From the standpoint of conservative scholarship, the new volumes appearing during 1965 have perhaps been sparser than in the preceding year; the great majority have emanated from liberal scholarship and reflect for the most part the attitudes and methods that have prevailed in such circles for the last several decades. Perhaps the most noteworthy development of the year has been the production of further volumes in the “Anchor Bible” series, under the general editorship of W. F. Albright of Johns Hopkins and David Noel Freedman of San Francisco Seminary.

The following works reflect a consistently conservative viewpoint:

1. The first unit of the Old Testament series in Eerdmans’s “New International Commentary” has appeared as a product of the scholarship of the general editor of the series, Edward J. Young of Westminster Seminary. In this first volume of his Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, which covers chapters 1–18, Young has produced a masterful analysis and discussion of these chapters and defended their authenticity against negative higher criticism. Combining a learned but lucid explanation of the prophet’s message with earnest homiletical application, he makes the impact of Isaiah con temporary for the reader. Young’s amillennial perspective is not especially noticeable in these chapters. His treatment of “Immanuel” in chapter 7 does not allow any typical relationship for the son born to Isaiah in chapter 8.

2. In The Ark of the Covenant from Conquest to Kingship (Presbyterian and Reformed), Marten H. Woudstra traces the history of the interpretation of the meaning of the Ark from the Middle Ages to the present century and describes the conflicting views now current in liberal circles. Then after discussing the various Hebrew terms for the Ark, he shows—by careful analysis and by rebuttal of scholarly efforts to show changing concepts of the sacred chest in the Old Testament period—that its basic character as a symbol of God’s presence and redeeming grace, containing the tables of the Law as a testimony to the Covenant, never substantially varied. Woudstra shows a thorough acquaintance with the relevant literature; his defect is a too matter-of-fact style.

3. Ezekiel: Prophecy of Hope (Baker), by Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr., is a running exposition of the entire text of Ezekiel. In an eminently readable style, the author discusses all the elements necessary to an understanding of the prophet’s message: explanation, allusion to other parallel passages, illustration, the suggestions of modern critics, and brief homiletical application. The difficult later chapters of Ezekiel (38–48) the author tends to interpret as broad, general symbolism, with a vaguely futuristic reference, rather than as a literal description of the millennial state of affairs. Always he maintains a reverent and appreciative attitude towards the text, even when he deplores the too-vivid phraseology that seems a bit “nauseating” to Occidental sensibilities. Too many concessions to higher criticism are made here and there, and the treatment of the last eleven chapters may not be altogether adequate for pre-millennial readers; but on the whole this is an exemplary piece of work, showing what can be achieved by a well-read, scholarly pastor.

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4. Harry N. Huxhold, university pastor at the University of Minnesota, gives us a series of textual sermons in Messages of Hope from the Old Testament, Advent to Pentecost (Concordia). The messages, strongly Christological, draw widely upon literature, drama, history, liturgy, and, of course, the writings of Luther.

The following works represent a mediating viewpoint; their authors take the Bible seriously as revelation but tend to accept the results of rationalistic higher criticism regarding authorship and date of composition:

1. The Old Testament—C.C.D. Version (Guild Press), edited by Joseph A. Grispino, S. M. This text is all from the C.C.D. except for Kings through Esther and First and Second Maccabees, which are from the Douay. But the C.C.D. cross-references have been omitted in order to make more room for notes. The introductions and notes are all written by Grispino, with the avowed purpose of incorporating the “latest findings in literary criticism, history and archeology.” In introducing Genesis he briefly explains the documentary hypothesis and also discusses some difficulties in science and history that appear to contradict the Bible. Defense of the Scriptures is especially noticeable in his commentary on the Pentateuch. Not all his explanations are convincing (e.g., in connection with Genesis 12: “At that time lying and adultery were justified to save the life of a husband, since God had not yet revealed that these were wrong”), and there are occasionally awkward or infelicitous turns of expression. His notes on Psalms are perhaps the best part of his commentary.

