A Geerhardus Vos Anthology (ed. Danny Olinger)

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RamistThomist

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Olinger, Danny E. ed. A Geerhardus Vos Anthology: Biblical and Theological Insights Alphabetically Arranged. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2005.

In some ways an anthology might be the best way to start with Geerhardus Vos. His material is not always simple. And for the advanced reader who is familiar with Vos, this is a handy resource. One thing to note: this material pre-dates the release of Vos’s systematic/dogmatic theology.

The main Vosian themes are the Two Ages, the Tabernacle, and Anthropology

Abbreviations

GG = Grace and Glory
BT = Biblical Theology
SW = Shorter Writings
PE = Pauline Eschatology

Two Ages

We are at the intersection between the old age, the current world, and the Age to come. On the other hand, Vos might not be saying that the old age = the evil age. He writes, “In Hebrews…the old age is the Old Testament” (Vos 33, TEH 52). It is the world of shadows and copies.

On the whole, though, when the New Testament, and especially the Apostle Paul, speak of the two ages, it is in a more negative sense.

The Copy of the Heavens

Vos points out that the biblical model does use a dualism of sorts. Platonism said there was a dualism between the higher world of forms and this world, the copy. The higher world has more being. It is more real. Vos does not do this. There are two realms, to be sure, but they have their starting points in the Two Ages.

With dualism, we acknowledge a world of shadows. Pace mystery cults, however, the world of shadows applies to the Levitical system. Moreover, the earthly tabernacle/temple is a copy of the heavenly one. “Heaven is the primordial, earth the secondary creation” (125: HM/GG 113).

The Old Covenant refers not to “the entire period from the fall of man to Christ, but the period from Moses to Christ” (218: BT 26).

The Platonic method, on the other hand, is a negation of the physical as a way of participating in the eternal forms. Rather, biblical man recognizes “in the things unseen…the enduring things of the world to come” (240: PE 292).

Anthropology

With a skill that few have matched, Vos delineates the nature of pre- and post-Resurrection bodies: sarkikos – pneumatikos – and psykikos-pneumatikos. “Psychic man is the natural man as such. The sarkic man is the sinful natural man” (73: KC/SW 541-542). Therefore, when we are raised, and the text says we have a pneumatic body, it doesn’t mean a ghostly, Gnostic body.

When the NT speaks of sarx, flesh, it does not mean simply corporeality. “It is an organism, an order of things beyond the original man” (116: EAP/SW 123). This order takes on a hostile dimension due to Adam’s fall. On the other hand, yet quite in keeping with the Tabernacle typology elsewhere in the NT, “the old covenant is spoken of as sarkikos and sarkinos.”

Conclusion

This should be near the student’s hand as he studies Scripture. Vos walked so we could run. There are areas that need to be explored. One, for example, is a “tabernacle Christology.” It was anticipated by the Antiochian school in the 5th century, but their Nestorianism colored the project. This volume also makes for good devotional reading.
 

Stephen L Smith

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Conclusion

This should be near the student’s hand as he studies Scripture. Vos walked so we could run. There are areas that need to be explored. One, for example, is a “tabernacle Christology.” It was anticipated by the Antiochian school in the 5th century, but their Nestorianism colored the project. This volume also makes for good devotional reading.
I personally find this book helpful. It does need revising. It was written before Vos's Reformed Dogmatics came out.

It may be helpful to read this alongside Olinger's biography of Vos. In the biography he traces out important Vossian themes. Thus the biography and Anthology nicely compliment each other.
 
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