Monday, October 27, 2008

Creator, Redeemer, Consummator

I just finished reading Creator, Redeemer, Consummator: A Festschrift for Meredith G. Kline (edited by Howard Griffith and John R. Muether). I thought that I would put a quick response summary up like previous ones for The Hope Fulfilled (soon to be posted), Resurrection and Eschatology, and Justified in Christ. Overall I enjoyed this book. I thought on the whole it was about equal to the Festschrift for O. Palmer Robertson.

Meredith Kline was an outstanding Old Testament scholar who worked at Westminster Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Seminary California. He authored a number of books and was a well-respected exegete. This Festschrift was originally published back in 2000 but republished after Dr. Kline was called home to be with the Lord on April 14, 2007.

1. “Evangelicals and the Comparative Method” by Tremper Longman III – This article asks how Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) texts should be used to help understand the Biblical writings. Longman presents some principles for how we ought to use these texts to deepen our understanding of God’s word. I thought that this was a helpful article with some good insights.

2. “The Treaty Concept and the Covenant: Recent Findings” by F. Charles Fensham – Fensham surveys a number of different scholars and their work on ANE covenant treaty documents (especially Hittite treaty documents) and their contribution to how we understand divine covenants in Scripture. This is a helpful summary from an academic perspective but probably will only be interesting to biblical scholars. Those interested in this subject would probably be more helped by reading Kline’s The Structure of Biblical Authority and Kingdom Prologue, and Far as the Curse is Found by Michael Williams, and Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson.

3. “The Covenant Household: A Study of the Destruction and Salvation of Households in the Bible and the Ancient Near East” by Jeffrey Niehaus – This was one of my favorite essays in the book. Niehaus begins by surveying ANE materials to demonstrate that entire households were destroyed or saved based on the actions of the head of house. He then turns to Scripture to show that similar principles are used under the covenant. Niehaus closes by showing how the New Testament writers reveal that Jesus comes to rob the household of Satan and to establish his own household of God. A very interesting article.

4. “Kingship and Covenant in 1 and 2 Samuel” by J. Robert Vannoy – Vannoy surveys a number of Old Testament scholars who ask whether or not a king was part of God’s plan for Israel or if it was only an accommodation to the elders when they came to Samuel with a sinful desire to put a king over them in 1 Samuel 8. Vannoy then demonstrates the biblical evidence that a king was part of the plan of God for his people. This topic has been well addressed by conservative scholars and I don’t think that Vannoy adds anything new to the discussion but does sufficiently address the question for those unfamiliar with the subject.

5. “The Psalms as Response to God’s Covenant Love: Theological Observations” by Elmer B. Smick – Smick makes the case that the Psalms are supposed to be an “Amen” to the covenant ratification of Yahweh. To do this he discusses the Psalms in light of a number of theological categories. This is an excellent essay surveying the Psalms to show how this part of the wisdom literature fits the covenant nature of all of Scripture.

6. “Intrabiblical Exegesis and the Effusion of the Spirit in Joel” by Raymond B. Dillard – Dillard examines Joel 2:28-32 where the pouring out of the Spirit is promised in light of its context in Joel, in the rest of Old Testament literature, and in light of the New Testament use of the passage. I really enjoyed this article and thought that it was a very helpful treatment of the subject.

7. “Old Testament Gospel as Prologue to New Testament Gospel” by Royce Gordon Gruenler – Gruenler builds on a suggestion by Dr. Kline that the Old Testament redemption narratives, particularly the Exodus, form a type of the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ. He examines this by looking at the Gospel of Mark to show that it answers and builds on the Old Testament redemption narratives. A good essay and probably a very good example of the average quality of the works in this anthology.

