Skip to main content

Full text of "New Chapters In New Testament Study"

See other formats














Copyright, 1937, by 

All rights reserved no part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes 
to quote brief passages in connection with a review 
written for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. 

Set up and printed. Published October, 1937. 
First Printing. 





A.B., University of Rochester, 1853, 

Graduate, Rochester Theological Seminary, 1856, 

D.D., University of Rochester, 1869- 


A,B., University of Rochester, 1863, 

Graduate, Rochester Theological Seminary, 1866, 

LL.D., University of Rochester, 1913. 


THIS volume constitutes the Ayer Lectures for 1937. 
The Ayer Lectureship was founded in May, 1928, in 
the Rochester Theological Seminary, by the gift of 
twenty-five thousand dollars from Mr. and Mrs. Wil- 
fred W. Fry, of Camden, New Jersey, to perpetuate 
the memory of Mrs, Fry's father, the late Mr. Francis 
Wayland Ayer. At the time of his death Mr. Ayer 
was president of the corporation which maintained 
the Rochester Theological Seminary. 

Shortly after the establishment of the Lectureship 
the Rochester Theological Seminary and the Colgate 
Theological Seminary were united under the name of 
the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. It is under the 
auspices of this institution that the Ayer Lectures are 

Under the terms of the Foundation the lectures are 
to fall within the broad field of the history or interpre- 
tation of the Christian religion and message. It is the 
desire of those connected with the establishment and 
administration of the Lectureship that the lectures shall 
be religiously constructive and shall help in the build- 
ing of Christian faith. 



Four lectures are to be given each year at the 
Colgate-Rochester Divinity School at Rochester, New 
York, and these lectures are to be published in book 
form within one year after the time ot their delivery. 
They will be known as the Ayer Lectures. 

Tlie lecturer for the year 193<S-37 was Professor 
Edgar J. Goodspeed. 


THE invitation of the Committee on the Ayer Lecture- 
ship of the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, I have 
welcomed as offering an opportunity to discuss some 
matters closely related to New Testament study which 
are not precisely within the scope of introductions, 
commentaries, or similar standard types of writing 
but are nevertheless of much importance to it. The 
variety in subject within the volume is thus explained. 
As some of these chapters may be read and referred 
to for their specific bearing I have sought to make each 
complete in itself, at the risk of some slight occasional 
repetition of facts essential to the matter immediately 
under discussion. Mr. Harold H, Hutson, Fellow in 
the New Testament department of the University of 
Chicago, has very kindly read the chapters through in 

My hereditary debt to Rochester was already great, 
but my obligation to the Divinity School has been in- 
creased by the generous hearing given the lectures 
delivered there in March, 1937 chapters II, III, IV 
and VI of this volume. 
















INDEX 221 




No ANALYSIS of New Testament literature is more 
fruitful than that made from the point of view of pub- 
lication. Were these writings intended for private use 
or to be published? This question at once organizes the 
literature in a most significant and illuminating way. 
For the writings of a private character naturally went 
unpublished until some later situation led to their pub- 
lication, while the others must have been published 
from their first appearance. 

The Letters of Paul were private communications, 
addressed to Paul's friends in the several Christian con- 
gregations he had formed or wished to communicate 
with. Written with no thought of publication, for a 
long time they went unpublished. A gospel like Mat- 
thew, on the other hand, was meant for somewhat gen- 
eral reading and must have been published at once, and 
circulated, first in the place of its origin and later in 
other Christian centers. 

There remains, however, a group of New Testament 
books which cannot be so summarily classified. Yet it is 



precisely for these that the distinction must be made and 
when made proves most fruitful. Everyone will agree 
that Mark, Luke- Acts, and John were not private com- 
munications, but books intended for publication. That 
publication may have been modest and limited at first, 
but it was unmistakably publication. But what of that 
epistolary literature which arose apparently in imitation 
of the Pauline letter type, Hebrews, I Peter, James, the 
Letters of John, Jude, II Perer, the Pastoral Letters, and 
the Revelation? Were these writings private, or were 
they written for publication and published forthwith? 
This matter, though little considered by writers upon 
these books or upon introduction, is indispensable to a 
full understanding of them and of their place and influ- 
ence in the development of early Christian literature. 

The matter is complicated and obscured in the public 
mind by the current confusion between publication and 
printing. If one speaks of the publication of a book, 
most people instinaively think of printing as publica- 
tion, and of course the ancients had not developed that 
art. But this does not at all mean that they were igno- 
rant of publication. They were familiar with pub- 
lishers, booksellers and libraries. Of course the mere 
fact of the existence of great ancient libraries proves 
the practice of publication. Tradition credits Pisistratus 
with having formed a great library in the Parthenon in 
Athens, but it was probably Aristotle who first devel- 
oped the reference library of which Ptolemy's library 


in Alexandria is the most famous example. In this 
latter, efforts were made to see that correct copies of 
classical Greek writers were reproduced and offered for 
sale, so that the librarians became textual critics, and 
copying establishments, or as we should say, publishing 
houses, were organized in connection with die library. 

Books to be offered for sale were not written in the 
running hand of business or personal correspondence, 
but in clear, stately letters, sometimes called uncial, 
from the fact that at Rome it became the custom to 
write an average of twelve letters to the line; the 
Romans, it will be remembered, were great duodecimal- 
ists, dividing the pound into twelve ounces, the foot 
into twelve inches; why not therefore the line into 
twelve uncials? The word in this sense is first met with 
in a well-known passage in Jerome. 1 

Whatever the origin of the term "uncial letters," there 
can be no doubt that there were regular "book hands" 
which were used only in copies offered for sale, or what 
we should call "books," properly speaking. The Greek 
papyri have brought us hundreds, even thousands, of 
examples of such books from Ptolemaic and Roman 
times. Any papyrologist running through a box of 
papyrus pieces offered him by an Egyptian dealer, in- 
stinctively culls out at a glance the book hands, for 
fragments written in such hands are sure to be literary 

1 "Uncialibus, ut vulgo aiunt, litteris," Preface to Job; cf. W. H. P. 
Hatch, "The Origin and Meaning of the Term Uncial," Classical Phi- 


pieces of classical, scriptural or later literary works. 
No one who has looked over a score of such pieces and 
compared them with ordinary everyday business hands 
can doubt for a moment that the former are the work 
of skilled scribal labor; they are parts of copies made in 
a publishing house to be offered for sale. 

Very rarely, it is true, a bit of literary text or part of 
one is found written in the cursive, running hand of 
business, but as compared with the vast majority of 
handsome book-hand copies of literary works, such 
pieces are insignificant, aggregating less than one per 
cent. Indeed, there is as much difference between 
ancient business cursive writing and ancient book hands 
as there is between modern handwriting and modern 

Papyrus fragments of Homer are more numerous 
than of any other writer, but Sir Frederic G. Kenyon re- 
ported in 1933 that P. L. Hedley had listed 157 frag- 
ments of the New Testament Greek text, and 174 of 
the Old, including some on vellum and ostraca/ Among 
the Oxyrhynchus papyri alone, we actually possess frag- 
ments of published copies of Homer, Sappho, Alcaeus, 
Pindar, Euripides, Menander, Callimachus, Plato, Xen- 
ophon, Chariton, Cercidas, Hellanicus, Pancrates, 
Hesiod, Bacchylides, Herodotus, Demosthenes, Isoc- 
rates, Sophocles, Satyrus, Apollonius Rhodius, Thucy- 

* Frederic G. Kenyon, Recent Developments in the Textual Criti- 
cism ojtb* Greek Bible (London, 1933), p. 32. 


dides, Babrius, Aristophanes, Philo, Hypereides, Lysias, 
Theocritus, Aeschines, Euclid, and Aristotle. 

In the presence of this roll of thirty Greek writers 
whose writings were found in book copies at one town 
of Upper Egypt, it is impossible to deny that publica- 
tion existed in the ancient Greek world and flourished 
in it. 

It is said that at die suggestion of Callimachus 
Ptolemy undertook to secure a monopoly of the pub- 
lishing business for Alexandria by forbidding the ex- 
port of papyrus from Egypt. Varro says that when 
Eumenes II, King of Pergamum, 197-159 B.C., planned 
to create a great library there, Ptolemy prohibited the 
exportation of papyrus and so the resourceful Perga- 
menes developed the preparation of skins for writing to 
such a point that parchment (pergamentum) was pro- 
duced.* There may be truth in these stories. But mod- 
ern discoveries of parchment manuscripts, dated as 
early as 190 and 195 B.C., have shown that the manu- 
facture of parchment was well advanced by the first 
years of Eumenes. Kenyon concludes that what Eu- 
menes did was to apply this material to literary pur- 

The ancient book form was of course the toll or 
scroll, apd the writing was often in rather narrow col- 
umns, like the columns of a modern newspaper. The 

Pliny, Nat. Hist., xiii, 11, 12; cf. Frederic G. Kenyon, Books 
and Readers hi Ancient Greece and Rome (1932), p. 88. 


regularity and beauty of the writing in these published 
books still commands the admiration of the book-lover. 
The ancient publisher gathered his scribes or copyists, 
perhaps twenty, thirty or forty of them, into a large 
room, seated them at desks or tables, and then as some- 
one slowly read the text to be copied, each man wrote 
down what he heard. As errors of the ear might creep 
into the text in this way, all copies were afterward gone 
over by a corrector, who set such matters right. 

The younger Pliny says in his first letter that his 
friend Sepricius had often urged him to collect and pub- 
lish his letters, colligerem publtcaremque. It may be 
taken as established that the ancients were as familiar 
with published books as we are, even though their books 
were mostly in the form of rolls, and were written, not 

Yet a seasoned New Testament scholar recently stated 
before one of our learned societies that it would take 
more than this remark of Pliny to satisfy him that the 
ancients practiced publication, so it is in order to set 
forth the evidence somewhat specifically: * 

1. There are the ancient libraries Athens, Alexan- 
dria, Pergamum, Ephesus, Smyrna, Rome, and so on. 
It is said that 29 public libraries were founded in Rome 
between the reign of Augustus and that of Hadrian. 
The library of Alexandria is said by Josephus, Antiqui- 

* Cf. also Kenyan, Books and Readers in Ancient Greece and Rome 
(Qxfori 1932). 


ties, 12:2, to have contained 200,000 books (meaning 
separate rolls). Seneca, De Tranquilitate Animi, 9, 
says it contained 400,000; Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, 
6:17, says it contained 700,000, a figure also given by 
Ammianus, 22:16. It was the policy of Augustus to es- 
tablish libraries widely throughout the empire. All this 
certainly implies the existence of booksj not amateur 
private copies but proper sales copies, produced by what 
may fairly be called publishers. 

2. There are, further, the hundreds of actual copies 
of such ancient books, of course fragmentary, written 
in hands that are unmistakably professional; such copies 
as not one modern Greek scholar in a thousand could 
equal for precision, regularity and beauty. These ancient 
papyrus pieces are from every generation from the third 
century before Christ to the fifth after Christ, and prove 
that there was a professional class of book copiers 
throughout those centuries who wrote Greek manu- 
script copies of classical and other authors for sale. 
Ambrose hired such scribes to copy the writings of 
Origen B and Constantine mentions them.* 

3. There is the case of Atticus, the friend of Gcero, 
who engaged in the publishing business. Atticus was a 
large employer of professional scribes and prided him- 
self upon the accuracy of his editions. Cicero wrote to 
him, "You have done so well with my oration for Li- 

B Eusebius, Church History, 6:23:2. 
* Eusdblus, Hfe of Constantine, 4:36. 


garius that I propose hereafter to put the sale of any- 
thing I write in your hands." T Interesting items about 
corrections and new editions are found in Gcero's 
letters to him. 

4. There were the Sosii, brothers who were famous 
publishers and booksellers in Rome in the time of 
Horace.* Their shop in Rome was in the Vicus Tuscus, 
near the entrance to the Temple of Janus.* 

5. There is the remark of Pliny the Younger, 10 that 
his friend Septicius had often urged him to collect and 
publish his letters. 

6. There are the references in Martial, for instance, 
to booksellers and publishers, and to publishing. Mar- 
tial mentions four booksellers in Rome who handled 
his books, and some of these, perhaps all of them, were 
also publishers of them. They are Atrectus, Tryphoij, 
Secundus, and Valerianus. 

"All the light verse I penned once as a youth and 
boy, and my worthless efforts which not even I myself 
now recognize these . . . reader, you can get from 
Pollius Quintus Valerianus. It is through him my trifles 
are not allowed to perish." X1 

f Tet that you may not fail to know where I am for 
sale, or wander aimlessly all over the town, if you ac- 
cept my guidance, you will be sure. Seek out Secundus, 
the freedman of learned Lucensis, behind the entrance 

T M Atticam, 13:12:2. 10 Letters 1:1. 

* Ep. 1:20:2, Ars Poetic* 345. al Epigt. 1:113, 

*Ep. 1:19: 19. 


to the Temple of Peace, and the Forum of Pal- 
las/' " 

To Lupercus who annoys him by borrowing his writ- 
ings from him, Martial says: 

"There is a shop opposite Caesar's Forum with its 
door-posts from top to bottom bearing advertisements, 
so that you can in a moment read through the list of 
poets. Look for me in that quarter. No need to ask 
Atrectus (that is the name of the shopkeeper) ; out of 
the first or second pigeonhole he will offer you Martial, 
smoothed with pumice and smart with purple, for five 
denarii." " 

"You press me to give you my books, Quintus. I 
haven't any, but bookseller Tryphon has/' a * 

"The whole collection of Mottoes in this slender 
little volume will cost you to buy four sesterces. Is four 
too much? It can cost you two, and the bookseller Try- 
phon would make his profit/' 15 

Martial speaks frequently about publication: 

"So much for your bidding me publish my poems!" 16 

"Because scarcely one book of mine is published in a 
whole year, I am by you, learned Potitus, accused of 
laziness." 1T 

"Although you don't publish your own, you carp at 
my poems, Laelius. Either do not carp at mine or pub- 
lish your own/' 18 

11 1:2. 1 13:3. ir 10:70. 

11 1:117. "2:6. "1:91. 

14 4:72. 


"Although you possess bookcases crammed with 
books arduously compiled, why, Sosibianus, do you 
send forth nothing?" "My heirs," you say, "will pub- 
lish my lays." " 

7. It is apparent to any student of Greek civilization 
that its background was acquaintance with certain 
works of literature, especially Homer and Plato. This 
acquaintance could not have been effected in casual 
ways or by laborious private copying of their writings 
by interested individuals who might want copies. It 
was effected by the publication and sale of their books, 
just as it is today. 

8. The use of Homer in education shows the same 
thing. A boy at school in Egypt in the second or third 
century is reported to his mother as reading "the sixth" 
(book of the Iliad).* No one supposes that the boy 
or his teacher had to travel to Alexandria and painfully 
copy the text of Homer for his study; of course they 
simply bought a copy from a local bookseller. 

9. In the latter years of, the republic, we are told, 
every large Roman house included a library among its 
rooms. The excavations at Herculaneum revealed such 
a library in the house of an Epicurean philosopher, with 
the charred remains of his books, the famous Hercu- 
lanean Rolls. 

10. The Acts declares" that magical books, of 
course rolls the Greek word means papyri worth 
$10,000 (50,000 pieces of silver) were burned at one 

" 4:32. ao Oxyrbynckus Papyri, 930. 19:19. 


time in Ephesus; several thousand books must have been 
destroyed on this occasion, and this gives us some faint 
idea o the number of them in existence, and the pub- 
lishing activity employed upon this magical literature 
alone. The f act that Luke estimates their money value 
shows that these were not mere private scrawls but 
regular books that had been bought from such shops as 
Luke's contemporary Martial describes. 

11. The extent to which Christians of the early third 
century made use of publication is clearly shown by 
what Eusebius has to say of Ambrose and his useful- 
ness to Origen." 

"At that time Origen began his commentaries on the 
divine scriptures, being urged thereto by Ambrose, who 
employed innumerable incentives, not only exhorting 
him by word but also furnishing abundant means. For 
he dictated to more than seven amanuenses who re- 
lieved each other at appointed times. And he employed 
no fewer copyists, besides girls who were skilled in ele- 
gant writing. For all these Ambrose furnished the nec- 
essary expense in abundance. . . ." 

It will be seen from this that Ambrose not only sup- 
plied Origen with stenographers (for the Greeks prac- 
ticed shorthand) but with scribes enough to make sale- 
copies of his works; Ambrose's interest in inducing 
Origen to write his commentaries was that they might 
be not simply preserved but published. 

12. When Constantine's acceptance of Christianity 

11 Church History, 6:23:1, 2. 


opened the way for it in the ancient world the publica- 
tion of Christian books was carried on with renewed 
energy, Eusebius in his Life of Constantine quotes the 
emperor's instructions ordering that fifty copies of the 
Bible should be written for use in the churches, "on 
prepared parchment, in a legible manner and in a con- 
venient portable form, by professional transcribers thor- 
oughly practiced in their art." Eusebius goes on to say 
that the copies were immediately written and sent to 
the emperor in magnificent volumes elaborately bound. 
These were evidently meant to be placed on church lec- 
terns for use in public worship." In them the publica- 
tion work of the ancient church may be said to reach a 
climax, but it was the climax of an activity that had 
been practised almost from the beginning, certainly 
from the time of the fall of Jerusalem, and the writing 
of the Gospel of Mark. 

No historical f act is better established than that book- 
publication was widely practiced in the Graeco-Roman 
world, in the first, second, and third centuries after 
Christ. It was a familiar fact of common life. Recent 
discoveries have shown that the early Christians in the 
first and second centuries were fully abreast of their 
contemporaries in the matter of publication. 

The books of the New Testament were written at the 
very time when the ancient world was beginning to pass 
from the old roll-form of book to the newly developed 

" Life of Constantine, 4:36, 37. 


leaf -book or codex. Our first glimpse of the transition 
is in a Priene inscription dated early in the first century 
before Christ, where the city praises one of its officials 
for having its records written on parchment as well as 
on papyrus, and Schubart is inclined to think the parch- 
ments were in leaf -book form. He has further pointed 
out that when the body of Publius Clodius was burned 
in the Curia in B.C. 52, the pyre was built of tables and 
chairs, and booksellers' codices (codices librariorum) , 
showing that leaf -books already played a familiar part 
i in publication. 14 

As recently as 1907 Professor Gregory, who had an 
immense acquaintance with manuscripts, thought the 
transition from rolls to leaf-books took place about the 
end of the third century, ca. 300." But he added with 
his characteristic open-mindedness, "A new papyrus 
may tomorrow show that the change came earlier." 
The new papyri have indeed come, and shown that the 
change came a century and a half earlier. Not that 
rolls were not still written, even for Christian texts, but 
that the transition to leaf -books had definitely begun, 
especially for Christian texts, before the middle of the 
second century. 

In his recent book, The Story of the Bible, Sir Fred- 
eric G. Kenyon has remarked that the Chester Beatty 
papyri have shown that the papyrus leaf-book intervened 

f * Das Bucb bet den Griecben und Corner, 1907, p. 104. 
10 Canon and Text 0} the New testament, p. 322. 


between the papyrus roll and the parchment codex. But 
Martial's reference to the publication o his Epigrams 
in small parchment codices, as well as rolls, shows that 
to some extent at least the parchment leaf-book and the 
papyrus one began together: 

t You who wish my poems should be everywhere with 
you, and look to have them as companions on a long 
journey, buy these which the parchment (membrana) 
confines in small pages. Assign your book-boxes to the 
great; this copy of me one hand can grasp." aa 

Martial published his first book of epigrams in AJX 
84 or 85, so that the leaf-book seems to have been 
known in Rome by that time. But few specimens of 
Greek or Latin literary texts in that form have come 
to light from the early centuries. The Rylands Odyssey 
is a parchment codex of the third or fourth century, 
and in the same library there is a leaf of a third century 
papyrus codex of the Iliad.* 7 But Martial's playful epi- 
gram shows that by AJX 85 small parchment codices 
at least were already in use in Rome for literary pur- 

Early Christians are usually thought of as apocalyptic 
visionaries with little interest or capacity for die practi- 
cal affairs of life. Yet it is a surprising fact that among 
them the newly invented codex or leaf-book seems to 
have met its warmest reception. They had of course a 
huge religious literature to circulate. They accepted the 

10 Epigr. 1:2. * Xylands Papyri, nos. 53, 50. 


Jewish scriptures almost from the first as their Bible. 
This attitude becomes explicit in II Tim. 3:16: "All 
scripture is divinely inspired and useful in teaching." 
It came to them in the Greek Septuagint version, which 
increased its amount by about one-fourth. Christian 
writings too were rapidly taking on a similar sanctity, 
and soon added another fourth to the size of the early 
Christian's Bible. In the ancient scroll or roll-form of 
book, this whole mass of writings would have required 
very nearly forty papyrus rolls of ordinary length to ac- 
commodate it. The oldest manuscript we possess of 
Deuteronomy is a part of a roll from the second cen- 
tury before Christ. Such rolls were called in Greek 
"biblia" "papyrus rolls" and the word came to be 
used to designate those papyrus rolls which contained 
the Old Testament. 

But before the end of the first century a new form of 
book was being developed in the Graeco-Roman world. 
It was the codex, or leaf-book. It was twice as capa- 
cious as the roll, for it made use of both sides of the 
papyrus. It was more convenient to use and consult, 
and was not nearly so liable to accident, breakage, and 
mutilation. The first extant examples of it are Chris- 
tian writings, and these copies go back almost to the 
time of Martial, who lived until ca. A.D. 103. 

In his latest work, The Text of the Greek Bible (Lon- 
don, 1937), Sir Frederic G. Kenyon says, p. 18: 

"It seems that this [die codex form, in papyrus] if 


not actually the invention of the Christian community, 
was at any rate mainly employed by them, for whereas 
the roll continues in practically universal use for works 
of pagan literature all through the second and third cen- 
turies, the majority of Christian works are in codex 
form. The earliest examples known can be assigned 
with some confidence to the first half of the second cen- 
tury, and there are quite a number from the third, so 
that we are justified in concluding that it was a form in 
normal use." 

The oldest is the Rylands Library fragment of the 
Gospel of John, which is older than A.D. 150 and may 
be from the reign of Hadrian, as Deissmann thinks*. 
That the Gospel of John in codex form of such antiquity 
should appear in Upper Egypt is amazing. But it does 
not stand alone. The British Museum gospel fragment 
is also a part of a leaf -book, and the manuscript is as- 
signed to the middle of the second century. That curi- 
ous work is manifestly based on the four gospels, but it 
is not itself a part of Christian scripture. Still, it illus- 
trates just as truly the practical use Christians were 
making of the new leaf-book form. These are the oldest 
examples of leaf-books that have been reported, and 
both are Christian texts. 

The next is perhaps the Chester Beatty-Michigan 
codex of Paul, 86 leaves (172 pages) of which have 
been found. While Kenyon and Sanders date it about 
A.D, 250, Wilcken and Gerstinger put its date at about 


A.D. 200. That is also the approximate date o the 
famous manuscript of the Sayings of Jesus found at 

The Chester Beatty codex of the Gospels and Acts is 
referred to the first half of the third century, and the 
Chester Beatty Revelation to the latter half of the same 
century. The Michigan Hermas, a leaf -book in a single 
quire, was written probably about the middle of that 

Of Old Testament manuscripts the Chester Beatty 
Numbers and Deuteronomy (portions of 55 leaves) is 
assigned to the second century. There is no reason to 
suppose it is a Jewish and not a Christian copy, as the 
Jews were very conservative in the forms in which they 
preserved their scriptures, and were already relinquish- 
ing the Septuagint version to the Christians and making 
other versions, like those of Aquila and Theodotion, 
for their own use. With it may be classed the Baden 
Exodus-Deuteronomy papyrus, also a leaf -book form 
from the second century. 

Altogether it is plain that the Christians of the sec- 
ond and third centuries seized upon the leaf -book form 
as especially adapted to their purpose of publishing as 
widely as possible their extensive library of scripture. In 
fact they seem to have led the way in the adoption of 
the codex form in place of the old conventional roll 
form. We cannot match this array of New and Old 
Testament leaiE-books from the second and third cen- 


turies with an equal showing of such books of classical 

Sir Frederic G. Kenyon has compared the Christian 
and pagan use of rolls and codices in the Oxyrhynchus 
papyri published up to 1926. Of 106 manuscripts of 
pagan literature from the third century, 100 were rolls 
and 6 codices. Of 17 Christian manuscripts of the same 
century, 7 were rolls and 10 codices. Sir Frederic very 
kindly informs me by letter (May 15, 1937), that he 
considers it safe to say that in the third century "Chris- 
tian texts are predominantly in codex form, and that 
the few that can be assigned to the second are all 

"If I am not mistaken," says Dr. H. I. Bell/* "every 
second-century Christian manuscript yet found ... is 
a codex; and the fact is the more remarkable because 
second-century papyri of pagan literature are almost, per- 
haps entirely, without exception in roll form. It looks 
as if Christians were the most potent influence in the sub- 
stitution, eventually in the case of all books, of the codex, 
whether vellum or papyrus, for the roll." " 

The earliest Christian codices, though fragmentary, 
show that Christians had begun to employ that form al- 
most as soon as it appeared, early in the second cen- 

* 8 Recent Discoveries of Biblical Papyri, 1937, p. 24. 

I am indebted to my colleague Professor B. L. Ullman, author of 
Ancient Writing and Its Influence (New York, 1932), for directing me 
to Dr. Bell's inaugural address. Professor Ullman agrees that New 
Testament codices preponderate over classical ones in the early period. 


tury, for the Rylands Library John and the British 
Museum gospel are not later than A.D. 150. This is a 
striking illustration not only o the early adoption of 
publication by second century Christianity but of the 
newest and most practical forms of publication the 
new-fashioned codex. It has long been recognized by 
authorities like Maunde Thompson that Christianity 
made great use of the codex in the fourth century, but 
it is only the developments of the last three years that 
have shown us at how early a date they adopted the 
improved book form. They were enterprising men who 
carried the gospel so swiftly over the Greek world and 
employed the latest improvements in book forms to 

These latest discoveries in early Christian literature 
have shown us more than the texts they comprise. The 
form in which those texts were presented is quite as 
eloquent. For the Christians who so readily adopted 
and applied the new codex form in their religious work 
were evidently no strangers to publication. The devel- 
opment of the book form found them already well em- 
barked upon book publication. Only ten or twenty years 
before they had collected and put in circulation the four 
gospels, and some years before that, the letters of Paul. 
These collections were unquestionably made for pub- 
lication, and can be understood only in the light of a 
Christian leadership very much alive to the possibilities 
of publication for Christian missionary and educational 


work. That the Christian leaders at the beginning of 
the second century were alive to them is shown by these 
earliest Christian codices. These show that they were 
already alert, resourceful and progressive, ready to 
take full advantage of improved methods of publica- 

If we now consider the character of the Revelation of 
John, in the light of these facts, it becomes clear that it 
was written not simply to the seven churches nor even 
to all the members of those churches but to the wider 
Christian public of the province of Asia. One of the 
churches addressed was located in Pergamum, where 
parchment was virtually invented, and books were com- 
mon. Ephesus itself had its great library. In the neigh- 
boring city of Priene, a few miles south of Ephesus, 
parchment and papyrus had been used two centuries 
before for public records. 

It is moreover an interesting fact that the prophet 
especially condemns any alteration of his work, 80 He is 
well aware that it will be copied and wishes it to be un- 
altered. No one must add anything to his words or 
take anything from them. 

That the Revelation was published is shown by the 
response made to it in I Peter, which is addressed to the 
Christians of the five great provinces of Asia Minor, 
over which it is assumed the Revelation had gone. Cer- 
tainly I Peter is meant for publication, for how else 

1 22:18, 19. 


could it be delivered to the Christians scattered over 
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia? 

The Pastoral letters, designed to affect Christian prac- 
tice "everywhere," " must have been published as a 
supplement to a new edition of Paul's Letters. The 
Chester Beatty copy of them was written probably about 
fifty years after the composition of the Pastorals. In 
short the Christian literature of the second century was 
in general written for publication, and published as 
soon as written. This is a fact of very positive signifi- 
cance for the understanding of its origin and of its 
influence. Indeed, the Pastoral letters have given us a 
hint of the new era in publication in which they arose, 
in the injunction, "When you come, bring . . . the 
books (biblia) and especially the parchments" (mem- 
branas) ." 

81 1 Tim. 2:8. * f II Tim. 4: 13. 



EPHESUS has been called the second fulcrum of Chris- 
tianity after Antiodi. Antioch had been the cradle of 
the movement. It was there that it began to address 
itself directly to Greeks, among whom its future was 
so largely to lie. It was there it seems that its adherents 
began to be called Christians, and that the movement 
itself was first called Christianity, for Cbristianismos 
meets us first in letters of Ignatius of Antioch Mag- 
nesians, Romans, Philadelphia^. Certainly the Greek 
mission had its first conscious beginnings in Antioch. 

It seems to have been in Antioch that the Gospel of 
Matthew was written. The same strong emphasis upon 
Christian behavior and conduct marks the teaching of 
the Twelve Apostles, the Epistle of James and the 
Epistle of Barnabas, all probably products of Antioch. 

But Antioch was at arm's length from the center of 
the Greek world. It was on the periphery. Ephesus was 
at the center; one of those old Ionian cities of im- 
memorial antiquity, facing the ^Egean, opposite Athens, 
and busy with commerce by land and sea. 



It must not be forgotten that those old Ionian cities 
had their literary past. Miletus had been the home of 
the natural philosophers, Thales, Anaximander and An- 
aximenes. Over against them stood, ca. 500 B.C., some 
.thirty miles north of Miletus, Hesaclitus of Ephesus, the 
pessimistic genius, who saw in life nothing but change; 
you could not step twice into the same river, for other 
waters would be flowing about your feet. He has been 
called the first Greek writer to express his personality 
in his prose style. 

At Miletus again arose in his time Hecataeus the 
logographer, that independent soul: "Hecataeus of 
Miletus thus speaks: I write as I think true." And then 
a little later, forty miles further south, at Halicarnassus, 
Herodotus, the father of history. All this was of course 
long past, if not forgotten, in Ephesus and Asia, in the 
first century, but there was a rich literary soil there, as 
well as a rich religious one. 

Into these old seats of Greek life and thought came 
the new religious movement heralded by Paul and 
Apollos, and there it developed one of its most signifi- 
cant phases. It was almost as though the first Christian 
Publication Society arose in Ephesus. But of course it 
had no organized existence. There must have been 
something in the atmosphere of Ephesus, or in the per- 
sonalities that most influenced the Christian groups 
there, that made Ephesus so conspicuously important 
not only in the writing of Christian literature letters, 


gospels, epistles, apocalypses but in the promotion and 
circulation o Christian writings. Ephesian Christianity 
seems almost from the first to have had a unique sense 
of the value of the written word for Christian life, and 
a very practical and competent concern for the use of 
Christian writings, that makes us think of Erasmus and 
the Revival of Learning, or even of our own day. It is 
a curious f act only just emerging out of the past that it 
was Christian needs and genius that seized upon the 
codex or leaf-book form early in the second century and 
applied it to Christian uses; the earliest papyrus leaf- 
books are Christian books. We must not therefore 
think of these Christian founders as visionary, imprac- 
tical men; some of them were certainly the very oppo- 
site. We may well remember that it was in Pergamum, 
eighty miles north of Ephesus, that parchment was first 
perfected as a writing material, in the second century 
before Christ, and it was in Priene, twenty miles south 
of Ephesus, that we first learn of its use along with 
papyrus for the city records. 

It is a familiar fact that I Corinthians was written in 
Ephesus, and probably the letter to Corinth that had 
preceded it as well as that harsh regretted letter that 
followed. Of Paul's four letters to Corinth, three were 
composed in Ephesus. But we have an earlier glimpse 
of Ephesus than this. For even before Paul began his 
long ministry there, Pristilla and Aquila were settled at 
Ephesus and met Apollos when he came there. They 


continued his Christian education and when he went on 
to Corinth gave him a letter o introduction to the 
Christians of Corinth. 1 

Our next glimpse of Ephesus in the New Testament 
is in the last chapter of Romans, That much debated 
passage, introducing Phoebe of Cenchreae to a score of 
Paul's old friends, seems definitely detached from Ro- 
mans by the Ann Arbor manuscript which places the 
great doxology at the end of Chapter 15, thus removing 
the last obstacle to the view that Chapter 16 is a sepa- 
rate letter, addressed to some other group, probably the 
church at Ephesus. For the people we know in the* 
group were last at Ephesus Aquila, Prisca, Epaenetus 
and where else would Paul have so many friends to 
greet as in the church where according to the Acts he 
had just spent more than two years? Where else would 
he know so well their church and household groupings? 
Where else would he have so many gladly acknowl- 
edged obligations for personal help and religious co- 
operation? Where else would Phoebe be so likely to be 
going from Cenchreae, the port on the ^gean side of 
Corinth, and so right opposite the port of Ephesus? 

If these considerations prevail, we are at the outset 
personally introduced by Paul to no less than twenty- 
four leading figures in the Ephesian church by name, 
beside Rufus' mothet and Nereus' sister. And what 
could be more natural if Phoebe is just crossing to the 

1 Acts 18:27. 


city which Paul has so lately left? The very slight 
amount of instruction contained in the note is also 
readily understood if Paul has spent the last two years 
preaching and talking to these very people; he can only 
urge them not to be drawn away from the instruction 
they have been given. 1 Paul has just skirted the ^Bgean, 
and can say to them after visiting the churches on its 
shores, "Everyone has heard of your obedience." * All 
in all, we have a very delightful and extremely personal 
picture of the Ephesian church in Paul's letter of intro- 
duction for Phoebe of Cenchreae. In those days Chris- 
tian men or women visiting a strange and wicked city 
and Ephesus with its sensual Artemis cult was notori- 
ously that needed introductions to decent Christian 
people who would take them in and entertain them. 
Paul's many personal messages in this letter have been 
much discussed, but of course in effect he was introduc- 
ing Phoebe to every one of these people, to their homes 
and their good offices, and so he must have smoothed 
the way immensely for her in Ephesus, whatever her 
errand there may have been. This practical aspect of all 
these salutations is sometimes overlooked in dealing 
with this little epistole systatike letter of introduction 
of which there are so many in the papyri. Ill John is 
such a letter, introducing Demetrius to Gaius, and such 
a letter was written as we have seen by the Ephesian 
Christians for Apollos when he left Ephesus for Cor- 
* Vs. 17. Vs. 19. 


inth.* "As he wanted to cross to Greece, the brothers 
wrote to the disciples there, urging them to welcome 
him/' Ephesus there introduced Apollos to Corinth; 
Corinth here introduces Phoebe to Ephesus. 

The place of origin of Luke-Acts is a matter of much 
debate among scholars, but I cannot doubt that it was 
written in Ephesus, which would mean that its writer 
was at the time at any rate an Ephesian and was writing 
primarily for Ephesian readers. Consider first, the 
amount of space devoted in his second volume, the 
Acts, to Ephesus. Luke gives Ephesus more space than 
any other Greek church receives, and further, Paul's 
only extended farewell to any of his churches is die one 
to the elders of Ephesus. 5 This would be a strange pro- 
ceeding in a work written in Rome or Corinth. 

