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Fall 1989 · Vol. 18 No. 2 · pp. 117–19 

Book Review

The Bible and the Church

ed. A. J. Dueck, H. J. Giesbrecht, and V. G. Shillington. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1988. 277 pages.

Reviewed by Harold J. Dyck

Students and colleagues of Professor David Ewert, most recently President of Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will welcome this Festschrift in his honor. To study with or under him was to discover what devotion to scholarship, to the Bible and to the church meant. Appropriately, the collected essays are arranged in two parts—Bible and church—because for Ewert concern for the two was inseparable. Essays on preaching occur in both sections.

The preface by Herbert Giesbrecht develops an appreciative portrait of Dr. Ewert as teacher, preacher, churchman, writer, family man and friend. Giesbrecht’s bibliography of Ewert’s publications is instructive about the central thrust of {118} Ewert’s professional life. Most of the titles reveal his biblical interest; the great majority of them were written for the church and offered in denominational or college publications.

Four chapters are devoted to preaching, including one by Ewert himself which illustrates his text-centered approach to pulpit ministry. Elmer Martens analyzes two types of sermon structures from Isaiah 40. Additional essays by John Regehr and Frank C. Peters round out the impression that this book is a tribute to a preacher.

Another four chapters deal with specific biblical issues. George Shillington reviews the history of parable interpretation and suggests that the function of parables is to elicit response from their hearers, who are drawn into the story as participants. David Schroeder proposes that “loosing and binding” take their meaning from Jesus’ role as Saviour and Lord, and that they are enjoined upon the church as a discerning community, loosing and binding what is already bound in heaven. John E. Toews takes Ewert’s efforts on behalf of women’s freedom to exercise their gifts, a step further by attentive examination of 1 Timothy 2:11-15. In perhaps the most provocative essay in the book, he argues for a family rather than church setting and suggests a less restrictive reading of the text, thus dissolving objections from this text to women’s ministry. Similar conclusions are drawn by Herbert Swartz in a biblical-theological survey.

Of more general biblical interest is Bruce Metzger’s survey of the editing of the Greek New Testament from its earliest Pauline collections to modern critical texts. Hans Kasdorf writes on “Translating God’s Word as Mission to the World.” The book’s only female contributor, Esther Wiens, urges greater attention to public reading of scripture and offers practical help in preparation and delivery.

The work of the church in evangelism and mission is treated in chapters by Myron Augsburger and Victor Adrian. Abe Dueck identifies shifts in Mennonite Brethren theological education and links them to wider currents in the North American scene. If his contention that the Mennonite Brethren Bible College has seen a “wedding of new Anabaptism to new evangelicalism” (141) is correct, then David Ewert is a prime example of such a marriage.

As in all such collections, not all the contributions reach the same heights. Nevertheless, the book does what a {119} Festschrift ought to do: through solid treatment of an appropriate range of topics it pays tribute to one deserving of it, and also engages in serious scholarship in the service of the church. It would pay no respect to Dr. Ewert if the book attempted less.

Harold J. Dyck is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas.

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