Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: The Life of Charles Hodge

Title:   The Life of Charles Hodge

General Subject Matter:  Biographical

Theme:  A memoir of the life, ministry, and legacy of Dr. Charles Hodge

Thesis:  The life of Hodge although quiet had been one of remarkable literary activity and of protracted and extended influence, involving an intimate association with many of the most interesting characters and events of the century. (Preface, p. ix)

Author:  A. A. Hodge

Copyright Date1880 (2010)

ISBN: 978 1 184871 090 0

The purpose of this book is to tell the remarkable story of a great 19th century scholar, theologian, professor, preacher, husband, and father. A. A. Hodge was the renowned son of Charles Hodge who decided to write a biography of his father, in his own words, "I undertook the work because I could secure the agency of none of those who would be more competent. That I am a son is an advantage in so far as the relation secures special opportunities of information." This book chronicles the life, times, and activities of Dr. Hodge quite thoroughly.

As far as my analysis and evaluation of this book I shall do my best not to seem contradictory nor schizophrenic. I enjoyed learning about this great man. He is the author of a renowned multi-volume Systematic Theology, exegetical commentaries based on the Greek Language which include Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, First and Second Corinthians. Hodge was an extremely influential man in both the Presbyterian denomination and Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey. A. A. Hodge endeavored to be detailed,in his biography of his father. A. A. Hodge divided the life of his father into segments of specific years and events significant during those years. A. A. records events from December 27, 1797 to his death June 19, 1878 in a very orderly fashion.

This book contains very interesting information about Charles Hodge and gives a great glimpse to the reader of his life and ministry, while being the hardest book I have ever read. A. A. Hodge is not an exciting or interesting writer. The reader must be determined and must persevere to the end of 650 pages. A. A. could not have designed this book to be any more boring than it could possibly be.

A. A. includes within his biographical description numerous letters by and to Dr. Charles Hodge. These letters at times contain tid-bits of great information and insight, but for the most part slow the reader down and make it very difficult to read. 

In summary, A. A. Hodge succeeded in achieving his goal of giving to the general public a complete memoir of the life of Dr. Charles Hodge. The strength of this book is the in depth information that the reader has access to concerning the elder Hodge's life. The detail is wonderful. The information is beneficial to understanding this great man and his place in both church and Christian history. 

The weaknesses of this book is the inclusion with in the text of all those letters. They should have in my humble opinion been referred to by excerpts, footnoted and included in an appendix. The weakness of this book has been previously stated: it is a hard and boring read.

I still highly recommend this book to every believer. Dr. Charles Hodge was greatly used by our Lord to affect Christianity positively even through today. There is much to learn in this book.

Watch for periodic book reviews by the Gospel-driven Disciples. Solomon said there was no end to the making of books, therefore we have to choose what we read wisely and with great discernment. Not every book is worthy of its purchase price. From time I will offer reviews, both good and bad, of various books.



Another good read and a book that ought to be more written about,
It seems a most interesting book and I shall look out for it at our book shops here,

Thanks for the visit and comments, glad you liked the GJ song, thought you would.


Petra said...

Hard and boring but highly recommended...hmmm! Sounds like something worthwhile to crawl through.

Gregg Metcalf said...

Yvonne - I think you would like it.

Petra - There were some great parts and I love Hodge and his commentaries - that is what makes it recommended but A. A. is a boring writer and the volumes of letters, page after page, I think is what did me in. If you like biographies of great men of God and have some familiarity with Hodge makes it something "worthwhile to crawl through." :)