8. “Baptism, Servanthood, and Sonship” by Allen Mawhinney – One of Kline’s best known works is his The Oath Consigned where he examines Christian baptism in Old Testament context as a water ordeal undergone by Christ. Kline focuses mainly on the judgment aspect of baptism in this work. Mawhinney works within the context of Kline’s insights to examine the blessing and adoption aspect of baptism. This is a helpful essay though it would be good to have familiarity with longer discussions on baptism such as Murray and Strawbridge as a background.

9. “The Structure and Plan of John’s Apocalypse” by G.K. Beale – What I liked best about this essay was how it really helped to emphasize the literary depth of John’s work in this book. That said, Beale’s essays are generally very long and packed with material and this is no exception. It takes a while to get through this essay though it is worth the effort.

10. “Calvin on the Four Last Books of Moses” by W. Robert Godfrey – This essay is a summary and review of Calvin’s commentary on the harmony of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Godfrey’s essay reads very easily and is a good summary of Calvin’s work on these books. Readers unfamiliar with Calvin’s commentaries will get an excellent introduction to them here.

11. “Herman Bavinck on the Covenant of Works” trans. by Richard B. Gaffin Jr. – This essay is Dr. Gaffin’s translation of several chapters in Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics dealing with the covenants of works and grace. Bavinck is as eloquent and helpful as ever here. When this work was added to the Festschrift Reformed Dogmatics had not yet been translated into English as a complete work.

12. “What is Biblical Theology? Reflections on the Inaugural Address of Geerhardus Vos” by James T. Dennison Jr. – Dennison summarizes the thoughts of Geerhardus Vos on the nature of Biblical Theology and its relationship to other theological disciplines. This is a helpful summary but shouldn’t be anything new to those who have read Vos, Warfield, Murray, Gaffin, and Poythress.

13. “Covenant, Universal Call, and Definite Atonement” by Roger R. Nicole – This is a typically excellent essay by Roger Nicole. Those unfamiliar with his work should read the anthology of his works. Nicole presents an explanation and defense of the Reformed doctrine of Definite Atonement. This is a very readable and helpful article.

14. “Image of the Spirit and Image of God” by Paul Helm – Helm offers a response and review of Dr. Kline’s work, Images of the Spirit. I think that helm is overly critical at times but on the whole this is a helpful survey of how theologians understand the image of God in man.

15. “Pierre Marcel on ‘Brothers and Sisters in Christ’” trans. by Howard Griffith – I’ve never read anything by Marcel before but I thought that this was a helpful study on what it means to be a part of the family of Christ.

16. “Reformed Theology as the Theology of the Covenants: The Contributions of Meredith G. Kline to Reformed Systematics” by Mark W. Karlberg – To me this essay was very similar to the essay by Helm. Both were examining a part or several parts of Kline’s work in terms of its value to systematic theology. Ironically where I found Helm to be somewhat overly critical it seems like Karlberg is overly apologetic in Kline’s favor. The two essays partially help to give balance in thinking about Kline’s contributions.

17. “Redefining Merit: An Examination of Medieval Presuppositions in Covenant Theology” by Lee Irons – Irons addresses the question that has come up often recently in the context of the Federal Vision debate of where grace fits in the covenant of works. I had a very mixed reaction to this essay. It was very helpful in addressing the subject and pushing the discussion forward. At the same time there also seemed to be some holes in Irons’ conclusions. On the whole this was useful though not great.

18. “Van Til and Theonomic Ethics” by T. David Gordon – Gordon examines and evaluates the claims of theonomists that their ethics were shared by Cornelius Van Til. This is interesting in light of the debate between Kline and Bahnsen over the application of Old Testament law for modern governments. Gordon is very helpful in showing the differences between Van Til in Christian Theistic Ethics and Bahnsen while acknowledging that there are some similar convictions especially in their starting points.

19. “Cult and Culture” by William Edgar – This was a great essay to finish the book with and one of my favorites. Edgar examines how the work of Kline, especially in his Kingdom Prologue, helps us to build a biblical theology of culture. There are a number of helpful conclusions and thoughts in this essay.

No comments: