"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 10, Number 12, December 2007
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Earl of Kent
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]
Ten Full Years
This issue, volume 10, number 12, of As I See It marks the completion of ten full years of publication, 120 issues in all. And at approximately 12 pages per issue, that comes to 1,440 pages, more or less. When I with apprehension sent out the first issue over the internet at the beginning of January, 1998, I had no notion of how it would be received, whether my very small readership (about 50 at the start) would grow, or that I would still be in business a decade later. But I am still here, and the subscribers’ list is the highest it has ever been. Every month brings more requests to be added (with a few names lost through unnotified changes of e-mail addresses, and the rare request to be removed). Apparently, some are deriving benefit from what I write month by month. I therefore, by God’s grace, shall press on.
The name of the publication, As I See It, was chosen after long consideration of numerous and diverse names, but in the end I settled on As I See It since the publication it is indeed my opinions and my own perspective on whatever topic I write about. I represent no one but myself. I am not the official or unofficial voice for anyone or any entity except me.
As I See It would be impossible to produce, practically speaking, without the internet and free distribution (with no subscription price, and therefore no income, I have nothing to spend for printing and postage). The only expenses are for the computer and associated gear, and internet access, which I would have anyway were there no As I See It. My time is compensated for only by the satisfaction of the work itself.
All told, I’ve created As I See It over the years employing three different computers and three different programs, and in every case the transition from one to the other has been nightmarish. My current computer is over two years old, and the program is yet older; it won’t be long, I fear, when I will be compelled to endure the agony and angst of another such change. To quote Charlie Brown: “Augh! I can’t stand it!”
With the evolution and development of the internet, its capacities, speed, and proliferation of formats, I have not been much tempted to adopt any up-dated graphics or formatting, no doubt for several reasons. First, I personally find that lots of photos, graphics, artwork and such tend to distract attention away from actual content, and here, anyway, the focus is on the written word. I began with the .wps format and Window 3.1, which I used for the first three years; a computer melt down led to a new computer and the nightmare of jumping to Windows 98 2nd edition. I almost had--no, I did have--a psychotic episode when I discovered the new computer and program wouldn’t do .wps; some of Bill Gates’ planned obsolescence. I switched to the non-proprietary (i.e. Microsoft didn’t own it, and couldn’t kill it) .rtf format, more fortuitously than deliberatively; it is barebones, having even less extraneous code than .doc which would make the files substantially larger, to say nothing of .pdf which would double them in size (my internet server Juno has limits on file size, so, the smaller, the better). .rtf is easily read by almost every system and has just enough capacity to allow footnoting, scaling and variation of fonts with allowance for italics, bold-face and underlining. Beyond these, I don’t need much. And living in the hinterland where high-speed internet access could come only via satellite, which I am constitutionally too frugal--okay, tight--to buy, .rtf files are transmitted with adequate celerity. I’d go nuts waiting, and waiting, and waiting for .pdf files to go out. And then there is my personal frustration at learning, relearning, and yet again trying to relearn one new system after another--about the time I get a handle on a system, it is discontinued, and I battle a mostly flat learning curve all over again. But .rtf is unchanged and unchanging. Good enough for me for now.
If I had a computer savvy assistant, maybe I’d be tempted--or shamed--into adopting something more “up-to-date,” but As I See It is a one-man show. There is no assistant, no secretary, no pre-publication proof-reader (the greatest desideratum) except myself--though quite a few proof-readers afterward (and I always appreciate my attention being directed to factual, spelling and grammatical blunders I let slip by).
I began with a “full reservoir” of years of study and thinking, with no ready outlet (the masthead quote from Job 32:17-21, NIV, exactly expresses my feelings). Ideas, thoughts, analyses, opinions were bubbling up inside, demanding release. But the month-by-month drainage of 120 issues has constituted a substantial hole in the mental dike, and the continuous outflow has lowered dramatically the water level. Only by continuous mental in-flow through heavy reading, much thought, and considerable experience has the flow been kept up.
The writing has indeed compelled much reading and study. In the past decade, I have read nearly 500 books, many of which got reviewed in As I See It. I have read innumerable articles in Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias and in periodical literature. Readers regularly write seeking information; some of their inquiries require long and involved technical answers. This necessitates close and intensive research. But I thereby learn much that would otherwise have eluded me. I practically never read novels, but the furor that arose around The Da Vinci Code a few years ago compelled me to read the novel itself plus seven book length treatments of the novel besides; this study resulted in three published articles.
