Apr 14

Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments, by Geerhardus Vos ??

This book was sold as one of the classics of biblical theology. Vos was regarded as a foremost scholar of yesteryear. Thus, it seemed compelling to read. The book did have many gems and insights for me, but on the whole, it seemed to be more prolific than profound. As an illustration of the language used, I quote from the first paragraph of the New Testament section “If redemption and revelation form an organism, then, like every other organism, it should be permitted to reveal to us its own articulation, either by way of our observing it, or by our receiving from it the formula of its make-up, where at certain high-points it reaches a consciousness of its inner growth”. If Vos was attempting to be either scholarly or profound, he failed in both, by uttering an essentially meaningless statement.

Typically, I view the work of the biblical theologian as the person who would be writing individual book commentaries, or, perhaps, as Dr. Waltke has so marvelously in intelligently performed in an intelligible style, old testament surveys for summary themes and topics. Vos is excellent at confronting the liberal critics of the time, such as Wellhausen. Yet, I don’t expect a biblical theology text to be essentially a limited apologetic focused on certain well-defined topics. Also, the critics are somewhat dated, in that this book was written in 1929. In that Vos was concentrating on the nature of biblical revelation throughout the span of biblical history, he was behaving more like a systematic rather than a biblical theologian. Vos jumps somewhat sporatically throughout the Scriptures, though he remains chronological, picking and choosing discussion points, again, mostly related to the ongoing biblical criticism of the time. He covers the curses of Adam and Eve, the Noahic episode, the communication of law to Moses, the 8th century BC prophets, John the Baptist, and Christ, while leaving out discussions of the apostolic church, the late minor prophets, and many more biblical episodes.

Thus, I cannot recommend reading this book, save for historical interest. Vos is truly a scholar that many modern conservative scholars lean on, yet, he fails to provide a text that meets the title of the book, that is, a text that introduces one to the topic of biblical theology.

 

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