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Book Review

An Exposition of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon by James B Currie; published and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 200 pages; price £7.99. (9781904064923)

There are comparatively few expositions of the Song of Solomon on most believers’ bookshelves, and fewer still on Ecclesiastes. The publication of this work in both English and Japanese makes available to those two language groups a helpful exposition of two Old Testament books that many find difficult to understand. The writer insists in his foreword that: "The expositions … are, patently, not meant for the ‘learned theologian’". The reviewer makes no claim to be a "learned theologian" but is of the view that all readers will benefit from this volume.

The author presents a helpful analysis of both Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. "… the framework of the conversations" will prove particularly helpful to Christians reading the Song of Solomon and struggling to determine whether the speaker is male of female. The writing of Song of Solomon is set in Solomon’s young manhood and Ecclesiastes in his old age. (It is also suggested that Proverbs belongs to his middle life.) Prudently there is no attempt to narrow further the period during which they were written.

Most who read Ecclesiastes would agree that it is an "apparently enigmatic book". Whilst not disputing that it appears enigmatic, the author addresses twelve questions asked by men "under the sun", and identifies "four separate considerations" that would cover the scope of the Ecclesiastes as a whole. Readers will find this structure helpful.

The Song of Solomon is viewed as "King Solomon wooing, espousing and expressing endearments for a woman of similar age but of undistinguished background". Preparatory to the exposition, a Précis sets out the main scenes, the thread of which is convincing. The exposition is based around two principal characters in the Song, not three, as some have proposed. Not unrelated to the simpler two-person interpretation, "no improper thought intrudes into" the presentation of the developing relationship between the two principal characters.

An Exposition of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon is written in delightful simple prose and would be a valuable addition to a library.

-TW

1 & 2 Thessalonians by Phillip Harding; published and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 180 pages; price £6.99. (9781904064930)

Phillip Harding’s 1 & 2 Thessalonians will be welcomed by many who have benefited from his ministry. The Publishers are to be commended for making available written ministry from brethren who have laboured in the Word over many years. This verse-by-verse exposition of the Thessalonian epistles is marked by the clarity that characterises the author’s oral expository ministry.

The author does not provide the historical background of Thessalonica but in his prefatory note sets out the circumstances that led to the letter being penned. Within the body of the exposition he treats more fully the internal references to those circumstances.

This exposition of the Thessalonian epistles does not avoid the delicate but important aspects of ministry to a young, vigorous, but Gentile assembly, so a passage such as 1 Thessalonians 4.3-7 is carefully treated. In the western world that treats "marriage lightly, making divorce and re-marriage common practice and applauding cohabitation", his words should be carefully considered. It is noteworthy that in dealing with the sanctification issue the author weighs carefully the views expressed by other Bible teachers, mostly without naming them. He also considers more than one doctrinally-sound view in the prophetic sections in both epistles, such as "... them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him" (1 Thess 4.14); "… whether we wake or sleep" (1 Thess 5.10); "… until he be taken out of the way" (2 Thess 2.7). In dealing with "that man of sin" (2 Thess 2.3-4) the author wisely cautions: "… although one must come to one’s own conclusions, this is not a subject for friction, but for forbearance".

1 & 2 Thessalonians is a worthy addition to sound commentaries on two important New Testament documents. The volume will prove helpful over a spectrum from young Christians to those who are acknowledged as teachers among the assemblies.

-TW

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