The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

Written by Colin Brown Reviewed By Jim Mynors

Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vols. 2 and 3 (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1977; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 1,023 pp. and approx. 1,500 pp., £18 and £26 or $27.95 each, share the many strengths and few weaknesses of Volume 1, reviewed at length in Themelios 2/2.

For those puzzled by unexplained references to famous scholars they have not heard of, untranslated German words like Haustafeln or technical terms like haplography, Richard Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism (Guildford: Lutterworth, 1978), £2.95, 190 pp., lists alphabetically over 500 useful entries.

K. A. Kitchen, The Bible in its World (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1977), 168 pp., £2.20, is an up-to-date version of the author’s familiar, but still little-heeded, plea that biblical critics should take more seriously the results of modern archaeology. If they did, he claims with many examples, they would not treat the Bible as historically unreliable in the way so many do.

John Goldingay, Songs from a Strange Land: Psalms 42–51 (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1978), 172 pp., £2.15; Derek Kidner, A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance: Ecclesiastes and the Way of the World(Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1977), 110 pp., £1.60 or $2.50, and John Stott, Christian Counter-Culture; The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1978), 222 pp., hb. £3.95, pb. £2.35, are three very welcome additions to the series The Bible Speaks Today. All three well illustrate the series’ aim ‘to expound the biblical text with accuracy, to relate it to contemporary life, and to be readable’. The variety of other books fulfilling this combined aim should make them essential reading for all who think it an important one.

Leslie C. Allen’s, The Books of Joel, Obadiah and Micah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, London: Hodder and Stoughton; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 427 pp., £5.95 or $10.95, is a welcome addition to a series with the ambitious aim of meeting ‘the needs of pastors, scholars and students at the same time’. It thus has a most valuable concern with the message of each book, particularly striking in the case of Jonah where conservatives of previous generations have perhaps been too preoccupied with the question of its literary genre. Nevertheless before accepting Allen’s categorization of the book as a parable, though probably with a ‘historical nucleus behind the story’, readers would do well to acquaint themselves at first-hand with the traditional arguments Allen refers to all too briefly: it is therefore, perhaps, timely that TSF in Britain has recently reprinted both G. C. Aalders’ monograph The Problem of the Book of Jonah, 28 pp., 50p, and the first chapter of John Wenham’s Christ and the Bible (IVP, 1972), in a booklet entitled Jesus’ View of the Old Testament, 33 pp., 45p (or $1.95 from TSF/USA), arguing that our Lord did treat Jonah as historical.

Ralph Martin, New Testament Foundations: A Guide for Christian Students 2, Acts-Revelation (Exeter: Paternoster; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1978), 472 pp., £9 or $11.95, like vol. 1 (The Four Gospels, 1975), compresses a lot of valuable material into relatively short space. On questions of date and authorship Guthrie remains, in my view, more convincing at the very few points where Martin differs from him. Yet even those who might regard Martin as unhelpful on such details should still appreciate his great concern to help those wanting to understand the message of the New Testament against its background. In doing so he makes full use of all the insights of modern criticism yet in a way consistent with his strong belief in the authority of the Bible.

C. Leslie Mitton, Ephesians (New Century Bible, London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1976), 235 pp., £5.95, is something of a mixed blessing for an epistle on which there still seems a relative paucity of good commentaries. While helpful on many detailed points of exegesis, Mitton makes no secret of the fact that certain passages seem to him ‘laboured and a little artificial’ (page x) and therefore non-Pauline. As a result he loses sight of the powerful logic of the epistle understood as a unity, which is especially sad since he also fails to grapple with the important arguments for Pauline authorship adduced by Bruce, Guthrie and van Roon. Many may therefore prefer to use the new edition of the popular commentary by F. F. Bruce, Ephesians(London: Pickering and Inglis, 1978), 144 pp., £1.25.

A different kind of commentary on Ephesians is provided by D. M. Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1978), £3.50, covering Ephesians 6:10–20 and thus continuing where Life in the Spirit (on 5:18–6:9) and The Christian Warfare (6:10–20) left off.

Ralph Martin, Philippians (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1976), 176 pp., £4.95, is another recent contribution to the New Century Bible, described in the latest edition of the TSF New Testament Commentary Survey as ‘probably the best commentary on this short epistle’—for those who can afford it!

