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Gift of The American Institute 
of Sacred Literature 















Printed in the United States of America 

All rights reserved. ,No part of this book 
may be reproduced in any form without 
the permission of Charles Scribner's Sons 




THIS book represents the Hewett Lectures 
delivered in March, 1938, at the Episcopal 
Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts ; 
Union Theological Seminary, New York ; and 
the Andover-Newton Seminary. The lectures 
are now published substantially in the form in 
which they were delivered, but with a certain 
amount of revision. 

Some passages in the book are reproduced, 
by permission, from a lecture delivered in April, 
1937, and afterwards published, under the same 
title, for the Carmarthen Presbyterian College 
Past Students Association ; and portions of the 
material appeared in the Bulletin of the John 
Rylands Library, vol. xxii. no. i (April, 1938), 
under the title The Gospels as History : A Recon- 
sideration, and are reprinted by permission, with 
modifications. I am obliged to the holders of 
the copyright in each case for their generous 

C. H. D. 


August i, 1938. 




LIGION . . ' . . . .II 




IV. THE GOSPEL STORY . . . .113 





r T 1 HE study of the Gospels has recently entered 
JL upon a fresh phase. The aim of nineteenth- 
century criticism was defined as " the quest of 
the historical Jesus". Its method was .the 
minute analysis and assessment of the Gospels 
as historical documents. Its assumption, avowed 
or implicit, was that this method would succeed 
in eliminating from the records a mass of intru- 
sive material due to the faith and thought of 
the early Church (Gemeindetheologie). When this 
was done, the residue would lie before us as a 
solid nucleus of bare fact, upon which we might 
put our own interpretation, without regard to 
the interpretation given by the early Church in 
the documents themselves. Christianity might 
thus be reconstructed upon a basis of historical 
fact, scientifically assured. 

The modern school speaks with a different 
voice. It emphasizes the character of the Gospels 
as religious and not historical documents. It 
tends to decry the significance of mere facts of 



history, supposing they could be ascertained, and 
to doubt the possibility of ascertaining them. 

The change of outlook is no doubt partly to 
be explained by the apprehension that the older 
method was leading to barren results. But it is 
at bottom due to a change in the theological 
atmosphere. There has been a revolt against 
what is now called " historicism " (Historismus), 
and a renewed interest in Christian dogma, and 
consequently in the dogmatic aspect of the 
Gospels. Moreover, the former emphasis on 
divine immanence has given place to a fresh 
emphasis on transcendence. 

It is easy to see how this change of emphasis 
affects the view of the Bible. ,If the divine is 
to be identified with a tendency immanent in 
the historical process, then all that theology 
needs is to understand that process by purely 
" scientific " methods, which assume the 
homogeneity of the process in all its parts. 
There is no real place for a special revelation, 
which would make one particular piece of 
history different in character from all other 
pieces. The most that could properly be 
allowed to the Gospels was that they recorded 
events which might turn out to have made an 
exceptional impact upon the course of history, 
like (shall we say ?) the Persian Wars in ancient 


history, or the Reformation in modern history. 
This is not the estimate of the events in question 
which is to be found in the Gospels as they stand. 
They profess to report, not important historical 
events simply, but eschatological events, the 
climax and end of history, the revelation of the 
supra-historical. But this, for critics of the older 
school, is mere Gemeindetkeologie. We want to 
know, not what somebody thought, but what 
happened. Back to the facts ! 

The return to a theology of transcendence 
makes a difference. The Bible, and the New 
Testament in particular, is not any longer to 
be treated as an historical corpus, revealing ten- 
dencies within history in which the immanent 
working of the divine is to be recognized. It is 
the Word of the transcendent God. Whatever 
in it is temporal, whatever exhibits development, 
whatever in fact is simply historical, is irrelevant 
to its character as the Word of God. Con- 
sequently the historical criticism of the Gospels, 
as we have known it in the past, loses its 
importance for theology. It possesses a scien- 
tific interest, like the historical criticism, of 
any other set of ancient documents, but it has 
no strictly theological interest. The Gospels 
were not written from historical, or even from 
biographical motives. They were written " from 


faith to faith ", in a Pauline phrase often quoted 
in this connection. That is to say, they were 
written as confessions of faith in Jesus Christ, 
and as the means of awakening such faith in their 
readers. Their witness is a direct Word of the 
living God to us, calling for the response of 
faith ; not inviting our judgment upon it, but 
placing us under the judgment of God. 

/ I believe that the shift of emphasis is salutary. 
It has invigorated the study of the Gospels at a 
time when criticism was in danger of becoming 
trivial and unprofitable. It is certainly true 
that the Gospels were written " from faith to 
faith ". The older method of criticism, in its 
search for bare facts, set out to eliminate whatever 
in the Gospels might be attributed to the faith or 
experience of the Church. In doing so, it 
deliberately neglected in them just those elements 
which in the eyes of their authors made them 
worth writing. They did not write to gratify our 
curiosity about what happened, but to bear 
witness to the revelation of God. To do full 
justice to the intention of an author is a necessary 

-J step towards understanding his work. 

Nevertheless, when all these contentions are 
admitted, they do not dispense us from the duty 
of asking, and if possible answering, the historical 
question. The Gospels are religious documents : 


granted. But they are Christian documents, and 
it belongs to the specific character of Christianity 
that it is an historical religion. Some religions 
can be indifferent to historical fact, and move 
entirely upon the plane of timeless truth. Chris- 
tianity cannot. It rests upon the affirmation that 
a series of events happened, in which God 
revealed Himself in action, for the salvation of 
men. The Gospels profess to tell us what hap- 
pened. They do not, it is true, set out to gratify 
a purely historical curiosity about past events, 
but they do set out to nurture faith upon the testi- 
mony to such events. It remains, therefore, a 
question of acute interest to the Christian theo- 
logian, whether their testimony is in fact true. 
No insistence upon the religious character of the 
Gospels, or the transcendent nature of the revela- 
tion which they contain, can make that question 

We must now consider more particularly what 
is implied in the definition of Christianity as an 
historical religion. Clearly it does not mean 
simply that the Christian religion arose out of a 
particular series of historical events, or simply 
that it has had a history of its own, closely related 
to the general history of at least the western world. 
Both these facts are in themselves significant. Of 
course, all movements of the human spirit are in 


one way or another conditioned by history, and 
are reflected in history. But their relation to a 
particular series of events is not necessarily so 
clear and intimate as the relation of Christianity 
to the events from which it claims to have arisen. 
To say nothing of religions which are pre- 
historic in their origin, and have evolved with 
the evolution of a people, a religion may be based 
upon the teachings of a sage or holy man, without 
any especial reference to the events of his life ; and 
these may be so completely "other-worldly" in 
their outlook that they make little positive impact 
upon history. Religions, again, have emerged out 
of the confluence of various currents of thought 
and spiritual life, without the decisive interven- 
tion of any historical teacher or leader. Their 
foundation is in ideas, not in events. 

Attempts have indeed been made in recent 
times to represent Christianity as a religion of 
this last type. We have been told that in the 
period to which the origins of Christianity are to 
be assigned, the cross-fertilization of eastern and 
western thought led to the emergence of new 
forms of religion tending towards monotheism. 
They owed much to the " mystery religions," and 
derived from them the concept of a dying and 
rising Saviour-god. Groups of devotees practis- 
ing this kind of religion in various forms arose 


throughout the Hellenistic world. Among them 
were groups which had relations with the Jewish 
religion, and some of these last came to identify 
their Saviour-god with the Jewish Messiah, and 
"created for him a mythical embodiment in a 
figure bearing, the cult-name "Jesus", derived 
from a Hebrew word meaning " salvation ". Or 
alternatively, they seized upon the report of an 
obscure Jewish holy-man bearing this name, and 
arbitrarily attached the " cult-myth " to him. 
These groups were the nucleus of the Christian 
Church, which therefore owes its origin simply to 
the development of ideas in a Hellenistic milieu. 
This theory bases itself in part upon well- 
recognized facts. There actually was a religious 
movement of the kind described during the period 
in question, though many of the ideas which 
some writers associate with it are attested only 
in later documents, and some of them seem to be 
the product of the writers' imagination. The 
influence which this movement exerted upon 
Christianity, as well as the influence of Chris- 
tianity beyond its own borders, is illustrated by 
various forms of" Gnosticism " in the second and 
third centuries. But in order to show that the 
Christian religion was no more than an offshoot 
of some Hellenist cult, the advocates of the 
theory need to make a whole series of completely 

B 2 


unverifiable assumptions. The contrary view, 
that the emergence of the Christian religion was 
the direct result of a series of historical events 
which took place in Palestine under the pro- 
curatorship of Pontius Pilate, is one which needs 
the fewest unverifiable hypotheses ; and it has 
the merit that it accords with the view taken of 
Christian origins both by all our early Christian 
documents, and also in the earliest non-Christian 
sources, such as they are. It also accounts best 
for certain characteristic features of Christianity 
which distinguish it from all other religions of the 
time, even those with which it has some affinity. 
It is noteworthy that when the Christian 
Church came into touch with " Gnosticism ", 
and both influenced it and admitted its influence, 
there was one point at which it felt bound to offer 
unqualified opposition. The Gnostic systems 
vary bewilderingly, but they all agree in a dislike 
for the concrete historical element in the 
Christian scheme. They will admit a Christ 
who r is a member of the celestial hierarchy, 
and they will even admit that He may have 
taken temporarily the appearance or "seem- 
ing " of a man, but what they will not admit is 
that a real man, Jesus of Nazareth, did and 
suffered certain things at, a certain point of 
history, whereby God redeemed the world. This, 


however, is what the Christians affirmed. Like all 
religious persons of the time they were attracted 
by the elevated spiritual character of " Hel- 
lenistic mysticism ", which has left its mark, 
not only upon Christian, or semi-Christian, 
Gnosticism, but upon the language and thought 
of the New Testament. But at the crucial point 
they parted company with Gnosticism. They 
rejected the tempting doctrine of " seeming ", 
or " docetism ", and insisted upon the crude 
actuality of the life, death and resurrection of 
Jesus sub Pontio Pilato> while affirming that in 
these historical facts the eternal God Himself, 
and no subordinate member of the celestial 
hierarchy, had acted for the salvation of man. 

This brings us to the most important sense in 
which Christianity is an historical religion. It 
depends upon a valuation of historical events as 
the medium of God's self-revelation in action. 

It will perhaps clarify the matter if we contrast 
an historical religion with two other types of 
religion, mysticism and nature-religion. 

The mystical type of religion, so far as it is pure, 
concerns itself with man's inner life, and rejects 
the world of nature, the whole order of space, 
time and matter, and that side of human life 
which is bound up with it, as an illusion danger- 
ous to the salvation of the soul. Its discipline 


aims at stripping off the temporal, concrete, 
external and social aspects of life, and bringing 
the individual spirit into direct touch with abso- 
lute Being, which may be so abstractly conceived 
as scarcely to be distinguishable from Not-being. 
For pure mysticism history is at best irrelevant, at 
worst a pernicious interference with the ascent of 
the spirit to the Absolute. For history is essen- 
tially in time, and the mystic aspires to the 

Nature-religion on the other hand recognizes 
the external world as in some sense a medium of 
divinity. It is ultimately based upon a response 
to the " numinous " or awe-inspiring quality of 
natural phenomena, whether they be exceptional 
and terrifying, as thunder, earthquake and eclipse, 
or marvellously recurrent, as the tranquil pro- 
cesses of the heavenly bodies and the yearly 
miracle of seedtime and harvest. The animal 
life of man, with its cardinal points of birth, 
marriage and death, takes its place among the 
mysteries of nature. Nature-worship is found 
among most primitive peoples, and in civilization 
there seems to be a recurrent impulse to return 
to it in more or less refined or sophisticated forms. 
It re-appears in the modern neo-paganism of 
blood, soil and race. But it also underlies the 
sober " natural religion " of the eighteenth cen- 


tury, and that type of popular religion in the 
nineteenth century which said, "Some call it 
evolution, and others call it God." 

These two types of religion are often found 
mixed in the higher religions of mankind. Thus 
there is such a thing as " nature mysticism ", in 
which man is encouraged to turn away from his 
conscious experience and to sink himself in the 
unconscious and instinctive processes of nature, 
as the divinest thing he knows. But this is only 
nature-religion in a romantic form. Or the term 
may be applied to a religion in which the outer 
world is regarded no longer as illusion, but as the 
vesture of the Unseen with which man seeks 
communion. To this type of religion Chris- 
tianity has not been inhospitable, for it is easily 
assimilated, or confused, with its own sacramental 
view of the world. Nevertheless, as an historical 
religion Christianity is distinct from all non- 
Christian mysticism. 1 

Both mysticism and nature-religion may ally 
themselves with different philosophies, but always 
with some philosophy for which history as such is 
irrelevant. Either it is no more than the unsub- 
stantial shadow of the eternal, or it can be 

1 There is a (Christian mysticism, which is distinguished from all 
other forms of mysticism precisely by its reference to the historical 
revelation ^n Christ, but not all mysticism that claims the Christian 
name is distinctively Christian. 


reduced, like nature, to general laws of recur- 
rence. 1 But it is precisely the non-recurrent 
particularity of events that makes them a proper 
subject for the historian, just as it is the element of 
recurrence in nature that makes it a proper sub- 
ject for the natural scientist. A philosophy which 
sets out to rationalize either mysticism or nature- 
religion must in some way overcome or escape 
the concrete actuality of history, consisting of 
unique, unrepeatable events. But it is this con- 
crete actuality which for an historical religion 
conveys the revelation of God. 

Christianity does not repudiate the revelation 
of God either in nature or in spiritual experience. 
On the contrary, it takes up both modes of reve- 
lation into its own scheme. Its God is the Maker 
of heaven and earth, who by His word established 
the orderly system of nature. His own Being is 
revealed in it; for "the heavens declare the 
glory of God and the firmament sheweth His 
handiwork " ; or, as the New Testament puts 
it, " the invisible attributes of God His ever- 
lasting power and deity are discerned when they 
are contemplated through that which He has 
made." 2 On the other hand Christianity, like 
the mystical religions, encourages men to " look 

1 See The Kingdom of God and History (H. G. Wood and others), pp. 

2 Rom. i. 20. 


not at the things which are seen, but at the things 
which are not seen, because the things which are 
seen are temporal, but the things which are not 
seen are eternal " ; * and it recognizes an inward 
communion of the human spirit with the divine, 
in which God is truly revealed. It can even use 
the language of the mystics about a knowledge 
of God which is also union with God, and life 
eternal. 2 But when all this is said, it remains true 
that Christianity, if it is to be characterized by 
its classical documents, the Scriptures of the Old 
and Nw Testaments, finds in history the primary 
field of divine revelation, because it is the field of 
divine action. It is from the vantage point of an 
historical revelation that we can look both in- 
wards upon the life of the spirit and outwards 
upon the world of nature and discern in both the 
vestiges of the Creator. 

For Christianity, then, the eternal God is ,/. 
revealed in history. This statement must be 
understood in its proper sense. Obviously it does 
not mean that any striking episode in history 
which appeals to the imagination of an individual 
or a people, may be indifferently regarded as the 
self-revealing act of God, such as the re-emergence 
of the German nation under Adolf Hitler, or the 

* 1 II Cor. iv. 18. 
/ " Jn. xvii. 3, 22-23. 


rise of the British Empire, or the American Revo- 
lution. No doubt if God is the Maker and Ruler 
,of all mankind there is a sense in which His action 
may be discovered anywhere in its history. But 
this is not what Christianity means, primarily, by 
affirming that God is revealed in history. 

Nor again does it mean that the truth about 
God can be discovered by treating history as a 
, uniform field of observation (like the " nature " 
studied by the sciences), in which it is possible 
to collect data from all parts of the field, and to 
arrive by induction at a conclusion. Many 
thinkers have attempted to reach a philosophy of 
history in .this way. Thus, for one school, history 
is the field of a movement of progress which is an 
extension of the evolution observed in the fields 
of the organic sciences. For another, history 
consists of cycles of growth and decay. For yet 
others, its movement is a dialectical process, 
Hegelian or Marxian as the case may be. All 
such attempts at a synthesis of the observed 
facts of universal history, so far as they are 
accessible to us, have a great and abiding 

Indeed, the philosophy of history must always 
have an especial interest for the Christian theolo- 
gian, since its subject-matter is the interaction of 
the human spirit with occurrences in the external 


world, and such interaction, in the Christian view, 
is more directly the medium of divine revelation 
than either the external world of nature, or the 
inner life of man, if either be taken in isolation. 
But it is unwise to be hasty in adopting the 
formula of any one school, even if it may seem 
to be capable of statement in Christian terms. In 
the nineteenth century, and well on into our own 
time, the interpretation of history as progress was 
popular, and Christian apologists sought to find 
in the assumed principle of progress a manifesta- 
tion of the divine Spirit immanent in the process. 
In our time the evolutionary conception is some- 
what blown upon by an impatient generation, 
which prefers to set its hope upon revolution. It 
is then perceived that the catastrophic or apoca- 
lyptic element in Christianity is germane to the 
revolutionary interpretation of history, and many 
appear to be satisfied with giving to this, inter- 
pretation a modified expression in Christian 
terms. It is not, however, in this way that a 
Christian philosophy of history can be framed. 
Such a philosophy must in the end account for 
all the facts accessible to our observation, but it 
starts from the Christian valuation of a particular 
set of facts. 

At this point' it will be well to define what we 
mean by speaking of " history ". The term 


itself is used in two senses. It may mean the 
series of events, or it may mean the record of 
this series. The ambiguity is not accidental, for 
historical events are those which come to be 
recorded, if only in memory or legend. There 
are innumerable things that happen, in the sense 
that they have a definite locus in time and space, 
but no one is sufficiently interested in them to 
remember or record them. Such occurrences 
do not constitute history. Before we can speak 
of history, even in the most rudimentary sense, 
there must be events which possess an interest 
and a meaning for at least a group of individuals, 
who for the sake of that interest and meaning 
remember them, recall them in conversation, 
hand them on by oral tradition, or finally record 
them for a wider circle. 1 History in the full 
sense consists of events which possess not merely 
a private but a public interest, and a meaning 
which is related to broad and permanent concerns 
of human society. 

Thus historical writing is not merely a record 
of occurrences as such. It is, at least implicitly, a 
record of the interest and the meaning which they 

1 The study of human existence in ages to which memory does not 
reach back, through tradition or record, is more properly styled " pre- 
history". "Natural" occurrences may however enter into history. 
The eruption of Vesuvius which destroyed Pompeii and Hergulaneum 
is distinctly an historical event. 


bore for those who took part in them, or were 
affected by them at a greater or smaller distance 
of space and time. The most rudimentary 
kind of record is the chronicle, which is the 
public equivalent of the private diary. But what 
indefatigable Pepys ever entrusted to his most 
private pages every single thing that happened 
even on one day of his life ? And what chronicler 
ever recorded every event of each year enumerated 
in his lists ? Both must select ; and the motive 
of selection is to be found in the private or public 
interest evoked by occurrences. But neither 
diary nor chronicle is history in the full sense. 
Historical writing differs from these not in the 
fullness or precision with which it records occur- 
rences, but in the clarity with which the record 
brings out the meaning of events. We might 
indeed say that an historical " event " is an > 
occurrence plus the interest and meaning 
which the occurrence possessed for the persons 
involved in it, and by which the record is deter- 

Thus the events which make up history are 
relative to the human mind which is active in 
those events. The feelings and judgments of 
the human mind enter into the process. To ask 
whether the occurrence or the mind which is 
active in it is the prior determining factor, is to 


ask a question which cannot be answered, for 
history as it is given is an inseparable unity of 
both, in events. To isolate the occurrences, to 
recognize in them the working of natural forces 
(biological, economic, or the like) and to treat 
these as the real stuff of history, and the feelings 
or judgments of the persons concerned as mere 
epiphenomena, is to abstract from the concrete 
reality which is history ; and equally, to treat 
the human mind with its feelings, judgments 
and acts of will, as an autonomous entity inde- 
pendent of occurrences, is an abstraction. In 
the world as we know it the outward and the 
inward, occurrence and meaning, are insepar- 
ably united in the event. 

Since, then, events are relative to the mind which 
is active in them, and the meaning or signific- 
ance which the mind apprehends in experiencing 
the event is a part of the event, it follows 
that a series of events is most truly appre- 
hended and recorded when it is apprehended in 
some measure from within the series and not 
from an entirely detached standpoint. The best 
historian of the past is one who has so familiarized 
himself with his period that he can feel and judge 
its significance as from within. Nor does this 
amount to a subjectivizing of history, since the 
events of history do not exist as such apart from 


their significance to those who experienced them, 
and this significance is inherent in them. To 
say that the historian, whether contemporary 
or retrospective, may often fail to divine the true 
or full significance of events is neither here nor 
there. To err is human, and God alone knows 
the full significance of any event. 

It should be clear, therefore, that when we speak 
of history as the field of the self-revealing activity 
of God, we are thinking not of bare occurrences, 
but of the rich concreteness of events. Further, 
since events in the full sense of the term are 
relative to the feelings and judgments of the 
human mind, the intensity of their significance 
varies, just as in the individual life certain crucial 
experiences have a more than everyday sig- 
nificance. We can therefore understand that 
an historical religion attaches itself not to the 
whole temporal series indifferently, nor yet to 
any casual event, but to a particular series of 
events in which a unique intensity of significance 
resides. This selection of a particular series is 
not incongruous with the nature of history 
itself. The particular, even the unique, is a 
category entirely appropriate to the under- 
standing of history ; and since one particular 
event exceeds another in significance, there may 
well be an event which is uniquely significant, 


and this event may give a unique character to 
the whole series to which it belongs. 1 

This is in fact the assertion which Christianity 
makes. It takes the series of events recorded or 
reflected in the Bible, from the call of Abraham 
to the emergence of the Church, and declares 
that in this series the ultimate reality of all 
history, which is the purpose of God, is finally 
revealed, because the series is itself controlled 
by the supreme event of all the life, death and 
resurrection of Jesus Christ. This valuation of 
the series is not imposed upon it from without, 
but is an integral part of the history itself. 

It is a remarkable fact that scarcely one of the 
Biblical writers is of the type of the pure mystic, 
rapt into another world and detached from 
temporal events. The prophets, it is true, had 
their visions of the world beyond this, but these 
visions bear direct reference to the needs and 
problems of their time. Their message does not 
unfold secrets of that other world, but interprets 
the events of this. When prophecy gives place 
to apocalypse, there is a growing tendency to 
dwell upon the unveiling of cosmic mysteries, 
but even here the main burden of apocalypse 
is always the course of events leading up to the 
expected climax. In the New Testament again, 

1 See my book The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments, pp. 2 1 9-230. 


the apostle Paul, standing now in a world where 
mystical experience was highly valued, claims to 
have been caught up to Paradise and to have 
heard ineffable words ; * but he did not make a 
Gospel out of such raptures. With unimportant 
exceptions our writers are men immersed in the 
events of their time, and setting forth an inter- 
pretation of these events an interpretation which 
itself passes into history. This is connected with 
the fact that the Hebrew mind, of which the Bible 
is the product, conceives God not as absolute 
Being, but as the " living God ", active in this 
world of time and space, though not confined 
within it. 

In thus proclaiming God as the God of history, 
the prophets were in conscious opposition to 
nature-religion. For the Baal-worship with which 
they were in conflict had this character. It was 
essentially a fertility-cult, associated with the 
adoration of the powers of nature. " Take ye 
therefore good heed to yourselves ", says Deu- 
teronomy, " lest ye corrupt yourselves and make 
a graven image in the form of any figure, the 
likeness of any beast, any winged fowl, anything 
that creepeth on the ground, any fish that is in 
the water ; and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto 
heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the 

1 II Cor. xii. 2-4. 



moon and the stars, even the host of heaven, 
thou be drawn away and worship them." 1 
Nature is sub-personal and non-moral. The 
God of the Old Testament, even at relatively 
primitive stages, has personal character, which 
is expressed in His actions towards men, and in 
His demands upon them, and these actions and 
demands determine the meaning of history, 
which is therefore the proper field of His self- 
revelation. In later writings, such as the Psalms 
and the Book of Job, there is a full recognition 
of the glory of God in the wonders of nature. 
The peril of nature-worship was past, because 
the conception of God in history had by this 
time worked itself into the very bones of the 
people. The prophetic protest holds good against 
all nature-religion, even in those refined or 
sophisticated forms in which it is raising its 
head again in our own time. The worship of 
nature may clothe itself in a romantic and 
mystical beauty, but at bottom it is non-moral, 
and never far removed from the sensual and the. 

