By F. F. BRUCE, M.A.
THE DAWN OF WORLD REDEMPTION is the first of two volumes in which my friend Erich Sauer, Director of the Bible School, Wiedenest, Germany, has covered the
whole range of Biblical theology. Together with its companion volume, The Triumph of thc Crucified, it reviews the whole process of divine revelation which culminates in Christ, in such a way as to present clearly to the reader the historical unfolding of God's saving activity.
The twofold work in its German dress is highly esteemed in Germany and the other German-speaking areas of Europe; it has been greeted with unstinted praise by many well-known Christian leaders, including Dr. von Bodelschwingh, of Bethelbei-Bielefeld, and Professor Koberle. It has been translated into Dutch, Swedish, and Norwegian, the Norwegian translation being warmly commended to the people of Norway by Professor Hallesby. Translations into French and Spanish are also in preparation.
Our gratitude is due to those who are responsible for the appearance of this English translation. We have nothing quite so good, as far as I know, by way of a handbook of evangelical theology based, not on the logical sequence of most credal statements and dogmatic treatises, but on the historical order exhibited by the Bible itself. The thoroughly Biblical character of the whole work, in form as well as in substance, is a sheer delight.
It is assured of an appreciative reception here for its own intrinsic worth Mr. Sauer has a profound knowledge of the Biblical text and an unusual theological insight, coupled with gifts of original thought and vigorous expression. Good wine needs no bush; but as one who realized the value of these volumes when I first read them in German several years ago, I am specially pleased to see them made available to a still wider circle of readers in their English dress, and I cordially commend them to all English-speaking students of the Christian faith.
F. F. BRUCE
Professor Of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis
University Of Manchester.
This excellent work, and its equally excellent companion The Triumph of the Crucified, were written as one book.
My esteemed friend, the Author, gave me the privilege of reading the original manuscript. I know no English books that correspond to these and I felt that they ought to be made available to English readers. To this Herr Sauer gladly consented. The war greatly retarded the work, but at length, by the help of God, and the hearty co-operation of several friends, the books are now offered to all who search into the words and ways of God.
Of the friends mentioned my special thanks are due to Mr. R. C. Thomson, late Senior Translator at the Foreign Office, for carefully scrutinizing the translations of both books, and making many valuable suggestions.
But I am especially happy that Herr Sauer and his wife were able to go through both translations with me in minute detail. Their competent knowledge of English has assured a degree of exactness in representing his meanmg scarcely otherwise to have been attained.
I have added a few notes, marked [Trans.], and the matter in square brackets is mine.
Quotations from Scripture are given in the English Revised Version or the American Standard Version, but frequently, where the writer's thought follows some particular turn of the German, a more literal rendering in English is given.
These works have had a quite remarkable circulation in German, before, during, and since the war. They have been translated into Swedish and Nonvegian, and one into Dutch. Also a Spanish translation is being prepared. May the illumination of the Spirit of truth attend them in English.
G. H. LANG
It is with gratitude to the Lord that I see my two books, Thc Dawn of World Redemption and The Triumph of the Crucified, being published in English. I have read and approved this translation and have used the opportunity at the same time to make some improvements and changes from the German text. I am very much indebted to the translator of both books, Mr. G. H. Lang, for his very careful and most reliable work.
the text contains many Scripture references (in Dawn of World Redemption about 2,200, in Triumph of the Crucified about 3,700). They are intended, not only to prove from the Word of God itself the statements given in the books, but also to help those readers who will use what is here offered for their private Bible study or in preparation for preaching the Word. Not seldom they are at the same time an expansion of the line of thought.
In the German editions I have given theological literary references. But as these are not of great profit to the English reader, I have omitted them in the English edition. German-speaking English readers may find them in the German editions. (Quotations are set everywhere in inverted commas.
It is my prayer that God will use this English edition to the blessing of readers and to the glory of His name.
The history of salvation stands or falls-nay, it stands with the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is an undeniable fact that Christ distinctly acknowledged those portions of the Old Testament which are most challenged, as, for example, the literal historicity of Adam and Eve (Matt. 19: 8), the actual occurrence of the Flood (Matt. 24: 37, 38), and the miraculous experience of the prophet Jonah (Matt. 12: 39, 40). Most striking is His acknowledgment of the book of Daniel; for from this very book, today so much attacked by unbelief, He took the chief designation of His own Person (" Son of man ", Dan. 7: 13, 14; Matt. 26: 64). Indeed, it was with this book that He linked Himself by the only oath He ever took (Matt. 26: 63, 64; and comp. Matt. 24: I5). And as regards the future, He expected His own personal return in glory (Matt. 24: 27-31) and the literal establishment of the kingdom of Messiah as foretold by the prophets (Matt. I9: 28; Z5: 3I ff.; Acts I: 67). It was the same with His apostles. His attitude to the Old Testament was theirs.
