Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous
WTJ 29:1 (Nov 66) p. 59
Reviews Of Books
Gleason L. Archer, Jr.: A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press. 1964. 507. $6.95.
Introductions to the Old Testament are usually not the most readable type of book you might pick off the shelf. To say that you will not be able to put this one down would be slightly hyperbolic, but it is pleasantly surprising in this respect. Evidently the author’s purpose to furnish a simple text understandable by the novice and usable at the college level was not confined to the declaration of intention in the preface.
Reader interest is maintained in part by excursions into exegetical and historico-archaeological problems not commonly treated in more recent works on introduction. The author surveys such matters as, for example, the extent of the Noahic flood and the chronology of the exodus. His own explanation for this procedure is that critical estimates of such narratives have led to negative judgments on the historicity of the books containing them (cf. p. 190). And thus the larger issue of the nature of the Old Testament as canon (the proper subject of introduction, certainly) is involved in these questions.
Pentateuchal criticism, which belongs to the category of special introduction, is nevertheless included along with text and canon in the first part of the book under the heading General Introduction. It is true that a knowledge of Pentateuchal criticism is required to see why modern reconstructions of the so-called canonization of the Old Testament take the particular form they do (cf. p. 10). The same could be said, however, about the critical dating of many other Old Testament books. And, in any case, the account of the canon (ch. 5) is actually concluded before the author discusses the higher criticism of the Pentateuch (chs. 6–13).
Divine inspiration is properly identified as the source of the canonicity of the biblical books. When, however, the author goes on to call the testimony of the Holy Spirit “the only true test of canonicity” (p. 69), he confuses the roles of the external self-identifying and self-authenticating witness of the Scriptures as the Spirit’s objective deposit of truth with the Spirit’s internal witness in the hearts of men which accompanies the
WTJ 29:1 (Nov 66) p. 60
Word. The Spirit’s internal witness is an authenticating or sealing witness in that it qualifies the church for the perception of the objective self-identification and self-authentication of the Word and thereby persuades the church to give its echoing witness of attestation to the Word. If we are to speak of “the only true test of canonicity” we must identify that with the objective self-witness of the written Word itself. By declaring...
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