Volume 5 - Issue 1

Review of theological journals 1978

The following abbreviations are used:

BJRL           Bulletin of John Rylands Library

CBQ           Catholic Biblical Quarterly

JBL             Journal of Biblical Literature

JETS           Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

NTS            New Testament Studies

SJT             Scottish Journal of Theology

  1. Old Testament

Gordon Wenham

Among the hundred or more technical articles in English about the Old Testament that appear every year, most follow the standard critical viewpoints and discuss issues of marginal relevance to biblical exposition. I have therefore limited my choice to those that concentrate on theology, offer a conservative viewpoint on a critical issue, or present a broad survey of some aspect of biblical study. Unless otherwise stated the date of publication is 1978.

The flood story in Genesis 6–9 is usually split between two different sources J and P. However B. W. Anderson, ‘From Analysis to Synthesis: The Interpretation of Genesis 1–11,’ Journal of Biblical Literature 97 pp. 23–29 points out the integrity of the present form of the story. I have taken a similar line in ‘The Coherence of the Flood Narrative’, Vetus Testamentum 28 pp. 336–348.

In ‘Exodus 3:14: History, Philology and Theology,’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly 40 pp. 311–322 D. J. McCarthy insists that the biblical exegete should pay more attention to the final form of the text and speculate less about its origins. H. C. Brichto, ‘On Slaughter and Sacrifice, Blood and Atonement,’ Hebrew Union College Annual 47 (1976) pp. 19–55 contains some valuable observations on the theology of sacrifice. In the same volume pp. 1–17, J. Milgrom, ‘Profane Slaughter and a Formulaic Key to the Composition of Deuteronomy,’ analyses the quotation formulae in Deuteronomy arguing that they show that Deuteronomy knows the supposedly late priestly source as well as the early JE material in the rest of the Pentateuch.

C. Craigie, ‘Deborah and Anat: A Study of Poetic Imagery,’ Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 90 pp. 374–381 shows how Judges 5 deliberately uses Canaanite poetic motifs to demonstrate Yahweh’s superiority over the gods of Canaan. S. M. Warner, ‘The Dating of the Period of the Judges,’ Vetus Testamentum 28 pp. 455–463 argues that the judges period begins about 1373 b.c., not around 1200 b.c. This would fit in with J. Bimson’s suggestion (Redating the Exodus and Conquest, Sheffield, 1978) that the conquest took place in the late 15th century.

Interpretation 32 pp. 3–68 contains five valuable articles surveying recent works on the prophets. Most interesting are first by R. R. Wilson, ‘Early Israelite Prophecy,’ attempting to apply anthropological insights to the prophets’ experience, and the fourth by B. S. Childs, ‘The Canonical Shape of the Prophetic Literature,’ encouraging the expositor to take seriously the final form and setting of the prophetic oracles. A. Lacoque, ‘The Liturgical Prayer in Daniel 9,’ Hebrew Union College Annual 47 (1976) pp. 119–142 argues that the theology of Daniel 9:4–20 shows it must have originated in the sixth century b.c. during the Babylonian exile.

Finally although the temple scroll has been available in a Hebrew edition for two years, the English version is still not ready. J. Milgrom’s synopsis of this, the longest Dead Sea scroll, ‘The Temple Scroll,’ Biblical Archaeologist 41, pp. 105–120, is therefore welcome as a stopgap. The scroll contains many details of temple ritual and interpretations of OT law thereby helping us trace their development into the NT era and filling in the Jewish background to the life and ministry of Jesus.

  1. New Testament

Dick France

1978 saw the welcome debut of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament from Sheffield, with a line-up of authors which augurs well for its future orientation. In issue 1, Matthew Black usefully surveys the ‘Jesus and the Son of Man’ debate (pp. 4–18), and Geza Vermes looks critically at responses to his own well-known contribution to ‘The “Son of Man” Debate’ (pp. 19–32).

Another christological title is studied by Richard Bauckham in ‘The Sonship of the Historical Jesus in Christology’, SJT 31, pp. 245–260, arguing from Jesus’ acknowledged use of Abba to the authenticity of other sonship language attributed to Jesus, and in particular taking the Fourth Gospel seriously as a source for the teaching of Jesus.

James Dunn in ‘Prophetic “I”-sayings and the Jesus Tradition’, NTS 24, pp. 175–198 not only questions on general grounds the likelihood of post-Easter prophetic utterances being accepted as ‘sayings of Jesus’, but shows how the early church’s concern with false prophecy led to careful testing of prophetic utterances. On this ground he sets aside the familiar ‘criterion of dissimilarity’ and argues for a less sceptical view of the historical origin of ‘sayings of Jesus’.

Marcan studies are well served by an issue of Interpretation (32/4, pp. 339–399) which provides a symposium of articles by Paul J. Achtemeier, Howard Clark Kee, John R. Donahue, and Eduard Schweizer. The first two together provide a good introduction to the current scene in Marcan studies in the USA (where most of the running is being made). Another useful and up-to-date survey is by R. P. Martin, ‘The Theology of Mark’s Gospel’, in Southwestern Journal of Theology 21, pp. 23–36.

Building on Robinson’s Redating, A. J. Mattill, Jr. writes on ‘The Date and Purpose of Luke-Acts: Rackham Reconsidered’ CBQ 90, pp. 335–350. A brief study of the detailed arguments which adds weight to the growing lobby for a pre-70 date, but without considering the enormous implications of this for Synoptic studies.

Don Carson discusses ‘Current Source Criticism of the Fourth Gospel: Some Methodological Questions’ in JBL 97, pp. 411–429, focussing mainly on Fortna, but asking some searching questions on the methods and assumptions of source-critics, and concluding with a ‘probing agnosticism’.

F. Bruce’s study of ‘St. John at Ephesus’ in BJRL 60, pp. 339–361 is a characteristically thorough and cautious presentation of the evidence of various Johns at Ephesus, and of the possibility of a ‘Johannine circle’ out of which the NT Johannine writings came. The authorship of the books is not his theme, though it is the subject of several tantalising asides.

The view that Paul’s problems with the Corinthians arose from an over-realised eschatology is amply defended by Tony Thiselton in ‘Realised Eschatology at Corinth’, NTS 24, pp. 510–526. The article provides an excellent overview of the purpose and themes of 1 Corinthians.

Theological students will be helped by Grant R. Osborne’s article ‘The Evangelical and Traditionsgeschichte’ in JETS 21, pp. 117–130. A good beginner’s guide to the debate over criteria of authenticity and the evangelical response to it.

A very different area of criticism is helpfully introduced by John Dominic Crossan, ‘Waking the Bible: Biblical Hermeneutic and Literary Imagination’ Interpretation 32, pp. 269–285, which surveys the American trend of applying to the Bible the methods of general literary criticism, and particularly of structuralism. Good bibliography, and explanation of some of the strange new language of structuralese (motifemes, lexies, actantial models, etc.).

Another curious recent phenomenon is the attempt to rehabilitate the Textus Receptus over against the whole development of modern textual criticism. Gordon D. Fee ‘Modern Textual Criticism and the Revival of the Textus Receptus’, JETS 21, 19–33 pays particular critical attention to Zane C. Hodges, who replies, and the debate continues, on pp. 143–164.

  1. Systematic Theology

Clark H. Pinnock

In ‘Theology and Religious Studies: Friends or Enemies?’ Theology Today 35 (1978) pp. 273–284 Charles W. Kegley sees tension building up and hopes for a mutually supportive relationship. ‘The Problem of Authority in Church and Society’ is the theme of a whole issue of Review and Expositor (Southern Baptist, 75 (1978) which includes Sandeen writing about authority in fundamentalism. The April 1978 issue of Theology Today finds Richard Mouw on ‘Evangelicals in Search of Identity’ and Clark Pinnock on ‘Evangelicals and Inerrancy: the Current Debate’.

In ‘The Sonship of the Historical Jesus in Christology’ Scottish Journal of Theology 31 (1978) pp. 245–260 Richard Bauckham argues that belief in the unique sonship of Jesus is historically well-founded in Jesus’ own sense of filial intimacy with the Father. Alasdair Heron asks if Christians can be ‘Doing without the Incarnation?’ in a review article of John Hick and Michael Green and decides they most certainly can not: Scottish Journal of Theology 31 (1978) pp. 51–71. Battista Mondin offers us a fine survey of ‘Original Sin in Contemporary Theology’ Theology Digest 26 (1978) pp. 145–150 and John Hannah analyses ‘Anselm on the Doctrine of the Atonement’ in Bibliotheca Sacra 135 (1978) pp. 333–344.

Stanley Hauerwas argues that Jesus did not so much have a social ethic as constituting one in his own person. Theology Digest 26 (1978) pp. 303–324. William P. Frost offers us a good survey and analysis of ‘A Decade of Hope Theology in North America’ Theological Studies 39 (1978) pp. 139–153. In the same connection see ‘Prometheus vs Christ in the Christian Marxist Dialogue’ Journal of Theological Studies 29 (1978) pp. 483–494 where James Bentley registers the Christian conviction that man cannot save himself and can only labour in the light of the coming New Jerusalem.

Lewis Smedes of Fuller Theological Seminary offers some superb reflections in an article ‘Homosexuality—sorting out the Issues’ Reformed Journal 28 (1978) pp. 9–12. George S. Hendry expounds a major theme in Barth, ‘The Freedom of God in the Theology of Karl Barth’ Scottish Journal of Theology 31 (1978) pp. 229–244, and there are some brilliant fireworks in a set of responses against an earlier article by Peter Berger. Berger had presumed to accuse three leading American liberal theologians namely, Gilkey, Ogden, and Tracy, of rejecting the supernatural and secularizing theology. They were not of a mind to let him get away with that! Theological Studies 39 (1978) pp. 486–507. I still think Berger was right.

  1. Apologetics

Norman Geisler

The past year provided a bumper crop of articles for the apologist. For convenience we will divide them into the following categories: God, miracles, evil, historical apologetics and those of general interest.

God. Evangelicals have entered the arena in force. William Craig wrote a provocative article on ‘God, Time and Eternity’ (Religious Studies, 14:497–504, Dec. 78). Paul Helm provided a helpful analysis of time and omniscience (Religious Studies, 14:315–323, Sept. 78). Another evangelical, James Spiceland, ably defended non-contradictory God-talk (‘God is Transcendent—But is Language?’ Christianity Today, 22, 24–26, May 5, 78). The most comprehensive bibliography produced in English for some time on the cosmological argument comes from Terry Miethe (New Scholasticism, Vol. 52, Spring, 78). Non-Christians keep pecking away at the alleged incompatibility of God’s attributes. See David Blumenfield, ‘On the Compossibility of the Divine Attributes’ (Philosophical Studies, 34, 91–103, July, 78). Others, as Rem B. Edwards, are still trying to prove God’s unchangeableness is of Greek origin (‘The Pagan Dogma of the Absolute Unchangeableness of God,’ Religious Studies, 14:305–314). Finally, a good dialogue on God’s infinity occurs in the Thomist 42, 1–13 and 14–27, Jan., 78) between a Thomist (William J. Hill) and a process theologian (Lewis S. Ford).

Miracles. Again on miracles evangelicals come to the front. David and Randall Basinger offer a new way to understand miracles (‘Science and the Concept of Miracle’ Journal of American Scientific Affiliation, 30:4:154–163, Dec., 78). In that same issue, John W. Montgomery also made a fine contribution to the historical and empirical nature of miracles in ‘Science, Theology and the Miraculous’ (pp. 145–153). On another front, Peter Byrne argues for the consistency of miracles as a violation of natural law (‘Miracles and the Philosophy of Science,’ Heythrop Journal 19, 162–170, April, 78).

Evil. Non-Christians continue to use evil against God. Richard Swinburne insists man learns of evil from observing nature (‘Natural Evil’ American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 15, Oct., 78). There are two responses to Robert Pargetter’s argument against God from evil. David Basinger, ‘Evil as Evidence Against the Existence of God: A Response’ (Philosophy Research Archives 4, No. 1275, 78) and M. Martin, ‘Is Evil Evidence Against the Existence of God?’ (Mind 87, 429–432). Richard Durham answers ‘no’ to ‘Evil and God: Has Process Made Good Its Promise?’ (Christianity Today 22, 10–14, June 2, 78).

Historical Apologetics. Clark Pinnock provides some excellent insights in his attack on Flew in his article ‘Fails to Grasp Ontological Basis for Problem’ (Journal of American Scientific Affiliation 30:4:158–159, Dec. 78). Stephen J. Wykstra, in the same issue insists that evangelicals have not awakened to Flew’s challenge to tell us whether or not an alleged miracle has occurred (pp. 154–163). Two articles on the resurrection are worth noting. Peter Van Inwagen, ‘The Possibility of the Resurrection’ (International Journal of Philosophy, 9, 114–121, 1978) and Philip L. Quinn, ‘Some Problems About Resurrection’ (Religious Studies, 14, 343–359, Sept., 78).