According to Dr. Evans, in this Bible of the Lord Jesus (John 5: 39), the Old Testament, the phrase "thus saith the Lord" occurs 3,500 times. For Christ, the personal living "Word" (John. 14; Rev. 19: 13), a mere tittle or jot of the written Word was of more value than all star worlds and sun systems of the entire universe. "Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished" (Matt. 5: 18; comp. 24: 35; John 10:35)- And Paul, His greatest apostle, confesses: "I believe all things which stand written in the law and the prophets " (Acts 24: 14).
Faith in the Holy Scripture as a Divine revelation, and in its indestructible authority, is therefore no mechanical idolization of the letter and no small-minded unchristian bondage thereto, but has on its side the greatest spiritual personalities of salvation's history, including even Christ Himself, the Son of God. "The revelation stands, nay, it continues for us in the Scripture; it is continuing-there is no avoiding it-in the Bible texts, in thc words and sentences, in that which the prophets and apostles wished to say, and have said, as their testimony.
Thus we explain the history of salvation by reference to the King of that history. The whole revelation is a circle, and Jesus Christ is the centre of this circle. He is the sun, and from Him the whole circle is illuminated.
But if anyone, through unbelief or half belief, takes up a lame attitude to the Scripture, and particularly in reference to
the opening chapters of the Bible,
the prophecies of Daniel,
the meaning of the Cross,
the bodily resurrection and
the personal return of Christ,
to him will the beginning, thc middle, and the end of the Divine plan of redemption be unintelligible, and the wonderful divine temple of the history of salvation will remain to him a closed building.
The Bible, as the record of salvation, is one complete whole, an organism throbbing with life, and a system of prophecy wrought out in history according to plan. It is "a marvellous structure, of which the ground plan was prepared in advance", a harmonious, graduated whole, with perfect proportion and accord in all its parts, and having Christ as its goal. And the theme of the kingdom of God, with the rhythm of its progressively developing epochs and periods, is the leading basic melody of this whole majestic divine symphony.]
But we have to "bow down, observant and attentive, if we would catch the harmony of things acknowledged and existing". Thus can we interpret the Scripture as a record of God's plan of salvation. Only thereby is justice done to the essential and true nature of the Bible. It is to be read " age-wise", that is, according to the dispensations, economies, gradations, and groupings. Here the human spirit stands on the very highest possible prophetic watch-tower. Worlds and ages come within its expanded field of vision. Here it looks beyond the narrow circle of its own personality, beyond the frontiers of nationality and civilization, yea, beyond all the bounds of the present and of time itself. Here it embraces past, present, and future at once, surveying at the one time that which is and that which is coming into being, indeed its enlightened vision penetrates right into the heart of the All-Highest, even into the depths of the Godhead itself.
It is in this spirit that we would now enter upon our task, even the attempt to give an outline of thc "pilgrimage" through the millenniums of thc Divine unfolding of salvation, from the creation of thc world onward to Christ, the Redeemer of thc world.
No attempt is made to be exhaustive. Nor is it intended to give a comparison between the Biblical and the modern philosophical conceptions of the world, or to set over against each other the positive and the liberal-critical attitudes to the Bible in general. The book is not a defence of the faith, but a history of salvation. Too wide an extension of its task would have exceeded the space available. But, taking for granted that the Bible is right, the book does deal in all seriousness with the historical unity of the Bible, and seeks to review the Biblical plan of history and the development of mankind as they are therein represented from God's point of view in their harmonious variety, their cosmic universality, and their progressive ordering.
As regards the outward features of the present work, an attempt has been made to achieve general comprehensibility. For easier reading the whole has been divided into many small sections.
I am very conscious of the great imperfections and incompleteness of what is here set forth, yet I commend the whole work to the Lord and His grace. My prayer to Him is that He may use it to the service of His saints. Now to Himself, the "King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God, be honour and glory from eternity to eternity. Amen." (I Tim. I: I7).
Wiedenest, Rhineland, Germany.