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A Geerhardus Vos Anthology: Biblical and Theological Insights Alphabetically Arranged Paperback – March 4, 2005
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About the Author
Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949) has been called "the father of Reformed biblical theology." During his thirty-nine years as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, he achieved the reputation of a theologian whose biblical insight is without equal. The full impact of his exegetical labor has been realized only in recent years.
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In 1891 the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary asked that a professorship of biblical theology be created and in 1894 Vos began a tenure at Princeton that would last until his retirement in 1932 (Vos, Caspar Wistar Hodge, and William Park Armstrong were the three conservative faculty members who, for various personal reasons, did not resign from Princeton to join the newly formed Westminster Theological Seminary after the reorganization of Princeton in 1929).
Vos brought the discipline of "Biblical Theology" to both Princeton and Reformed theology despite the concerns that it, according to Benjamin Warfield, that "it came to us wrapped in the swaddling clothes of rationalism, and it was rocked in the cradle of the Hegalian recasting of Christianity" (Calhoun, Princeton Seminary: The Majestic Testimony, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1996], 137). Warfield, however, was both a supporter and close friend of the somewhat shy and self-styled "mystic" and who, along with C. W. Hodge, had given the impetus that led to the formation of the professorship that Vos filled.
Vos' writings were not particularly influential during his lifetime, because as Olinger states, "liberals dismissed his writings while his conservative brethren did not understand them" (2). Because Vos also shied away from the larger denominational and church matters, focusing on duties at the seminary, he was not widely known outside the academic world. However, through his students, notably Ned Stonehouse, John Murray and Cornelius Van Til; Vos' concepts and constructs in Biblical theology enjoyed a wide hearing to generations of students at Westminster. In recent years his works have enjoyed a significant resurgence, particularly, in this reviewers observation, among the younger generation of Reformed pastors and students.
The author has produced an eminently readable and practical introduction to the works of Vos. The introductory chapter (1-27) serves as an excellent window into his life and works. The anthology itself is a series of excerpts from his writings arranged in alphabetical order by topic (the topical categories are listed in the front matter). Each excerpt is clearly identified allowing a deeper examination of the material by the reader. The editor has included a clear list of abbreviations of Vos' works, and a detailed bibliography, but a complete bibliography of Vos' writings would have been a useful addition.
While we recommend this work as a survey of Vos; there was also a sense of dissatisfaction with the overall concept of the book. Vos simply is not the type of author whose works lend themselves well to the "sound bite" approach taken in anthologies. However, significant quotes such as, "Once the sense of allegiance to the Word of God as the old authoritative rule of faith as become weakened, or, while still recognized in theory has ceased to be a loving force in the mind of believers, then the hope of return to the truth once forsaken is reduced to a minimum" (308), will hopefully serve both as an inspiration and a warning to a new generation.
Vos' writings are detailed and tightly wound both in logic and argumentation, grounded in the redemptive-historical hermeneutics of Reformed Theology. His works in Biblical theology, from a thoroughly inerrantist position, was ground-breaking and provocative; and whether or not one agrees with either his methodology or conclusions, interaction with Vos demands deep reading not light skimming of interesting quotations.
Still, this work opens the door to the works of one of the most original thinkers in the Old Princeton tradition, one whose influence some 70 years after his death is perhaps greater than during his life.