I have never lost my strong innate sense of curiosity about almost everything. With a strong measure of frustration, I look at the books I want to read (my “must read soon” shelf overflows with 60 or 70 volumes), the subjects I want to study, the topics I want to write about, and realize that if I live another 40 years--to 95--, and have a clear mind, I cannot even begin to do what I want to do along these lines.
Though I invest considerable time and effort on each issue of As I See It (when my wife thinks I should be doing something “productive”), there is joy and satisfaction in saying something that needs to be said, in providing a reader with exactly the information he was looking for, in addressing an issue that cries out for a response, in directing the reader’s attention to a first-rate quotation or in reviewing a book deserving a close reading.
In retrospect, and upon occasional re-reading of past issues, besides the horror of finding typographical errors and mistakes of grammar that managed to elude 4 or 5 proof-readings, I feel a certain level of satisfaction with the general quality of the work I’ve produced. Yes, there are a number of items that I wish were written considerably better, but I am not embarrassed with much of what I’ve written, and am not ashamed to send out “reprints” of articles or whole past issues to those who write asking about information on a topic already addressed. And print publications from time to time request permission to reproduce something from As I See It. I am grateful for the implied compliment in such requests.
Frankly, I will be the first to state that there has been far too much for my liking in As I See It about the King James Only controversy. I am happy to say that I have written most of the major articles that I want to on the topic, and with a sizeable archive of past treatments, I spend more time now sending out what I’ve written in the past than striking out in new directions. I still want to write about, and defend the honor of, J. A. Bengel and S. P. Tregelles against the malicious slanders of David Cloud. And I need to up-date and publish electronically a study of Psalm 12:6-7 which I wrote some 25 years ago. But looking beyond this controversy, I have simmering on the stove of my mind major studies regarding the books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Psalms, about Baptist history, Civil war history, and much else that in most cases I have long wanted to address, but “was let hitherto” (Romans 1:13). The battle regarding the translation issue has raged, and to be faithful, I could not but march to the sound of the guns were the battle was. I have thereby often sacrificed what I have wanted to do for what I ought to do. I have no regrets in this regard, and in retrospect do not see how I could have written less on the topic while yet remaining faithful.
Through As I See It, I have renewed acquaintance with some old friends, and met many new ones, and have been in contact with many excellent people in various places serving God. How small our world has become electronically.
During the whole first decade of As I See It’s existence, I have continued making periodic missionary trips to Europe (28 in ten years, if I figure right, laboring in 7 countries and visiting, sometimes briefly, 5 others), and began and continued active involvement in a jail ministry, besides my teaching at the church of which we are members. States-side, I have taught as an adjunct professor in four different seminaries, in North Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas and Arizona.
During these ten memorable and busy years, all four of our children have moved out, married and started families of their own (two live not far away with their families, two are out of state). We’ve acquired more than a lapful of grandchildren, with more on the way. We’ve crossed into the land of senior discounts, attaining 55 in October of this year. I rarely feel 55 in body or mind--except when I try to play young men’s sports, which I have now finally given up on. Two hours of softball are not worth three days of physical agony.
By God’s grace and blessing, I hope to make some small contribution by the written word for decades to come. “The writing that men do lives after them; the rest is all interred with their bones.”
“Gold is Where You Find It”
Or, Serendipity in Action
After 30 years of searching for a copy, all unexpectedly on November 5, instant, I received--free!--John A. Broadus' commentary on Mark (if you do not know who Broadus [1827-1895] was, see our review of A. T., Robertson, The Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus, in AISI 1:5). The corpus of Broadus’ printed writings, though high in quality, is limited to scarcely more than half a dozen works. Each is thereby rendered more valuable. I have nearly all of them.
Though a mere 148 pages, Broadus on Mark is a precious find. It was originally penned as the notes for the 1882 issue of the International Sunday-school Lessons series. Later, in some editions (1905 and after) of An American Commentary on the New Testament series edited by Alvah Hovey in 7 volumes, it was substituted for the original commentary on Mark by W. N. Clarke (1881), which no doubt proved unacceptable due to Clarke’s apostasy and modernism.