2. Prophecy and Covenant (Number 43 of Allenson’s “Studies in Biblical Theology”), by Ronald E. Clements. Dr. Clements, of New College, Edinburgh, offers a very stimulating study of the role of the writing prophets of the Old Testament as interpreters of a pre-existing Law of Moses, and as enforcers of its authority upon the consciences of their countrymen. Clements accepts many of the higher critical verdicts—on dates of composition of “Deutero-Isaiah” and Daniel, for example—but he insists, contrary to Wellhausenian doctrine, that the prophets in no sense created the Pentateuch but were rather the faithful custodians of a tradition going authentically back to Moses. They criticized the cultic practices as a reliance on mere formalism and a basic departure from the true imperative of the national covenant with Jehovah.

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3. The City of the Gods: A Study in Myth and Mortality (Macmillan), by John S. Dunne, C. S. C. The author surveys the varying answers to the mystery of death furnished by successive cultures and schools of thought, from Sumerian times to the twentieth century: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Archaic and Classical Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. He draws an interesting analogy between the Egyptian ideal of “becoming Osiris” and the late Hellenistic or Gnostic effort to “become Eon.” Analyzing their treatment of the problems of life and death in mythic and cultural representations (earlier theories of eternal return or rejuvenation or perpetual growth giving way to later concepts of immortality and finally to the present-day notion of “the death of God”), the author exposes the intrinsic inadequacy of men’s solutions and thus implies the indispensability of the biblical answer given by divine revelation. Yet he does not actually discuss the Bible as such, except in connection with the Genesis account of the tree of life.

4. Irony in the Old Testament (Westminster), by Edwin M. Good. In distinguishing irony from satire and sarcasm, Good says that irony implies understatement, taking its stance on a clear view of the truth from which it perceives the incongruity in the deviation involved. Finding irony in such books as Jonah, Genesis, Isaiah, Job, and Ecclesiastes, he construes all of these ironic passages as dealing with the surprise experienced by man when confronted with the stern demands of his relation with God, or with God’s constant love and loyalty towards those who scarcely deserve his favor. Irony in Ecclesiastes points to the misconception of those who try to make their own way through life apart from God’s saving message. In vain they attempt to derive from life the values they think it should have. Job presents a man who expects the Almighty to conform to finite human views of what is right and proper in God’s dealings with man. The discussion is well conducted and throws open new possibilities of interpretation for some of the difficult passages.

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5. The Theology of the Samaritans (Westminster’s “New Testament Library”), by John MacDonald. This professor at the University of Leeds maintains that Samaritans are not properly regarded as a Jewish sect, but were rather a distinct development of the Israelite religious tradition going back to the time of Zerubbabel and Ezra. Greek philosophy exerted an important influence on this development, as did also some elements of Christian teaching in the early centuries of the Christian era. The Samaritans exalted Moses to the status of the Servant of God, the Son of His House, the Saviour, the Word of God, the Star, and the Restorer (Taheb). Eschatologically they looked forward to the eventual restoration of the people of God, the Day of Resurrection, and the Day of Recompense and Vengeance. MacDonald’s work may be recommended as a very competent study of this little-known offshoot of Old Testament Judaism.

6. Prophets and Wise Men (Number 44 of Allenson’s “Studies in Biblical Theology”), by William McKane. Professor McKane, of the University of Glasgow, has produced an interesting treatment of the dialectical clash between the empirical, worldly, international wisdom of the educated statesmen in Israel (analogous to the educated counselors and secretaries of state in Egypt and Mesopotamia)—called hakamim or “wise men”—and the newer Covenant-centered viewpoint of the prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, who charismatically possessed the debar Yahweh, “the word of the Lord,” and who insisted that the ultimate power governing the affairs of men and nations was the sovereign counsel of Jehovah. This interpretation unsettles the conclusions of most of the liberal scholars who have analyzed the rise and orientation of the class of “wise men” and the function of hokmah, or Wisdom-Literature. Moderately liberal in viewpoint, McKane accepts the usual higher critical dates for the composition of the books of the Old Testament and yet takes the biblical records seriously as history (e.g., the cultivation of the older Wisdom dates back to Solomon’s age).

The books listed below contain largely objective information and factual reports of archaeological or documentary data, in which the theological standpoint of the author plays a minor role.

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1. Introduction to Hebrew (Prentice-Hall), by Moshe Greenberg. In line with many of the most recent elementary biblical language texts, this introduction emphasizes the acquiring of a mere reading knowledge, without the precision gained through exercises in Hebrew composition. All the reading exercises are followed by questions in Hebrew that are meant to be answered in Hebrew; but this falls short of the standard attainable through the discipline of written composition. Greenberg starts with the most frequent grammatical features and progresses to the less common, covering all the weak verbs except the double-’ayin class. For vocabulary, the book introduces the student to at least one-third of the words fifty times or more.

2. Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts (Johns Hopkins), by Herbert B. Huffmon. An Old Testament professor at Chicago Theological Seminary has here furnished a thorough and satisfying treatment of the large body of non-Akkadian, non-Hurrian names mentioned in the Mari Tablets, which because of their peculiar vocalization show themselves to be closely related to Canaanite or Arabic. Insofar as these names contain verbal and nominal inflections, they throw light upon the vocalization of the early Canaanite (or Proto-Hebrew) spoken by the patriarchs at the time of the Egyptian Sojourn. These names also furnish additional data on which to evaluate and interpret many of the names in the Old Testament whose etymology has been disputed. The names (about 900) are divided into systematic categories and listed in full. A complete glossary of all the verbs and nouns contained in the compound names is furnished, with cognates from other Semitic languages. This will be a useful reference work for many years to come.

3. Catalogue of Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, Volumes I–III (British Museum Press), by G. Gargoliouth. These are valuable reprints of the original editions, which came out in 1899, 1905, and 1915 respectively. They contain a very detailed description of all the Hebrew manuscripts owned by the museum down to 1915. (No Samaritan manuscripts are included.) They are arranged in the following order: (1) biblical texts and commentaries; (2) midrashim and midrashic discourses, Talmuds, and liturgies; (3) Kabbala, and works on ethics, philosophy, poetry, philology, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.

4. The Apocrypha of the Old Testament, Revised Standard Version (Oxford University Press), by Bruce M. Metzger. This very useful edition has brief but helpful introductions to each of the books. The various commentators appear to assume that the writings of the Apocrypha do not essentially differ in character or authority from the canonical books of the Old Testament, for they do not comment on passages that historically or doctrinally deviate from the Hebrew Scriptures.

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5. Ancient Jewish Coins (Rubin Mass), by A. Reifenberg. Apparently a reprint of the 1947 second edition, this fourth edition therefore does not include the additional data emanating from Israeli numismatic researches of the last fifteen years. Nevertheless it is a most useful compendium of information, including 219 excellent photographs of coins that are fully described, with inscriptions given in Greek and Hebrew characters. There is also an adequate discussion of the successive periods of Jewish coinage from the Persian period to the Second Revolt. This will be a very useful reference work for the rapidly increasing number of collectors of biblical coins and will also be important for students of Intertestamental history.

6. Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City (McGraw-Hill), by Ernest Wright. This is one of the finest archaeological reports intended for the general public to appear within the last decade. The distinguished Old Testament professor of Harvard Divinity School masterfully combines all the known historical data, biblical and extra-biblical, with the archaeological findings of the Drew-McCormick Expedition between 1956 and 1964. The treatment is well-balanced and satisfying, technical without being abstruse or uninteresting. A good case is made for the location of the temple of El-Berith (Judges 9:46) by the oak near which Abraham first offered sacrifices in Genesis 12:6—a site uncovered and examined by the expedition with painstaking care.

Now follows a list of the most significant products of liberal Old Testament scholarship that have appeared in the year just passed.

1. The Old Testament, An Introduction (Harper and Row), by Otto Eissfeldt. This translation of a long-accepted classic of higher criticism was made from the third German edition, which appeared last year. Eissfeldt, easily the most eminent liberal scholar in this field on the Continent, is a faithful adherent of the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis, the three-Isaiah theory, and the Maccabean date for Daniel (although he concedes the possibility of third-century portions in chapters 2–6). In deference to form criticism he discusses at length the various literary types (Gattungen) that underlay the various Wellhausenian “documents” as well as Eissfeldt’s own “L” (which he dates ca. 900 B.C.); nevertheless, he tends to ignore the basic charge of the form critics and the Scandinavian school that the documentary hypothesis is an artificial Occidental “book-view” that does no justice to ancient Semitic psychology. He is aware of the existence of conservative scholars like Young and Aalders but does not seem to have studied their arguments, for he offers no relevant rebuttal to them. His discussions of the Qumran material are detailed enough to be very helpful. The bibliography is (thanks to Ackroyd’s supplements) very full and adequate, but unfortunately many of the excellent works cited (like Manley’s treatment of Deuteronomy) are not discussed in the text. Yet the fact remains that now that Eissfeldt has been translated into English, his Introduction will take a commanding position in liberal circles in the English-speaking world, doubtless displacing Pfeiffer and Driver altogether.

