The Angry Arabs, by W. F. Abboushi (Westminster, 1974, 285 pp., $8.95), is reviewed by William Sanford LaSor, professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

The Angry Arabs is one of the very few books I have read over the past twenty years that present the Arab side without undue emotionalism or bitter anti-Zionist invective. Usually the Arab’s case—and he does have one—is weakened by being overstated while the Israeli side is either ignored or made to look very bad.

Professor Abboushi begins before the beginning by giving a fairly full sketch of the background of the Arabs. My first reaction was, “Why include this?” As the author developed his work, I saw the reason. The Arab problem today is the result of several factors, one of which is the feeling of inferiority or frustration that has resulted from the decline of the Arab world. Unless you have read something like Baron Carra de Vaux’s Les Penseurs de l’Islam—a five-volume work presenting the history, science, jurisprudence, philosophy, theology, and other significant elements of Islamic scholars—you probably have little idea of the tremendous contribution that the Arabs have made to the Western world. It is not correct to describe the Arabs, as is sometimes done, as “ignorant barbarians just out of the Arabian desert”; they preserved the light of civilization in the Dark Ages of Europe. Abboushi traces the rise, zenith, and decline of the Arabs in the first three chapters.

He also presents the background of events in World War I, and shows the double-dealing (or perhaps better, triple-dealing) of the British during and following that war. Specifically, the dismembering of Syria and Iraq is discussed in chapter four, and the rise of the Palestine problem is told in chapter three.

After all this background, the presentation of the present problem is much too brief. The Arab-Israeli wars of 1948–49 and 1956 are discussed in chapter six, the 1967 war and the rise of the Palestinian guerrilla movements in chapter seven, and the relations between the United States and the Arabs (not including the Kissinger developments that took place after the book was finished and before it was published) in chapter eight.

Certain problems cannot be satisfactorily covered in the space the author has given them. First, and of great importance, is the definition of “Arab.” Abboushi recognizes that “Arab” is not synonymous with “Muslim” (or less properly “Mohammedan”). There are Christian Arabs, and there are Muslim non-Arabs (notably the Turks and the Iranians). There are Arab states that include peoples who did not originate in the Arabian desert, such as the “Phoenicians” of Lebanon, the Copts and the Nubians of Egypt, and the Berbers of the North African states, not to mention Western converts to Islam. At least one of these states (Libya) is far more hostile to Israel than are some of the Arab states (for example, Jordan). Christians of Lebanon, who will remind you that they are “Phoenician” and not “Arab,” find their loyalty definitely on the “Arab” side when the Israeli question comes up. We of the West simply cannot understand the problem unless we attempt to understand the total background of the Arab world. Abboushi has given us an excellent, if brief, presentation.

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A second problem is that of the “Palestinian.” Before the State of Israel was created, indeed before Zionism was a force (which we usually date to the work of Theodore Herzl in 1896 and the World Zionist Organization in 1897), there were Muslim Arabs, Christian Arabs, Jews, and other ethnic groups living in the area that has come to be known as Palestine. The wars that followed the creation of the State of Israel have had the tragic result that large numbers of native Palestinians (mostly Muslim Arabs) have been made homeless. The Arab attitude—and particularly since 1967 the anger of the Palestinian refugees—is closely connected with this tragedy. But Abboushi, I think, deals too lightly with the fait accompli argument, just as those who support the Israeli cause use it too simply. Since 1948, an entire generation of Israelis has been born, and all of them are native Palestinians. During the same period, an entire generation of former Palestinians has been born in exile—and none of them, strictly speaking, is a native Palestinian. History must deal with facts as they are (faits accomplis), otherwise we shall have the injustice of Goa (where Portuguese who lived in India for 400 years were driven out) repeated not only in other long-term colonial states but even in all of North America which was taken from the American Indians. Justice, in the full sense, must include the rights of Jewish Palestinians as well as Arab Palestinians. Abboushi recognizes this, but his reader may overlook the brief statements that support the rights of Jewish Palestinians.

