Recommended Reading

Monthly book reviews

Monthly book reviews by various authors.


Leo R. Van Dolson, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, 1977, 124 pages, $4.95.

To those who may wonder why another book is needed or has been written on the Beatitudes, the obvious answer is that it isn't—unless it makes a unique contribution. And I believe this one does. Not only is the introduction to Christ's Sermon on the Mount viewed as a series of progressive steps in the experience of becoming sons and daughters of God but each step is analyzed from three specific viewpoints that deal with practical problems of Christian living.

Each Beatitude is shown to be based on a specific common problem or human predicament. Christ's answer to the problem and the practical implications for Christian living are not only clearly brought out in each of the Beatitudes but outlined in a simple analytical chart at the introduction of each chapter that builds on each step until all seven are included in the diagram. This kind of development makes this book ideal for use in a prayer meeting or sermon series.

Another real contribution is the incisive analysis of the radical departure from the religious tradition of Christ's day that is involved in the presentation outlined in the fifth chapter of Matthew. Actually, it is still quite radical today. The impossibility of our measuring up to Christ's exemplary life without experiencing the development outlined in the Beatitudes is graphically driven home and God's laws are viewed as word pictures of the truly converted person's character—the kind of life that is achieved only when Christ lives out this life in us. The Beatitudes ultimately demonstrate how Christ leads us step by step to achieve what He has already made possible for us. This significant volume can be ordered through your local Adventist Book Center or from the Aspire Book Club, c/o MINISTRY Magazine, 6840 Eastern Avenue NW., Washington, D.C. 20012.

J. R. Spangler


Edwin R. Thiele, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977, 93 pages, $2.95.

I was in a prison camp in the Orient during World War II when I first learned of the author's amazing solutions to the chronological Biblical problems that had baffled scholars for centuries. When in 1946 his work, published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 3 (1944), became available to me I discovered that Thiele had succeeded in going far beyond the solutions that others, myself included, had found to the intricate chronological problems of the period of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Although I had worked on these same problems for years and reached some conclusions that paralleled those of Thiele, he had obtained solutions for several problems that still eluded me.

In 1951 the author's work was published in a more extended form as a monograph by the University of Chicago Press under the title The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. The book was immediately hailed by many Bible scholars throughout the Western world as the greatest breakthrough in Old Testament chronology, and his chronological scheme was widely adopted by Biblical historians. A new printing of his book appeared in 1955, and ten years later, in 1965, a revised, though slightly shorter, edition was published by William B. Eerdman's in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

And now, after another twelve years, we can greet a new, revised, and greatly abbreviated pocket-sized edition in which all pertinent results of Thiele's system are presented as simply and as clearly as Biblical chronology can be. An extensive use of diagrams, charts, and tables helps the Bible student to follow the author's reasoning step by step. Those who want a deeper and more thorough study in which all pertinent arguments and sources are presented will have to go back to Thiele's earlier editions and to the several articles he has written on aspects of Hebrew chronology as discoveries have brought to light new evidence.

I had the privilege of working closely with the author for a number of years as a colleague at Andrews University. Sharing common interests and having come to some similar solutions in our studies, we became great friends. I learned a lot from Thiele and accepted several of the solutions to chronological problems that had eluded me for so long. However, honesty requires me to state that we also have gone our separate ways with regard to one chronological problem—the reign of Hezekiah—where my views differ from his.

(For my views see AUSS, 2 [1964], 40-52, and the article of E. A. Parker, AUSS, 6 [1968], 129-133, with whose explanations I agree.) Also, we disagree on another minor point. I believe that Jeremiah employed a calendar that started with Tishri, while Thiele is convinced that Jeremiah used a Nisan year. (See his statement in the book under review on page 68, note 3; and for my view, AUSS, 5 [1967], 12-27.)

Aside from these minor disagreements I accept Thiele's chronological scheme, and have for more than a quarter of a century recommended it to my students. His chronology has slowly obtained a secure place in the reconstruction of the history of the ancient Hebrews and is used by an ever-increasing number of scholars. It is marvelous that the author, now an octogenarian, has been able to provide us with a shortened and popularly written synthesis of his great work. We are grateful for what he has done in a field in which giants among Bible students had failed for so long.

Siegfried H. Horn

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Monthly book reviews by various authors.

January 1978

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Written for ministers in mid-life and for the wives who wish to understand them.

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A solution to the chronological problems of the Hebrew Kings

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Only the angels are perfect, which proves that there is room for improvement in all of us.

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