Many will welcome a new cheap edition of Michael Green’s Evangelism in the Early Church (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978), 410 pp., £1.60, in which the author combines his gifts as an evangelist and scholar to provide a study of great practical relevance today.

Peter Toon, Jesus Christ is Lord (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1978), 154 pp., £2.25, is an exposition, in popular style, of the significance and implications of Jesus’ title Kyrios and related theological themes in the New Testament. It spans a wide range of issues from the importance of the ascension of Jesus to the Christian attitude to world religions, yet remarkably avoids the superficiality one might expect from such a book.

Similar to, but cheaper than, Moule’s book reviewed below is I. Howard Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1976), 132 pp., £2.25 or $2.95. This is the first in the Issues in Contemporary Theology series that arose out of a suggestion from the British TSF General Committee, and Themelios readers should need little encouragement to start collecting it.

Marshall has also written I Believe in the Historical Jesus (London: Hodder and Stoughton; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 253 pp., £2.95 or $2.95. He discusses with characteristic thoroughness both what it means to speak of ‘the historical Jesus’ and the arguments for a conservative approach to this field. At the same price and in the same series are George Carey, I Believe in Man (1977) and Leon Morris, I Believe in Revelation(1976).

Michael Harper, Let My People Grow (Ecclesia Books, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977), 254 pp., £2.95, is a theologically grounded and practically applied discussion of patterns of ministry. Those suspicious of the author’s ‘charismatic’ leanings should still find a great deal here to learn from, not least his criticism of the ‘one-man-band’ style of ministry.

E. L. Mascall, Theology and the Gospel of Christ (London: SPCK, 1978), 254 pp., £3.95, is a significant survey of recent theological and biblical scholarship by an Anglo-Catholic in whom conservative evangelicals will find an ally on several issues.

Those puzzled by the friendlier spirit recently shown by evangelical Anglicans towards Roman Catholics and others should read carefully Across the Divide (Basingstoke: Lyttelton Press, 1977), 64 pp., 90p, by R. T. Beckwith, G. E. Duffield and J. I. Packer (available outside the UK from Marcham Books, Appleford, Abingdon, Oxford). It contains an Open Letter with a list of 120 signatories, many of them household names within evangelical circles, and a careful explanation opening with the claim that we live in a changed situation today, not that evangelicals have changed their principles.

Those interested in what is happening on the reformed side of another ‘divide’ should order the recently published Reformed Book of Common Order (National Church Association of the Church of Scotland), 85 pp., £1 (plus postage outside UK) from Rev. John Linkens, Manse of Holytown, Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, or $3 from Rev. A. R. Dallison, 122 Elizabeth Grove, PO Box 1064, King City, Ontario, Canada. Even evangelical Anglicans will surely have to admit that it is often far more faithful to the Scriptures than Series 3 even if its language is still that of 1662.

Christians and Homosexuality (Exeter: Paternoster, 1977), 48 pp., 55p, is by Roger Moss, a consultant psychiatrist. Though a remarkably sensitive treatment of the subject, it still upholds the plain warning of the Old Testament law, confirmed by the teaching of the New Testament. In the same ‘Paternoster Punchline’ series comes an equally helpful argument against voluntary euthanasia by a consultant anaesthetist, John Searle, Kill or Care (1977), 35 pp., 45p. Jim Packer has also contributed to it For Man’s Sake (1978), 64 pp., 70p, bringing together a recent address he gave at a Festival of Light rally and a second section on secularization.

Harry L. Ropp, The Mormon Papers (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977), 118 pp., $2.95, is full of useful factual material for understanding Mormonism. For those concerned to be able to minister to those influenced by religious movements of more recent origin, Ronald Enroth, Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults (Exeter: Paternoster; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), 218 pp., £2.40, is a useful study of such growing movements as Hare Krishna, the Divine Light Mission and the Unification Church.

The latest biography of Charles Simeon of Cambridge (London: Hodder and Stoughton; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 236 pp., £5.95 or $7.95, is by Hugh Evan Hopkins, a one-time president of the Christian Union in Cambridge that was one of the many products of Simeon’s influence still a force to be reckoned with today. A popular history of that same body is Oliver R. Barclay’s Whatever Happened to the Jesus Lane Lot? (Leicester: IVP, 1977), 176 pp., £2.45 hb., £1.15 pb. Themelios readers would value this for its description of how evangelicals responded to theological liberalism earlier this century.

Jim Mynors