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I find Abboushi’s presentation of the Palestinian guerilla movement disturbing. The movement came to the fore after the 1967 war because the other Arabs seemed to have forgotten that the basic problem concerned the rights of the Palestinian refugees. Abboushi suggests that the “Palestinian guerrillas could increase the chances of peace in the Middle East” and points out that the only effective way the Arabs can close the military gap between themselves and Israel is by the tactics of guerilla warfare. This could cause Israel to tone down its beligerent attitude and its constant desire to grab more land.

Abboushi does not of course, countenance the massacre of Israeli children in a kibbutz school, or the slaughter of innocent tourists in Lod airport, or many other acts attributed to and claimed by the guerrillas. But the Palestinian guerrilla movement seemingly is not disciplined. It does not confine its activities to what are commonly considered military objectives. In fact, it claims that everything is of military significance, even the tourist who wishes to visit the sea of Galilee and the Holy Sepulchre but who by his money is actually supporting the Zionist effort. In a civilized world, this argument must be rejected. By offering such an argument the Arab actually lends support to the fiction that Arabs are uncivilized.

The Angry Arabs deserves wide and careful reading, especially by Christians who, whether for humanitarian reasons or because of scriptural interpretation, have given their sympathies entirely to the Jews and to Israel. Without being “anti-Semitic” (i.e., anti-Jewish) we should remember that the Arab, too, belongs to the race that God created, and is the object of redemptive love. Without hardening our hearts to the Jewish problem and becoming indifferent to the sufferings that the Jew has endured for his faith, we can become sensitive to the Arab problem and the sufferings that the Palestinian refugee still endures. The Angry Arabs can help us to understand the Arab side of this perplexity.

The Leading Creative Theologian?

Wolfhart Pannenberg, by Allan D. Galloway (Allen & Unwin [Britain], 1973, 143 pp., 3.25 pounds, 1.50 pounds pb), Wolfhart Pannenberg, by Don H. Olive (Word, 1973, 120 pp., $4.95), and The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg, by E. Frank Tupper (Westminster, 1973, 322 pp., $10.95), are reviewed by Donald W. Dayton, director of Mellander Library, North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois.

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It is now somewhat over a dozen years since a group of young German theologians issued a programmatic manifesto (published in English by Macmillan as Revelation as History, 1968) calling for a new style and direction in theology. The editor of that volume and the dominant figure in the so-called Pannenberg Circle behind it was Wolfhart Pannenberg, a one-time student of Karl Barth, who holds the chair of systematic theology at Munich and has emerged as one of the most creative theologians of this generation.

Hints of this new theology created a stir that filtered even into the popular press of the English-speaking world. Especially newsworthy was the fact that he affirmed the factuality of the resurrection of Jesus while at the same time calling for reaffirmation of the role of reason and other Enlightenment themes. The evangelical world was in the vanguard of those welcoming this new theology. Daniel Fuller of Fuller Seminary affirmed much of Pannenberg’s position in Easter Faith and History (Eerdmans, 1965), and CHRISTIANITY TODAY praised his emphases on the reality of the resurrection, the role of reason in theology, the objectivity of revelation, and the universality of the Christian truth claim.

The most influential introduction of Pannenberg to American readers came, however, when he was treated by editor James Robinson as the subject of Volume III of “New Frontiers in Theology” (Theology as History, Harper & Row, 1967). Since the publication of that volume most of the major works of Pannenberg have been published in English. The first was his impressive Christological treatise, Jesus—God and Man (Westminster, 1968). His essays have appeared as Theology and the Kingdom of God (Westminster, 1969) and as three volumes of Basic Questions in Theology (two Fortress, 1970 and 1971; in the United States the third volume was retitled by Westminster The Idea of God and Human Freedom, 1973). In a more popular vein, the published works of Pannenberg include a small essay on theological anthropology, What Is Man? (Fortress, 1970), and an exposition of The Apostles’ Creed (Westminster, 1972).