The prophetic writers of the Old Testament, 
then, declare that a series of events in the history 

1 Deut. iv. 15 sqq. This is echoed in the New Testament, where 
Paul affirms the liberty of the Christian from the rule of the " elements 
of the world," Gal. iv. 3, 9 ; Col. ii. 20. The atoixeia. are the half- 
personified powers of the natural order. 


of their people exhibits " the mighty works of 
the Lord " ; the call of Abraham, the Exodus 
and the giving of the Law, the conquest of 
Canaan, the kingdom of David, the Captivity 
and the Return. Whatever human or natural 
factors may enter in, the ultimate ground of this 
series of events is the purpose of God, 'who freely 
chose Israel to be His people, and who uses 
alien peoples to fulfil His designs. But it is to 
be observed that this purpose is never conceived 
to be completely revealed in the history of Israel : 
the complete revelation waits for the end of the 
historical process an end which most prophets 
conceive to be close at hand.. The more difficult 
it became to trace the hand of God in the suc- 
cessive disasters and oppression which His people 
suffered, the more intensely did religious minds 
concentrate their attention upon the great con- 
summation, the Day of the Lord. In the 
apocalypses which succeed to the place of 
prophecy, eschatology the doctrine of the End 
is an absorbing interest. The apocalyptist 
surveys contemporary events, and seeks to inter- 
pret them as signs of the approaching Day of the 
Lord. He does not interpret them as events 
which by a natural process of cause and effect 
may be expected to lead to the great consum- 
mation. On the contrary, in themselves they 


may mean no more than that the rule of evil 
powers permitted by God for His inscrutable 
purposes is becoming more intense. It is 
only from the unshakable inward conviction 
that God must intervene to fulfil His purpose, 
that the dark facts of the moment receive illu- 
mination as stages in the process which will end 
in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 
In some apocalypses, indeed, this world is felt 
to be so incurably under alien rule that the 
consummation involves its destruction and the 
creation of new heavens and a new earth. 
Apocalyptic therefore, serves by exaggeration to 
make clear an aspect of the Hebrew interpreta- 
tion of history which is implicit in it all through : 
namely, that the ultimate power in history 
comes from beyond history. Its meaning is not 
an immanent teleology but the purpose of a 
transcendent God, who, as He wills, and when 
He wills, intervenes to bring His designs to pass. 
The expected Day of the Lord is not the ultimate 
issue of tendencies embedded in the process, but 
a final act of God from His throne on high. 

Hebrew prophecy and apocalypse, then, affirm 
the reality of God's " mighty acts " in history, 
but in order to make that affirmation they postu- 
late a " mighty act " which has not yet happened. 
The more ardently the imagination dwells upon 


that coming event, the more clearly does it 
confess that without it the divine meaning of 
history rests in doubt. This doubt is mordantly 
expressed in the pessimism of Ecclesiastes, for 
which the life of man on earth is a meaningless 

This sense of inconclusiveness and of expecta- 
tion is characteristic of the Old Testament as a 
whole. In contrast, the New Testament, taking 
over the general scheme of eschatology, declares 
that the expected event has actually taken place. 
In the coming of Jesus Christ, His death and 
resurrection, the prophecies have been fulfilled 
and the Kingdom of God is revealed. 

This declaration has a two-fold result. In the 
first place it resolves the doubts which shadowed 
the prophetic interpretation of the history of 
Israel, since the purpose manifested in that 
history has reached its fulfilment. In the second 
place, the events which constitute that fulfil- 
mentthe coming of Christ, His death and 
resurrection are eschatological events in the 
full sense ; that is to say, they are not simply 
important events, not^even the most important 
events in the series, but unique and final events, 
in which the God beyond history intervened 
conclusively to reveal His Kingdom on earth. 

This is the specific content of the Gospel as it 


is set forth in the New Testament. The prime 
theme indeed of the Gospel is the glory of God. 1 
But the glory of God resides not in the static 
| perfection of His being, but in His mighty works. 
Upon this point the New Testament is as clear 
as the Old. The Gospel sets forth the glory of 
God by declaring what He has done. That is 
why it is most authoritatively embodied in those 
narratives which we refer to as " Gospels ", but 
which in our earlier MSS. of the New Testament 
have the common title, TO EYArrEAION. 

If now we accept the definition of history as 
consisting of events which are of the nature of 
occurrence plus meaning, we may describe the 
story of the Gospels as a narrative of events 
whose meaning is eschatological, that is to say, 
events in which is to be discerned the mighty act 
of the transcendent God which brings history to 
its fulfilment. There is, then, an historical and 
a supra-historical aspect of the Gospel story. 
On the one hand it reveals what the saving 
purpose of God is eternally, in relation to all 
men everywhere, over-ruling all limitations of 
time and space. In this sense the Gospel is 
timeless, 2 and can be preached everywhere as 
the present power of God unto salvation. On 

1 It is " the gospel of the glory of the blessed God ", rb tuayyt'Moy TTJJ 
{7jj TOW na.Ko.piov dtov I Tim. i. 1 1 . 
a tvayy&iov al^vtov Rev. xiv. 6. 


the other hand, it narrates the singular, unre- 
peatable events in which the saving purpose of 
God entered history at a particular moment, and 
altered its character. If the former aspect is 
emphasized exclusively the precise factual content 
of the story is not important : it is only " truth 
embodied in a tale ", and the tale may be 
dropped if the truth is acknowledged. But this 
is most certainly not the intention with which the 
story is told. It is told as the story of events 
that happened, once for all, at a particular 
historical moment, whose particularity is a 
necessary part of what happened. If we lose 
hold upon that historical actuality, the Gospels 
are betrayed into the hands of the Gnostics, 
and we stand upon the verge of a new Docetism. 
Moreover, the denial of the importance of his- 
torical facts would carry with it a denial of what 
is of the essence of the Gospel, namely, that the 
historical order that order within which we must 
live and work has received a specific character 
from the entrance into it of the eternal Word 
of God. 1 

But if we take this' view, then we must seek the 
meaning which Christianity attaches to history 
by an examination of the events which it declares 
most fully to reveal that meaning, that is to say, 

1 See Chapter V. 


by an investigation of the historical episode of 
the coming of Jesus Christ, His death and 
resurrection. This at once raises the whole 
problem of the historicity of the Gospels, with 
which New Testament criticism has so long 
concerned itself ; and that problem cannot be set 
aside by assertions that the Gospels are not 
historical but religious documents. They are 
both, if the Christian assumptions are true. 





WE now turn to the documents of the New 
Testament. Let us first approach them as 
they might come under the observation of a 
secular historian. If he were studying the his- 
tory of the Roman Empire from Augustus to 
Trajan, these documents would not appear to 
relate themselves directly in any important way 
to the movement of events, but they would 
interest him for the light they throw upon the life 
and thought of little-known circles in the 
population of the Empire, namely, the petite bour- 
geoisie of the Levant from Palestine to Greece. 
As he would be aware that the older historians 
unduly narrowed the field of their observations to 
the wars and politics of the time, eked out with 
the back-stairs scandal of the imperial palace, he 
would welcome information to supplement what 
he could learn from <the non-literary papyri and 
inscriptions about the obscurer strata of the 
population, whose importance no modern his- 



torian would neglect. There are few extant 
writings of this period which illuminate the 
strange ferment of thought among these newly- 
awakened sections of society in the Graeco-Roman 
world, so clearly as do the epistles of the New 
Testament. The Gospels again give a glimpse 
of the minds and ways of people in Palestine 
shortly before the Jewish War and the final 
settlement of the province, which is of real value 
for an understanding of the situation. But the 
events to which the New Testament writers, and 
the Gospels in particular, refer would not seem to 
have any obvious importance for the story of the 
early Empire. Of the existence of the Christian 
Church, one of a very large number of religious 
fraternities in the Empire, the historian is made 
aware chiefly because two or three times during 
this period it is recorded to have drawn upon 
itself the unwelcome attentions of the police 
and the government, as when Tacitus records 
the persecution under Nero, and Pliny writes 
to Trajan about his difficulty with Christians 
in Bithynia. Such episodes illustrate the 
methods by which the Roman order was 
maintained, and the limits to which toleration 
was extended. But there is no obvious reason 
why the secular historian should pay them 
more attention than he gives to a large 


number of other examples of the policing of 
the Empire; 

During these two centuries the historian 
observes that a new phase of the history of anti- 
quity is defining itself. The Roman Empire, with 
its Hellenistic civilization, was like a great reser- 
voir into which the diverse currents of ancient 
life and thought emptied themselves, and from 
which in time the currents setting towards the 
mediaeval and modern world would emerge. 

The imperial system itself represented a new 
political synthesis. It combined the principle of 
personal rule, inherited from the great Eastern 
empires through the Hellenistic monarchies, with 
a business-like civil service which the genius of 
Rome had worked out, and with a real measure 
of local self-government carried forward from the 
Greek city-states. 

Under this system the Hellenistic synthesis of 
culture developed. From the time of Alexander 
the fusion of Greek and Oriental thought had 
proceeded, and its results now determined the 
general structure of a culture conterminous with 
the Empire itself. 

It is to be observed that this Graeco-Roman 
synthesis had on both sides a religious inspiration. 
The imperial system was knit together by Caesar- 
worship, which was far from being a mere con- 


vention. 1 The contribution, again, of the east 
to Hellenistic culture was essentially a religious 
contribution. Oriental religions, like Zoroas- 
trianism, Judaism, and the native religion of 
Egypt, made a fresh appeal to the sceptical Greek 
mind. Mystery cults of various origin established 
themselves, and their popularity reminded the 
Greeks that they too had their ancestral mys- 
teries. Meanwhile philosophy stood ready to 
interpret the myth and ritual of such religions. 
Stoicism, originally an austere school of atheistic 
and materialist morality, now spoke the language 
of theism with a pantheistic meaning. Platonism 
returned to the mystical side of its founders 
thought, and allied itself with a revived Pytha- 
goreanism as the upholder and guide of men's 
aspirations towards God. Satirists like Lucian 
might scoff, but the Roman world had " got 
religion ", after the interval of unbelief and moral 
anarchy which followed the breakdown of classical 
Greek civilization and of the republican pietas of 
Rome. All this the historian must note. It is a 
vital part of the picture of the early Empire. 
During the century following Trajan the age 

1 We ought to be able to understand Caesar-worship. If we can 
realize what lies behind the ceaseless pilgrimage to the mausoleum of 
Lenin, we know what Divas Augustus stood for. If we can understand 
the religious devotion which the FiShrer commands as the embodiment 
of resurgent Germany, we have a clue to the worship of Roma et Augustus. 
Restitutor Orbis was no empty title. 


of the devout Antoninus Pius and the philo- 
sophical Marcus Aurelius, as well as of the super- 
stitious Syrian emperors and the restorers of the 
ancient pietas, like Decius and Valerian, it be- 
comes clear to the historian that among the new 
religious forces there is one which for good or ill 
is overshadowing all others in importance, namely, 
the Christian Church. From the outbreak of the 
Decian persecution in 250 until Constantine 
capitulated in 311, the " Christian question" is 
one of the first magnitude in imperial policy. 
The Church had assimilated the purest and most 
vital elements in the religious revival, and along 
with neo-Platonism stood for the spiritual basis 
upon which civilization was to be sustained : 
along with neo-Platonism, but with a wider 
appeal and a far more effective organization, and 
with growing prospects of driving its rival from 
the field. The Christian Church, however, refused 
to enter into the imperial synthesis. It rejected 
the worship of the Emperor, as well as of the gods 
of paganism, and followed a policy of partial 
non-co-operation. That is why the situation 
developed into a life and death struggle under 
Diocletian. The Empire, faced with the menace 
of -disintegration within and without, could not 
tolerate an imperium in imperio. When Constan- 
tine made his peace with the Church, the way 


was open for the final settlement under Theo- 
dosius by which the civitas Romano, entered into the 
civitas Christiana which had been growing up 
alongside it, and the ancient world attained its 
final synthesis. 

Christianity has thus become part and parcel 
of secular history with how much modifica- 
tion, whether of loss or gain, to its religious 
character, it is not within the province of the 
historian to judge. In any case its importance as 
an historical factor in the world is established. 

Looking back, the historian now suspects that 
the occasional allusions to the Christian sect in 
earlier writers have more importance than 
appeared at first sight. When Pliny wrote his 
report to Trajan upon the Christian menace in 
Bithynia, 1 he was not dealing with some local and 
temporary difficulty, like the affair of the fire- 
brigade at Nicomedia, 2 or the municipal scandals 
at Prusa. 3 Temples deserted ; a slump in the 
fodder-market owing to the declining demand for 
sacrificial victims ; the " inflexible obstinacy " of 
men and women who refused to worship the 
Emperor all this, as it turned out, was no flash 
in the pan, but strangely ominous of trouble to 
come. What lay behind it? What was the 

1 Ad Trajanum Epp. 96 (97). 


3/6. 1 7 (27), 81(85). 


character of this formidable religious movement 
which grew up some time between Augustus and 
Trajan ? 

The historian now observes that by great good 
fortune we possess a series of documents produced 
during the latter part of the period in question, 
which contain an absolutely contemporary and 
first-hand picture of some at least of the early stages 
in that growth. 1 The Pauline Epistles reflect 
directly the period of expansion from A.D. 50 to 
the moment when Christianity first attracted the 
serious attention of the imperial authorities under 
Nero. The Epistle to the Hebrews, the First 
Epistle of Peter, and the Revelation of John, 
reflect the early persecutions down to Domitian. 
The Catholic Epistles as a whole reflect the 
movement of consolidation in thought and insti- 
tutions at the turn of the first and second cen- 
turies. The Acts of the Apostles reflects the out- 
look of the Church as it set itself, towards the 
close of the first century, to the task of consolida- 
tion in face of opposition, but it contains also 
those traditions of its beginnings which at that 
period carried authority. The Gospels, finally, 
spread over most of the period between Nero 
and Trajan, are in the first instance documents 

1 What would he not give for an equally coherent corpus of (say) 
Mithraic documents of equal antiquity ? 


of first-rate value for the conceptions which the 
Church during that period entertained regarding 
the life, teaching and fate of its Founder, and 
for the manner in which it presented Him both 
to its own members and to the outside world. 
Their value as historical sources for events 
during the reign of Tiberius is a question which 
must occupy us in the next chapter. But the 
immense authority which they possessed in the 
Church of the second century, as the point of 
reference for all that was taught and practised 
during the formative period, makes them invalu- 
able to the historian who wishes to understand 
the Church as a factor in history. 

This is not the place for any attempt to con- 
struct from the New Testament a detailed account 
of the early Church. It is the tradition con- 
cerning Jesus that we are to study. But the life 
and thought of the early Church were the matrix 
within which this tradition assumed its present 
form, and as such they are of the first importance 
for our purpose. 

Our knowledge of this life and thought has 
come down to us in no systematic way, but must 
be gathered from documents which almost 
accidentally reveal a state of affairs which they 
very largely take for granted. The Pauline 
epistles, which are the earliest of these docu- 


ments, are directly concerned to guide the 
thought and practice of newly converted Chris- 
tian communities. They present to us the figure 
of an outstanding Christian missionary and 
teacher in relations with his converts and with 
other Christians whom he wished to influence. 
Other epistles set before us, less clearly and 
individually, other leaders of the Church engaged 
in the same task. Incidentally, they refer to a 
great variety of aspects of the thought and 
practice of the Christian communities. They 
illuminate the efforts of Christianity to break 
away from the limitations of its Jewish origin, 
while conserving its heritage in the religious 
tradition of Israel. They preserve references to 
liturgical practice, forms of prayer and fragments 
of hymns, which reveal the Church in its worship. 
They reflect the .shaping of a system of Christian 
morals, involving a criticism, both negative and 
constructive, of the morals of pagan society. 
They exhibit the early stages in the growth of 
a massive theology, which is (to use later terms) 
both dogmatic and apologetic. 

We now observe that all this is implicitly or 
explicitly related to a central body of accepted 
tradition. However bold and original may be 
the thought of Paul, and the anonymous author 
to the Hebrews, and the Fourth Evangelist, they 

O 3 


do not come before us as free and independent 
leaders of thought. Paul, jealous enough of his 
authority, nevertheless expressly repudiates the 
position into which some of his over-zealous 
followers at Corinth would have thrust him, the 
position of the hierophant of a cult, who has 
initiated his converts into a " Pauline " religion. 1 
He distinguishes between the foundation, which 
is something given, and accepted by him and 
by them, and the superstructure which he and 
others erect upon it. 2 The author to the Hebrews 
similarly scorns to " lay again the foundation ", 3 
with which his readers should be familiar 
enough. The author of the First Epistle of John, 
who stands near to the close of the New Testa- 
ment period, recalls his readers to the " word 
which you heard ", the " old commandment 
which you had from the beginning ". 4 

I need hardly multiply examples. Reflection 
on the epistles will show that for all the indivi- 
duality of the writers and their creative power in 
the realm of theological and ethical thought, 
their work presupposes everywhere a common 
tradition of the centre, by which they and their 
readers are bound, however boldly and freely 

1 I Cor. i. 13-17. 

2 Ib. iii, 10-15. 

4 I Jn. ii. 7 ; iii. 11. 


they may interpret and apply it in the rapidly 
changing situations of an expanding Church. 

Broadly speaking, we may recognize two 
aspects of this central tradition. On the one 
hand it is a "preaching" or "proclamation" 
(mfrwypa) about God's action for the salvation of 
men, by which the Church was called into 
existence, and which it announces to all men 
everywhere as the ground of faith and hope. 
On the other hand it embodies an ethical ideal 
for corporate and individual life. The most 
general term for this is " teaching " (SiSax^). 

Of the form and content of the " preaching " 
more will be said below. The " teaching " 
also has a characteristic form of its own. The 
ethical teaching of the New Testament is not 
given in a code or body of precepts, like the 
Jewish law, or in a system of virtues deduced 
from first principles, after the pattern of the 
Greek philosophers (though there are traces of 
such a pattern here and there). Its charac- 
teristic form is that which is called paraenesis. 
This form can be recognized in such diverse 
writings as the Pauline epistles, the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, the First Epistle of Peter, and the 
Epistle of James. It has some affinity .with the 
" gnomic " style of the Greeks. Its nearest 
analogue outside the New Testament, and no 


doubt its precursor, is to be found in the Wisdom 
literature of the Old Testament and the Apo- 
crypha ; but it is not simply a copy of its models. 
From the ethical sections of the epistles we can 
frame a very fair idea of the way in which the 
common ethical ideal was set before the early 
Christian communities ; and it is to be noted 
that the Gospels contain much teaching in 
similar form (along with some different forms). 

This two-fold structure of the tradition has 
left a deep mark upon the forms of New Testa- 
ment literature. Several of the Pauline epistles 
fall naturally into two parts, one of which is 
theological in character and the other ethical. 
Traces of the same arrangement are to be found 
also in Hebrews and I Peter. The theological 
sections represent the development of ideas 
contained or implied in the " preaching ", the 
ethical sections enforce what Paul calls " the 
type of teaching to which you were committed ". 1 

We recognize, then, underlying the whole 
life of the early Christian community a common 
tradition having two main aspects. In both 
aspects it is directly related to the person of the 
Founder. The " preaching " is described as 
" the Gospel of Christ ". 2 The " teaching " is 

1 Rom. vi. 17. 

2 Mk. i. i ; Rom. xv. 19 ; Gal. i. 7, etc. 


given as representing " the law of Christ ", or 
" the commandment of Christ ", l The Gospel 
is fundamentally a story of the life, death and 
resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the teaching is 
given as from Him, and as possessing His 
authority. It is often said that the epistles show 
surprisingly little interest in Jesus Christ as an 
historical figure. On the surface that is true, 
in the sense that they contain comparatively 
few direct references to historical facts though, 
as we shall presently see, not so few as is some- 
times thought. But that is largely just because 
a knowledge of the crucial facts is presupposed. 
The epistles were in no case written to give 
instruction in the fundamentals of Christianity 
to people who previously knew nothing about it. 
They are all addressed to a public already 
Christian. If we make due allowance for this 
fact, we shall be rather disposed to think it 
remarkable that the Christian documents, unlike 
all other religious documents of the Graeco- 
Roman world, depend for the cogency of their 
arguments and the validity of their conceptions 
upon the assumption of an historical Figure as a 
perpetual point of reference. 
Take, for example, Paul's theology of redemp- 

1 Gal. vi. 2 ; I Cor. vii. 25 ; Jn. xv. 12 ; I Jn. iv. 21. 


tion. It has a good deal of superficial resem- 
blance to other current doctrines of salvation, as 
liberation from the control of the astral powers 
(the " world rulers " or " elements of the world " 
as Paul calls them) 1 and a blessed immortality 
in communion with the divine. But it would no 
longer hold together if Paul could not take for 
granted that the Redeemer did His work " in 
the flesh" ; 2 and if He came in the flesh, then 
He must have had a human history in this 
world. Again, the Epistle to the Hebrews has a 
high doctrine of the divine High Priest, which 
recalls some things that Philo said about the 
Logos as mediator between this transitory world 
and the eternal God. But it is of the essence of 
the doctrine of Hebrews that " we have not a 
high priest who cannot be touched with a feeling 
of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted 
like as we are". 3 To take one more example, 
the First Epistle of John, which has superficially 
some markedly "Gnostic" traits, insists that 
saving knowledge of God is conditioned by a 
testimony to " that which we have heard, that 
which we have seen with our eyes, that which 
we have beheld and our hands have handled". 4 

1 Eph. vi. 12 ; Gal. iv. 3, 9 ; Col. ii. 20. 

2 Rom. viii. 3. 

3 Heb. iv. 15. 
1 IJn. i. 1-3. 


Indeed this epistle is all through a recall to the 
living apostolic tradition of Jesus Christ. 

We can easily satisfy ourselves how charac-* 
teristic of the New Testament is this historical 
reference if we compare the rival presentation 
of Christianity given in some of the Christian 
or semi-Christian Gnostic systems. There the 
main movement, of the "plan of salvation" 
takes place in a fantastic realm of supra-temporal 
essences. "Aeons" emanate in various succes- 
sion from absolute Being, and play out a shadowy 
drama having no relation to anything that 
happens in this world. The figure of Jesus is 
almost otiose ; at best His appearance which 
is a mere appearance, and no historical actuality 
is no more than a kind of signal to men of the 
occult truth which to know is life eternal. Yet 
even these strange systems are evidence that if a 
creed was to represent itself as Christian in any 
sense, it must make some reference to the common 
tradition of Jesus, however it might whittle 
away the historical significance of that tradition. 
In the New Testament, however, the tradition is 
always vital and its historical character indis- 

It is true that this " traditionalism ." stands in 
some degree of tension with a conception of the 
Church as a prophetic community, endowed 


with the Spirit by which spiritual things are 
discerned. Students of " Hellenistic mysticism " 
have been struck by the likeness of some of Paul's 
language about the Spirit to the language of 
that type of piety, which implies a direct mystical 
apprehension of supra-mundane realities. 1 It is 
certainly true that Paul makes high claims for 
himself as a " spiritual " person, able to declare 
divine " mysteries ". Not only so ; he expects 
that his readers will in their measure possess 
similar inward illumination. Yet he insists that 
the Spirit is intimately related to Jesus Christ. 
To have the Spirit is to have " the mind of 
Christ ". 2 It is " when one turns to the Lord " 
that the Spirit opens up the inward truth of the 
Scriptures. 3 Indeed, it is notorious that the 
conception of the indwelling Spirit is in Paul 
hardly separable from the conception of the 
living Christ. But this does not mean, as has 
been said, " a certain de-personalizing of the 
idea of Christ". 4 It means that Paul, while 
accepting the truth that " spirit with Spirit can 
meet ", will not recognize as a valid experience 
of guidance by the Spirit anything which is not 

1 See, e.g. Reitzenstein, Die Hellenistischen Mysterienreligionen, 1920, 
pp. 185 sqq., Paulus als Pneumatiker. 

2 I Cor. ii. 16. 

3 IlCor.iii. 16-17. 

* " Eine gewisse Entpersonlichung desselben Christusbegriffes ", 
Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Theologie, II. p. 88. 


continuous with the revelation of God in Jesus 
Christ, that is to say, with the Church's tradi- 
tion of His work and teaching. 

That Paul did not confuse his spiritual reve- 
lations with the tradition is clear from his discus- 
sion of the ethics of sex in I Corinthians vii. " To 
the married ", he writes, " I say not I, but the 
Lord that a woman must not separate from her 
husband ".* " To the rest say I ' not the Lord . . ." 
" Concerning virgins, I have no commandment of 
the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who through 
the mercy of the Lord am a believer". " She is 
happier if she stays as she is, in my opinion (Kara 
rrjv e/^v yvat^v) ; and I think that I too have the 
Spirit of God". 2 Nothing could be clearer. 
Where the tradition contains a direct precept of 
Jesus, Paul acceptsythat as authoritative. Where 
such a precept is wanting, he depends upon the 
guidance of the Spirit which through the mercy 
of God is granted to believers. Such guidance 
supplements the tradition, and carries authority. 3 
But what the Lord commanded, that is to say, 
what was handed down as the teaching of the 
"Jesus of history ", is regulative, and what Paul 

1 The reference is to the saying variously reported in Mk. x. n-ia ; 
Mt. v. 31-32, xix. 9 ; Lk. xvi. 18. 

a I Cor. vii. 10, 12, 25, 40. 

