John Owen on Hebrews: To read or not to read?

Discussion in 'Commentaries' started by Reformed Covenanter, Mar 9, 2019.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I also began reading James Durham's Commentary on Revelation this morning after finishing John Calvin on Isaiah. I am also currently reading John Davenant on Colossians in the evenings. I think that I will commence reading John Owen's Hebrews volume 2 tomorrow. Not a bad reading list.
     
  2. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    I am also getting ready to start Durham on Revelation. Thanks to our brother, @Ed Walsh, for his kindness in sending me a copy.
     
  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I second that comment; thanks again to @Ed Walsh for a copy of this classic work.
     
  4. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I have abandoned the idea of trying to read James Durham on Revelation as part of my morning devotions, not because it is not good, but because the mediations are so rich and deep that it takes about 2 hours to read 10 pages. I have only read the first 10 pages in two sittings today, however, Durham's reflections on the Trinity in its relation to the unity of esssence/divine simplicity and the personal properties of the three Trinitarian persons are priceless. He also points out something that we normally miss: the Book of Revelation is so theologically valuable because of its relevance to the subject of the distinction of the person belonging to the Godhead.
     
  5. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    You are correct about that! Durham's discussion about worship and the Trinity is invaluable.
     
  6. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Durham is not the most elegant of speakers (though in the case of the Revelation he did write and prepare that for the press), but he is pretty weighty as far as what he conveys. I'm about convinced of a way forward on finally doing a new edition on his lectures on Revelation. If that is of interest make it a matter of prayer as I have to pull off a relaunch of publishing endeavors after a manner with some other titles first.
     
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  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Perhaps Jacob could write a quick review for us.
     
  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Are any of you familiar with John Owen's discussion of the order of the decrees in volume 2 of the Hebrews commentary (pp 30-32)? Calling @py3ak to the front desk!

    Would it be fair to label the three positions that he surveys as representing 1) Amyraldianism, 2) Supralapsarianism, 3) Infralapsarianism?
     
  9. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Daniel, I take it this is the section you are referring to:

    The first approach (in the paragraph beginning "All agree that") certainly does sound Amyraldian at best, although I would be interested in knowing specifics about who Owen might have had in mind. The principle governing that approach is, the order in which God decreed things is the order in which they occurred. I'm not aware of other theologians describing Amyraldianism from that point of view, but of course my lack of awareness means nothing.

    The "contrary course" depending on a "misapplication of a common rule" is supralapsarian, and appeals to the slogan used by some supralapsarians, that what is first in intention is last in execution. I think Owen's criticisms there would not really affect the Christological supralapsarianism of a Thomas Goodwin or Geerhardus Vos.

    The third approach (in the paragraph beginning "But whereas both these") sounds infralapsarian, but in a way that is somewhat more accepting of supralapsarian critiques than certain formulations of infralapsarianism. E.g., Owen does accept the rule about what is first in intention being last in execution, if this is understood of the relation of means and end.

    I agree with him that the "incarnation anyway" folks, ancient or modern, do not have a leg to stand on. In my view, that's an absurd counterfactual hypothetical which implicitly undermines the universal providence of God by endeavoring to say what would have happened under other conditions, as though God needed more than one way to skin this particular cat.
     
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  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I finished volume 2 last night, having read 200 pages yesterday. A combination of 200 pages of John Owen and the sea-air of Portrush meant that I slept for 13 hours last night. (Yes, I literally did.) :lol:

    Seriously, though, Owen's treatment of the Sabbath in that volume is masterful (even correcting some "Puritanical" excesses). I also enjoyed his summaries of each chapter of the epistle before he gets to the exegesis.
     
  11. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Needless to say, I do not regret my decision to begin reading the Hebrews' commentary. If you are still on the fence as to whether or not you should read it, I highly recommend doing so.

    I have a significant back-log of John Owen posts to publish on the blog, but this one on John Owen on the three-fold division of the law is the first one that I have taken from Hebrews.
     
  12. Brian R.

    Brian R. Puritan Board Freshman

    How about someone like me who hasn't completed much of his Works yet? Finish the Works first? Or skip them and tackle Hebrews? Guess you probably can't lose either way...
     
