SELECTED COMMENTS ON

IRVING HEXHAM'S BOOKS

July 1998

1. The Irony of Apartheid, foreword by Ninian Smart, (Lewiston, Edwin Mellen, 1981), pp. 239.

a. This excellent book...discusses the historical background of the system of apartheid...The myth of apartheid, its creation, development, and `experience' are analyzed...The theme of this book rests upon the hypothesis that apartheid is a myth and should be understood as such...this myth has been transformed and crystallized into a political ideology upon which apartheid rests as the basis for Afrikaner nationalism ...

Emma S. Etuk, Journal of Church and State, Autumn, 1983, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 576-577.

b. It is a fascinating theory and it carries conviction. For, by locating the true source of apartheid in the doctrines of the Christian National movement which Professor Hexham admits, never comprised more than a small percentage of the Afrikaner people, it can be seen why the policy of the present government of South Africa wins support of people of widely differing views...this is undoubtedly a book which will make anyone interested in South Africa think very hard about his preconception."

Kenneth Ingham, The Times Literary Supplement, 23 April, 1982, p. 468.

c. To get the measure of thinkers like Groen van Prinsterer and Abraham Kuyper requires a good deal of intellectual sophistication, and it is one of the real merits of this book that the author has been able to present their ideas with such clarity ... The book is also valuable for the new perspective which its author proposes...His assessment of the period seems correct ... and he presents a convincing case ... the book on the whole has emerged from an imaginative and impressively thorough investigation, well grounded in works of Dutch and Afrikaans origin.

T.H.R. Davenport, South African Historical Journal, No. 14, November 1982, pp. 109-110.

d. From a wide range of sources, and a good acquaintance with the people and the Churches he is discussing, the author manages to present varying attitudes with a fair degree of balance...a carefully researched account of the theoretical origins of Afrikaner religious attitudes, applied in the social and political sphere, the book has vary great merits.

Edward Norman, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 33, No.4, October 1982, p. 666.

 

2. Understanding Cults, Sects, and New Religious Movements, with Karla Poewe (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986), pp. 170.

a. This is one of the most important studies of conversion and the modern mind that I have read...an important apologetic. I urge pastors and youth ministers to give it a few hours of your time it will help you help your people."

L. Russ Bush, Southwestern Journal of Theology, Fall, 1987

b. Hexham and Poewe accomplish remarkably well their expressed purpose. Their emphasis on the social sciences provides a dimension often neglected...Thorough research and breadth of understanding of new religions characterizes this work. This book will constitute helpful reading for courses on contemporary religions and for those people who seek a balanced view of cults and new religions."

Missiology, Vol. XVI, No. 3, July 1988.

c. ... an important study about the proliferation of modern "cults" ... a remarkably wide understanding of modern culture and social conditions, they provide well-documented and illuminating background ...without slick answers. Excellent.

Expository Times, May, 1988

d. ... a provocative and often cogent interpretation of the emergence of the new religious consciousness which should be of interest to sociologists of religion as well as its intended audience of Christian laity and clergy.

William H. Norman, Sociological Analysis, 2nd Qtr, 1989

 

3. Religion, Economics, and Social Thought, edited, with Walter Block (Vancouver, The Fraser Institute, 1986), pp. 573.

a. The design of the conference and careful editing...result in a broad and rich introduction to the subject. Readers will appreciate the balance of scholars on both the political left and right, each of whom is conversant with theology...Most of the authors are Christians but important perspectives are also offered by Jewish and Muslim scholars presentation of the current "theology of economics"... a thorough even-handed debate.

John W. Copper, Critical Review of Books and Religion, Vol. 1, 1988, pp. 267-269.

b. ... not so much a dialogue...as it is exposition and discussion of religious perspectives...the papers...provide some rich historical information ... The rich footnoting of the papers is a valuable resource ... Most are followed by further discussions edited by Irving Hexham ... The Frazer Institute is to be commended for its effort to open dialogue not only between theologians and economists, but also among various religious traditions, and for including numerous advocates of positions radically different from its own.