I had seen Broadus on Mark for sale once (and cheap!) in Omaha circa 1976, as part of the 7-volume set (but which volumes they would sell individually) but didn't buy it since I already had Broadus’ much more famous Matthew, imagining that that made his Mark unnecessary. I soon--but too late--realized my error, and with continuing regret. Years of subsequent searching in used bookstores and sale catalogues, and multiple attempts at finding a copy via internet book sellers proved fruitless. I saw only one other copy in 30 years--that in the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary library in Wake Forest, North Carolina when I visited there three years ago. It was Greek teacher (and successor to A. T. Robertson) William Hershey Davis' own copy, donated to the library by his widow in the early 50s. And of course, there was no hope of securing that copy. I felt like one of the spies at Kadesh Barnea--I had the fruit of the land in my hands, but was compelled to turn back.
Recently, a retiring Baptist minister here in Kansas was disposing of about six boxes of books. He left them in the classroom of the building where the Wichita extension of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary meets, free to the students and whoever else might be interested in them. Even more astonishing--the books had sat in the back of the classroom for at least a month, unexplored and unclaimed, before I inquired about whose they were and why there were there.
As I was going through the boxes with some students (I am teaching Hebrew as an adjunct this year), recommending this book and that, and had just handed a student Broadus' Matthew, I began to recount my failure to get his Mark, and my years of subsequent regret, when I was stopped short upon seeing the familiar brown binding. Upon looking closely at the front cover, I was taken aback--"What? Broadus on Mark? Here, and free for the taking?" The pot of gold at rainbow's end. November 5 suddenly became Christmas morning for me. Remarkable, indeed. A day to remember. Such is serendipity.
[Note: the aphorism with which we titled this article, “gold is where you find it,” on the unpredictability of where treasure will be discovered, is actually based on a misquote of Job 28:1 in the KJV: “Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where you fine it.” (italics added). Be it noted, however, the word “fine” here has the sense of refine, that is, there is a place where gold is smelted and refined to eliminate impurities. It has nothing to do with the serendipitous discovery of gold “where you find it.”--editor]
An Evolutionist’s Presuppositional Blindness
As a native Kansan, and continuing resident in that State, I have had lifelong exposure to the State’s official--and prolific--wildflower, the sunflower (Helianthus annuus in botanical lingo). But not only have I seen the wild variety of this sometime noxious weed, I have viewed with great interest from European trains vast oceans of blooming cultivated sunflowers, with their oil-rich seeds. I am, in short, an avid admirer of sunflowers. As a consequence, when confronted with a book named The Sunflower which promises to be well-informed and well-informing about this common herbaceous plant, I cannot resist reading it.
When living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in the mid-1980s, I discovered just such a book in the local public library. The Sunflower by Dr. Charles B. Heiser, Jr. (Norman: Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976; 198 pp.) beckoned to me from the shelves. On examination, I found that it was no dry-as-Ezekiel’s-valley-of-bones, eye-glazing technical treatise for the botanical elite, but a popular account written for the lay reading public. The author was highly informed on his subject--he had spent the previous quarter century as Professor of Botany at Indiana University, more or less focused the whole time on the sunflower.
There are some sixty-seven species placed by plant taxonomists in the genus Helianthus, some of which are annuals (12 species), most being perennials; all are native to the Western Hemisphere, and most are limited to Central and North America. They grow from sea level to an altitude of 7,000 feet. The large-headed, single-stemmed sunflower that is grown for seed and oil is a variety--a mutation--of the common annual sunflower. And in spite of the common designation of the variety as “Russian sunflowers,” they beyond question originated in North America. This sunflower variety may reach 18 feet tall in a single season, with 30 inch heads; seeds containing 50% oil have been recorded.
At some time in the past, a mutation arose in the DNA of the wild annual sunflower. Instead of the typical annual sunflower producing multiple stems and numerous flower heads bearing small, easily scattered seeds (all characteristics highly favorable to natural reproduction in the wild), this plant had a single large stem, with a single large seed head, which produced large, easily gathered, edible and highly nutritious seeds, and it was conserved and propagated by some unnamed pre-Columbian native American farmer. Various Indian tribes had previously made some small use of the seeds of the common sunflower, but its seeds were too small to be easily exploited for food. But this new mutation, with its bigger and abundant seeds was better in every way for man. And so the cultivation of these large-seeded sunflowers passed from tribe to tribe until they were commonly grown by those tribes engaged in agriculture when the first Europeans touched North American shores
But this mutation which enhanced the usefulness of Helianthus annuus to man made it a prime candidate for extinction. With only one seed head, any damage to the stem of this annual meant no seed head and no seed crop at all--and no future generations. And the larger seeds made them much easier for rodents and birds--and man--to find and eat, again meaning fewer or no future generations and extinction. And even when the seeds were not all eaten, they tended to drop in a compact pile underneath the mother plant, meaning extensive crowding should the seeds all sprout the next season, meaning few if any plants would have sufficient light, water and nutrients to bear viable seed. Again--the road to extinction. In short, the large-seeded variety of sunflower cannot survive without regular human intervention and cultivation.