But if Luke-Acts is written in Ephesus, soon after 
A,D. 90, with that one work one-fourth of the whole 
New Testament came into being there. Luke-Acts is the 
most spacious, broadly conceived book in it in two 
volumes, with a preface, dedication, and statement of 
purpose; magnificent in its grasp and sweep, swift in its 
movement, and immensely rich and varied in striking 
scenes and dramatic situations. Such a book could 
hardly arise except in a city or a circle with some liter- 
ary understanding and appreciation, where there was 
an atmosphere favorable to the literary expression of 

4 Acts 18:27. Acts 20:17-38. 


It is a very striking fact that in spite of Luke's great 
interest in Paul, he shows no acquaintance with Paul's 
letters, or any of them. This ignorance of Paul's letters 
on the part of Mark in Rome, Matthew in Antioch, and 
Luke in Ephesus, can only mean that they had not been 
collected and published when the first gospels and Luke- 
Acts were written. But immediately after, the Revela- 
tion of John, another work of the Ephesian circle, is so 
much influenced by them that its portal is formed by a 
very artificial corpus of letters to seven churches, 
prefaced by a general letter to all seven and manifestly 
patterned on the Pauline corpus with its letters to seven 
churches probably prefaced by a general letter, known 
to us as Ephesians. I Clement a little later shows the 
influence of Pauline letters as does I Peter. But the 
most commanding testimony is that of Ephesians itself, 
which though not written by Paul, is one of the first 
letters reflected in Christian literature, being used in 
I Clement, as Lightfoot long ago perceived. It shows 
the influence of every one of the nine genuine Pauline 
letters and must have been written in the presence of 
them all. I must not here repeat that argument, which 
seems to me to establish the existence of a collection 
of nine genuine Pauline letters soon after A.D, 90, and 
the composition of Ephesians as an encyclical introduc- 
tion to die collection, to introduce it to wider circles of 
Christians/ This is why Ephesians reads so much like 

Edgar J. Goodspeed, The Meaning of Epbesias (Chicago, 1933), 
pp. 82-165. 


a summary of Pauline doctrine, an overture to the larger 
Pauline literature, while at the same time it dwells on 
the supreme worth of Christianity, just then in danger 
of being undervalued, as Hebrews and the Revelation 
show. And if Luke- Acts had just awakened Christians 
to the world-wide character of their fellowship, what 
more natural than for Ephesians to set up the doctrine 
of one universal spiritual church, especially in opposi- 
tion to the rising sects? 

But what evidence have we as to the place of origin 
of this great corpus of Paul's letters, which was des- 
tined to have such influence in after rimes? In the first 
place, the kernel of it seems to have been Colossians- 
Philemon (Laodiceans) . For the writer of Ephesians, 
while he knows all the nine letters, knowris Colossians 
best, and uses most of its materials. This points to an 
Asian origin, certainly for Ephesians, and if it is written 
with knowledge of all the nine letters, to an Asian 
origin for the whole collection; that is, it was probably 
made in Asia. Of course, taken by itself it would sug- 
gest a Colossian origin for it. But Colossians and 
Philemon, supposing it to be the letter from Laodicea 
mentioned in Col. 4:16, would naturally be preserved 
together, since Paul himself had there directed each 
church to provide itself with the other letter. An Asian 
possessed of Colossians would naturally have Philemon 
also. Now it is a curious fact that anyone possessed of 
these two letters and in them the germ and suggestion 
of a collection o Paul's letters, might be guided to the 


others in the corpus by the information contained in the 
Acts. Moreover the striking picture of Paul and his sig- 
nificance for Greek Christianity which Acts gives, would 
bring Paul's memory forward very impressively, though 
he had been dead for thirty years. 

It is natural to think that it was the revival of interest 
in Paul that Acts would occasion, that led someone 
already possessed of Colossians-Philemon to undertake 
to find other letters of Paul, among the churches men- 
tioned in the Acts. This again points to Asia, if as we 
have reason to believe Luke-Acts was written in 

At Ephesus too, would naturally survive that little 
letter of introduction Paul had written for Phoebe of 
Cenchreae.* It would hardly do to stand alone under 
the name of Ephesus, beside the great letters to Rome 
and Corinth, and yet it could not be neglected It would 
naturally be added to some larger item in the collection, 
to preserve and circulate it. 

Certainly it is at Ephesus that the new collection is 
first reflected, in the impressive use made of it in the 
whole facade of the Revelation of John, a book admit- 
tedly from the Ephesian circle. It reflects as in a mirror, 
the whole literary novelty; a corpus, of letters, to 
churches, seven in number. The Pauline corpus has al- 
ways contained letters to seven churches, though they 
are not always the same seven. Moreover, the letter 

T Rom. 16. 


corpus in the Revelation is preceded by a general letter 
to all seven of the churches, just as the Pauline corpus 
was probably originally preceded by the encyclical 
known to us as Ephesians. 

It is tempting to reflect, as Dr. John Knox has done, 
in his Philemon Among the Letters of Paul (Chicago, 
1935) , on the possibility that it was that very Onesimus 
on whose behalf Paul had so courageously interfered in 
Philemon, who carried Colossians and Laodiceans (or 
Philemon) to Ephesus and later under the influence of 
the Acts made them the basis of the collection. Cer- 
tainly what Paul really wanted of Philemon was to have 
him send Onesimus back to him to help him in his 
work, and this Philemon may have done. It is a curious, 
fact that the bishop of Ephesus, of whom Ignatius says 
so much in his letter to the Ephesians, Chapters 1-6, is 
named Onesimus and that Ignatius plays upon this fact 
in writing to them, Paul's young friend would not be 
too old, as Lightf oot once thought, to be identified with 
this bishop, and Ignatius certainly speaks as though he 
were the same man. If so, and of course it is only a 
4 conjecture, he may very well have been die man who 
brought Colossians and Laodiceans to Ephesus. He is 
the likeliest man in Asia to have preserved them. These 
letters that had won bfrn his freedom and his life work 
would have meant everything to him, and made him 
ready to respond to the suggestion Acts would bring 
him that among the otter churches of Paul other letters 


of his might remain. I have been tempted to suggest 
that Onesimus may even have been the author of Ephe- 
sians, though of course it must always remain a con- 
jecture. Yet I am encouraged in it by the remark of 
Professor Burton Scott Easton that he has always felt 
that the writer of Ephesians must have had some direct 
personal contact with Paul.* 

We have seen that the first New Testament pieces to 
emanate from Christian Ephesus were Paul's second and 
third letters to Corinth, known to us as I Corinthians 
and II Corinthians 10-13. In fact the first three of 
Paul's four known letters to Corinth were in all prob- 
ability written in Ephesus. Our next glimpse of Ephesus 
is in Romans 16, the letter introducing Phoebe of Cen- 
chreae to Paul's Ephesian friends. Our third is Luke- 
Acts, and our fourth the Pauline corpus. Our fifth is 
the great encyclical based upon it and written to intro- 
duce it, Ephesians. 

The sixth is the Revelation of John, the work of the 
prophet of Ephesus, in exile on the Island of Patmos, 
off the Ionian coast. Its magnificent message of unfal- 
tering faith in persecution is marred by the bitterness it 
manifests against the persecuting empire. "Gloat over 
her, heaven! and all you people of God." Ephesus was 
in danger of forgetting to love her enemies. 

To this situation, with this unchristian attitude spread 
among the seven leading churches of the Roman prov- 

f Anglican Theological Review, xvi (1934), p. 30. 


ince of Asia, Rome replies with the nobly Christian 
message of I Peter, pointing a better way: "Love the 
brotherhood, be reverent to God, respect the emperor." 
The Revelation was the work of John, a Christian 
prophet, speaking on behalf of Christ himself. No 
wonder Rome in correcting John claims to be spokes- 
man for Peter, the chief of the apostles. The letter is 
addressed to the Christians scattered over the five great 
provinces of Asia Minor, but we cannot doubt that Asia 
is the province chiefly before the writer's eye; indeed 
the whole comprehensive address may be no more than 
a not too pointed way of correcting Ephesus on a mat- 
ter of vital importance, the Christian's attitude toward 
the Roman empire. 

We are crediting Ephesus with great significance in 
those crucial times, but a strange circumstance early in 
the second century seems to clothe it with strong prob- 
ability. It is the familiar story of Ignatius of Antioch, 
brought near there by his Roman guards who were tak- 
ing hi to Rome to suffer martyrdom in the Colosseum. 
He did not see Ephesus; his guards brought him first to 
Smyrna, some thirty-five miles north, where the bishop 
Polycarp did what he could for him, and representatives 
of the neighboring Christian churches came to greet the 
confessor on his way to death. From Smyrna he was 
soon taken on to Troas, where he disappears from our 

But at Smyrna he wrote three letters to the churches 


that had sent bishops or others to greet him, and one to 
Rome, and from Troas he wrote three others, two to 
churches and one to Polycarp at Smyrna. These seven 
letters are all we have from Ignatius. And is it not 
strange that he had written nothing before, while at 
peace in Antioch, and wrote nothing after on his further 
journey to Rome? From the great deep to the great 
deep he goes. It seems as though he came out of dark- 
ness suddenly into a white light in Asia, which he left 
just as suddenly when he left the shores of Asia behind. 
Why was Ignatius' literary activity confined to the few 
days, not over two or three weeks, he spent in the 
vicinity of Smyrna and Ephesus? 

It cannot be doubted that he was moved to write by 
the Asian Christians who visited him, principally by 
Onesimus and Polycarp. We are confirmed in this im- 
pression by the f act that Polycarp himself immediately 
collected the letters and began to circulate them, our 
only piece from his own hand being his letter to the 
Philippians when he was sending Ignatius' letters on to 
them. There was evidently in the cirde of Ephesus at 
that time a sense of the value of the written word that 
led them to demand of Ignatius these letters against 
docetism and for Christian unity, and then seized upon 
them and circulated them. It would even seem that 
Polycarp secured a copy of the letter to the Romans 
written while Ignatius was in Smyrna, for that letter 
seems to have formed part of the original collection, 


not to have had an independent history.* Even if Igna- 
tius wrote without Asian suggestion, it was certainly 
Asian Christianity that called forth his letters and Asian 
Christianity that collected and circulated them. That is, 
if any collecting was necessary. It is not at all impos- 
sible that Polycarp saw to it that copies were kept for 
him of the letters written in Smyrna; he probably had 
charge of the sending of them. Of the three written at 
Troas, two would come to him anyway, the one ad- 
dressed to him and the one addressed to his church at 
Smyrna. Of the third, Philadelphians, he would prob- 
ably secure a copy when it was sent from Troas; if not, 
he could easily get one from Philadelphia, which was 
only seventy miles east of Smyrna. The keen practical 
interest Polycarp took in the matter is shown by his 
own letter to the Philippians when he sent them copies 
of the Ignatian letters: "We send you as you asked the 
letters of Ignatius which were sent to us by him, and 
others which we had in our possession. They are ap- 
pended to this letter." 10 The active cooperation of the 
churchmen of Smyrna and Troas is unmistakable in all 
this, for how else could a prisoner guarded by ten un- 
friendly Roman soldiers have accomplished the writing 
and despatching of these letters? The concern of Poly- 
carp of Smyrna in this whole literary project cannot be 
questioned. His letter attests it, and itself forms an 

9 Anglican Theological Review, jdl (1930), pp. 208-210. 

10 Pol. Phil. 13:2. 


additional item in the Christian library which it is now 
evident church leaders in Asia were writing, assembling 
and circulating. We note that the Ignatian corpus was 
the third such collection Ephesus had produced. 

The passage of Ignatius through Asia is set by Euse- 
bius in A.D. 107, but modern scholars incline to put it 
somewhat later; 107 to 117 will certainly cover the 
time of it. In those very days the Christians of Ephesus 
were doing their supreme literary service to their reli- 
gion; they were writing the Gospel of John. We must 
not pause to consider all that entered into the creation 
of that great work. It is enough to say that the writer 
of John was thoroughly at home in the Pauline litera- 
ture; his is the one canonical gospel that shows the in- 
fluence of Paul's writings. Dr. L. V. Moore's study " 
shows dear traces of the use of eight letters of Paul in 
the Gospel of John all but Philemon, and one might 
detect a trace of Philemon in the words, "I do not call 
you slaves any longer . . . but friends," so reminiscent 
of Paul's words in Philemon, "That you might have 
him back forever, not as a slave any longer, but more 
than a slave, a dear brother." 1 * 

The marked literary interest and activity of Asian 
Christianity centering about Ephesus will help us to 
understand how such a gospel as John arose there, in 
an effort to restate Christian thought in terms that 

11 The Use of Gospel Material in Early Christian Literature, an un- 
published dissertation. 

11 Vss. 15, 16, d. John 15:15. 


would be intelligible and acceptable to the Greek 
world. Christianity certainly had a rebirth in Ephesus. 
The author of John not only possessed the collected 
letters of Paul but he knew certainly two and perhaps 
three of the earlier gospels, that is, he made use of 
Mark and of Luke-Acts; as to his use of Matthew, 
scholars are less confident. And is it not time John was 
studied in the light of the Christian literary tradition 
and atmosphere of Ephesus? 

To the same hand, and the same general period, ca. 
A.D. 110, belong also the letters of John. I John, it is 
true, has no epistolary salutations or farewells, but the 
frequent "I write" or "have written to you" (twelve 
times in all) shows its essential epistolary character, 
and its combination with II and III John, which are un- 
mistakably letters, must always have marked it as a 
pastoral letter. For it is becoming dear that we must 
not approach the three Johannine letters, as we count 
them, atomistically but as a corpus, an epistolary unit. 
And how natural this would be, in a center like Ephesus 
which had already produced the Pauline collection of 
letters, the Revelation corpus of letters, and the Igna- 
tian corpus of letters. There is no possible doubt of the 
Ephesian origin of the Johannine letter collection, Tra- 
dition has always recognized it as the work of John the 
Elder or presbyter of Ephesus, no doubt the famous one 
mentioned by Papias and after him by Eusebius, And 
at Ephesus certainly such a use of the letter-corpus form 


would be altogether natural, as an additional device to 
resist the advance of docetism in Asia. We may re- 
member that the letter corpus in Revelation is clearly an 
artificial one; no one supposes those letters to Ephesus, 
Smyrna, etc., had been really sent and had afterward to 
be collected from the several churches that received 
them. Each church received the other six letters, in fact 
the whole Apocalypse, with its own. 

It is moreover most improbable that the tiny letters 

II and III John ever circulated by themselves; they are 
too slight in bulk and content. The curious fortunes of 
the "Epistle of John" in canon history are also signifi- 
cant here. It is a well-known f act that Irenaeus quotes 
I and II John as the Letter of John, which makes it very 
dear that he knew them as one, probably along with 

III John. 

We have shown the part played by Ephesus and its 
near neighbor Smyrna, only some thirty-five miles away, 
in the development of early Christian literature to have 
been a very large and very significant one. We have 
seen that Phoebe's letter of introduction and the limited 
encyclical known to us as I Peter were addressed pri- 
marily to Ephesus; that at Ephesus, or in its circle, were 
written three out of four of Paul's letters to Corinth, 
Luke's two-volume work known to us as Luke and Acts, 
the encyclical letter we call Ephesians, the Revelation of 
John, the Seven Letters of Ignatius and the Letter of 


Polycarp, and finally the Gospel and Epistles of 

Just as striking is the contribution of Ephesus in the 
development of collections or corpuses of literature. 
The collected letters of Paul were soon followed by the 
letter collection of Revelation 1-3, and a few years later 
by the letter collection of Ignatius and the letter collec- 
tion of John. It would seem that these were practical 
services to the Christian cause that could not be sur- 
passed, and yet the final contribution of Ephesus was 
one that overshadowed not only any one of them but 
perhaps even all of them combined. It was the making 
of the Fourfold Gospel corpus, the grouping of Mat- 
thew, Mark, Luke and John into a single collection. 

Here, it is true, we encounter stout resistance from 
no less an authority than Provost Streeter, who in his 
Four Gospels goes so far as to say, "The idea that the 
fourfold gospel canon arose in Asia ... is one for 
which, so it seems to me, the evidence is non-existent" 
(p. 341). 

Let us point out at the outset that it is difficult to find 
another early Christian circle in which such an act as 
the gathering of the four gospels into a group for pub- 
lication and circulation together, would be as natural 
as tie circle which had already done so much in that 
line and had such a record in the production of Chris- 
tian literary collections. No such record can be made 
out for Rome, for example. 


Let us observe, in the second place, that the motive of 
the collection seems clearly to have been not to provide 
a scripture of church authority for church use, but to 
win a wider hearing for the new Gospel of John, and 
such an effort is more naturally understood at Ephesus 
where that gospel had so recently been written than in 
other seats of Christianity like Rome, Corinth or Anti- 
oda. Concern for a wider hearing for the Gospel of 
John would be most natural in the city where John was 
written, where the circle that had witnessed its first 
publication ten or fifteen years before was still active. 
There we can understand the addition of the epilogue, 
Chapter 21, with its emphatic personal endorsement of 
the writer: "We know that his testimony is true." 1S 
To place the making of the collection anywhere else 
necessitates finding some other origin for the epilogue 
than the natural one, that it was added when the four- 
fold gospel was assembled. That is the real intimation 
of its last verse, declaring that if all the things Jesus did 
were written down, the world would not hold the books 
that would have to be written. That verse is really the 
finis of the Fourfold Gospel, not simply of the Gospel 
of John, which reached its proper finis in the last verse 
of Chapter 20, where the purpose of the writing of the 
Gospel is stated: "That you may believe that Jesus is 
the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may 
have life as his followers." 

1 21:24. 


But these are general considerations pointing to 
Ephesus as the birthplace of the Fourfold Gospel, and 
only serve to prepare the way for more definite and 
positive ones. 

Let us offer as our first witness Papias, Bishop of 
Hierapolis, who flourished in the province of Asia, in one 
of the three cities mentioned by Paul in Colossians 
4:13 Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis. In the frag- 
ments of his Interpretations of the Sayings of the 
Lord preserved in Eusebius and others, Papias mentions 
Mark as the interpreter of Peter who had written up 
what he remembered from his discourses. It is gener- 
ally admitted that he was referring to the Gospel of 
Mark. He also mentions Matthew, as composing (not 
necessarily writing) the Sayings in the Aramaic lan- 
guage which each one translated as well as he could. 
This difficult observation which I believe refers to the 
composing of the original oral gospel, nevertheless 
shows that Papias knew a gospel bearing the name of 
Matthew, although he also knew that what Matthew 
had really done was to compose the Oral Gospel that 
all Christians learned at conversion. 

Papias is not only the first man to mention Mark and 
Matthew in connection with gospel making; he is the 
first man to do so before Irenaeus, ca. 180-189- That is, 
it is fifty years before any more definite information on 
this most vital matter comes to light in early Christian 
writing, and then what is said seems to depend chiefly 


upon Papias. Papias' knowledge of Luke is revealed 
by his adoption of the Lucan account of the fate of 
Judas that he swelled up after the manner of traitors 
and finally burst, like the villain Nadan in the Story of 
Ahiqar. Papias clearly understands Luke in this way; 
it is Luke's account he reflects, as given in Acts 1:18. 
Papias knew the famous daughters of Philip, who are 
mentioned in Acts 21:9, but that does not prove that 
he knew the Acts, for the daughters lived in Hierapolis. 
But his story about Barsabbas, also called Justus, 1 * is a 
strong contact with Acts 1:23, where this man appears 
as an unsuccessful candidate for the vacant place among 
the apostles. Papias says that he drank a deadly poison 
and suffered no harm, which recalls the remark about 
drinking deadly poison which appears in the Long Con- 
clusion of Mark, probably added to that gospel when 
it became a part of the Fourfold Gospel. 

It is dear that Papias knew the Acts. He undoubt- 
edly knew Luke too; the question is, did he know it as 
a part of the Fourfold Gospel? He seems to have 
known the Long Conclusion of Mark, and hence to 
have known Mark as a part of the Fourfold Gospel. 

As to die Gospel of John, Papias is the original wit- 
ness to John, the Presbyter of Ephesus, and may reason- 
ably be assumed to 'have known the Ephesian gospel 
when he speaks so familiarly of the circle of original 
disciples there. 

l * Eusebius, Church History, 3:39:9. 


Papias is certainly an Asian witness. Hierapolis, 
where he lived, was about one hundred and twenty 
miles east of Ephesus by road, and it must have been at 
Ephesus that he met most of the elder Christian dis- 
ciples of whom he made so much. If John was written 
in Ephesus it cannot possibly have escaped his inquiring 
mind. In fact, tradition makes him a disciple of "John 
the evangelist, the theologian," and even the scribe to 
whom he dictated his gospel. This legend would not 
be worth mentioning, if it were not that Papias' work 
seems to be lost, and so everything tradition has to say 
about it assumes importance. It would seem that Papias 
must have made some pretty definite references to it 
to have given rise to such a tradition in a ninth century 
Vatican manuscript and the Greek Catena on John. 11 
Philip of Side also says that Papias said that some held 
II and III John to be the work of the Elder, not the 
Evangelist, and that was why the ancients accepted only 
first John; showing that he knew the Johannine letters 
as well as the gospel. 

Dr. Lloyd V. Moore in his unpublished dissertation, 
The Use of Gospel Material in Early Christian Litera- 
ture, p. 263, holds it to be "quite certain that Papias 
had the fourfold gospel corpus." 

These meager gleanings which have a strange way of 
always being on the verge of something very exact, 
definite, and portentous, make us wish more than ever 

15 Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, pp. 524, 535. 


that someone would find Papias' lost work, which was 
still extant at Stams and at Nimes in France in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In some corner of 
the East, it must still await the skilled eye of discovery 
in Greek or Latin, and what a contribution it will make 
when it is found to all this area of our knowledge, es- 
pecially in this very immediate matter of the work of 
the circle of Ephesus to which Papias himself belonged, 
in the very days of Polycarp of Smyrna, who lived, it 
will be remembered, to be martyred in A.D. 155. 

Another ancient witness to the Fourfold Gospel is 
the Gospel of Peter, known to us chiefly through the 
Akhmim fragment found by Bouriant in 1887 and pub- 
lished in 1892. This is a distinctly docetic document, 
the first one known, and docetism, so far as we know, 
appeared first in Asia, in the circle of Ephesus, in the 
first decade of the second century, for it is first reflected 
in the Gospel and Letters of John and in the Letters of 
Ignatius, which oppose the doctrine. So it is not un- 
natural to place die origin of the Gospel of Peter in 
Asia, and it becomes a second Asian witness to the 
Fourfold Gospel. 

A third witness to the Fourfold Gospel is the Epistle 
of the Apostles, a work written about A.D. 150-160, 
the origin of which Carl Schmidt locates in Asia Minor, 
making it in the larger sense an Asian witness. 

A fourth Asian witness is Justin Martyr. Justin was 
a native of Flavia Neapolis, the modem Nablous, in 


Palestine. He visited various philosophical schools, but 
became a Christian about A.D. 133. He was at Ephesus 
about 135 and there is laid the scene of his debate 
with Trypho, which forms the subject of his famous 
Dialogue, written some twenty years later, at Rome. 
In his Apology, written at Rome soon after A.D. 150, 
he says that at Christian meetings, held on Sundays, the 
Memoirs of the Apostles and the writings of the 
prophets are read. 18 He elsewhere defines the Memoirs 
of the Apostles as gospels," and says that they were 
composed by the apostles and those who followed 
them. 1 * He makes unmistakable use of Mark when he 
speaks in Dialogue 106:3 of the change of one disciple's 
name to Peter, and of the conferring of the name 
Boanerges upon the sons of Zebedee a fact reported 
only in Mark 3:16, 17. Indeed, Justin says this is re- 
corded in "his," meaning Peter's, "Memoirs." Many 
other statements in Justin reflect the Gospel of Mark, 
but this one clear proof is enough. 

Justin never mentions Mark, Matthew or Luke by 
name, or speaks of John as an evangelist. But he 
quotes Matthew 17:10-13 in Dialogue 49:5: "And it 
is written, Then the disciples understood that he spoke 
to them about John the Baptist/ '* Equally convinc- 
ing is the use of Matthew 11:12 in Dialogue 51:3; 
of Luke 20:35, 36, in Dialogue 81:4; of John 3:3, 5, in 
Apology 61:4; and of John 1:14 in Apology 63:15. 

1 ApoL 67:3. "Apol. 66:3. "Dial. 103:8. 


As a matter of fact there is a mass of such evi- 
dence. The express mention of Mark under the name 
of "Peter's Memoirs/' the quotation of Matthew as 
scripture (with the formula, "it is written") , the fre- 
quent references to the Logos, and to Jesus as Logos, 
combine with Justin's description of the gospels as com- 
posed by the apostles and those who followed them to 
show that he has the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, 
Luke and John. The statement that the gospels 
(Memoirs of the Apostles) are read in church on Sun- 
days, also shows unmistakably that a definite group of 
gospels was so employed. 

It may be that Justin also knew the Gospel of Thomas 
and the Gospel of Peter; there are slight traces of gospel 
material in his works that may be so explained. It is 
the slightness of these traces that is significant, com- 
pared with the quantity of material from Matthew, 
Mark, Luke and John that his works disclose. "We may 
conclude that in Rome about A.D. 150, the Fourfold 
Gospel was already read in church. That this was Jus- 
tin's Gospel corpus is confirmed by the fact that it was 
just these Four Gospels that his pupil Tatian twenty 
years later incorporated into his Syriac Diatessaron. 

But obviously it must have taken some time, a dozen 
or twenty years, for this gospel collection to have made 
such a place for itself in Christian use. This would ac- 
cord entirely with what we have already seen in Papias' 
use of the same group of gospels in Hierapolis in Asia 


from ten to twenty years before. In fact the evidence 
of Papias, Justin, the Epistle of the Apostles, and the 
Gospel of Peter all points to the origin of the Fourfold 
Gospel in Asia not later than AJX 125. Justin wrote at 
Rome but he came there from Ephesus and probably 
formed his Christian habits and his Christian library in 
the province of Asia where he was converted. 

The early date of the gospel corpus has been strik- 
ingly confirmed by the recently discovered gospel frag- 
ment in the British Museum, a manuscript which its 
editor assigns to a date not later than AJX 150. While 
he thought it might actually be a source of John, it has 
been recognized by New Testament scholars as simply 
another document based on the Fourfold Gospel That 
gospel collection must therefore be pushed back to an 
origin long before AJX 150, if this new gospel was 
based on the collection and copied into this manuscript 
by AJX 150, the date assigned by papyrus palaeogra- 
phers to the British Museum fragment. 

These four witnesses to the Asian origin of the gospel 
collection of course find strong corroboration in the 
record of Ephesus as a maker of similar literary collec- 
tions, as we have seen; and in its positive interest in 
the promotion of the Gospel of John, which was of 
Asian origin. The difficulty of explaining the Epilogue 
as written in any other Christian center is also obvi- 

It may be regarded as a conservative judgment that 


the Fourfold Gospel collection was formed in the circle 
of Ephesus and not later than A.D. 125, for the purpose 
of winning a wider hearing for the Fourth Gospel. 

With it, the great contribution of Ephesus to Chris- 
tian literature reaches its zenith. If this survey is sound, 
Ephesus and its circle had in a single generation pro- 
duced or witnessed the production of three of the four 
letters to Corinth, Luke's two-volume work known to 
us as Luke-Acts, the Epistle to the Ephesians, the 
Revelation of John, prefaced by a collection of letters 
to the Seven Churches; the letters of Ignatius, the Letter 
of Polycarp, the Gospel of John; and the collection of 
the Pauline, Ignatian and Johannine letters, and of the 
Four Gospels certainly a stupendous record. The 
works written in Ephesus or in the Ephesian circle, 
form more than half the New Testament, and of the 
contents of our New Testament, all but the pastoral 
letters to Timothy and Titus and the Catholic letters of 
James, Jude and Peter passed through these skilled 
Ephesian hands. With them seems to have originated 
the Christian fashion of publishing collections of writ- 
ings first letters, Paul's, John's, Ignatius', John's again 
and finally, gospels. And it was these collections 
that paved the way for the making of the New Testa- 
ment, half a century after the last Ephesian corpus was 
made. Ephesus did not make the New Testament: it 
was Rome that did that. But Ephesus wrote more than 
half its eventual contents, and it formed the great col- 


lections of materials letters and gospels out of which 
it principally arose. 

So for one momentous generation, Ephesus was the 
literary focus of early Christianity, and by its composi- 
tions three letters to Corinth, Luke-Acts, Ephesians, 
Revelation, the Gospel of John, the letters of John; and 
by its compilations the Pauline, Ignatian and Johan- 
nine letters and the four gospels influenced Chris- 
tianity more than Jerusalem, Antioch or Rome. 



WE HAVE traced the service done to the Christian move- 
ment by the circle of Ephesus in the writing of great 
books and not less in the forming and publishing of 
collections of such books, and the promotion of their 
influence among the churches. The first of these col- 
lections was that of the letters of Paul, a corpus which 
immediately began to exert a literary influence which 
has never since subsided. This collection was in sheer 
bulk longer than the Gospel of Matthew, and not much 
less than Luke's two volumes combined, and it grappled 
with {he varied practical and intellectual problems of 
the young faith with an understanding and vigor that 
have never been surpassed. It was no wonder that it 
immediately made itself felt in Christian thinking, and 
began at once to influence Christian writers. This gives 
to the making and publishing of the collection the sig- 
nificance of a new work in the development of Chris- 
tian literature, and demands for it a place in New 
Testament introduction. It would be difficult to name 
a book in the New Testament or anywhere else that has 



had such striking and immediate literary effects as the 
published Pauline corpus. 

For the separate letters o Paul seem to have had no 
literary influence at all; it was only in their collected 
and published form that they began to affect other 
Christian writings. This fact demands recognition for 
the collection as distinguished from the individual 
letters, in the study of early Christian literature, and in 
the science of New Testament introduction. Paul's per- 
sonal influence had been great while he lived, and it 
continued after his death, though necessarily diluted 
and diffused as time went on. But with the publication 
of the Pauline corpus, he begins to exert a new influ- 
ence directly upon Christian writers, through his as- 
sembled letters. With their publication a new force 
begins to operate just as really as though a new book 
had been written. 

That genial historian, Professor Francis A. Christie, 
declares that when he took up his studies in the Uni- 
versity of Berlin, many years ago, he attended the lec- 
tures of August Dillmann on Old Testament Introduc- 
tion, Anleitung In das Alte Testament, and that for the 
first eight weeks Professor Dillmann lectured upon the 
question, "Was 1st Anleitung?" 

Introduction, first recognized by Michaelis a hundred 
and fifty years ago, has steadily claimed for itself more 
and more space from interpretation, until in modern 
commentaries it is not unusual to find more than half 


the commentary volume devoted to it. In Mayor's St. 
James, there are 232 pages of introduction and 224 of 
commentary. So plain has it become that the deter- 
mination of the occasion and purpose of the writing of 
the book is essential to its understanding. 

The organization of the findings of introduction into 
volumes like Driver's on the Old Testament, and Holtz- 
mann's and Jiilicher's on the New, has developed a 
great and fruitful discipline. Let us survey some of 
these works, to learn upon what principles they have 
usually been planned and organized. 

This may seem a dry and tedious procedure, and 
perhaps that is why we so seldom engage in it. Yet how 
otherwise can we form an impression as to the state of 
the science in this matter of organization, and satisfy 
ourselves that any improvement in that line is called 
for? So I ask you to run through with me briefly the 
plans followed in some few of the chief New Testa- 
ment introductions since 1875, asking ourselves this 
question: What principle of organisation has controlled 
the planning of the work? Let us take them up in the 
order of their publication, beginning with Hilgenfeld's 
introduction of 1875* 

Hilgenf eld begins with 200 pages on the canon. He 
then takes up the letters of Paul, omitting II Thessa- 
lonians, Colossians, and Ephesians. These are followed 
by Hebrews and Revelation. Then come Matthew, 
Mark, James, Luke, Acts; then I Peter, II Thessa- 


lonians, Colossians and Ephesians; then the letters and 
the Gospel o John; and finally Jude, the Pastorals and 
II Peter. This is apparently meant for an arrangement 
based on chronological order of composition alone, a 
sound principle, certainly, though Hilgenfeld's applica- 
tion of it strikes the modern student with some sur- 
prise, as when he deals with Hebrews and the Revela- 
tion before Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts. 

Holtzmann's famous introduction (1885) begins 
with sixty pages on the text and about twice as much 
on the canon. After devoting two-fifths of his book to 
these two disciplines, he takes up the Pauline literature 
Thessalonians, Galatians, Corinthians, Romans, Phil- 
emon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, the Pastoral 
letters, and Hebrews. His second "chapter," is devoted 
to the historical books: the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, 
Mark, Luke, followed by Acts. Chapter 3 is entitled 
"The Johannine Literature," and treats Revelation, the 
Fourth Gospel, and the Johannine letters, but also the 
rest of the Catholic letter$r James, I and II Peter and 
Jude. Chapter 4 deals with the New Testament Apocry- 
pha gospels, Acts, letters, apocalypses. 

With all respect to the great master of Strassburg I 
must say this is a lumbering vehicle, however valuable 
the load it carries. It seems to set out to be chrono- 
logical, with the Pauline letters first, but ceases to be so 
when it presents Hebrews and the Pastorals before die 
Synoptic Gospels, Acts and the Apocalypse. 


Bemhard Weiss' introduction * consists of two parts 
and an "Anhang." Part I, of ninety pages, deals with 
the history of the Rise of the Canon; Part II with the 
history of the origin of the New Testament writings; 
and the "Anhang," of course is Neutestamentliche 
Textgeschichte. Disregarding Part I and the "Anhang," 
Part II begins with the Pauline letters Thessalonians, 
Galatians, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Romans, Colos- 
sians (with Philemon thrown in), Ephesians, the Pas- 
torals, and an "Anhang" on Hebrews. The second 
division treats the Revelation of John; the third, the 
seven Catholic letters; and the fourth, the historical 
books, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Acts, John. 

