D.A. Carson: Collected Writings on Scripture (Leicester, Apollos, 2010) Pp. 335, Hardcover
D.A. Carson has, it seems, now reached the point where he merits a “collected writings” volume. This opening sentence should not be read as a criticism, because it isn’t – this book is an unalloyed good thing. The binding is another matter, however. Real cloth binding would have been far more appropriate than the rather cheap hardcover binding that needs to be hidden by the attractive dust jacket.
With the criticism out of the way early, we can move on to the contents. This book collects five essays and five book reviews that are broadly united by the theme of Scripture. They cover a period from 1983 to 2008, and all are worth the effort in reprinting them.
D.A. Carson is an excellent writer, and one of the men that our modern preachers need to read simply for style, let alone content! He is also a very thoughtful writer, and when he publishes a book, it is usually required reading. This book, although its various parts were originally published in a variety of places, is another required reading piece.
It begins with an essay on “Approaching the Bible” taken from the IVP New Bible Commentary, which serves as an introduction to the whole book as much as anything else. The second piece, “Recent Developments in the Doctrine of Scripture” deals with “recent developments” in 1986, when it was written. The realisation that we are now some 24 years from that date is rather staggering! Given the passage of time, it is remarkable how relevant this essay is, since it still falls within the period during which writings may be seen as “dated” rather than “classic”. The third essay, “Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: The Possibility of Systematic Theology,” is excellent, as it shows that Biblical theology and Systematic theology are not opposed to one another if properly understood. Chapter 4, on Redaction Criticism, is perhaps a little dated, since Redaction Criticism is no longer as much in vogue as once it was. Still, it is a helpful essay and useful in thinking through the application of literary tools in Bible study. The last essay in the first section, “Is the Doctrine of Claritas Scripturae Still Relevant Today,” is timeless, as it addresses the perspicuity of Scripture, and what this means and does not mean.
Part 2 is headed by two lengthy reviews, each of three books on the Bible, and then rounded off by three shorter pieces. Each review deals with questions that are still buzzing, the nature of inspiration, the Incarnational analogy as applied to Scripture, and the question of the truth of the Bible. Even if the reader has not read the books dealt with, he will be left informed about the current state of the question among Evangelicals.
This is a surprisingly easy book to read, considering the subjects dealt with, and ought to be required reading for anyone wanting to get a handle on the questions agitating the Christian world about the Bible today. Order from your local Christian Bookshop where possible.