8 Cf. I Cor. xiv. 37 : it too is " of the Lord " (but lvro\i\ here is 
probably not part of the original text). 


lays down, even under the guidance of the Spirit, 
is subordinate and derivative. Similarly, the 
Fourth Evangelist, whose language is even more 
reminiscent than Paul's of " Hellenistic mys- 
ticism ", defines the function of the Spirit in the 
words (put into the mouth of Jesus) " He shall 
take of mine and shall declare it unto you "- 1 

It is consistent with this view that there appears 
from the first a principle that alleged deliver- 
ances of the Spirit are not 'necessarily to be 
accepted at their face value, but must be tested. 
For Paul the test is, that genuine utterances of 
the Spirit acknowledge that "Jesus is Lord". 2 
Half a century later the author of the First 
Epistle of John makes the test more definite 
still : " By this recognize the Spirit of God : 
every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus 
Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and 
every spirit which does not acknowledge Jesus 
is not of God ", 3 In other words, Christianity 
recognizes no spiritual revelation which is not 
directly related to the historical reality of Jesus. 

It would thus be a mistake to regard primitive 
Christianity as a " religion of the Spirit " sans 
phrase, over against religions of authority or of 
tradition. The early Church was no society of 

1 Jn. xvi. 14. 
8 I Cor. xii. 3. 
8 IJn. iv. 2-3. 


the " inner light ", dependent for its doctrine and 
its ethical standards upon mystical promptings. 
Spiritual experience may interpret, supplement 
and enlarge the original content of faith, but it is 
not an independent source of truth. It is all con- 
trolled by the central and common tradition of 
the Gospel of Christ and the Law of Christ. In 
the period after the New Testament, Christian 
thought moved appreciably in the direction of a 
metaphysical type of religion, especially in the 
Greek fathers ; but it is noteworthy that Origen, 
who stands nearer to neo-Platonism than most of 
them, prefaces his most comprehensive work, the 
De Principiis, with the traditional kerygma, in a 
form closely akin to that which can be recovered 
from the New Testament, and that he regards 
the gnosis which he has, to communicate as a kind 
of commentary upon it, and not as the result of 
independent illumination. 

It is, however, necessary to observe that the 
tradition underlying the New Testament writings 
and embodied in the kerygma is not simply his- 
torical but historical-eschatological. The events 
to which it refers are not simply historical events, 
but events in which history reaches its divinely 
ordained conclusion ; and the Christ to whom it 
refers, while He is a truly historical figure, is also 
an eschatological figure : the Messiah, in whom 


the prophecies are fulfilled. The early Church 
took over a large corpus of eschatological predic- 
tions from the Old Testament and the apoca- 
lyptic literature ; and from a very early period 
its mind was bent upon showing how these 
predictions were fulfilled in the story of Jesus. 
The study of testimony books has led to the con- 
clusion that the application of prophecy was 
probably the earliest form of Christian theolo- 
gical thought. 1 To our minds, v the methods of 
application often seem arbitrary and far-fetched, 
but the intention is clear to show that in the 
life, death and resurrection of Jesus the eschaton, 
or ultimate issue of history, was indeed realized. 
We must admit the likelihood that certain 
elements in the developed story as we have it in 
the Gospels may have been imaginative products 
of the search for fulfilled prophecy. There is at 
least a prima facie case for such a conclusion, for 
example, in the Matthsean stories of the Nativity 
and the Flight into Egypt, of Judas's thirty 
pieces of silver and the Potter's Field. The 
question is, how deeply has this process affected 
the tradition? Is it possible, as some have 
averred, that not merely details but the main 
tradition is largely the creation of an imagina- 

1 I would observe in passing that this fact determined once for all 
that Christian theology should preserve at bottom its Hebraic character, 
however widely Hellenistic categories might be used. 


tion fired by too ardent a study of prophecy 
and apocalypse ? 

In attempting to answer tliis question, we must 
observe that the New Testament writers, for all 
their anxiety to discover fulfilments of prophecy, 
and all their ingenuity in doing so, do not attempt 
to exploit the whole corpus of Messianic prediction. 
There are large sections of it which are not repre- 
sented. It is not only the purely supernatural traits 
the coming with the clouds of heaven, the 
portents in heaven and earth, the transfiguration 
of the elect, and the like that are missing from 
the Gospel story. The whole conception of the 
Messiah as king, warrior and judge, the ruthless 
vindicator of the righteousness of God, is absent 
from the Church's presentation of the Jesus of 
history, though imagination working freely upon 
the prophetic data might easily have constructed 
a quasi-historical figure having these traits. 
There has been some principle of selection at 
work, by which certain sides of the Messianic idea 
are held to be fulfilled, and others are set aside. 
What was that principle of selection ? Surely the 
simplest explanation is that a true historical 
memory controlled the selection of prophecies. 
Those were held to have been fulfilled which 
were in general consonant with the memory of 
what Jesus had been, had said, had done and 


had suffered. The fulfilment of the rest was 
postponed to the future. By retaining a residue 
of the "futurist eschatology " of Judaism the 
Church kept its historical tradition from being 
completely transformed by eschatological ideas, 
since there was always a repository for unfulfilled 
expectations, in the hope of the Second Advent. 
In fact, those aspects of the Messianic idea 
which apparently bulked most largely in Jewish 
thought of the time, whether it followed the line 
represented by the Psalms of Solomon or the 
line represented by I Enoch and IV Ezra, play 
little part in the tradition about the Jesus of 
history, but are applied to His expected coming 
in glory. On the other hand the Scriptures- 
which are held to be fulfilled in the facts con- 
cerning Jesus are often those which, so far as 
our evidence goes, were not currently inter- 
preted as Messianic at all. This is notably the 
case with the deutero-Isaianic prophecies of the 
Servant of the Lord. That these play an impor- 
tant part in the definition of the Christian con- 
ception of Messiahship is clear. The evidence 
that they were interpreted Messianically in pre- 
Christian Judaism is very slight, and not 
convincing. Why were they selected as the 
principal pointers to the reality of the Messiahship 
of Jesus ? There seem to be only two plausible 


answers. Either, the brute fact that Jesus, 
believed to be Messiah, had bpen put to death led 
His followers to find the divine justification for 
His death in these prophecies ; or, He had Him- 
self defined His Messianic calling and destiny in 
terms of the deutero-Isaiah. In either case a true 
historical memory determined the use of prophecy 
by the Church. The Messianic idea of early 
Christianity is not an eschatological creation ; it 
is the result of the impact of historical fact upon 
an inherited eschatology, by which that eschato- 
logy has been drastically revised. 

While, therefore, it is probable enough that in 
detail the search for fulfilments of prophecy has 
modified the story of Jesus in its developed form, 
there is no reasonable ground for the view that 
the main and central tradition is the product of 
imagination under the control of eschatological 
conceptions. It is an historical tradition, pre- 
sented in eschatological terms. 

We must now attempt to determine the content 
of the historical tradition underlying those parts 
of the New Testament which are not explicitly 
concerned with history. We start naturally with 
the earliest of all Christian literature, the epistles 
of Paul. 

As we have seen, Paul regarded himself, in spite 
of his claim to independence and originality in 


the presentation of the Gospel, as the bearer of a 
tradition which was common to the whole apos- 
tolic body. " Whether I or they, it was thus that 
we preached, and thus that you believed " 
(I Cor. xv. 1 1). In the immediate context he 
cites as from this common tradition the state- 
ments " that Christ died for our sins according to 
the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that 
He rose again the third day according to the 
Scriptures, and was seen of Cephas (and others) ". 
Elsewhere he reports, as something " received 
from the Lord " (i.e. as primitive tradition), the 
story of the Last Supper (I Cor. xi. 23-26). 

This does not exhaust what Paul knows regard- 
ing the life of Jesus. He mentions the fact that 
He was born a Jew, 1 claiming descent from 
David ; 2 that He had several brothers, 3 including 
one named James, whom Paul knew quite well ; 4 
that He worked among Jews, and not among 
Gentiles, 5 and that the Jews were responsible for 
His death, although He actually died by the 

1 Gal. iv. 4 ; Rom. ix. 5. 

2 Rom. i. 3. Paul shows elsewhere no interest in the Davidic descent 
of Jesus j we must suppose that he is here referring to generally accepted 

3 I Cor. ix. 5. 
* Gal. i. 19. 

5 Rom. xv. 8. Paul must here be subject to the tradition. If it 
had been possible to aver that Jesus had preached to Gentiles, this 
would have been a valuable asset to Paul in his controversy with the 
Judaizing Christians. 


Roman method of crucifixion. 1 He is also 
acquainted with a recognized tradition of the say- 
ings of Jesus. Two of these he quotes explicitly, 2 
and there is so much beside in Paul's ethical 
teaching which directly or indirectly recalls the 
actual words of the Gospels, that we must suppose 
that both he and his converts were acquainted 
with a collection of traditional sayings of Jesus, 
similar to those collections which have been 
used by the Evangelists. 

Further, Paul has a definite conception of the 
character of Jesus. Not only does he emphasize 
His righteousness and obedience (which might be 
taken as general or conventional), but he notes as 
His outstanding traits of character gentleness, 
forbearance, 3 humility, 4 and a complete absence 
of self-seeking. 5 These traits* are expressly held 
up for the imitation of Christians. 6 Moreover, 

1 I Thess. ii. 15, et passim. To say that the Jews " killed the Lord 
Jesus ", and that He died by crucifixion, looks like a formal contradic- 
tion, since crucifixion was not a form of execution known to Jewish law. 
The statement, however, quoted above from the Talmud shows that 
the Jews accepted responsibility, and the situation described in the 
Gospels, in which the Jewish authorities take the initiative, while Pilate 
pronounces condemnation, explains the apparent contradiction in Paul. 

2 I Cor. vii. 10 ; ix. 14. Both these sayings are in the Gospels. 

3 II Cor. x. i, 

4 Phil. ii. 7-8. . Observe that the fivaxris is not the Incarnation, 
which is described in the words litivuatv favrtiv. As a man (eupeflels is 
&v6puiros) Christ humbled Himself. 

6 Rom. xv. 2-3. 

* Cf.I Cor. xi. i ; i Thess. i. 6/ Observe that these passages exclude 
the idea that Paul is referring to an ideal Messianic figure and not to 
the Jesus of history, for Christ is an object of imitation in the same sense 
as Paul himself is. 



after Paul in Rom. xii.-xiii. has set forth the 
Christian moral ideal in some detail, he sums up 
in the words, " Put on the Lord Jesus Christ ". 1 
This surely implies that the moral ideal he has 
set forth is that embodied in the character of 

The facts to which Paul alludes regarding the 
Jesus of history are always related to His Mes- 
sianic calling and destiny. Then how, it may be 
asked, do we know that Paul is not describing an 
ideal Messianic figure, rather than an historical 
person? To this I will reply with another 
Question. Where will you find in the Messiah of 
Iprophecy or apocalypse the moral character 
jwhich Paul attributes to Jesus as Messiah? 
Admittedly the general attributes of righteous- 
ness and obedience to God are inherent in the 
Messianic idea. But humility, meekness, gentle- 
ness, dyaTnj, forgiveness of enemies where are 
these ? They can be found, if at all, only by 
combing Messianic prophecy with care, and 
selecting out of it an occasional reference which 
in the literature itself is overshadowed by a mass of 
quite different conceptions ; or else by treating 
as Messianic, passages which were not so regarded 
in pre-Christian Judaism. Paul was indeed 
aware of that other Messianic figure the Messiah 

1 Rom. xiii. 14. 


characteristic of prophecy and apocalypse, who 
will appear with the angels of his power in a 
flame of fire, inflicting vengeance upon those 
who do not know God or obey the Gospel. It 
is in this guise, he says, that the Lord'Jesus will 
come again. 1 But this figure stands quite apart 
from the Jesus of history. In fact Paul's account 
of Jesus as Messiah, while it corresponds to the 
one essential point in the Messianic idea without 
which Messiahship is meaningless that the 
Messiah is the divinely appointed Head of the 
people of God, and the bearer of His Kingdom 
to the whole world in all other respects repre- 
sents the Jewish Messianic idea reversed. The 
Messiah should have exhibited the attributes of 
power and dominion on earth ; instead, He 
" took the form of a slave ". He should have 
united Israel under His sway ; instead, He was 
rejected by Israel. He should have vindicated 
the Law ; instead, He died under the curse of 
the Law as a malefactor. The phenomenon of a 
" crucified Messiah " was a " scandal " to the 
Jews. It could not have come from anywhere 
except out of history. To the Pauline historical 
data, therefore, we must add that Jesus came as 
Messiah, and (by implication) that it was as such 
that He was killed by the Jews ; and that His 

1 IIThess. i. 7-10. 


death was the result of a conflict with the Law. 
These data we shall find reappearing in the 

The Pauline testimony, therefore, is all of a 
piece. He attests the character of Jesus, some- 
thing of His life and death, and something of His 
teaching ; and he assigns Him His place in 
history as a crucified Messiah. This testimony is 
of the utmost importance, since we know that 
Paul came into the Church (which he already 
knew before his conversion) within seven years 
(probably less) from the Crucifixion ; that he 
was well acquainted with Peter, John, and James, 
the brother of Jesus ; and that for all their differ- 
ences of opinion, he never differed from them in 
his conception of the fundamental tradition. 

Nor is Paul our only witness outside the 
Gospels. The anonymous author to the Hebrews 
refers in the same allusive way as Paul to generally 
accepted facts about Jesus. He knows that He 
was of the tribe of Judah ; 1 that He preached 
salvation as the first Apostle of the faith ; 2 that 
He was faithful and obedient to God, 3 learning 

1 Heb. vii. 14. May we not surmise that this author, with his interest 
in priesthood, would have been attracted by the idea of a Messiah of 
the tribe of Levi, which is found in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ? 
But the tradition by which he was controlled prevented him from 
construing the Messianic priesthood of Jesus on these lines. 

2 Heb. ii. 3 ; iii. i. 

3 Heb. iii. 2 ; x. 5-9. 


obedience by suffering ; 1 that He was tempted, 
without falling into sin ; 2 that He met with great 
opposition ; 3 that He prayed to be saved from 
death ; 4 that He was crucified 5 outside the gate 
(of Jerusalem) ; 6 and that He rose again. 7 There 
is no suggestion that the author was dependent 
for these facts upon any of our written Gospels. 
He says that he and his readers had received the 
Gospel from the original hearers of Jesus, 8 and 
we may accept him as one more witness to the 
common tradition. 

The allusions to the Jesus of history in other 
New Testament epistles are of less importance, 
because we have no means of connecting them in 
the same direct way with the original fount of 

The statement in I Timothy vi, 13 that Jesus 
" witnessed the good confession before Pontius 
Pilate ", if we could be sure it came from Paul, 
would belong to the general body of Pauline 
tradition, which we have already reviewed, and 
would carry the weight which attaches to that 
tradition because of its close connection with the 

1 Heb. ii. 10 ; v. 8. 

2 Heb. ii. i-8 ; iv. 15. 

3 Heb. xii. 3. 

4 Heb. v. 7. 

5 Heb. xii. 2. 

6 Heb. xiii. 12. 

7 Heb. xiii. 20 ; x. 12. 

8 Heb. ii. 3. 


earliest days of the Church. It is noteworthy 
that Pilate's name occurs also in the Pauline 
kerygma as it is given in Acts xiii. 28. But 
I Timothy is probably, at least in its present 
form, a post-Pauline work, and the allusion to 
Pontius Pilate may be derived from the Gospels, 
though I think it more probable that here and 
in the Creed the name of the procurator is due 
to a continuous tradition independent of the 

In I Peter ii. 21-23 the demeanour of Jesus 
before His judges is held up as an example for 
imitation. If the epistle is really from the hand 
of the apostle Peter (as some eminent critics still 
hold), this moving picture of Jesus at His trial 
would be among our most original and valuable 
pieces of historical evidence. But the Petrine 
authorship is in doubt, and there is nothing else 
to connect the statements here made with the 
fount of tradition. The passage is often regarded 
as an ideal description of the suffering Messiah, 
based on Isaiah liii. On this point I would refer 
to what was said above about the relation 
between prophecy and the historical tradition. 
But I would further point out that the really 
characteristic statement in I Peter is not derived 
from II Isaiah at all : " When He was reviled 
He did not revile in return ; when He suffered 


He made no threats, but committed Himself to 
Him who judges righteously". Is that pure 
imagination, or does it come out of a tradition 
which preserved a genuine memory of the Jesus 
of history ? It is no doubt possible that the 
author of the epistle had read one of the Gospels. 
But there is no trace in this passage of any literary 
reminiscence of Mark xiv,-xv. or its parallels. It 
seems most likely that we have here again an 
appeal to a current tradition, known and accepted 
by the writer and his readers, which preserved a 
memory of the facts. 

On the other hand, the account of the Trans- 
figuration in II Peter i. 16-18 is in all probability 
a literary derivative from the. Gospels. The 
epistle is by common consent regarded as 
pseudonymous. The author is deliberately aim- 
ing at the semblance of a personal reminiscence 
in -order to represent his book as a work of the 
apostle Peter. The chief value of this passage 
for our purpose is to illustrate by contrast the 
genuinely traditional character of the references 
in Paul, Hebrews and I Peter. 

There is thus good ground for the conclusion 
that the epistles presuppose an historical tradi- 
tion generally known and accepted, to which 
appeal can be made as authoritative. Since we 
have no more than casual allusions to this tradi- 


tion, called forth by particular occasions, we can 
reconstruct it only fragmentarily. Have we any 
evidence for its character as a whole ? 

In the Acts of the Apostles we have a number 
of passages which purport to be addresses of the 
apostle Peter to various audiences in the early 
days of the Church. Upon examination these 
addresses are found to be variations upon a 
common theme, which recurs in almost stereo- 
typed form. 1 It runs after this fashion: The 
Messianic age has dawned, and the prophecies 
are fulfilled. Jesus of Nazareth came in the power 
of the Spirit, wrought mighty works and taught 
with authority. He was crucified, dead and 
buried. The third day He rose again from the 
dead, and is exalted at the right hand of God as 
Lord and Christ. He will come again in glory. 
Meanwhile the company of those who believe in 
Him is marked out as the new Israel of God by 
the gift of the Spirit. Forgiveness and salvation 
are offered in His name. Therefore repent and 

There can, I think, be little doubt that this 
represents the common form of the kerygma, or 
proclamation of the Gospel, which we have found 
to be presupposed in the epistles ; and the 

1 See my book The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments, pp. 29-47. 


historical tradition, with its eschatological setting, 
is the core of the kerygma. 

The Acts is a work of the late first century. It 
might be held that its formulation of the kerygma 
belongs to that period. But a comparison with 
the data of the Pauline epistles makes it certain 
that at least the substance of this kerygma, with its 
historical core, is as early as the time of Paul, 
and that it represents the Gospel which he 
declares to be common to him and the original 
apostles, the tradition which he received and 
handed on. When we further observe that most 
of the forms of the kerygma in Acts show in their 
language a strong Aramaic colouring, we may 
recognize the high probability that in these 
passages we are in fairly direct touch with the 
primitive tradition of the Jesus of history. 

To sum up : leaving the Gospels aside, we can 
recover from the New Testament a clearly arti- 
culated picture of the place which the historical 
tradition of Jesus occupied in the early Church, 
and of the general character of its contents. From 
the very beginning of things, the life of the Church 
grew up about this central tradition, which 
remained normative of its thought, its worship, 
and its practice through all the rapid and far- 
reaching development which it underwent in the 
apostolic and sub-apostolic periods. 


The Gospels are to be regarded primarily as 
the deposit, or crystallization, of this tradition in 
narrative form. They result from the gathering 
together of material of various kinds about a 
central strand of testimony embodied from the 
first in the preaching (kerygma) and teaching 
(didache) of the Church. Both elements, preach- 
ing and teaching, reappear in our Gospels. Of 
our earliest Gospel sources, Mark represents 
primarily the story of Jesus l and " Q " primarily 
the teaching of Jesus. 

1 For the relation of Mark to the kerygma, see The Apostolic Preaching 
and its Developments, pp. 104-1 1 7. 





THE argument in the preceding chapter has 
led to the conclusion that the Gospel story 
as we have it in the canonical Gospels lies within 
a framework which can be traced to the earliest 
days of Christianity. The primitive preaching 
postulates the historical reality of the main facts, 
and so acted as a preservative of the historical 
tradition, over against any attempt (such as 
exhibited itself notably in Gnostic heresies) to 
devaluate the historical element in Christianity. 
So far as we have gone at present, it might be the 
case that the detail of the Gospel story is the pro- 
duct of the mind of the Church working within 
the framework of the kerygma, or apostolic preach- 
ing. But we have in any case to account for the 
kerygma itself. A true historical perspective sug- 
gests that it would be nearer the truth to say that 
the kerygma, or the facts and beliefs involved in it, 
created the community, than to say that the 
community created the kerygma. The Church 
formulated it, no doubt, but except upon the 



hypothesis that something happened of which 
the apostolic preaching gives an account, we can 
assign no adequate reason for the emergence of 
the Church. 

The Gospels, however, as they stand, belong to 
a comparatively late period. The authority to 
be attached to their evidence in detail will depend 
upon the earlier sources, written or oral, from 
which the Evangelists may be supposed to have 
drawn their material. There are two lines of 
investigation to be followed : (i) " source-criti- 
cism ", which deals with the written documents, 
and seeks to establish their proximate sources ; 
and (ii) " form-criticism ", which seeks to recon- 
struct the oral tradition lying behind the proxi- 
mate written sources. 1 

It will be convenient to start with a division of 
the Gospel record into two main parts, the story 
of the Ministry and the story of the Passion. The 

1 The school of Form-criticism (Formgesckichte) arose in Germany 
at the end of the war. Its first expressions are in K. L. Schmidt, 
Der Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu ; R. Bultmann, Geschichte der Synoptischen 
Tradition; and M. Dibelius, Formgeschichte des Evangeliums (second 
edition translated into English under the title From Tradition to Gospel). 
The general attitude of these writers may be gathered from K. L. 
Schmidt's article Jesus Christus in the new edition of Religion in Geschichte 
und Gegenwart, Bultmann's Jesus. (Engl. tr. Jesus and the Word), and 
Dibelius's Geschichtliche und Uebergeschichtliche Religion im Christentum, 
and Gospel Criticism and Christology. For the English reader Form- 
criticism is clearly and judiciously explained by Vincent Taylor, The 
Formation of the Gospel Tradition. See also B. S. Easton, The Gospel 
before the Gospels, Hoskyns and Davey, The Riddle of the New Testament, 
arid R. H. Lightfoot, History and Interpretation in the Gospels. 


former consists of a series of episodes, each more 
or less complete in itself, often with only the 
loosest connection between them, but with a 
slender thread of continuity provided by short 
summary statements, which serve to link one 
episode with the next following. In the Passion- 
narrative the form changes. We have a long con- 
tinuous narrative, in which each event pre- 
supposes the event which has preceded, and leads 
on to the event next succeeding. 

The division is marked by the Evangelists 
themselves, though they do not all begin their 
formal Passion-narrative at precisely the same 
point. Mark clearly indicates a fresh departure 
at xiv. i, where he alludes to the plot of the 
Sanhedrin. Matthew, at the same point, em- 
phasizes the fresh departure by inserting a 
solemn statement by Jesus that the time for His 
Passion has arrived (xxvi. 1-2). Luke, aiming 
as usual at a greater continuity of narrative, has 
linked the reference to the plot with the fore- 
going narrative of the ministry in Jerusalem by 
means of a brief summary statement (xxi. 37-38). 
But for all that, the division between the earlier 
part and the later betrays itself in the changed 
manner and tempo of his narrative. In the Fourth 
Gospel the division is strongly marked at xiii. i. 
John however has equivalents for the contents of 


Mark xiv. i -i i in the earlier part of his Gospel, 
and begins the Passion-narrative with the Last 

Accepting then this division, we shall first con- 
sider the Passion-narrative. Here source-criti- 
cism suggests that the Marcan narrative has been 
reproduced by Matthew with some alteration and 
expansion in details ; that in Luke it has been 
combined with a narrative from a different 
source ; 1 and that John, while he may be in 
some measure indebted to Mark, has in substance 
followed an independent tradition. 2 Form- 
criticism can go further, and having regard to 
the allusions to the story of the Cross in the 
Epistles, and to the formulation of it in the 
apostolic preaching (kerygma) in Acts, will suggest 
that underlying our three primary accounts there 
is a common form or pattern of Passion-narra- 
tive. 3 This pattern is constituted of nine episodes : 

1. The Last Supper. Forecast of the treachery 

of Judas. 

2. Forecast of Peter's denial, and of the deser- 

tion of the disciples. 

1 This seems to me to be made overwhelmingly probable by Streeter, 
The Four Gospels, Chapter VIII, whether or not his " Proto-Luke " 
hypothesis be accepted. 