How might these books be arranged? Canonically, 
for one way, the order of convenience of reference. But 
since that is abandoned, as not sufficiently scientific, 
something adequate should be devised and put in its 
place. One might proceed in a strict chronological 
order, the order of the writing of the books; or in the 
order of the subject matter, if it reveals one; or one 
might arrange the material in literary groups, letters, 
gospels, histories, epistles, homilies, apocalypses; or by 
writers, actual or reputed. Here is involved also the 
purpose of 'the book, whether it is to be read through 
continuously, or merely consulted on this or that item. 
But a principle of organization should be determined 
upon and consistently followed. Certainly any book, 

1 Lebrbutb der Einleitung, 1886. 


not alphabetically organized, like a dictionary or an 
encyclopedia, ought to repay continuous reading from 
beginning to end; otherwise it becomes a mere mis- 

Jiilicher's work, first appearing in 1894 and often 
revised and reprinted, opens with the genuine epistles 
of Paul, Thessalonians to Ephesians; then takes up die 
Deutero-Pauline epistles, Hebrews and the Pastorals, 
then the Catholic epistles. Having thus disposed of the 
epistolary literature, he devotes Book II to the apoca- 
lyptic literature, the Revelation of John. Book III 
then deals with the historical books, first the Synoptic 
Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, in that order; then 
the Gospel of John; and then the Acts of the Apostles. 
A second part is devoted to the history of the canon, 
and a third to a history of the text. This arrangement 
cannot fail to strike the modern student as confused and 
disorganized. It is certainly not canonical, but is it his- 
torical? Is it chronological? A treatment that deals with 
the Revelation before it deals with the gospels, and 
treats Acts after John, certainly leaves much to be de- 
sired. It is not traditional, nor does it, on the other 
hand, profess to present the books in the order of their 
composition, though in treating Paul first it leans 
strongly in that direction. In fact it reflects no single 
definite principle of arrangement, faithfully followed 
through. It betrays, in short, that weakness in the or- 
ganization of material that has affected so many Ger- 


man works of great learning and in many respects of 
great value such as for example Leipoldt's invaluable 
work on the canon. 

Of course we all know perfectly well that the vari- 
ous books of the New Testament are rooted in one 
another; sometimes a book has roots in two or three or 
even nine, ten or eleven others. Is this then a matter 
of no concern to the introductionist and the interpreter? 
Of course it is of the utmost concern to them both; it is 
indispensable. Yet we go on treating these books in 
this mechanical atomistic fashion, as though it did not 
matter whether Acts came next to Luke, or Revelation 
before I Peter. Genetic relationships are disregarded. 

Theodor Zahn in his massive introduction, published 
in 1899 (English from the third German edition, 
1909), begins with James. Then follow the Pauline 
letters, from Galatians to Philippians (Galatians, Thes- 
salonians, Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, Colossians, 
Ephesians, Philippians) ; then "the last three letters of 
Paul" (Timothy, Titus) ; then I, II Peter, Jude and He- 
brews; then the first three gospels and the Acts, and 
finally the writings of John Gospel, Epistles, Revela- 
tion. Of course it seems to me quite impossible to 
understand I Peter before Revelation and Hebrews. 
But the organization seems to be mainly chronological 
in intention, though with some regard to types of 

Professor Bacon's useful and stimulating introduc- 


tion of 1900 begins with the Pauline letters, in the 
Baconian order, Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, 
Romans, Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians. 
In the next chapter, the Pastoral Epistles and Hebrews 
are treated. Next come four Catholic Epistles, I Peter, 
James, Jude, II Peter; then the historical books, Mat- 
thew, Mark, Luke-Acts; then the Revelation and the 
Letters of John, and finally the Gospel of John. One 
can only hope that no one will read the book in this 

Von Soden's book on the writings of the New Testa- 
ment (1904, English translation, 1906) falls into four 
main parts: St. Paul, the Gospel literature, the Post- 
Pauline literature, and the Johannine literature. The 
defects of this organization are evident at once. Under 
St. Paul, Soden treats eight letters which he accepts as 
Pauline, omitting II Thessalonians. Under the Gospel 
literature he treats Mark, Luke, and Matthew. Under 
the post-Pauline literature, he discusses the Acts, He- 
brews, I Peter, Ephesians and the Pastorals, with an 
appendix on II Thessalonians; under the Johannine 
literature, the Revelation, II and III John, I John, and 
the Gospel of John. We glimpse a principle of arrange- 
ment here, though it is most imperf ectly applied* It was 
right to begin with Paul and follow with the gospels of 
Mark, Luke, and Matthew, in what Von Soden con- 
sidered their chronological order. But of course this 
severed Acts from Luke, leaving both more difficult to 


explain or understand while treating the Revelation 
after the Pastoral letters, Hebrews and I Peter was 
thoroughly artificial. The final appendix on James, 
Jude and II Peter fairly beggars explanation, except 
that Luther's Bible, we remember, puts James and Jude 
after Hebrews and before the Revelation, at the end of 
the New Testament as a kind of New Testament 
apocrypha. Any principle that may have guided Von 
Soden in arranging the first half of his book was cer- 
tainly altogether abandoned in the second. He has 
neither been canonical, chronological (in subject mat- 
ter) , chronological (in composition) , or literary either 
in the sense of grouping the works of one writer to- 
gether (such as Luke), as he does those of Paul, or in 
that of grouping examples of the same type of litera- 
ture together. And though he treats Luke and Acts in 
different parts of his book, he frankly recognizes that 
they are simply two volumes of one larger work, which 
leaves us more befogged than ever. 

Moffatt in his great introduction, first published 
twenty-five years ago, is a good deal more intelligible. 
He begins with the correspondence of Paul: Thessa- 
lonians, Galatians, Corinthians, Romans, Colossians, 
Philemon, Philippians. Then comes the historical liter- 
ature: Mark, Matthew, Luke and Acts. Chapter three is 
entitled Homilies and Pastorals I Peter, Jude, II Peter, 
Ephesians, Timotheus and Titus, Hebrews, James, II 
and III John. Chapter four is the Apocalypse of John, 


a good deal out of place chronologically, one would 
think, for it is more ancient than anything except Ephe- 
sians in Chapter three. For Chapter five even the re- 
sourceful Moffatt could think of no name, so it stands 
without one, dealing with the Fourth Gospel and I John. 
A good deal of what is included in Chapter three is, of 
course, later than either of these works, and the whole 
unmistakably exhibits the confusion incident to trying 
to present the material now in chronological order of 
composition, and now in quasi-literary groupings, 
guided by the type of literature to which the document 
belongs. The old German weakness of disorder seems 
in fact to have followed their science of introduction 
into the English world. Can it be escaped? 

The best of the recent introductions is no doubt that of 
McNeile of Dublin, which appeared in 1927. He treats 
first the Synoptic Gospels Mark, Matthew, Luke and 
the Synoptic Problem; then the Acts; then the Epistles 
of St. Paul Thessalonians I and II, I Corinthians, II 
Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Colossians, Philemon, 
Ephesians, and finally Philippians. A chapter on die 
Pastorals follows. The General Epistles and Homilies 
come next James, I Peter, Hebrews, Jude, II Peter, the 
Revelation. Finally the Johannine Gospel and Epistles 
are discussed. I pass over concluding chapters in this 
and some other introductions, on canon and text, as 
these are seldom adequate. Generally speaking it would 
be well for introductionists not to try to dispose of 


intricate disciplines like text and canon so lightly, as 
appendices to their introductions, unless they are pre- 
pared to gird up their loins and go at the business with 
greater industry. It is hard to find a single, unifying 
principle of organization running through McNeile's 
often admirable book. He seems to have followed the 
English Bible for his main masses, from the gospels to 
the Revelation, trying to be chronological within his 
groups and in putting the Johannine literature last. 

Professor Ernest F. Scott in his Literature of the New 
Testament (1932) does not undertake much grouping 
of the documents. His order of treatment is Mark, Mat- 
thew, Luke, Acts; then the letters of Paul Thessa- 
lonians, Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Colossians, 
Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians. He gathers the Pas- 
torals into one chapter. Then follow Hebrews, James, 
I Peter, Jude and II Peter; the Fourth Gospel, the 
Epistles of John and the Revelation. He is clearly fol- 
lowing the canonical order in the main Gospels, Acts, 
Paul, Pastorals, Catholics, Revelation modifying it by 
chronology within the various groups, and transferring 
the Gospel of John to a position with the Johannine 

Dibelius' Fresh Approach to the New Testament and 
Early Christian Literature (English translation, 1936) , 
includes more than the New Testament of course, as its 
name implies: apocryphal gospels, acts, epistles, apoca- 
lypses. Apart from these the order is: Mark, Matthew, 


Luke, John; the Revelation of John (accompanied by 
the Revelation of Peter and Hennas) ; then the Pauline 
letters Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, 
Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (followed by Igna- 
tius and Polycarp) ; then treatises, sermons and trac- 
tates: Ephesians, I Peter, I Clement, Hebrews; Barna- 
bas; II Clement; Jude, II Peter, I, II and III John. 
James is treated with the Didadie and the Twelve Com- 
mandments in Hermas. Last come the Acts, canonical 
and apocryphal. 

This at least yields an intelligible principle; the ar- 
rangement is by types of literature gospels, apoca- 
lypses, letters, treatises, exhortations, acts. It is unfor- 
tunate to separate Luke from its companion volume 
Acts, putting one volume in the first division and the 
other in the last, although they were unquestionably 
produced together. But an organization by types of 
literature is intelligible and helpful. 

What we have shown for these excellent handbooks 
is true for practically all the others. But it is the pur- 
pose of this lecture not so much to lament this fact, as 
to inquire for a remedy. Does the literature of the New 
Testament reveal no clear pattern, no sweep of move- 
ment in its rise? Must its books be always so arbitrarily 
treated? Is there no broad literary principle that 
may reduce these reluctant units to a new and significant 

I was long ago struck by the fact, which others had 


observed and pointed out, that Mark, Matthew and 
Luke-Acts show no trace of acquaintance with the letters 
of Paul. Upon this fact New Testament scholars gen- 
erally agree. Of course those letters were all written 
long before the first of our gospels was produced. How 
was it that they were unknown to the evangelists? Evi- 
dently because they had not been collected and pub- 
lished when Mark, Matthew, and Luke-Acts were 

But immediately after the publication of the two- 
volume work known to us as Luke- Acts, all is changed; 
now everyone seems to know Paul's letters, and not just 
this one or that one but all the genuine ones we know, 
that is, the whole of the primary canon of them, from 
Thessalonians to Philippians and Colossians. The 
Revelation shows acquaintance with the whole corpus 
of letters to seven churches with an encyclical introduc- 
tion, and actually imitates it, in Chapters 1-3. Hebrews 
palpably imitates the Pauline letter type so success- 
fully that all the great Alexandrians thought it was 
actually written by Paul; I Peter is perplexingly Pauline, 
until we recognize that it was written in imitation of 
Paul; I Clement quotes Paul's leters explicitly, and 
shows acquaintance with at least four of them. Ignatius 
knows six, Polycarp knows six but not the same six 
and Ephesians, the only addition made by the collector- 
publisher, shows use of all the other nine. 

The only natural and reasonable explanation of these 


facts would seem to be that between the publication of 
Luke- Acts and the writing of the Revelation, the letters 
of Paul were collected and published. 

Professor Easton, it is true, declares that "it is highly 
likely, to be sure, that any disciple of Paul's knew 
Romans, I and II Corinthians, and less probably Gala- 
tians." * But this conjures up a strange picture: all the 
disciples of Paul possessed of these three or four great 
letters but all absolutely mute about it, so that Mark, 
Matthew and Luke are all kept in ignorance of them 
and their contents. One would think a follower of Paul 
who had these three or four great letters, would have 
let their worth be known; the churches needed their 
message; and how a thousand or so of his followers 
could have kept the secret for thirty years, and kept it 
so well from Antiodh to Rome, is almost as hard to un- 
derstand as why they should have done so. The prob- 
lem is much more difficult than most students of the 
New Testament realize. Certainly the old traditional 
idea that the Pauline letters leaked into gradual circula- 
tion is inexorably negatived by the ignorance of the 
Synoptists of any such literature, even in Ephesus as 
late as A.D. 90. The united testimony of Matthew, Mark 
and Luke puts the matter beyond peradventure; when 
they wrote, the letters of Paul had disappeared from 
Christian consciousness. Certainly some of them still 
existed, in old files, or church chests, but they were not 

* Anglican Theological Review xvi, (1934), p. 31. 


present to the current life and thought of the church 
from 65 to 90. They were forgotten. 

Imagine a Christian of the Roman province of Asia, 
perhaps of Ephesus, reading with delight the newest 
Christian book, Luke's account of the beginnings of 
Christianity. Here is not only a new picture of Jesus, but 
the only account this man has ever read of the pioneer 
of the Greek mission, the apostle Paul And much as 
we may criticize Luke's account of Paul, it remains the 
one ageless, inimitable, unforgettable story of the great 
apostle. However much we may pore over the Pauline 
letters, Paul is still for most of us the Paul of Acts; con- 
verting the jailer at Philippi, lecturing the Areopagus 
at Athens, threatened by the crowd at Ephesus, facing 
the mob at Jerusalem, reasoning before Agrippa at 
Caesarea, cheering his companions in shipwreck. 

Consider the impression such a book must have made 
upon any Greek Christian who read it. And suppose 
one such reader had in his possession a letter or two by 
Paul, written long before to churches in Asia, Colossae 
and Laodicea, and brought together in the church chests 
of both places by Paul's express wish: "Have it [this 
letter} read to the church at Laodicea also, and see that 
you read the letter that is coming from there/' * 

Any of us today reading a great biography of some 
one whose life has in some way touched our own, might 
look up and say, 'Isn't there an old letter of his up in 

8 Col. 4:16. 


the attic?" In some such way an Asian reader of the 
Acts would think at once of these half -forgotten letters, 
Colossians and its little shadow, Laodiceans, which we 
call Philemon, and then think, "If Paul really went to 
all these places Luke tells about, he may have written 
them letters too; they may still have them. I will write 
and see!" 

For it is a curious f act that a man possessed of Colos- 
sians and Philemon might have been guided to all the 
other letters in the Pauline corpus by the information 
contained in the Acts; but a Roman or Corinthian 
reader of Acts would never have been guided by that 
book to Colossae or Laodicea. Those places are never 
mentioned in it. 

And once found, what a revelation they were! No 
wonder their finder. burst forth into enthusiastic praise 
of Paul's insight into the secret of Christ, made known 
to hi by revelation. 4 Of course it was revealed through 
holy apostles and prophets, like Paul. He must awaken 
the churches to the worth of these forgotten letters, and 
introduce them to Christians everywhere, so that all the 
churches may profit by the discovery of this great spir- 
itual inheritance. So arose Ephesians, originally of 
course an encyclical letter to all Christians, showing 
them the values of these old letters, uniting them in a 
great spiritual fellowship, the church invisible, and 
urging them all in the consciousness of this unity 



to maintain it against the encroachments of the 

It is interesting to note that the Ann Arbor papyrus 
of Ephesians, copied about the end of the second cen- 
tury, has no place-name in 1:1, confirming the testimony 
of the Vatican and Sinaitic manuscripts that Ephesians 
was originally a general letter, to Christians every- 
where. Jiilicher has wondered in what circumstances 
such an encyclical in Paul's name can have been com- 
posed. But the evidence supplies the answer: it was 
composed when the Pauline letters were discovered, 
and was written on the basis of all of them, to intro- 
duce these special messages, written long before to 
local churches about personal problems, to the wider 
Christian public which might learn so much from them. 

It is hardly too much to say that in the short interval 
between the publication of Luke-Acts and that of the 
Revelation, the Pauline letters were collected and pub- 
lished, and that whereas before no Christian writer 
seems to have known them, after that every Christian 
work that was written was written in their conscious 
presence. The making and publishing of this collection 
was for Christian literature an event as important as 
the writing of most books in the New Testament; it 
had a prodigious place and part in the development of 
that literature. Although most writers on introduction 
do not even observe it, it puts in their hands a most use- 
ful control, for it is difficult to know the Pauline letters 


without showing it, and any document showing knowl- 
edge of them reveals its date as later than the making 
of the collection. 

More than this; the literature that followed the 
Pauline corpus was mostly written actually in imitation 
of it, or reaction from it. 

First as letters: Revelation, with seven letters to 
churches, Hebrews, I Clement, I Peter, Ignatius, Poly- 
carp, Barnabas, Jude, II Peter, the letters of John, the 
Pastorals. Even James had to be made into a letter, to 
be suitable for circulation. A whole shower of 'letters" 
was precipitated upon the early church in consequence 
of the appearance of the collected letters of Paul. 

Of course these were not really letters at all; they were 
treatises, for immediately upon the great impression 
made by the Pauline letter type, a composite derived 
from the published corpus of his letters suddenly 
emerged as the ideal form of Christian instruction. 
Deissmann long ago pointed out that Paul's were really 
letters; these others were what we call epistles, written 
in imitation of Paul's letters. It is from his published 
letters that they derived their form. This suggestion first 
offered by Deissmann forty years ago has never been 
taken full account of by writers on New Testament 

But die imitation goes further than the individual 
letter. The Pauline corpus suggested other corpuses. 
Fkst, of course, the very strikingly imitative one that 


begins the Revelation; a general letter to the seven 
churches, and then special messages to each o the 
seven. 6 Then the Ignatian corpus, o seven letters, plus 
Polycarp as a covering letter. Then the Johannine cor- 
pus, of three, one general, one to a church, and one to 
an individual. Then the Pastoral corpus, o three. Here 
are no less than four corpuses of Christian letters, to 
churches or individuals, all of them more or less influ- 
enced in thought or language or both, but above all 
in organization as a corpus, by the Pauline collec- 

It "will be seen at once that the importance of the 
Pauline collection for our approach to the New Testa- 
ment books written after its appearance is enormous. 
They were all written in the presence of it and they 
must all be studied in the light of it. 

It constitutes in the first place a control by which they 
can to a certain extent be dated; all the books that show 
Paul's literary influence are later, not simply than Paul, 
but than the publication of the Pauline corpus. 

It constitutes a pattern which they more or less sought 
to follow. This explains why I Peter and Hebrews are 
so Pauline. 

It corrects our atomistic approach and gives us the 
pattern for the letter-collections, which arose not by as- 
sembling originally scattered individual letters, but by 
being written as wholes, like all that have been men- 

8 Rev. 1-3. 


tioned: Revelation, Ignatius, John, the Pastorals. With- 
out the Pauline corpus for a model, these groups remain 
unexplained. After a certain point, the history of New 
Testament literature becomes a history not of units but 
of collections. 

The gospel type, of course, has its followers, like the 
author of the Gospel of John, But it is of importance 
that it was not until the gospel type had been given a 
published pattern in the collected Fourfold Gospel, Mat- 
thew, Mark, Luke and John, about A.D. 120-125> that 
gospels began to be numerous Hebrews, Egyptians, 
Peter, James, Thomas, etc. The gospel-making move- 
ment ran a course similar to that which the epistle- 
making movement ran. Only when a collection of such 
documents was made and published did the gospel-type 
begin to develop rapidly and profusely. Even then, the 
gospels produced never equalled in number the letters 
and epistles produced and published. 

It is strange that so little attention has been paid to 
the part played by publication in the life of the early 
church and the development of early Christian litera- 
ture. But, as we have seen, books were published then 
just as they are now, and there was just about as much 
difference then as now between a private letter written, 
and such a letter published. Printing has greatly multi- 
plied the copies circulated, that is all. Publication is not 
a modern but an ancient development, a fact that needs 
to be brought plainly before writers of New Testament 


introduction, for the light it sheds on their field of 

In short, the collection and publication of the Pauline 
letters is a fact of independent importance for New 
Testament introduction, demanding a place and treat- 
ment in that discipline, as to a very large extent con- 
ditioning and shaping the literature that followed. 
Apart from this fact that literature cannot be fully un- 
derstood and evaluated, or intelligently organized. 

The later half of the New Testament and indeed the 
bulk of early Christian literature can be, to a large ex- 
tent, genetically charted, as one book springs from or 
rests upon another. The early Christian world was, 
numerically speaking, a small world, kept in more or 
less dose personal touch by its hopes and fears and its 
hospitalities. Its original literary poverty would lead to 
a rather general circulation of what few books it pro- 
duced at first, so that we may expect these to operate 
upon those that followed them. 

What then are the broad lines of early Christian liter- 
ature's development? First, of course, in its non-literary 
period, when the end of the age was momentarily ex- 
pected no books at all, only the personal letters of one 
great missionary to his little churches. Like all real 
letters, these fell into the soil and disappeared. Pres- 
ently came the first written gospel, written far away in 
Rome; soon followed by a fuller one, based upon it yet 
far surpassing it in religious usefulness, the Gospel of 


Matthew. Strictly speaking, in Matthew the gospel- 
making movement reached its peak, for Luke and John 
are hardly gospels at all. Church history began soon 
after, with Luke's two-volume work in two logoi, or 
narratives. Its variation from the gospel type is obvious. 

Almost at once, and I think in consequence of Luke- 
Acts, with its inimitable picture of Paul, the nine 
Pauline letters are assembled and published, prefaced 
with an encyclical introduction commending them to all 
the churches. A shower of letters to churches imme- 
diately follows Revelation 1-3, Hebrews, I Peter, 
I Clement, written in greater or less degree in imitation 
of the Pauline letter type disclosed in the collection. All 
this literature is distinctly secondary in character; it is 
conditioned by the Pauline literature. 

The recognition of the collection and publication of 
the Pauline letters (with the new Ephesians at their 
head), as a fact of early Christian literary history, at 
once clarifies its course and discloses the necessary 
literary background for the origin of those letter-epistles 
which are its chief problem. The approach to these 
epistles and epistle collections is greatly facilitated when 
it is recognized that the published Pauline corpus un- 
derlies them, and that they are in fact produced in 
imitation of it, whether as individual letters or as letter 

Such an approach introduces order into what we have 
shown is a most confused and unorganized field. The 


broad lines of the literary development emerge as: 
first, the personal letters of Paul, then the gospels and 
gospel histories: Mark, Matthew and Luke- Acts. Only 
then are the Pauline letters assembled and published; to 
be followed by a considerable Imitative literature of 
letter epistles, imitating the letter form and even the 
letter collection form. This imitative movement con- 
tinued for half a century and is one of the commanding 
features of the literature. Men with a religious message 
instinctively cast it, for the most part, in letter form, or 
even in the form of a letter collection. 

This was in face of the fact that Christianity had only 
just originated its characteristic literary type, the gospel, 
perhaps the most effective type of religious literature 
ever developed. Yet with this great new type before 
them, in the Gospel of Matthew, Christian writers turn 
sharply back to the letter form for the expression of 
their religious messages and continue to do this pre- 
dominantly for half a century. 

The Pauline corpus is thus the rooftree of New 
Testament literature. It is the watershed, the great 
divide, of the New Testament continent. New Testa- 
ment introduction must be rewritten in the light of it. 
The Pauline literature (the primary canon of Paul's 
letters) definitely conditions the whole development of 
the Christian literature that followed its publication. The 
influence of that published literature can be traced in 
document after document, and what is most impor- 


tant they cannot be fully understood without the 
recognition o that influence. It is not Paul that is the 
background of the letter of James, it is the published 
Pauline literature. It is not Paul that has so influenced 
I Peter, it is the published Pauline literature. This de- 
pendence becomes articulate in II Peter, where Paul is 
definitely recognized as the Pauline letters, and these 
are numerous enough to be spoken of as "all his 
letters," and venerable enough to rank with scripture/ 

It is time an unquestioned literary factor of such 
proportions was taken account of by introductionists. 
It is one of the most massive facts of early Christian 
literature, affecting canonical and uncanonical writings 
alike Revelation, Hebrews and the Catholics just as 
much as Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp. It is a recog- 
nized part of introduction to explore the sources and 
influences that conditioned the several New Testament 
writers, and the collected Pauline letters were emphati- 
cally such a source and influence. 

These facts are of great significance for their bearing 
upon the origin and meaning of Ephesians, and upon 
what proved to be the germ of the New Testament. I 
review them here for another significance they possess, 
as putting into our hands a principle for a new and 
better organization of the field of early Christian liter- 
ature and especially of the science of New Testament 
e n Pec. 5:15> 16. 


It will be seen that in the recognition of the Pauline 
letter corpus we have worked through to a new, clarify- 
ing, revitalizing organization of New Testament intro- 
duction, which promises to weave its materials into an 
intelligible and illuminating historical sequence. 



THE TRANSLATION of the Bible into English is one of 
the great features of the English Reformation. But 
other elements than the needs of religion entered into 
that great movement. The fall of Constantinople in 
1453 had scattered Greek scholars into Italy and west- 
ern Europe and so made it possible to learn Greek, as 
it had not been before. The same catastrophe had also 
scattered Greek manuscripts and many of these found 
their way into western hands. It was the spirit o the 
Renaissance to revive antiquity, especially by printing 
its classics, and so through the coming of Greek scholars 
and of Greek manuscripts to the west of Europe, ac- 
quaintance with the Greek New Testament was made 
possible. For it must not be forgotten that for cen- 
turies Greek had been indeed a dead language in the 
west; that is, nobody could read it. Greek was first 
regularly taught in Oxford in 1491, and the first per- 
manent provision for teaching it there was made in 
It is a striking fact that just as the finding of Greek 



manuscripts stirred publishers and translators in the 
days of Erasmus and Luther, so from age to age trans- 
lation has been conditioned and stimulated by fresh 
manuscript discoveries. From the old Latin vulgate 
level, Erasmus, with his eight mediaeval Greek manu- 
scripts and his editions of 1516, 1519, 1522, etc., car- 
ried his generation forward to acquaintance with the 
New Testament in the original Greek, and opened the 
way for Luther's German translation of 1522, and Tyn- 
dale's English version of 1525. The translation move- 
ment begun by Tyndale culminated in the King James 
version of 1611. But soon after its appearance, the 
Codex Alexandrinus was brought to England in 1628, 
and further manuscript finds and textual advances kept 
translation interest alive for generations. They reached a 
new culmination in the dramatic emergence in 1859 of 
the Sinaitic manuscript, showing the way to a sounder 
ancient text. The English revision of 1870-81 followed. 

The manuscript discoveries have continued unabated, 
and now the Greek papyri have come upon the scene 
to show the colloquial character of New Testament 
Greek, introducing the era of the modern speech trans- 
lations now so prevalent. 

So at each new stage of the process, some dramatic 
manuscript discovery has precipitated a new step in the 
progress of New Testament translation, revitalizing the 
old message and clothing it in new and compelling 
forms for the new generation. With what interest these 


new forms are received can be gathered from the 
familiar fact that when in May, 1881, the first copy of 
the Revised New Testament reached New York, its 
entire text was published the next morning in two Chi- 
cago newspapers, the Times and the Tribune; and more 
recently some of the modern speech translations have 
been republished serially in daily newspapers, such has 
been the interest in the light they throw upon die text. 

The first impulse toward Reformation versions of the 
New Testament seems to have come from Erasmus. In 
the Latin preface of his first edition of the Greek Testa- 
ment, 1516, he said: "I would wish all women even, to 
read the gospel and the letters of Paul. I wish they were 
translated into all languages of all peoples, that they 
might be read and known not only by the Scotch and 
Irish but by the Turks and Saracens. 1 I wish that die 
ploughman might sing parts of them at his plough, and 
the weaver at his shuttle, and that the traveller might 
beguile with their narration the weariness of his way." 

Erasmus did not indeed undertake the task of trans- 
lation into modern languages himself, but he did do 
something else quite as heroic, he retranslated the New 
Testament into Latin. In the face of the overwhelming 
prestige of the Latin vulgate, which had been the Bible 
of western Europe for a thousand years, that was a 

1 In the University of Chicago copy of Erasmus* first edition, oppo- 
site these two revolutionary sentences a sixteenth-century hand has 
written the word "Lutheranizat" which may be translated, "He is a 


bold step. And he pointed the way to the translation 
of the New Testament into contemporary tongues, in 
the words just quoted. 

I do not know how long Luther may have planned 
his German translation of 1522, but I cannot escape 
the conviction that it was this great plea for modern 
translations into contemporary European languages that 
precipitated his version. Certainly in making it he used 
Erasmus' published Greek text of the New Testament, 
in the edition of 1519. After him came Tyndale, with 
his English New Testament of 1525, based on Erasmus' 
third Greek edition of 1522, which was the beginning 
of the English Bible as we know it. 

It must not be forgotten that Wyclif and Purvey had 
produced an English Bible from the Latin vulgate in 
1382-88, or that a German Bible had been made in 
Bohemia from the Latin vulgate long before Luther, 
and had been printed at least fourteen times between 
1466 and 1522. But these were versions made from 
versions, and seem to have had little influence on the 
new era inaugurated by Luther and Tyndale. Indeed, 
Purvey's New Testament was not printed until 1731, 
while Wyclif s did not appear in print until 1848. 

Luther's New Testament of 1522 was simply the first 
instalment of his Bible, the rest of which followed at 
fairly regular intervals, the last one, comprising the 
Apocrypha, appearing in 1534, when his complete Bible 
made its appearance. Luther's Bible was so good that 


with it German Bible translation came to a full stop. It 
marked an end. Only lately have a few modern re- 
translations of the New Testament made their appear- 
ance in German, although Weizsacker in 1874 had 
made a beginning in that direction. 

But Tyndale's work was the beginning of a long 
movement. It was carried over with his Pentateuch into 
Coverdale's Bible of 1535, which was followed by 
Thomas Matthew's of 1537, the first licensed English 
Bible. That in turn became the basis of Taverner's of 
1539, and was also revised by Coverdale himself, under 
Cranmer's patronage, in the same year, into the Great 
Bible, the first Authorized English Bible, "appointed to 
the use of the churches," as the title page of the second 
edition put it. So the English Bible at last displaced 
the Latin Bible on the lecterns' of English churches. 

The Puritan refugees at Geneva in 1557 produced a 
revised New Testament and in 1560 a revised Bible, 
divided into verse paragraphs after the manner of Ste- 
phens' Greek Testament of 1551. The Great Bible was 
again revised in 1568 by a number of bishops and deans 
organized by Archbishop Parker, and this second au- 
thorized English Bible divided honors with the Geneva, 
or Breeches, Bible,* until in 1604 King James called a 
conference of high and low churchmen at Hampton 
Court to consider, as the call quaintly put it, "things 
pretended to be amiss in the church." The revision of 

* Gen. $:7. 


the Bible was not on the agenda for that meeting, but 
in the course of it up rose a university professor, John 
Reynolds, president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 
and moved that they retranslate the Bible. The king, 
who was in the chair, welcomed the suggestion, and 
said it ought to be done by the best learned in both the 
universities. So the King James Version of 1611 came 
into being, as a conservative revision of the Bishops', 
which in turn was a conservative revision of the Great, 
which rested back upon Thomas Matthew's Bible of 
1537, which in turn owed so much to Coverdale's first 
printed Bible of 1535. That Bible had been the begin- 
ning of this great movement for an English Bible and 
an ever better one. 

Meantime a great change had come over English. 
When Tyndale and Coverdale were laying the foun- 
dations of the English Bible, English was little thought 
of as a means for literary expression. Cultivated Eng- 
lishmen like Sir Thomas More wrote their best works 
in Latin, in which tongue they knew they could address 
all the cultivated people of Europe. Latin was the lan- 
guage of school, and everybody who was educated 
knew it. It was that public that Erasmus addressed in 
his almost annual collections of letters ending in the 
Opus Epistolarum (1527), and in such works as the 
Encomium Moriae written in Sir Thomas More's house 
at Chelsea. It is strange to read that More's Utopia 
was written in Latin, and published in Louvain in 1516, 


not appearing in an English translation until 1551, six- 
teen years after More's death. There seemed then to 
be no worthwhile reading public for English. But be- 
fore the century ended it had witnessed the whole Eliza- 
bethan movement in English literature. Never was 
there a more complete overturn. From being not fit for 
literary use, English in a lifetime became the play- 
ground of literature, and its possibilities were fully 
explored by William Shakespeare. To this prodigious 
development, for which I know no parallel, the English 
Bible contributed in two notable particulars. It showed 
the literary possibilities of English; for if what Job and 
Isaiah had to say could be expressed in English, it ought 
to be adequate for such thoughts as sixteenth century 
literary Englishmen had to express; and so it proved. 
Second, the English Bible created or helped materially 
to create an English reading public worth writing for. 
On the other hand, the English Bible in turn profited 
greatly by the development of English in that century; 
the English of King James is a much richer language 
that was that of Coverdale. 

The King James Version of 1611 is now widely mis- 
understood. Most people think it the first form of the 
English Bible; many think it verbally inspired, and do 
not hesitate to say so; some otherwise intelligent people 
actually think it is the original Bible! All these regret- 
table and really dangerous errors would be removed if 
it were still accompanied by the great preface, 'The 


Translators to the Reader/' written by Myles Smith, 
Bishop of Gloucester, and intended by the translators 
to accompany their version. For a hundred years this 
preface has, with only the rarest exceptions, been sys- 
tematically omitted by the publishers of the King James 
Bible, on various grounds, in the face of repeated pro- 
tests from churchmen and scholars. It is refreshing to 
note that this very year the Cambridge University Press 
has issued a small edition of King James, including the 
Preface, and we are promised what none of us perhaps 
has ever seen except in the Oxford reprint of 1911 
a complete manual edition including both the Preface 
and the Apocrypha. 

The King James Version was the third authorized 
English Bible, that is, Bible that might be used in 
public worship in the English Church. It has been re- 
peatedly and most systematically revised 1615, 1629, 
1638, 1743, 1762, 1769 the last time by Benjamin 
Blayney of Oxford. These revisions, always tacit, made 
thousands of small changes, especially in the direction 
of keeping the spelling abreast of the changing Eng- 
lish practice. In Tyndale's day there were twelve ways 
to spell "it," all equally correct. In those days one 
spelled as one felt. Words like "sith" and "fet" and 
many others passed out of use, and were very properly 
displaced. All modern printings of King James repre- 
sent the revision of Benjamin Blayney, Oxford, 1769. 

This great movement for Bible translation and re- 


vision had hardly reached its climax, however, when 
new manuscript discoveries began to arrest the atten- 
tion of scholars. Erasmus had had but eight manu- 
scripts on which to base his Greek text. Two were of 
the gospels, one of the eleventh and one of the fifteenth 
century. He is said to have expedited his edition by 
sending the later one to the printer. He said himself 
that his first edition was praecipitatum potius quam 
editum rushed through rather than edited. 

But in 1562 someone gave Theodore Beza the sixth 
century manuscript that bears his name, the codex of 
Beza, and this he in turn presented to the University 
of Cambridge, in 1581. It contained the four gospels 
and the Acts, in a very unusual text, but attracted less 
attention than a more extensive one that came later. 

For hardly had the King James Version appeared 
when, in 1628, Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, presented to the King of England through his 
ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe, the magnificent pandect 
known as the Codex Alexandrinus. It was a Greek 
Bible, of the fifth century. It was placed in the royal 
library, and had an extraordinary effect upon English 
textual studies. What followed is a supreme example 
of the effect of manuscript materials upon textual work. 
For the new manuscript aroused great interest in the 
Greek text of the New Testament, of the Septuagint, 
and of the Apostolic Fathers, for it contained I and II 
Clement at tie end of die New Testament; in fact, 


these were immediately published for the first time by 
the King's librarian, Patrick Young. 

These are well-known facts. It is less well known 
that the presence of the great codex in London also 
aroused independent and capable scholars, sensible of 
the wide difference between these manuscripts and the 
text back of the English Bible, to retranslate the New 
Testament. So began that stream of private transla- 
tions or revisions, which has ever since continued, 
forming what may be called a forgotten chapter in the 
history of the English Bible. 

