More Hard Sayings of the New Testament
By Peter H. Davids
Reviewed by Dr. Irv Busenitz
3.2 (Fall 1992) : 221-222
Following the tradition of other "hard sayings" books in this series, Dr. Peter Davids, professor of biblical studies and New Testament at Canadian Theological Seminary in Regina, Saskatchewan, takes up seventy-two difficult Scripture verses or passages and seeks to help the reader understand them. Writing out of both pastoral and scholarly experience, the author endeavors "to take the best of biblical scholarship and interpret it so that nonscholars can understand it and make some practical use of it" (11).
Some of the issues addressed include how Judas died (Acts 1:18; cp. Matt 27:5), "no one has ever seen God" (John 1:18; cp. Exod 34:5 and John 14:9), the identity of Melchizedek (Heb 7:1; cp. Gen 14:18-20), the impossibility of repentance (Heb 6:4-6), and baptism that saves (1 Pet 3:21). It is obvious that any treatment of seventy-two issues in a single volume requires brevity. And so it is. No technical or critical discussions are present. It is easy to read, and takes only a few minutes to get an overview of the difficulty inherent in a passage.
Each discussion is succinct and generally to the point, usually three to four pages in length. In this limited space, Davids attempts to give a summation of the context and the historical situation before enunciating the specific issues or relevant questions. At times he sets forth his resolution of the issue with clarity; on other occasions, the discussion is more vague, leaving readers to ponder the solution on their own.
The work is definitely written for the layman, but he too will have to pursue additional research if the information is to be useful for anything other than his own interest. The author provides a brief bibliography for further study in the "Introduction" (17-18). Footnotes are few but come conveniently at the end of each chapter and occasionally provide direction for further research as well. An "Index to Scripture and Ancient Writings" (305-11) provides ready references.
Not unexpectedly, one will not always agree with the conclusions reached. Topics that have been debated throughout the centuries do not lend themselves to unanimity. Nevertheless, a layman will find the book a helpful and easily accessed resource tool for quick reference.