2 I hope to review the evidence in favour of this view in a forthcoming 
book. Reference may be made to Gardner-Smith, St. John and the 
Synoptic Gospels. 

3 In what follows, I differ widely from some Form-critics. The 
points cannot be argued here, but the line of argument is indicated. 


3. Retirement to a place on or near the Mount 

of Olives. Betrayal ; arrest ; desertion 
of disciples. 

4. Examination before the High Priest. Peter's 


5. Trial before Pilate. Declaration of inno- 

cence. Condemnation as King of the 
Jews. Release of Barabbas. 

6. Crucifixion at Calvary, with two others. 

7. Burial. 

8. The Empty Tomb. 

9. Appearances to disciples. 1 

The Marcan, Lucan and Johannine accounts 
insert various additional episodes, but all give these 
nine, in the same relative order, and with a large 
amount of the same detail (though often in widely 
different words). All of them reflect the ideas 
of the kerygma in showing, by reference to the Old 
Testament, that " Christ died . . . according to 
the Scriptures ", but the actual prophecies cited 
differ almost entirely in the three accounts. The 
general idea of fulfilment of prophecy is common 
to all, and, as we should infer from the kerygma 

1 The genuine text of Mark in its present form contains no appear- 
ances, being broken off at xvi. 8. But they seem to be anticipated in 
xiv. 28, xvi. 7 ; unless Professor Lightfoot is right in holding that these 
two passages refer to the Second Advent rather than to appearances of 
the risenyfjord in the sense of Luke and John (see Locality and Doctrine 
in the Gosjpels, pp. 73 sqq.). 

f 2 


itself, probably primitive, but the working out of 
the idea, with few exceptions, belongs to the 
specialization of the tradition in its various forms. 
Again, all our accounts emphasize the fact that 
Jesus was put to death as Messiah ; though John 
(in his Passion-narrative) confines the Messianic 
idea almost entirely to its aspect of royalty, while 
Mark connects it explicitly with the titles " Son 
of God" and "Son of Man". Each account 
again includes certain supernatural " signs " 
accompanying the death of Jesus, but again these 
belong to the specialization of the tradition, and 
not to its common pattern, since no such " sign " 
is recorded in all four Gospels. 

It certainly looks as if all our Passion-narra- 
tives were controlled, as regards their main con- 
tents, by a fixed, even stereotyped form of narra- 
tive, in which from a very early date the essential 
facts were set forth. If we ask whether there is 
any further evidence that such a form existed, we 
may recall (i) that Paul's description of his 
preaching to the Galatians, " before whose eyes 
Christ was set forth crucified " 1 seems to imply 
something more than a mere statement of the fact 
such as we have in the formula of I Cor. xv. 3-4 ; 
and (ii) that a " recital " of the death of the Lord 
formed part of the observance of the Eucharist in 

1 Gal. iii. I. 


the Pauline churches. 1 This evidence does not 
amount to proof, but it suggests the likelihood 
that some form of Passion-narrative accompanied 
the preaching of the Gospel and the celebration 
of the Sacrament ; while the discovery of a 
common form underlying our canonical reports 
fits in with this suggestion. 

It is to be observed that the type of narrative 
which seems to be pre-supposed is straightfor- 
ward and objective. The motives which can be 
discerned are quite -simple : the desire to show 
that Jesus went to His death with open eyes, that 
He was condemned unjustly, and that His suffer- 
ings fulfilled the Scriptures. These motives have 
perhaps been carried a little further in one and 
another of the canonical accounts, and we seem 
to discern a tendency to fasten the guilt of His 
death somewhat more definitely on the Jews 
rather than the Romans. But the characteristic 
features of martyr-legends are conspicuously 
absent, such as harrowing details of suffering, 
edifying speeches, and miraculous interventions 
on behalf of the sufferer. Still more conspicuous 
is the absence of any such theologizing of the 
story as might not unreasonably have been 

1 I Cor. xi. 26. That KaTayyf\\fre refers to a verbal recital seems 
to me almost certain in view of the evidence for the use of Karayyi^f"' 
advanced in Kittel's Theologisches Worterbwh zum Neuen Testament, 



expected, in view of its theological importance. 
This is especially notable in the Fourth Gospel. 
That work is in general deeply penetrated with a 
distinctive theology, but if one reads its Passion- 
narrative it is difficult to find more than two or 
three points at which the narrative appears to 
have been influenced by that theology. As a 
whole it is singularly plain and objective. The 
reason would seem to be that the story was so 
fixed in tradition that no serious departure from 
the common form could be contemplated, even 
by an evangelist who set out to give a theological 
interpretation of the Gospel. 

On all grounds it seems probable that in the 
Passion-narrative we are in close touch with the 
primitive tradition. The story was not produced 
either by the preaching of the early Church or by 
theological reflection upon it. It is the story that 
underlies the kerygma, and provided the basis for 
the theology of the epistles. 

We now pass to the earlier parts of the Gospels, 
where the material is presented as a series of 
loosely connected units of narrative or of teach- 
ing, and where the variations both in content and 
in order are greater than in the Passion-narrative. 

I assume the main results of source-criticism 
as they bear upon this part of the Gospel record. 
Mark is the earliest Gospel. Matthew and Luke 


depend largely upon it as a source. They also 
depend upon a lost document, denominated 
" Q,"> which may be conjecturally dated to about 
the same period, the sixties of the first century. 
The " Q," material can be isolated for study, and 
Mark and " Q/' can be compared. The import- 
ance of such a comparison rests upon the facts 
that the two sources belong to different geogra- 
phical areas (Mark western, " Q," eastern), and 
to different circles in the Church, and that the 
interest and purpose of the two is quite different. 
Mark, as we have seen, represents primarily the 
Gospel story which goes back to the primitive 
preaching (kerygma) ; " Q," the tradition of the 
sayings of Jesus which was embodied in the 
teaching (didache) of the Church. In so far there- 
fore as we can recognize convergences or cross- 
correspondences between the two, they carry us 
back to a state of the tradition much earlier than 
the time to which Mark and " Q," belong. In 
point of fact, attentive study of the material 
reveals a considerable number of such corre- 
spondences. 1 From the data attested by Mark 

1 A list of " doubly-attested sayings " is given in Burkitt, The Gospel 
History and its Transmission, pp. 147-168. For our purpose not only such 
sayings come into view, but also those cases where the two documents 
confirm one another implicitly. It should be added that in some 
cases, as for example in predictions of the Second Advent, Mark and 
" Q," represent different and prima facie inconsistent traditions. 'Those 
points in which they agree obviously carry the greater weight when 
we are seeking for the central tradition. 


and " Q/' in conjunction we can derive a clear 
and relatively full picture of the character of the 
ministry of Jesus. This picture is based upon 
evidence which, when allowance is made for the 
time required for the tradition to develop in the 
two directions represented by Mark and by " Q/ 5 
respectively, can hardly be later than, say, the 
forties. It may be used as a criterion for estimat- 
ing the value of other material in Mark and c * Q/', 
as well as in other parts of the Gospel canon. By 
the use of such a criterion, it becomes clear that 
the general impression produced by the Synoptic 
Gospels as a whole is in harmony with this early 
and central tradition, with expansions which do 
not alter its character, but that there are sections 
of these Gospels, and still more of the Fourth 
Gospel, which lie somewhat off the line of this 
tradition, and may turn out to be of only 
secondary historical value. 

Of Form-criticism it is necessary to speak at 
greater length. It is so called because it starts 
from the forms or patterns in which the material 
is presented, and seeks to draw conclusions from 
these forms with regard to the character of various 
parts of the tradition in the oral stage which lies 
behind the written Gospels. Its method, as dis- 
tinguished from that of source-criticism, may be 
illustrated in this way. The source-critic takes, 


for example, the story of the Withered Hand 
(Mk. iii. 1-6 and parallels). JBy a minute com- 
parison of the actual wording in the three Gospels 
he concludes (a) that this story was taken by 
Matthew and Luke from Mark, and (b) that 
Matthew has expanded it by the addition of a 
saying which is found elsewhere in Luke, and so 
was probably drawn from " Q/ J . The form- 
critic on the other hand will take the same story, 
and observe that its pattern consists of three 
elements only setting, action, and significant 
saying. He then points out that the same pattern 
is found, not only in the similar story of the 
Dropsy (Lk. xiv. 2-6) but also in sections whose 
content is quite different e.g. the stories of the 
Blessing of the Children, 1 of the Feast with 
Publicans and Sinners, 2 and of the Anointing at 
Bethany. 3 With only slight variations in the 
pattern a whole class of such stories can be col- 
lected, and can be compared and contrasted with 
other stories which have a different pattern. 
Similarly the Gospel Sayings can be classified ; 
for example, as parables, poetical utterances, and 
prose aphorisms. 

It is not necessary here to supply a detailed 
classification of the material, such as form-criti- 

1 Mk. x. 13-16. 

2 Mk. ii. 15-17. 

3 Mk. xiv. 3-9. 


cism seeks to provide. It is enough to note 
certain characteristics of the material. 

(i) Apart from the long and sustained narra- 
tive of the Passion, the bulk of the oral tradition 
seems to have been in the form .of brief stories and 
sayings, each of which aims at setting forth 
clearly and vividly some one main point. 

(ii) It is thus possible in most cases to recognize 
the interest or motive which led to the formula- 
tion and preservation of the tradition. The 
interest is seldom directly biographical. Such 
biographical information as we can glean is all 
the more significant because it is imparted 

(iii) More often the interest is related to some 
theme belonging either to the preaching (kerygmd). 
or to the teaching (didache) of the early Church. 
In each case the tradition was open to the possi- 
bility of being modified under the influence of 
some special evangelistic or didactic motive, but 
in each case also, the nearer a particular story or 
saying stands to the primitive and permanent 
concerns of the Church, the more sure we may 
be that it belongs to the central tradition. 

(iv) Sometimes the mere form of a unit of the 
tradition permits an estimate of its probable 
historical value. Thus, it is generally recognized 
that the parables as a whole have a strikingly in- 


dividual style and character, which encourages 
the belief that they belong to the most original 
and authentic part of the tradition. Many of 
the aphoristic sayings on the other hand have 
little individual stamp, but are of the nature of 
current proverbs, so that it is hard to say whether 
they were coined by Jesus Himself, or taken by 
Him or His followers from a common stock. 

There are, again, passages where a definite 
poetical structure can be recognized. Burney, 
The Poetry of Our Lord, showed that such passages 
can without difficulty be turned word for word 
into Aramaic. We can then perceive that they 
not only exhibit the marks of parallelism .and 
rhythm characteristic of Semitic poetry, but are 
actually in poetical metres well-known from the 
Hebrew Old Testament. Such passages are 
especially characteristic of " Q," and of the 
special source of Matthew. We conclude that 
the older oral tradition contained utterances 
of Jesus in verse, similar to the oracles of the 
Hebrew prophets, and this poetical structure 
helped to protect such passages from serious modi- 
fication, even in the process of translation. It 
does not necessarily follow that Jesus Himself 
spoke in verse. The poetical form may have been 
given to His sayings by the early Aramaic- 
speaking community. But since Jesus appeared 


to His contemporaries as a prophet, and prophets 
were accustomed to give oracles in verse, it is 
credible that we have here something approach- 
ing His ipsissima verba. However that may be, the 
verse-structure carries these passages back well 
into the early Aramaic-speaking period of the 
life of the Church, and their form guarantees 
their place in the central tradition. 

Again, if we consider the narratives, we observe 
that some of them have a suspicious resemblance 
in form and character to folk-tales current in the 
Jewish or the Hellenistic world, while others have 
a unique form which seems to have been the 
product of the Christian genius. The latter we 
shall attribute to the central, the former to the 
peripheral tradition. 

(v) It is often possible to infer the situation in 
the life of the Church in which a particular ele- 
ment of the tradition had special significance. 
Thus such a story as that of the Coin in the Fish's 
mouth (Mt. xvii. 24-27) is pertinent to the question 
of the payment of the Temple tax by Jewish 
Christians who no longer felt themselves to be 
within the Jewish community. That question is 
hardly likely to have become acute in the stage 
of Church life represented by the early chapters 
of Acts, and still less likely during the lifetime 
of Jesus. The story is suspected, not without good 


reason, of being a later accretion. On the other 
hand such passages as those in which Jesus is 
challenged to give a sign from heaven, or accused 
of casting out demons by Beelzebub, may indeed 
have had apologetical value in the Church's 
conflict with Jewish opponents, but no "setting 
in life " is so natural or appropriate as their osten- 
sible setting in the life of Jesus Himself, who, as 
Jewish tradition avers, was accused of sorcery. 
We can scarcely doubt that they belong to the 
primary tradition. 

If we ask what is the chief value of the method 
of form-criticism for our immediate purpose, I 
should answer that it enables us to study our 
material in fresh groupings, which point to dis- 
tinct strains of tradition, preserved from various 
motives, aaa in some measure through different 
channels, and to compare these strains of tradi- 
tion, much as we compared Mark and " Q/', in 
search of convergences and cross-correspond- 

The grouping is, it is true, not always quite 
clear or exclusive. There is some overlapping, 
and some units may from one point of view belong 
to one group, and from another point of view to 
another group. Nevertheless some fairly definite 
groupings do emerge ; for example, the parables, 
the poetical sayings, the controversial dialogues, 


the " pronouncement-stories ".* Any such group 
may be profitably studied, for our purpose, in 
isolation from the rest. A remarkable fact 
emerges. Each group taken by itself gives a 
picture of the ministry of Jesus from a particular 
standpoint. I have shown elsewhere that the 
body of parables, taken as a whole, enables us to 
reconstruct, from this source alone, a surprisingly 
complete and coherent picture of the ministry in 
its various phases. 2 The other groups do not, it 
is true, yield such a complete or detailed picture 
as this. But they do set Jesus before us as a clear- 
cut Figure in word and action. And although 
the points of view differ, we cannot avoid the 
impression that it is the same picture that we are 
seeing from them all. The material has come 
down through different channels, but it is all 
drawn from the same reservoir of tradition. 

This comparison of various groups of tradition 
can be carried out in detail. 3 I will give some 

Take the following sections of the Gospels : 
i. The Call of Levi. Mk. ii. 14. 

1 A term suggested by Dr. Vincent Taylor for narratives in which the 
interest is centred in a saying or pronouncement rather than in action. 
They coincide more or less with Dibelius's " paradigms " and Bultmann's 
" apophthegms." 

2 The Parables of the Kingdom, pp. 198-202. 

3 The method which I have elaborated here was employed in 
Hoskyns and Davey, The Riddle of the Mew Testament, pp. 162-207. 


2. The Feast with Publicans and Sinners. 

Mk. ii. 15-17. 

3. Zacchaeus. Lk. xix. 2-10. 

4. The Sinful Woman in Simon's House. 

Lk. vii. 36-48. 

5. The Woman taken in Adultery. Jn. vii. 

53-viii. n. 

6. The Parable of the Lost Sheep. Lk. xv. 4-7 ; 

Mt. xviii. 12-13. 

7. The Parable of the Pharisee and the 

Publican. Lk. xviii. 10-14. 

8. The Parable of the Children in the Market- 

place. Mt. xi. 16-19 ; Lk. vii. 31-35 

(" Q,"). 

9. The saying, " The publicans and harlots 

enter the Kingdom of God before you". 

Mt. xxi. 32. 

Here we have a great variety of traditional 
" forms " aphorisms, parables, poetical sayings, 
dialogues, stories of various kinds taken from 
all four main strata of the Synoptic Gospels 
(Mark, " Q/' Matthew's special source, and 
Luke's special source), as well as from some 
unknown source which has entered into some 
MSS. of John and some of Luke. 1 The under- 

1 The pericopi adultera is absent from our best MSS., with one single 
exception. Of the MSS. which contain it, some give it in Jn. vii. 
53-viii. n, some at the end of the Fourth Gospel, and some after Lk. 
xxi. 38. The story appears to have been given also in the Gospel 
according to the Hebrews. It was evidently a piece of floating tradition. 


lying motives are various. No. 4 is primarily 
teaching on forgiveness, No. 7, teaching on 
prayer, No. 6 deals with the Gospel theme of the 
grace of God. Nos. 8 and 9 are simple comments 
upon the actual situation in the ministry of Jesus, 
the former in a poetical and parabolic form, the 
latter in aphoristic form. But all of them in their 
different ways exhibit Jesus as an historical per- 
sonality distinguished from other religious per- 
sonalities of His time by His friendly attitude to 
the outcasts of society. This convergence of a 
great variety of strands of tradition is impressive. 
We may surely say, on strictly critical grounds, 
that we have here a well-attested historical fact. 1 
This fact stands independently of the historical 
status of the several stories in detail. Thus the 
story of the Woman taken in Adultery is poorly 
attested, being in fact no part of our canonical 
Gospels according to the best MSS. But the 
implications of the story regarding the attitude 
of Jesus to the sinful and to the self-righteous are 
in agreement with a whole body of evidence, 

1 It is interesting to observe how this fact emerges in a fresh guise in 
the epistles. " This man receiveth sinners," says the Lucan tradition 
(xv. 2) : " receive one another as Christ received you," says Paul 
(Rom. xv. 7). "A friend of publicans and sinners," says the " Q." 
tradition (Mt. xi. 19) ; "God commendeth His love towards us in 
that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us," says Paul (Rom. v. 8) . 
It would be perverse to suggest that the stories and sayings of the Gospels 
were developed out of the Pauline dogma, which in that case would 
hang in the air. 


and represent the witness of the central 

As another example, take the following pas- 
sages : 

1. Rejection at Nazareth, with the saying 

about a prophet at home. Mk. vi. 1-6 ; 
Lk. iv. 16-30. 

2. The Mother and the Brethren. Mk. iii. 


3. Jesus and His brethren. Jn. vii. 1-9. 

4. The saying, " The foxes have holes ..." 

Mtviii. 20; Lk. ix. 58 (" Q,"). 

5. The command to " hate " father and 

mother. Lk. xiv. 26 ; Mt. x. 37 (" Q,"). 

6. The Gall of the Sons of Zebedee. Mk. i. 


The motive of No. i is the theme of the rejection 
of the Messiah by His own people, which appears 
also in Gospel sayings like Mt. xxiii. 37-39, Lk. 
xiii. 34-35, and underlies Jn. i. n, Rom. ix.-xi., 
and numerous other passages. The motive of 
Nos. 4 and 5 is teaching (didache) about the condi- 
tions of Christian discipleship, and the same 
motive probably led to the preservation of No. 2. 
No. 6 belongs to a whole class of stories of voca- 
tion (the call of Peter and Andrew, and of Levi, 
in the Synoptic Gospels, and of Philip in the 


Fourth Gospel). The motive of such stories 
seems to have been to establish the fact that cer- 
tain persons in the early Church possessed the 
authority given by a direct call of Jesus. 1 But 
all five passages, however different their imme- 
diate motives, attest the fact that Jesus was, with 
His followers, an exile from home and family. 2 

We maiake one more group : 

1. The apocalyptic saying, " I beheld Satan as 

lightning fallen from heaven " . Lk. x. 1 8. 

2. The Parable of the Strong Man Bound. 

Mk, iii. 27 ; Lk. xi. 21-22. 

3. The Temptation, Mt. iv. i-ii ; Lk. iv. 

1-13 ("Q."). 

4. The controversial Dialogue on Exorcism. 

Mk. iii. 23-26 ; Mt. xii. 24-28 ; Lk. xi. 
17-20 ( Q."). 

5. The Demoniac in the Synagogue. Mk. i. 


6. The Gadarene Swine. Mk. v. 1-20. 

No. i expresses epigrammatically, in apocalyptic 
form, the idea that with the coming of Christ the 
powers of evil succumb an idea expressed also in 

1 Paul could produce no such dossier. He is concerned to show that 
he was nevertheless " called to be an apostle " (I Cor. i. i). 

2 Consider in the light of this, Paul's statement in II Cor. viii. 9, 
" for our sakes He became poor ". This statement is dogmatic in form, 
referring to the Incarnation, but its point is sharper if the readers are 
assumed to know the tradition that Jesus did, historically, embrace 
voluntary poverty, and had nowhere to lay His head. 


such passages as Jn. xii. 31, xvi. 11, Col. ii. 15. 
The same idla is embodied in parabolic form in 
No. 2. No. 4 is apologetic in intention, as a 
defence of Jesus against the charge of sorcery 
which we know from Jewish sources to have been 
brought against Him. No. 3 we might take, in 
the light of Heb. iv. 15, as illustrating the theme, 
" tempted in all points like as we are, yet without 
sin ", but it also exhibits the triumph of Jesus over 
the powers of evil. It is in this context that we 
must read the stories of exorcism. No. 5 gives an 
example of the kind of story which must underlie 
the charge rebutted in No. 4. In No. 6 a similar 
story is elaborated in a way which makes it very 
like popular stories of wonder-workers current in 
the Hellenistic world, and in its present form it 
probably lies very far from the central line of tra* 
dition ; but it nevertheless preserves an element 
which is deeply embedded in the whole tradition 
of the words and works of Jesus. 

It is in this manner that the whole question 
of the miracle-stories can best be approached. 
We begin with the observation that various 
strains of tradition are concerned with the theme 
that through the work of Jesus men enter into a 
sphere of "salvation" (cuarijpia) as well for the 
body as the soul (e.g. the " Q," passage Mt. xi. 5, 
Lk. vii, 22). The statement that Jesus wrought 

C 2 


lying motives are various. No. 4 is primarily 
teaching on forgiveness, No. 7, teaching on 
prayer, No. 6 deals with the Gospel theme of the 
grace of God. Nos. 8 and 9 are simple comments 
upon the actual situation in the ministry of Jesus, 
the former in a poetical and parabolic form, the 
latter in aphoristic form. But all of them in their 
different ways exhibit Jesus as an historical per- 
sonality distinguished from other religious per- 
sonalities of His time by His friendly attitude to 
the outcasts of society. This convergence of a 
great variety of strands of tradition is impressive. 
We may surely say, on strictly critical grounds, 
that we have here a well-attested historical fact. 1 
This fact stands independently of the historical 
status of the several stories in detail. Thus the 
story of the Woman taken in Adultery is poorly 
attested, being in fact no part of our canonical 
Gospels according to the best MSS. But the 
implications of the story regarding the attitude 
of Jesus to the sinful and to the self-righteous are 
in agreement with a whole body of evidence, 

1 It is interesting to observe how this fact emerges in a fresh guise in 
the epistles. " This man receiveth sinners," says the Lucan tradition 
(xv. a) : " receive one another as Christ received you," says Paul 
(Rom. xv. 7). "A friend of publicans and sinners," says the " Q," 
tradition (Mt. xi. 19) ; "God commendeth His love towards us in 
that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us,' ' says Paul (Rom. v. 8) . 
It would be perverse to suggest that the stories and sayings of the Gospels 
were developed out of the Pauline dogma, which in that case would 
hang in the air. 


and represent the witness of the central 

As another example, take the following pas- 
sages : 

1. Rejection at Nazareth, with the saying 

about a prophet at home. Mk. vi. 1-6 ; 
Lk. iv. 16-30. 

2. The Mother and the Brethren. Mk. iii. 


3. Jesus and His brethren. Jn. vii. 1-9. 

4. The saying, " The foxes have holes . . ." 

Mt.viii. 20; Lk. ix. 58 ("Q,"). 

5. The command to " hate " father and 

mother. Lk. xiv. 26 ; Mt. x. 37 (" Q,"). 

6. The Call of the Sons of Zebedee. Mk. i. 


The motive of No. i is the theme of the rejection 
of the Messiah by His own people, which appears 
also in Gospel sayings like Mt. xxiii. 37-39, Lk. 
xiii. 34-35, and underlies Jn. i. u, Rom. ix.-xi., 
and numerous other passages. The motive of 
Nos. 4 and 5 is teaching (didache) about the condi- 
tions of Christian discipleship, and the same 
motive probably led to the preservation of No. 2. 
No. 6 belongs to a whole class of stories of voca- 
tion (the call of Peter and Andrew, and of Levi, 
in the Synoptic Gospels, and of Philip in the 


Fourth Gospel). The motive of such stories 
seems to have been to establish the fact that cer- 
tain persons in the early Church possessed the 
authority given by a direct call of Jesus. 1 But 
all five passages, however different their imme- 
diate motives, attest the fact that Jesus was, with 
His followers, an exile from home and family. 2 

We martake one more group : 

1. The apocalyptic saying, " I beheld Satan as 

lightning fallen from heaven " . Lk. x. 1 8, 

2. The Parable of the Strong Man Bound. 

Mk. iii. 27 ; Lk. xi. 21-22. 

3. The Temptation. Mt. iv. i-ii ; Lk. iv. 


4. The controversial Dialogue on Exorcism. 
Mk. iii. 23-26 ; Mt. xii. 24-28 ; Lk. xi. 

5. The Demoniac in the Synagogue. Mk. i. 


6. The Gadarene Swine. Mk. v. 1-20. 

No. i expresses epigrammatically, in apocalyptic 
form, the idea that with the coming of Christ the 
powers of evil succumb an idea expressed also in 

1 Paul could produce no such dossier. He is concerned to show that 
he was nevertheless " called to be an apostle " (I Cor. i. i). 

