Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 31:2 (May 1969)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Book Reviews

James Atkinson: The Great Light. Luther and Reformation (The Advance of Christianity Through the Centuries, volume IV). Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968. 287. $5.00.

It is a pleasure to salute the appearance of the next to the last volume to be published of the historical series entitled The Advance of Christianity Through the Centuries. Many years ago when three small historical works by F. F. Bruce appeared one after the other there was ground for joy that an evangelical approach to the problems of church history was in print. In due time these three volumes became one under the title The Spreading Flame, and there was born the first of the eight volumes that are to make up this “lusaphoric” series. This present one is the seventh to appear but the fourth in chronological order. It is now abundantly clear that it is a worth-while task upon which Professor Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester, has been engaged. The volumes are not of uniform merit; but they constitute a whole of great usefulness, and the one presently under review is not at the bottom of the scale.

The Great Light deals with the period of the Reformation, beginning with Luther and closing at the end of the sixteenth century, roughly a single century, indeed a little less, but the greatest period perhaps, in terms of Christian values, since the days of our Lord and his apostles.

James Atkinson is Professor of Biblical History and Literature in the University of Sheffield. He is a member of the Church of England, Canon Theologian of Leicester, but also a holder of the theological doctorate from the University of MÜnster and an expert in Luther. The great admiration and esteem in which he holds Luther is apparent throughout the book. It is also not difficult to detect his high evaluation of the basic principles of Anglicanism as they were set forth in Elizabethan days by Richard Hooker in his great Ecclesiastical Polity and have remained foundational to the present time.

The book is divided into four parts which deal with Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and the British Reformation respectively. Almost no attention is given to reformation activity in areas other than those with which the men mentioned were immediately associated and Great Britain. If the

book were divided into nine equal parts, about four of these would be concerned with Luther, two with Britain, and one each with Zwingli, Calvin, and various aids and appendices. There is an extensive index which stood up rather well under spot checking. The bibliography covers nearly eleven pages and is definitely useful. There...

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