Review of Bavinck, A Critical Biography by James Eglinton

Bavinck, A Critical Biography by James Eglinton, 2020, Baker Academic, 450 pp.

This will be something short of a proper review as I intend to only make a few short comments.

Try as I might I can’t find myself interested in Herman Bavinck. (I only read this book because my brother, who knows the author, gave me a copy.) And the book’s endorsements from Timothy Keller and Richard Mouw didn’t exactly increase my interest.

That being said, this was an excellent book. Eglinton is great at detailing the characters in this real life drama. I grew particularly interested in Simon Van Velzen (who is spoken of favorably by PRCA theologians) and of Snouck Hurgronje, who had a very unorthodox life in more ways than one. Eglinton was also good at explaining Dutch history and Dutch church history in general to provide the setting for Bavinck’s life and work.

As for this being “A Critical Biography” the criticism of Bavinck was not prominent. More criticism was directed against Ron Gleason, the most recent of Bavinck’s six (!) previous biographers. Virtually every reference to Gleason is critical. (see: pp. xx, 45, 60, 71, 137, 211, 291, 343n43, 364n16)

For those, like myself, who have limited enthusiasm on things Bavinck, you can certainly rejoice in that this biography should end Bavinck biography writing.

1 thought on “Review of Bavinck, A Critical Biography by James Eglinton”

  1. I know what you mean Doug! I am not a big fan of Bavinck or Kuyper either. At least the author wrote a book where there is not a lot of traffic (to my knowledge). It disturbs me when someone writes the 40th bio of Spurgeon, the 50th bio of Edwards or the 100th bio of Calvin or Luther. I understand some men deserve more than one bio to present different angles as you are going to have some critics, some hagiographies and some objective but I question any man is so multifaceted as to need 100 different bios.

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