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Archive for December 29th, 2013

Gordon Clark Volume

I was disappointed with this commentary. Gordon Clark is best known as a Christian philosopher advocating an epistemology of Scripturalism. While I appreciate his contribution to Christian philosophy (with the caveat that I critically accept him and also reject certain views he hold, see my other reviews of his works), here in the Pastoral Epistles it is not up to the par with what I expected from how his followers talk about his commentaries on the Bible.
THE GOOD
–The commentary rightly stresses the objectivity of the Christian faith and that faith is no mere subjective experiences.
–The commentary also makes the observation that the Pastoral epistles emphasizes the importance of doctrines and teaching.
–I was encouraged with the comment on 2 Timothy 2:1-2 about teaching faithful men who can teach others
–The second appendix gives a good explanation of Presbyterian doctrine of ordination. Clark makes it clear that he is dependent upon the work of George Gillespie.

THE BAD
–Clark does not grasp the Greek aorist tense. For instance on page 17, we see him commenting that an aorist “refers to a single act in past time” which we see him assuming this again on page 48 concerning 1 Timothy 3:16. As is seen in the commentary (and for those familiar with Gordon Clark’s background), Clark is more well verse in Classical Greek than Biblical Greek.
–I wished Clark could have gone over in more details the qualification of what is expected of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 but Clark disappointingly stated, “Most of these qualifications require no exegesis” (39). One should see how other commentaries expound on 1 Timothy 3 exegetically.
–Commenting on 1 Timothy 1:17 Clark goes tangent to say about heaven that “the New Testament indicates that some organs will be missing—our stomachs, for example,” without any verse quoted or reference cited.
–He asserts on page 52, “That a convinced vegetarian can be a good Christian is doubtful. In any case, abstinence from foods must not be based upon allegedly divine dietary laws.” But what he conclude about vegetarians does not follow from 1 Timothy 4:3 since he does not take into account vegetarians who choose so out of preference and is not driven to be one because of divine dietary laws. Think of the guy who is vegetarian for health reason but loves Jesus.
–Clark’s rhetoric is unnecessarily inflammatory; for instance, in commenting on 1 Timothy 4:8, Clark writes about Olympians: “Even aside from the drugs they take to pep them up, and the medication used to desex the women contestants and turn them into masculine freaks, the athletes have chosen the wrong values and lead wasted lives” (55).
–He translate “saying” as “proposition” in 1 Timothy 4:9; I don’t know if there’s an exegetical basis to translate it that way.
–Concerning 1 Timothy 6:16, Clark believes the “light” here refers to truth but if this is the case then it leads one to hold a position that God is unknowable.
–More than once Gordon Clark writes that “there is little need of exegesis and explanation” (122). If you look up the same passage in another commentary you discover there are insights of something there in the passage.
— This carelessness of seeing no need of exegesis is disappointing when it comes to lists of words such as in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 where Clark states “most of the words need no boring, dictionary definition” (123). Clark’s commentary is seriously deficient in lexical insights. It is also disrespectful to the Word of God to say there’s no need for “boring” definition.
–The section on the book of Titus fail to discuss what we know of Titus from other passages from the New Testament, a glaring omission for a commentary.
–Clark translates “vain talkers” in Titus 1:10 as “fallacious reasoners” but he does not give any explanation for his unusual translation. I do believe vain talkers contrary to the faith will reason fallaciously or with wrong premise but I don’t think this truth means one should translate “vain talkers” to mean “fallacious reasoners” here for this passage.
–Commenting on Titus 3:6, Clark notes that the verse cannot be used to support water baptism by immersion but then says “the Lutheran practice of pouring is Scriptural; at least Scripture permits it” (169). Earlier in Titus 3:5 he denies that this passage is teaching baptismal regeneration so obviously 3:5-6 is not talking about water baptism. So if Titus 3:5-6 is not talking about water baptism, what other Scriptural support does he have for water baptism by means of pouring? Clark just asserts it without proving it.

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