2 Consider in the light of this, Paul's statement in II Cor. viii. 9, 
" for our sakes He became poor ". This statement is dogmatic in form, 
referring to the Incarnation, but its point is sharper if the readers are 
assumed to know the tradition that Jesus did, historically, embrace 
voluntary poverty, and had nowhere to lay His head. 


such passages as Jn. xii. 31, xvi. 11, Col. ii. 15. 
The same idea is embodied in parabolic form in 
No. 2. No. 4 is apologetic in intention, as a 
defence of Jesus against the charge of sorcery 
which we know from Jewish sources to have been 
brought against Him. No. 3 we might take, in 
the light of Heb. iv. 15, as illustrating the theme, 
" tempted in all points like as we are, yet without 
sin ", but it also exhibits the triumph of Jesus over 
the powers of evil. It is in this context that we 
must read the stories of exorcism. No. 5 gives an 
example of the kind of story which must underlie 
the charge rebutted in No. 4. In No. 6 a similar 
story is elaborated in a way which makes it very 
like popular stories of wonder-workers current in 
the Hellenistic world, and in its present form it 
probably lies very far from the central line of tra- 
dition ; but it nevertheless preserves an element 
which is deeply embedded in the whole tradition 
of the words and works of Jesus. 

It is in this manner that the whole question 
of the miracle-stories can best be approached. 
We begin with the observation that various 
strains of tradition are concerned with the theme 
that through the work of Jesus men enter into a 
sphere of "salvation" (awripLa) as well for the 
body as the soul (e.g. the " Q" passage Mt. xi. 5, 
Lk. vii. 22). The statement that Jesus wrought 

G 2 


miraculous cures is embodied in the primitive 
kerygma (Ac. x. 38). That "miracles" were a 
matter of experience in the early Church we have 
first-hand evidence in Rom. xv. 19, 1 Cor. xii. 28, 
II Cor. xii. 12, Heb. ii. 4. Whatever therefore 
we may make of any particular miracle-story, 
we are dealing with a tradition which, for better 
or worse, contained this kind of thing from the 
very beginning. Since, then, the most authentic 
tradition certainly contained some miracle-stories, 
we may attempt to distinguish those whose form 
and character link them closely with that tradi- 
tion, 1 from others which show a suspicious 
resemblance to non-Christian popular tales of 
wonder-workers, 2 and assign to the former a 
superior historical status. 

These stories of miracles are clearly related in 
the closest possible way to the primary theme 
of the kerygma^ that the New Age has dawned, 
the age of miracle, the age in which the arm of 
the Lord is laid bare for the salvation of men 
and the discomfiture of the powers of evil. 
Other aspects of the same theme are similarly 
illustrated in various units of tradition. 

1 Such as the Withered Hand, which is inseparably bound up with 
teaching about the Sabbath, and the Paralytic, which is similarly 
bound up with the proclamation of forgiveness through Jesus. 

2 Such as the Blind Man of Bethsaida (Mk. viii. 22-26), the Dumb 
Man of Decapolis (Mk. vii. 31-37) and the Gadarene Swine. 


Thus we have the motive of the contrast 
between the old order and the new : 

1. The Law and the prophets until John. 
Mt. xi. 13, Lk. xvi. i6("Q,")- 

2. Patched clothes, burst wineskins. Mk. 
ii. 21-22. 

3. Water into Wine. Jn. ii. i-io. 

4. Living water. Jn. iv. 5-15. 

5. Divorce. Mk. x. i-io. 

6. Murder and anger. Mt. v. 21-22. 

No, i is an aphorism, No. 2 a parable. The 
underlying idea of both is much the same. 
No. 3 expresses this idea in the form of a story 
in which water (the water of the Jews' purifying) 
is turned into wine. The use of wine as a figure 
links it up with the Marcan parable. No. 4 is 
a dialogue with narrative setting. The water 
of eternal life, now given by Christ, is contrasted 
with the water of Jacob's well. Nos. 5 and 6 are 
plain ethical teaching, in the form of a con- 
troversial dialogue and an aphorism respectively ; 
but both strikingly illustrate the maxim enun- 
ciated in No. i . 

Again, we have the motive of" fulfilment " : 

1. The plentiful harvest. Mt. ix. 37-38, Lk. 
X. 2. ("ft"). 

2. The fields white for harvest. Jn. iv. 35. 


3. The parable of the ripening of the corn. 
Mk. iv. 26-29. 

4. The blessedness of the disciples. Mt. xiii. 
16-17, kk. x. 23-24. 

5. Reply to John the Baptist. Mt. xi. 2-6, 
Lk. vii. 18-23 (" CT). 

6. Prophecy fulfilled. Lk. iv. 17-21. 

7. The parable of the Great Feast. Mt. 
xxii. 2-10, Lk. xiv. 16-24. 

Nos. i and 2 are aphorisms which, using the 
ancient symbol of the harvest of the world, 
declare that " the time is fulfilled ". No. 2 is a 
parable which, as I have tried to show elsewhere, 1 
is best understood in the same sense. No. 4, 
an aphorism again, declares unequivocally that 
the hopes of past generations are fulfilled in the 
experience of the disciples. No. 5, a dialogue, 
states the same truth in answer to a question. 
No. 6, a " pronouncement-story " (conflated 
with another episode), cites a prophecy, and 
declares it to be fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus. 
No. 7 again uses an ancient symbol, that of the 
Messianic Feast, and announces, " All is ready ". 
Once more, the several units are drawn from 
various strata, and from various strains of tradi- 
tion, but they converge upon a central theme. 

1 The Parables of the Kingdom, pp. 176-180. 


Finally, take the following passages, which 
(among many others) deal with the theme of 
judgment : 

1. The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. 
Mk. xii. 1-9. 

2. The Blood of the Righteous. Mt. xxiii. 
34-36, Lk.xi. 49-51 ("Q,"). 

3. The Doom of Jerusalem. Mt. xxiii. 37-39, 
LLxiii. 34-35 ("Q,"). 

4. Tears over Jerusalem. Lk. xix. 41-44. 

5. Judicial Blindness. Jn. ix. 39. 

Nos, 2 and 5 may best be described as prophetic 
utterances in prose. No. 3 is a poetical utter- 
ance. No. 4 -may perhaps be classified as a 
" pronouncement-story ". The purport of them 
all is the same : the rejection of Jesus by the 
Jews is a sign of divine judgment, the Last 
Judgment of which prophecy and apocalypse 

In view of this accumulation of evidence, it is 
clear that the various channels of tradkion all 
conveyed sayings and stories of Jesus which 
necessarily imply that His coming is eschato- 
logical in character. It is in the light of all this 
that we must consider those passages which 
represent Him as directly fulfilling a Messianic 
role, or explicitly claiming to be Messiah. Such 


passages are few. But the question whether 
this or that particular Messianic passage is to 
be considered historically authentic becomes a 
subordinate question when we observe that the 
tradition in all its several parts is permeated 
with the Messianic idea. Thus, recent criticism 
has thrown doubt upon the explicit reply of 
Jesus to the High Priest's question, " Art thou 
the Christ ? " " I am ".* But even if this be 
rejected, the Messianic character of the whole 
ministry remains inseparably embedded in the 

It is possible enough that the developed tradi- 
tion in the Gospels contains sayings which are 
more precise and explicit than the original 
tradition attested. Thus an examination of the 
canonical and non-canonical Gospels suggests 
that there was a tendency to express beliefs 
about the Messianic character of the ministry 
of Jesus in the form of sayings in the first per- 
son (the so-called Ich-worte, or " Ego-sayings"). 
For example, the formula " fj\9ov iva 2 . . . ", 
" I came to " (call sinners, etc.), seems to have 
become a stock formula for such sayings. 3 But 
to say that all such <l{ Ego-sayings " are late 
coinages is to go beyond the evidence, especially 

1 Mk. xiv. 61-62. 2 or alternatively with the infinitive. 
3 See my article A Mew Gospel (reprinted from Rylands Bulletin, 
vol. xx., pp. 66, 87). 


as many of them state no more than is implied 
in the whole range of the tradition. Whether 
or not Jesus explicitly made, or admitted, His 
claim, it is not doubtful that from the beginning 
the tradition affirmed that He lived, taught, 
worked, suffered and died as Messiah. We can 
find no alternative tradition, excavate as we will 
in the successive strata of the Gospels. 

I have been able, in this chapter, to do no more 
than outline a method of criticism which promises 
a fresh approach to the problem of historicity. 
It is a method which does not aim, directly or 
in the main, at establishing a residuum of bare 
facts, presumed to stand independently of any 
meaning attached to them. The number of 
such facts which can be established by this or 
by any other method is strictly limited. The 
aim of this particular method is to recover the 
purest and most original form of the tradition, 
which inevitably includes both fact and inter- 
pretation. It starts from the existence of the 
early Church as itself an historical fact of great 
significance. By comparing the classical docu- 
frients of the early Church Epistles with Acts, 
Acts and Epistles as a whole with Gospels, and 
different elements in the Gospels with one another 
it studies the formulation and growth of the 


tradition of Jesus and His teaching by which the 
Church lived. By analysis it discovers certain 
groupings and forms of material, and in each of 
them it recognizes a central and a peripheral 
element, a nucleus of firm tradition and a pen- 
umbra of secondary value. By this process it 
seeks to arrive at a clear conception of the central 
tradition as a whole, and to trace it to the earliest 
possible date. In so far as it is successful, it sets 
forth the primitive tradition, coeval with the 
Church itself. In this primitive tradition the 
facts are given from a particular point of view, 
and with a particular meaning. 

And here I must recall what was said in 
Chapter I about the nature of history as con- 
sisting not merely of occurrences, but of events 
which are occurrence plus meaning. We should 
now observe further that as events differ in the 
intensity of meaning they possess for the experient 
of them, so one event will differ from another in 
requiring a larger or a smaller degree of inter- 
pretation if it is to be faithfully reported. 

Among events of public interest there are 
some which can be adequately recorded as a 
series of bare occurrences, as for example the 
story of a scientific invention. There are others 
which can take their true place in an historical 
record only as they are interpreted, as for 


example, the beginning of the Reformation at 
Wittenberg, or the fall of the Bastille, or the 
abdication of King Edward VIII. It is true that 
the element of interpretation opens the door to 
all the fallibilities of the human mind, but the 
point is that the attempt to rule out any inter- 
pretation in such cases inevitably suggests a false 
interpretation. The events are such that the 
meaning of what happened is of greater import- 
ance, historically speaking, than what happened. 
There are even events of outstanding historical 
importance in which practically nothing at all 
happened, in the ordinary external sense of 
happening. It was simply that the meaning of 
the whole situation changed for an individual 
or a group, and from that change of meaning a 
chain of happenings ensued. Such events were 
the call of the prophet Mohammed, and the con- 
version -of Ignatius Loyola, and the mysterious 
inward process that made the house-painter Adolf 
Hitler into the hope or the terror of Europe. 

Now it is clear that the events narrated in the 
Gospels differ among themselves in this respect. 
The trial and crucifixion of Jesus could be 
recorded as bare fact. Tacitus reports it thus : 
" The originator of that name (soil, the name 
' Christian'), Christ, was executed in the reign 
of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate " 


(Ann. XV, 44). So far as that sentence goes, it 
is a purely factual record, though the context in 
which it stands, referring to Christianity as 
exitiabilis superstitio, supplies an interpretation. 
Indeed, an historian who records the death of 
any man is bound to suggest at least the reason 
why this death should be singled out from the 
myriads of -deaths that happen every day, and to 
that extent to interpret its meaning. Without 
such meaning, no man's death is an historical 
event, in the strict sense of the term. The Talmud 
records that " they hanged Jesus on the eve of 
Passover . . . because he practised sorcery and 
led Israel astray ". 1 That is a record of the 
fact with an unmistakable interpretation. A 
Syrian philosopher of (probably) the early second 
century alludes to the fact that the Jews killed 
" their wise King ", as an historical example of 
persecution of the wise and. virtuous, along with 
the deaths of Socrates and Pythagoras. 2 That 
is a more sympathetic interpretation of the fact. 
The Gospels record the same occurrence, with a 
different interpretation of its meaning. The 
occurrence, we may say, is the same ; the event 
emerges as something different. 
There are, however, other events narrated in 

1 Bab. Sanhedrin, f. 433. 

* Letter of Mara bar Sarapion, in Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacw. 


the Gospels where the element of mere occur- 
rence is evanescent. For example, if we ask what 
lies behind the story of the Temptation, it is 
likely enough that the merely factual element was 
as elusive as in the cases of Mohammed, Ignatius 
Loyola and Adolf Hitler to which I have referred. 
But it is quite another question whether or riot 
the Gospels are veracious in affirming that the 
ministry of Jesus was introduced by an event of 
profound significance, an event in which the 
element of meaning altogether overshadows the 
tenuous substratum of observable fact. Again, 
what was the Resurrection, as mere occurrence ? 
Various theories can be suggested a corpse was 
resuscitated ; or there were communications 
from the dead, like those claimed by modern 
mediums ; or the disciples were the victims of 
corporate hallucinations. These are all theories 
abstracted from the record of the complete 
event, and it is impossible to produce convincing 
evidence for any of them. The complete event, 
that is to say the occurrence, whatever it was, 
plus the meaning it bore for those who experienced 
it, is given in the Gospels : Christ triumphed 
over death and was raised to the right hand of 
God. It is as thus interpreted that the Resur- 
rection led to historical consequences in the rise 
of the Church. To say that our reports of the 


Resurrection make the meaning of the fact 
clearer than the fact itself is not to remove the 
Resurrection from the field of history into that 
of purely spiritual experience. The Resurrection 
remains an event within history, though we may 
not be able to state precisely what happened. 

But while the several events narrated in the 
Gospels are in this respect on different levels, 
the narrative as a whole is clearly concerned with 
an historical episode which for those who lived 
through it, and for those who experienced it 
through close fellowship with them, bore a 
weight of meaning greater than could be attri- 
buted to any other event in history. It was for 
them the eschaton, the final and absolute event, 
in which the Kingdom of God was revealed, and 
His purpose fulfilled. And we must observe 
that it was as thus understood that the episode 
in question won its place in history, as an " epoch- 
making " event in the strict sense. But for the 
fact that it was so interpreted or rather (for 
" interpreted " suggests too self-conscious a pro- 
cess) that, it presented itself to experience with 
this meaning it might be not inadequately 
summed up in the words of Tacitus, and so 
dismissed. But we are surely justified in saying 
at least so much, that a supercilious and some- 
what cynical Roman aristocrat, with all the 


prejudices of his class, regarding the episode 
entirely from the outside, at a date later than the 
bulk of our New Testament evidence, and at a 
great distance from 4he scene of action, is not 
a priori likely to have formed a juster estimate of 
its significance than those who stood under the 
immediate impact of the facts. And this holds 
good of modern "writers who have taken a sub- 
stantially similar view. The assumption that the 
whole great course of Christian history is a 
massive pyramid balanced upon the apex of 
some trivial occurrence, is surely a less probable 
one than that the whole event, the occurrence 
plus the meaning inherent in it, did actually 
occupy a place in history at least comparable 
with that which the New Testament assigns to it. 
For it is only the apprehension of the facts in 
this particular light that could account for the 
emergence of the Church as an historical phe- 
nomenon. Attempts to account for it on other 
grounds lead to a fundamental historical scep- 
ticism, such as is reflected in M. Guignebert's 
recent judgment : " The rise of the Galilaean 
/prophet marks the beginning, however accidental, 
of the religious movement from which Chris- 
tianity sprang". 1 The connection of events 
ceases to be " accidental " if the tradition as we 

1 Ch. Guignebert, Jesus (Eng. trans.), p. 538. My italics. 


can recover it from the New Testament repre- 
sents in substance a true memory of the facts, 
with the meaning which they really bore as an 
episode in history. We cannot, however, prove 
that this is so. What we can hope to prove is 
that in the fourth decade of the first century the 
Christian Church grew up around a central 
tradition which, however it is expressed in 
preaching, in story, in teaching and in liturgical 
practice yields a coherent picture of Jesus 
Christ, what He was, what He stood for, what 
He said, did and suffered. The step beyond that 
will probably be taken by something more akin 
to faith than to objective historical judgment. 
Either the interpretation through which the 
facts are presented was imposed upon them 
mistakenly and in that case few facts remain 
which we can regard as strictly ascertained or 
the interpretation was imposed by the facts 
themselves, as they were experienced in an 
historical situation, and gave rise to historical 
consequences and in that case we do know, 
in the main, what the facts were. The latter 
conclusion may not be demonstrable, but it is 
not unreasonable. 




A> the outcome of the last two chapters I shall 
assume that we have in the Gospels a body 
of material of genuinely historical value, from 
which we can construct a credible picture of the 
events that happened "under Pontius Pilate". 
To write a " Life of Jesus " on the basis of this 
evidence is a hazardous enterprise. We cannot be 
sure of more than the broadest outline of the 
succession of events before the closing scenes. 
Since the Evangelists have not followed any strict 
chronological order in narrating the various 
episodes of the ministry, any arrangement of 
them in a continuous narrative can be no more 
than tentative, and, at the best, probable. On 
the other hand, we are comparatively well in- 
formed about the situation in general, about the 
main purport of what Jesus taught, in relation to 
the thought and the problems of the time, about 
the kind of religion for which He stood, about 
the nature and causes of the opposition which 
He encountered, and about the proceedings 
which led to His death. 

"3 H a 


Let us then try to envisage these facts in the 
context of the history of first-century Palestine 
under the Roman Empire. In the situation at 
the beginning of the ministry of Jesus three main 
factors may be recognized, representing three 
permanent elements in history civilization, 
nationalism and religion. 

First, the Roman Empire was the bearer of a 
cosmopolitan civilization with a long develop- 
ment behind it. It rested upon power, but power 
employed, in intention at least, in accordance 
with law, and in the interests of peace, order, and 
general well-being for its subjects. One of its 
primary concerns was unity among the diverse 
peoples under its rule. In this concern it was 
effectively supported, particularly in the eastern 
provinces, by the permeation of a vast region 
with a common Hellenistic culture. Rome was 
wise enough not to attempt any ruthless Gleich-^ 
schaltung. It tolerated wide differences of local 
custom, and permitted a large measure of local 
autonomy. But its natural tendency was in 
favour of a growing assimilation towards uni- 
formity. Upon political, recalcitrance and reli- 
gious fanaticism it was accustomed to bring its 
hand down with unsparing severity. Under the 
Roman peace there was ample opportunity for 
the spread of a humane, reasonable and practical 


philosophy of life such as Stoicism in its popularly 
diffused forms was ready to provide, while econo- 
mic conditions, if often precarious, were on the 
whole vastly better for most of the population 
than they had been before the unification of the 
Hellenistic world under Rome. There were 
abuses and instances of oppression, and there 
was no doubt much suffering and some discon- 
tent, but on the whole the Roman order was 
beneficent. It was at least an efficient organ of 
civilized life, and the best hope of a genuine unity 
of civilized mankind. 

In Palestine, the Roman Empire met with a 
problem of unusual difficulty through the stub- 
born national feeling of the Jews, which was 
unlike anything else that had confronted its 
administrators. Most of the east had welcomed 
the Augustan settlement either with enthusiasm 
as a great deliverance, or at least as a much lesser 
evil than the internecine conflicts to which it put 
an end. Even among the Jews there were some, 
chiefly among the higher social strata, who took 
this latter attitude. They had retained in some 
measure the Philhellenism which had at one time 
threatened almost to swamp the native tradition. 
They found themselves, as the hereditary leaders 
of their people, in the position which Roman 
policy was always ready to assign to local grandees, 


whether they were tribal chiefs or civic aristo- 
cracies ; the position of acceptable mediators of 
Roman rule. Such were the members of the 
great priestly families, who appear to have con- 
stituted the party of the Sadducees. For the 
Sadducees, whatever may have been their reli- 
gious position and they have been variously 
represented as sceptics and as extreme conser- 
vatives were clearly a party who if not in the 
strict sense philo-Roman, at any rate enjoyed a 
substantial dignity and authority on the condition 
of keeping on good terms with the paramount 

But over against this complacent priestly 
aristocracy, the body of the Jewish people re- 
mained stubbornly hostile to Rome and to the 
civilization for which Rome stood. They would 
not be willing partakers in the Roman order with 
its Hellenistic culture. They were its unwilling 
and rebellious subjects. The quite astonishing 
lengths to which the imperial policy went in the 
way of concession and conciliation failed to win 
them over. From the time when Judas the 
Gaulonite led an overt revolt, which was crushed 
with exemplary ferocity there remained as a 
permanent element in the population a body of 
sullen, resentful nationalists the " fourth philo- 
sophy", as Josephus absurdly calls them also 


known as "Zealots".. From time to time they 
provoked measures of repression, and in the end 
they precipitated the fatal rebellion of 66 A,D. 
Already in the period of the Gospels they must 
have commanded the sympathy of a large part of 
the nation. For their attitude was deeply rooted 
in the history of the race. Their spirit was that 
of the heroes of ancient Israel, the spirit of the 
Maccabees, the spirit expressed in many psalms 
and apocalypses. They believed their nation to 
be a chosen race, superior to all other peoples of 
the world, and precluded by a solemn calling 
from any accommodation with a heathen power. 
If we accord admiration to the patriotism of 
small nations, from the Greeks at Thermopylae 
to Serbia in the Great War, we cannot withhold 
it from the Jewish Zealots, recognizing as we must 
that patriotism has been one of the chief springs 
of human virtue, as well as of many crimes. 

Besides the Sadducees and the Zealots there 
were the Pharisees, whose absorbing interest was 
in religion. If the Zealots were the spiritual suc- 
cessors of the early Maccabees, the Pharisees were 
the successors of the Ghasidim who joined their 
revolt while religious freedom was at stake, but 
stood aside when they sought worldly power. 
The Pharisees represented the fruit of the long 
development which began with the prophets, and 



was carried on through the work of the post- 
exilic reformers and the teachers of the syna- 
gogue. They have a bad name in Christian 
tradition. But we must confess, if we compare 
the prophetical books of the Old Testament, 
some of the best parts of the apocalyptic litera- 
ture, such as the Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs, and the sayings of the elder Rabbis, 
such as are preserved in Pirqe Aboth, that there is 
here a genuinely continuous religious tradition, 
which commands our respect. Its faith in God 
is magnificent ; its conception of His nature, 
character and claims is elevated ; its ethical 
standards are singularly lofty, and certainly com- 
pare favourably with any other moral teaching 
current in our period, even that of the finer 
Stoics. The recent sympathetic study of Rabbinic 
Judaism, which has so enlarged our knowledge of 
Pharisaism, has made it impossible to simplify the 
situation presented in the Gospels by conceiving 
it as a conflict between light and darkness in 
which the Pharisees stand altogether on the side 
of evil. 

Indeed the tragic quality of the situation lies 
in the fact that civilization, patriotism and reli- 
gion are none of them bad things, and were not 
altogether unworthily represented by the Romans, 
the Zealots and the Pharisees, and yet together 


they were responsible for the catastrophe which 
the Gospels record. The conflict among these 
factors, each of them with some right on its side, 
produced the situation of tension into which 
Jesus entered. We all too easily read the Gospels 
as it were in vacuo, without realizing that their 
whole story moves in a tense atmosphere of 
smouldering conflict -Jew against Gentile, Phari- 
see against Sadducee, Roman against Zealot. 