And just here is the point: mutations in plants and animals, if they are not immediately fatal to the organism (and they frequently are) commonly reduce (often dramatically) the organism’s capacity to survive in the wild, in competition with other plants and animals. At best, mutations may be neutral as regards survivability. But never--as far as all human observation has been able to discover--do they enhance the viability of the organism and species in the wild. And yet, mutation is claimed as a matter of course by Darwinian evolutionists as the force that creates the raw material out of which new species are developed by omnipotent time and chance.
Dr. Heiser does indeed recognize that the mutated form of Helianthus annuus is genetically unable to survive in the wild. Yet for all his knowledge, particularly of how specific mutations degrade a species’ viability, nevertheless he spouts the whole evolutionary line of creation by pure chance and preservation by natural selection of innumerable beneficial mutations to ultimately create new species. And he affirms, strangely, that hybridization between different sunflower species produces a new species (it is thought that Helianthus tuberosus, commonly called Jerusalem artichoke, though it is neither an artichoke nor from the Middle East, is one such hybrid). In reality, this is merely a recombination of existing DNA; a new species requires the creation of new DNA, new genetic information, and mere hybridization creates nothing new. No, the evidence of a quarter century of study of the sunflower should have led Dr. Heiser to the obvious: there is no way that mutations can accumulate, each enhancing and improving a species’ competitive edge, until a new species ultimately emerges (a process allegedly repeated millions of times). The actually observed evidence is that it has not happened even once.
Such is the consequence of the “blinders” which are standard equipment for those indoctrinated in the dogma of organic evolution. Since the evolutionary paradigm is the colander through which all observations and conclusions must be pressed, it is no wonder than even intelligent men can easily miss the obvious.
May I be so bold to suggest that the mutations in various species which prove so beneficial to man (sunflowers, as noted here; polyploid grasses now widely used for grain production; hornless cattle; and many others) were planned and programmed by an Intelligent Designer, who knows the end from the beginning, and deliberately created these genetic capacities, knowing how they would bless and benefit, and instruct, man who was made in the Intelligent Designer’s image?
King James Onlyism: a New Sect by James D. Price. Published by the author, 2006. 658 pp., hardback. $39.95
When I first wrote against the KJV Only error in an article published in The Biblical Evangelist on May 27, 1983 (“The King James Version, A Copyrighted Translation”), there was precious little in print opposing the rising tide of this mid- to-late 20th century phenomenon; in fact, there was only a single book (D.A. Carson’s The King James Version Debate; reviewed in AISI 1:8) and a few booklets and pamphlets. Recent years, especially the last decade, have seen the production of numerous valuable and authoritative books that factually refute this mistake and correct its errors. Dr. James D. Price’s book, King James Onlyism: a New Sect, is one such volume. It is particularly noteworthy, because he served as the Old Testament Executive Editor for the New King James Version, which required him to make a close and minute examination of the whole Old Testament in its Hebrew text and English translation. When he writes in these areas, he writes from extensive direct and personal knowledge, and he merits a hearing. Dr. Price (Ph.D. in Hebrew and Biblical literature from Dropsie) is academically qualified to write with authority on these matters. He has had long experience as Professor of Hebrew Old Testament at Temple Baptist Seminary for over 30 years.
By his own admission, when the KJVOnly point of view first came to his attention in the 1970s, Dr. Price dismissed it as a passing fad, so far indeed was it from the teaching of the Bible and from historical fundamental Christianity. Yet, this pernicious weed took root and quickly spread among Baptists and others. Dr. Price demonstrates with extensive documentation that this KJVOnly point of view is alien to the historic views of Fundamentalists in general and Baptists in particular.
