Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 36:3 (Spring 1974)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

G. R. Beasley-Murray: Baptism in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973. x, 422. $4.95 paperback.

A reprint of a work originally issued in 1962 with, apparently, no changes from its first edition other than a supplement to the bibliography of a dozen or so new titles, this book is an exceptionally competent and exhaustive treatment of its subject. Beasley-Murray begins his study with a consideration of the antecedents of Christian baptism (Chapter 1 includes material on the Old Testament lustrations, Qumran, Jewish proselyte baptism, and the baptism of John), and proceeds thence through the biblical data in the gospels, Acts, and the epistles (Chapters 2, 3, 4). In a fifth chapter he undertakes a synthesis of the baptismal doctrine of the New Testament as this relates to several major theological themes. In a fifth chapter, the most polemical of the book, he does vigorous combat with the several types of pedobaptistic teaching, and, as a postscript, deals with “Baptismal Reform and Inter-Church Relationships.”

Concerning this book, F. F. Bruce is quoted as saying that “it is a work of first class scholarship, and it would be a tragedy were it to become unobtainable.” This judgment is well founded: the author of Baptism in the New Testament possesses a truly astonishing acquaintance with the literature of the subject, and interacts with a wide range of scholarly discussion, much of which is not easily accessible to the English-reading public. Further, in the specific area of biblical exposition, Beasley-Murray’s exegetical powers come to expression in a manner that cannot but reward the careful reader with insights that may well have eluded him previously; it is a pleasure to have this material delineated with great skill, literary flair, good humor, and reasonable objectivity. Even one who dissents, as does this reviewer, from the books basic thrust will find in it more than a few details of great usefulness. An example of this that comes to mind is the author’s material on the baptism of John and Jesus’ own baptism. His analysis of the data, which are by no means simple, is persuasive and helpful. Perhaps it is not too much to hope that a fringe benefit of Beasley-

Murray’s painstaking discussion of this aspect of the subject will be the disappearance from currency of such popular but inappropriate terminology as “to follow the Lord in baptism.”

We proceed now, however, to those areas of this study that elicited from this observer a response not so much of warm concurrence as of horrified fascination. Space limitations dictate the mention of only two out of a number of such, and the first of these is B...

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