Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 24:2 (May 1962)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Bernard Ramm: Special Revelation and the Word of God. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1961. 220. $4.00.

The wide reading and research evident in this latest book from Dr. Ramm’s pen should be the envy of any theologian. Of slightly less than two hundred pages of text, the book is packed with material directly relevant to the theme and with references to literature on the subject. This reviewer cannot suppress the conviction that the book should have been expanded to twice its present size; there is too much for such limited space. And it seems that the author required more mature and critical reflection in order to deal more adequately with certain perspectives and especially with some of the viewpoints alluded to in the course of the discussion.

About half of the volume is devoted to the modalities of special revelation, namely, divine condescension, divine speaking, historical event, and the incarnation. This feature is not out of proportion and the order of treatment is commendable.

Ramm properly lays a great deal of emphasis upon the complementation of redemptive event and revelatory word. A few sample quotations will illustrate. “An event in itself possesses a certain opacity. When Jesus was crucified some measure of meaning for this event could be deciphered from knowing the Jews, the Romans, and the events leading up to it. But no deeper insight into this event could be so gained. However, this event had an unprecedented weight of meaning for the Jews, the Romans, the disciples, the world, and for God himself. But only the revelatory word of God rescues the cross from its historical opacity and brings to light its immense weight of meaning” (pp. 77f, ital. his). “The strong event of the cross without an equally strong word of revelation would have lost its power in the Church and then in the world” (p. 78, ital. his). “Those theologians who rest the weight of their system upon events-as-such have not reckoned adequately with the logical problem of the opacity of historical events” (p. 79). “The event and the word must be held with equal firmness….The word is the hard datum in the area of truth; the event is the hard datum in the area of history” (p. 82).

A similar insistence appears in connection with the incarnation. “Christ

is both Person and Message. To set up a disjunction forcing us to choose one or the other is theologically wicked” (p. 112). “Redemption comes therefore as historical, as event, as a particular person in a particular place at a particular time doing a particular act (or acts).

“These redeeming acts are not mute events. They a...

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