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2. The Anchor Bible: II Chronicles (Doubleday), translation, introduction, and notes by Jacob M. Myers. Several more volumes of the “Anchor Bible” series have come out this year, continuing the same basically liberal approach as Speiser’s “Genesis” (which appeared last year). An effort is generally made to take stock of the findings of archaeology and the newer data emanating from Ugarit and Qumran, but the presuppositions that prevailed in the late nineteenth century are generally adhered to, despite the newer approaches of form criticism, the Scandinavian history-of-tradition school, and the followers of W. F. Albright.

This commentary shows an entirely different attitude towards the reliability and historical accuracy of Chronicles than that which prevailed a few decades ago in liberal circles. Instead of dismissing as garbled or fictitious whatever elements were lacking in the parallel section of Kings, or appeared to vary in any way, the commentator shows a new attitude of respect in his judicious weighing of all the factors of probability before condemning the Chronicles version as unhistorical. Frequent reference is made to relevant Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Ugaritic parallels. The translation itself is vigorously modern and idiomatic and highly readable. A very helpful series of genealogical charts in the appendix clarifies the relationships detailed in the text. This is followed by a complete roster of all the place names and personal names mentioned in First and Second Chronicles, with citations of their appearances in other books of the Old Testament as well as Chronicles.

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3. The Anchor Bible: Job (Doubleday), translation, introduction, and notes by M. H. Pope. Pope regards the dialogue between Job and his comforters as coming from the seventh century B.C., although its basic theme goes back to the second millennium (judging from Sumerian and Akkadian parallels). It is uncertain whether the author was an Israelite. Many of his expressions trace back to Ugaritic parallels, which furnish a basis for interpreting the “umpire” or “redeemer” figure in the light of the ancient Near Eastern concept of personal guardian deities. Pope sees no real movement in the argument; Job trusts that somehow justice must triumph in the end, leading to his own vindication. His comforters serve only to show how “wrongheaded traditional piety can be.” Faith alone can accept innocent suffering as something meaningful: “no extreme of suffering gives mere man license to question God’s wisdom or justice as Job had done” (p. lxxv). As for the prologue and epilogue, Pope understands them to be earlier than the dialogue itself. The speeches of Elihu are later still, and the Wisdom chapter (28) is an extraneous addition. The theories of an Aramaic or Arabic original are unconvincing; it was probably composed in Hebrew. Interesting analogies to Job are seen in Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and even Greek sources.

4. The Anchor Bible: Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (Doubleday), translation, introduction, and notes by R. B. Y. Scott. The Old Testament professor at Princeton University has made a careful study of the evolution of the concept of hokmah (“wisdom”) from its earliest appearance in pre-Solomonic literature of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Canaan itself. Without attempting to specify very definitely what portions of Proverbs actually go back to Solomon’s reign, he indicates that Solomon’s close connection with Egyptian culture makes his interest in this literary type highly probable, even though the final editing of the canonical book may have taken place in the fourth century (p. xxxviii). The translation of the text is vigorously modern and indulges in occasional emendations to do away with difficulties or unknowns like King Lemuel (31:1). As for Ecclesiastes, Scott interprets Qoheleth as “Teacher” rather than “Preacher” and insists that Solomon could no more have written this work in the tenth century than Henry VIII of England could have composed a book on Marxism in modern English (p. 196). Yet he elsewhere acknowledges that a critical, skeptical type of hokmah appeared in Mesopotamian literature of the second millennium, and also concedes that there is no linguistic resemblance to Ooheleth in any other book in the Hebrew Scriptures. His date of composition in the early Hellenistic period is therefore largely based on evolutionary theory rather than objective data. Scott interprets the author’s stance as completely rationalistic and skeptical of divine revelation. This he does by ignoring the qualifying force of the frequent phrase “under the sun” and excising as interpolations all those passages that do recognize the authority of God’s revealed commands.

