Esssential Writings Of Meredith G. Kline, by Meredith G. Kline
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Hendrickson Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
After reading a previous work by the late author , I expressed an immediate interest in reading this book once it was published, and once it was, the publisher sent me a message letting me know that this book was on its way per my longstanding request. This particular book is part of a phenomenon that tends to happen to notable authors, where after death their published essays and papers are compiled into books and labeled as essential readings . An obvious question that a reader would have for this book is: Does it live up its is name? Is this book a collection of essential writings? And although I am not from the author’s religious tradition, the answer to that question is definitely a yes. Most readers would find something to disagree with here–I know I certainly did–but whether a particular essay is one whose perspective one agrees with or whose reasoning one finds convincing or not, these are works that show Kline at work as a controversialist and as someone with something deep and interesting to say, usually in a midrashic fashion, about the scriptures and their interpretation. The author deals with important questions even when his answers are mistaken, and that makes this book worthwhile to read even for those who do not share the author’s worldview.
The contents of this book require fairly close reading, as they demonstrate the author’s subtle intellect. The book opens with a foreword by noted biblical historian Tremper Longman III, whose work I have deeply appreciated and respected, some acknowledgements and abbreviations, a biographical sketch from one of the author’s sons and an introduction from one of the author’s grandsons. After this, the book contains almost 300 pages of essays. The first two essays deal with Creation, with the author showing off his odd thoughts on the organization of Genesis 1 in light of his interpretation of Genesis 2:5, where he starts with a dubious position and then doubles down on it with a further essay, a characteristic of the author’s approach. After this come four essays that deal with the state, specifically the oracular origin of the State, divine kingship in Genesis 6:1-4, the connection between the two tablets of the Covenant and Hittite suzerain-vassal treaties, and the application of lex talionis to the human fetus. The third part of the book deals with faith, the Gospel, and justification, with the author writing about Abram’s amen, the OT origins of the Gospels as a genre, and a close analysis of the biblical world often translated “double.” Three essays on redemption follow that look at the Feast of Cover-Over (Passover) from a linguistic perspective, look at the trial by ordeal in the book of Job , and look at the symbolism of the rider of the red horse in Zechariah. the fifth and final part of the book looks at resurrection and consummation with four essays that look at death and martyrdom and the Leviathan in Isaiah 24:1-27:1, two essays on a particularly dubious view of the “first resurrection,” and a discussion of Har Magedon as being a mountain of assembly, which the author bizarrely uses to justify his views on amillennialism. After this comes a bibliography and two indices of authors and sources.
There was a great deal in this book that I disagreed with, so my warm recommendation of this book is not a blanket endorsement of the author’s opinions and interpretations by any means. That said, the author’s comments on such issue as the abhorrence of abortion in the ancient world–both biblical and heathen–as well as the relationship between and within the Bible concerning genre and language are immensely worthwhile, as is the author’s discussion of the tyrannical behavior of pre-flood monarchs who claimed to be “sons of the gods.” Even where this author is wrong–such as his interpretations of prophecy in an amillennial fashion or his interpretation of Genesis 2:5–the author comes off as a very intelligent and learned person it would be worthwhile to talk with over food at a family dinner or pot luck and whose wrong ideas encouraged thoughtful conversation and debate. This book has commentary on discussions that are still subjects of considerable debate and the author has a lot to say that is deeply worthwhile and always very interesting. This book’s writings deserve to be remembered as essential, not something that can be said about everyone’s writings.
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