That Pannenberg is now widely read and perhaps better understood in the English-speaking world is indicated by the fact that a single publishing season brings the first three secondary works on Pannenberg in English. The best of these is by E. Frank Tupper of Southern Baptist Seminary, who attempts a sympathetic and systematic exposition of Pannenberg’s thought for use until we have the theologian’s own systematic theology. The book is a revised version of a dissertation submitted to Southern Baptist Seminary and draws upon a year of study with Pannenberg. In addition to the exposition (Pannenberg himself praises its “careful interpretation and balanced discussion” and has pronounced it “the most comprehensive report that has been published so far on my theology”), Tupper provides some background material and a helpful and careful review of the reaction to Pannenberg’s thought up to 1972. An excellent index and a detailed bibliography (primary literature only) add to the value of this book. It will surely become the standard introduction to Pannenberg in English.

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The other two books are much shorter and more oriented toward the sophisticated layman or the casual student. Galloway’s book appears in a new series devoted to “Contemporary Religious Thinkers” edited by H. D. Lewis. The author, who teaches at the University of Glasgow, provides, in the British style, a clear and concise summary of eight basic themes in Pannenberg’s thought and reveals a higher level of engagement and critique than the other two. By affirmation of the analytical and empirical elements in Pannenberg, Galloway attempts to bridge the gap between British and Continental philosophical and theological thought and suggests that both could profit from interaction.

Don Olive of Wayland Baptist College has written the fifth in Word Books’ series called “Makers of the Modern Theological Mind.” In some ways this is the most superficial of the three. Less than a third of the book is actual exposition. Olive does provide more detail about the intellectual background (including analysis of specific figures) and development of Pannenberg. He also devotes more space to a comparative analysis that sets Pannenberg over against such figures as Barth, Bultmann, Cullmann, Harvey Cox, and Moltmann, as well as the school of “biblical literalism” (here focusing on Clark Pinnock). The last is faulted for affirming historicity from a revealed rather than a historical perspective.

It is much too soon to pass any sort of final judgment on the thought of Pannenberg, and none of the authors here really attempts this. Each offers merely a preliminary report. Pannenberg is as theologians go a relatively young man, still in his forties. And as Galloway comments, Pannenberg’s significance is as an “inventor of a programme of work rather than as the author of a fully elaborated system.”

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But neither are these authors reluctant to use superlatives in describing the promise of Pannenberg’s approach. Olive comes close to endorsing the claim that “Pannenberg’s work is … the most creative that is now being done in theology.” Galloway comments that Pannenberg makes the “biblical teaching about Jesus Christ look more credible than it has seemed for many centuries.” And Tupper claims that for the most part Pannenberg has bridged the great gap in the modern theological world by achieving a “synthesis of classical theological concerns with a modern critical posture.”

If Pannenberg is indeed able to take critical history and make it a source of confidence rather than doubt (cf. Galloway, p. 11), the result of his work will have profound apologetic significance and contribute to a radical redrawing of the battle lines of contemporary theological camps. Whether the historiography of modern autonomous reason will so readily allow the validity of Pannenberg’s critique and make room for the event of the resurrection as factual history remains to be seen. On one level, at least, the viability of his position will be tested only by time and the reception it receives not only in the Christian world but also in the broader intellectual world.

There also remain in Pannenberg’s thought certain areas that need development and clarification. Among these are: whether historical and theological modes of thought can be synthesized as easily as Pannenberg suggests; whether the profound reliance on Hegelian thought patterns facilitates or short-circuits the explication of distinctive biblical themes; whether it will be possible to develop the ontological and metaphysical details of an eschatologically oriented Christian faith in such a way as to allow real meaning to man’s action in history; whether the details of Pannenberg’s affirmation of the universal validity of apocalyptic thought patterns can be sustained over against both historical and theological criticism; whether the still somewhat ambiguous statement of the nature and meaning of the resurrection of Jesus can be developed in a convincing manner that also allows the crucifixion the central and crucial significance that it seems to have in the New Testament.

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But whatever the final resolution of these issues, Pannenberg’s work should be the stimulus for solid theological reflection by all types of theologians. The issues that he has pinpointed are basic, and interaction with them is essential. These three efforts to enable a wider and more informed reading of Pannenberg are therefore to be welcomed and received as a call to renewed theological engagement.