The first of these was that of W. Mace, London, 
1729, which described itself as containing "the original 
text corrected from the authority of the most authentic 
manuscripts." In 1745 came Mr. Whiston's Primitive 
New Testament, from the pen of the redoubtable Wil- 
liam Whiston, professor of mathematics in Cambridge, 
the successor of Isaac Newton, and the translator of 
Josephus. It was like this original genius to translate 
directly from the texts of the three leading Greek 
manuscripts known in his day, Alexandrinus at Lon- 
don, Beza at Cambridge and Claromontanus at Paris. 
Whiston's free and original way of doing things finally 
cost him his professorship. 

John Wesley in 1755 produced his New Testament 
with Notes, for Plain Unlettered Men Who Know Only 
Their Mother Tongue. In 1796 Archbishop Newcome 
published at Dublin the New Testament in two vol- 


times, which he described as "an attempt toward revis- 
ing our English translation of the Greek scriptures." In 
1808 Charles Thomson of Revolutionary fame, the sec- 
retary of the Continental Congress, produced the first 
and only English translation of the whole Bible from 
the Greek, the Old Testament being done from the 
Septuagint version. 

In the nineteenth century, private translators were 
careful to follow such advances in knowledge of the 
Greek text as were available. Abner Kneeland in pub- 
lishing his New Testament at Philadelphia in 1823, 
followed the Greek text of Griesbach; as did Palfrey at 
Boston in 1830, and Samuel Sharpe and Edgar Taylor, 
in their versions in London, in 1840. Granville Penn 
in London, 1836-37, described his version as made 
with the aid of the most ancient manuscripts, unknown 
to the age in which the English version "was last put 
forth authoritatively." 

Meantime the true position of the Codex Vaticanus 
at Rome was becoming clear, and Herman Heinf etter 
(F. Parker) published in London, in 1854, "A literal 
translation of the New Testament . . . from the text 
of the Vatican manuscript." 

Movings toward the use of the emerging better 
text for translation purposes found expression in the 
work of five young Church of England men, between 
1857 and 1861, when Alford, Moberly, Humphrey, 
EUicott and Barrow produced translations of the Gos- 


pel of John and six Pauline Epistles, foreshadowing the 
great revision that was to begin ten years later. Dr. 
Thomas J. Conant, who taught Hebrew in Rochester 
Theological Seminary in the fifties, and Dr. Asahel C. 
Kendrick, who taught Greek in Rochester in the Uni- 
versity and the Seminary, in the sixties, were both active 
in the translation movements of their day, which were 
so numerous as to be practically continuous, maintain- 
ing an average of one a year from 1812 to 1900. Dr. 
Kendrick edited a revised New Testament in 1842, and 
Dr. Conant guided the editions of the American Bible 
Union in I860, 1863, and 1871. 

Tischendorf s discovery of the great Sinaitic manu- 
script in St. Catharine's convent in 1859 dramatized the 
whole matter of the new manuscript light on the true 
text, and this at once gave fresh stimulus to revision 
and retranslation. Tischendorf s published text was the 
basis of new translations by Robert Ainslee, London, 
1869, G. R. Noyes, Boston, 1869, and Samuel David- 
son, London, 1875, while Joseph B. Rotherham made 
his version from the text of Tregelles, London, 1872. 
The concern of these translators was clearly to keep 
the English version abreast of advances in textual 
study. In the same spirit, John Bowes in 1870 pub- 
lished at Dundee, Scotland, The New Testament, 
"translated from the purest Greek." It was the new 
wealth of manuscript evidence for the New Testa- 
ment that was producing these new versions. 


In 1870 Henry Alford published his revision of the 
New Testament, evidently as an experiment looking 
toward a full revision of the authorized King James 
Version. At the meeting of the Convocation of Canter- 
bury, the southern province of the Church of England, 
in 1870, it was moved that they undertake the revision 
of the New Testament. The motion was amended to 
include also the Old Testament, and so the revision of 
1881-85 began. It was largely a textual matter, for 
no one even thought of modernizing the phraseology. 
It was the new-found manuscript material reflected in 
new critical texts, Tischendorf and Tregelles, that had 
made revision inevitable. These had shown the wide 
deviation of the Erasmian text that lay back of the 
King James Version from the ancient text revealed in 
fourth and fifth century manuscripts and versions. 

The strongly conservative attitude of the time to any 
modernization of Biblical language is revealed in the 
second of the principles of revision adopted by the 
sponsors of the undertaking. Their first principle, like 
that of the King James revisers, was to introduce as few 
alterations as possible into the text of the Authorized 
Version, consistent with faithfulness; the second was 
to limit their alterations as far as possible to the lan- 
guage of the King James and earlier versions. This 
necessarily made their English more antique than that 
of the version they were revising. But it was for the 
third principle that the revision was made: it was that 


the text to be adopted be that for which the evidence is 
decidedly preponderating. This was the forward step 
for which the private translations had so long been 
preparing the way and on which the American Com- 
mittee went so much further than the English. Revisers 
had gone* 

While Westcott and Hort were on the English New 
Testament Committee and faithfully submitted proof- 
sheets of their revised Greek text for the several books 
to the revisers, the Committee as a whole was far from 
accepting their text. Yet many classical and Semitic 
scholars unmistakably suppose that the Revised Ver- 
sion represents the Westcott and Hort text. As a mat- 
ter of fact, the Revised New Testament came out a few 
weeks before the Westcott and Hort Greek Testament 
made its appearance, in 1881. And it cannot be too 
emphatically said that the Revised Version does not 
represent Westcott and Hort. That is an illusion com- 
parable only to that other textual illusion that Westcott 
and Hort simply bowed down to the text of Codex 
Vaticanus and printed it; or as one classical scholar 
has recently put it, "Among the thousands of New 
Testament manuscripts they found but two that had 
preserved a relatively pure text ... to defend two 
against two thousand is not only unscholarly but bor- 
ders on the ridiculous/' * This will strike anyone 

* Henry A* Sanders in Anglican Theological Review, xvi (1934), 
p. 267. 


familiar with Dr. Hort's discussion of textual method 
and history as a somewhat inadequate statement of his 
position and procedure. As a matter of fact, modern 
critical learning definitely declares Vaticanus better 
than he believed it; for example, in Acts 19:34 Lake 
accepts the repetition in Vaticanus of the cry of the 
Ephesians in the amphitheater, "Great Is Artemis of 
the Ephesians, Great is Artemis of the Ephesians." 4 
Dr. Hort dismissed the repetition as a mere dittogra- 
phy. And in James 1:17 the reading of Vaticanus- 
Sinaiticus, which Hort rejected as a scribal error, Ropes 
accepts as the true reading, and most scholars follow 
his judgment. In this important reading, which Hort 
singled out as the one unmistakable scribal error com- 
mon to both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, there now seems 
to have been no error at all. 

As a matter of fact, the Westcott and Hort text de- 
parts from that of Vaticanus in seven hundred readings 
in the gospels alone. Dr. Hort's favorable judgment of 
Vaticanus was not an irrational emotion but a delib- 
erate decision based upon an extended comparison of 
its readings with others. Such a comparison led htm to 
so good a judgment of that document that he felt in- 
creased confidence in its individual readings, especially 
when they were supported by some good uncial or ver- 
sion. Yet in many cases Weiss went beyond Hort in 
his esteem for the readings of Vaticanus. So it comes 

* Be&n*in& oj CMsttatttty, IV, p. 249. 


about that Nestle* s text is not infrequently found fol- 
lowing Vaticanus where Hort departs from it. 

The position of Dr, Hort must also be defended 
from the representation of it given by Sir Frederic G. 
Kenyon, that "it was the emphatic opinion of Hort 
that B had suffered no material contamination, whether 
by stylistic revision, or assimilation between parallel 
texts, or incorporation of extraneous matter." 5 But one 
of Dr. Hort's leading positions is that the text of Aleph 
and B both underwent precisely such incorporation of 
extraneous matter, in a whole series of interpolations, 
from which only the Western text remained free the 
famous Western non-interpolations. So far was Dr. 
Hort from holding the extreme views as to Codex Vati- 
canus with which some distinguished textual author- 
ities credit him. He believed it to be to an appreciable 
extent an interpolated text, definitely characterized by 
assimilation between parallel texts and incorporation 
of extraneous matter, such as: Mt. 27:49; Lk. 22:19, 
20; 24:3, 6, 12, 36, 40, 51, 52. His impressive list of 
Western non-interpolations, especially in the closing 
chapters of Luke, sufficiently acquits Dr. Hort of any 
such unreasoning devotion to Vaticanus as has been 
charged against him. Some also quite fail to report 
the enormous support Dr. Hort finds for his text in the 
evidence of groups of documents, so that Aleph-B are 

8 Recent Developments in the Textual Criticism of the Greek Bible 
(Schweich Lectures for 1933), p. 82. 


seldom left standing alone in support of a reading; 
and where they were so in Dr. Hort's day, the appear- 
ance of other ancient witnesses unknown to him have 
again and again given them strong support unsuspected 
by Hort, for which he could only have hoped. 

"It must not, of course, be assumed to follow/' says 
Dr. Hort, "that B has remained unaffected by sporadic 
corruption independent of the three great lines, West- 
ern, Alexandrian and Syrian. In the Gospel of Mat- 
thew, for instance, it has occasionally admitted widely 
spread readings of very doubtful genuineness/' 8 

We have seen that Erasmus with his printed text of 
the Greek Testament gave the first impulse to New 
Testament translation from the original Greek, and 
that the notable manuscript discoveries of the nine- 
teenth century so improved the knowledge of the more 
ancient text that the Revised Version was necessitated. 
Such discoveries did not by any means cease with 1881. 
In the fifty years that have since elapsed, scores of new 
witnesses to the ancient text have come to light, ancient 
versions Syriac, Coptic, Latin, Armenian have been 
more fully and critically edited and studied, and con- 
jectural emendation, formerly denied any place in New 
Testament textual study, has been allowed a limited 

In 1892 Mrs. Lewis found in the Convent of St. 
Catharine on Mt. Sinai, a manuscript of the Old Syriac 

e The New Testament in the Original Greek, II, p. 150. 


Gospels which gave us important light on the early his- 
tory of the Syriac text. In 1906 Mr. Charles L. Freer of 
Detroit found in Cairo a fourth or fifth century manu- 
script of the Greek gospels, and a dilapidated manu- 
script of Paul almost as ancient. They were published 
by Professor Henry A. Sanders, and deposited in the 
Freer Gallery in Washington. 

An amazing discovery of Coptic manuscripts the 
Hamouli library was made in 1910, when from vari- 
ous Arabs there came into the hands of dealers more 
than fifty Coptic codices, evidently all from the same 
find. These were reassembled as far as possible and 
fifty of them were secured by Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan. 
Four have been identified in the Cairo Museum. Ten 
of them are Biblical texts, containing the first complete 
texts of some New Testament books that have come to 
light in the Sahidic, the oldest Coptic version. There 
are copies of the four gospels, the letters of Paul and 
the Catholic epistles. Altogether this Hamouli library 
promises to add much to our knowledge of the chief 
Coptic versions, the Sahidic and the Bohairic. A Sahidic 
manuscript of Acts, in the Chester Beatty collection in 
London, from about A.D. 300, was published in 1912, 
and a Gospel of John of the fourth century, in 
Akhmimic-Sahidic, was published in 1924. 

Even these remarkable finds were eclipsed, however, 
in 1931, when Mr. A. Chester Beatty secured eleven 
Greek Biblical manuscripts on papyrus, of very early 


date. The discoveries of Greek papyri in Egypt had al- 
ready brought with them a considerable quantity of 
New Testament Greek manuscripts, mostly very frag- 
mentary, but of very early date, ranging from the third 
to the seventh centuries. But the Chester Beatty manu- 
scripts completely overshadowed these earlier discov- 
eries in both age and amount. 

Three were of the New Testament; a gospel and 
Acts codex, of thirty leaves, from the middle of the 
third century; ten leaves of the Letters of Paul, also of 
the third century; and ten leaves of the Revelation of 
John, from the later years of the same century. The 
other manuscripts, too, were mostly from the third cen- 
tury, though some were from the second, and some 
from the fourth. 

Hardly had Sir Frederic G. Kenyon in 1934 pub- 
lished the ten leaves of Paul when Professor Sanders 
of Michigan in 1935 countered with thirty more from 
the same manuscript, which Michigan had secured. 
Meantime Gerstinger of Vienna and Ulrich Wilcken, 
the dean of continental papyrologists, declared their 
belief that the manuscript was older than its editors 
supposed, and came from about A.D. 200; Gerstinger 
thought it might even be from the closing years of the 
second century. The cli** seemed to be reached when 
to the forty leaves already published Mr. Beatty was 
able to add forty-six more, and the whole was pub- 
lished together, in 1936. 


While the editors of the manuscript modestly dis- 
claim anything very startling in its text, it is difficult 
for me to imagine any readings more remarkable than 
the transposition of the great doxology from the end 
of Romans to the end of Chapter 15, which solves one 
of the major problems of Romans; the absence of the 
word "love" from Eph. 1:15 (with Aleph*ABP), or 
the omission of "in Ephesus" from Eph. 1:1, signally 
confirming that omission in the first hand of the Vati- 
can and Sinaitic codices, showing unmistakably that the 
phrase came into the text from the title, not, as some 
have thought, into the title from the text, and fairly 
establishing the encyclical character of Ephesians. 
These are findings of the utmost importance for the 
understanding of these two great letters. 

The sensational progress of manuscript discovery 
reached a dramatic climax when Roberts, working over 
a mass of papyrus fragments secured by Bernard P. 
Grenf ell in 1920 for the John Rylands Library of Man- 
chester, found a small piece from a papyrus leaf-book, 
containing five verses of the eighteenth chapter of the 
Gospel of John, written before the middle of the sec- 
ond century, or within a generation of the actual com- 
position of that gospel. Kenyon and Bell of the British 
Museum and Schubart of Berlin concur in this date, and 
Deissmann has not hesitated to describe the fragment 
as from the time of Hadrian, or as early as A.D. 138. 
In any case it is our oldest bit of evidence, in docu- 


ments or literature, of the existence of the Gospel of 

Only last summer, Mr. Roberts again amazed us all 
by publishing from the same hoard a Greek papyrus 
fragment of a roll of Deuteronomy, from the second 
century before Christ, which must therefore have been 
written within a century of the traditional date of the 
origin of the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch. 
That does not belong to New Testament study, but it 
shows what amazing controls the papyri are beginning 
to supply for our historical and philological research in 
the field of Biblical Greek. 

But it is not these discoveries of Biblical papyri, how- 
ever dazzling, that have had most to do with the devel- 
opment of New Testament translation. It is the Greek 
papyrus documents, the humble, insignificant remains 
of ancient everyday life, the deeds, leases, contracts, 
petitions, reports, accounts, lists, letters, invitations 
every kind of personal or business paper one can think 
of and scores of others one could never think of 
these have come flooding in upon us from the sands of 
Egypt, from digging, authorized or unauthorized, ever 
since 1778, or for just one hundred and fifty years. Of 
course they became more systematic and satisfactory 
with the advent of Petrie at Gurob in 1889-90 and 
Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus in 1897, when the 
discovery of the first fragment of Sayings of Jesus elec- 
trified the learned and indeed the religious world and 


gave to Grenf ell and Hunt, two young Oxford men 
in their twenties, a celebrity they fully merited. 

It was Deissmann who first realized the meaning of 
such materials for New Testament Greek. One day, 
when he was a young pastor at Marburg, he was brows- 
ing about the library at Heidelberg, and came across 
one of the fasciculi of the Berlin Urkunden papyrus 
documents transcribed by various scholars, each of 
whom signs his transcript. The name of an old friend 
caught his eye and he paused to read the simple little 
Greek text above it. He said to himself, "Why, this is 
like the Greek of the New Testament!" He pursued 
the idea and gradually became convinced that this was 
the key to the peculiar genius of New Testament 
Greek, so unlike classical Greek, or Septuagint Greek, 
or the literary Greek of New Testament times. Indeed, 
one German scholar went so far as to declare that the 
Greek of the New Testament was a miracle language, 
devised by divine providence for the purposes of revela- 
tion; a language of the Holy Ghost. 

The papyri have shown that New Testament Greek 
owes its peculiar quality to the fact that it is in the 
main the vernacular, the idiom of everyday speech. 
Wellhausen and Renan had long since perceived that 
the gospels were the first books written in popular 
Greek, and the great translators from Tyndale to the 
scholars of King James were conscious that they were 
working for the common man, to reach the plow boy, 


as Tyndale said, and the very vulgar, to quote the 
Preface to King James. 

This discovery, which has proved convincing to New 
Testament philologists of every school, is also quite in 
line with what the New Testament itself has to say. 
The Corinthians complained that Paul was rude in 
speech, and he did not deny the charge, but admitted it, 
and declared he would never change to a more literary 
style, lest his diction should come to overshadow his 
message and the cross of Christ become an empty thing. 
The general character of the public first addressed by 
the early Christian movement confirms this impression. 

The effect of this discovery upon New Testament 
translation was immediate and striking. The modern 
speech translations began. A Catholic, Father Spencer, 
immediately translated the four gospels into familiar 
modern English in 1898. As Cardinal Gibbons put it 
in the preface, he "endeavored to represent our Lord 
and the Apostles as speaking, not in an antique style, 
but in the language they would speak if they lived 
among us now." In 1899 Frank Schell Ballentine pro- 
duced in New York his translation of the gospels as 
parts of what he called A Modern American Bible. It 
is described in the printing of 1902 as "the books of 
the Bible in Modern English for American Readers/' 
Mr. Ballentine grasped the idea that a vernacular New 
Testament must be one thing in the United States and 
another thing in England and Scotland, since veraacu- 


lar English differs so much between the two countries. 
The first complete New Testament translated from the 
new point of view was the Twentieth Century, 1899- 
1900. My colleague, Dr. James M. Stifler, once asked 
its publisher, Mr. Fleming H. Revell, who had pre- 
pared the translation, and Mr. Revell declined to tell. 
But light has now been thrown upon the matter by Dr. 
P. Marion Simms in his recent book, The Bible in 
America, 1936. It seems that in 1890 a farmer in the 
lake district in England, said to Mrs. Mary Higgs, 
"Why is not the Bible written so that we can under- 
stand it? ... Why does not someone translate it into 
English again?" Mrs. Higgs wrote to Mr. W. T. Stead, 
then editor of the Review of Reviews. In 1891 a young 
engineer named Malan wrote to Mr. Stead in the same 
vein. He found difficulty in reading the Bible to his 
children, and pointed out that he found La Serre's Four 
Gospels in modern French much more intelligible than 
the English versions. Mr. Stead put Mr. Malan and 
Mrs. Higgs in touch with each other. Mrs. Higgs was 
a graduate of Girton College, Cambridge, and had 
married a Congregational minister. The undertaking 
grew until a score of people were at work upon it, and 
so arose The Twentieth Century New Testament, one 
of the best of the modern speech versions. 

The vernacular character of New Testament Greek 
was increasingly confirmed by New Testament philol- 
ogy, as the Greek papyrus documents supplying ma- 


terial for comparison increased. Not a year passes that 
items of New Testament language do not receive new 
illumination from our advancing knowledge of papyrus 

Meantime the impulse given by Deissmann's keen 
observation continues to control New Testament trans- 
lators of almost every school. Even those who approach 
the task from the Aramaic angle, while denying the 
pertinence of the papyrus evidence and claiming to 
ignore it altogether, nevertheless fall into line with its 
colloquial bent and wholly abandon the stiff archaic 
forms of sixteenth century English. The translations of 
Weymouth (1903) and of James Moffatt (1913) were 
of especial worth. Many modern speech translations 
followed. Since 1900 there has been an average of one 
a year, in this country or in England. In 1923, President 
Ballantyne, formerly of Oberlin, published his River- 
side New Testament, I produced The New Testament, 
an American Translation, and Mrs. Montgomery issued 
the first volume of her Centenary Translation, com- 
pleted the following year, celebrating the one hun- 
dredth anniversary of the American Baptist Publication 

On the Catholic side, the Jesuit scholars of West- 
minster have completed their Westminster Version of 
the New Testament, and are now at work upon die 
Old. Theirs is not, however, a vernacular translation, 
though it is based not on the Latin vulgate but on the 


original Greek. Professor James A. Kleist, a Jesuit 
scholar of St. Louis University, has published a transla- 
tion of Mark in the familiar style, and the vernacular 
translation begun by Father Spencer with his Four 
Gospels in 1898 has been completed and is appearing 
this year/ 

Such is the influence that manuscript discovery has 
had from time to time upon New Testament transla- 
tion. First upon Erasmus when the coming of Greek 
manuscripts into western Europe after the fall of Con- 
stantinople in 1453 brought in their wake a desire to 
learn Greek and read these mysterious works of the 
older learning. After him and through him, in the 
religious zeal of the Reformation, upon Luther and 
Tyndale, and their successors. Then upon the private 
translators who followed the appearance of the King 
James Version, and who felt the growing gap between 
the text they knew and the emerging Greek uncial 
codices, Alexandrinus, Beza, Claromontanus and the 
rest. Then with the better understanding of the value 
of Vaticanus and with the appearance of Sinaiticus, a 
new wave of concern for revision swept English Chris- 
tianity. And then again, the Greek papyrus discoveries 
of the 1890's revealed the true character of New Testa- 
ment Greek and brought on the present era of modern 
speech translations, which have brought the New 

7 The New Testament, Translated from the Original Greek by Very 
Rev. F. A. Spencer, O.P. Edited by C. J. Callan, OJP., and J. A. 
McHugh, O.P., New York: The Maonillan Co., 1937. 


Testament message home to thousands with a new 
vitality and vigor. 

The attitude of the modern translators is well put 
in the well-nigh forgotten words of the great King 
James Preface: "If we building on their foundation 
that went before us and being holpen by their labours 
do strive to make that better which they left so good, 
no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike us; they 
themselves, we persuade ourselves, if they were alive, 
would thank us/' 

Strangely enough, the individual character of these 
modern efforts has not interfered with their wide use. 
It is well that they are numerous, for to quote the great 
Preface once more, "Is the kingdom of God become 
words and syllables? Why should we be in bondage 
to them when we may be free?" 


FOUR hundred years ago the Bible of western Europe 
and of the English people was the Latin vulgate. Few 
people read it; the people were not expected or en- 
couraged to read it. Only the educated could under- 
stand it when they heard it read in church. But a young 
Oxford man, William Tyndale, determined to trans- 
late it from the original into the plain spoken English 
of his day, and published the New Testament in Eng- 
lish at Worms in 1525. 

Since Tyndale's translation the New Testament has 
been revised or retranslated into English more than a 
hundred and fifty times. 1 Especially since 1800 trans- 
lators have been very active, and translations and re- 
visions have averaged at least one a year. Every Chris- 
tian denomination has participated. A Catholic scholar, 
Father Spencer, began the modern movement with his 
translation of the four gospels, in 1898, and his com- 
pleted New Testament is just appearing, almost forty 
years later. 

What is the explanation? What is the justification 

1 Cf. John V. Madison, "English Versions of the New Testament," 
Journal of Biblical literature, xliv (1925), pp. 261-88. 



of this widespread impulse to do again what was so 
well done, so long ago? Let us seek the answer to this 

1. In the first place, it cannot be doubted that we 
now possess a much sounder Greek text to translate 
than was known to Tyndale or to the scholars of King 

What text had Tyndale on which to base his trans- 
lation? He had Erasmus' third edition of the Greek 
Testament, dated 1522. The Greek New Testament 
was first printed in the fifth volume of the Complu- 
tensian Polyglot, dated 1514. But that volume was not 
published and offered for sale until the other volumes 
were ready and certain Catholic publication formal- 
ities were gone through with, and in the meantime Fro- 
ben prevailed upon Erasmus to come to Basel and 
undertake to edit a Greek Testament for him to print. 
Erasmus' first edition appeared in 1516. In his preface 
he told of his interest in the translation of the New 
Testament into modern languages, and expressed the 
hope that this would be done. Luther based his famous 
translation of 1522 upon Erasmus* second edition, of 
1519, and Tyndale based his upon Erasmus* third 
edition, of 1522. This version of Tyndale's, as we 
have seen, reappeared in Coverdale's Bible of 1535, in 
John Rogers' ("Thomas Matthew's' ') Bible of 1537, 
and with some revision, in the Great Bible of 1539, the 
Geneva of 1560, the Bishops' of 1568, and the King 


James, of 1611, So slight was the revision to which 
Tyndale's work was subjected by all these hands, that 
it has been calculated that ninety-two per cent of the 
King James New Testament reproduces Tyndale's 
translation of 1525* The scholars of King James had 
recourse at times to the recent New Testament editions 
of Theodore Beza, but these in turn rested for the most 
part upon the editions of Erasmus. The whole fabric 
of the English New Testament, from Tyndale to King 
James, may be said to be based upon his editions. 

This fact is definitely established by the presence of 
I John 5:7 in all these English translations. This inter- 
polation was not in Erasmus* first and second editions, 
but as it was in the Latin vulgate and had appeared in 
the Complutensian New Testament of 1514, Catholic 
scholars called upon Erasmus to include it. It is the 
verse about the Three Heavenly Witnesses. He replied 
that he would admit it to his text if they would show 
him a Greek manuscript that contained it. They did 
so, producing a contemporary manuscript, now gener- 
ally believed to have been copied for the purpose, and 
Erasmus, true to his word, inserted the verse in his 
edition of 1522, from which it passed into the stream 
of English translation. It has found a place in the vast 
majority of English Bibles ever since. But only one 
other Greek manuscript has ever been found contain- 
ing it, and it is absent from all the really ancient ver- 


Erasmus had only eight manuscripts on which to 
base his edition and none of these was a complete New 
Testament. Of Revelation he had a single defective 
manuscript, which lacked a few verses at the end. 
There Erasmus simply retranslated from the Latin vul- 
gate into Greek, thus completing his text. In this way 
some phrases never in the Greek have found their way 
into the English Bible, where they still stand, in the 
King James Version. These items fully establish the 
dependence of the English New Testament from 1525 
to 1880 upon Erasmus' third edition of 1522, 

Over against these eight late Greek manuscripts, 
modern learning has 4,000 Greek manuscripts, includ- 
ing lectionaries, of the New Testament to grapple 
with, the earliest of which go back to the beginning of 
the third century. One fragment of the Gospel of 
John, as we have seen, is earlier than A.D. 150. We 
now have a wealth of textual evidence in Greek manu- 
scripts of the third and fourth centuries, so that we can 
push our knowledge back a thousand years beyond that 
of Erasmus. 

There are, moreover, the ancient versions, Latin, 
Syriac, Coptic, and so on, some of which are preserved 
in manuscripts almost as ancient and numerous as the 
Greek text itself. There are two Latin versions, the 
Vulgate preserved in thousands of manuscripts; four 
Syriac versions, four Coptic, and most of these are now 
available in modern critical editions. Their testimony 


and that of the manuscripts have been patiently worked 
over in a series of careful editions of the Greek text. 
Tischendorf devoted his life to the Greek text of the 
New Testament, and Westcott and Hort's edition of 
1881 was the result of twenty-eight years of labor. 
Thanks to the work of such scholars, we now know 
better what the evangelists and apostles wrote than has 
been possible in any century since the fourth. 

The question is, are we to take advantage of this 
amazing wealth of new knowledge about the New 
Testament or are we not? Is it to be neglected? Or is 
it to be brought to bear upon the better understanding 
of the New Testament? Many people are insisting that 
no attention is to be paid to it, and that it adds nothing 
worth mentioning to our knowledge of the New Testa- 
ment. Certainly this is not the view of New Testament 

2. In the second place, it must be recognized that 
Greek is much better understood today than it was in 
Tyndale's time or in that of the scholars of King 
James. Greek was little studied in English universities 
when Tyndale was in Oxford. We have seen that 
Greek had long been a dead language in England; no 
one could read it. The first competent instruction in 
Greek in Oxford was given in 1491 about the time 
of the discovery of America, and the first permanent 
chair in Greek was established there in 1516, the year 
after Tyndale left Oxford. Yet in a time when it must 


have been difficult to find good instruction in Greek, 
Tyndale took pains to learn it, in order to translate the 
New Testament. 

The situation is very different today. For one thing, 
in the nineteenth century, the method of Comparative 
Philology was discovered, and the study of language 
was transformed. That new science did most perhaps 
for Greek, for by its aid, one can focus on a page of 
Greek, the light of Sanskrit from before and of 
Modern Greek from afterward. Certainly knowledge 
of Greek was immensely improved by the results of 
philology. It became a new study. 

More than that, in recent years since 1910 there 
have been such advances in New Testament lexicog- 
raphy that a whole series of new dictionaries have 
appeared, in France, Germany, England, America, 
which greatly facilitate New Testament study. I have 
listed elsewhere in this volume the new works of 
Preuschen (1910), Zorell (1911), Ebeling (1913), 
Souter (1916), Abbott-Smith (1922), Moulton and 
Milligan (1930), Bauer's revision of Preuschen, 1928, 
1937, Kittel's Worterbuch, in progress, and the revised 
Liddell and Scott, nearing completion. All but the last 
of these deal solely or principally with die New Testa- 
ment, and they constitute a testimony to the march of 
modern learning about the New Testament that is 
most eloquent. New Testament philology is making 
great progress. Shall the English New Testament keep 


pace with this advance, or shall our American Chris- 
tianity be kept in ignorance of it? There can be but 
one answer to this question. If there is advance in our 
knowledge of Greek, it must be shared with the Chris- 
tian public. 

3. The third reason for retranslation is the discovery 
of the Greek papyri. In 1863 when Lightfoot was a 
young teacher in Cambridge he said to his class, "If we 
could only recover letters that ordinary people wrote to 
each other without any thought of being literary, we 
should have the greatest possible help for the under- 
standing of the language of the New Testament gener- 
ally." * Just such aids as Lightfoot then desired have 
since come to our hands in great quantities. Deeds, 
leases, accounts, reports, notices, contracts, invitations, 
memoranda, invitations, and letters have been un- 
earthed among the papyri found in recent years in 
Egypt, and proved that Lightfoot was entirely right in 
his judgment of them, and of their bearing upon the 
understanding of the New Testament. 

These papyrus documents of everyday life have 
shown us the colloquial, vernacular Greek that was 
spoken among ordinary Greeks who could read and 
write, as they talked and wrote the common dialect in 
Egypt and presumably elsewhere about the Mediterra- 
nean in the centuries before and after Christ. We have 
known the Greeks for the most part through their fin- 

* Cf . James Hope Moulton, Grammar of New Testament Greek 
(Edinburgh, 2d ed., 1906), I, p. 242. 


ished literary productions their plays, orations, poems, 
treatises, histories; but now in the papyri they appear 
to us as they were, in informal daily intercourse; busi- 
ness, travel, agriculture, entertainment, hospitality, 
amusement, sport, crime the whole gamut of life as 
it appears in any morning paper. The papyri have re- 
vealed to us the colloquial Greek of the time, as we 
had never beheld it before. 

And to our amazement, this vernacular Greek is the 
very Greek in which the New Testament is written/ 
This has been a great surprise to everybody, yet it 
should have surprised no one. The first public of the 
early Christian mission was peasants and fishermen, 
and in the Greek world, not many of its converts were 
what the world calls rich, intelligent or high born. 
Moreover, Paul himself in I Corinthians, shows that 
he was much criticized in Corinth for his informal 
style of speaking and writing. They said he was "rude 
in speech," and he did not deny it; he admitted it, and 
declared that he would not change and adopt a more 
literary style, lest if he did his diction might come to 
overshadow his message, and so the cross would be 
made of no effect. Paul has really been telling us all 
the time in I Cor. 14 just what the papyri have risen 
from the sands of Egypt to establish; that he used the 
familiar language of everyday life. 

The great translators perceived this instinctively, and 

* Of. George Milligan, Here and there among the Papyri (London, 
1922), pp. 57, 58. 


in times when contemporary English was not thought 
good enough to translate the Bible, nevertheless put 
the Bible into the language of the common people. 
Tyndale once said to a priest that he would enable 
even the plow-boy to know more of the Bible than the 
priests did, and the King James translators in their 
great Preface, so generally forgotten, expressed . their 
desire that the Scripture "may be understood even of 
the very vulgar." Nineteenth century scholars perceived 
and affirmed that the gospels were the first books 
written in popular Greek. But it remained for the 
papyri to establish the fact that the New Testament 
was written not in the literary style, nor in philosophi- 
cal language, but in the vernacular Greek of its day 
in the plainest, most direct and intelligible terms devel- 
oped in everyday use. 

This conclusion has been steadily strengthened by 
the increasing masses of Greek papyrus documents, 
numbering tens of thousands, that have been found 
and published since it was first reached. No one who 
has made even a slight examination of them has any 
doubt of its truth. And it puts the matter of New 
Testament translation in a new perspective. 

For if the New Testament was written in the fami- 
liar, colloquial style, it should be translated in that 
style. Of course it was translated in that way by its 
first translators, but their translations have by the lapse 
of rime and the dignity of their formal use in church, 


come to seem much more literary than they are. What 
was plain speech in 1525 has in four hundred years 
changed to rhetoric or even poetry. Many people find 
in the King James Version poetic values which were 
not in that version in 1611, but have arisen as time has 
removed the old familiar idiom further and further 
from common use. 

The observations of Thomas Hardy upon this point 
are of great interest. He wrote in his journal, of April 
30, 1918: 

"By the will of God some men are born poetical. Of 
these some make themselves practical poets, others are 
made poets by lapse of time who were hardly recog- 
nized as such. Particularly has this been the case with 
the translators of the Bible. They translated into the 
language of their age; then the years began to corrupt 
the language as spoken, and to add grey lichen to the 
translation; until the moderns who use the corrupted 
tongue marvel at the poetry of the old words. When 
new they were not more than half so poetical. So that 
Coverdale, Tyndale and the rest of them are as ghosts 
what they never were in flesh." * 

This is the explanation of the flood of modern 
speech translations that have sprung up since 1895 
Father Spencer's Four Gospels, The Twentieth Cen- 
tury New Testament, Dr. Weymouth's New Testament 

* The Later Years oj Thomas Hardy f p. 186. I am indebted to Dr. 
William H. Allison, of the Library of Congress, for this illuminating 


in Modern Speech, and so on all so admirable in 
many ways. It seemed to me, however, that if we were 
to make earnest with the colloquial character of the 
New Testament and produce a truly modem colloquial 
translation of it, it must be one thing in the British 
Isles and another thing in the United States. For while 
our literary language may be the same, our familiar 
spoken idiom is very different. 5 

It is hardly necessary to illustrate this. An English 
professor addressing a Chicago student audience many 
years ago said he was glad to see so many young women 
present, for they added so much homeliness to the occa- 
sion. Of course he used the word in a very different 
sense from ours. A house-wrecker in England puts 
the word Chouse-breaker" over his office door; an 
English boy sent by his mother to buy a reel of cotton, 
perplexes all the clerks in the store until one of them 
has an inspiration and supplies him with a spool of 
thread A wrench is a spanner, mucilage is gum, rail- 
road switches are points, and the rails are lines. 