General. Space permits only bare mention of Hughes L. Cox’s article on George Mavrodes (Religious Studies 14:99–112, March, 78), Jerry Gill on Palonyi (Religious Studies 14:143–158, June, 78), and John Whitcomb’s article ‘The Limitations and Values of Christian Evidences’ (Bibliotheca Sacra, 135, 25–33, Jan.–March, 1978).

  1. Church history

David Wright

The Turin shroud is now engaging wider scholarly interest. In ‘The Shroud and the Icon’, Downside Rev. 96, pp. 226–234, T. Towers exposes the Edessa legend of the Holy Face as fourth-century fiction, not first-century fact. Averil Cameron illustrates how social demands favoured the growth of the cult of Mary—and of icons—in ‘The Theotokos in Sixth-Century Constantinople. A City Finds its Symbol,’ Journal of Theol. Stud. ns 29, pp. 79–108.

For students of the Reformation Gordon Rupp gives a lively account of ‘Luther at the Castle Coburg, 1530,’ BJRL 60, pp. 182–205, while ‘The Theologians and the Peasants’ by R. Kolb in Archive for Ref. Hist. 69, pp. 103–131, documents the ‘conservative evangelical reactions’ of nine Lutherans to the Peasants’ Revolt, revealing their agreement with Luther. ‘The Anabaptists in South and Central Germany, Switzerland and Austria: A Statistical Study’ by C.-P. Clasen in Mennonite Quart. Rev. 52, pp. 5–38, provides a careful corrective of exaggerated claims for Anabaptism. Clasen can identify only 12, 522 persons between 1525 and 1618 who can be linked with Anabaptism in these regions. James M. Stayer in ‘The Swiss Brethren: An Exercise in Historical Definition,’ Church Hist. 47, pp. 174–195, attempts to moderate between different approaches to the sources of Anabaptism—one or many? According to R. J. Vander Molen, ‘Providence as Mystery, Providence as Revelation: Puritan and Anglican Modifications of John Calvin’s Doctrine of Providence,’ ibid., pp. 27–47, both Calvinist Anglican (George Hakewill) and Calvinist Puritan (Thomas Beard) domesticated the mysterious, unknowable character of Calvin’s providence in the interests of their own ecclesiastical causes. Richard Bauckham stresses Hooker’s early anti-Romanism in ‘Hooker, Travers and the Church of Rome in the 1580’s,’ Journ. of Eccl. Hist. 29, pp. 37–50. Hooker did not promote an anti-Genevan Anglican party line.

R. Carwardine in ‘The Welsh Evangelical Community and “Finney’s Revival”,’ Journ. of Eccl. Hist. 29, pp. 463–480, examines the impact of Finney’s ‘new brand of religious revivalism’ and his Lectures in particular, identifying it as the success of a theology whose time had come. The influences of Keswick, the Scofield Reference Bible and the Oxford Group are charted by Brian Stanley in ‘The East African Revival. African Initiative within a European Tradition,’ Churchman 92, pp. 6–22 (and Evang. Rev. of Theol. 2, pp. 188–207). Several articles in Intern. Rev. of Missions 67 (July) look forward to the Melbourne world mission conference in 1980 and trace developments since Edinburgh 1910.

The two-hundredth anniversary of Simeon’s conversion brought forth Max Warren’s ‘Charles Simeon: his Methods in the Local Church, the Church of England and the Nation,’ Churchman 92, pp. 112–124. Warren was himself a leading light in the Evangelical Fellowship for Theological Literature, whose importance is overstated by Leonard Hickin, ‘The Revival of Evangelical Scholarship,’ ibid., pp. 125–133, with a telling comment by the editor, pp. 99–100.

‘Early Scottish Railways and the Observance of the Sabbath,’ by C. J. A. Robertson, Scott. Hist. Rev. 57, pp. 143–167, shows how the former undermined the latter, while W. G. Enright’s study, ‘Urbanization and the Evangelical Pulpit in Nineteenth-Century Scotland,’ Ch. Hist. 47, pp. 400–407, accuses evangelicals of responding to the social ills thrown up by urbanization by preaching merely individual conversion. Finally, ‘Donald Gee: Sectarian in Search of a Church’ by Brian R. Ross in Evang. Quart. 50, pp. 94–103, is a well-merited portrait of an important British Pentecostal leader who died in 1966.