Encyclopedia of the Unexplained, edited by Richard Cavendish (McGraw-Hill, 304 pp., $17.95). Concepts, people, organizations, and events of occultism and parapsychology presented in a relatively objective manner. Stresses background, from ancient times to the present. “Luck,” “Mediums,” “Numerology,” and “Theosophical Society” are sample entries. Tastefully illustrated.

Pilgrims Pray, by Thomas Dubay (Alba, 272 pp., $5.95). Protestants too can profit from this popular Catholic speaker’s thorough discussion of prayer as presented in the Bible and as a present reality.

Mennonite Safari, by David W. Shenk (Herald, 136 pp., $1.50 pb). A Mennonite “missionary kid” reflects on the development of his denomination in Tanzania and the effects that such evangelism had on the churches in the Pennsylvania homeland. Very good.

Ten Fastest-Growing Southern Baptist Sunday Schools, by Eugene Skelton (Broadman, 158 pp., $2.95 pb). What Elmer Towns did for Baptist Bible Fellowship congregations Skelton has now done for the Southern Baptist Convention. Doubtless other denominations will enter the scene. Skelton’s book is of considerable value in showing diverse ways congregations can use to grow effectively. (One of the congregations, for example, doesn’t have specially promoted days, revival meetings, or buses. Over a six-year period 70 per cent of the baptized were over eighteen.)

An Evangelical’s Guidebook to the Holy Land, by Wayne Dehoney (Broadman, 159 pp., $4.95 pb). A tourist guide that provides history and geography in an informal discussion of what to see and what you are looking at. Many pictures.

With Sovereign Reverence, by Harold Fey (Roger Williams Press [8120 Fenton St., Silver Spring, Md. 20910], 87 pp., $4.95). A brief account of the first twenty-five years of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Worship: Good News in Action, edited by Mangus Egge (Augsburg, 144 pp., $3.50 pb). Eight messages on the nature and form of worship within the modern church from the Inter-Lutheran Conference on Worship.

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How to Carry Out God’s Stewardship Plan, by Truman Dollar (Nelson, 191 pp., $3.95 pb). Practical suggestions by a pastor (it’s his real name) on financing Christian ministries.

The Phenomenon of Obedience, by Michael Esses (Logos, 190 pp., $2.50 pb), and How God Can Use Nobodies, by James Montgomery Boice (Victor, 156 pp., $1.25 pb). Case studies of Old Testament characters from different perspectives. Esses deals with obedience and its results in the lives of twelve Old Testament men. Emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit. Boice writes in greater depth of Abraham, Moses, and David and the lessons their lives have for Christians today.

Noah’s Ark: I Touched It, by Fernand Navarra (Logos, 137 pp., $2.95 pb). Another book for Arkeology buffs; tells about four expeditions in the fifties and sixties.

Jesus in Christian Devotion and Contemplation, by Irenee Noye et al., A Christian Anthropology, by Joseph Goetz et al., and Imitating Christ, by Edouard Cothenet et al. (Abbey, 116, 92, and 122 pp., each $3.95 pb). Useful historical studies—from biblical times to the seventeenth century—of Christian spirituality in theory and practice.

Christianity Meets Buddhism, by Heinrich Dumoulin (Open Court, 206 pp., $7.95). Excessively sympathetic portrayal by a Jesuit who has long resided in Japan.

Thoreau: Mystic, Prophet, Ecologist, by William J. Wolff (Pilgrim, 223 pp., $5.95). This latest study of the nineteenth-century American philosopher stresses the unity within his thought and behavior and brings out some interesting points for a better understanding of him.

Sent From God, by David H. C. Read (Abingdon, 112 pp., $3.95). Six worthwhile messages on preaching (such as “The Survival of the Sermon in an Age of Distraction”) by the pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian in New York.

Religion and Political Modernization, edited by Donald Eugene Smith (Yale, 340 pp., $15). Sixteen papers originally presented at a conference to analyze the interaction of religion and politics in the transitional societies of the Third World. Scholarly treatments of secularization and the “use” of the churches in the Middle East, Latin America, and the Far East.