And why should we forever seek to impose the ster- 
ling currency upon the New Testament pounds, shil- 
lings, pence and farthings? Unless we propose to limit 
its use to those readers who have visited England. 
That currency has no more to do with the world of 

1 The legitimacy of American English idiom is now fully recognized 
in the publication of A Dictionary of American English on Historical 
Principles, edited by Sir William Craigie and James R. Hulbert (Chi- 


Jesus and the apostles than dollars and cents have. Yet 
some earnest people will declare that to speak of dol- 
lars and cents in the New Testament is an "anachro- 
nism" all unconscious that pounds, shillings, pence and 
farthings are equally anachronistic there. 

If the purpose of New Testament translation is to 
bring what the New Testament writers meant to con- 
vey directly and vividly before the modern American 
reader, then it should not be necessary for htm to 
detour through a course in sixteenth century English, 
such as is necessary for the understanding of even the 
simpler parts of the New Testament. There are more 
readers of the English Bible in America than in any 
other country in the world, and there is room for a 
translation made in their own vernacular. 

So k seemed to me that we might with entire propri- 
ety undertake an American translation of the New 
Testament, directly from the original Greek, into the 
familiar spoken idiom of our own country. Consider 
the position. We possess a sounder Greek text to trans- 
late, a better knowledge of Greek to apply to it, a new 
understanding of the colloquial character of New 
Testament language, and all the wealth of modern 
colloquial American English, as legitimate a phase of 
the development of that noble speech as any in its long 
history; what is to be done with all this material? 
There can be but one answer: Use it, for an American 
translation of the New Testament. 


A sense of the obscurity of the standard versions led 
Dr. Ernest A. Bell, minister o the Night Church in 
Chicago, to ask two scholars o his acquaintance to 
make a translation of the Gospel of John that his hum- 
ble parishioners could understand, and when they ex- 
cused themselves, he finally did it himself. 

That the standard versions are obscure no one can 
deny. The third horseman of the Apocalypse is the 
angel of famine, and the Greek indicates this fact 
unmistakably when a voice is heard proclaiming 
famine prices of wheat and even of barley. No one 
could possibly gather this idea from the standard ver- 
sions, in none of which does the utterance of the voice 
convey any meaning whatever. It is plain that those 
who still defend such versions care little for what the 
New Testament means; their whole concern is for its 
sound, its form of words; what they mistakenly call its 

This is well illustrated by the protest against trans- 
lating the Greek word 'lamps" literally, instead of fol- 
lowing William Tyndale and rendering it "candles." 
Of course there is not one mention of a candle any- 
where in the New Testament. Yet a leading New York 
newspaper editorially condemns the use of "lamp" in 
the New Testament, dismissing it with contempt as a 
futile effort at modernization.* It is of course quite 
the opposite. Many visitors to the Mediterranean 

* The New York Times, August 27, 1923, editorial page. 


bring back little pottery lamps from Graeco-Roman 
times; no antique souvenir is more common. But in 
Tyndale's day, the English were using candles, and in 
an effort to modernize the New Testament he rendered 
the word "lamp" by "candle/* It is interesting that the 
New York editor should have inverted this, supposing 
a lamp to be a modern invention. Of course the word 
"candle" completely spoils the figure and obscures the 

The greatest difficulty in the New Testament, how- 
ever, is met in the epistles, especially those by Paul. 
Here advocates of the traditional versions themselves 
freely confess that the case is hopeless. No one they 
declare, can understand Paul and there is no use trying. 
Again and again this position is taken in newspaper 
editorials. Of course this means only that they cannot 
understand the current versions, and assume that where 
these have failed no other can succeed. This admission, 
which is very generally made, opens the way for mod- 
ern translations. With a better text to translate, a bet- 
ter knowledge of Greek, a dearer sense of the informal 
character of New Testament style, and a consciousness 
that it is the translator's business to keep hold of the 
line of thought, a great deal can be done with Paul In 
fact the chief difficulties about understanding Paul are 
not in the Greek but in the standard English versions, 
which definitely confuse and obscure what he has to 


The modern translator is usually regarded by his 
critics as a mere reviser of the King James Bible. Of 
course he never looks at the King James Bible. He 
respects it for its sixteenth and seventeenth century 
diction, and for all that it has meant and done, but as 
an aid to the modern understanding of the Bible he 
never consults it. 

Instead, he takes the soundest Greek text that 
patient, international scholarship has determined for 
the New Testament, and with die aid of all the best 
modern translations, lexicons, grammars, commen- 
taries, and special monographs he can command, he 
undertakes to understand just what each sentence of 
the Greek New Testament was intended by its author 
to mean. He looks at each sentence just as objectively 
as a chemist looks at a test tube, or a biologist at a 
slide under his microscope, seeking not to shape it to 
his own tastes and convictions, but to gather from it 
what it was originally meant to convey. 

Then when he has understood it, he sets himself to 
cast it in such modern English as he would use if he 
had thought of it himself; English that shall not sound 
like translation at all; English so smooth, natural and 
easy that the reader will forget he is reading a transla- 
tion and be led on and on by the sheer ease of the style 
until he has read a whole gospel or a whole epistle at a 
sitting, as their writers meant them to be read, and 
comes at length to realize that the New Testament is 


not a mass of chapters and verses, but a library of 
powerful, coherent pamphlets. The modern speech 
versions have beyond all question recovered for the 
New Testament what the standard versions have cost 
it, the quality of continuous readability. The longest 
book in the New Testament can be easily read in two 
hours; the longest letter of Paul, in one. It was for 
such reading that they were written. Their writers 
never dreamed of their being broken into two hundred 
and sixty chapters and 7959 verse-paragraphs. It is 
partly that division and partly the obscurity of the old 
English that retards and discourages the reading of 
the New Testament. 

We may add that the forms in which the standard 
versions of the New Testament are offered to the mod- 
em reader are enough to complete its eclipse. In the 
latest edition of the King James Version T in one of 
the most dramatic situations which even Luke records 
Paul before the bloodthirsty mob, shouting for his 
death we read: 

And when there was made a great silence, he spake 
unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, 


Could anything be more absolutely mechanical than 
this? The edition proceeds utterly regardless of its con- 
tents, with the meaningless record of Stephen Lang- 

* Cambridge, 1937. 


ton's chapter division, made in the Middle Ages, com- 
pletely destroying the magnificent dramatic effect de- 
signed by the historian. And yet professors of English 
literature loudly defend this version against all comers 
for its literary worth. But what of its literary obtuse- 

The time has come for an intelligent modern para- 
graphing and punctuating of the New Testament. After 
all, the Greeks invented both. Why should they be 
withheld from one of the great monuments of the 
Greek genius? Properly paragraphed, the Gospel of 
John at once becomes more interesting, attractive and 
intelligible. More than this, it immediately reveals 
what the standard forms of its text conceal its dia- 
logue character; it is largely conversation, debate, dis- 
cussion, and a strong and sudden light is thus thrown 
upon its literary affinities; they are with the Greek 
dialogue. No one would ever gather this from the 
standard versions, yet we are constantly told of their 
superior literary value.* 

But the great fault of the standard versions is that 
they make the whole New Testament sound alike, ajnd 
never exhibit the variety of literary style in it, because 
they plaster it all over thickly with the idiom of the 

* The unreality of this "literary use" of the King James Version by 
students is shown conclusively by the fact that there is no faithful edition 
of it, including its important preface and its full contents, and acknowl- 
edging the tacit revisions it has sustained, anywhere available for 


sixteenth century. So true is this that we sometimes 
actually hear people talk of the "biblical style." Of 
course there is no such thing. It is simply a mask which 
makes the writings of the New Testament seem some- 
thing they are not. To treat them as works of the 
"high*' style when they are in reality for the most 
part cast in the simplest, most direct language their 
writers could command, is to disguise and misrepre- 
sent them, and to limit their full influence to a very 
small, select few who understand sixteenth century 
English, and are able to push through the obscurity of 
the old versions to some intelligible sense. 

Modern translations are sometimes charged with 
being "interpretations." Of course they are. Any trans- 
lation is an interpretation. The criticism is a most re- 
vealing one however, for it shows that its makers think 
the Bible can be translated without being interpreted. 
No one thinks this of any other book or literature. But 
from the past there has come down to us the strange 
idea that in dealing with the Bible, one could translate 
a Greek word into English, and then another Greek 
word into English, and then another, and the com- 
pleted English product would mean what the Greek 
sentence had been intended to convey, without having 
had to pass through the mind of the translator at all. 
Of course this is simply a superstitious delusion. But 
it is at the bottom of much of the obscurity of the old 
versions; their makers really and honestly did not think 


they had to understand what they were translating, in 
order to translate it, and a great many times they did 
not understand it. The best Old Testament example 
of this vice is in Ecclesiastes 12:11: 'The words of the 
wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters 
of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd." The 
whole picture of a shepherd distributing nails to mas- 
ters of assemblies is grotesque and meaningless, and 
cries out for explanation. The translator did not think 
it was necessary for him to understand what he was 

It was George Eliot, I believe, who said that you 
could not examine middle-aged people. She was mis- 
taken. For if you will publish a translation of the New 
Testament, you will at once be flooded with editorials, 
articles, and letters, which are in effect the involuntary 
examination papers of a host of middle-aged editors, 
professors, ministers, and laymen upon no less a matter 
than the English Bible. 

It has long been thought a proper course to take 
such utterances from classes of defenceless undergrad- 
uates and analyze and generalize upon them for the 
delectation of the middle-aged. What then could be 
fairer, once possessed of this novel material, than to 
analyze and generalize upon it for the common enter- 
tainment and it may be for the common good? In at- 
tempting to do this, there have been thrust upon me, 
to my great surprise, three widespread confusions of 


thought as to the Bible, which many of our most ac- 
complished essayists, novelists, and journalists, and 
possibly not a few others less gifted, have not escaped. 
1. One gifted individual, in great demand as a lec- 
turer and after-dinner speaker, was protesting to me 
his thorough acquaintance with the Bible. "Why," 
said he, "when I was eleven years old, I could repeat 
twenty-seven hundred verses of it! Of course I know 
the Bible/- 
The sad part of it is that most intelligent people will 
think he was right. What more is there to know about 
the Bible? So strongly do people hold this view that 
most people are outraged at the mere suggestion that 
there is anything more for them to learn about the 
Bible than they learned at their mother's knee, and 
regard such an idea as a grave reflection not only upon 
piety and religion but upon their mother herself. Upon 
other subjects they may consent to let their subsequent 
education carry them beyond what she there imparted 
to them, but upon the Bible, never! What they there 
learned about it was full and final, never to be altered, 
save by the gentle natural process of forgetfulness. 

Of course this condemns the Bible forever to the 
nursery. It assumes that it is a child's book and that 
only. And from this nursery conception of it, it is an 
easy step to the notion that it is in words of one sylla- 
ble an idea fortunately not borne out by the facts. 
That it was written by great men, grappling with eter- 


nal problems of duty and destiny is unthought of. 
Enough for it to have its disconnected fragments 
memorized like proverbs by children too young to 
know what most of it is about. 

I would not be misunderstood. I owe almost as 
much to such early memorizings as did my learned 
friend, and I most emphatically prize it. It is not that 
children should learn less of the Bible but that grown 
people should learn more. For to suppose that all that 
is worth knowing about the Bible can be learned in 
babyhood is a mistake. It is like having one's mind 
filled with tags from Shakespeare and supposing that 
is all there is to be known of him. The New Testa- 
ment does not consist of detached verses, and beyond 
this Golden Text acquaintance there is a knowledge of 
the Bible worthy the powers of grown men and women. 

With all the virtues of the old version, its supreme 
vice is this, that instead of lighting people through 
these great labyrinths of Biblical literature, it has in- 
volved them in such obscurity that most of us never do 
more than glance in and pass on. This is the sufficient 
answer for the claims made for the old version: If it 
be so readable, why does nobody read it? For dipping 
into it here and there for a verse or two, cannot be 
dignified as grown-up reading. What manner of 
achievement is this, for people who can dispatch a 
whole novel in a night? 

This is not strange. Most of die New Testament 


in the King James or the Revised Versions, was written 
by William Tyndale more than four hundred years ago. 
Very little of it sounds natural and straightforward to 
the modern ear. Instead of smoothing the reader's way 
to the fullest understanding of the New Testament, it 
strews his path with every kind of obstacle strange 
words, vague elusive phrases, sentences without em- 
phasis so that he cannot keep the writer's line of 
thought all things well enough in an old piece of 
English literature, but intolerable if one really prizes 
and pursues the thought of the New Testament. 

The idea that this gnarled, unnatural language, so 
alien to the colloquial style of the New Testament, is 
an aid to the understanding or even the reading of it, 
can only be described as a literary superstition, preva- 
lent among those who have not reflected very deeply 
upon the matter. The bald f act is that it is the greatest 
bar to both. 

Criticism itself never sanctioned such a wholesale 
dismemberment of the New Testament as the verse 
division, invented in 1551, and followed in King 
James, which tears the books of the New Testament 
into thousands of fragments and offers them to the 
reader in place of the coherent originals. And these 
broken bits of the New Testament are thought by some 
to contribute more to liberal education than the con- 
tinuous, intelligible presentation of the books as they 
were written. Certainly, most people never see the 


books of the New Testament but only the verses, and 
very few of them. They cannot see the wood for the 

2. An intelligent woman once said to me: 

"Why do you say we do not understand the King 
James Version? I have no trouble in understanding 

'Then," said I, "what does this mean: 'In his hu- 
miliation his judgment was taken away*?" 

She was evidently perplexed and left me. Half an 
hour later, she came back and said, 

"I think I know what that verse means. Can't you 
imagine a person being so humiliated as to lose his 

Of course nothing can be further from what Luke 
meant than the idea that Jesus was so humiliated that 
he lost his judgment! Yet that was all the King James 
Version could give this patient reader of it. 

This may illustrate a second confusion of thought 
about the Bible; the confusion of Familiarity with 

Dallas Lore Sharp once told me that his nephews, 
who are engineers, said to him: 

"Uncle, you are a professor of English and you may 
understand the King James Bible; we are just univer- 
sity graduates in engineering and we do not." 

This was a sound observation, from educated men. 
They knew the difference between familiarity and com- 


prehension. Childhood memories and scripture read- 
ing in church have made many parts of the Bible 
familiar to our ears. Much of it lingers in the mind as 
sentences not understood but so familiar that we are 
not even aware of their obscurity* "Jots and tittles," 
"a horn of salvation," "the besom of destruction/' "the 
gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity" every- 
body is familiar with these expressions but how many 
have any clear idea what they mean? 

Some candid spirits readily admit that much of the 
Bible conveys very little meaning to them and solace 
themselves with the reflection that it is not necessary 
to understand all of it. We may hasten to agree that 
no one is in any danger of understanding all of it, 
but that does not excuse us from making some effort to 
understand as much of it as we can. But the mind does 
not always stop at not understanding; often it moves 
instinctively on to invest what is not understood with 
some vague, shadowy occult meaning of its own, Omne 
ignotum pro magnifico. 

3. A third confusion of thought is that between the 
Bible as English literature and the Bible as religious 
literature. The King James Version is an English 
classic, and should be treated as such shelved with 
Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Dryden and the rest. And 
here our critics, essayists, novelists, and editors wish 
to stop. What more is there to be said? As though the 
New Testament were chiefly remarkable as a piece of 


quaint old English style. It is also a classic of Coptic 
literature, and of Syriac literature, both of which it 
helped to shape; does anyone really think these literary 
laurels the supreme thing about die New Testament? 
Such judgments do not honor the New Testament; 
they only show that upon some very cultivated minds 
its real worth and dignity have never impinged. It is 
not as English literature, but as religious literature that 
the New Testament is supreme. 

It is by this canon that the forms of it must finally 
be judged: Do they give to its unique religious genius 
the fullest possible expression? Paul did not write to 
amuse the Corinthians and Romans, or even to help on 
their liberal education. He had in view a vastly more 
serious purpose, which the modern world has not out- 

We have had altogether too much of this confusion 
of New Testament values, and from people of whom 
we had reason to expect closer analysis. It is not its 
literary worth that has given the New Testament its 
place in modern life. It is something far deeper and 
more momentous than that, and of far wider appeal. 
To forget this in admiration for Tyndale's quaint old 
English is to have an inverted view of New Testament 
values. It did not need the English of Tyndale or any- 
one else to make it great and influential. For above all 
its versions stands the New Testament itself, the 
world's masterpiece not of English, that would be a 
trifle, but of what matters vastly more of religion. 



IT is a familiar f act that there are more manuscripts of 
the Greek New Testament or parts of it than of any 
other work of literature in the world. More than four 
thousand of them have been recorded and described. 
A few years ago a graduate of the Colgate-Rochester 
Divinity School, Dr. Kenneth W. Clark, undertook to 
locate and report all of them that could be found on 
this continent. His researches, just concluded, have 
disclosed more than two hundred and twenty-five such 
Greek manuscripts in America many of them previ- 
ously unreported and unknown to learning more 
than three times as many as the most sanguine of us 
supposed; and the American Council of Learned Soci- 
eties has made a generous grant of money to enable 
him to publish his catalogue. 

There are, besides, the even more numerous manu- 
scripts of the many versions anciently made from the 
original Greek. The manuscripts of the Latin vulgate 
alone are said to number more than ten thousand, 
But through its first extended period of growth, Chris- 



tianity moved along Greek lines and followed Greek 
channels. In one of Harnack's golden sentences, it 
remained a Greek movement almost to the end of the 
second century. 

Almost from the beginning it was building into it- 
self elements of Greek philosophy, religion and cul- 
ture. We observe this even in its earliest documents, 
the letters of PauL It becomes increasingly apparent 
in the rising gospels. It was the Greek world that first 
welcomed and understood it, and that adopted it and 
set it on its way. Its use of the Greek language was 
only a symbol of a far deeper affinity. Yet the question 
of the language in which the several books of the New 
Testament were originally written has lately become a 
matter of lively interest and debate. 

It would seem to be an obvious fact that the New 
Testament was written in Greek, but in accord with 
that spirit of our age which challenges every inherited 
position, this one too has been subjected to wide attack. 
A candidate for the doctor's degree at a neighboring 
university has made his thesis that the Revelation of 
John, as we have it, is a translation from the Hebrew. 
A well-known professor of Arabic at Yale has divided 
the Acts of the Apostles in twain, declaring that 
1:1-15:35 or "I Acts" was composed in Aramaic in 
Palestine about A.D. 50. An Oxford professor has af- 
firmed that John was written in Aramaic. The Yale 
Arabist has extended the Aramaic predicate to the four 


gospels, while a Syrian Christian has affirmed that they 
were all really written in Syriac, which he prefers to 
call Aramaic. 

I. I Peter . But, after all, there is nothing so very mod- 
ern about all this, for St. Jerome, fifteen hundred years 
ago, affirmed that the First Epistle of Peter was origi- 
nally written in Aramaic. Indeed, it is probably most 
unjust to charge this whole Semitic attitude to the 
modern spirit. It may be quite the opposite. For it is 
plain that Jerome proceeded from the notion of the 
authenticity of I Peter as the work of the apostle Peter 
who would naturally express himself in Aramaic, there- 
fore the Epistle must have been written in Aramaic and 
our form of it is but a translation/ 

II- James. Not so long ago a distinguished textual 
scholar, Bishop Wordsworth, in his study of Codex 
Corbeiensis, argued that the Epistle of James was writ- 
ten in Aramaic His argument has been conveniently 
summarised by Mayor, in his commentary on the 
epistle. He reasoned thus: 

1. Aramaic was the language usually spoken by our 

2. Aramaic was used by St. Paul in his address to 
the mob at Jerusalem. 

3. Papias gives us to understand that the Gospel of 
Matthew was written in Aramaic 

4. Mark and, according to Clement of Alexandria, 


Glaucias were Peter's scribes, and the use by Peter of 
different interpreters explains the difference in lan- 
guage between I and II Peter. 

5. Some fathers think Hebrews was written in 
Hebrew or Aramaic, and Josephus says that he wrote 
his War in Aramaic.* 

This seems to cover every avenue of approach, 
neglecting only the character of the language in the 
Epistle itself. 

It might seem that even these views, ancient and 
modern, hardly suffice to shake the place of the books 
in question as monuments of vernacular Greek, were it 
not for the following they have attained, the zeal with 
which they have been pushed, and the support some 
of them have been given in print. The advocates of 
the Aramaic and Syriac origins of the gospels have 
themselves poured forth volume after volume in sup- 
port of their positions, and university men like Mont- 
gomery of Pennsylvania, Burrows of Yale, Knopf of 
Southern California, Spencer of New York, W. L. 
Phelps of Yale, Anson Phelps Stokes of Washington, 
have given some of them strong indorsement in print. 
They hail the Aramaic discoveries as "epoch-making,*' 
and their leading spirit as a modern Erasmus. In the 
presence of such a campaign on the part of professors 
of Semirics, Classics and English, perhaps specialists in 
New Testament Greek may be permitted to take a 

* Cf . J. B. Mayor, St. James, ccv. 


hand, more especially as it is the Greek New Testa- 
ment, after all, that is under discussion. 

III. The Revelation. There is for example Dr. 
Robert B. Y. Scott's argument that the Revelation of 
John was originally written in Hebrew/ We may be- 
gin by asking what was being done in the way of 
Hebrew literary production in the times when the 
gospels, the Acts, the Revelation and the epistles were 

Some students of the Apocrypha hold that the Mar- 
tyrdom of Isaiah, the Assumption of Moses, and II 
Barudb were written in Hebrew in the first century. It 
seems strange that anyone should have written at that 
time in Hebrew, since the Jews were even then translat- 
ing their Hebrew scriptures into Aramaic, to make 
them intelligible to their own people. Hebrew was 
no longer popularly understood. Just why, therefore, 
anyone, especially in Ephesus in the days of Domitian, 
should have written a Christian apocalypse in Hebrew 
is difficult to understand. Certainly not one Ephesian 
in a thousand could have understood it, and as there 
were not many hundred Christians in Ephesus at the 
time, it must have been produced by a most unusual 
individual for a public of not over a dozen or twenty 
readers. Certainly it never had any significance for 
Christianity until it was translated into Greek, as it 

* Robert Balgarnie Young Seott, Ike Original Language of the 
Apocalypse. Toronto, 1928. 


evidently fortunately and immediately must have been. 
Supposing there was in Ephesus a Christian capable of 
composing the work in Hebrew, already a dead lan- 
guage, no longer understood by the Jews themselves, 
except a select few, one wonders why he should have 
composed it? It seems intended to stiffen the Chris- 
tians of Asia in their resistance to the demands of em- 
peror worship, and as 99.9 per cent of the members of 
the Seven Gburches did not know Hebrew it seems 
unaccountable that anyone should have addressed them 
in that unknown tongue. 

Dr. Scott approaches the matter from the philolog- 
ical side, however. The first sentence in his work 
proving its Hebrew origin is: "The Greek of the Apoc- 
alypse is notoriously difficult" (p. 5). This is a singu- 
lar remark; my own impression is very different. I 
read the Revelation through in Greek for the first time 
in about four hours just before I went back to college 
for my senior year. I have always retained the impres- 
sion that it is the easiest Greek in the New Testament, 
or anywhere else, unless of course we are to assume 
that all Greek is difficult. But even so, the Greek of 
the Revelation must be rated on the lowest level of 

Of course Dr. Scott must mean not that the Revela- 
tion is difficult to read, but that it contains some very 
eccentric Greek, which is quite true. It is, moreover, 
full, as he says, of constructions we naturally associate 


with Hebrew. He mentions the frequency of "Behold," 
as evidence of a Hebrew (or Aramaic) origin. But I 
turn to a random page in the Book of Mormon and 
find seven occurrences of "Behold" on it; the word 
occurs only twenty-six times in the Revelation in 
twenty-eight pages of text. That is, it is seven times as 
frequent in the Book of Mormon, at least as far as I 
have looked. It would seem that if the Revelation was 
written in Hebrew, it is seven times as probable that 
the Book of Mormon was. But of course such things 
are simply imitations of Old Testament phraseology, 
as known through the Septuagint or King James. For 
that matter, Epictetus does not hesitate to say "Behold" 
when he chooses. 

It cannot be denied that we possess no ancient 
Hebrew text of the Revelation, while a complete Greek 
text is extant in many manuscripts, and from it numer- 
ous versions have been made. The Greek text, there- 
fore, has a presumption in its favor, and in any sound 
study, Greek parallels as well as Hebrew ones should 
be sought out and weighed against each other. But 
this is not attempted. Thus we are told that aphtemi 
does not mean "leave" in the papyri; but it often does, 
as Moulton and Miliigan show, Mousikoi in 18:22 is 
interpreted as "songs" and hence declared corrupt for 
"singers"; but it is used quite regularly in the papyri 
for "singers"; why twist it into "songs"? The non- 
literary kategor for kategoros is similarly treated witt 


out benefit of Moulton and Milligan, who show the 
way clearly enough. 

This large mistake in meod, which generally per- 
vades the whole movement under discussion, is one 
that simply must be remedied if we are to give any 
credence whatever to such findings as Dr. Scott's. But 
it does not stand alone. We must seriously ask for 
what Hebrew-reading public in the churches of Asia 
in Domitian's time, the Revelation was written. Of 
course we know of no such groups, and the writer of 
the discussion in question makes no effort to establish 
them for us. Yet it cannot be too often insisted that 
for any document that is postulated in early Christian- 
ity, an occasion, a public and an author of reasonable 
probability must be established. The Semitic school 
makes no effort in these directions; their approach is 
purely philological and always entirely negligent of 
Greek philology at that. 

Yet no serious student of the New Testament can 
doubt that every one of these Greek expressions 
claimed for Hebrew must also be examined in the 
light of all the Greek evidence before any individual 
conclusion can be reached. And again and again when 
this is done, the need of having recourse to Hebrew 
originals vanishes away. 

But the problem is not wholly philological nor in- 
troductionaL Much is said of sources and apocalyptic 
in the Hebrew camp. But nothing is said of the strik- 


ing debt of the Greek Apocalypse to contemporary 
Greek dramatic art; these scenes, choruses, arias, an- 
tiphonies, orchestras, so magnificently cosmic harps 
and trumpets, but also thunders, hail, and earthquakes 
the chorus of twenty-four just the number in the 
chorus of the late Greek comedy; all this is completely 

And above all, the portal of the Apocalypse a 
corpus , of letters, to churches, seven in number, intro- 
duced by an opening letter to all seven this most com- 
manding and obvious feature of the Greek Apoc- 
alypse is unnoticed. It must be apparent that this 
whole fafade of the book this artificial corpus of 
letters (which obviously were not separately sent and 
hence did not have to be collected) is the reflection of 
an actual corpus, of letters, to Christian churches, seven 
in number the Pauline corpus, in short. 

Three elements must be considered in dealing with 
the Revelation: its debt to Jewish apocalyptic, to con- 
temporary Greek dramatic art, and to the Pauline letter 
collection, which had just been published. To see only 
the apocalyptic side is a grave defect of method. 

In the presence of these oversights we may still ding 
to the Greek original of the Apocalypse as the most 
natural explanation of its literary and linguistic fea- 
tures, large and small, and of its historical origin. 

IV. The Acts. The idea that the book of Acts, the 
second volume of Luke's work on the beginnings of 


the Christian movement, falls into two parts, 1:1- 
15:35, and 15:36 to the end, is supported by the detec- 
tion of a number of expressions in the first part, called 
I Acts, which are said to be best explained as the result 
of translation from an Aramaic document. It is in- 
ferred that I Acts was composed in Aramaic/ 

Here again the method is not to exhaust Greek mate- 
rials for possible parallels to these expressions, but 
sedulously avoiding all Greek expressions and paral- 
lels, to confine one's research to Semitic sources. We 
cannot say Aramaic sources, for they are notoriously 
meager, amounting in all to only twenty-eight or thirty 
pages of literary composition, beside the Elephantine 
documents of the fifth century before Christ, the scrip- 
ture translations and the numerous inscriptions. The 
Aramaists constantly assume difficulties in Greek 
which a wider acquaintance with that language easily 
relieves. Perhaps it will suffice to say that there are 
other ways to translate such difficulties as the Acts pre- 
sents than the Revised Version affords; modern New 
Testament research is provided with an admirable 
apparatus of lexicons and grammars. In dealing with 
a work in a foreign tongue, moreover, it is obviously 
wise to exhaust all available lexical and literary aids in 
that particular tongue before exploring remote cor- 
ners of other languages for light. 
Thus the idea that the expression prenes genomenos, 
* C. C Torrey, The Composition and Date of Acts, Cambridge, 1916. 


Acts 1:18 (E.R.V. "falling headlong"), reflects an 
Aramaic rtphal "he fell" does not get us very far, 
for we all fall, but few of us commit suicide, and yet 
that is what we are told the Aramaic rfphal would 
mean. But that leaves the gushing bowels of Judas 
mere crude horror, whereas we know that the whole 
picture, a man swelling up until he burst, was the tradi- 
tional fate of traitors, like Ahiqar's betrayer Nadan. 
The expression really means "swelling up" as Souter 
shows. 8 The Aramaic improvement leaves the story 
pointless; Judas falls and bursts open. Papias is of 
course the key to this rival and legendary story of 
Luke's of the fate of Judas. 

But the fatal blow to all this ex parte way of dealing 
with Luke-Acts is that in matters of information and 
attitude, I Acts and Luke agree so strangely. We are 
told that I Acts was written in Aramaic in Palestine 
about AJX 50 by some unknown hand, and that Luke 
about 60 wrote his gospel, in entire ignorance of it. In 
fact he never saw it until 62, when he came across it in 
Rome. The two works were thus altogether inde- 
pendent in origin. Yet they exhibit astonishing agree- 
ments in ideas and in details of fact, in many of which 
they stand apart from the rest of the New Testament. 
I have counted thirty-five of these, but a closer exam- 
ination would probably considerably increase that num- 
ber. Enough for our present purpose is the surprising 

8 Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, s. v. 


fact that I Acts begins exactly where the Gospel o 
Luke leaves off. To most o us this suggests that one 
was written to go with the other. Certainly they cannot 
have been written independently of each other, for one 
of the first things recorded in Acts is the coming of the 
Spirit in 2:1-4, which the Gospel of Luke foretells in 
its closing lines, 24:49. 

Let us briefly review the position. It is impossible 
to point to a single written Aramaic work of literature. 
Part of Daniel and part of Ezra are in Aramaic, but the 
rest of these books are in Hebrew. The Aramaic Ahi- 
qar is believed to be a translation. The only literary 
composition in Aramaic of which there is even any 
record is Josephus' Aramaic edition of his Jewish War 
which he says he prepared for the Jewish population 
about Babylon and the Upper Tigris. He says the 
Greek form of his War was translated from this, but 
this the Aramaists themselves deny. 

The fact is, the Jewish'lnhabitants of Palestine had 
a strong repugnance to written composition. They 
were putting their Hebrew commentary on the Law 
and their Aramaic translation of the scriptures, into 
oral, not written form. In fact the question of an 
Aramaic reading public in Palestine is a very real one. 
What would it read? Not the Aramaic Targums of the 
Law and prophets; they were not written, only mem- 
orized. Not Josephus' Aramaic War; it was not writ- 
ten until a generation after the period in question 


and then for a distant public. One can only point to 
the Aramaic parts of Daniel and Ezra, truly a meager 
literature on which to develop an Aramaic reading 

In this whole discussion, we must carefully distin- 
guish between 

translation and composition; 
oral transmission and written transmission; and 
literary use of a language and vernacular use of it. 
That Aramaic was widely used in the first century in 
daily life is not enough to establish its use for literary 
purposes and creative writing. These are two very 
different things and must not be confused. That it was 
used for translating the Hebrew scriptures into ver- 
sions intelligible to the common people, does not at all 
make it a literary language. Biblical translation has 
often been a step toward the literary development of a 
language, but it is not always or even generally so. 
The Bible, or parts of it, have been translated into 
some nine hundred languages, but there are not nine 
hundred literatures. To speak, therefore, of the rise of 
the Aramaic Targums as though they were creative 
literature is quite misleading. Translating a text from 
one language into another is one thing; composing an 
original work in a language is a very different thing, 
and calls for an altogether different attitude of mind 
and scale of effort. That pens and words are used in 
both operations is only a superficial resemblance. 


But when the translation was not even written but 
religiously exempted from being written, and com- 
mitted to memory instead of to writing, even this 
superficial resemblance disappears. There is a wide 
difference between oral and written transmission. The 
former exists only in the mind, not on paper, and is in 
every way far from suggesting original composition 
in writing. It represents in fact an aversion to it. These 
distinctions must be carefully made and scrupulously 
regarded, for they are an essential part of the Palestin- 
ian-Jewish picture in the first half of the first century. 

We must also distinguish between Hebrew, the 
dead, sacred, literary, classical language, and the ver- 
nacular Aramaic. Even the scribal interpretation of the 
Law, oral though it was, had to be in Hebrew, not 
Aramaic. So far was Aramaic from being recognized 
by the Jews as a literary vehicle. 

Finally, why anyone should have written of the 
Greek mission for Aramaic-speaking Jews who did not 
approve of it, and do so while it was still in the experi- 
mental stage (it had not gotten beyond Galatia) , and 
had only reached the point of toleration on certain 
conditions, has never been explained. In short the sup- 
posed Aramaic document lacks an occasion, a purpose 
and a public. Divorced from the Gospel of Luke and 
the rest of Acts, it lacks an author. And when we 
remember the absolute void in Palestine at that period, 
in Aramaic written composition, and the resolute 


Jewish policy of the time to write nothing, but only to 
remember, while the Christians there were even less 
literary, being absorbed in apocalyptic hopes and mes- 
sianic expectations, the theory of an Aramaic I Acts is 
revealed as the very height of literary and historical 

V. In 1933 Professor Torrey published The Four 
Gospels, a New Translation, with an essay on the ori- 
gin of the gospels. The substance of his position is 
that "the material of our Four Gospels is all Pales- 
tinian, and the language in which it was originally 
written is Aramaic, then the principal language of the 
land; with the exception of the first two chapters of 
Lk., which were composed in Hebrew. Each of the first 
two Gospels, Mk. and Mt., was rendered into Greek 
very soon after it was put forth. The Gospel of Jn. 
was translated considerably later, probably at Ephesus. 
(The translator added, in Greek, chap. 21) Lk. made 
in Palestine, very likely during the two years of Paul's 
imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts 24:27), a collection 
of Semitic documents relating to the life and work of 
Jesus, arranged them very skilfully, and then rendered 
the whole into the Grk. which is our Third Gospel." T 

All the gospel material, we are told, is distinctly 
early. 'The multifarious reports of what had been 
heard or seen or told, were collected and written down 

* Cf . Edgar J. Goodspeed, New Solutions of New Testament Prob- 
lems (Chicago, 1927), pp. 65-103. 

