Edward Freer Hills's Contribution to the Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text
Theodore P. Letis
The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies
6417 N. Fairhill, Philadelphia, PA
Copies can be ordered from the author by writing
Theodore P. Letis
P.O. Box 870525
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Price PostPaid: $9.95
Reviewed by Louis F. DeBoer
This book comprises an excellent history of how the church has treated the text of the Greek New Testament since Reformation times. In Chapter 1 the author documents which text the Reformers used and how they handled textual issues, including variant readings. John Calvin, Theodore Beza, John Owen, and Francis Turretin are singled out as examples of the Reformation approach to the text of the word of God.
In Chapter 2 he deals with how the Princeton theologians handled these issues in the nineteenth century. Starting with Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, and Caspar Wistar Hodge, who basically maintained the Reformation stance (the latter less consistently) he then gets right to the crux of the issue, the views of B. B. Warfield. Warfield is shown to be the man who radically altered the church's views with respect to the text of the New Testament, introduced textual criticism to Princeton, and altered its views of both the inspiration of and the preservation of the text as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Warfield is shown as having both denied the historic doctrine of the providential preservation of the text of God's word and relegating the attributes of inerrancy and inspiration to the original autographs only, thus leaving the church without belief that it possesses an infallible and inerrant word of God.
In Chapter 3 he documents Hills' life long battle to undo the damage wrought by Warfield's apostasy from the Reformation position with respect to the text of God's word, while at the same time giving the reader a fascinating biography of this unique man. The book concludes with a comprehensive bibliography for serious students of this issue. It is well written, concise, and easily comprehended by the layman, while providing much needed support for embattled pastors seeking to defend the word of God.