Jesus did not ally Himself with any side, or set 
up a new party to join in the conflict. He did not 
ally Himself with any side, though there are signs 
of sympathies that might have drawn Him to the 
one or the other. The Gospels adduce some 
remarkable incidents and utterances, which, even 
if we do not care to claim literal accuracy for all 
of them, must certainly be a safe index to His 
attitudes. If He said to a leper, " Go and offer 
the things that Moses commanded 'V or to an 
enquirer after eternal life, " You know the com- 
mandments ", 2 He spoke as any accredited rabbi 
might have spoken. He is said to have accepted 
with enthusiasm from a scribe (who according to 
our information will have been a Pharisee of the 
school of Hillel) the fundamental statement of 
ethical monotheism : " Thou shalt love the Lord 

1 Mk. i. 44. 

2 Mk. x. 19. 


thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul 
and with all thy mind and with all thy strength ; 
and thy neighbour as thyself". 1 Many of His 
ethical precepts in fact are no more than re- 
affirmations of the moral teaching of which the 
Pharisees were the principal custodians, and have 
a close resemblance to sayings of the early 

On the other hand, a Sadducee hearing Him 
denounce the accretions of oral tradition with 
which the Pharisees had encumbered the Law 
might have thought to find an ally ; 2 and any one 
who wished to preserve tolerable relations with 
Rome must have rejoiced when He emphatically 
dissociated Himself from the patriotic front in the 
matter of paying tribute the test question for all 
adherents of the " fourth philosophy ". 3 Indeed 
His friendly attitude to the Gentile asserted itself 
beyond such mere acceptance of the inevitable. 
He consorted with the collectors of the foreign 
excise duties. 4 He praised a military officer 
who saw in the Roman order a symbol of the 
divine order to which he pinned his faith. He 
went out of His way to recall how before the days 
of intense nationalism the prophets had been sent 

1 Lk. x. 27-28. 

2 Cf. Mk. vii. 8. 

3 Mk. xii. 13-17. 

4 Mt. xi. 19 (" Q,") ; Mk. ii. 15-17 ; Lk. xix. 2-10. 


to foreigners, 1 and surmised that the cities of 
Tyre and Sidon would have been a more fruitful 
field of work than His own country. 2 

And yet He allowed Himself to be acclaimed by 
a patriotic crowd with cheers for " the coming 
kingdom of our father David ", 3 and the priests 
concluded that He was no better than a Zealot. 
The debate in the Sanhedrin recorded in the 
Fourth Gospel may or may not be described from 
an actual report, but it fits perfectly the historical 
situation : " If we let Him alone, all men will 
believe in Him, and the Romans will come and 
take away our place and nation". 4 And so He was 
arraigned before the Roman court as a potential 

If Jesus had appeared as a religious and moral 
reformer, it is not difficult to conceive lines of 
policy which He might have adopted. A patriotic 
leader with purer motives and a more consistent 
spiritual basis than those of Judas the Gaulonite 
might have rallied strong forces to his side. The 
programme sketched for the " Son of David " in 
the Psalms of Solomon 5 is no unworthy one, and 
stands in direct succession to some splendid pro- 
phecies of the Old Testament. The cause was 

1 Lk. iv. 24-27. 

2 Lk.x. 13 ("Q"). 

3 Mk. xi. 10. 

4 Jn. xi. 47-50. 

5 Ps. Sol. xvii-xviii. 


the cause of the poor and oppressed, with whom 
Jesus certainly had a deep sympathy. 

Again, many Pharisees would surely have wel- 
comed a teacher who stood for a deeper, more 
intense devotion to the spiritual ideals of the Law 
and the prophets, with a popular appeal beyond 
the reach of most of them, provided he were 
willing to accommodate himself to the orthodox 
tradition. We may even surmise that a brilliant 
success might have been attained by a leader who 
could unite the energetic patriotism of the Zealots 
with the intense piety of the Pharisees as they 
were united, too late, by Aqiba and Bar-cochba 
a century later. 

Perhaps, however, we might with less difficulty 
conceive Jesus as leading a movement away 
from the growing particularism of contemporary 
Judaism, towards a friendly co-operation with all 
healthy elements in the Graeco-Roman world. 
There were enlightened Jews, like Philo, who 
were making such approaches to Hellenism, even 
in face of anti-Semitism. The ethical mono- 
theism of the prophets had the potentiality of a 
universal religion, if it was stripped of those tribal 
limitations which had been imposed upon it. 
That such universalism lay very near to the heart 
of the teaching of Jesus is plain. According to 
the Fourth Gospel it was at one time thought that 


He would "go to the Dispersion among the 
Greeks, and teach the Greeks ", 1 It would 
have been a bold policy with prospects of 

These hypothetical constructions of what might 
have happened are idle, except to bring into clear 
relief the actual fact that Jesus stood isolated 
among the movements of His time. He took no 
side in the conflict of ideals. Nor did He form a 
party of His own. It is true that He collected a 
band of followers who might be variously 
regarded as the disciples of a rabbi or the 
accomplices of a conspirator. But when He 
commissioned them to carry His message through 
the towns and villages of Palestine, He gave them, 
so far as our records tell, no programme and no 
body of teaching to propagate. All they were 
to do was to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and 
to say, " The Kingdom of God is at hand ". 2 It 
is not a programme for human action, but the 
proclamation of an act of God. 

His own ministry turns upon the same pro- 
clamation : " The time is fulfilled, and the 
Kingdom of God has drawn near : repent and 
believe the Gospel". 3 His acts of power and 
compassion are no mere examples of wonder- 

1 Jn. vii. 35. 

2 Mt. x. 7-8; Lk. x. 9-11. 
8 Mk. i. 15. 


working such as were attributed to God-possessed 
men in the Hellenistic world, and even to some 
Jewish rabbis. They are the baring of the arm 
of the Lord for the salvation of men : " If I by 
the finger of God cast out demons, then the 
Kingdom of God has come upon you". 1 His 
championship of the disreputable is not to be 
interpreted as the kindly tolerance of a broad- 
minded humanist. It expresses the sovereign 
mercy of God in calling whom He will into His 
Kingdom, as in the parable the king's mes- 
sengers gather his guests from the highways and 
hedges. 2 " I came not to call the righteous, but 
sinners". 3 His conflict with the upholders of 
the tradition is not to be understood as an asser- 
tion of the natural freedom of the spirit of man 
from the bondage of outward regulations. It is 
the affirmation of an immediate and absolute 
sovereignty of God over every sphere of human 
life, even its most private and inward parts ; a 
sovereignty which cannot be evaded by hiding 
behind a body of external rules of behaviour. 
His pronouncements upon questions of law and 
morals are not the sententiae of a sage or a rabbi : 
they are the Word of God overruling all human 
wisdom. " He taught them with authority, and 

1 Lk.xi.2o("Q.")- 

2 Mt. xxii. 9 ; Lk. xiv. 23. 

3 Mk, ii. 17. 


not as the scribes". 1 His ethical teaching is no 
system of general casuistry, nor yet an " interim- 
ethic " for a brief and special period in human 
history. It is the absolute ethic of the Kingdom 
of God, the moral principles of a new order of 
life. The implied major premiss of all His 
ethical sayings is the affirmation " The Kingdom 
of God has come upon you " : 2 The Kingdom 
of God has come upon you, therefore love 
your enemies that you may be sons of your 
Father in heaven. 3 The Kingdom of God 
has come upon you, therefore if hand or foot 
offend, cut it off : it is better to enter into the 
Kingdom of God even maimed. 4 The Kingdom 
of God has come upon you, therefore take no 
thought for your life, but seek first His Kingdom. 5 
The Kingdom of God has come upon you, 
therefore judge not, for with what judgement ye 
judge, ye shall be judged, 6 in the judgement which 
is inseparable from the coming of God in His 
Kingdom. The teaching of Jesus is not an ethic 
for those who expect the speedy end of the world, 
but for those who have experienced the end of this 
world and the coming of the Kingdom of God. 

1 Mk. i. 22. 

2 Lk. x. 9 ; xi. 20. 

3 Mt. v. 44-45. 

4 Mk. ix. 43-47. 

5 Mt. vi. 25-34. 
1 Mt. vii. i-2. 


It is in relation to this ever-present thought of 
the Kingdom of God that the absoluteness of 
the ethics of Jesus stands forth so clearly. It is 
distinguished from all prudential or utilitarian 
morality such as that of the Jewish Wisdom 
literature. It is distinguished also from the 
Pharisaic tradition, which aimed at making 
the commands of God practicable by placing 
them within a system elaborately adapted to a 
particular people with its own history and its 
own special relation to the world at large. 1 The 
ethical teaching of Jesus is set forth in absolute 
terms, without the question of its practicability 
under these or those conditions being expressly 
raised. When we contemplate that teaching as 
a whole we can see that these moral principles 
are indeed principles on which the best kind of 
human life could be lived. The nearer we could 
get to love for our enemies, to uncalculating self- 
sacrifice, to a serene freedom from all self- 
regarding cares, and to a broad charity that 
never judges our neighbour, the finer, truer, 
holier and happier would human life become. 
Of that we cannot doubt. Moreover, when once 
we have seen the precepts of Jesus in this way, we 
are under obligation to them. Not only so, but the 

1 Compare Klausner's criticism from a Jewish standpoint, Jesus of 
Nazareth, pp. 3 6 9-37 6 - 


grace of God which places us within His Kingdom 
becomes a source of moral power towards the 
attainment of such ideals. But we deceive our- 
selves if we suppose that ever in this world we 
could fulfil these precepts of Jesus with the 
absoluteness that is inherent in them. We never 
do and never can love our enemies, or even our 
friendly neighbours, as we love ourselves ; we 
never can be completely single-minded ; we 
never can be entirely free from selfish cares, from 
feelings of anger, from lustful thought ; we never 
can be merciful as our Father in heaven is 
merciful ; and if we understand the absolute- 
ness with which Jesus made these demands, we 
shall hot suppose ourselves capable of fulfilling 
them. They are not of this world, though they 
are to be put into practice in this world. They 
stand for the unattainable which we are bound 
to strive to attain. For to " receive the Kingdom 
of God " is to place ourselves under this absolute 
obligation. And yet ".when ye have done all, 
say, ' We are unprofitable servants : we have 
only done our duty '". l 
Thus the ethical precepts of Jesus are not only 

1 Lk. xvii; to. The omission of ax/>e?oj in the Sinaitic Syriac 
version has recently won much support : surely a slave who has done 
his duty is not unprofitable ! No doubt that was what the Syriac 
translator thought. But it was not what Jesus said, according to the 
testimony of all other MSS. and versions. 


a guide to the good life, in the sense that they 
set before us the goal which determines the true 
direction of moral effort. They are also, and 
even more emphatically, a means of bringing 
home to the conscience the judgement of God, 
since they reveal the sinfulness which resides 
even in our human best. But in doing so, they 
place us in the presence of a God whose mercy 
and forgiveness are as absolute as His demands. 
For no merit of our own, but of His sheer good- 
ness, it is His good pleasure to give us the King- 
dom, 1 with the blessedness that it brings which 
is, to be children of God. 

The whole teaching of Jesus, then, is orientated 
towards this absolute, which is the Kingdom of 
God, now come upon men in judgement and in 
mercy. That is why He could not ally Himself 
with any of the historical movements of His 
time, and why He stood isolated among men as 
the bearer of a Kingdom which is altogether 
other than the relativities of human existence. 

Nevertheless, this gift of the Kingdom of God 
was not offered as a form of mystical experience, 
which the individual might enjoy in abstraction 
from the social and historical context in which 
his life was lived. 

1 Lk. xii. 32. EvSoKfw, (vSoitia, always refer to the free exercise of 
God's sovereign grace. 


Jesus did not withdraw his disciples into a 
monastic seclusion where they might practise 
undisturbed a beautiful and elevated piety in 
enjoyment of the spiritual blessedness of the 
children of God. He might have done so : there 
were Jewish communities of this kind in His 
lifetime those of the Essenes. Some of those 
who have tried to reconstruct the life of Jesus 
have represented Him as closely associated with 
the Essenes. That view is not only totally devoid 
of historical foundation, but it betrays a funda- 
mental misconception of the meaning of His 
ministry. If Jesus had joined the Essenes, He 
need never have been crucified. 

His work as bearer of the Kingdom of God 
led him into intimate relations with the common 
life of men in society. His widespread propa- 
ganda in Galilee of the Gentiles gave the impres- 
sion that He was a dangerous social agitator, and 
brought upon Him the suspicions of the ruling 
classes. 1 Indeed a concentration of some five 
thousand followers in a desert place close upon 
the great centres of .population on the Sea of 
Galilee might well arouse suspicion. Yet He 
was no agitator. The very nature of His message 

1 The Pharisees and Herodians, we are told, formed a coalition 
against Him (Mk. iii. 6). No doubt the two parties objected to His 
proceedings on different grounds, but for both the danger lay in His 
appeal to lawless and irresponsible elements in the population. 

I 2 


involved a divine call to men outside the Law. 
He justified His procedure by the parables of 
the Tares and the Dragnet. 1 The call of God 
must go to all men ; the judgement of God 
alone selects those worthy of His Kingdom ; 
"for many are called but few are chosen". 2 
But the translation of this into action meant 
the breaking down of barriers which secured the 
social balance of the Jewish community. 

Again, in His insistence upon the immediate, 
inward, and all-embracing demands of the 
Kingdom of God, He came into conflict with 
the prescriptions and prohibitions of the Law, 
written and unwritten, by which the integrity of 
the Jewish national and religious system was 
safeguarded, and this embroiled Him with the 
Pharisees. It is no accident that two of the points 
upon which the conflict turned, Sabbath observ- 
ance and ritual purity, were among those upon 
which in the days of the Maccabees the Chasidim 
had fixed as the pre-eminent symbols of the 
national separateness ; and in this the Pharisees 
were their successors. 

Yet it was very far from His intention to break 
up the solidarity of Israel as the people of God, 
On the contrary He accepted an historic destiny 

1 See my book, The Parables of the Kingdom, pp. 183-189. 

2 Mt. xxii. 14. 


as the Messiah, the representative leader and 
head of Israel, Whether or not He used the 
express words, " I am not sent but unto the lost 
sheep of the House of Israel "/ those words 
describe the limitations which He actually 
accepted. The Church must have been extremely 
anxious to show that His mission was both to 
Jews and to Gentiles, yet even Paul describes 
Him as SHXKOVO? rfjs 7repm>/js, 2 and our earliest evan- 
gelical sources, Mark and "Q,", can produce 
only two cases of contact with Gentiles the 
Centurion and the Syro-Phcenician woman 
while even the later sources can add only the 
case of the Greek proselytes at the Feast in 
Jn. xii. 20, along with two examples of friendly 
contact with Samaritans. Such cases were 
obviously sporadic and almost accidental. His 
concentration upon Israel is the more marked 
because, according to a well-attested saying, He 
divined that He would have found a more ready 
response in Tyre and Sidon. 

Nor again was it His wish to inculcate an 
individualist type of piety, separating men and 
women out of the body of Israel to practise a 
higher morality. He made his appeal to Israel 
corporately. There can be no other explana- 

1 Mt. xv. 24. 

2 Rom. xv. 8. 


tion of his determination to appear in Jerusalem. 
Whether he went there, -primarily, to make a 
last appeal, or, primarily, to offer Himself to 
death, He was clearly resolved that in Jerusalem 
alone, the Holy City, the historic centre of the 
Israel of God, could His Messianic career find 
its fitting climax. 1 In setting His face stead- 
fastly to go to Jerusalem, He was securing 
the stage for the predestined Messianic con- 
flict in which the Kingdom of God should be 

His last visit to Jerusalem was accompanied 
by two acts of prophetic symbolism. The first 
is the Triumphal Entry. He entered the Holy 
City in a guise which directly suggested 
Zechariah's forecast of the Messiah meek and 
riding upon ,an ass. 2 The people hailed " the 
coming Kingdom of our father David ". 3 Their 
expectations were far astray, yet there was a 
truth in their acclamations deeper than they 
suspected. Jesus was about to do that by which 
the true people of God should be revealed under 
His Kingdom. 

The second symbolic act is the Cleansing of 
the Temple. Once again prophetic forecasts 
are in view. " The Lord whom ye seek shall 

1 Lk. xiii. 33. 

2 Zech. ix. 9. 
8 Mk. xi. 10. 


suddenly come to His temple . . . but who may 
abide the day of His coming, and who shall 
stand when He appeareth ? ... He shall purify 
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and 
silver, and they shall offer unto the Lord offer- 
ings in righteousness" (Mai. iii. 1-3). "And 
in that day there shall be no more a trafficker * 
in the house of the Lord of hosts " (Zech. xiv. 21). 
There could be no meaning in this demonstra- 
tion in the Temple, the sacred centre of the 
religion of Israel, unless the intention was to 
claim Israel corporately for the spiritual worship 
of God now come in His Kingdom. But this 
new and final phase of the religion of Israel is 
universal in its scope. The purified Temple is 
to be " a house of prayer for all nations " (Is. 
Ivi. 7). We are thus reminded of the whole 
body of " universalist " prophecy from II Isaiah 
on, for which the ultimate destiny of Israel is 
to be the bearer of God's name to the whole 
world. But it is Israel, corporately, embracing 
the nations within its corporate relation to God, 
that is in view, and not an aggregation of indi- 
viduals saved individually. And the corporate 
idea is signified in the symbolic action of Jesus. 
He has come to reveal the true Israel of God, as 

is probably to be rendered so, rather than " Canaanite ". 


the centre from which His Kingdom shall be 
revealed to the whole world. 

While, however, these actions are symbolic in 
intention, they were actions which in that 
particular situation had definite effects. Jesus 
offered Himself as a leader to Israel, and He 
challenged the authority of the hierarchy. The 
former made Him an object of suspicion as a 
nationalist leader, the latter as an assailant of 
the established religion. As, an appeal to Israel, 
the challenge failed. It precipitated the crisis 
in which all factions joined to put Jesus to 

The Roman order, the patriotism of the Zealots, 
the religious zeal of Pharisaism, representing 
constant factors in human history, were not, as 
we have seen, evil things, but there was so much 
evil embedded in them so much of pride and 
selfishness, malice and cruelty, blindness and 
hardness of heart, mixed with their very virtues, 
that they united in the crime of the Cross. This 
was the judgement of the Kingdom of God. 
Confronted with the absolute of the Kingdom in 
Jesus, the world by its actions pronounced its 
own judgement by rejecting it .and crucifying 

It is in relation to this " great refusal " that we 
must read those numerous sayings which pro- 


nounce the doom of Israel. 1 The appeal has gone 
forth, and its negative result is the divine judge- 
ment upon Israel. The harvest is being reaped, 
and the tares are separated from the wheat. The 
blood of the righteous from Abel to Zechariah is 
visited upon a faithless generation. God's hus- 
bandmen have conspired to kill the heir and the 
vineyard is taken from them. The fig-tree of 
Israel will bear no fruit henceforth for ever. The 
mountain of the Lord's house will be uprooted 
and cast into the sea. Jerusalem is abandoned 
to her enemies. Of the temple not one stone 
shall be left upon another. 2 

This body of predictions is eschatological in 
character, and its form is often apocalyptic. It 
is, however, probable that Jesus saw the matter in 
historical terms. As Isaiah had seen in Assyria 
the rod of Jehovah's anger, and Jeremiah had 
acknowledged in the Babylonian conquest 
God's rejection of His people translated into his- 
torical fact, so Jesus saw the menace of Rome, 
ready to set a seal upon the apostasy of the Jewish 
people. Although in some passages of the Gospels 
the predictions may have been made more pre- 
cise in view of what actually happened forty years 
later, I see no reason to doubt that in substance 

1 See The Parables of the Kingdom, pp. 60 sqq. 

8 Mt. xiii. 30 ; Mt. xxiii. 35-36 ("Q,") ; Mk. xii. 9 ; Mk. xi. 
14, 23 ; Mt. xxiii. 38 (" Q") ; Mk. xiii. 2. 


the forecasts of doom, often laden with an intense 
emotion of horror and pity, represent the actual 
response of the mind of Jesus to the situation 
which He saw developing. The rejection of 
Israel was not an eschatological theologumenon, it 
was an historical reality which would embody 
itself in events. The Kingdom of God has come. 
The Jews have rejected the blessedness of the 
Kingdom and chosen the judgement of the King- 
dom a judgement which lies within history as 
well as beyond it. 

What then becomes of that Messianic people of 
God, the Israel with which the whole mission and 
destiny of the Messiah is bound up ? From the 
time of Isaiah onward, it had been recognized by 
the prophets that the true Israel of God is the 
faithful remnant of an apostate people. 1 Jere- 
miah had prophesied a new covenant lying the 
other side of utter disaster. 2 Ezekiel had depicted 
the restoration of Israel as a resurrection of dead 
men's bones. 3 The characteristic message, in 
fact, of the great prophets is " Israel is dead : 
vivat Israel ! " 

In the light of this let us consider the third of 
the acts of prophetic symbolism which charac- 
terize the close of the ministry of Jesus the 

1 Is. iv. 3-5 ; Mai. iii. 16-17 ; iv. 1-2. 

2 Jer. xxxi. 31-36. 
8 Ezck. xxxvii. 


institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. 
It is clear that the disciples are here being treated 
as the nucleus of the new Israel. They are to sit 
upon thrones judging the twelve tribes, and to eat 
at the table of the Messiah in His Kingdom. 1 
And here, and now they are bidden to eat at His 
table. He gives them bread and cup. The cup 
is the cup of the New Covenant. 2 We are here 
in the presence of the Remnant, the true Israel 
of the age to come. But with a difference. For 
this is no faithful remnant of men who stand fast 
in the general apostasy. For almost at the same 
moment Jesus declares that one of them will deny 
and the rest forsake Him. 3 Their membership of 
the new Israel does not depend upon the merit 
of their fidelity. Upon what then does it depend ? 
As they eat and drink at His table, the Lord gives 
them broken bread, saying " This is my body ". 
He gives them the cup, saying " This is my blood 
of the covenant ". It is by virtue of partaking 
of the body and blood of the Messiah that they 
are sealed for membership in the new Israel. 
Meanwhile, there is no one in whom the absolute 
of God's Kingdom is embodied except the Messiah 
Before that new Israel can emerge into historic 

1 Lk. xxii. 29-30 ; Mt. xix. 28. 

2 I Cor. xi. 25 ; cf, Mk. xiv. 24. 

3 Mk. xiv. 27-31. 


actuality, the Messiah is to die and rise again. 
The Israel of the new covenant lies, as always, 
the other side of disaster. Its pre-destined mem- 
bers meanwhile must go down to the depths of 
despair, in separation from their Lord. They, too, 
lie under the judgement of the Kingdom of God. 
Their reunion with Him after His resurrection is 
the decisive instance of the forgiving grace of 
God. Not for their virtue or faithfulness but of 
His mercy, because they are His, the Lord comes 
to them and joins them in one body with a 
mission to the whole world. As the destruction 
of Jerusalem is the historical embodiment of the 
Kingdom of God as judgement, so the Kowtovta of 
the Church is the historical embodiment of the 
Kingdom of God as the gift of eternal life. The 
Church in its first utterances offered forgiveness 
to those who had killed the Lord, and a share in 
the life of the new Israel to those who hadjejected 
Him. The emergence of the Church is a signal 
act of divine forgiveness. 

Such, then, briefly, are the events which are 
presented in the Gospels as the eschatological 
climax of history. They are represented as a 
" fulfilment " of the law and the prophets, that 
is to say, of the religious history of Israel. It is 
surely a paradoxical kind of fulfilment, for in the 


conflict which led to the crucifixion of Jesus the 
heirs of the prophets rejected the Messiah and 
fell under the judgement of the Kingdom of God. 
In what sense is the history of Israel " fulfilled " 
in the Gospel facts ? 

The Old Testament has often been interpreted 
as a record of the " evolution of religion ", with 
Christianity as its climax and crown. Upon the 
horizontal level of history, if one may use the 
term, it is possible to trace such an evolution. 
There is enough continuity between the various 
stages to warrant the use of the organic concept 
of development, and the end of the process is 
richer, finer, truer than the beginning, if such 
terms have any meaning for the historian. But 
even considered upon this level the continuity of 
the process is only partial. There is in classical 
prophecy something which can only by straining 
terms be described as a development out of pre- 
prophetic religion. If we are to look for the 
natural development of the religion of the 
monarchy we should turn to the temple at 
Elephantine in the fifth century B.C., where 
Jehovah was accompanied by four satellite 
deities. The religion of the pre-exilic prophets 
was something new, and different. The Exile 
again made a sharp break. In one sense post- 
exilic Judaism is a development of the prophetic 


religion and an accommodation of it to new 
conditions, but its continuity is clearly no more 
than partial. In some respects it harks back 
to the pre-prophetic stage : in other respects 
it reaches out into regions which neither the 
prophetic nor the pre-prophetic periods had 
touched, largely through its contacts with Iranian 
and Greek ideas. The heirs of this religion were 
the Pharisees of the first century who destroyed 
Jesus. Modern Judaism, which claims succession 
to the Pharisees, repudiates any claim of Chris- 
tianity to be the legitimate development of first- 
century Judaism, and on the face of it the religion 
of the Mishna is in a much more direct line of 
evolution. It is true that a very large part of the 
thought of Christianity is derived from Judaism, 
and Jewish ideas can be shown to have moved 
into a more developed phase in Christianity. Yet 
to speak of Christianity as evolved out of Judaism, 
even with some measure of cross-fertilization 
from Hellenism, is not in the last resort 

If, in fact, we look at the history of Israel, not 
under modern categories of development, but as 
it is presented in the Old Testament, we have a 
picture rather of a series of crises than of a con- 
tinuous evolution. Abraham was called out of 
pagan Mesopotamia, and with his departure 


began the patriarchal period. This ended in the 
disaster of the Egyptian servitude. Next, Moses 
was raised up by God, and inaugurated the pro- 
cess which culminated in the conquest of Canaan 
and the kingdom of David. But this was quickly 
followed by a relapse into semi-paganism under 
Solomon and his successors. Once again God 
raised up prophets. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, 
Jeremiah all believe themselves to be uttering a 
word of the Lord against the temple, the priest- 
hood, the prophetic order, and the whole con- 
temporary religious life of their people. Once 
again disaster ensues, a disaster interpreted this 
time directly by contemporary observers as the 
judgement of God upon His faithless people. The 
return from Exile is not, in the eyes of the 
prophets who interpret it, a simple harking back 
to the conditions of the monarchy. It is a response 
to the proclamation : " The Lord hath redeemed 
Jacob and will glorify Himself in Israel ". 1 It is 
to be the beginning of a fresh stage in the relations 
between God and His people. Yet the bliss of 
that dawn fades only too quickly into the light 
of common day, and fresh disasters follow. The 
key-points of the story are the crises in which, 
as the biblical writers aver, the word of God 
descends upon history through Abraham, Moses 

1 Is. xliv. 23. 


and the prophets, and challenges men to a 
response. The horizontal line of the secular 
process is cut vertically by the word of God from 
on high. 