T Our Translated Gospels (1936), p. ix. 


in various parts of Palestine. This written interpreta- 
tion must have been given shape almost immediately 
after the death of Jesus. It could not possibly have 
waited/' ' 

This is doubly strange when we remember that the 
Aramaic translation of the Law waited for generations 
after A.D, 50 before being committed to writing, being 
carried all that time in memory, as oral tradition. 
There is no support in first century Jewish practice for 
the sudden activity in Aramaic literary composition 
that is here so lightly assumed. No one so far as can 
be learned had up to that time ever written a book in 
Aramaic. Yet now of a sudden, they all take to writ- 

"The Aramaic idiom," we are told,* "is everywhere 
present in the Gospels/* except in Luke, Chapters 1, 2 
and John, Chapter 21. "It makes no difference which 
evangelist is translating. The Greek of the Gospels 
has all of the characteristics of the language of the 
Septuagint; there is no other parallel. The attempt to 
show something similar in the papyri utterly fails; 
nothing at all comparable to the language of the Four 
Gospels has been or can be produced. . , . The com- 
parison with the Greek of the vulgar papyri is merely 
ridiculous." " 

But has anyone ever assembled the characteristics of 

* The Four Gospels, A New Translation (1933), p. 255. 

* The Four Gospels, p. 267. 

10 Our Translated Gospels, pp. liii, liv. 


the language of the Septuagint its translation phe- 
nomena? I am glad to be able to say that minute and 
thoroughgoing studies to that end are now being or- 
ganized by my colleagues Drs. Riddle and Colwell, and 
the results thus far attained do not encourage the posi- 
tion so boldly conjectured above/ 1 

As to New Testament Greek and the Septuagiot, a 
veteran classical scholar, Professor B. L. Gildersleeve, 
once uttered this important judgment: " 

"Now the New Testament, if not Greek of the best 
type, is still Greek. That it is true Greek, and not 
Shemitic Greek merely, is shown more clearly by com- 
parison with the Septuagint, which is closely modelled 
on the Hebrew." Then after a resume of the study of 
the use of the participle, he continues, "This is enough 
to show that New Testament Greek, so far as the par- 
ticiple is concerned, cannot be said to be entirely swayed 
out of the lines of true Greek by Shemitic influence." 
No, one thing was established fifty years ago, and that 
was, the New Testament is not written in Septuagint 

That Aramaic original narratives lie back of the 
Synoptic gospels is a position that periodically appears 
upon the New Testament horizon. My colleague Dr. 
Riddle has traced the course of such views from the 
rime of Eichhorn, 1794, and Herbert Marsh of Cam- 

11 Cf. D. W. Riddle, "The Logic of the Theory of Translation 
Gieefc," Jottmal of Biblical Literature, B (1932), pp. 13-30. 
1S America* Journal oj Philology (1888), pp. 153, 155. 


bridge, 1801/* Eichhorn identified forty-two sections 
of gospel material which he believed were originally 
composed iti Aramaic, and Marsh maintained that Mat- 
thew, Mark and Luke were all derived from one origi- 
nal Aramaic document which he called "Aleph." In 
the early nineties, an English Semitist, J. T. Marshall, 
elaborated a similar scheme in the Expositor. He de- 
cided that an original Aramaic document lay back of 
the three Synoprists. 

The historical understanding of the gospels, how- 
ever, has proceeded in practical independence of these 
erratic views. All New Testament introductions have 
found origins for the gospels very different from those 
implied in these theories, and the whole modern Form- 
criticism movement is alien to it. In fact no New Testa- 
ment specialists have accepted such positions, and the 
Aramaic school on its part has rejected the entire fabric 
of New Testament and historical criticism, as devel- 
oped by a century of study. In particular, the convic- 
tion that New Testament Greek is really the vernacular 
Greek of its day, and closely allied with that of the 
Greek documentary papyri, a view widely held by 
Greek New Testament scholars of every school, is ab- 
jured by die Aramaic group. They describe it as 
"merely ridiculous/' 

This is not because there is not abundant Greek 
philological material to explore. There is a vast and 

11 Journal of Biblical Literature, liv (1935), p. 127. 


ever increasing amount of it. The papyri discovered in 
Egypt especially in the last half century, have shown us 
the Greeks of New Testament times as assiduous 
readers. Greek settlers in Egypt and their descendants 
had the Greek classics that have come down to us, and 
much more. From copies used and cherished in Upper 
Egypt far from the culture of Alexandria, we now know 
that common people had Homer and the poets, the ora- 
tors, the plays, and much that we had supposed lost 
and gone forever. They are proved to have been a 
reading people, fond of their books. 

They were also a writing people. In a dark shop in 
Cairo years ago I found, in a mass of papyrus scraps, a 
dozen fragments in a capital or literary an uncial 
hand. I carried them away, supposing them to be 
Homer, as such things usually are. They proved to be 
fragments of a Greek poem, previously unknown, of 
the Ptolemaic time, full of curious traits and reflections 
of the age and taste of Theocritus. It was no great 
matter; such things happen now and again. For that 
was a writing world, a world of literary composition 
and of literary enjoyment. Just the kind of world in 
which the New Testament with all its varied literary 
types, letter, homily, epistle, gospel, history, apoca- 
lypse, might so naturally arise. 

Nor was this all. These Greeks were literate; they 
wrote letters upon all occasions. The documents of 
their common life are simply voluminous. Very often 


they are dated, in the regnal years of the emperors, as 
Luke dates the appearance of John the Baptist, in 
Lk. 3:1. It occurred to me some time ago that it would 
be interesting to see how far published and dated Greek 
papyri could be found from the several years of the first 
century. I spent a couple of hours in my own library 
and found I had all but twenty-three of them repre- 
sented; an hour or two more in the classical library 
finished the tale, and I was able to say that we possess 
dated Greek papyrus documents from every single year 
of the first century after Christ. 1 * What an indication 
of the abundance of our philological material in ver- 
nacular Greek from the very times in which the gospels 
were written, 

At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical 
Literature in New York City, in December, 1934, 1 ex- 
hibited and discussed an ordinary Greek papyrus docu- 
ment from my own collection, dated in the seventh 
year of Antoninus (AJX 143), which in twenty-two 
lines contains twenty occurrences of Greek idioms 
familiar in the New Testament, Five of these idioms 
are definitely not also Semitic. Here is that very to 
eptballon meros of the Prodigal's story, coupled with 
the very ousta property which he wished to have 
divided, and is here being divided. Here is the expres- 
sion "to know one's letters," familiar in hundreds of 

14 Edgar J. Goodspeed, "The Original Language of the Gospels,'* 
The Atlantic Monthly, 154 (1934), p. 478. 


papyrus documents and used of Jesus In John 7:15. The 
translator of the supposed Aramaic understands it to 
mean "to be a man of letters/' but of course it only 
means to be able to read and write. It also explains the 
later insertion in this chapter of John in the sixth cen- 
tury of the section about the adulterous woman, in 
order to show that Jesus could write. 

Thousands of such Greek papyrus documents have 
already been published. As a matter of fact, the docu- 
mentary papyri are rising like a flood higher and higher 
every year, each year engulfing some of the remaining 
Semitisms in the New Testament. One of the most 
recent and most instructive to topple into the flood 
was the mysterious Racha of Matt. 5:22: "Anyone who 
says to his brother Raca will have to answer to the 
great council/' 

This word raca (or racha as Sinaiticus, Besa, Wash- 
ington, and the CX L. have it; Alex, is wanting for 
this part of Matthew) has never been found in Aramaic 
or Hebrew (although the root EAQ does occur) , but 
is generally treated as Semitic. As such it yields a very 
weak sense, "empty fellow." It is a definite relief that 
the Greek word sought in vain for centuries turned up 
three years ago in a Zeno papyrus, a letter of B.C. 257, 
with exactly the form and spelling of the majority of 
the ancient uncials. It was evidently a foul name, which 
the Christian must never take upon his lips, and we 
should probably translate "Anyone who calls his 


brother a foul name will have to answer to the great 
council." This accusative "radian" fully explains Mat- 
thew's form "racha," which is a weak declension 

vocative. 11 

But we must not linger over details, alluring as the 
exploration of them would be. Let us try to deal broadly 
with the whole problem. Jesus spoke in Aramaic. All 
his words have come to us from that language. The 
first stories of his life and death were told in it. This 
no serious student of the gospels any longer denies. 
Most of the genuine Semitisms of the gospels are thus 
fully and naturally explained. Sound Semitic study, of 
which I am as fond as anyone, and which I long eagerly 
pursued, throws a helpful light upon many a line of 
the Synoptic gospels. For example, akouein akoueto in 
Mark is a manifest Greek imitation of the intensive use 
of the infinitve absolute construction; I should accord- 
ingly translate it, "Let him who has ears be sure to 
listen!'* It is a striking fact that Matthew who takes 
this item over from Mark no less than four times invari- 
ably omits the superfluous infinitive. Yet the Aramaic 
school of translation seems to miss the Semitism alto- 
gether and reads Mark just as did the English Revised 
Version fifty years ago: "Who has ears to hear, let 
him hear/' 

The Aramaic approach to the subject, moreover, in- 

l * Colwell, E. C, "Has Raka a Parallel in the Papyri?" Journal of 
Biblical Literature, liii (1934), pp. 351-54. 


stead of giving us a version of increased vigor and pio 
turesqueness, as it would certainly do if it were sound 
a more gigantesque diction, to use Chesterton's ad- 
mirable phrase for the style of Jesus gives us instead 
a tamer, milder message. Instead of a cross, we have 
only a yoke to bear, and instead of being "perfect" like 
our Father in heaven we have only to be "warm- 
hearted" like him. The whole process is one of liquida- 
tion; of English, of diction, of text, of history, of criti- 
cism, of figures and ideas. There are improvements in 
New Testament renderings which vindicate themselves 
as true by their sheer convincing vigor. But those of the 
Aramaic school never have this result. 

The Aramaic scholars' characterisations of the Greek 
of the Synoptists are shockingly unfavorable; the Greek 
of the gospel writers, we are told, is hideous, uncouth, 
muddy, incredible, intolerable, distressing, mere non- 
sense, what no sane man would say. It would be diffi- 
cult, one goes on, to find a genuine Greek idiom, not 
also Semitic, anywhere in the gospels. 

Before proceeding to the consideration of this aston- 
ishing statement, let us pause to ask one or two more 
general questions, suggested by these large claims. 
What effect did these supposed Aramaic gospels pro- 
duce? Did they convert the Jewish people, among 
whom they are supposed to have arisen? Did they even 
perpetuate themselves for as much as one single gen- 
eration? It would certainly seem that a public signifi- 


cant enough to have called them into being could have 
maintained them that long. No, on any basis the 
Aramaic gospels were total failures, while the uncouth, 
hideous Greek gospels were the most conspicuous liter- 
ary successes the world has witnessed. 

The idea that it would be difficult to find a specifi- 
cally Greek idiom not also Semitic anywhere in the 
Greek gospels, 1 * can only awaken surprise in those who 
are familiar with the three elements involved; Greek 
idiom, the Greek gospels, and Semitic idiom. It is very 
difficult for me to believe that anyone who had gone 
through the Greek text of Westcott and Hort, line by 
line, patiently translating the Greek of the four gospels, 
could make such a statement. He must in that task 
have encountered at least one hundred and thirty-two 
different rimes the genitive absolute, certainly a Greek 
idiom not also Semitic; he must have seen upon a single 
page of Luke seventy-four instances of the genitive 
article in the sense of "the son of," an idiom certainly 
not Semitic, and not susceptible of imitation in Semitic. 
He must have seen numerous references to the third 
hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, the eleventh hour 
Greek ways of fixing time, never found in the Old 
Testament or the Apocrypha, which, moreover, meet 
us at every turn in the Greek papyri. Of course the 
gospels are simply full of Greek idiom, and distinctively 
Greek idiom at that. 

xt I 'be Four Gospels, p. 268. 


Equally out of place in a Palestinian work is the 
"fourth watch of the night," Mark 6:48, Matthew 
14:25. The Jews divided the night into three watches, 
the Greeks into four. There was no fourth watch in 
die Palestinian night. And while it is hardly an idiom, 
one is reminded that the interest-paying bank of Luke 
19:23 is a very curious thing to find calmly accepted in 
Aramaic Palestine, though the Law and the Talmud 
alike forbade the taking of interest. 

In Luke 3:23, archomenos, we are told, is "worse 
than superfluous." Of course it is, if one starts with 
the King James rendering, "Jesus himself began to be 
about thirty years of age." But William Tyndale and all 
the modern translators know better than that. There is 
no difficulty with archomenos here; it is not a predicate 
participle with "he was/' but an adverbial participle, 
meaning "when he began/' The verb is used in the 
middle voice just as it is in prates phulakes arcbo- 
menes** "when the first watch began/' or cheimonos 
archomenou, "when winter begins." 

Such revisions, in the light of a broader Greek hori- 
zon, might be recited indefinitely, but they are unnec- 
essary. These loose vague claims, without any adequate 
support, must fall of their own weight. 

It is more serious, however, to describe as "mere 
nonsense" from the Greek of the gospels, 11 passages 

1T Petrie Papyri, II, 48, B. c 246. 
** The Pour Gospels, pp. 272-3. 


not in the Greek at all, but drawn simply from the Eng- 
lish Revised Version. "This was he of whom I said" 
does not stand in John 1 : 15 in the text of Westcott and 
Hort, which is said on p. xi to be the Greek text used; 
no such words stand in the text which is declared to be 
the basis of the translation. Similarly the words "who 
is in heaven," credited to the Greek text of John 3:13, 
and gravely included in a two-page list of "mere non- 
sense," are not in the text of Westcott and Hort. One 
cannot escape the conclusion that the translator, like 
many classical and Semitic scholars, supposed the Eng- 
lish Revised Version to rest upon the text of Westcott 
and Hort and to represent it faithfully. This is a grave 
misunderstanding which explains many things about 
this new translation of the four gospels/ 9 

The oft-repeated claim * that no passage in the gos- 
pels reveals a date later than A.D. 50, betrays a grave 
ignorance of the contents of the gospels. Luke 21:20 
is such a passage, "But when you see Jerusalem being 
surrounded by armies, then you must understand that 
her devastation is at hand." Of vs. 24, Montefiore 
says/ 1 "The calamities of the Jews are described in 
detail by one who witnessed them." These words 
are later than AJX 70. Yet we are told (p. 256), 

10 Thus the Greek idiom eis ta idia "to his home" is properly trans- 
lated fwith E. R. V.) in John 19:27, but (again with E. R. V.) not in 
John 1:11. 

" Our Translated Gospels, p. x. 

" The Synoptic Gospels, II, p. 580. 


"In none of the gospels is there the slightest allusion 
to the Fall of Jerusalem before Titus/* We may also 
cite Matthew's words, 23:35: "that on your heads may 
come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from 
the blood of Abel the upright to the blood of Zecha- 
riah, Barachiah's son, whom you murdered between the 
sanctuary and the altar." They refer to the awful 
carnage attending the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, in 
which Josephus says more than a million people per- 
ished. The man whose murder is mentioned as the last 
one before the catastrophe is that Zechariah son of 
Baruch who was murdered by two Zealots in A.D. 67 
or 68, "in the midst of the Temple" [Josepheus, War, 
4:5 :4.] This is the explanation of the incident given by 
Wellhausen and Meyer, and dearly favored by Monte- 
fiore, II, p. 304. The Zechariah of II Chron. 24:20 was 
not the son of Barachiah, nor was he killed within the 
temple, but in the court of it. 

The statement in John 17:14 that the world had 
come to hate the disciples points to a time long after 
AJX 50 the rime of attacks by the empire, under Nero 
and Domitian. It cannot be reconciled with a date 
before A.D. 50. The persistence with which the Aramaic 
school dings to a position, no matter how dear the case 
against them, is well illustrated in the translation 
"Bow" for the Greek word prumne in Mark 4:38. This 
word has been steadily used in Greek from Homer 
down for the stern of a boat, prora being the bow. But 


having once been wrongly rendered "bow" in the 'Pour 
Gospels, A New Translation, p. 77, it has not been 
altered in subsequent editions, nor does the later work, 
Om Translated Gospels, 1936, contain any modifica- 
tion of the position. No Semitic argument has been 
advanced for the translation. It is of course just an 
error and should have been at once corrected, i the 
aim is to give a correct version of the meaning of 
the gospels, with all the aids learning can provide." 
The Aramaic school claims that because Aramaic 
was a widespread speech, it was also a widespread lit- 
erature. "There was," we are told, "a pre-Christian 
Aramaic literature 1 * which must have been very ex- 
tensive, rich in every field." But no evidence is offered 
for this sweeping statement, and as a matter of fact, 
there is not the slightest ground for the supposition. 
There are next to no remains of such a literature nor 
any references to its existence in other literatures. All 
the evidence points to the view that Aramaic was, like 
most languages, a non-literary speech, a vernacular and 
nothing more. Much is also said of classical Ajramaic. 
But as a matter of fact, there was no classical Aramaic. 
The classical language was Hebrew. Aramaic was the 
spoken language. That Ezra at 4:7 and 5:3 and Daniel 
at 2:4 lapse into Aramaic, is quite in line with this. 

11 This error was pointed out by Professor Cadbury before the 
annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in New York, in 
December, 1934, 

** Tb* Four Gospels, p. 252. 


The normal Jewish attitude in the first century was 
altogether non-literary. The Jews were developing 
their oral translation of the Law in Aramaic, but they 
sedulously refrained from writing it; they preserved it 
orally; Gamaliel I, about A.D. 50, finding an Aramaic 
manuscript of the targum of Job, destroyed it forth- 
with. The whole Hebrew commentary upon the Law 
was also preserved orally, so as not to seem to rival in 
sanctity that which was written the Scripture itself. 
The Jewish atmosphere in Palestine was altogether un- 
favorable to Aramaic literary production. 

Among Christians there, it was of course doubly so. 
They had an immediate apocalyptic expectation that 
must have been most unconducive to literary endeavor. 
They were not in the first place a group likely to pro- 
duce literary men they were simple Galilean fisher- 
men and artisans, with one tax-collector. The whole 
current of their environment and of their own lives 
was non-literary. They maintained their memories of 
Jesus in their preaching, and presently produced, after 
the Jewish manner, an oral statement about htm, which 
they passed on, like die Jews they were, in oral form. 
Paul reflects it, and so do Luke, Clement of Rome, and 
Polycarp. My own feeling is that it was probably those 
very Sayings of Jesus which Papias says Matthew com- 
posed in the Aramaic language and each one translated 
as best he could of course when he carried the mes- 
sage over among the Greeks. 


As Professor George A. Barton put it at the close of 
his admirable critique in The Journal of Theological 
Studies, xxxvi, 1935, p. 372: "Torrey has failed to 
prove his case as to the origin of the Gospels because 
he has relied on one factor only (and that a highly 
debatable one) a factor, too, that is incapable of 
explaining all the phenomena which have to be taken 
into account." 

The Aramaic school of gospel origins thus exhibits 
twelve general defects of method. 

1. It disregards all the results of New Testament 
study in the fields of text, canon, literature, history, in- 
troduction, and criticism, dismissing them without ex- 
amination as worthless. 

2. It fails to establish any such literary activity in 
Aramaic in the period in question, as it assumes. 

3. It offers no contemporary literary or other Semitic 
material by which to establish the Hebrew or Ajramaic 
usages it claims. 

4. It supplies few specific references to Semitic 
sources to satisfy scholars of the existence of the vari- 
ous words and forms it posits. 

5. It omits from consideration all the Greek papyrus 
material, declaring it without examination to be of no 

6. It makes sweeping and unsupported assertions as 
to the Greek of the New Testament, and when these 
are challenged and disproved, with accompanying evi- 
dence, gives no heed. 


7. It fails to distinguish between oral and written 

8. It does not clearly distinguish translarional from 
creative literary activity. 

9- It weaves together items of various Semitic 
tongues Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, etc., to produce the 
words and forms it then argues from as recognized and 
established Aramaic usage. 

10. It resorts to elaborate and remote Semitic ex- 
planations of words which are in ordinary use in the 
Greek papyri. 

11. It does not scruple to present rejected Greek 
readings * * where they serve its turn, at the same time 
claiming to use the critical text of Westcott and Hort/* 

12. While distinctly declaring its repudiation of 
modem colloquial idiom in principle," it employs it in 
the text in almost every line. 

It is impossible that sound results can be secured by 
these methods. 

The weakness of the Aramaic method is shown by its 
treatment of the word pygme, "with the fist," in Mark 
7:3. This is explained as due to a misreading of the 
expression ligmar, "at all," which by the way is Syriac, 
not Aramaic The Aramaic school describes this as an 
"amusing mistranslation.** 1T 

But this passage is manifestly one of the "parentheti- 

" Th* Pour Gospels, pp. 272-3, 307; Lk. 6:1. 

" P. ad. 

*' The Pour Gospels, p. x. 

* T Our Translated Gospels, p. 92. 


As Professor George A. Barton put it at the close of 
his admirable critique in The Journal of Theological 
Studies, xxxvi, 1935, p. 372: "Torrey has failed to 
prove his case as to the origin of the Gospels because 
he has relied on one factor only (and that a highly 
debatable one) a factor, too, that is incapable of 
explaining all the phenomena which have to be taken 
into account." 

The Aramaic school of gospel origins thus exhibits 
twelve general defects of method. 

1. It disregards all the results of New Testament 
study in the fields of text, canon, literature, history, in- 
troduction, and criticism, dismissing them without ex- 
amination as worthless. 

2. It fails to establish any such literary activity in 
Aramaic in the period in question, as it assumes. 

3. It offers no contemporary literary or other Semitic 
material by which to establish the Hebrew or Aramaic 
usages it daims. 

4. It supplies few specific references to Semitic 
sources to satisfy scholars of the existence of the vari- 
ous words and forms it posits. 

5. It omits from consideration all the Greek papyrus 
material, declaring it without examination to be of no 

6. It makes sweeping and unsupported assertions as 
to the Greek of the New Testament, and when these 
are challenged and disproved, with accompanying evi- 
dence, gives no heed. 


7. It fails to distinguish between oral and written 

8. It does not clearly distinguish translarional from 
creative literary activity. 

9. It weaves together items of various Semitic 
tongues Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, etc., to produce the 
words and forms it then argues from as recognized and 
established Aramaic usage. 

10. It resorts to elaborate and remote Semitic ex- 
planations of words which are in ordinary use in the 
Greek papyri. 

11. It does not scruple to present rejected Greek 
readings f * where they serve its turn, at the same time 
claiming to use the critical text of Westcott and Hort." 

12. While distinctly declaring its repudiation of 
modern colloquial idiom in principle, 1 * it employs it in 
the text in almost every line. 

It is impossible that sound results can be secured by 
these methods. 

The weakness of the Aramaic method is shown by its 
treatment of the word pygme, "with the fist," in Mark 
7:3- This is explained as due to a misreading of the 
expression ligmat, "at all," which by the way is Syriac, 
not Aramaic The Aramaic school describes this as an 
"amusing mistranslation." * T 

But this passage is manifestly one of the "parentheti- 

** The Four Gospels, pp. 272-3, 307; Lk. 6:1. 

SB P,xi. 

86 The Four Gospels, p. x. 

" Our Translated Gospels, p. 92. 


cal explanations of Semitic words and Jewish customs 
for the benefit of Gentile readers," which are said a8 to 
be found in all four gospels, and to have been provided 
by the Greek translators. In fact it is the longest and 
most unmistakable of them. As such, by hypothesis, it 
was composed in Greek, not Aramaic. And yet it yields 
just as readily to retranslation into Aramaic as any part 
of the Gospels. No demonstration could more com- 
pletely show that the method has no objective validity, 
for it works just as well on original Greek as on "trans- 
lation" Greek. 

If, however, it be claimed that this parenthesis is not 
supplied by the translator but is a part of the original 
Aramaic gospel, then another more important position 
taken by the Aramaic school must be abandoned, 
namely that "Each of the four (gospels) is plainly 
written at least primarily for Jewish readers; no one of 
them steps out of the atmosphere of Palestine even for 
a moment." ** If Mark 7:3, 4 is part of the Aramaic 
gospel, its author certainly very definitely steps out of 
Palestine, and wrote outside it. If it is not part of the 
Aramaic gospel, but inserted by the Greek translator, 
and yet its difficulties are easily explained as due to 
mistranslation from the Aramaic, then such explana- 
tions are robbed of all significance, for they work just 
as well on original Greek as on "translation" Greek. 
This demonstrates the futility of the method; it works 

" Tfo Four Gospels, p. 254. f * The Pour Gospels, p. 254. 


just the same way on what is translated from the 
Aramaic and what is not. 

The Aramaic school cannot take this passage both 
ways. Either it proves that their method is invalid, or 
that the Gospel of Mark was written outside of Pales- 
tine. It does not matter much which horn of the 
dilemma they take; the effect is the same the over- 
throw of their position. 

VI. The philological arguments of Burney, Mont- 
gomery and others for an Aramaic origin for the Gos- 
pel of John, have been fully met by my colleague Dr. 
Colwell, in his book, The Greek of the Fourth Gospel 
(Chicago, 1931)-* It is, of course, almost incredible 
that anyone could think the extremely crisp and lucid 
Greek of John a translation. But it is even more in- 
credible that anyone could suppose such a picture of 
Jesus could have arisen in Palestine by the year 50. One 
hardly knows where to begin in pointing out the com- 
plete unsuitableness of such an origin for such a book, 
so thoroughly Greek in every fiber of thought, situation 
and language. The development of Christian thought 
implied in John can hardly be imagined before the 
early years of the second century. One can have pene- 
trated but little into the real meaning of the book to 
entertain such notions of it as the Aramaic origin of 
it implies. 

** C. F. Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel (Oxford, 
1922) ; J. A. Montgomery, The Origin of the Gospel of St. John (Phil** 
delphia, 1923). 


As a matter of fact, the Gospel of John shows the use 
of all the primary canon of Paul's letters, from Romans 
to Philemon, which were written in Greek to western 
churches between A.D. 50 and 62. In the presence of 
this fact it is idle to continue to say there is nothing in 
the gospels giving dear evidence of a date later than 
AJD. 50 or of origin outside of Palestine/ 1 And if one 
gives any English version of John a modern paragraph- 
ing, its affinity with the Greek dialogue at once strikes 
the eye. 

"The Jews" are spoken of sixty times in John in con- 
trast with Jesus and his followers, who were of course 
just as much Jews as the scribes and Pharisees. This 
use of the phrase "the Jews" shows unmistakably that 
the Gospel of John belongs to a time when Christians 
were sharply distinguished from Jews. The church now 
stands over against the synagogue. It also stands over 
against the sects, Johannine and Docetic. None of these 
things was possible in Jerusalem in the forties, and it is 
only by shutting our eyes to them that John can be 
pushed back so far. Of course the whole literary, his- 
torical and intellectual fabric of the Gospel of John are 
entirely out of keeping with such an origin. 8 * 

VEL The translation of the four gospels by Mr. 

81 Our Translated Gospels, p. x. 

ts Professor C. H. Dodd has recently remarked that the view of 
Burney and Torrey that the Gospel of John as a whole is a translation of 
an Aramaic original, is in his opinion almost demonstrably false, Bul- 
letin of the John Rylands Library, xxi (1937), p. 138. 


George Lamsa is described on the title page as from the 
Aramaic. It made its appearance in 1933, simultane- 
ously with The Pour Gospels, A New Translation. It too 
has had wide publicity, and some of its characteristic 
readings have been much admired: Mark 15:34: "My 
God, my God! for this I was kept!" and Matt. 19:24: 
"It is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle 
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of 

What Mr. Lamsa has done is simply to translate the 
Peshitto Syriac version of the gospels, which modern 
learning under the leadership of Burkitt has dated 
about A.D. 411. They had previously been translated 
by J. W. Etheridge, London, 1846 (the rest of the New 
Testament following in 1849), and by J. Murdock, 
New York, 1851. Its text is far from primitive, being 
strongly characterized by conflation, that is, the com- 
bination of variant readings drawn from different 
earlier types of text. It is also rich in interpolation and 
accretion ; so that it is difficult to see how anyone can sup- 
pose it original. But die matter is further illuminated 
by the fact that the Syriac fathers of the fourth century 
Efrem, Afraates know no such text, in fact they 
show that the Diatessaron was still the dominant form 
of the Syriac gospels in their day. The finding 
by Dr. Cureton and Mrs. Lewis of manuscripts of the 
Old Syriac text of the gospels, in the nineteenth 
century, is further proof that the separate Syriac gos- 


pels of the third and fourth centuries, in so far as 
they had any currency, did not exhibit the Peshitto 

Yet Mr. Lamsa puts forth his translation with great 
confidence as though the gospels had had a continuous 
existence in Syriac or, as he calls it, Galilean Aramaic, 
from the time of their original composition down. This 
position is quite at variance with the Syriac evidence of 
the period before 400, with the Greek evidence, where 
the Greek gospels are richly attested from AJX 125 on; 
with the textual history, with the history of the canon, 
and with the whole testimony of introduction, which 
reveals intelligible situations, often supported by tradi- 
tion, for the origins of the several Greek gospels. More- 
over, the presence of so many Greek words in the Syriac 
gospels seems strange if they were originally written in 
Syriac. In general, New Testament scholars have given 
little credence to Mr. Lamsa's contention. It has been 
difficult to learn from him upon what he based his 
translation; his preface does not state, and in answer to 
personal inquires he refers vaguely to fourth century 
manuscripts in Baghdad. Of course, if there are such 
manuscripts in Baghdad, none of us could possibly be 
better occupied than by going thither at once and bring- 
ing them back or at least obtaining photographic copies 
of them, for they would completely revise our under- 
standing of the history of the Syriac versions. I have 
so advised Mr. Lamsa and urged him to secure us 


copies o such manuscripts if they are really to be 

As a matter of fact, Mr. Lamsa's Syriac text is a poor 
representative even of the Peshitto, for he translates the 
pericope about the Adulterous Woman, which is absent 
from the best Peshitto manuscripts, and from Gwilliam 
and Pusey's critical edition of the Peshitto. This fact 
stamps the text on which his translation is based as not 
ancient but definitely mediaeval. 

VIII. The Pauline Letters. Even Paul's letters are in 
peril. A lady from Philadelphia writes: 

"Are we sure about the language in which Paul 
wrote? Was it Aramaic or Greek? I was interested in 
the Riddle-Torrey controversy about it." Our Dr. 
Montgomery at U. of P. says that Torrey is about 80 per 
cent right. Dr. Gehman, Professor of Old Testament at 
Princeton, says that he is sure the New Testament was 
written in Aramaic and that as soon as he translates the 
Greek into Aramaic all the difficulties in the Greek are 
smoothed out. Gehman is a specialist in Oriental lan- 
guages and an authority in his field. Who is right?" 

I have not consulted Professor Gehman or Professor 
Montgomery as to this statement of their views, but it 
is clear that great uncertainty is being created in the 
popular mind by the books we have already quoted, 
and it is not strange that it should gradually involve 
all the rest of the New Testament. 

II In The Christian Century, July 18, October 24, 31, 1934. 


These various efforts cannot be said to have shaken 
the conviction of New Testament specialists that the 
Gospels, the Acts, the Revelation, and in fact the whole 
New Testament was originally written in Greek. Not 
only are the Greek New Testament texts being strongly 
attested by successive discoveries of earlier and earlier 
Greek manuscripts, reaching back now into the sec- 
ond quarter of the second century, but a closer study 
of early Christian literature reveals more and more 
clearly the early use of these writings in the Greek 

The ancient materials for the support of the Aramaic 
theories are very meager, indeed the last ones that can 
have been written before the supposed outburst of 
Aramaic literary activity all over Palestine toward 
AJX 50, were written two hundred years before. All 
told the pre-Christian Aramaic literature amounted to 
less than thirty pages of text. Holders of these views of 
Aramaic origins have, therefore, to resort to Hebrew, 
Syriac, Arabic and other Semitic roots and forms, for 
which, however, they give no references or sources, so 
that verification or control is impossible. As a matter 
of fact it is clear that they are often freely composed by 
the translator by a synthesis of roots and forms from 
any and all Semitic sources, sometimes five hundred 
years earlier than the period in question, sometimes five 
hundred years later. We cannot deem this a sound 
scientific way to proceed. So good an Aramaist as Ralph 


Marcus of Columbia has carefully examined its results 
and rejected them.** 

If there is any slightest probability of Aramaic 
written gospels or gospel sources having existed, there 
is a perfectly sound, serious and unobjectionable way 
of approaching the problem. We should first inquire 
what materials there are for a study of first century 
literary Palestinian Aramaic, what public there was for 
such works, what literary works there are now in exist- 
ence from that place and period, and in that tongue; 
what evidence there is of the practice of creative 
Aramaic literary writing there and then. Every serious 
Greek student of the gospels uses precisely these meth- 
ods. Moulton and Milligan supply six columns of ref- 
erences to published collections of Greek papyri and 
ostraca at the beginning of their Vocabulary of the 
Greek New Testament. The advocates of the Aramaic 
school offer none at all. They give us no list of Aramaic 
works created in Palestine in the first half of the first 
century. 88 There is no record of any written composi- 
tion in Aramaic at that time. The Aramaic targums or 
translations of the Law were explicitly oral, not written. 

t4 "Notes on Torrey's Translations of the Gospels," Harvard Theo- 
logical Review, ancvii (1934), pp. 211-39. 

86 Professor Millar Burrows states that "the Apocrypha and Pseude- 
pigrapha likewise include works which are regarded by their modern 
editors as having been composed in Hebrew or Aramaic during the 
period with which we are concerned," but the list he goes on to give 
contains no Aramaic works at all, Journal of Biblical Literature, liii 
(1934) , p. 17. It cannot be too often insisted that Hebrew must be dis- 
tinguished from Aramaic, oral composition from written, and transla- 
tion from creative writing, in this discussion. 


There is no first century literary Aramaic to build on, to 
create a literary probability for us, or to compare with. 
What there was in contemporary Aramaic seems to 
have been altogether translational; not creatively com- 
posed; even these translations, which had the very just 
purpose of putting the scriptures into the vernacular, 
so that ordinary people could understand them, were 
not committed to writing but to memory. A more un- 
promising soil for the rise and swift development of 
the new and brilliant gospel type of literature can 
hardly be imagined. 

Over against this loose vague method of conjecture 
and surmise the Greek interpreters of the New Testa- 
ment find themselves in a peculiarly happy and favor- 
able position. The patient researches of three genera- 
tions of New Testament scholars in text, introduction, 
history and philology have worked out a sketch of the 
rise of New Testament and early Christian literature 
that is highly convincing. New discoveries of more and 
more ancient manuscripts supply welcome material for 
textual reconstruction. Above all, the ever enlarging 
field of Greek papyrus documents is constantly throw- 
ing fresh light upon New Testament syntax and lexi- 
cography. Some years ago, Professor Milligan of Glas- 
gow and Professor James Hope Moulton of Man- 
chester, in conversation became aware that each of 
them had been in the habit of writing into his copy of 
Thayer's lexicon references to significant parallels in 


the papyri, inscriptions, or Epictetus, They resolved to 
pool these accumulations, build them up still further 
and publish them. Tike Vocabulary of the Greek New 
Testament was the result. It forms a valuable supple- 
ment to the New Testament lexicons. 

