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

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

  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I have now read the 16 volumes of John Owen doctrinal and practical works as well as the so-called Biblical Theology (not the original title). Other than his brief defence of the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, I have done little else other than occasionally dip into the 7-volumes on Hebrews. Would reading all 7-volumes be a good use of time?

    Given my current life situation, I have reasoned that if I do not make the effort to read the Hebrews commentary now, I probably never will again. When I put my mind to it, I can usually read one volume of Owen in less than a week. Since the end of December, I have read 7 volumes of his writings, so it stands to reason that I could read 7 more volumes.
     
  2. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Why would you want to skip his magnum opus?
     
  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I cannot think of a good reason to skip it. The only reason is that 7 volumes on one book of the Bible are too much, but given that Hebrews is my favourite book in the New Testament, that excuse wears very thin. Besides, it makes little sense to read so much of John Owen and not read his magnum opus.
     
  4. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would say go for it, brother. Owen is a top contender for my favorite Puritan and Hebrews is my favorite portion of Scriptures. Those two combined form the summit of studies in my opinion. Sadly, I have yet to tackle it. The furthest I have gotten has been his "Sacerdotal Office of Christ" republished by Christian Focus as "The Priesthood of Christ." It is a colossal 357-page excursus contained in his Hebrews commentary. The man was impressive.
     
  5. Berean by Grace

    Berean by Grace Puritan Board Freshman

    If I had these volumes, I would read through them just to bask in the devotions of such a grand puritan. I have Martyn Lloyd-Jones 14 volume series on Romans (also the 8 volumes on Ephesians), which happens to be a delight to read. It would seem that such a long series would be a waste, but think of them as a thorough educational experience. Treading through the sermons of Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon have also proved to be excellent. To me, anything that is so bound in the Word of God is time well spent. Owen, Baxter, Watson, Dodderidge, Evans, etc are worth the time.
     
  6. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    You could weigh it in the balance with Joseph Caryl's commentary on Job to make you feel better about it. :pilgrim:
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  7. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    Or as Owen himself would likely phrase it, his opus magnum o_O
     
  8. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

  9. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    Wasn’t he also a man who survived all of children and wives? Talk about a trials...
     
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  10. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Indeed. Only one of his 11 children made it to adulthood. He also outlived that child. He had quite the life.

    "Not long after his removal to Fordham, he was married to a lady of the name of Rooke. But nearly all the information that has descended to us regarding this union amounts to this: that the lady bore to him eleven children, all of whom, except one daughter, died in early youth. This only daughter became the wife of a Welsh gentleman; but the union proving unhappy, she ‘returned to her kindred and to her father’s house,’ and soon after died of consumption."

    Thomson, Andrew. John Owen: Prince of Puritans (Kindle Locations 311-315). Christian Focus Publications. Kindle Edition.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  11. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    An interesting question: should one read all of the preliminary exercitations (essays) before or after reading the commentary proper?

    To put it another way: do the exercitations set up the commentary or do they provide reflections after having read the commentary first?
     
  12. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    They were written to expound on topics that would be discussed in the commentary proper.
     
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Thanks. So, they help set up and introduce the commentary.
     
  14. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I am going to read it. The results so far are 100% in favour of me doing so.
     
  15. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Sophomore

    Did you seriously expect a different result here? :p
     
  16. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I was hoping that someone would show up and say, "You are wasting your time" and then explain why. No one has, so I voted "yes."
     
  17. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry, late to the session, Daniel. But yes!

    I've read the whole at least once, and larger parts of it three or more times.
     
  18. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    Okay Daniel. No! Don't read it! Read 'Power of Positive Thinking' by NVP instead. I won't be so ornery as to check 'No' in the poll though.
     
  19. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I had already read the defence of the Pauline authorship of Hebrews at the beginning of volume one, so I started reading at part II and have read 75 pages today with more to follow shortly. All being well, I hope to have volume 1 read by next Sabbath.
     
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  20. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    I know it’s getting late there but that has me curious!
     
  21. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I read that section of volume 1 many years ago. John Owen defends the view that Paul wrote Hebrews. I remain unconvinced, and I cannot be bothered reading it again.
     
  22. Brian R.

    Brian R. Puritan Board Freshman

    Reformed Covenanter, I'm always impressed with folks like you who can tackle large works like Owen on Hebrews. I'm jealous, as I know it would take me many years to accomplish.

    Care to reveal your reading routine/method? In other words, how do you do it?
     
  23. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Basically, I consider it to be largely a matter of concentration. I can generally read c. 200 pages a day. Owing to my current health situation, I do not have the ability to read academic history or to do primary research the way that I used to, but, since I find it much easier to read theology, I may as well read tomes such as John Owen's in order to redeem the time.
     
  24. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    A. W. Pink's commentary seems to be a summary and abridgment of Owen's work. I recommend that if you want a quicker read.
     
  25. chuckd

    chuckd Puritan Board Sophomore

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  26. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I finished volume 1 earlier today. The highlight was John Owen's critique of Jewish theology, especially in relation to soteriology.
     
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  27. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am quite curious about Owen's defense of Pauline authorship. Can you give some brief points he makes? Or point me to the location of where he argues this?
     
  28. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    See the first c. 140 pages of Hebrews, volume 1. I read it about 15 years ago and have no wish to ever read it again. I glanced over it briefly and noted that he answers the claims that various other people such as Apollos and Barnabas wrote the epistle.
     
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  29. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    I have both - and Caryl's weighs a lot more ;)
     
  30. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    I thought you would say if you read Vos on Hebrews it would save you a lot of reading :p
     

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