The word of the Lord as spoken by the prophets 
has all through a reference to the future. To 
Abraham it is the assurance : "In thy seed shall 
all the nations of the earth be blessed " ; 1 to 
Moses the promise of the inheritance in Canaan. 
Amos and his successors prophesy the coming 
judgement, Isaiah the deliverance of the faithful 
remnant, Jeremiah the new covenant. The 
anonymous prophet of the Exile proclaims 
" The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, 
and all flesh shall see it together ", 2 and Haggai 
encourages the builders of the Temple with the 
assurance, " The latter glory of this house shall 
be greater than the former, and in this place will 
I give peace, said the Lord of hosts ". 3 Thus the 
successive crises of history are determined by a 
word which brings into history an anticipation of 
a final crisis yet to come. History is revealed as 
something more than a simple process of develop- 
ment in time. 

It is this complex process, and no simple evolu- 
tion, that is fulfilled in the coming of Christ. 

1 Gen. xxii. 18. 
. 2 Is. xl. 5. 
1 Hagg. ii. 9. 


The Word of God once again descends upon 
history, not now with reference to a crisis yet to 
come, but proclaiming the immediate impact of 
the Kingdom of God upon this world, in judg- 
ment and mercy. " God, who in sundry parts 
and in divers manners spoke unto the fathers by 
the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto 
_us by His Son". 1 And as in divers parts and 
manners the Word of the Lord had been rejected 
by His people, so now in one concentrated act of 
rejection Israel denies the Messiah. In the 
Gospels, the parable of the Wicked Husband- 
men, and the saying about, the blood of the 
righteous, represent the crime of the crucifixion 
as the climax of the history of Israel's rebellion. 
Similarly in the speech of Stephen in Acts vii. the 
rebellion of Israel against Moses, the apostasy of 
Solomon and the murder of the prophets are con- 
summated in the slaying of the Righteous One. 
But on the other side, the glorious promises to 
the fathers are fulfilled in the beatitudes of the 
Kingdom, and that which prophets and kings 
desired to see and saw not is revealed to the 
disciples. 2 

For a further elucidation of the matter we may 
look to Paul. For him the call of Abraham is the 

1 Heb. i. 1-2. 

2 Lk. x. 23-24 ("Q,"). 


beginning of a process in which the purpose of 
God is at work to make for Himself a people. 1 
But this purpose appears to be frustrated, as the 
descendants of Abraham fall away : Ishmael 
first, then Esau, and then among the children of 
Israel those who worshipped Baal in the time of 
Elijah, and all save the faithful remnant in the 
time of Isaiah. 2 This remnant diminishes, until 
the people of God is embodied in a single 
individual the oW/yta <5 erryyyeXdi)? Christ gathers 
into Himself the whole of what God designed for 
His people. And then in the final apostasy the 
Messiah is killed. With Him the hope of Israel 
perishes and the promise seems frustrated. But 
He rises from the dead, and in Him the people 
of God rises, as Ezekiel had foretold, out of the 
valley of dry bones into newness of life. Thus the 
seeming frustration of God's purpose is over- 
come, and all the episodes of Israel's history 
receive fresh meaning from the final event. The 
Exodus is a foretaste of the redemption in Christ ; 
the manna in the wilderness and the water from 
the rock are an anticipation of the life of the new 
age : for the rock was Christ. 4 The inheritance 
in Canaan is, in a figure, the inheritance of the 

1 Gal. iii. 7-14. 

2 Rom. ix. 6-13, 27-29 ; xi. 2-5. 
8 Gal. iii. 15-16. 

4 I Cor. x. i -i i. 


saints in light, given to those who are dead and 
risen with Christ. For with the death and resur- 
rection of Christ an authentically new age begins 
in which the purpose of God, to create a people 
for Himself, is realized by the incorporation of 
Jews and Gentiles alike in the Body of Christ, 
where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circum- 
cision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, 
bondman, freeman, but Christ is all and in all ; l 
for, as Paul puts it, interpreting the absoluteness 
of the crisis in which Christ died, " God hath shut 
up all unto disobedience, that He might have 
mercy upon all". 2 

All this is no abstract theology, but a realistic 
interpretation of the Gospel story in relation to 
the whole history of Israel. The coming of Christ, 
His death and resurrection, constitute the fulfil- 
ment of that history, not as the last term in a 
process of development, but as the concentration 
in one decisive historical moment of the factors 
determinative of all preceding history, through 
which, consequently, that history becomes not 
only meaningful, but in the full sense real. 

The relation of this eschatological event to 
subsequent history we must study in the last 

1 Eph. ii. 11-22 ; Gal. iii. 26-28 ; Col. iii. 9-11. 

2 Rom. xi. 32. 

K 2 



HPHE events recorded in the Gospels had 
J. little or no immediate or ostensible influence 
upon history. Pilate's execution of the Galilaean 
pretender produced no repercussions in imperial 
or provincial affairs. Upon Judaism the direct 
effect was little greater. The temporary alliance 
of Pharisees and Sadducees, with the conniv- 
ance of the patriotic mob, to make an end of 
Jesus, did not last. Their internecine feuds were 
resumed until a nation riddled with faction rose 
in hopeless revolt against Rome, and was 
crushed. 1 

The one incontestable historical result of the 
events of the ministry, death and resurrection of 
Jesus Christ was the emergence of the Christian 
Church. If, therefore, the eschatological inter- 
pretation of these events is to justify itself, it must 
find justification in the nature, activity and 

1 Two questions are more readily raised than answered, (i) How 
far did the drawing-off of valuable elements of the Jewish community 
into Christianity weaken the national resistance to internal and external 
attacks upon its integrity? (ii) How far did the teaching of Jesus affect 
the Judaism which survived the war ? 



destiny of the Church. And in fact the rise of 
the Church is for the New Testament writers 
an inseparable element in the eschatological 
complex. It is the fulfilment of prophetic hopes 
of a new people of God. It is the Israel of the 
last days ; Isaiah's Remnant ; Jeremiah's people 
of the New Covenant ; Ezekiel's renovated 
Israel, raised from the dead by the breath of the 
Lord ; Daniel's people of the saints of the Most 
High ; Enoch's congregation of the Elect. For 
in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the 
people of God has passed through death into 
newness of life. 

But while these eschatological descriptions are 
taken over and declared to be realized in the 
Church, they necessarily suffer a notable shift 
of meaning. For it had always been contem- 
plated that the emergence of the Messianic 
society would be associated with an unmis- 
takable change in the whole state of the world in 
which that society would live. Either, as in the 
earlier prophetic eschatology, the existing con- 
ditions of human life would remain, and the 
people of God would supplant the great mon- 
archies of the pagan world ; or, as in the later 
apocalyptic eschatology, this world would dis- 
appear, and the Messianic society would func- 
tion in a new heaven and a new earth. But, 


historically, the Church came into existence in a 
world ostensibly quite unchanged by the events 
in which the Kingdom of God came. The great 
crisis had passed and out of it the Church had 
emerged, and yet there was scarcely a ripple on 
the surface of the great stream of history in 
the Graeco-Roman world. 

Not only so : the Church as an historical body 
of necessity partook of the character of the 
empirical order which it nevertheless believed 
to be transcended. We have faint glimpses of a 
state of affairs in which the Church attempted as 
it were to contract out of that order : as when 
the so-called communistic experiment at Jeru- 
salem aspired to independence of economic 
realities, or the enthusiasm of the Thessalonians 
led them to abandon work and regular ways of 
living. But the attempt broke down. The 
Church as we see it in the New Testament at 
large is an institution ostensibly very similar to 
other religious bodies in the ancient world. It 
has its officials, its funds, its discipline, its courts 
of arbitration, its methods of propaganda. Its 
members inevitably have relations with their 
fellow-men outside the Church : relations 
economic, social, juridical. Though they believe 
their own life to be -sustained by a Spirit totally 
different from " the spirit that now worketh in 


the children of disobedience 'V yet they cannot 
preserve their own purity of life by declining 
relations with outsiders. To do this, as Paul 
with his sardonic realism reminded them, they 
would have, literally, to " go out of the world ". 2 
Indeed the moral imperfections inseparable from 
life in the world early appeared within the Church 
itself. Where there is money there will be quar- 
rels about money ; where there is official rank 
there will be ambition and jealousy ; and so 
long as we live in this world and in the flesh, 
the desires of the world and of the flesh must be 
reckoned with. So the early Church found, as 
we know from admonitions in the epistles. The 
Church's sense of being a supernatural society 
was indeed so vivid that for a long time it main- 
tained the principle that sin of a serious character 
necessarily excluded the sinner permanently 
from its fellowship. But the growth of a system 
of penitential discipline was a confession that the 
ideal of a sinless people of God, though demanded 
by the eschatological doctrine of the Church, was 
not realizable empirically. 

Thus from the very beginning the Church in 
history possesses a paradoxical character. On 
the one hand it claims the prerogatives and 

1 Eph. ii. 2. 

2 I Cor|v. io. J 


characteristics of a supernatural society. It is 
the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Bride of 
Christ, the Body of the Lord. It is justified, 
sanctified, glorified. On the other hand it is a 
body of very fallible men striving to attain an 
unrealizable ideal. This paradoxical character 
attaches to the Church throughout its history. 
It has, like any other empirical society, its ups and 
downs, its advances, its declines, and its recoveries. 
The apologist can show that the Church has 
worked as an ameliorating factor in civilization, 
promoting- social justice, economic welfare, peace, 
liberty, and other things that we value. He can 
point to the growth of humane legislation under 
the Christian emperors, to the taming and 
civilizing of the invading barbarians, to the 
great mediaeval synthesis, in which learning, 
art, philosophy and good government flourished, 
and the economic order was regulated in the 
interest of justice and humanity. He can point 
to the growth of ordered liberty in the Protestant 
nations since the Reformation, to the abolition 
of slavery and other social reforms, and to the 
good results of modern missionary enterprise in 
various parts of the world. But this is not the 
whole story. If legislation under Constantine 
took on a humanitarian cast, this was balanced 
by the ferocious persecuting laws of subsequent 


emperors, for which the Church must directly 
bear at least a part of the blame. The historian 
Gibbon made the Church partly responsible for 
the downfall of the Roman Empire. Again, 
while the Catholic glorifies the Christian civi- 
lization of the Middle Ages, the Protestant vilifies 
the mediaeval Church as the bulwark of supersti- 
tion and the main cause of the arrest of free 
thought and the advance of science. Similarly 
while the Protestant credits the reformed Church 
with inspiring the achievements of a free and 
progressive democracy, the Catholic blames 
the Reformation for the rise of the capitalist 
system with its disastrous consequences. There is 
here a rich field for controversy, a controversy 
with which we are not at the moment con- 
cerned. In our own day this old quarrel is 
thrown into the background by a new and 
determined attack upon the Church from the 
side alike of Communism and of Fascism, as a 
stubborn hindrance to social and political ame- 
lioration. The Church is on the defensive 
against attacks made upon it on ideal grounds, 
as it has not been for a very long time. It is in 
any case clear that on objective historical 
grounds we cannot confidently affirm that the 
Church has been, ' always, everywhere, and 
undeniably, an instrument of human progress. 


We may reasonably hold that on the whole and 
in the long run its influence in history has been 
effective for good, that where it has been bad 
there is extenuation to be found in the conditions 
of the times, and that there is at the moment no 
other institution in existence which offers equal 
prospects of bringing about an improvement of the 
situation. But it is not on such grounds that we 
can hope to justify the exalted claims which are 
made for the Church as the Body of Christ, the 
ultimate people of God. 

Again, the apologist would like to show that, 
even if the record of the Church as an agent 
within the world is not beyond question, at 
least it has in its own life advanced towards the 
ideal set before it. Such progress has in any 
case not been continuous, nor is it easily 
measured. It can hardly be estimated by the 
number of Christians at any given period, or 
the area of their dispersion in the world. 
Periods when the Church has enjoyed great 
power and influence have sometimes been periods 
of moral decline. If we are thinking of inward 
rather than of outward achievement, who would 
be prepared confidently to affirm that the 
Church of the present day is superior to the 
ancient Church in sanctity, moral fervour, 
inward cohesion and fellowship, intellectual 


apprehension of the truth, clarity and courage in 
testifying to it? It is certainly true that the 
Church has from time to time shown after 
periods of outward and inward decline a remark- 
able power of self-renewal, and that it displays a 
quite astonishing toughness of constitution, by 
virtue of which it still exists as an active body in 
the world while almost every other institution of 
similar antiquity has long ago disappeared. But 
to say this is to fall far short of justifying empiric- 
ally the conception of the Church as the eternal 
City of God, against which the gates of hell can 
never prevail. 

The saints, prophets and reformers of the 
Church, so far from believing that it has made 
progress towards an ideal not yet attained, have 
uniformly sought to recall it to the purity and 
sincerity of its early days. So far as this implies 
an idealization of the primitive Church, it is no 
better than sentimental romanticism. For the 
Church as an empirical society never was pure. 
There is perhaps a touch of the romantic about 
the first ecclesiastical historian, the author of Acts ; 
yet even his picture of the earliest days of the 
Church admits widows quarrelling over their 
dole, and Ananias and Sapphire defrauding the 
revenue. Paul's picture of the Church in being 
is anything but sentimental. And as early as 


the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse 
of John we hear the first note of complaint that 
the Church has declined from its pristine love 
and zeal 1 a note which from that time -on has 
never ceased to sound. 

There is in this recurrent phenomenon in the 
life of the Church something more than a 
romantic idealizing of the past. The appeal to 
a primitive purity does not really refer to a 
hypothetical period early in the Church's exist- 
ence, when its condition, relatively to subsequent 
periods, was nearer to the ideal. It refers not 
to the relative sanctity which may be attained 
at one period or another, but to that absolute 
sanctity which belongs to the Church as the 
eschatological Israel of God, and which is para- 
doxically associated with an empirical existence 
admitting of no absolutes. 

It is a tempting resolution of this paradox to 
adopt a Platonic view, according to which the 
spiritual or invisible Church is the' true reality, 
" laid up in heaven ", like Plato's ideal city, 2 
and all actual congregations of Christian people 
constituting the visible Church are no more 
than the imperfect embodiments of this invisible 

l Heb. iii. 12-13 ; v. 12 ; vi. 4-12 ; x. 32-39 ; xii. 12-13 5 Rev. 
11. 4-5 ; in. 2-3. 

, f^ 3 ' ' lx ' 59 2 b. iv ovpavQ .fcras irapatiftyfua avaKftrat ttf 


Idea of the Church. There is much to be said 
for such a view, which might justify itself by an 
appeal to the undoubtedly Platonic element 
in New Testament thought. Judaism, like 
Platonism, knew of a heavenly city, the celes- 
tial archetype of the earthly Jerusalem, 1 as well 
as of a temple that existed before the world. 2 
When the author to the Hebrews speaks of 
" the city of the living God, the heavenly 
Jerusalem", 3 and Paul of "Jerusalem above 
which is our mother ", 4 they might be under- 
stood to be using a quasi-Platonic category. 
But these writers do not contrast the heavenly 
city with the Church visible on earth. In both, 
the other term of the antithesis is " Mount 
Sinai ", which for Paul is the Jewish community 
in servitude, from which Christians have been 
redeemed, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews 

1 See evidence cited by Strack-Billerbeck on Gal. iv. 26. 

2 See evidence cited by Moore, Judaism, I, p. 526. It should be 
added that there are apocalyptic passages which seem to suggest that 
the Messianic community is in some sort pre-existent, and that it will 
" appear " with the Messiah at the End. See I Enoch xxxviii. 1-2 ; 
xxxix. 4-8 ; xlviii. 1-7 ; liii. 6 ; Ixii. 7-8. It is thought by some that 
the "Elect One" or "Son of Man" was in the original intention of 
Enoch, a personification of the " congregation of the elect ", which 
in that case is clearly pre-existent. If so, then the idea of an invisible 
Church is pre-Christian, and what Christianity adds is the belief that 
this invisible Church is now made visible. In substance I believe that 
this is so. But the interpretation of Ejisch is doubtful. It is worth 
while recalling that for some Gnostics taKAqtrfa was a pre-existent 


8 Heb. xii. 22. 
4 Gal. iv. 26. 


stands for the now obsolete system of Jewish 
religious ordinances. In Judaism and Chris- 
tianity alike, those elements of thought which 
resemble Platonism are always crossed by eschato- 
logical conceptions. The heavenly city of Jewish"' 
thought was not simply eternal in the heavens ; 
at the End it would descend to earth. 1 It would 
be consistent with the " realized eschatology " 
of the New Testament if the Church itself were 
thought of as the new Jerusalem on earth. And 
indeed a logical development of Paul's alle- 
gory of Hagar and Ishmael would lead to some 
such conclusion. Moreover, he does identify 
the Church with the temple of God, 2 and a 
similar identification is probably suggested by 
the Johannine equation of the new temple (the 
vaos dxeipoiToi^Tos of Mark xiv. 58) with the 
" body " of Christ. 3 And the suggestion of the 
passage in Hebrews is of a single community 
including inseparably the Church on earth and 
the denizens of the heavenly city. 

In view of all this, we may hesitate to account 
for the paradoxical character of the Church by 
a simple recourse to a contrast between the ideal 
and the actual. 

1 See evidence cited by Strack-Billerbeck on Rev. iii. 12. 

2 I Cor. iii. 16. The dwelling of the Spirit in the Church is a ful- 
filment of the prophecy in Ezek. xxxvii. 27-28. 

3 Jn. ii. 21. 


We need, therefore, to penetrate a little more 
deeply into the historical existence of the Church. 
We may perhaps best do so by observing the 
Church in its most characteristic activities. It 
would be generally agreed among virtually all 
Christian communities that whatever may be of 
the esse or of the bene esse of the Church, we can 
with confidence affirm that where the Word of 
God is faithfully proclaimed and the Sacraments 
duly administered, there is the Church. 1 I pro- 
pose, therefore, that we should think of the Church 
in the act of proclaiming the Gospel and in the 
act of celebrating its central sacrament, the 
Eucharist. This line of approach has a two-fold 
advantage. On the one hand it gets behind the 
awkward question, where we are to find the visible 
Church, a question which would be differently 
answered by different communions. On the 
other hand, it sets before us not some theoretical 
concept of the Church, but the Church itself in 
action ; and it is congruous with the Christian 
belief in a living God to contemplate every religi- 
ous reality dynamically rather than statically : 
the Church therefore in act rather than the 
Church in essence. 

1 Our difficulties begin when we try to define what is meant by a 
" faithful " preaching of the Gospel, and a " due " administration of the 
Sacraments. Each reader may give to these terms whatever meaning 
seems to him right. The argument will not be affected. 


There can, moreover, be no question that when 
we contemplate the Church in this twofold action 
of preaching the Gospel and celebrating the 
Sacrament we are considering that which has 
been central in its life from the beginning, and 
consequently that which characterizes the Church 
in its actual historical origins. We have no 
earlier picture of the Church than that which 
meets us in the Pauline epistles, and theTtwo 
things to which Paul expressly points as primitive 
are the Gospel and the " Lord's Supper ". l The 
picture in Acts agrees with this. The Church 
enters history with the apostolic kerygma as the 
expression of its life outwardly to the world, and 
the communion of " the breaking of bread " as 
the expression of the same life inwardly among its 
members. 2 

First, then, the Church's proclamation of the 
Gospel is the continuation and completion of the 
prophetic witness to the Word of God. For the 
prophets the utterance of the Word of the Lord 
is very much more than mere homily or instruc- 
tion. It is an act, powerful to shape the course of 
history. " Is not my word like as a fire, and like 
a hammer that breaketh the rocks in pieces ? " 
asks Jeremiah. 3 " My word," says the second 

1 I Cor. xv. i -n ; xi. 23-26. 

2 Ac. ii. 42. 

3 Jer. xxiii. 29. 

L Z 


Isaiah, " shall not return unto me void ; but it 
shall accomplish that which I please and it shall 
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it ". 1 It is 
in this sense that we must understand some lan- 
guage of the prophets which sounds to us strained 
and hyperbolical ; as when Jeremiah proclaims 
himself set over the nations, to break down and 
to destroy, to build and to plant. 2 The meaning 
is that the Word of the Lord spoken by the pro- 
phets becomes an actual factor in history, shaping 
it in the direction of the divine purpose. A 
fortiori, then, the Word of the Gospel, which 
declares not what God will do in the last days, 
but what He has done in sending His Son, 
is an actual factor in history, through which the 
divine action in Christ becomes effective. The 
Church in proclaiming this Gospel is the instru- 
ment of a divine intervention in history which is 
not limited by the unworthiness of the instru- 
ment. " We have this treasure in earthen vessels, 
that the excellency of the power may be of God 
and not of ourselves ". 3 

But this divine intervention which is mediated 
by every preaching of the Gospel is the same that 
was accomplished in the death and resurrection 
of Christ. The kerygma itself is no more than the 

1 Is. Iv. ii. 


Jer. i. 10. 
II Cor; iv. 7. 


rehearsal of the history in which the Kingdom of 
God came. There is no " other Gospel ", as 
Paul so emphatically declared. 1 The Church 
may in its teaching rightly draw material from 
the changing experience and ideas of men 
throughout the centuries. It may use such 
material to illustrate and enforce its preaching 
of the Gospel, But the Gospel itself can never 
be other than it was at the beginning. Paul's 
description of his preaching to the Galatians 
" before whose eyes Christ was placarded as 
crucified " 2 indicates what the character of 
preaching at its centre must always be : it is a 
re-presentation of the history of Jesus : it is 
designed to place the hearers in the very presence 
of the historical event, and so to expose them to 
the power of God which worked in that event. 

We set it down, then, that the relation of the 
Church to history is in the first place to be sought 
in its preaching of the Gospel, an act by which 
the Church itself lives, and by which it mediates 
the power of God to every age. 

Secondly, in its central sacrament the Church 
places itself ever anew within the eschatological 
crisis in which it had its origin. Here Christ is 
set before us incarnate, crucified, and risen, and 

1 Gal. i. ,6-7. 

2 Gal. iii. I. itpotypatyri e 


we partake of the benefits of His finished work, as 
contemporaries with it. We are neither merely 
recalling a story out of the past, nor merely 
expressing and nourishing a hope for the future, 
but experiencing in one significant rite the reality 
of the coming of Christ, which is both His coming 
in humiliation and His coming in glory. It is 
this that gives character to the Church, that it 
lives always, when it is its most real self, within 
the historical moment of its redemption. 

This contemporaneity must not be confused 
with the timeless " now " of the mystics. For 
that which the Church experiences is not just an 
eternal reality symbolically set forth under the 
forms of space, time and matter. It is a slice of 
the actual history of the world something that 
happened sub Pontio Pilalo. It happened and 
we are there. It is a slice of actual history, con- 
tinuous, upon the temporal level, with all other 
history, and in particular with this moment in 
history in which we are now living. Thus in the 
Sacrament we have a two-fold relation to history. 
Our empirical selves stand within a time-process 
in which events are determined by their pre- 
cedents, and especially by the " epoch-making " 
events of history, above all by the epoch-making 
event which changed the character of our world. 
But our Christian selves stand directly within that 


event itself, and are shaped by it. By virtue of 
this sacramental experience our work-a-day life 
in A.D. 1938 is made a part of the redemptive 
history set forth in the Gospels. 

It appears then that Christian faith is on the 
one hand not committed to the mystic's denial of 
the reality of time. It does not detach us from all 
temporal succession in a timeless " now ". But 
on the other hand it is not bound to history as 
simple succession in time, with a uniform, non- 
reversible movement from past to future. Super- 
ficially, the teleological view of history which 
Christianity inherits from prophetic Judaism 
might be held to coincide with a view of history 
as a succession Jof events in time, linked casually, 
and culminating in a complete realization of the 
end towards which the whole process has been 
directed. As we have seen, however, even for 
Judaism this view is to be accepted only with 
qualification, for the prophets always assume that 
God intervenes in the process, so that a simple 
efficient causality does not give a complete 
account of history. But in Christianity the teleo- 
logical " end " is other than the temporal end 
of the process. It is given in an event which 
entered into the course 6f history once for all, 
while the process still went on. This event gives 
meaning to all that went before, establishing the 


divine character of the process. Similarly, being 
experienced time after time throughout succeed- 
ing ages, it gives meaning to the whole subsequent 

This appears to imply a view of history which 
may be indicated as follows. 