The history of English Bible versions from the beginning (Wycliffe) is traced and detailed here, with particular attention given to the KJV, its translators and subsequent revisions and divergent editions (of which there have been and are many). Dr. Price provides extensive lists of passages where the various KJV editions differ among themselves, with some of the differences being significant for meaning.
The preservation of the inspired Biblical text has been general providential (in the great mass of original language manuscripts, in ancient translations, and in ancient quotations of the text), rather than verbal and specific (through only one manuscript or line of manuscripts, and only one English version, as the KJVOers claim). Dr. Price shows that the two Hebrew manuscript traditions--Ben Naphtali and Ben Asher--differ in their Hebrew consonants in only 8 places, all insignificant.
The principles and processes by which the original text is reconstructed and restored from the manuscripts, versions and quotations are presented. The various published Greek texts are noted and analyzed, including the textus receptus, Byzantine, and critical texts in the NT. Price notes that the differences he was able to discover between the present-day standard Hebrew text, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (which KJVO partisans decry as “apostate” and “corrupt”), in comparison with the Second Rabbinic (Bomberg) Bible (1525) amounted to only 9. The number of places where the KJV OT differs from the Bomberg edition (which the KJVOers claims as the infallible Hebrew edition) amount to some 253 places. So which has “abandoned” the so-called standard Hebrew of Bomberg--the BHS or the KJV? Numerous examples are noted where the KJV abandons the Hebrew text of the OT--any edition--for one or more of the ancient versions, or indeed, for none at all, in essence conjecturally emending the Hebrew.
Price presents the claims and counter-claims of the various schools of thought regarding the original form of the NT Greek text--TR, Byzantine and Alexandrian.
He evaluates modern versions, and surveys several regarding their treatment of the Deity of Christ, the virgin birth, blood atonement, bodily resurrection, etc., and shows that those done by theological conservatives in no wise undermine any of these doctrines, and indeed, are often clearer and more forceful in their affirmation than the KJV. Price concludes by demonstrating that remaining areas of doubt as to the precise wording of the original text or the precise meaning of the text are of only the slightest significance, in comparison with what is and has been established with certainty.
The book closes with 10 appendices on various specific points of the present controversy--lengthy lists of word changes in the various KJV editions, including those in present-day editions; the proof that some Byzantine readings cannot be defended as original; analyses of the theories and affirmations of Burgon, and Hodges; lists of differences between the KJV and the TR, and textual emendations in the KJV where the TR is abandoned; and more. An extensive bibliography and an index of names round out the work.
Those honestly and seriously interested in sorting through and settling the KJVO issue in their own minds, will be aided in their quest by Dr. Price’s book. Those, on the other hand, who have hardened their KJVO views into a fortress of impregnable ignorance, will be made highly uncomfortable by the facts and evidence presented here, as the KJVO position is rendered utterly untenable by the facts, both Biblical and historical.
[The book may be ordered directly from Dr. Price at:
Dr. James D. Price
2102 Colonial Parkway Dr.
Chattanooga, TN 37421-3309
The price is $39.95 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling]
Jamestown: the Buried Truth by William M. Kelso. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 2007. 238 pp., hardback.
The earliest permanent English settlement in the New World was begun in 1607 on the James River, at Jamestown (both named for the then-reigning British monarch, King James I) to the south of Richmond in present-day Virginia. Unlike the earlier colony of Roanoke (ca. 1585), which ended mysteriously, and the later colony of Plymouth (1620ff.) which was established by families and chiefly for reasons stemming from religious persecution, the Jamestown colony was from the start a commercial venture designed to secure a profit for its English investors. While about the same number of people settled at both Plymouth and Jamestown (just over 100, initially), the first settlers at Jamestown were entirely (and for several years thereafter overwhelmingly) men, men of a diversity of trades and backgrounds, including a preacher (who lost his library to fire in 1608). The settlers at both Jamestown and Plymouth suffered and died in large numbers early on (both losing about half their populace the first year) due to disease, weather, starvation and predation by Indians.
The Jamestown colonists were instructed in detail about the expectations of the Virginia Company of London, the sponsors of the colony, regarding choice of a town site, defenses against Indians and Spanish threats, and activities that held the potential of providing a return on capital for the investors. It was hoped that precious metals would be discovered and exploited, and that manufactured products (glass among them), and products from the fields and forests--timber, furs, and such--would repay the investors handsomely. These all proved to be disappointments.
