Tuesday, April 8, 2008
'Future Israel' By Barry Horner - first thoughts
Having recently received our copy of Future Israel by Barry Horner (Broadman and Holman, 2007), we have begun to read it. The book is a handsomely-bound hardcover volume with three indices, one of authors, one of subjects, and the other of Scripture references. For an academic book, especially one dealing with such a subject, good indices are essential, and we really dislike important scholarly books that don't have them. We rejoiced to find that this book had indices (about 16 pages of them as well).
Unfortunately, on further examination we found the indices in Future Israel somewhat flawed. For one thing, the arrangement of the Author and Subject Indices is a little odd. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to which index an author is cited in. For example O.T. Allis, though not quoted and only referred to in passing in a footnote, merits a mention in the author index, whilst Justin Martyr, surely an important person on the grounds of his anti-semitism and replacement theology in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, is only to be found in the Subject index, and then inexplicably split into two entirely separate entries, one as 'Martyr, Justin' (refers to P. 189) and a second as 'Justin Martyr' (refers to Pp. 210, 215 and 264). Augustine, whom Horner notes is very important, again, is in the subject index, not the author index, yet he is quoted several times in the text (for example on Pp 3-4). Surely a quoted author belongs in the author index! It is as if the author index is an afterthought, hastily cobbled together by the publisher. Since some writers (Allis, for example) are cited only in one index and not the other, this arbitrary division makes it very difficult to tell, at a glance, which authors Horner has referred to. These are little errors, no doubt due to Dr. Horner having not prepared the index himself, and no doubt will be ironed out in the second edition, should the sales of this book warrant one.
We would say to Broadman and Holman, if you intend to put an author index in a book, put a proper one in. As it is, the vagaries of the indexing system are incredibly irritating.
Those expecting a comprehensive study of Christian attitudes towards Israel will be disappointed in this book, but then the title ought to have alerted them that it is a narrowly-focused polemical treatment of the subject of Christian anti-Judaism (a word that Horner prefers to anti-semitism). The world still awaits a comprehensive study of the subject. Having only just started the book, we have only a few 'first impressions'. One concerns the names present in and absent from the index, and what is said about those names.
First of all, we looked in vain for the name of David Brown, a post-millennial writer who argued strongly for the restoration of the Jews. Since David Brown is the Brown of Jamieson, Faussett and Brown, a standard commentary on the whole Bible, this omission is surprising. Oswald T. Allis is referred to only once, and then in passing in a footnote. While Justin Martyr is referred to, it is only in passing again, and usually lumped together with a number of other theologians of the early church. Yet we are of the opinion that Justin deserved more space. His anti-Judaism and replacement theology make him a far more important writer in this respect than Augustine, who simply adopted Justin's position on Israel. Could it be that Horner finds Justin awkward, since he was premillennial? We hope not!
We agree with Horner that too often the debate on the future of Israel is framed by the present situation in the Land (as we frequently call it), and welcome any book that puts the newspaper aside for the Bible, which must be our guide in this question. We are glad that he has recognised the differences that exist between the Reformed on questions of eschatology.
So far we are only at page 18 (there are about 10 pages of text before page 1, however), so we are still in the setting of the scene. When we have finished, we will review the work properly.
[We apologise for the lengthy paragraph about the index, but it reflects how annoying we found the thing. In fact, we have written to the publishers to complain about it.]