George H. Crowell, Studies in Religion, Vol. 17, No. 1, 1988, p. 120-121.

c. It is a considerable effort. The conference organizers have sought to engage three sets of often polarized groups ... the proceedings can easily be judged successful ... Irving Hexham's comments are also particularly interesting for the South African reader as he criticizes the looseness in Neo-Calvinist thought...

Noah Pickus, Koers, August, 1987, pp. 571-575.

d. This is a wide-ranging and fascinating collection of papers...a very good compilation, well worth having in one's library.

Salim Rashid, Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 1991.

 

4. Zulu Religion: Texts and Interpretations. Vol. I: Traditional Zulu Ideas About God (Lewiston, Edwin Mellen, 1987), pp. 455.

a. Irving Hexham ... is no stranger to South Africa and South African religious themes. He has become known particularly because of his important studies on Afrikaner cultural and political development and thinking ... In this book, the versatile Hexham, has investigated the religious traditions of yet another segment of South Africa's population: the Zulu...The primary value of Hexham's publication lies in his making accessible to modern readers some rare sources on Zulu religion and culture ... Africanists ... owe Hexham their gratitude for having provided them with an important research tool.

David Bosch, Missionalia, Vol 17, No. 1, April 1989, pp. 56-57.

Religious studies are thriving in Africa ... Mindful of the fact that many instructors teach comparative religion with no reference the African religions, Hexham brought these texts together to make primary data on African religion available...The book is a source of fascination historical data on the interaction between the world view of Christian missionaries and Zulu religious thought.

Carol V. McKinney, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1991, p. 137-138.

c. While the founders of comparative religion in the nineteenth century recognized the importance of African religion, its study declined towards the beginning of the twentieth century, and has never been revived. Since that time the field has been dominated by orientalists ... the situation is worsened by the lack of available texts--a state of affairs of which it is the chief aim of this book to remedy ... It is all fascinating reading ...

Hugo Meynell, Religious Studies and Theology, Vol. 9, No. 1, January, 1989, pp. 52-53.

d. The author of this book has tried to stick to the topic ... The bulk of the book is a compilation of those texts which are superbly fleshed out ... Hexham has tried to do what many interpreters of Zulu religion have failed to do, i.e. let the text speak for itself and allow the reader to make up his or her own conclusions ... Hexham's work is, on the whole highly commendable. One wishes that a book like this should have been produced long ago.

Lizo D. Jafta, Department of Theology, University of South Africa, published review source unknown.

 

5. Afro-Christian Religion & Healing in Southern Africa, editor, with G.C. Oosthuizen (Lewiston, Edwin Mellen, 1989), pp. 432.

a. … the significance of this volume lies ... in the fact that South African anthropologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and theologians could talk with rather than at each other about pastoral theology and healing in the work of independent churches ... the volume will be used in graduate and research studies ...

Choice, January, 1990.

b. ... a major contribution...

Norman E. Thomas, Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, 1993, p. 89.

c. The diverse interdisciplinary approach is the strenght of the book. It is well researched...a must reading for missiologists, medical professionals, missionaries, anthropologists, and sociologists interested in the holistic healing practices of Africa amidst contemporary and changing societies.

J. Nathan Corbitt, Missiology, Vol. 20, 1994, pp. 536-537.

 

6. The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, editor J.D. Douglas, consulting editor, with Robert G. Clouse et al (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1991), pp. 896.

a. The tone is balanced and scholarly throughout.

J.K. Elliot, Novum Testamentum, Vol. XXXV, No. 2, 1993, p. 204.

b. Obviously, all theological schools and colleges will need a copy of this to update their bibliography in the 20th. century ... The work is an important work which will doubtless gain wide acceptance ... It is to be commended for its breadth of articles ...

William H. Hendricks, Review and Expositor, Vol. 89, 1992, p. 133-134.

c. ... a useful ready reference source on current and recent developments in religion. It can be recommended especially for public and academic libraries ...