The material of history is the whole succession 
of events in time, in which the spontaneity of the 
human spirit interacts with outward occurrences. 
Part of this succession of events is recorded in the 
Bible. The biblical record is a source of evidence 
for secular history, dovetailing into the records of 
Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and 
Rome. But the events recorded are presented in 
the Bible as a history of the dealings of God with 
men, interpreted by the eschatological event of 
the coming of Christ, His death and resurrection. 
As such, the biblical history is denominated by 
German theologians, Heilsgeschichte, that is, his- 
tory as a redemptive process. We have no such 
convenient term in English. We may perhaps 
use the term " sacred history ", as distinguished 
from secular history. It is important to bear in 
mind that the same events enter into sacred and 
secular history ; the events are the same, but they 
form two distinguishable series. 

The empirical series which is secular history 
extends over all recorded time, to our own day, 


and is still unfinished. In this series events 
are linked together by succession in time, and 
by the operation of efficient causes, whether 
these causes be physical or psychological. The 
attempt to find a general pattern and a 
universal meaning in this succession meets 
admittedly with no more than doubtful success. 
The fundamental reason for this is that it is 
impossible in the empirical series to work back- 
wards to a real beginning, or forwards to a real 
end. But of a process which is not a process from 
a beginning to an end, but just sheer process, it 
is difficult to predicate any absolute meaning or 
value. Any period or event which we may choose 
as a standard of judgement our own period 
for instance is only part of the process ; and 
any ideas which may be in our minds are equally 
unavailable as criteria, because these can be 
shown to be, in part at least, a product of our 
particular historical conditions. It is probably 
this uncertainty about the meaning and value of 
history that encourages the religious mind to turn 
either to mysticism and the inner life, or alter- 
natively to nature as the field of a recognizable 
and definable order, which empirical history 
fails to show. 

But there is another series into which historical 
events may fall, that which I have called " sacred 


history ", or history as a process of redemption 
and revelation. Of this series the biblical history 
forms the inner core. But the Bible always 
assumes that the meaning of this inner core is 
the ultimate meaning of all history, since God is 
the Maker and Ruler of all mankind, who created 
all things for Himself, and redeemed the world to 
Himself. That is to say, the whole of history is 
in the last resort sacred history, or Heilsgeschichte. 
This principle of the universality of the divine 
meaning in history is symbolically expressed in 
Christian theology by placing the history of the 
Old and New Testaments within a mythological 
scheme which includes a real beginning and a 
real end. In the beginning God created heaven 
and earth and all that in them is. In the end He 
will unite all mankind, and indeed all orders of 
being, under His sole sway in a last judgement. I 
have described this as mythological, and as such 
it must, I think, be understood. Creation and 
Last Judgement are symbolical statements of the 
truth that all history is teleological, working out 
one universal divine purpose. The story of 
Creation is not to be taken as a literal, scientific 
statement that the time series had a beginning 
an idea as inconceivable as its opposite, that time 
had no beginning. Nor must the story of the 
Fall, which is the necessary complement of the 


creation-story, be taken as a literal, historical 
statement that there was a moment when man 
first began to set himself against the will of God. 
The story of creation and the fall is a symbolic 
summing-up of everything in secular or empirical 
history which is preparatory to the process of 
redemption and revelation. It affirms that in 
man and his world there is implanted a divine 
purpose, opposed by a recalcitrant will. This is 
universally true, not only of primitive ages before 
Abraham, but of the entire human race at all 
points in the temporal process. There is a place 
in the myth of the creation and fall for all facts 
of secular history that may be established. It is 
all covered, from a Christian point of view, by 
the affirmation of a creative process dependent 
on the will of God, and a deep-seated mis- 
direction of human life. But secular history gets 
us no further than the prophecy in the biblical 
story of the fall : "it shall bruise thy head, and 
thou shall bruise his heel " : x it is a ding-dong 
battle. It is upon this field of an indecisive con- 
flict between the recalcitrant will of man and the 
true divine meaning of man himself and his world, 
that sacred history supervenes, telling how the 
victory is won through a dying to the world and 
a resurrection in power. 

1 Gen. iii. 15. 


Again, the myth of a Last Judgement is a 
symbolical statement of the final resolution of the 
great conflict. Serious difficulties are raised if 
we attempt to treat it as a literal and quasi- 
historical statement that the succession of events 
in time will one day cease once again an idea 
as inconceivable to us as its opposite. Nor, I 
think, is it profitable to rationalize the myth as 
a prediction that before man dies out of th'is 
earth, or before the earth itself perishes in some 
astronomical catastrophe, the good will finally 
and manifestly triumph over the evil in human 
history. Any such rationalization is beside the 
true intention of the myth, which says that the 
Last Judgement will supervene unexpectedly 
and unpredictably upon a world showing no 
indication of its approach, unless it be that 
" the sky grows darker yet and the sea rises 
higher ". That seems to imply that there is no 
moment in the world's history which by historical 
necessity leads up to the Judgement. Doomsday 
simply takes a cut across the time-stream at 
any point and reveals the triumph of the divine 
purpose in it. But this triumph is something 
actually attained, not in some coming Day of 
the Lord, near or distant, but in the concrete 
historical event of the death and resurrection of 
Jesus Christ. It is significant that Christianity 


separated off from the general expectation of 
Jewish eschatology this concrete, historical ele- 
ment of " realized eschatology ", leaving the 
residue as a symbolical expression of the relation 
of all history to the purpose of God. For the 
essential feature of the Last Judgement is its 
universality. It includes " the quick and the 
dead ", i.e. all generations of mankind. It means 
that all history is comprehended in that achieve- 
ment of the divine purpose of which the coming 
of Christ, His death and resurrection, is the intra- 
historical expression. 

This mythological setting is essential to the 
Christian interpretation of history as a process 
of redemption. And that is why in the Creed 
the historical facts of the birth, death and 
resurrection of Christ are placed within a frame- 
work which begins with God as Maker of heaven 
and earth, and ends with judgement upon the 
quick and the dead. 

History, therefore, as a process of redemption 
and revelation, has a beginning and an end, 
both in God. The beginning is not an event in 
time ; the end is not an event in time. The 
beginning is God's purpose, the end is the fulfil- 
ment of His purpose. Between these lies the 
sacred history which culminates in the death 
and resurrection of Christ. 


It is this sacred history which comes to life 
when the Church experiences the coming of 
Christ in the Sacrament, and proclaims it to the 
world in its preaching. By this means this 
situation in which we stand is made a part of the 
sacred history. It is no longer merely a part of 
the succession of events which is secular history, 
though it remains also a part of that succession. 
It is taken up into that other historical series, 
which has real meaning the Heilsgeschichte. 

As a result of this transposition from the one 
historical series to the other, the character of 
our own history, whether as individuals or as 
communities, is altered. The Old Testament 
story comes to be our own story, for it is the story 
of man under God's calling and law, but dis- 
obedient to it, the object of His redemptive 
purpose yet recalcitrant to that purpose, the 
recipient of His promises, yet failing to attain 
them. And the New Testament comes to be 
the story of the crisis in which we ourselves are 
brought to judgement and to redemption. This 
is the pattern of all history, and as our history 
falls into that pattern, it confesses its divine 

This is the effective relation of the Church to ; 
history. It is continually bringing the successive 
situations of empirical history, through Gospel 


and Sacrament, into the sacred history which 
embodies the divine meaning. 

In doing so, it necessarily brings the present 
situation under the divine judgement, for the 
characteristic effect of the Cross is to bring to 
light the evil which is inherent in all human 
action, intermingled with all human virtue. 
Its function in relation to the world is prophetic, 
and like the prophets of the Old Testament, it 
may not be complacent towards the iniquities 
of the world or give out a cheering assurance that 
all will come right in the end. The task of the 
Church is to bring all historical movements 
into the context of the death and resurrection of 
Jesus Christ, in order that they may be judged 
by the divine meaning revealed in that crucial 

The divine judgement is not a bare sentence, or 
expression of opinion. It is historical action. 
Let us recall what was said of the meaning of the 
Cross as judgement. The action of the Jewish 
people, their rulers, and the Roman government 
displayed, in reaction to the appearance of 
Christ, the sinfulness resident in human move- 
ments and institutions which nevertheless con- 
tained much good ; and the sinfulness thus 
made plain worked itself out to the catastrophe 
of the Jewish War. So at any period of history 


the Gospel reveals the inherent sinfulness of a 
situation working itself out in disaster. It 
interprets the history of our own times. The 
great structure of human existence which was 
nineteenth-century civilization contained much 
good. It was shaken to its foundations in 1914, 
and for the last twenty years it has been dis- 
integrating before our eyes, in a course of events 
which seems almost to have been impelled by 
some malign fate. May we not borrow a fitting 
comment from Paul ? " They were hardened ; 
as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, 
eyes that they should not see, and ears that they 
should not hear, unto this very day". 1 That 
was his comment upon the rejection of Christ 
by the Jews. Does it not equally interpret the 
events of this last quarter of a century in terms 
of divine judgement ? 

When we speak of divine judgement upon the 
world, we are not to think of the Church, or of 
ourselves its members, as in any sense the judge 
over against the sinful world. For the world 
is within the Church, in so far as the Church is 
an empirical, historical society. The Church, 
though it apprehends itself as living within 
sacred history, lives also within secular history, 
and no attempt to remove it from that series 

1 Rom. xi. 8. 


can succeed. Therefore, in proclaiming the 
Gospel, the Church itself comes under judge- 
ment 1 and it is this judgement under which it 
would also bring the world and all movements 
within the world of any particular period. 

But the testimony of Gospel and sacrament 
alike is that the other side of divine judgement is 
forgiveness. The moment when man places 
himself unreservedly under the judgement of 
God is the moment at which he experiences the 
'mercy of God : his death unto sin is a resur- 
rection unto God. The Christian way, there- 
fore, of dealing, with an historical situation is to 
place it under the divine judgement that it may 
also fall under the divine forgiveness. And 
forgiveness again is no mere inward or sub- 
jective condition. It, too, is divine action in 
history. The coming of the Kingdom of God, 
which revealed itself as judgement in the rejection 
of Israel, revealed itself as mercy in Christ's 
return to His undeserving disciples, and in 
creating out of them the fellowship of the Church 
as an historical society. And if the Gospel reveals 
the history of our time as the field of divine judge- 
ment, it reveals it also as the field of the renewing 
grace of God " according to that working of the 

1 " It is time for judgement to begin from the House of God " (I Pet. 


strength of His might which He wrought in 
Christ when He raised Him from the dead . . . 
and gave Him to be head over all things to the 
Church ".* We are wrong in confining such 
expressions to purely spiritual experience. They 
declare that as any situation is brought within 
the context of sacred history, with its creative 
centre in the Gospel facts, it is exposed not only 
to the judgement of God, but also to possibilities 
of transformation and renewal which we can 
neither define nor limit, because they lie within 
the immeasurable power of the mercy of God. 

It is to this transformation of an actual situa- 
tion that the prayer of the Church refers : 
" Thy Kingdom come ". If we consider the 
Lord's prayer in the context of His ministry, it 
is apparent that it was addressed to a situation 
of immediate need. " Watch and pray ", said 
He to His disciples, " that ye enter not into 
temptation". The -neipaa^os was at that moment 
at hand, as the traitor approached Gethsemane, 2 
It was surely in a like sense that He taught them 
to pray, " Lead us not into temptation ". It 
was as much a prayer for the moment as that 
other petition, "Give us this day our daily 
bread ". Why should it be thought that the 

1 Eph. i. 19-22. 

2 See The Parables of the Kingdom, pp. 165-167. 


petition, " Thy Kingdom come ", was any less 
immediate in its reference ? " Take no thought 
for the morrow ", said the Lord, " but seek His 
Kingdom". 1 The Kingdom of God is not of 
" the morrow ". " Behold now is the accepted 
time ; now is the day of salvation". 2 And we 
may observe that " now " is the only aspect of 
time with which we are directly concerned. 
We live in the present, that bit of time in which 
we actively experience the transition from past 
to future. The past no doubt exists, but it 
exists for us only as raw material for action in the 
present. The future exists only as an idea of 
the imagination by which action in the present 
is evoked. The reality of past and future 
resides in the mind and will of God, and not in 
the experience of the creatures of a day. In the 
petition, " Thy Kingdom come ", we bring this 
crucial moment into the context of God's redemp- 
tive action, that His purpose in it may be accom- 
plished. The prayer brings its own answer. It 
was surely of this prayer, more than any other, 
that our Lord said, " All things whatsoever ye 
pray and ask for, believe that ye have received 
them, and ye shall have them ". 3 
In critical times like the present the Church 

1 Lk.xii.3i ("Q."). 

2 II Cor. vi. 2, cf. Heb. iii. 13-15. 
8 Mk. xi. 24. 

M a 


is urged either to lend its support to one or another 
of the secular programmes for building a new 
world, or alternatively to enter the conflict 
with a competing programme of its own. It 
may indeed be the vocation of the individual 
Christian to work, and if need be to suffer, for 
one programme or another, according as he 
judges it to have in it something of the intention 
of the Gospel. He will bring it under the judge- 
ment of God, and take responsibility for it before 
Him. He will never identify any limited objec- 
tive with the absolute which is the Kingdom of 
God ; but, knowing that the empirical order 
belongs to God, he will work in and upon it 
under the constraint of His Kingdom. The 
vocation of the Church, however, transcends all 
programmes. It is called to live always within 
the great event beyond which history can never 
go, and to make every emerging historical situa- 
tion a part of the sacred history controlled by 
that event. 

This does not mean that the Church with- 
draws from contemporary history into a purely 
spiritual task. The ministry of Jesus Christ 
exposed Him to the historical forces of His time, 
which caused His death ; but as a result, the 
situation changed. A formidable historical struc- 
ture was broken up, and a new element was 


introduced unawares into Graeco-Roman civiliza- 
tion. The Church, similarly, so far as its life is 
governed by the Gospel, is necessarily involved 
in the immediate historical situation. Like its 
Lord, it may be " set for the falling and rising 
again of many in Israel, and for a sign that is 
spoken against". 1 But the tendencies of the age 
meet a stubborn thing when they impinge 
upon the actuality of the Church. Out of the 
clash something new is created, which in the 
providence of God enters into the fulfilment of 
His purpose for the world. 

At the present moment, the existence of the 
Church has become one of the crucial problems 
of European civilization. What will emerge, we 
cannot predict, either from a calculation of 
political probabilities, or by appeal to spiritual 
convictions. But the Church, whether as a stone 
of stumbling and a rock of offence, or as the 
headstone of the corner, is destined to be a 
determining factor in contemporary events. 

Whatever part the Church has played in the 
crises of history, whether negative or positive, 
whether conservative or revolutionary, it is 
always a disturbing factor, upsetting calculations 
and opening up unforeseen possibilities. It is 
a standing protest against any conception of 

1 Lk. ii. 34. 


history as a closed order, naturally determined. 
For it witnesses to the creative energies of God 
in this world, and offers itself to Him as an 
instrument of His good pleasure. It is in the 
Church, so far as it realizes its vocation, that 
history is made, not by us but by the power of 
God. It is this that justifies the Christian faith 
in the Church as an eschatological fact, in spite 
of the imperfection, fallibility, weakness and sin 
,of its members. This is the Church that we 
speak of when we confess : " I believe, in the 
holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, 
the forgiveness of sins ". 

We may now sum up our conclusions so far as 
they bear upon the Christian interpretation of 
history. The doctrine of progress, which until 
recently seemed to provide a scheme of inter- 
pretation, and of interpretation in a Christian 
sense, has worn somewhat thin. Progress is in 
any case not continuous or inevitable. There are 
phases of retrogression, and on empirical grounds 
it is difficult to affirm that such retrogression is 
merely temporary. There are indeed considera- 
tions which encourage the hope that the evils of 
human society are, in a long run, self-destructive, 
and the good self-preservative. But it is a long 
way from this to the assurance that history will 
justify itself by the final victory of the good within 


the span allotted to human life on this planet. 
Nor is it clear that the Christian faith intends to 
give such an assurance. The category of pro- 
gress is, as we have seen, only partially applicable 
to the biblical history, and in the New Testament 
the coming of the Kingdom of God is not (what- 
ever it may be in the Old Testament) identified 
with the remote goal of history. 

But if there is any validity in the argument here 
set forth, history is finally to be judged not as a 
simple succession in time, but as a process deter- 
mined by the creative act of God vertically from 
above if we must use spatial metaphors and 
not by the vis a tergo of physical and psychological 
causation. The test case is the Gospel story. It 
relates events which obviously have a place in the 
empirical order. On that level the episode 
remains an enigma to the historian. The New 
Testament makes sense of it, but only by recogniz- 
ing in it the entry into history of a reality from 
beyond history. Thus history becomes " sacred " 
history. Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed, it 
brings about a crisis, as in the experience of the 
individual, so also in the experience of whole 
communities and civilizations. Out of the crisis 
comes a new creation, by the power of God. 
Every such occasion is the " fullness of time " in 
which the Kingdom of God comes. Thus history 


reveals its meaning as an order of redemption and 
revelation. Full meaning is not reserved for the 
last term in a temporal series, which supersedes 
and abolishes all previous stages in the process. 
Every situation is capable of being lifted up into 
the order of "sacred" history. In any given 
situation there are factors at work belonging to 
the empirical order the forces of nature, the 
minds and wills of men but the ultimately 
constitutive factor is neither nature nor the spirit 
of man, but the Kingdom of God. 


Finally, the Kingdom of Go'd is constitutive of 
history just because it is itself beyond history, and 
comes in history ; for no purely intra-historical 
factor could give absolute meaning to the process 
of which it is a part All history is bounded by 
the death of the body and the final extinction of 
human life on earth. Beyond that boundary the 
Kingdom of God exists eternally, taking up into 
its fullness the whole rich content of the historical 
process, as Christ is believed to have carried up 
His humanity to " the right hand of God ". The 
temporal order, which is the " body " of the 
human spirit on earth, is "raised in glory" in 
the eternal order. That is the ultimate destina- 
tion of the historical process. We believe in the 
life everlasting. 







iii. 15 


. 169 

ix. 9 . 

. 132 

xxii. 18 

. 142 

xiv. 21 




iv. 15 f. 

. 32 

iii. 1-3 . 


iii. 16-17 

. 136 


iv. 1-2 . 

. 136 

iv. 3-5 


xl. 5 

. 142 


xliv. 23 
Iv. ii . 

. 141 
. 162 

iv. i -i i 


Ivi. 7 . 


V. 21-22 

v. 31-32 


. - 57 

v. 44-45 



vi. 25-34 

. 125 

i. 10 

. 162 

vii. 1-2 


xxiii. 20 

. 161 

viii. 20 



xxxi. 31-36 . 

. 136 

x. 7-8 . 

. 123 

x. 37 



xi. 2-6 . 

. IOO 


xi. 5 . 


xxxvii. . 


xi. 13 . 


xxxvii. 27-28 


xi. 16-19 


xi. 19 . 

94, 120 



xii. 24-28 
xiii. 16-17 

. 96 

. IOO 

ii. 9 

. 142 

xiii. 30 





MATTHEW (continued) 

MARK (continued] 

xv. 24 . 


viii. 22-26 

xvii. 24-27 . 

. 90 

ix. 43-47 

xviii. 12-13 . 


X. I-IO 

xix. 9 . 


X. 11-12 

xix. 28 


x. 13-16 

xxii. 2-10 

. 100 

x. 19 

xxii. 9 . 

. 124 

xi. 10 . 

xxii. 14 . 

. 130 

xi. 14, 23 

xxiii. 34-36 . 

. 101 

xi. 24 . 

xxiii. 35-36 . 


xii. 1-9 

xxiii. 37-39 . 

Qt). 101 

*y \J' 

xii. 9 . 

xxiii. 38 


xii. 13-17 

xxvi. 1-2 


xiii. 2 

xiv. i 


xiv. 3-9 

xiv. 24 

i. i 


xiv. 27-31 

i. 15 

. 123 

xiv. 28 

i. 19-20 


xiv. 61-62 

i. 22 

. 125 

xvi. 7-8 

i. 23-27 . 

. 96 

i. 44 
ii. 15-17 . 87, 

. 119 
93> 120 


ii. 17 . 

. 124 

ii. 34 . 

ii. 21-22 


iv. 16-30 

iii. 1-6 . 


iv. 17-21 

iii. 6 

. 129 

iv. 24-27 

iii. 23-27 


vii. 18-23 

iii. 31-35 


vii. 22 . 

iv. 26-29 

. 100 

vii. 31-35 

V. 1-20 


vii. 36-48 

vi. 1-6 


ix. 58 . 

vii. 8 . 

. 120 

X. 2 

vii. 31-37 


x. 9-1 1 






















LUKE (continued) 

JOHN (continued) 

x. 9 


ix. 39 . 

x. 13 . 

. 121 

xi. 47-50 

x. 23-24 

ioo, 143 

xii. 20 . 

xi. 20 . 

124, 125 

xii. 31 . 

xi. 49-51 

. IOI 

xiii. i . 

xii. 31 . 

. 177 

XV. 12 . 

xii. 32 . 

. 128 

xvi. ii . 

xiii. 33 . 


xvi. 14 . 

xiii. 34-35 . 

95, lo 1 

xvii. 3 . 

xiv. 2-6 

. 87 

xvii. 22-23 

xiv. 16-24 

. IOO 

xiv. 23 . 

. 124 

xiv. 26 . 



XV. 2 


ii. 42 . 

xv. 4-7 



x. 38 . 

xvi. 1 6 


xvi. 18 


xvii. 10 

. 127 


xviii. 10-14 . 


xix, i-io 

93> !20 

i. 3 

xix. 41-44 

. IOI 

i. 20 

xxi. 37-38 . 


v. 8 

xxi. 38 . 


vi. 17 . 

viii. 3 . 

ix.-xi. . 


ix. 5 . 

i. ii 


ix. 6-13 

ii. i-io 


ix. 27-29 

ii. 21 


xi. 2-5 

iv. 5-15 


xi. 8 . 

iv. 35 


xi. 32 . 

vii. 1-9 


xiii. 14 

vii. 35 . 

. 123 

xv. 2-3 

vii. 53-viii. ii 


xv. 7 

i8 7 




















I bo 1 




ROMANS (continued) 



xv. 8 

6 4 , I 3 I 

vi. 2 

. 177 

xv. 19 . 


viii. 9 . 

. 96 

X. I 



xii. 2-4 



xii. 12 . 


i. i 

. 96 

i. 13-17 

. 50 



11. 10 

iii. 10-15 

. 50 

i. 6-7 . 

. 163 

iii. 16 . 

V. 10 

vii. 10 . 

. 152 

57 6 5 

i. 7 
i. 19 . 
iii. i 

5 2 
82, 163 

vii. 12 . 
vii. 25 . 
vii. 40 . 


111. 7-14 
iii. 15-16 
iii. 26-28 

. 144 
. 144 

ix. 5 . 


iv. 3 . . 


ix. 14 . 

X. I-II 

- . 65 
. 144 

iv. 9 . 
iv. 26 . 

. 158 

xi. i .. 


vi. 2 


xi. 23-26 
xi. 25 . 

64, 161 


xi. 26 . 


i. 19-22 

. 176 

xii. 3 . 


ii. 2 


xii. 28 .. 


ii. 11-22 


xiv. 37 . 


vi. 12 . 


XV. I ~II 

. 161 

xv. 3-4 

. 82 


XV. II . 


ii. 7-8 . 

. 65 



iii. 16-17 


ii. 15 . 

. 97 

iv. 7 

, 162 

ii. 20 . . 


iv. 18 . 


iii. 9-11 



i. 6 

ii. 15 .. 

i. 7-10 


i. ii 
vi. 13 . 


i. 1-2 . 

ii. 3 

ii. 4 . 

ii. 10 ' . 

ii. 18 . 

iii. 1-2 . 

iii. 12-13 

iii. 13-15 

iv. 15 . . 54, 

v. 7-8 . 

v. 12 

vi. i 

vi, 4-12 

vii. 14 . 

x. 5-9 

X. 12 





HEBREWS (continued) 


x. 32-39 



xii. 2-3 


xii. 12-13 


xii. 22 . 


xiii. 12 



xiii. 20 




ii. 21-23 



iv. 17 . 



. 143 


i. 16-18 


- 69 


. 69 
. 68 

i. 1-3 . 
ii. 7 . . . 



iii. ii . . . 



iv. 2-3 


6 9>97 

iv. 21 . 


. 69 


. 50 





. 68 

iii. 2-3 


. 68 

iii. 12 . 



xiv. 6 . 




cop .2 

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History and the gospel; 

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51 776 020 

History and tke Gspel 

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JUl 231964 



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