not because of their outstanding piety, but because the Almighty chose them to be His instruments. Such statements seem definitely pointed at the objectivity of the divine revelation. But it is rather disquieting to read concerning the teaching about the “saving remnant” that “the individualizing and universalizing of the doctrine quite naturally and logically went on at the same time and in the minds of the same prophets” (p. 55). Did the prophets “conceive” their message or merely transmit it? That they

reflected on what they received is granted, but reflection is not to be confused with excogitation.

In the prophetic revelation, the character of God is presented as a combination of holiness and righteousness. God will judge His chosen people for their sins. Because of the evident failure of Israel, the redemptive task of the nation is seen as shifted fro...

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