Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 26:1 (Nov 1963)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

G. C. Berkouwer: Man: The Image of God (Studies in Dogmatics). Translated by Dirk W. Jellema. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1962. 376. $6.00.

The searchlight of contemporary theological and philosophical interest concentrates upon man. Berkouwer’s latest volume to appear in English translation provides an excellent survey of this vast literature and engages in an evaluation from a genuine Biblical perspective. Noting that the idealistic view of man held by optimistic humanism has been shattered, the author warns that a new form of humanism lurks behind the “realistic” or non-idealistic view of man common to existentialism. The frequency of the use of terms such as anxiety, guilt and conscience with respect to man does not guarantee that there is any basic structural relationship with Biblical thought.

The title of the book is carefully chosen. Berkouwer does not consider it legitimate to speak of some aspect of man as the divine image in him. Rather, the Biblical description of the whole man in his comprehensive relation to God is expressed by the phrase “the image of God”. The scope of this description of man is evident from the fact that the book includes a consideration of such questions as the immortality of the soul, the origin of the soul and the nature of human freedom in addition to the usual questions relating to the imago Dei. In short, Berkouwer presents a survey of recent discussion within the broad area of what is usually called “theological anthropology” or the Biblical doctrine of man.

What particularly commends this book is the author’s desire to be faithful to the Scriptural teaching. He believingly accepts the Biblical account of Adam’s creation (status integritatis), his rebellious fall into sin and the way of redemption through Jesus Christ. Berkouwer frankly admits that there is no true understanding of the mystery of man apart from a believing acceptance of the Scriptural teaching of man in his relation to the living God.

The pattern which has been followed in the various volumes of “Studies in Dogmatics” is again pursued. The author does not present a systematic treatment of the Biblical doctrine of man. After sketching the current interest in the subject of man, the author engages in an on-going discussion with representative authors on successive themes. Debated issues receive

major attention and these are usually subjected to evaluation in the light of Scripture. However, the author’s personal position is not always made clear, and the reader often looks for a summary of conclusions after the dialogue has come to an end. Major attention is devoted to the Reformed writers, bu...

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