Tara, by Michael and Donna Nason (Hawthorn, 160 pp., $5.95). Moving story by her parents of the beginnings of recovery of a profoundly brain-injured child. The help rendered by Christians, among others, contributes to the family’s coming to Christ.

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The Meaning of Teilhard de Chardin, by Alice V. Knight (Devin-Adair, 173 pp., $7.50). A useful summary by an admirer. Full bibliography of writings by and about him.

Commentary on First and Second Thessalonians, by Ronald Ward (Word, 178 pp., $5.95). A very helpful phrase-by-phrase commentary by a Canadian evangelical. Includes background material and a good bibliography. Neither superficial nor overly technical.

Contemporary Reflections on the Medieval Christian Tradition, edited by George H. Shriver (Duke University, 279 pp., $9.75). A dozen essays in honor of Ray C. Petry (plus three of his sermons) on such topics as Catharism, Nicholas of Cusa, John Wycliffe. Important for students of the Middle Ages.

Jesus and the Eucharist, by Ted Guzie (Paulist, 161 pp., $5.95). A contemporary Jesuit studies the biblical data and dogmatic reflections on it and suggests modern understandings.

How To Study Religion

The Phenomenon of Religion, by Ninian Smart (Seabury, 1973, 157 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Myron Miller, associate professor of philosophy, Nyack College, Nyack, New York.

The author invites us to assume that there is a supernatural world lying behind or beside the natural. Any manifestation of the supernatural in the natural would involve natural events. Also, the means of affecting the supernatural would be natural. These two classes of natural events could be thought of as the phenomena of the supernatural world. Since religion is the area of human activity that has been concerned with contacts between the natural and supernatural worlds, all such manifestations could be classified as religious phenomena.

Because it requires apparent concessions to claims of truth made by a whole host of religions, the phenomenological study of religions has been highly objectionable to many evangelical Christians. How can one committed to the exclusiveness of the claims of Christ also “believe” the claims (and adopt the rituals) of another religion?

Smart does two important things in regard to this issue: first, he develops the relation between myth and language, defining and clarifying “phenomenology” along the way; and second, he attempts to resolve the tension between personal commitment to a religious point of view and the scientific, detached study of religions.

Although at times Smart’s discussion of the first point is tedious, given the considerable amount of work already done on the logic of myth, he nonetheless offers some important observations. His suggestions for reapproaching the question of the fact-bearing nature of religious language through the mythical structure of religious discourse merits further exploration.

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The second point is one of greater interest and ought to give rise to considerable discussion. Smart contends that the phenomenological study of religion bridges the gap between a purely scientific study of religion, in which explanation is by means of description, and the theological study, which involves commitment to the truth of the interpretation of the phenomena. Hence we can reconcile the phenomena of miracles or of conversion with the tasks of objective investigation without having to invent competing “scientific” theories.

Those who are working on the interaction of competing ways of viewing religion should find Smart’s attempts to reconcile psychological and theological explanations suggestive and stimulating.

Getting To Know God

Jesus Spells Freedom, by Michael Green (InterVarsity, 1973, 127 pp., $1.50 pb), Hereafter, by David Winter (Harold Shaw, 1973, 91 pp., $1.25 pb), Blest Be the Tie That Frees, by Ken Berven (Augsburg, 1973, 104 pp., $1.95 pb), and Right With God, by John Blanchard (Tyndale, 1973, 137 pp., $1.25 pb), are reviewed by John W. Yates II, minister of youth, Trinity Church, Columbia, South Carolina.

Here are four brief, handy paperbacks that present the Gospel in four quite different ways. Ken Berven is the only American author; the other three are British.

