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The life of Charles Hodge

July 2011 | by Wayne Pearce

The life of Charles Hodge

A. A. Hodge
Banner of Truth; 655 pages, £17.00; ISBN: 978-1-84871-090-0

Those familiar with Charles Hodge’s magisterial Systematic theology, his commentaries on Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Ephesians, and his wonderfully succinct and erudite The way of life will warmly welcome this biography written by his son and successor at Princeton Theological Seminary, Archibald Alexander Hodge.
Although The life follows a conventional chronological trajectory from birth to death, it does not read like a typical biography. Instead the author allows his subject to speak for himself through the inclusion of autobiographical accounts, letters and journal articles.
The life provides us with an account of Hodge’s life and loves, relationships and ministry as a teacher, preacher, apologist and defender of the faith. We discover his view on and involvement in the theological, ecclesiological, moral, social and political issues and developments of his time.
Hodge became the foremost theologian in the USA in the nineteenth century and was professor at Princeton for over 50 years, where he taught and helped in the preparation of some 3000 prospective ministers and missionaries for service in Christ’s church, both at home and overseas.
He was a stalwart defender of the reformed faith. Through his books and journal articles, his influence transcended Princeton and the Presbyterian church in America to a worldwide constituency.
William Cunningham’s apposite description of Hodge as ‘one of the ablest and most influential expounders and defenders of Calvinism’ ought not only whet the appetite of Christians today to read this biography, but ought similarly to encourage us to study Hodge’s works ourselves.
Spurgeon wrote that there were ‘no abler theologians than the Hodges … Oh for more Princeton theology, for it is the teaching of the Word of God’. With a blend of biography, theology and history, this work should appeal to a wide readership.
It is both interesting and instructive, although a little editing and commentary might have made it even more accessible to contemporaries.
Wayne Pearce
Skye

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