Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Resurrection and Eschatology

This isn’t meant to be a full-blown review or response to any of the essays in Resurrection and Eschatology: Theology in Service of the Church: Essays in Honor of Richard B. Gaffin Jr. Instead this is my very brief opinion on each essay. I may have later posts interacting more completely with some of these articles.

Part One: Studies in Biblical and Systematic theology
1. “The Function of Romans 7:13-25 in Paul’s Argument for the Law’s Impotence and the Spirit’s Power, and Its Bearing on the Identity of the Schizophrenic ‘I’” by Dennis Johnson – This article is another argument that the “I” in the second half of Romans 7 refers to pre-conversion Paul. The first third or so of the article is at least a better argument then Douglas Moo puts forth in his commentary on Romans (NICNT) but then the latter section just becomes a repeat of that. It isn’t very convincing. Also, I found it ironic that a collection of essays written in honor of Dr. Gaffin begins with an essay disagreeing with Dr. Gaffin’s instructor. This was a rather disappointing way to start the book.
2. “Psalm 110: An Exegetical and Canonical Approach” by Bruce Waltke –It seems to me that as Psalm 110 is probably one of the most oft-studied Psalms (especially given that it is the OT passage most quoted in the NT and therefore explored in studies on those passages as well) it’s hard to say anything about the Psalm that hasn’t already been said many times. Still, Dr. Waltke had a lot in here that I didn’t know and some very helpful thoughts on the structure of the Psalm, which, though not original, strong supported his interpretation. The conclusion of the essay was a little weak but still more than worth the read for the exegesis and exposition.
3. “The Quest for Wisdom” by Vern S. Poythress – This was an insightful and interesting essay. Dr. Poythress explores the ways that human beings seek after wisdom and argues that only the Biblical approach actually delivers. Not as good as Dr. Waltke’s essay but I still enjoyed it.
4. “Biblical-Theological Ruminations on Psalm 1” by D.A. Carson – There were a few interesting exegetical and expositional notes at the beginning of this essay but the last three quarters probably could have been written in a paragraph instead. Dr. Carson simply argues that we need to have a hermeneutic for interpreting the OT that is sensitive to everything the NT writers say about the old. He just spends a lot of time making that point.
5. “A Specific Problem Confronting the Authority of the Bible: Should the New Testament’s Claim that the Prophet ‘Isaiah’ Wrote the Whole Book of Isaiah Be Taken at Face Value?” by G.K. Beale – Beale ably argues for the authorship of all of Isaiah by the prophet Isaiah. He does this on the basis of Second Temple, older Jewish, early Christian, and of course NT writings. I think he shows well the importance of this matter for our understanding of the Bible as a divine work.
6. “Christology in Colossians 1:15-20 and Hebrews 1:1-4: An Exercise in Biblico-Systematic Theology” by Lane Tipton – This is the first of two articles by Dr. Tipton that I’ve read recently and I really enjoyed and took a lot out of both of them. Dr. Tipton seems to be a very well-organized writer and his essays read very smoothly. This essay examines two important Christological passages. Dr. Tipton modifies William Lane’s chiastic reading of Hebrews 1:1-4 (his commentary on Hebrews, WBC) to try to clear it up but it still seems to me that the passage just isn’t a chiasm. Still, I think Dr. Tipton ably gets at the meaning and intent of the passage. His exposition of and understanding of the structure of Col. 1:15-20 is fantastic and very helpful. He closes with some conclusions on how we are to understand the two natures in the one person of Christ and then looks at some implications for incarnational analogies regarding the Spirit’s work of inspiration. One of my favorite essays in the book.
7. “God’s Speech in These Last Days: The New Testament Canon as an Eschatological Phenomenon” by C.E. Hill – I believe that Dr. Hill is updating and furthering the arguments made by Herman Ridderbos in his short book, Redemptive History and New Testament Scriptures. This was a really helpful essay that I took a lot out of and a good inter-canonical argument for the NT canon. It was a really long article (longest in the book) and was slow working through it though.
8. “The First and Last Son: Christology and Sonship in Pauline Soteriology” by David Garner –Solid but not ground-breaking. It’s a good summary of some other things that are out there by Ridderbos and Gaffin himself.

