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Author(s): M. Sprengling
Review by: M. Sprengling
Source: The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Oct., 1919), pp. 552-553
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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Accessed: 08-05-2015 07:54 UTC

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Christian and Pagan.


Gorham Press,


1918. 276 pages.

This is a very timely book in the present state of thought among a great number
of people. The difficulty is that the people who need this book most are least likely
to read it. There is today a great increase of premillennial propaganda in the church,
and upon relatively untrained minds it makes a profound impression. This book,
with its full story of the rise and fall of similar systems of thought throughout all ages
and among all nations, is calculated to give pause to any who have entertained hopes
of a speedy return of Jesus in personal form for the inauguration of the promised
messianic millennium.
The book is the result of an appalling amount of reading. It traces the movements
of messianism among the Jews, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Negroes, American
Indians, and Christians. The closing three chapters are concerned with "Messiahs
and Miracles," "The Messiah and Politics," and "An Interpretation of Messianic
The book is not easy reading, for it is very largely a mass of quotations from
many and widely variant sources. Full citations of literature enable the student
to check up on the author's information at his will. The exposition of the various
messianic beliefs is brief but on the whole fair and clear. An occasional inaccuracy is
not surprising in so great a mass of material. For example, what can be meant
(p. 54) by the statement "only in the Greek language does the name Christ signify the
the Messiah" ? Again, on page 37, we fail to see how the author
Anointed One . ...
knows that only the upper classes of the Jews were carried into captivity if, as he says,
the Old Testament leads us to "suppose that all of the Jews were carried away by
Assyria" (sic!). A little more care likewise would have greatly improved the proofreading. But the main merit of the book lies in the fact that it shows clearly that the
messianic conception is one that belongs exclusively to no one section of the human
race but is a common possession of all.
J. M. P. S.
JOSEPH,ISYA. Devil Worship, The Sacred Books and Traditionsof the Yezidiz.
Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1919. 222 pages. $2.50.
On the reviewer's desk lies a book whose lurid red covers and no less lurid title
are designed to attract attention. Though dealing with a minor sect, Dr. Isya Joseph's
essay on the devil worship of the Yezidis, or rather on the devil-worshiping Yezidis,
is intended to fill no small place in the "World Worship Series."
The main thesis of the book is fairly well set forth and deserves the attention of
everyone seriously interested in the history of religion. It rests upon a statement in
the celebrated Book of Religions and Religious Sects of the well-known Arabic author
Shahrastani. In a nutshell the thesis is this, that the name Yezidis is to be traced not
to the Ummayad Caliph Yezid I, but to Yezid ibn Unaisa, one of a great number of
founders of Kharigite sects. Beside this main thesis the volume offers not a little
interesting and important information about the development and the modern aspects
of this curious religious body.
Unfortunately the book is marred by not a little dogmatism and scientific vanity
and immaturity. One example of many will suffice in illustration: Note i on chap. vii,

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page 210, is simply mystification to the ordinary reader and is, moreover, about
as incorrect as it can well be. Further the English reader not conversant with Arabic,
Persian, Kurdish, Turkish, etc., for whom the book is intended, will be still more
bewildered by the extraordinary number of misprints, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies, in transliteration of foreign words, proper names, etc. To mention only a
few glaring examples, why head the book and every other page with the impossible
and mystifying form Yezidiz, when the final z is simply the English plural ending s ?
The unfortunate reader who looks elsewhere in encyclopedias or histories for 'Abd
Mousa al-As -Aree, Am ibn-al 'As, Ashahr-Astani, page 12I, will be sorely disappointed.

AltonSalhani,K. F. Harper,Schwolsohn:Dies Sabien,gutterals,are no better.

The copy which is now in the hands of the reviewer (June I, 1919) contains no
mention of the fact that a large part of the book is substantially a reprint of the author's
dissertation for the doctorate, published in AJSL, XXV (I908/9), 11-56 and 218-54.
The proofreading of these articles, done under the watchful eye of George F. Moore,
is as good as that of the book is bad. The general reader who is interested in the book's
essential contribution to knowledge will find these articles a safer guide than the
M. S.
Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei.
Classe di Science Morali, Storiche
e Filologiche.
Serie Quinta, Vol. XXVI, Fasc.
Rome, 1917.
An interesting contribution to Lucretia literature with side lights on the papacy
in the fifteenth century by Pier Desiderio Pasolini (pp. 645-98); a book of Abyssinian
legends and traditions in a French translation published by Carlo Conti Rossini
(699-718); two Syriac tractates on palmomantics (divinatory interpretation of spasms
and spasmodic jerkings of various parts of the body), published with a retranslation
into the original Greek of the first by Guiseppe Furlani (719-32); notes on excavations
in Italy during 1917 (733-37); and a list of books presented to the Academy (738-54)
constitute the interesting and not unimportant, if somewhat heterogeneous, contents
of this number of the Rendiconti.
M. S.

Counterfeit Miracles. New York: Scribner, 1918.

327 pages. $2.00.
For several reasons this is an interesting book. It defends the thesis that with
the apostolic church miracles ceased. It collates an astonishingly long list of patristic,
mediaeval, and Roman Catholic "miracles." It rehearses the recent claims of the
Irvingite gifts, faith healing and mind cure, with a discussion of Christian Science.
Nearly a hundred closing pages are devoted to illustrative notes. The material was
delivered as lectures at the Columbia Theological Seminary, South Carolina. The
most arresting feature of this fluent presentation is a single slight omission which seems
to have escaped the attention of the lecturer and possibly that of the hearers, but which
the careful reader will not overlook; no definition is offered as to what constitutes a
miracle, and hence no test is provided by which to dislinguish "real" from "counterfeit" miracles, or even to identify any miracle as "real," even those of the New
Testament. The work represents a type of thought and method of inquiry, as well

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