Booklist, September 15, 1991, p. 195.

d ... well written and informative ... the encyclopedia can be recommended for public and academic collections.

Craig W. Beard, American Retail Books Association, Vol. 4, 1992, p. 582.

 

7. Empirical Studies of African Independent/Indigenous Churches, edited, with G. C. Oosthuizen (Lewiston, Edwin Mellen), 1992, pp. 345.

a. ... brings together descriptions, histories, and commentaries by both insiders and outsiders.

Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven, Reading, MA, 1994, p. 329.

 

8. A Concise Dictionary of Religion (Downers Grove, Inter-Varsity, 1993), pp. 245.

a. ... provides essential material ... is seldom obscure ... illuminating and informed ... entries show sustained and wide learning ... and this scholarship is displayed with finesse.

James A. Beverly, Christianity Today, 3 October 1994, p. 40-41.

b. Hexham ... strives after total neutrality ... The entries are, however, clearly written ... an amazingly easy read.

Donald G. Mackay, Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland, February 1994.

c. The strength of this small volume is undoubtedly its accessibility to those who are coming new to the subject ... A quick sampling of the entries reveals a wide breadth of knowledge ... The entries are generally factual rather than critical, though they employ an extensive system of cross-referencing ...

John Drane, Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 15, September 1994, p. 60

d. Religious pluralism in the West is increasing...Till now there has been no concise, reasonably priced reference work covering the basic terms and names ... Hexham's book remedies this lack ... a wonderful gift for students ...

RWY, Presbyterian, Fall 1993, p. 127.

 

9. The Scriptures of the amaNazaretha of Ekuphakameni, translated from the Zulu by the Rt. Rev. Londaukosi iNsiKayakho Shembe and Hans-Jhrgen Becken, with introductory essays by Irving Hexham and G.C. Oosthuizen and (Calgary, University of Calgary Press, 1994), pp. xlix + 144.

a. Several features combine to make this book probably the best collection of primary sources about any African independent church movement ... Rarely do we find such a cluster of able scholars enjoying such a good working relationship with the leaders of an African religious movement over such a long period of time.

Stan Nussbaum, Review of African Independent Churches, Vol. 5, No. 3, September-December 1994, pp. 19-20.

b. ... einen Standard ... in der editorischen als auch in der guten Kombination von hervorragender wissenschaftlicher Analyse und Dokumentation ...

Ulrich van der Heyden, Zeitschrift für Mission, Vol. XXII, No3, 1996, pp. 198-199.

 

10. New Religions as Global Cultures, with Karla Poewe (Boulder, Westview Press, March 1997) pp. 180.

a. … an ambitious book written for the general audience, particularly college students … The author's thesis is that various new religions should be understood in a global context … The first chapter … paints a miserable picture of evangelicals as unscholarly, uninformed and reactionary - a picture that fits some … The authors' overall method … vacillates between attempting a nonjudgmental description … and giving a critical analysis … Their long discussion of shamanism never explores the possibility that some shamans may be demonized …

Douglas Groothuis, Christian Research Journal, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 52-53.

b. … an ambitious attempt to synthesize the scope and diversity of New Religions on a global scale … Their approach is more respectful than polemical … The authors have introduced an important and exciting topic: that new religions are increasingly the result of, and manners of dealing with, cultural contact. This will provide an important thinking point in post-colonial studies of religion.

Rudy Leon, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 24, No. 2, April 1998, p. 177.

The unique and helpful contribution of the Hexham/Poewe volume is their discussion of NRM's cross-culturally from a global perspective. Seldom in books on this topic do we learn about new religions in Asia or about Africa's new religions. And they argue convincingly that religious conversion cannot be understood without taking into account the crucial role of primal experiences.

Ronald Enroth, Books and Culture November/December 1997, Vol. 3, No. 6, p. 36.

Hexham and Poewe prove to be intelligent analysts and critics of new religions ... highly intellectual ... This treasure trove of provocative insights and propostions should in any case be read by all serious students of modern spiritual ferment.

Tom Robbins, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 37, No. 2, June 1998, pp. 375-376.