Part 2: Studies in Historical and Polemical Theology
9. “’The Infallible Rule of Interpretation of Scripture’: The Hermeneutical Crisis and the Westminster Standards” by Peter Lillback – This essay was actually put out in the context of the Peter Enns reports from WTS. It’s a solid essay that needed to be written addressing hermeneutics in light of Incarnation and Inspiration.
10. “Reason, History, and Revelation: Biblical Theology and the Enlightenment” by William Dennison – This essay is actually the third in a three part series that was originally published in the Kerux Theological Journal (all are available online). The articles were a defense of Biblical Theology in the line of Geerhardus Vos’ work. This particular essay deals with the relation of Biblical Theology as a discipline and the enlightenment thought of Johann Gabler. A good historical essay if you’re not familiar with Gabler’s importance.
11. “’Something Much Too Plain to Say’: A Systematic Theological Apologetic by K. Scott Oliphint – I really need to get some more books by Dr. Oliphint when I get the chance. Every time I read something by him I get a lot out of it and really enjoy it. This essay is a response to an anthology on the “impossibility of God” that was recently released and so is an apologetic. It’s a great response with fantastic implications for the problems with neo-orthodoxy and eternal justification. I will say that it would probably help if you’re somewhat familiar with the philosophical idea of modalities and have done some reading on metaphysics. Dr. Oliphint does a good job of explaining his terms in footnotes for people who don’t have philosophical training but in my experience modalities is always a confusing subject when people are first introduced to it.
12. “Geerhardus Vos and Culture” by William Edgar – I think that this was probably my second favorite article in the book (behind the one by Dr. Oliphint). Dr. Edgar examines the implications that Dr. Vos’ work has for culture and comes up with what I think is a very biblical understanding of the relationship between Christ and culture. In doing so he has some fantastic quotes from Vos’ The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church, which just happens to be one of my favorite books.
13. “A Millennial Genealogy: Joseph Mede, Jonathan Edwards, and Old Princeton” by Jeffrey Jue – I didn’t really take a lot out of this article but I do think that it’s helpful for those interested in understanding the historical debate about millennial views and for people who are interested in Edwards’ millennial views but don’t want to suffer through the Banner of Trust double column Works of Edwards. Dr. Jue’s explanation of Dr. Warfield’s work on eschatology is quite helpful too.
14. “Christ and the Spirit: The Meaning and Promise of a Reformed Idea” by Mark Garcia – I thought this was a good article but it was really tedious to read. Mark Garcia is a fantastic scholar on Calvin and other Reformed theologians but he’s not the best of writers. Still, if you take the time you can get some helpful summaries of union with Christ in reformed theology.
15. “On the Antiquity of Biblical Theology” by J.V. Fesko – This article was really similar to William Dennison’s. Both spend a good deal of time on the similarities and differences between Johann Gabler and Geerhardus Vos. Dr. Fesko does take the time to go farther back and show how Biblical Theological methods were employed in the early church.
16. “Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Ambiguous and Somewhat Precarious’ Doctrine of Justification?” by Jeffrey Waddington – This is a defense of Edwards’ orthodoxy on justification in light of recent accusations of strange formulation of the doctrine in Edwards’ preaching and writing. Again, interesting for those who are interested in Edwards in general.

Part 3: Studies in Pastoral Theology
17. “Oliver Bowles on the Life and Ministry of the Evangelical Pastor” trans. by Jonathan Rockey and Philip Ryken – I won’t really comment on this but it was an interesting read.
18. “Calvin’s Theology of Certainty” by David McWilliams – This is a very pastoral examination of what Calvin writes about assurance of salvation. I think that this is one of the most valuable topics in Institutes and that McWilliams is very helpful in summarizing it.
19. “Calvin on Baptism: Baptismal Regeneration or the Duplex Loquendi Modus” by James Cassidy – This was a great article in light of the Federal Vision controversy that claims fidelity with Calvin when it comes to the sacraments. Very helpful stuff in here and I highly recommend it.

I won’t comment much on the three sermons included as the last three articles. They’re all solid but obviously not meant to be academic like the other essays in the book. On the whole I really enjoyed this book. The good essays were really good. The not-so-good weren’t so bad that you couldn’t move past them and onto the next one. I think that there’s a lot of good in this anthology in terms of modern controversies and understanding what historical reformed doctrines mean for those controversies. All things considered, I liked this better than the festschrift for Dr. Roberston.


Nicholas T. Batzig said...

You can find an interview with Lane Tipton and Jeff Waddington, editors of this book, over at

P.S. Keep up the good work on the blog!

Matt Pickens said...

Thanks for the heads up, I'll check it out.