Among the first activities of the settlers was the erection in a remarkable 19 days of a palisaded fort (rows of timbers set in a narrow trench, to serve as a defensive perimeter fence). This earliest fort was an isosceles triangle, measuring some 140 yards on the base, established close to and paralleling the river, and 100 yards on the other two sides, with corner bulwarks for the mounting of cannon. This fort subsequently proved adequate, since no enemy ever entered the confines of this fort by force.
The fortunes of the Jamestown colony ebbed and flowed over time, and it seemed more than once on the brink of failure (as none of the original profit schemes proved successful), but a continuous inflow of new colonists and resupply from the motherland kept the colony going until the development of tobacco as a cash crop (after about a dozen years) established firmly and permanently this New World extension of England.
Kelso’s book is taken up with archaeological efforts to rediscover the precise location of the original fort (it had been long lost--the whole 1,600 acres of James Island had reverted to farmland in the 18th and 19th centuries), and to shed light on life and all its aspects in earliest Jamestown. Documentary evidence from the period--reports, correspondence, maps, etc., is rather sparser than could be wished, and many questions remained unanswered. As it turned out, the archaeological findings and the period documents mutually cast light on each other.
Limited excavations at Jamestown had been carried out in the late 1800s, but, due to primitive archaeological techniques of the period, with limited results. In the 1950s, the general area was again partially excavated in anticipation of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the colony. More and fuller results accrued from this effort, but the fort was still unlocated--and in fact was feared to have been irretrievably lost to centuries of river bank erosion. These latest excavations (in anticipation of Jamestown’s 400th anniversary), which Kelso conducted, lasted several years. Very much more light has been cast on the earliest (and subsequent) years of the colony. The fort itself was located and in large measure excavated (only one corner being lost to the river). Some 700,000 artifacts--broken pottery (native American and European), iron and copper items of various sorts, brick, wood, glass-making debris, arrowheads, lead shot (some imbedded in the bone remains of buried colonists) and the whole spectrum of other items were discovered, examined, catalogued and conserved, all casting a flood of light on the daily life and activities of the Jamestonians.
Jamestown: the Buried Truth does not read like a page-turning novel, but it is rich in information about the earliest of English New World colonies, and exposes for all to see the techniques and methods of forensic archaeologists as they seek to discover and interpret their findings. There is an abundance of pictures, photos and maps to instruct the reader.
Much yet remains to be excavated at Jamestown, and no doubt more will be learned in future digs, but much is known now, and we do well to inform ourselves about our national past, especially its earliest beginnings.
A Survey of Israel’s History by Leon J. Wood; revised by David O’Brien. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986. 418 pp., hardback.
For many years, I have repeatedly consulted this volume for specific information on OT history, and always with profit, but had until recently never read the book all through. This omission I remedied recently in preparing a course of lectures for OT introduction delivered in Ukraine.
The original edition of this work came out in 1970, and was soon the standard Bible college text for OT history, as it yet remains, and deservedly so. To my loss, the Bible college where I attended adopted it only after my graduation in 1974. Dr. Leon J. Wood, who died not long after this book appeared, was one of those scholars who could be counted on to always provide worthwhile reading--his research was thorough and careful, and his writing clear. He never wastes the reader’s time. Everything by him that I have consulted is worthy of purchase and careful attention.
And yet, in spite of this book’s surpassing merits, not a few Bible college students dispose of it to used book stores as soon as they have completed the course on OT history, as though they will never again be called upon to study the details of the OT! (I suppose the forced reading of a book that is so full of information may have left distaste for the book behind). No serious Bible student would so cavalierly get rid of this book. I have long included it among the first ten books every student of the Bible should acquire and read (see “The Pastor and His Books,” AISI 1:6)
Due to the advance in knowledge and information relevant to the OT, particularly in the realm of archaeology, a revision was made by David O’Brien in 1986, including the addition of a section on the history of the Jews in the inter-testamental period. I imagine that another revision might be in the works even now, since a number of relevant developments and discoveries have occurred in the past 20+ years.
The book is thoroughly orthodox and conservative, always takes a high view of Biblical inspiration and authority, and defends the integrity of the OT historically and theologically. The “early date” of the exodus (1446 B. C.) is, for example, defended (the “late date” view is also presented, but shown to be untenable). Excellent illustrations, chronological charts, thorough documentation, bibliography, index, and maps accompany the text, making this a truly useful work. Get it if you don’t have it; keep it and use it if you do.