These for their part are greatly improved. To the 
dictionaries of Preuschen, 1910, Zorell, 1911, Ebeling, 
1913, Souter, 1916, and Abbott-Smith, 1922, we may 
now add Walter Bauer's thorough revision and en- 
largement of Preuschen, 1928, itself now just completed 
in a further revision, 1937; Kittel's revision of Cremer's 
Griechisches Theologisches W5rterbuch 3 carried out 
with the aid of fifty-five other scholars, the tenth in- 
stalment of which has just appeared; and the greatly 
improved Liddell and Scott, which now lacks only one 
part to make it complete. 

For the papyri, specifically, we have the monumental 
dictionaries of Friedridi Preisigke, Worterbuch der 
griechischer Papyrus Urkunden, 1927, his Fachworter- 
buch, 1915, and his Namenbuck, 1922. This intense 
lexical activity has greatly lightened the task of the 
modern translator and interpreter. We feel that we are 
moving forward with a sound method and an increas- 
ing wealth of documentary material. 

New Testament philology, so long a debatable land 
between classical and Semitic realms, which made occa- 
sional raids upon it, but no complete survey of it, has 
emerged, by reason of the papyri, as a relatively inde- 


pendent discipline, dealing with the rise of a great 
popular religious Greek literature in the spoken lan- 
guage, which it employed for literary purposes with all 
the vivacity of the old Greek genius directed to new 
and nobler ends. 



PSEUDONYMITY is one of the most serious problems in 
the study of early Christian literature. How far does it 
exist, what was the occasion for it and what its purpose? 
Its background is, of course, in part that late Jewish 
literature which arose in the times after Ezra, when ac- 
cording to Jewish ways of thinking, the prophetic period 
was over and God had finished speaking to men. The 
consequence of this doctrine was the apocalyptic liter- 
ature, which claimed for its authors the names of 
ancient worthies before the time of Ezra, and thus met 
or at least evaded the implications of the doctrine. In 
the second half of the Book of Daniel, Chapters 7-12, 
Daniel speaks in the first person throughout, and in the 
Book of Enoch, Enoch, "in the seventh generation from 
Adam," Jude, vs. 14, speaks in the first person; "And 
I, Enoch, blessed the Lord of Majesty and the King of 
the Ages/' x It was the art of apocalyptic that it ex- 
pressed a contemporary message under an ancient 
name. What Enoch heard was "not for this generation, 
but for a remote one which is for to come/' J 

1 12:3. * 1:2. 



Christian apocalyptic arose in quite another atmos- 
phere. The Christian belief was that the days had come 
when the Lord was pouring out his spirit upon all flesh 
and their sons and daughters might well be expected to 
prophesy.* They did not need to assume the names of 
ancient worthies or disguise themselves. So prophets 
persons with the prophetic gifts appeared frequently 
among them, like Agabus,* and the four daughters of 
Philip. 5 There were prophets in the church at Antioch,* 
and in the church at Corinth/ This is why the writer 
of the Revelation can frankly call himself John, 8 at the 
same time that he calls his book a prophecy. 9 There 
was no occasion for him to put forth his work under 
the name of some other man, for the era of the prophets 
had returned. 

Paul speaks of the visions and revelations that had 
been given him by the Lord. 10 Eusebius says that just 
before the Romans encircled Jerusalem, in the Jewish 
War of A.D. 66-70, the Christians there were warned 
by a revelation to leave the doomed city, and move to 
the city of Pella, in Perea. His Church History reads 

"But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been 
commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved 
men there before the war, to leave the city and dwell 
in a certain town of Perea called Pella." 

* Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28, 29. T I Cor. 14:1. 

* Acts 21: 10. 8 Rev. 1:1-3. 
'Acts 21:9. a. 22:18. 
Acts 13:1. 10 II Cor. 12:1. 


There is nothing to suggest that the revelation was 
reported anonymously; it was evidently given to well- 
known members of the Christian church in Jerusalem. 
It is natural to connect this revelation with that in 
Mark, Chapter 13, which contains a similar warning: 
"those who are in Judea must fly to the hills"; a man 
on the housetop must not even go down into his house 
to get anything to take with him, and a man in the 
fields about the city must not even turn back to get his 
coat from the corner of the field where he has left it. 

If these Christian prophets needed a great name 
under which to shelter their prophecy, they took the 
name of Jesus. The Revelation of John begins, "A 
revelation made by Jesus Christ which God gave him 
to disclose to his slaves of what must very soon happen. 
He sent and communicated it by his angel to his slave 
John, who testifies to what he saw." 1X 

But Hermas, who wrote his revelation in Rome per- 
haps ten years after John, did not hesitate to write his 
"Visions" and "Apocalypse" under his own name, and 
hardly mentions Jesus in the whole course of that ex- 
tended work, the longest Christian writing that had 
been produced up to that time. A generation later, 
pseudonymity begins to affect Christian apocalyptic in 
the Apocalypse of Peter, written in the name of Peter 
in the second quarter of the second century, when 
pseudonymity had become an established Christian 
literary practice. 

11 Rev. 1:1, 2. 


It is clear that pseudonymity did not enter Christian 
literary life by the way of apocalyptic; Christian apoca- 
lyptic had at the beginning no need or use for pseu- 
donymity. Jewish precedent does not help us here. Yet 
it did enter and play an active part in Christian writing, 
from an early date. How did it come to do this? Few 
scholars nowadays will deny that Jude and II Peter, 
are pseudonymous. II Peter shows acquaintance with 
the collected letters of Paul, and these are already being 
twisted and distorted by some Christian group, evi- 
dently sectarian." Its author also knows the gospels, 
and is aware that Peter is supposed to be sponsor for 
one of them. 1 * He refers to the prediction of Peter's 
death contained in the epilogue of John, 21: IS. 1 * 
He knows Jude, for he quotes it freely and largely in 
Chapter 2, and he also knows I Peter, 3:1, and per- 
haps the Epistle of Barnabas, 3:8. That the apostle 
Peter could have possessed such a Christian library is 
out of the question. 

The question of pseudonymity is not only acutely 
raised by II Peter and Jude, but is presented almost as 
sharply by I Peter and the Epistles to Timothy and 
Titus. It is evident that this whole literature must be 
studied together from the point of view of its pseudony- 
mous character, if we are to escape the fatal fault of 
atomism in our treatment of these documents. For if 
they are treated separately, the problem of pseu- 

19 3:15, 16. " 1:15, 16. 14 a. II Peter 1:14. 


donymity is extremely difficult and baffling, but taken 
together they may throw much needed light on what 
has long been their most difficult feature. 

For a disciple to put forth his interpretation or re- 
statement of his master's teaching under that master's 
name was a practice not unknown in antiquity; the 
later followers of Pythagoras we are told used to do 
this. Moffatt has expressed their frame of mind: "Con- 
scious of the master's influence, disciples viewed their 
own writings as an extension of his spirit. . . . Hence 
it became a point of unselfish piety to give up all claims 
to personal glory and attribute their writings to the 
master himself." ls 

These observations are an admirable introduction to 
the problem as it presents itself in Ephesians. That 
epistle upon examination proves to be written not to 
the Ephesians but as the oldest manuscripts of it 
Vatican, Sinaitic, Ann Arbor show, to Christians, 
especially Greek Christians, in general. Paul could not 
have said to the Ephesians, "If at least you have heard 
how I dealt with die mercy of God that was given me 
for you," 1 * for he had spent more than two years 
among them and they did not have to hear about his 
work, they knew it as well as anyone did. The first 
name applied to Ephesians so far as we know, was 
Laodiceans, which was what Marcion called it, ca. 

18 Introduction to the literature of the New Testament (New 
York, 1911), p. 41. 
16 Eph.3:2. 


AJX 140. He seems to have removed it from its place 
at the head o Paul's letters to put Galatians first, put- 
ting Ephesians in Galatians' place. 1 r 

Ephesians was the first general letter, or encyclical. 
While it speaks in the name of Paul, and is full of 
Pauline expressions, almost every consideration of style 
and matter point to some other writer than Paul. 18 
It reflects no immediate local situation, as Paul's let- 
ters invariably do, and its bold generalization of 
Pauline doctrine is more like an interpreter of Paul 
than like Paul himself. Its description of the church 
as founded on the apostles and prophets, 2:20 (so like 
Rev. 21:14) and of the holy apostles and prophets as 
the mediums of revelation, 3:5, can hardly be supposed 
to have come from Paul, but is most natural in an ad- 
mirer of Paul, writing in a day when time had revealed 
the true significance of Paul's activity. 

The very f act that Ephesians is so general as to defy 
connection with any local church, is the evidence that 
it is the work of a Paulinist seeking to show the gen- 
eral values that his writings possessed, in spite of the 
fact that each of them was addressed to some local 
church in some very pressing immediate local situation, 
now long past. The general character of the epistle, 
so impossible for Paul, becomes natural and even in- 

XT John Knox, Philemon among the Letters of Paul (Chicago, 
1935), p. 41. 

18 Edgar J. Goodspeed, An Introduction to the New Testament 
(Chicago, 1937), pp. 231-37. 


evitable, if die epistle was written in an effort to show 
the permanent religious values of Paul's letters by ex- 
tracting their general religious teachings. The wholly 
general character of Ephesians is in the fullest agree- 
ment with its address to Christians generally, and the 
greeting to all Christians with which it ends. 

We may think of Ephesians as an encyclical, writ- 
ten in the name of Paul to all Christians, with the pur- 
pose of awakening them to the religious values to be 
found in Paul's letters. It was written to form the 
introduction to the letters of Paul, now collected and 
published for the first time. More than this, it was 
cast in forms of speech almost wholly drawn from the 
nine genuine letters, as a tabulation of its phraseology 
side by side with the parallels in the genuine letters 
abundantly shows. 19 Even this is not all. The nine 
letters, Romans to Philemon, actually satisfy every- 
thing in the language of Ephesians, except a few ex- 
pressions from Luke-Acts and the Greek version of the 
Old Testament. It is this singular fact that binds Ephe- 
sians inextricably to the nine letters. It shows the lit- 
erary influence of them all. 

How could a man who had written such an introduc- 
tion to the collected Pauline letters, commending them 
to Christians everywhere, and composed it so entirely 
of materials drawn from the genuine letters, put any 

1 Cf. Edgar J. Goodspeed, The Meaning of Epbesians (Chicago, 
, pp. 82-165. 


name but Paul's at the head of it? If he had put his 
own name there, we should brand him as a rank pla- 
giarist, claiming as his own hundreds of things he had 
appropriated from Paul. He could hardly have wished 
to use his own name; who was he, to assume to address 
the whole Christian church? But he considered himself 
simply as the mouthpiece of Paul, reviving Paul's mes- 
sage, with the necessary modernization of course, for 
a generation that had forgotten his letters. (That it 
had done so is proved by the fact that Matthew and 
Luke had no knowledge of them.) 

He might have put forth the letter with no name at 
all at its head, but then he would have had to give up 
the letter form, for it was the essence of an ancient 
letter that it began with the name of its writer followed 
by that of its recipient. But he was committed to the 
letter form, since it was the letters of Paul that he was 
proposing to introduce and circulate. He wished to 
gather into a sort of composite Pauline letter, a char- 
acteristic group of the values he had found in die 
letters themselves. His encyclical must be a letter. 

We must remember too that he wrote in an age when 
men saw little difference between composing a speech 
in the name of Paul or Peter, like the speeches in the 
Acts, and composing a letter in his name. The differ- 
ence may seem to us great; it did not seem so to 
them. Stephen's speech in Acts 7:2-53 is almost half 
as long as Ephesians, and the collected Pauline speeches 


in Acts (13:16-41; 17:22-31; 20:18-35; 22:3-21; 
24:10-21; 26:2-23, are the principal ones) taken to- 
gether practically equal Ephesians in length. Few 
people suppose that Luke had accurate reports of any 
o these speeches, though he may have had his own 
recollections of some of them. But these recollections 
and reports would no more make the speeches really 
Paul's than the use of Paul's letters made Ephesians; 
in fact, Ephesians is more truly Pauline than Paul's 
speeches in the Acts, 

That was an age, too, when John o Ephesus, in 
writing his Revelation, did not hesitate to describe him- 
self as the amanuensis of Jesus himself/ All these 
precedents lie back of the evident pseudonymity of 
Ephesians. Yet various elements entered into the writ- 
ing of that work the use of the newly published 
Pauline corpus of letters to seven churches, the influ- 
ence of contemporary Greek dramatic art, familiarity 
with Jewish apocalyptic writings, especially Daniel, 
horror of the rising seas, resentment of the religious 
oppression of the Roman empire. But John does not 
scruple to daim for the product of these forces, and 
for every word of his book, the sublime authority of 
Jesus himself; no one must alter the prophecy.* 1 

To the interval between the publication of Luke- 
Acts and the writing of the Revelation, Ephesians be- 
longs, and we may expect it to reflect the literary habits 

* Rev. 1:1,2,11. fl 22:18, 19. 


and attitudes of that day. It was clearly a day when 
just such things were being done, at least in the circle 
of Ephesus; Luke, with his long speeches of Paul in 
the Acts, and John, with his exalted claim of divine 
revelation for his Apocalypse. Surely it was in such an 
age no great matter to preface Paul's collected letters 
with an encyclical drawn almost entirely from them, 
and given the name of Paul. 

We would have done differently, we think. Yet ten 
years ago there appeared in the Atlantic Monthly "The 
Epistle of Kallikrates," ostensibly an answer to I Corin- 
thians/* There was nothing in its publication to sug- 
gest that it was the work of a modem Scottish minister, 
but one could not read a page of it without perceiving 
that it reflected a modern, not an ancient attitude. Why 
did this excellent clergyman write it under the guise of 
an ancient letter newly discovered? Because he wished 
to secure a hearing for what he had to say. He suc- 
ceeded. There was nothing wrong in that. He assumed 
that anyone who read, the article would at once see that 
the article was a modern, not an ancient discussion. 

We may not say this of Ephesians; some ancient 
pseudonymity was of that kind; some of it was not. The 
explanation of Ephesians is rather that a writer seek- 
ing to revive Paul as a literary and religious force 
through his newly discovered letters, generalizes their 
religious message, in an introductory letter made up 

" March, 1928. 


almost wholly out of materials drawn from Paul, and 
puts it forth under his name. It is Paul's doctrine (as 
he understands it, of course) that he is seeking to pre- 
sent, in Paul's language, to introduce and popularize 
Paul's letters, and it would have defeated his purpose 
to put any name but Paul's at the head of what he in- 
tends as an overture to Paul. 

The Pauline letter-collection, with what we know as 
Ephesians at its head, was an immediate success. That 
Paul later fell into neglect for a time because Marcion 
sought to monopolize him, must not blind us to the fact 
that the collected Pauline letters were at first enthusi- 
astically received. Revelation, Hebrews, I Peter and 
I Clement show the use of them almost immediately. 

For I Peter, too, must be recognized as pseudony- 
mous. Two elements enter into its composition. He- 
brews had called upon the Roman church to teach the 
churches: 'Tor although from the length of your Chris- 
tian experience you ought to be teaching others, you 
actually need someone to teach you over again the very 
elements of Christian truth, and you have come to need 
milk instead of solid food/' as Stung by this rebuke, 
the Roman church looked about for churches that 
needed teaching. Corinth was not accepting the presby- 
teral authority as it should, and to Corinth Rome des- 
patched a long letter which we know as I Clement, 
dealing with that subject. The letter is full of the influ- 

>s 5:12. 


ence of Hebrews, and no wonder, for it was written in 
response to the challenge Hebrews had given the 
church at Rome. There was no occasion for pseude- 
pigraphy in writing it; it is "the church of God that so- 
journs in Rome" that sends greeting "to the church of 
God that sojourns in Corinth," in the salutation. 

But at the same time another error had appeared 
among the churches which the challenge of Hebrews 
caused the church at Rome to undertake to correct. It 
was among the churches of Asia, where the Revelation 
of John had just been written. With all its heroism 
and bold refusal to yield to the persecution that threat- 
ened, and the noble faith in the final triumph of the 
Kingdom of God which is its chief message, Revela- 
tion does not escape the ever-present danger of hating 
its enemies, but like some of the old Jewish prophets 
denounces them with real bitterness: "Pay her back in 
her own coin, and give her double for what she has 
done. In the cup she mixed for others, mix her a double 
draught. . . . Gloat over her, heaven! and all you 
people of God, apostles and prophets, for God has 
avenged you upon her!" a * 

The attitude of Revelation toward the empire's de- 
mand of emperor worship was a disloyal, seditious atti- 
tude and if adopted by Christians generally would have 
made the church a great hostile force within the em- 
pire, plotting its overthrow. Worse than this, it would 

**Rev. 18:6,20. 


have developed an attitude of hatred for one's enemies 
that would have been a canker at the very heart of 
Christian morality and done the new religion a mortal 

It was no small service to Christianity that the church 
at Rome did when it produced what we know as the 
First Epistle of Peter. It was naturally sent to the circle 
to which the Revelation had been addressed the 
churches of the Roman province of Asia; and to the 
wider circle that bordered upon it, to which the influ- 
ence of the Revelation might be expected to extend 
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia." So to the 
seven churches that had received the letter of the Reve- 
lation, and to those of the adjoining provinces, Rome 
sent a message counselling loyalty to the empire 
combined with faithfulness even unto death. "Love 
the brotherhood, be reverent to God, respect the em- 
peror." " 

This matter of the occasion of I Peter is intimately 
tied up with its pseudonymous character. If it was in- 
tended to correct a teaching just put forth by a prophet 
of Ephesus speaking in the name of Christ himself, it 
would hardly do to indite it like I Clement from "the 
church of God that sojourns in Rome/' A higher au- 
thority must be claimed to win the necessary attention 
for so serious a message. The churches were reading 
with the utmost interest the newly published letters of 
" I Peter 1:1. " 2:17; cf. 2:13, 14. 


Paul. Paul and Peter were and sail are the great apos- 
tolic patrons of the church at Rome, the "Santi Apos- 
toli." I Clement names and praises them together.* 7 
The Roman church like other ancient churches felt that 
it was the representative and spokesman of the martyr 
apostles whose graves were in its keeping. It was natu- 
ral for Rome to speak in the name of Peter, and (in 
the presence of the new and powerful Pauline corpus) 
through a letter. This is the meaning of the pseu- 
depigraphy of I Peter. It is tied up with I Clement, 
written from the same church and at the same time, by 
its strange representation of Peter as not only an 
apostle/ 8 but a Christian elder," for the main interest 
in I Clement was to recover for the elders (presbyters) 
of Corinth the respect and authority Rome thought was 
due them. Now that message is reinforced in writing 
to the Christians of Asia Minor, just across the ^Egean 
from Corinth, by speaking of Peter as a "brother- 

We cannot say that the pseudonymity of "Ephesians" 
suggested that of I Peter; it may or may not have been 
apparent to the Roman authors of I Clement and 
I Peter. But the necessity of meeting the great claims 
of the Revelation with a great Christian authority goes 
far to explain the writing of I Peter in the name of the 
chief of the apostles, for whom die Roman church felt 
it had a right to speak, since he had suffered martyr- 

* T Chapter 5. "1:1. "3:1. 


dom in Rome and the church there was the custodian 
of his tomb and memory. 

So began the writing o that literature in the name 
of Peter which eventually reached such large propor- 
tions. There came to be a Gospel of Peter, Acts of 
Peter, the Preaching (Kerugma) of Peter, perhaps also 
the Teaching (Doctrina) of Peter, certainly two 
Epistles of Peter, and the Revelation of Peter. Of all 
this the First Epistle was the beginning. 

While Peter is obviously the hero, not the author, of 
the Acts of Peter, the Gospel of Peter was written in 
the first person, as the closing lines of the Akhmim 
fragment show: 

"But I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our 
nets and went to the sea. . . ." The gospel is plainly 
docetic and was doubtless meant to daim the support 
of Peter for such views. 

The Second Epistle, on the other hand, was de- 
signed to represent him as a strong supporter of the 
Second Coming, and so to strengthen that doctrine 
among the churches. The epistle refers explicitly to the 
first epistle. 80 "This is the second letter, dear friends, 
that I have now written to you/' It thus assumes that 
it is addressed to the same circle as the first epistle, 
though as a matter of fact it is an encyclical, and evi- 
dently looks back upon a series of Christian encyclicals, 
Ephesians, I John, James, Jude, Barnabas, as well as 



upon a series of pseudo-Petrine writings I Peter, the 
Preaching of Peter (an early apology) , the Gospel of 
Peter, and the Revelation of Peter, all of which are 
definitely earlier than II Peter. 

But the Epistle of Jude is clearly older than II Peter, 
for much of II Peter, Chapter 2, is taken from Jude. 
Jude is an encyclical, written to condemn the practical 
aspects of Docetism. Its writer's name may indeed have 
been Judas or Jude, and there may be no real pseudony- 
mity about his little tract, except that some later hand 
seems to have added "the brother of James" to his 
name, in the effort to identify him with the Judas or 
Jude of Mark 6:3, where Jesus is spoken of "as the 
brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon." 81 We can 
hardly suppose a Greek would make the mistake Beza 
made of understanding Judas (the son) of James in 
Luke 6:16 as Judas the brother of James. 

The Epistle of James is a Christian sermon, written 
early in the second century, which was later published 
in the form of an epistle; an encyclical, addressed to 
the Christian dispersion, "the twelve tribes that are 
scattered over the world." ** The name of James was 
perhaps suggested by the writer's apparent opposition 
to Paul's doctrine of faith, as known through his 
letters.** Paul in Gal. 2:12 speaks of James as though 
he were the leader of the opposition to his views about 
faith and freedom from the law. The pseudepigraphy 

**Cf. Matt. 13:55. " a. I Peter 1:1. 2:14-26, 


of James may therefore be regarded as an incident of 
its publication, for of course the only way to deliver a 
letter from James to the Christians scattered over the 
world would be to publish it. That it was thought nec- 
essary to put it in the form of a letter in order to pub- 
lish it is probably due to the success the Pauline letters 
had achieved. 

The Epistles of Timothy and Titus were written as a 
group to rescue Paul from the Marcionites, who had 
appropriated him and threatened to monopolize him 
and his writings. They also sought to regulate church 
officers and organization, to discourage sectarian tend- 
encies, Gnostic and Marcionite, and reestablish the 
Jewish scriptures as the Bible of the church. Paul was 
being exploited by the Marcionites and he must himself 
disown them. This he does in the Pastorals, almost by 
name. "Keep away from the worldly empty phrases 
and contradictions (Antitheses) of what they falsely 
call knowledge (Gnosis)." * 4 The Antitheses, or Con- 
tradictions was the name of Marcion's book, and Gnosis 
was the prevailing heresy of the middle years of the 
second century. 

These three letters, or epistles, were clearly intended 
to form a supplement to the collected Pauline letters, 
as they did, and give the collection a definitely anti- 
heretical tone. Their adoption of the name of Paul was 
in order to recover the Pauline literature from the 

** I Tim. 6:20. 


clutches of the Marcionites. Only in the name of Paul 
. himself, it was felt, could Paul's writings be rescued 
from Marcion's misuse of them. 

New light has been thrown upon ancient pseudo- 
nymity by Dr. Alfred E. Haefner, through his publica- 
tion of a defense of the practice by one who practiced 
it and was detected. 88 He relates that about AJX 440 
an encyclical letter from Timothy appeared, condemn- 
ing the avarice and luxury that were permeating the 
church. It seemed to be the work of Salvian of Mar- 
seilles. At any rate he was called upon by the bishop, 
Salonius, to explain. This he does in his ninth letter. 
He does not for a moment admit that he wrote the 
Letter of Timothy, but speaks of its author in the third 
person, and undertakes to answer the question, "Why 
the pamphlet which someone of our day has written to 
the church, was published under the name of Timothy." 
Salonius had declared that unless this could be satis- 
factorily explained, the letter would have to be classed 
among the Apocrypha. 

Salvian first points out that it is really the contents 
of a book that matters, not the name it bears. "If the 
book is profitable reading and offers something to edify 
the reader, what does it matter whether or not it hap- 
pens to satisfy someone's curiosity about the name of 
the author? We might well quote the angel's answer 

5 * "A unique Source for the Study of Ancient Pseudonymity," Angli- 
can Theological Review, xvi (1934), 8-15. 


to his inquisitive companion, 'Seekest thou a tribe and 
a family, or a hired man?' ** Since the name is imma- 
terial, there is no use in asking about the author's name, 
so long as the reader profits from the book itself." 

Salvian does not leave the matter here. He faces 
the question, Why does the author not use his own 
name in the title of his book? His first reason is, "that 
we are urged by scripture to avoid every pretense of 
earthly vainglory"; we must not be covetous of man's 
praise. As we must give our alms in secret, we should 
bestow the fruits of our literary labors in secret, too. 
Our work is more likely to please God if what we do 
for his glory is known to him alone. 

The main reason, he goes on to say, is the writer's 
sense of his own insignificance; he does not wish his 
obscurity to detract from the influence of his book. 
People are more interested in an author's reputation 
than in the force and vigor of what they are reading. 
Of course this reveals more than it conveys; it really 
means that the writer wants a name that shall com- 
mand for his work an attention his own name could 
not. But he proceeds to explain that he chose the name 
of Timothy ("the honor of God," as he translates it) 
because he wrote his pamphlet for the honor of God. 
This Is hardly candid, for Timothy would at once sug- 
gest to the ordinary mind the disciple of Paul. 

And yet is not this almost exactly like the background 



of the Epistle of Kallikrates in the Atlantic Monthly? 
The name will attract attention, and the reader will 
find out as he proceeds that the name is a transparent 
disguise, but by that time the message of the actual 
writer will have reached him, for what it is worth. So 
Salvian seems to have thought. 

Tertullian at the beginning of the third century, 
shows what was generally thought about pseudepigra- 
phy in antiquity, by a remark in his work Against Mar- 
cion, iv, 5, which Dr. Haefner quotes: "(The gospel) 
which was published by Mark may also be maintained 
to be Peter's whose interpreter Mark was; for the nar- 
rative of Luke also is generally ascribed to Paul; since 
it is allowable that that which pupils publish should be 
regarded as their master's work." So thought the later 
Pythagoreans and it is not strange if some early Chris- 
tians thought the same. 


MINISTERS of the gospel and New Testament pro- 
fessors are frequently asked about the authenticity of 
various curious writings relating to the gospel history 
that seem to supplement what the New Testament con- 
tains. A Russian war-correspondent once published 
what he called The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, 
supposedly from manuscripts he claimed to have found 
in Tibet. His story was completely demolished by 
F. Max Miiller and by the testimony of actual visitors 
to Tibet, such as the Reverend Ahmad Shah. 1 Thirty- 
two years later, however, it was reprinted and widely 
hailed by the press as a new discovery. 

In good bookstores there is offered for sale The 
Aquarian Gospel, a fanciful blending of the four gos- 
pels, the Gospel of James (the so-called Protevangel- 
ium) and the Unknown Life, written by Dr. Levi H. 
Dowling and published in Los Angeles in 1911. 

A country preacher in Missouri in 1879 published 
what he called the Acts of Pilate, and this ignorant and 
fantastic work found such a welcome from the religious 

1 Four Years in Tibet, Benares, 1906. 


public that he afterward developed it into a whole vol- 
ume of such crude vulgar fancies under the appalling 
title. The Archaeological and Historical Writings of 
the Sanhedrin and Talmuds of the Jews (1884). This 
book has been repeatedly exposed as a childish fraud, 
but is still printed and sold in this country. 

The Confession of Pontius Pilate, the Letter of 
Benan the Egyptian Physician, and the British Israelite 
Twenty-Ninth Chapter of Acts, are similar modern 
fictions masquerading as ancient religious texts. In 
general, scholarship has turned away in disgust from 
these pieces, considering them unworthy of serious at- 
tention. And so they are, except that so many well- 
meaning people who lack critical training are taken in 
by them. To protect such people, Carl Schmidt showed 
the falsity of the claims made by its author for Der 
Benanbrief, the Letter of Benan the Egyptian Physi- 


The Crucifixion of ]esus } by an Eye-witness, has also 
found many readers in German, Swedish and English. 
It came into English from the Swedish version, but it 
was written in German and published in 1847.* It 

s Carl Schmidt, Der Benanbriej, eine moderne Leben-Jeus-Fal- 
schung, Leipzig, 1921. 

8 Martin Dibelius, A Fresh Approach to the New Testament, New 
York, 1936, p. 93. Tfcus carries the origin of the work much further back 
than I was able to do in Strange New Gospels (1931), pp. 38, 39. The 
first Swedish edition, Harald Holmberg of the Royal Library of Stock- 
holm informs me, appeared in Stockholm in 1851. Dr. William H. 
Allison of the Library of Congress kindly informs me of a French trans- 
lation of which the third edition was published in Paris in 1863, under 
the title, Le Mort de ]&sus. 


claims to be translated from an ancient Latin manu- 
script found in Alexandria but Dibelius has shown that 
it is taken bodily from K. H. Venturini's Natural His- 
tory of the Great Prophet of Nazareth, 1800-1802, 
what the original writer meant as a romantic reconstruc- 
tion being made to masquerade as a contemporary his- 
torical document. It seeks to show that Jesus was an 
Essene, and to rationalize the supernatural elements in 
the narrative. 


My first acquaintance with a complete text of the 
Letter -from Heaven, in its modern form, was when a 
negro came down our street peddling copies at fifteen 
cents each. I am sure he was never so welcomed in his 
life as he was at my door, for I had been looking for a 
complete text of that curious work for years. In 
Strange New Gospels (Chicago, 1931) I printed the 
English text as best I could from three mostly imper- 
fect printings; these I exhibited in parallel columns in 
the Anglican Theological Review, xv (1933), pp. 105- 
114, as an example of the meaningless and purposeless 
variations into which a religious text will wander, when 
its transmission is left to ignorant, superstitious people. 

Much light has been thrown upon the early history 
of the letter by researches into its longer mediaeval 
Latin forms, and upon its more modern English career, 
which proves to be much longer than I had supposed. 


The late Professor Robert Priebsch, of London, has ex- 
plored its origin.* It seems to have appeared first in 
Latin toward the end of the sixth century, in Ebusa, the 
smallest of the Balearic Islands, where the bishop Vin- 
centius accepted it and made it known to his people. 
But when he sent a copy of it to Licinianus, bishop of 
Carthagena, the latter denounced it most severely. It is 
his letter to Vincentius condemning the letter, written 
probably before A.D. 584, that gives us our first glimpse 
of the existence of such a thing, unless we are to con- 
nect it with a still more ancient Elkesaite document 
mentioned by Hippolytus, Refutation, 9:8, as having 
been revealed by a huge angel. This effort to connect 
the Letter from Heaven with the book mentioned by 
Hippolytus seems to have little to commend it, however. 
Though disapproved by Licinianus the Letter from 
Heaven reappears at intervals through the centuries, 
being often denounced by churchmen. It appeared in 
the twelfth century in the cathedral library in Tarra- 
gona, and Priebscb suggests that Vincentius may have 
obtained his copy of it from that place. St. Boniface, 
the apostle to Germany, appeals to the Pope against it, 
in the eighth century, and Pope Zacharias held a synod 
in the Lateran to deal with Aldebert, bishop of Ver- 
dun, who was circulating it (745). Later in the same 
century (789) Charlemagne condemned it, and his son 

4 Robert Priebsch, Letter from Heaven on the Observance of the 
Lord's Day, Oxford, 1936. 


Louis the Pious was later reproached with having re- 
jected it. It had reached England by the eleventh cen- 
tury, and spread to Ireland and Iceland. 

It dealt chiefly with Sabbath observance, transferring 
the Jewish ideal of the Sabbath to the Christian Sun- 
day, and insisting also upon church attendance and 
pious behavior throughout the day. It threatened those 
who disobeyed these commands with dire disasters. 

This is just the attitude of the modern English form 
of the letter, which while a good deal simplified, evi- 
dently owes much to the old mediaeval text, in one or 
other of its developed forms. New light has been 
thrown upon the English letter by the discovery in Lon- 
don of an old eighteenth century "broadside" of it, evi- 
dently meant to be framed and hung up in the house; 
in fact some modern possessors of such broadsides 
refuse to part with them, for fear of losing the bless- 
ings the Letter promises those who- keep it in their 
houses, and also through fear of incurring the punish- 
ments it threatens. 

One of the texts from which I reconstructed the text 
of the Letter from Heaven in 1931, was copied for me 
from one of these old cherished broadsides, so valued 
by its possessors that they would not consent to part 
with it. Another such broadside has since come to light 
in the possession of the Reverend Desmond Morse- 
Boycott, in London. The Morse-Boycott copy also con- 
tains the correspondence of Jesus with Abgar king of 


Edessa ("Agbarus") familiar from Eusebius." This is 
followed by the Letter of Lentulus describing the per- 
sonal appearance of Jesus, now generally regarded as a 
modern work. Both these items were present in the 
broadside I used in publishing the Letter from Heaven 
in 1927. The Morse-Boycott broadside has been gen- 
erally dated soon after 1700. Its printers were Howard 
and Evans, 42 Long Lane, West Smithfield, London. 
The broadside from a copy of which I published the 
text in 1931 was press-marked "Pitts. . . . Great St. 
Andrews St. Seven Dials. One Penny." 

I did not see this broadside only a copy of its text 
or I might have perceived that it proved the Letter 
much older than I gathered from its contents. Cer- 
tainly if it was of the type of the London copy, and it 
probably was, it would have revealed that it belonged 
to the eighteenth century. For a third broadside has now 
appeared, this time in Albert Lea, Minnesota, which is 
more than a century old. 

It was brought to my attention by the Reverend 
Charles J. Gunnell, rector of Christ Church, Albert Lea, 
who very kindly secured a photograph of it for me, and 
when I visited Albert Lea, brought it to show me. From 
its type, my colleague, Professor Pierce Butler, judges 
it not earlier than 1800, although the illustration of the 
Crucifixion may be older. 

The preliminary matter in all three seems very much 

8 Church History, 1:13:6-9- 


the same; in the Albert Lea broadside, it reads: "A 
Copy of a Letter written by our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ, and found eighteen miles from Iconiam fifty 
three years after our Blessed Saviour's Crucsfixion. 

"Transmitted from the Holy City by a converted Jew. 

"Faithfully translated from the original Hebrew 
Copy now in the possession o the Lady Cuba's family 
at Mesopotamia. 

"This Letter was written by JESUS CHRIST, and 
found under a great stone round and large at the foot 
of the Cross. Upon the stone was engraved, 'Blessed 
are they that shalt turn me over/ All people that saw 
it prayed to God earnestly, desiring that he would make 
this writing known unto them, and that they might not 
attempt in vain to turn it over. In the meantime there 
came out a little child about six or seven years of age, 
and turned it over without assistance, to the admiration 
of all who was standing by. It was carried to the 
City of Iconiam and published by a person belonging 
to the Lady Cuba. 