  13. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    That question is a good one and a difficult one to answer. As you say, though, you cannot lose either way. I would still be of the opinion that it is always best to begin with John Owen's shorter/easier works and try to work your way up to the more difficult material. That said, his summary of the contents of each chapter of Hebrews at the end of volume 2 is probably his most simple work.
     
  14. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

  15. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    Trucking right along! Is there a good bit of Latin sprinkled in the volumes?
     
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I have never understood why Owen held to the Mosaic the way he did after I became Reformed. Didn't understand it as a Particular Baptist either. I would classify him as a confused Particular Baptist when it comes to classic Reformed theology like I would classify Charles Wesley as a confused Calvinist. I can explain that. And can it be.
     
  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Still there is no rival to Sin and Temptation. Owen is the best.
     
  18. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, there is, although he translates a fair bit of it. There were, however, lengthy sections in volume 2 of extended quotations from an opponent which he left untranslated. I can make sense of some of his Greek citations, but am at a loss when it comes to Latin and Hebrew. But you cannot know everything, so not to worry.
     
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    John Owen could also be a scholar on the Trinity. Hebrews deals with much of our Genesis and Salvation.
     
  20. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    ;)
     
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Just now saw this. No, I Haven't read it. I've read parts of his take on 7-9, but nothing in detail.
     
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I have a question. I have asked this before, during what time of his life did Owen do this wonderful work? We all develop and mature theologically different. Sometimes we write with more clarity or write so exhaustively we can cloud issues. We write in time and based upon situations environmentally. Owen was a top scholar. I am asking this question because Owen has said much concerning the Covenant of grace and the Mosaic covenant. I would like to know when his comments were written in regards to other statement made in his works.

    Does that make sense?
     
  23. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    From what I can gather from the bibliography at the back of Crawford Gribben's book, John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat, Owen appears to have published this work between 1668 and 1684 (the final volume must have been published posthumously, as he died in August 1683). I have heard it said that it is better to focus on Owen's writings post-1660, as they are supposed to be much more mature than his earlier works.

    Most people make the mistake of beginning with his Death of Death, but that was an early work published in 1648. It suffers from being unnecessarily ostentatious and overly difficult to read. As he matured, Owen learned to communicate more clearly and I have found that much of his corpus is a lot easier to read than the Death of Death.


    Owen discusses this subject in the Excercitations somewhere in the opening two volumes of Hebrews (I have three forthcoming blog posts stating his view). Off the top of my head, I am not sure where else he outlined his views concerning republication. It might be worth checking the references to the chapter on this subject in A Puritan Theology (if you have it).

    In fact, I decided to publish one of Owen extracts on this subject while we were talking: John Owen on the sanction of the law as a covenant of works and its republication to Israel.

    Although I hold to a form of republication, I would not necessarily fully commit myself to Owen's opinions on the issue.
     
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  24. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    N.B. I do not know why a strike-through appears in the above text. How do you remove it?
     
  25. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I just logged on Daniel. Thank you for your response. As you and I know we want to be represented honestly.
     
  26. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Finished volume 3 of Hebrews a day ahead of schedule (not bad given that I am slowly reading another book for review), which means that I have now read 10 volumes of John Owen since late December. Early last year, I concentrated on reading a lot of Thomas Aquinas and got through the whole of Summa Theologica (I had previously read about 15% of it). This year, I have decided to concentrate on the remainder of Owen's writings that I have not previously read. God-willing, I hope to finish the final four volumes of Hebrews over the next couple of months.

    Of course, when I finish all 24 volumes, the next challenge will be to go back and re-read the volumes that I read years ago, especially works such as The Death of Death.
     
  27. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I read the first c. 100 pages of volume 4 today. Whenever you get the chance, it is worth your time making the effort to read these volumes.
     
  28. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I finished volume 4 today; with the exception of the references to Hebrew and Latin (and some of the extended discussions on the Greek), the commentary is remarkably easy to read.
     
  29. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    Logos has Owen's Hebrews commentary set on sale for $28 right now. I may go for it. If I didn't stock on commentaries during their March Matchup event there would be no hesitations.
     
  30. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would not spend money on the Logos version when you may read it elsewhere online for free.
     
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