Of the four, Jesus Spells Freedom is probably the best written and the most satisfying intellectually. Michael Green, who is principal of St. John’s Theological College, Nottingham, is his usual entertaining self, and throughout the book he seems to guess the questions that the reader may be having, answering them thoroughly. This book is full of strong, hard-hitting Christian apologetic. It is written for the practical and thoughtful skeptic—one who is unconvinced but interested enough to investigate. It has much appeal for someone who uses his brain, and particularly for college students who have given some thought to their own reason for being. Green begins by examining modern concepts of freedom and argues that though man believes himself to be free, he actually is not. He shows that man is a prisoner of his own sinful nature, and then describes how Jesus truly frees us from sin. All the while quoting from current songs and spokesmen of our day, Green describes Jesus as Free Man’s Model. He gives a long, thoughtful account of the uniqueness of Christ and seeks to explain the reality of Christ for today, showing practical ramifications of how Jesus frees us from guilt, loneliness, habit, aimlessness, and fear.

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In his chapter on “Free Love” Green first shows how cruel and enslaving this philosophy actually is and then describes love that liberates—God’s love. This is a good chapter for use in counseling couples about to be married. In describing a “Free World” Green discusses Christian responsibility in society and the dynamic power of the Christian community in society, showing effectively how most of the crises of the world are rooted in man’s selfishness.

Throughout the book, I was impressed by Green’s ability to cover multitudinous ideas and to use effective illustrations in making his point. This is best seen in the highly imaginative final chapter, “Free Offer, Free Choice,” in which he gives us a fascinating commentary on the parable of the man who prepared the wedding banquet to which none of his friends could come. He uses the banquet theme to invite the reader to accept Christ’s gift of salvation and freedom and makes clearer than most the cost involved even initially in a commitment to Christ.

Although similar to Jesus Spells Freedom in purpose, John Blanchard’s Right With God is quite different in effect. It too is written for the seeker after God, but it has little of the polish and witty appeal of the first book. Blanchard presents basic Christian doctrine—what it means to become a Christian. After giving six short pages to establish the trustworthiness of the Bible, Blanchard then moves on to discuss what God is like, ways men seek to get right with God, God’s answer to man’s problem, and the nature of the new birth and conversion. The book is biblically accurate and is a thorough introduction to what it means to become a Christian. The author maintains a rather dry lecture-hall tone throughout. The book is well organized and thorough, but it is largely lacking in modern-day examples to “bring home” the points. The author’s habit of always using biblical terminology and of quoting Bible verses to support every point becomes excessive. This book would not appeal to younger minds unless the reader was really seeking God and already trusted the Bible as authoritative. The truth is presented in orderly fashion here, but there is little winsomeness in the witness.

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The final two books are somewhat more specialized, and are both very helpful and readable. Hereafter is a study of death and life after death that will appeal to persons of any age and practically any religious background who have simple questions about death. It is biblical and simply written with many fascinating illustrations, quotations, and accounts supporting life hereafter.

After a captivating introduction about man’s purpose, Winter discusses what death is and the relation between body, mind, and spirit, arguing that our personalities survive death. He gives several interesting examples from psychical research concerning the post-death existence of the personality and then uses the example of Christ’s resurrection and Paul’s teaching in First Corinthians 15 to teach us what our new body will and will not be like. Our new body develops from our earthly body but is superior. Our personality does not change—“The message remains the same, but the transmitter is different.” Life after death is superior in every way, having everything good of earthly life but without any earthbound limitation. After discussing what heaven is and is not like, Winter finally asks, “Who goes there?” His answer is sketchy, giving only a very brief explanation of the biblical plan of salvation. This book is not so much an evangelistic book as it is a good, practical, simply written book to give encouragement to someone concerned with death.

Finally, Blest Be the Tie That Frees, written by a businessman involved in the evangelism department of the American Lutheran Church, is a light, pleasant look at the grace aspect of the gospel. Ken Berven recounts in a humorous winning way his own up bringing in a typical evangelical home and the hangups over law and grace with which he had to struggle before he made his discovery of grace.

This book is especially good for Christians who have not yet realized God’s forgiving love. Berven describes effectively, in a folksy, anecdotal fashion, our basis of forgiveness in Christ, our Christian freedom from the law and from sin, and how we learn to trust God. He uses catchy phrases and says quite a lot in simple terms. Blest Be the Tie That Frees would be a good book to use in an adult study group for new Christians, especially those in business or professional life. It includes a study guide for group discussions.

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