Vol. 1 - No. 11 

November, 1982

Book Reviews

by Byron Gage

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES, by Gleason L. Archer, Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982, is a compendium of “difficult” Bible themes and/or verses with attempts to explain or (in some cases) explain away the difficulty. Permeated with what I believe to be false doctrine, speculation, and opinion, the book is not to be construed as a reliable reference work. However, the courage of the writer and the conviction that even difficult passages can be explained is laudable. And, to the dubious credit of the author, the book is extremely interesting and informative as to the methods of bible study employed by those who have human creeds to uphold. For example, the explanations of Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-31 are classic and familiar in their effort to deny the possibility of a “born-again believer” to ever apostatize.

Please understand that my criticism of this book does not in any way mean that I deny the value of the book. There is in this book a great deal of valuable information in the form of word studies, historical information, and Scripture exposition even though it is somewhat doctrinally biased. I agree with the basic premise upon which the author bases this work: that the Scriptures are indeed the inspired Word of God and inerrant and I applaud his efforts to set forth his views on various difficult passages. One must understand, however, that these views are his and do not necessarily conform with the totality of revealed truth.

To the credit of the publishers a statement from the dust cover reads, “Some answers are given as plausible, not final, solutions to problems...”

I would not recommend this book for everyone, but, if one is a serious Bible student and enjoys analyzing arguments and delving into the difficult and controversial, this book will give you some exercise.

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL, by Yohanan Aharoni, translated by Anson F. Rainey, published by The Westminster Press, Philadelphia , Penn., 1982, is for the serious student of the history and land of Israel. It is extensive, detailed, and technical having been written from the viewpoint of an archaeologist. The writer accepts the antiquity of the earth .theory and his chronology begins at 2,000,000 B.C.E. However, when the author reaches eras in the history of ancient Israel, the material is very informative and interesting. It will be of great value to the teacher of the Old Testament to study this book comparing it to other works and obviously to the Bible itself. The book is illustrated profusely with regard to ruins, tools, maps, charts, and artifacts of various sorts which increases interest.

The chronology of the book is from the prehistoric period mentioned above to just after the destruction of the first temple in 587/6 B.C.E. When coupled with a good Old Testament History book, this volume will be invaluable as a study aid.

It is interesting to note that this book was translated from Hebrew and was originally published in Hebrew in Jerusalem in 1978. Mr. Aharoni died before publication of this book. His work in his land appears to have been extensive and was quite probably a labor of love. Obviously, as with any other book of this sort, the conclusions formed on the basis of interpretation of various findings in the field are sometimes controversial and/or arbitrary. This adds to the intrigue of such a study and challenges us to search out and study other comparable works. It also challenges us to study our Bibles with renewed vigor as it brings vividness to faraway lands and peoples from which we are separated by time and space. Books of this nature must not be prejudged as being dull or dry or too technical, but need to be studied and given a proper evaluation and place in one's library. I am personally looking forward to a more in depth study of this book and the lands and peoples of the Old Testament.