Book Review by Ken Speer
Finis Jennings Dake
His Life and Ministry
by Leon Bible

Dake Publishing, Inc.
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046
2006    417 pages

How appropriate that this book was authored by a man with the last name of "Bible".

Finis Jennings Dake was born in 1902. His father was not a professed Christian but was a good man who was very astute at business and built up several businesses. Tragically, he died at a young age, leaving 9 year-old Finis and his family facing, not only a great loss, but a cold world for which they were not ready. Finis quit school and did what he could to help out, financially. Events in his life eventually brought him to the position of turning to God. At the age of 17, he surrendered his life to Christ. And...surrender was the appropriate term.

Three months later, after much seeking, Dake was "filled with the Spirit" and, along with it, received an amazing gift of knowledge of the scriptures. He could quote hundreds of Bible verses even though he hadn't memorized them. In fact, before his conversion he had never read an entire chapter of the Bible. His knowledge of exact quotations of scripture earned him the title, "The Walking Bible", by the Christian community. People would travel for miles to meet him. Indeed, he even won over his greatest skeptics. Once, responding to a particular challenge by a skeptic to quote the New Testament, he agreed to do so if it would be broadcast by the local radio station and be done publicly. So, being set up in a store-front window of the town, he sat in a chair and quoted the entire New Testament over the airwaves.

One might think that one with this amazing knowledge of scripture would find little need for study. Such was not the case with Dake, as those with whom he was familiar called him. He was obsessed with the study of the Bible, spending over 100,000 hours in deep study. He would go for days without sleep in his quest to master the contents of the Word. He, also, challenged others to become students of the Word and was involved in the founding of several Bible colleges, some of which remain to this day. He would serve in a number of capacities; teacher, principal, dean, and others. On top of his involvement in these colleges, he and his wife, Dorothy also pastored quite a lot of different churches. Many times, after preaching a sermon to his congregation, he would retire to his study to spend the entire night perusing the pages of the Bible. Close friend, Lester Sumrall, noted that Dake's eyes were constantly red for lack of sleep. He would preach in Assembly of God, Baptist, Foursquare, Methodist, Church of God, Presbyterian, and most every other denomination that one could think of.

His hermeneutical philosophy was to take the words of the Bible literally when at all possible. If this was not possible in certain passages, one was to determine the literal meaning conveyed by the symbolic words. His belief was that God was perfectly capable of communicating with humans in a language that they understood and that He, indeed, did so. This resulted in some controversy. Two conclusions seemed to bring him the most grief among his peers. One, his teaching that a social system existed before Adam was created, known as the "Pre-Adamite World", and, two, the teaching that the "sons of God" that took the "daughters of men" for wives in the 6th chapter of Genesis were, in actuality, fallen angels. The union of the two produced the "giants in the earth". Once, being confronted with the choice of abandoning this teaching or losing his collegiate position, he elected to step down, refusing to compromise the literal Word. He, though, would proceed to begin yet another Bible school.

He authored several books, including "God's Plan for Man", a thorough study of the entire Word divided into 52 lessons, and "Revelation Expounded". His most recognized achievement, though, is undoubtedly "Dake's Annotated Reference Bible", for which he spent 6 years compiling his life-time of Bible notes. It was rendered in the King James version with 4 columns on each page. The middle two columns are the words of scripture and the outside columns are his personal notes and scripture references. I have, personally, heard nationally recognized Christian speakers proclaim that the Dake Bible was the greatest Bible ever compiled. I have been acquainted with Dake for the last 33 years and have often stated to friends my amazement that one man could accomplish such a task in one lifetime. After reading this book, I better understand that he crammed several lifetimes of study into his 84 years.

His life is exhaustively covered in this book. He would go on to speak alongside some of the most famous Christian speakers of his time, including Corrie Ten Boom, Dave Hunt, Dr. J. Rodman Williams, Larry Christenson, Ralph Wilkerson, Rex Humbard, Oral Roberts, and Kathryn Kuhlman. He appeared several times on the PTL Club at it's height of popularity. Billy Graham visited him before he died and the two giants of Christianity spent several hours re-living their greatest moments in the Lord's service. I'm not sure that Dake ever really comprehended how great a gift he was given for he longed for the "fullness" of the Spirit and to work the works of Christ. He once fasted for 40 days in an attempt to receive the Spirit without measure. So much did he see his shortcomings that he never seemed to fully appreciate what he had.

For those of us familiar with Dake (my father actually heard him speak at a camp-meeting, once, and brought me back an autographed copy of God's Plan for Man), this book is an easy read for it addresses a lot of things about which we had wondered  For those not familiar with him, it may be a bit more difficult to read. It contains a lot of teaching in an attempt to help the reader understand the conclusions at which Dake had arrived in his studies. It is very detailed, as one might expect of a book written about a very detail-oriented person. At worst, it is about a man that lived during the early part of the century and was a big part of great spiritual renewal in the country. At best, it is documentation of a great man of God who devoted his life to God and His Word and a tremendous challenge to the reader to take more seriously the commandment to "study to shew thyself approved".

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