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5. I and II Samuel: A Commentary (Westminster), by Hans W. Hertzberg. This is a translation of the second revised German edition (1960) of a commentary first produced by the professor of Old Testament at the University of Kiel. It therefore reflects the mood and approach of the 1920s rather than the more recent trends influenced by modern archaeological discovery. A thoroughgoing skepticism is evident in Hertzberg’s treatment of the literary sources of First Samuel, and he shows little interest in philological problems. Much attention is devoted to the earliest oral forms of traditions underlying these books, accompanied by an analysis of their adaptation and arrangement by the “Deuteronomist.” The commentator’s main stress falls upon the sovereign power of God in establishing the Davidic dynasty. There is perhaps a tendency to oversimplify the personalities portrayed in the Hebrew narrative and not to do justice to their complex motivation.

6. The Book of Genesis: A Jewish Interpretation (Schocken), by Julian Morgenstern. In this work, which was first published in 1919 and now reappears with a few minor changes, the author counteracts the fragmentary impression of Genesis produced by contemporary higher criticism and stresses its overall religious message. His frequent references to midrashic comments have a homiletical thrust; these are supplemented by numerous philological and exegetical notes of real value. He strongly implies that the prophetic movement of the eighth century had a profound influence upon the formation of Genesis.

7. Leviticus: A Commentary (SCM Press), by Martin Noth. As might be expected, this author devotes his principal attention to higher critical theory and engages in a reconstruction of the development and transmission of the text. Chapter 9 in its final written form he regards as the oldest “piece of original P” in Leviticus (p. 76), but most of the material dates from the fall of Jerusalem in 587 to the age of Haggai and Zechariah, ca. 519 B.C.

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8. Archeology in Biblical Research (Abingdon), by Walter G. Williams. This is not a detailed or exhaustive survey but a general discussion of the terminology and methodology of present-day archaeologists in the Holy Land. Williams lists the major discoveries of recent times and assesses their importance in relation to biblical studies. Much of the material is treated from the standpoint of general topics of interest, such as “Accidental Discoveries, Established Traditions and Objective Evaluation” and “New Knowledge of Ancient Languages.” He earnestly censures the misuse of archaeology to support a particular point of view, such as “the verbal inspiration and literal accuracy of the Bible” (p. 44), but he says nothing about the misuse of archaeology to prove the inaccuracy of the Bible. Nor does he mention conservative works on archaeology such as those by Dr. Free of Wheaton or Dr. Unger of Dallas. He includes several helpful maps and drawings; the photographs are mostly of average quality.

9. The Creative Era: Between the Testaments (John Knox), by Carl G. Howie. This is a rather doctrinaire liberal treatment of the Intertestamental period, marked by confident date-setting (Ecclesiastes was composed in about 200 B.C.; Isaiah 26 around 250 B.C.; Daniel 168–165 B.C.). The concept of hell-fire was borrowed from Zoroastrianism; demon-possession was a passing superstition that enjoyed a kind of vogue. The Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical writings are interpreted quite precisely in the light of contemporary political and cultural trends and foreign influences in Hellenistic, Hasmonean, and Herodian times.

10. Life and Death (Adam and Black’s “Bible Key Words” series from Kittel’s Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament; also published by Harper and Row in the volume Hope, Life and Death), by Rudolf Bultmann and others. For those who are unable to afford the new Bromiley translation of the entire Kittel, this little volume gives a very useful rendition by Professor Ackroyd of the long, scholarly articles by Bultmann, Gerhard von Rad, and G. Bertram on the entries zoe (“life”) and thanatos (“death”) appearing in the German edition of Kittel. The interpretation of the biblical treatment of these themes is, however, profoundly colored by the naturalistic presuppositions of the contributors, who view the Old Testament as the product of mutually conflicting and contradictory human authors uninfluenced by divine revelation and reflecting largely the cultural milieu of their own age. Thus the spiritual overtones of the scriptural pronouncements on life and death are quite generally overlooked. Nevertheless, the secular usage of these two terms in the perspective of the ancient Near Eastern world-view is helpfully indicated and serves as a corrective to the fallacy of interpreting them solely according to modern, Occidental usage.

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A smutty book, he said

Too calmly

He has never lived among the wheat fields

Has never seen heads of grain

Puffed, bloated, deformed,

Macabre, vile

All their wheatness gone

Grime on the hands

Filthy black spores to stifle the lungs

Profit gone, too

(No matter how grim the mortgage)

Ugly, stinking, foul

No flour from this


Contagious; spreading

To other fields and grain



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