The Irish Saint and Scholar by Edwin Cross; published by Chapter Two; price £19.95. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.
Sub-titled "A biography of William Kelly", The Irish Saint and Scholar is a well-researched biography of an able expositor whose publications have influenced thousands over the last 150 years. With some justification, the author claims that this is the first biography of William Kelly, a man whose many books have remained in print over most of the years since their first editions were published.
The author describes Kelly as "younger than the first Brethren" (sic). He does trace something of the relationship between Darby and Kelly, but sheds little light on how that relationship influenced both men. He does, however, stress that their friendship lasted, even after breaches in fellowship were disrupting the work of God. The author neither confirms nor denies the reasons that have been advanced for that rift in their circle of fellowship. Indeed, in noting a number of such divisions, Edwin Cross provides no insight into Kellys involvement and the effects on him.
Only in that respect is this biography to be faulted. The author sets out in elegant prose the life and times of William Kelly. We learn of his earnestness as a scholarly young man and how he came to be among brethren meeting to the name of the Lord Jesus, when power and influence beckoned in other circles. His diligence and that of his first wife impress us. We observe how he reacted when touched on more than one occasion by tragedy. We are caused to wonder at his interest and ability in preaching the gospel, and of the wave of blessing he saw sweep across the Channel Islands leaving Guernsey with "four sizeable meetings", one of which had 800 in fellowship.
What Edwin Cross rightly stresses is the high regard in which William Kellys scholarship was held by eminent scholars of the day. Most of them did not hold his conviction as to the Scriptural pattern of gathering or in respect of prophecy, but respected the works of Kelly and consulted him on the translation and interpretation of the Word of God. Both those who do and dont read the Irish saints works will gain from this 182-page hardback.
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona; published by Kregel Publications; price £11.95. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.
This book is a clearly presented account of the historical facts and also the false theories concerning the resurrection of our Lord. It will be of great value to those who wish to know more about the fundamental evidence which exists, and who in turn would be sure of the facts in witnessing to unbelievers. It is about being able to "give an answer to those who ask " , and in fact a very useful chapter is included on the art of answering: more about how to say it than what to say.
The authors are both distinguished academics in the USA and their approach is consequently an academic one. It might be felt that this sits uneasily alongside a matter which is fundamentally one of faith in divine revelation. However their approach is akin to that used in 1 Corinthians 15 where evidence is collated ("He was seen") and used to lay the basis for faith which transforms lives and hopes. Good information is provided about sources of evidence for the resurrection from outside the New Testament - a very useful thing to know when dealing with those who do not accept that the Bible is true, and where Christianity is constantly misrepresented in popular media.
It is a lengthy book of over 300 pages, although the last 100 pages are appendix and notes. After reading it through there is some feeling of overload and repetition of material. But to offset this, the idea of mastering "minimal facts" is stressed so as not to swamp an enquirer or give rise to digressions in a serious discussion. Personal examples are given of the effectiveness of this.
Along with the book is an interactive CD which supplements the material enabling it to be used as a self-study course with tests and role play exercises. Some readers may find this a help in reaching a confident grasp of what the authors describe as the only plausible explanation for the facts upon which Christianity rests.