Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Where Sin Abounds by Robert Gonzales

After many interruptions, I have finally finished Robert Gonzales Jr.'s book, Where Sin Abounds. Since I do not have the ability to write a real book review, I won't. Instead I will just offer a few comments both positive and negative.

Robert Gonzales is Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament Studies at Reformed Baptist Seminary. He contributes to the school's blog and also to the Reformed Baptist Theological Review. His style of writing may raise the bar of our reading level, but never to the point where he loses the reader.

In the positive, although the book at times quotes Hebrew terms which may perhaps scare the reader, the book is a fantastic read for anyone wishing to gain insight into the Book of Genesis. Most commentaries overlook the spread of sin among the Patriarchs while blasting away at the primeval world. But as the first sentence says in the Introduction,
A primary function of Scripture is to impart a proper understanding of sin.
With this in mind Dean Gonzales surveys the depths of sin and its downward spiral in the book of Genesis. The strength of this book is that he does not stop at Genesis 11 simply because the narrative seems to narrow in on one particular covenant family in the history of redemption and break from the earlier chapters. Instead, Gonzales shows the many parallels and surveys the depth of sin in the patriarchal family in a thought provoking and refreshing way. There were many times I found myself saying, "I never saw that before, but isn't that just what I do today!" As Gonzales states on pages 258-9,
But the reader should equally note that the seeds of human sin planted in Eden's garden grow into vines that spread beyond the parameters of the primeval narrative and bear much evil fruit in the patriarchal narratives. Adapting Fretheim's own language, it is striking the extent to which the more emphatic themes of chs. 1-11 are further developed in chs. 12-50, wherein human society in general and the patriarchal community in particular continue to sin and experience God's curse.
He also makes a concluding statement on page 256,
The patriarchal narrative leaves the reader with the impression that not merely humanity but even God's people left to themselves would eventually come to ruin. Only intrusions of divine grace (common and special) or judgment (punitive or remedial) can stem sin's rising tide.
You will learn much about your own sin as you look at the lives of the patriarchs.

The negative in this book is the foot notes. Almost every page is filled with them, and I mean filled. Many pages have more foot notes than the main book. What is difficult is that many of the foot notes are worth reading while many simply offer more technical information. This can be quite frustrating if you are one of those, "I just have to read every word on the page," type of person. Nevertheless, this negative may not actually be a negative for people who love that kind of thing.

All I really can say about this book is that you need to go buy it and read it and enjoy it. It is most certainly worth your time.

1 comment:

Bob Gonzales said...

Dear brother, thank you for taking the time to read my book and offering such a positive review. I hope to publish a more popular version in the future entitled "Faults of Our Fathers," which will focus entirely on the Patriarchal Narratives and will exclude most of the cumbersome footnotes :-)

Gratefully yours,
Bob Gonzales