"On the letter was written the commandments of 
Jesus Christ. 

"Signed by the Angel Gabriel, seventy-four years 
after our Saviour's birth." 

The text of the Letter in both die London and the 
Albert Lea broadsides is substantially that printed in 
Strange New Gospels, pp. 103-105. 

The effect of these newly discovered broadsides is to 


push the existence o the English form of the Letter 
back to the beginning of the eighteenth century at any 
rate, while the researches of Priebsch in the mediaeval 
forms lying back of the English letter carry such a 
Letter from Heaven back almost to the middle of the 
sixth century. The English form of it must have been 
widely used in the eighteenth century, being framed 
and hung on the wall by superstitious people, as a pro- 
tection against misfortune. 


In January, 1927, the discovery of an ancient manu- 
script of a new Greek gospel was reported from Cerig- 
nola, Italy. Various statements about it appeared in 
the newspapers; that the manuscript was a parchment 
of the third or fourth century; that the work was com- 
posed by one Josephus of Jerusalem; that it had been 
found by a Signer Luigi Moccia under the false bottom 
of a wrought-iron chest or casket he had bought in an 
antique shop in Rome; that Mr. Henry Ford had offered 
a large sum for it; and finally that Moccia had ad- 
mitted it was a hoax, designed he said to stimulate 
faith, but others said to advertise a novel he was about 
to produce. 

I knew no more than this when early in 1931 Mr. 
Salvatore Riggi of Schenectady, New York, wrote me 
that he had seven sheets of the manuscript, and had 
translated the whole into Italian, for use in mission 


work among the Italians there. I spent an hour or so 
with him in Schenectady, and he very kindly placed the 
manuscripts, together with a complete copy of the 
Greek text and his printed Italian translation of it, in 
my hands for examination. 

The parchments were certainly impressive pieces. 
They were evidently old. Five measured 11 to 11% 
inches in height by 7% to 7% inches in width. The 
writing was in single columns, with from 44 to 47 
lines to a column, and covered the whole sheet, leaving 
only the scantiest margins. Two smaller sheets, con- 
taining statements from Josephus and Zosimus, meas- 
ured 9% by 6% inches, and 8% by 7]/2 inches, respec- 
tively. The remaining sheets, making thirty-one in all 
in Greek, besides the one in Latin, were not in Mr. 
Riggi's hands at the time. 

The form of the manuscript loose sheets, written 
on one side only at once aroused suspicion, which was 
confirmed by the fact that the Greek was carefully sepa- 
rated into words and paragraphs, and equipped with 
accents, breathings and modern punctuation, with capi- 
tals at the beginnings of proper names and sentences, 
and iota-subscripts carefully supplied. These features 
showed at once that the writing was not ancient or even 
mediaeval but distinctly modern in period. 

The sheets were evidently from neither a roll nor a 
leaf -book. They seemed to have been taken from the 
fly leaves of old manuscripts, and quite recently written 


upon. They had afterward been carefully antiqued, so 
that the writing appeared blurred and faded. Photo- 
stats of them were more legible than the parchments 

The text that had been copied upon them was simply 
an interweaving of our four gospels, with a little elabo- 
ration about Jesus' studious and obedient youth, the 
trades or professions of the apostles, and the like. 

With the sheets of the gospel was a letter in Greek, 
from Josephus to his Christian brothers, meaning Mat- 
thew, Mark, Luke and John, written when he was at 
the point of death, just after the fall of Jerusalem, in 
A.D. 70, apparently in transmitting his gospel to them. 
The other accompanying document, in Latin, is also an 
endorsement of the Gospel, by Zosimus, librarian of 
Alexandria. It is headed "L. E. D. Ar. Hist., 1 ' which 
perplexed even Signor Moccia himself, and declares 
these thirty-one leaves to have been written in Greek by 
Josephus of Jerusalem, for his disciples, and found by 
Helena the mother of Constantine in a house near the 
Temple in Jerusalem. They had been sold without her 
knowledge to some Hebrews who had sold them to the 
Library of Alexandria. Two short lines of four words 
each at the bottom of the sheet are probably meant to 
look like Hebrew but are really meaningless scrawls. 
Three expert Semitic paleographers have examined 
them for me and declare them neither Hebrew, Aramaic 
nor Syriac. The purpose of the letter and note is evi- 


dently to account for the origin of the manuscript, its 
relation to the four gospels and its preservation until 
the fourth century. 

The intention of the whole thing is to present this 
gospel as the source out of which all four of the 
canonical gospels were made, and it hardly needed the 
paleographical argument to disclose the absurdity of 
such an explanation of their origins. There have been 
many efforts to weave together the four gospels in 
ancient, mediaeval and modern times, for practical reli- 
gious purposes. But nothing could be more improbable 
than that our four gospels arose by taking to pieces 
such a work as Signor Moccia has put forth as the orig- 
inal gospel. The whole story of the Moccia Gospel 
forms one of the most elaborate and absurd of these 
periodic attempts to impose upon religious people 
by professed discoveries of ancient Christian docu- 

For the protection of lovers of Christian literature 
against imposture, it is necessary to describe this 
fictitious gospel definitely, so that it may be recognized 
for what it is, a twentieth century interweaving of our 
familiar gospels, and in a late and uncritical Greek 
text, for the section about the Adulterous Woman is 
included, although it has never been found in a Greek 
manuscript earlier than the sixth century, 

Signor Moccia's introduction to the Italian transla- 
tion states that the parchment leaves were given to him 


by an aged Hebrew for whom he had done some great 

The work itself is entitled Concerning the Life of 
Jesus of Nazareth" and translated into plain English, 

"Joseph of Jerusalem, the disciple of Jesus of Naza- 
reth, to all the brothers who live in the communion of 
possessions and of faith, in Judea, Syria, Cappadocia, 
Galaria, Pontus and Phrygia, . . . grace and peace be 
multiplied from God our Father and Jesus Christ our 

"Since many have undertaken inaccurately to draw 
up an account of the matters that have taken place 
among us," etc. . . . 

After the substance of Luke 1:1-4, this second para- 
graph concludes thus: 

'Tearing that this writing may be destroyed or altered 
by some of our opponents, I have delivered four copies 
to our most excellent brothers, Matthew of Capernaum, 
Mark of Jerusalem, Luke of Antioch, and John of Beth- 
saida. They will know how to spread the gospel of 
Jesus not only by word and example but by writing." . 

The text continues: 

"In the days of Archelaus ethnarch of Judea and son 
of Herod, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a 
city of Galilee named Nazareth," etc. 

The text ends with the substance of the last verse of 
the Long Conclusion of Mark, 16:20. As published in 


the Italian translation, it is followed by the Letter of 
the dying Josephus beginning, "My beloved brothers, 
on this last day of my life," and ending, 1. 17, "The 
grace of the Lord be with you." 

While Moccia is said to have admitted that the work 
was a creation of his own, some sincere but uninformed 
people have welcomed the new gospel as a genuine 
discovery and find it useful in practical religious work. 
And of course, its contents are of the utmost religious 
value, being drawn with slight amplifications from the 
familiar gospels. It is to the claims and pretensions of 
the work that objection must be made. It is simply one 
more interweaving of the four gospels, by a modern 
hand, neither competent nor scrupulous. 


The Old Testament twice mentions a Book of Jashar 
or, as the King James Version has it, Jasher; once after 
quoting Joshua's cry to the sun and moon to stand still, 
"Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? * and once 
in II Samuel 1:18 where David's lament over Saul and 
Jonathan is described as "written in the Book of Jashar 
to instruct the Judeans." T There is no other mention 
of a man named Jashar or Jasher in the Old Testament, 
though a Jesher is mentioned among the sons of Caleb, 
I Chronicles 2:18. But these mentions of the Book of 

* Joshua 10:13. 

7 Moffatt translates in both places '"The Book of Him*." 


Jashar (Jasher) have tempted a number of individuals 
in mediaeval and modern times to undertake to supply 
the missing document. 

It is appropriate to recall these efforts to put an imi- 
tation Book of Jasher into circulation, because in 1934 
an old English fiction under that name was revived, 
with such success that the Boston Christian Leader for 
November 30, 1935, has devoted six columns to an ac- 
count of it, evidently accepting it at its face value. It 
is usually the case with these curious frauds that when 
they first appear they are promptly unmasked, but a 
generation or a century later they are revived by some- 
body and make a fresh bid for acceptance, long after 
their exposure has been forgotten. 

But there were three mediaeval efforts in this direc- 
tion, made by Jews, and in Hebrew. They are reported 
in the older Bible dictionaries like Jackson's Concise 
Dictionary of Religious Knowledge. One is a moral 
treatise, composed by Rabbi Shabbatai Carmuz Levita, 
in 1391, and preserved in a Vatican manuscript. An 
earlier one, in the form of an introduction to the Hexa- 
teuch, written probably by a Spanish Jew in the thir- 
teenth century, was published in Venice in 1625. This 
seems to be the work published in New York in 1840, 
in an English version probably made by a Mr. Samuel 
of Liverpool. A third, written by Rabbi Tham, who 
died in 1171, was a treatise on Jewish ritual, and was 
first printed in Italy in 1544. 


The fourth is the one that has so recently been re- 
vived among us, by the Rosicrucian Order in San Jose, 
California, in a very handsome photographic reproduc- 
tion of the Book as printed at Bristol, England, in 1829. 

The title page describes the Book of Jasher as "trans- 
lated into English by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, of 
Britain, Abbot of Canterbury, who went on a pilgrim- 
age into the Holy Land, and Persia, where he discov- 
ered this volume, in the city of Gazna." A preface 
("Advertisement") declares that the translation was 
discovered by a gentleman on a journey through the 
North of England, in 1721. The manuscript had an 
endorsement by no less a person than Wickliffe, who 
had written on it, "I have read the Book of Jasher 
twice over; and I much approve of it, as a piece of 
great antiquity and curiosity; but I cannot assert that it 
should be made a part of the canon of scripture," and 
signed the statement. 

Even more astonishing is the introductory statement 
of Alcuin, relating how he went on a pilgrimage to 
Rome and Jerusalem, and continuing to Baghdad and 
Casbin, he was there told by a recluse or ascetic that a 
manuscript of the Book of Jasher existed at Gazna. 
He continued his journey to that place, found it "in 
the library," in the form of a roll of white paper, an 
eighth of an inch thick, nine feet long, and two feet 
three inches high, and was allowed to translate the 
Hebrew into English. After three years in Gazna, he 


returned to Rome and then to Bristol, after an absence 
of seven years. Alcuin learned from the manuscript 
that Jasher, the son of Caleb, was the "virger" of 
Moses, and bore the rod before him and Aaron; that he 
wrote his Book and put it into an ark, and that in the 
time of the Captivity the ark containing Jasher's book 
was taken to Babylonia, and so passed later into the 
hands of the Persians, where Alcuin found it. He and 
his learned companions were not allowed to carry 
away a copy of the Hebrew text however. 

The Book of Jasher as produced in Bristol in 1829 
is a very fine, stately piece of printing; in the modern 
reproduction, the page is eight inches wide by ten 
and three-quarters high almost the proportions of a 
pulpit Bible. The text is broken into thirty-seven chap- 
ters of from six to fifty verses each, the chapters are 
prefaced with brief summaries and the verses are sepa- 
rate paragraphs as in English Bibles, from the Geneva 
Bible of 1560 down. The text begins: 

"Whilst it was the beginning, darkness overspread 
the face of nature. And the ether moved upon the 
surface of the chaos." It ends, 

"And Jazer builded an ark of Gopher-wood, and he 
brought it unto his father, and Jasher put therein the 
book, which he had written. And Jafcer laid it up in 
the city of Jezer." * 

While the book begins with the Creation, the story 

* *7;3*. 32. 


is principally concerned with the Exodus and the Con- 
quest, down to the times of the judges Caleb, Jasher 
and Othniel. It is gathered from all parts of the 
Hexateuch, Judges and Joshua. It does not seem to 
have been written for any particular doctrinal pur- 
pose; immortality is taught, but the supernatural ele- 
ment is toned down in places; the water does not gush 
from the smitten rock, but oozes from the ground. It 
seems to have been written just because a book of that 
name was mentioned in the Bible, and had never been 

It does not, require any great critical faculty to under- 
mine this quaint little book. Alcuin probably did go 
to Rome in early life, in search of manuscripts. But 
that he reached Persia is most unlikely, in view of the 
Moslem control of those regions, from AJX 650 on. 
It is most unlikely that he knew Hebrew, and utterly 
impossible that he wrote English, particularly the 
Elizabethan English of this book. Bristol was not 
settled until about AJX 1000, and hardly the place to 
sail from or return to, in the latter half of the eighth 
century. The book is nothing but a condensation of 
sections of the first seven books of the Old Testament, 
and does not even contain David's Dirge over Saul and 
Jonathan, which should be in it, according to II Samuel, 
1:18. One hardly sees how it could contain it, as Jasher 
died long before David was born. 

It is easy to see how this eighteenth century Jasher 


came to leave out David's Dirge, however, for the King 
James Version does not say that it was in the Book of 
Jasher. It only says in II Samuel 1:18: "Also he bade 
them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: 
behold, // is written in the book of Jasher." The Dirge 
immediately follows. 

This was the current understanding of this passage in 
1750, and explains why the Book of Jasher declares that 
Caleb invented the bow: 

"Caleb, the son of Hezron, invented the bow; for he 
was a mighty man, and a man of renown. He taught 
the children of Jacob to shoot with the bow: he learnt 
his brethren to prepare themselves for the battle." * 

Caleb appears again and again as a leader of bow- 
men. 10 Caleb's son Jesher, 11 is identified with Jasher, 
and becomes the writer of the book, which tells of the 
use of the bow, and how Caleb introduced it to the 

Modern learning (since de Wette) , however, under- 
stands II Samuel 1 : 18 to refer not to the use of the bow 
but to the -song of the Bow, that is, the dirge that fol- 
lows, and translates, "and he bade them teach the chil- 
dren of Judah the song of the bow: behold it is written 
in the book of Jasher/' " That is, the dirge was called 
the Bow, from the mention of Jonathan's bow, vs. 22. 
More modern translators go still further: 

" 6:12, 13. 10 9:5, 7, 26. I Chronicles 2:18. 

11 English Revised Version, American Standard Version. 


"(Behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar to in- 
struct the Judeans) , and he said." " 

" (It is written in the Book of Heroes), he said." " 

This leaves Caleb's invention and his efforts to "learn 
his brethren" the use of the bow, 6:13, quite out of 

The other passage quoted in the Old Testament 
from the Book of Jasher (or Jashar), Joshua's ap- 
peal to sun and moon to stand still, Joshua, 10:13, 
appears thus in the Book, 30:11: 

"Sun, be thou silent upon Gibeon, and thou, moon, 
shine thou on the valley of Ajalon." 

This seems to lose most of the vigor and imagina- 
tion of the familiar form, and makes no particular 

Dates from the creation are conveniently given in 
the margins, after the fashion of the Ussher chronol- 
ogy, contained in printings of the King James Bible 
from 1701 on. The first printing of the Book of Jasher 
is said to have been in 1751. The Bristol edition of 
1829 was a reprinting of this, slightly revised, but in a 
larger form. 

Eighteenth century scholarship was not slow in find- 
ing the flaws in the Book of Jasher. It was soon shown 
to have been the work of a certain Jacob Ilive, a type 
founder and printer of London, where he was in busi- 
ness from 1730 to 1763. This strange individual 
** American Translation. 1A Moffatt's translation. 


seems 1 to have become a public teacher of infidelity, 
hiring Carpenters' Hall for his addresses. 

The book having appeared in November, 1751, was 
immediately declared a fraud, in the Monthly Review 
for December of the same year. But the work was re- 
vived in Bristol in 1829, and so many people were led 
to purchase it that Thomas Hartwell Home was moved 
to expose it again as an imposture in his Introduction 
to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scrip- 
tures. This work thoroughly examines the two edi- 
tions of the book and concludes that it is "a shameless 
literary forgery." 1T Dr. John Kitto, in his famous 
Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, states that the fraud 
was again exposed in the Dublin Christian Examiner 
of 1831, and again in the British Critic for January, 

As to the endorsement by John Wickliffe, anyone 
familiar with the English style of his translation of the 
Bible will feel the enormous gap between it and that 
of his supposed endorsement of the Book of Jasher. 

There is perhaps a touch of humor in Jasher, when 
it declares that when the Hebrews left Egypt, the 
Egyptians cried unto Pharaoh and said, "The Hebrews 
have sold unto us more in number of their flocks and 
their herds, and their possessions than they had." And 
Pharoah said, "Arise, let us pursue after them." lg 

Mr. Hive was unfortunate in his first edition in saying 

15 Chalmers' Biographical Dictionary, vol. xix, p. 228. 

16 llth ed., London, 1860. 1T Vol. IV, pp, 741-47. 
lf 10:3, 4. 


that Alcuin and his two companions had "learned in 
the University of Oxford all those languages which the 
people of the east speak," " when as a matter of fact 
that institution was not founded until more than eighty 
years after Alcuin's death: he died in 804 and Oxford 
was founded supposedly by Alfred in A.D. 886. This 
remark was accordingly omitted from the edition of 

But Mr. Hive was more fortunate when he stated that 
the book was written on paper, and the objections 
levelled as this remark will not hold. Home maintained 
that paper was unknown in the times of Alcuin, and so 
it was, in Europe, but not in the Far East. The discov- 
eries of Sir Aurel Stein have brought to light magnifi- 
cent Chinese paper rolls as old as the beginning of the 
Christian era, and as far as knowledge of paper in 
Persia is concerned, it was precisely through the capture 
of Samarcand by the Arabs in A.D. 712 that paper began 
to become known to the West. Gazna is not really in 
Persia, of course, but paper may well have been known 
there in the days of Alcuin, though whether a Hebrew 
would have written the Book of Jasher on paper, when 
the Jews so long preferred skins for their scrolls, may 
be doubted. We may, in fairness, concede Mr. Ilive 
his paper scroll, but that is far from enough to save 
his Book of Jasher from exposure as a careless literary 

The indignant questions of the Rosicrucian pub- 

" P. iv. 


lishers of the Book of Jasher, "By what right has man 
been denied the words of the prophets? Who has dared 
expunge from the Bible one of its inspired messages?" 
may therefore be set at rest. The Book of Jasher as they 
have published it is not older than 1750. 


Anyone in contact with modern church life on its 
Biblical side must often have been questioned about 
"The Lost Books of the Bible." Under this bold provoc- 
ative title the Alpha Publishing Company produced in 
1926, what had been often produced before, a reprint 
of William Hone's Apocryphal New Testament, first 
printed in London in 1820. 

Hone's book was itself copied from two earlier ones. 
Jeremiah Jones' New and 'Bull Method for Settling the 
Canonical Authority of the New Testament, published 
in 1736, supplied the New Testament Apocrypha which 
form the first part, and an edition of the Apostolic 
Fathers published by William Wake, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, who died in 1737, formed the second. 
Hone's materials were thus eighty-five years old when 
he published them. How much they are worth today, 
two full centuries after they were written, can be 

It would be difficult to name a field of learning in 
which more advance has been made since the days of 
William Hone than the field of early Christian liter- 


ature. New manuscripts have been found, new rela- 
tions discovered, new origins determined. The work o 
scholars like Harnack, Stahlin, Lightfoot and M. R. 
James have transformed our knowledge in these mat- 
ters. The Letters of Clement of Rome are now known 
in a complete Greek text, besides some complete ver- 
sions; Hone and Wake (and The Lost Books of the 
Bible, of course) know only the incomplete forms of 
the two letters as they appeared in the Codex Alex- 
andrinus, where several chapters are missing from each 
of them. Hone and Wake could not know that Tis- 
chendorf was to discover on Mt. Sinai in 1859 the com- 
plete Greek text of the Letter of Barnabas, or that 
Bryennius would find another in 1875; but The Lost 
Books of the Bible might have known it, if its solici- 
tude about early Christian literature was as great as its 
publishers represented. 

To republish this two hundred year old edition of the 
Apostolic Fathers is doubly unfortunate when it is re- 
membered that upon them the best learning of Ger- 
man and British scholars has been lavished in recent 
years; Lightfoot devoted five volumes of excellent work 
to Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp, producing what 
Harnack called the best edition we have of any Chris- 
tian fathers, and Gebhardt, Harnack and Zahn edited 
the whole collection of Apostolic Fathers in three vol- 
umes. Lightfoot and Hanner also published a one- 
volume edition of Greek texts with introductions and 


translations, and Lake has published a useful transla- 
tion in the Loeb Library, 1912. None of this work is 
taken account of at all in The Lost Books of the Bible. 

Many Greek papyri have come to light of late years 
with parts of the text of the Shepherd of Hennas, help- 
ing us in some degree to complete that text. These are, 
of course, unnoticed in The Lost Books of the Bible, 
since it confines itself to what was known two hundred 
years ago about this ancient literature. The publishers 
assumed that nothing worth knowing had been found 
out about the Apostolic Fathers in two hundred years, 
and that was a great mistake. 

The first part of the book (copied from Jeremiah 
Jones, 1736) contains four Infancy gospels the Birth 
of Mary, which is a late Latin form of the Protevangel- 
ium of James; then the Protevangelium, which was 
written about the middle of the second century; then 
the First Gospel of the Infancy, which may be as old as 
AJX 400; then the Second Gospel of the Infancy, which 
turns out to be a small fragment of the well-known 
Gospel of Thomas, written about the middle of the sec- 
ond century. None of these works was ever thought of 
as a part of any New Testament or New Testament list. 
To speak of them as though they had once been in the 
Bible and had somehow been left out is either gross 
ignorance or gross deception. With proper historical 
introductions, written in the light of modern knowl- 
edge, they are interesting and significant writings for 


different periods of Christian thought and history, but 
they were never thought of by anybody as belonging 
or deserving to belong to the Bible. Tliis is a simple 
matter of historical fact. 

The next item in the book is the Letter of Abgar, 
king of Edessa, to Jesus, and Jesus' letter written in 
reply. These works, derived by Jeremiah Jones from 
the Church History of Eusebius, were written in the 
third century to prove the antiquity of the Syriac 
church. They were never in any Bible, nor did anyone 
before these modern republishers of them ever think of 
such a thing. Next comes the Gospel of Nicodemus, 
better known as the Acts of Pilate, which was really 
written in the fourth or fifth century, and could not pos- 
sibly have been lost from the New Testament, which 
was formed long before these Acts were written. 

The Apostles' Creed and the spurious letter from 
Paul to the Laodiceans follow. The Letter to the Laodi- 
ceans, an incoherent jumble of scraps from Paul's au- 
thentic letters, known only in Latin, not in Greek, does 
occur in some Latin manuscripts of the Bible, and in 
printed German Bibles before Luther. We cannot be 
sure the letter is even as old as the fourth century, how- 
ever.* It was not written until after the contents of 
the New Testamenjt were fairly settled. Then come the 
letters supposed to ; have been exchanged between Paul 

* Haxnack, Gescbicbte der altcbrhtlicben Utteratur, Chronologic, 
I, (Leipzig, 1897), p. 702. 


and Seneca. These last are first heard of in the fourth cen- 
tury. They were, of course, never thought of for inclu- 
sion in any New Testament in any language anywhere. 

The last work of this first part of The Lost Books is 
entitled the "Acts of Paul and Thecla." It is the 
romantic story of the conversion of Thecla of Iconium 
to Christianity. But we now know that it is only one 
chapter of the book anciently known as the Acts of 
Paul. A large part of those Acts was discovered in 
1897 by Carl Schmidt in a Coptic version, and he has 
just published the Greek text of most of the work 
from a papyrus manuscript recently found in Egypt. 
Paul and Thecla is simply the most popular chapter 
of the whole long romance. 

For this book, as a whole (not in the fragment 
offered by The Lost Books of the Bible) , some claims 
to a place in the Bible were anciently made. The list of 
scriptural books that has been written into the Codex 
Claromontanus contains the Acts of Paul along with 
the Revelation of Peter, the Shepherd of Hennas and 
the Letter of Barnabas. This list probably represents 
the usage in Christian Egypt about A.D. 300. A quarter 
of a century later, the Acts of Paul was listed by Euse- 
bius as among the "disputed" books which he rejected 
the Shepherd, the Letter of Barnabas, the Revelation 
of Peter, and the Teaching of the Apostles. It was only 
in Egypt and Caesarea that the Acts of Paul gained 
even this much approval, although Hippolytus at Rome 


early in the third century knew it and quoted it, but not 
as scripture. 

So much for the contribution of Jeremiah Jones in 
1736 to The Lost Books of the Bible. As for that of 
William Wake, it is no reflection upon him that we, 
two hundred years later, know more than he did about 
these ancient works of Christian literature. But it is a 
reflection upon those who put these antiquated editions 
with their obsolete introductions before the public as 
"the testimony of such men as Nicodemus or Barna- 
bas/' as the circulation manager of the World's Work 
describes it. Of course no serious student of early 
Christian Literature has any idea that Barnabas or Nico- 
demus had anything to do with the so-called Letter of 
Barnabas (written about A.D. 130), or the Gospel of 
Nicodemus, written in the fourth or fifth century after 

Of the second half of the book, three or four items 
were sometimes included in ancient New Testaments, 
here and there. The two Letters that bear the name of 
Clement of Rome stand at the end of the New Testa- 
ment in the Codex Alexandrinus of the Greek Bible, 
written in the fifth century, and in one Syriac manu- 
script of the New Testament. The Letter of Barnabas 
and the beginning of the Shepherd of Hermas, Tischen- 
dorf found at the end of the New Testament in the 
Codex Sinaiticus, and sat up all that night to copy the 
text of Barnabas, so that he could carry it back to 


Europe. Both these works were in the list of Scripture 
in the Codex Claromontanus and were included by 
Eusebius among the "disputed books" which he rejected. 

To describe these books as "Outlawed Scriptures/' 
and as "barred forever from the Bible," or as "sup- 
pressed writings" as though churchmen had made a 
campaign against .them and were trying to hush them 
up may be good salesmanship but hardly corresponds 
with the facts. Certainly Bishop Lightfoot, like Arch- 
bishop Wake long before, did all he could to promote 
the reading and study of the Apostolic Fathers, even 
arranging in his will for the continuation of his pub- 
lished books upon them. And in ancient times, Atha- 
nasius, bishop of Alexandria, at the end of his famous 
list of books of scripture, recommends the reading of 
the Teaching of the Apostles and the Shepherd of Her- 
mas.* 1 So far was he from barring the Shepherd or 
wishing it to be outlawed or suppressed. 

To The Lost Books is sometimes added a group of 
writings not in Jones, Wake or Hone the Letters of 
Pilate and Herod. They are probably not earlier than 
the Middle Ages, and how anyone can think they might 
or should have found a place in the New Testament it 
is difficult to imagine. Sometimes the fragment of the 
second century Gospel of Peter found at Akhmim in 
Egypt in 1887 is added to the book. That gospel was a 
document of the Docetic sea and is based on the gos- 

-1 In his Easter letter of A.D. 367. 


pels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It was never 
a part of any New Testament. 

We have seen that The Lost Books of the Bible has 
no pretensions to information or learning of any kind; 
that most of the documents it prints never had a place 
in any New Testament or Bible; that no one has made 
any attempt to outlaw, suppress or lose them, but on 
the contrary churchmen and scholars have made great 
efforts to find complete ancient manuscripts of them 
and give them wide circulation. The publishers of The 
Lost Books have not bothered to find out that a com- 
plete Greek text has been found for I Clement, besides 
complete Coptic, Syriac and Latin versions of it, while 
The Lost Books only knows the form of it discovered in 
1628, which lacks seven chapters. We now have the 
complete Greek text of II Clement, but The Lost Books 
ignores the last eight chapters; it does not know they 
have been found, not only in Greek but in Syriac. It 
describes these works as "translated from the original 
tongues" (tide page), but its translation of Barnabas 
is based solely on the Latin version, not on die original 
Greek at all. In fact, considerable parts of some of 
these books have never been found in their "original 
tongues." In justice to William Hone, it must be said 
that this statement does not occur on his ride page but 
is added by the modern publishers to make the tide 
page sound more like the King James Bible. The fur- 
dier statement of the tide page that here are all the gos- 


pels, epistles, and other pieces now extant attributed in 
the first four centuries to Jesus Christ, his apostles and 
their companions, not included in the New Testament, 
is very wide of the mark. Where is the Teaching of the 
Apostles, found in 1875? Where is the Epistle of the 
Apostles, published practically entire in 1919? Where 
is III Corinthians, long honored as a letter of Paul in 
Syrian Christianity? Where is the Revelation of Peter, 
found with the fragment of the Gospel of Peter in 
1887? Where is the Acts of Paul, found by Schmidt in 
1897 and since published in both Coptic and Greek? If 
we are to include the Acts of Paul (and Thecla) why 
not the contemporary Acts of John? 

Even what is published is most carelessly reprinted. 
Whole lines are omitted. Most serious of all, Hone's 
frank acknowledgment that he is using Archbishop 
Wake's edition of the Apostolic Fathers is omitted 
from the Table of Contents, nor is there any intimation 
anywhere in the book that it represents a stage of 
Christian learning two hundred years behind the times. 
It is hard to believe that a reputable modern pub- 
lisher would have adopted and circulated such a pal- 
pable deception among the truth-seeking religious 

Anyone who wishes to read these and similar early 
Christian texts should obtain The Apocryphal Neu> 
Testament published by a great modern scholar and 
man of letters, Dr. Montague R. James, late provost of 


Eton College. 22 There modern discovery and study have 
been intelligently taken advantage of, and Dr. James 
has provided brief introductions embodying the find- 
ings of sound modern historical and literary study of 
these interesting writings. Such canonical pretensions 
as a few of them have had I have discussed in Chapter 
XVII of "The Formation of the New Testament/' " 

2fl Oxford, 1924. aa Chicago, 1926. 


Abgar, 213 

Ahiqar, 42, 137 

Alcuin, 203, 204 

Allison, W. H., Ill, 190 

Ambrose, 7, 11 

American English, 112 

Apocalypse of Peter, 171, 183 

Apocalyptic, 169 

Aquarian Gospel, 189 

Aramaic, 128-30, 136-44, 148- 

50, 159 
Atticus, 7 
Authorized Bibles, 79, 82 

Bacon, B. W., 56 
Barton, G. A. s 156 
Bell, E. A., 114 
Bell, H. L, 18 
Beza, 104 

Book of Jasher, 201-10 
Burney, C. F., 159 
Burrows, Millar, 165 

Cadbury, H. J., 154 

Chester Beatty papyri, 16, 92, 93 

Christie, F. A., 51 

Cicero, 7 

Clark, K. W., 127 

Colwell, E. C a 148 

Conant, T. J., 86 

Deissmann, A., 16, 94, 96 
Dibelius, M., 60, 190 
Dodd, CH.,.160 

Enoch, 169 
Ephesians, 28, 29, 31 
Ephesus, 20, 22-49 
Epistle of the Apostles, 45 
Erasmus, 76-78, 80, 83, 91, 103, 

Eusebius, 7, 11, 12, 37, 170, 213 

Fourfold Gospel, 39-44, 46-48 

Gerstinger, 16, 93 
Gildersleeve, B. L., 143 
Gospel of Josephus, 196-201 
Gospel of Peter, 45 
Greek papyri, 76, 108, 146, 147 
Gregory, C. R., 13 
Grenfell and Hunt, 95 
Gunnell, C. J., 194 

Hadrian, 16 

Haefner, A. E., 186 

Hamouli manuscripts, 92 

Hardy, Thomas, 111 

Harnack, 128, 213 

Hatch, W. H. P., 3 

Hecataeus, 23 

Heraclitus, 23 

Hennas, 171 

Herodotus, 23 

Hilgenfeld, 52 

Hippolytus, 192, 214 

Holtzmann, H. J., 53 

Hone, William, 210, 217, 218 

Easton, B. S., 32, 63 
Eliot, George, 120 

Ignatius, 33-36 
Ilive, Jacob, 207, 209 




Introduction, 50-74 
Irenaeus, 41 

James, M. R., 218 

Jerome, 129 

Jones, Jeremiah, 210, 212, 215 

Josephus, 130, 138 

Jiilicher, 55 

Justin Martyr, 44-47 

Kendrick, A. C. } 86 

Kenyon, F. G., 4-6, 13, 15, 16, 

18, 90, 93 

King James Preface, 82, 101 
Kleist, J. A., 100 
Knox, John, 31, 174 
Lake, K., 89 

lamsa, G., 161 

Letter from Heaven, 192-96 

Letters of Introduction, 25, 26 

Lexicography, 107, 167 

Lightfoot, 108 

Lost Books of the Bible, 210-18 

Luke-Acts, 27 

Luther, 76, 78 

Madison, J. V., 102 
Marcion, 173, 185 
Marcus, Ralph, 165 
Marshall, J. T., 144 
Martial, 8-10, 14, 15 
Mayor, J. B., 130 
McNeile, A. H., 59 
Milligan, G., 133 
Moccia, L., 196, 199, 201 
Moflfatt, J., 58, 99 a 173 
Montefiore, 152, 153 
Montgomery, J. A., 159 
Moore, L. V., 36, 43 
Morgan, J. P., 92 
Morse-Boycott, D., 193 

Moulton, J. H., 108 
Mailer, F. Max, 189 

Onesimus, 31, 34 

Papias, 37, 41-44 

Paul's letters, 28 

Pauline corpus, 28-31, 63, 66- 

73, 135 

Pergamum, 5, 20 
Pliny, 6, 8 
Polycarp, 34, 35, 44 
Preisigke, F., 167 
Priebsch, R., 192 
Priene, 13, 20 
Pseudepigraphy, 169-88 
Pseudonymity, 169-88 
Ptolemy, 5 

Publication, 1-21, 69 
Pythagoras, 173 

Raca, 147 
Revelation, 32 
Revised Version, 87 
Riddle, D. W., 143 
Riggi, S., 196 
Roberts, 94, 95 
Rosicrutians, 209 

Salvian, 186, 187 

Sanders, H. A., 16, 88, 93 

Schmidt, Carl, 45, 190, 214 

Scott, E. F., 60 

Scott, R. B. Y. a 131 

Seneca, 7 

Sharp, Dallas Lore, 1,24 

Souter, A., 137 

Spencer, F. A., 100, 102, 111 

Streeter, B. R, 39 

Syriac, 161, 162 

Tatian, 46 
Tertullian, 188 
Thomson, Charles, 85 



Tischendorf, C, 86 

Torrey, C. C., 136, 141 

Twentieth Century New Testa- 
ment, 98, 111 

Tyndale, 76, 79, 82, 102, 103, 

Ullman, B. L., 18 
Uncials, 3 

Varro, 5 

Venturing K. H., 191 

Verse division, 121-23 

Versions, 105 

Von Soden, 57 

Wake, W., 210, 215,218 
Weiss, B., 54 
Wesley, J., 84 

Westcott and Hort, 88-91, 152 
Westminster Version, 99 
Weymouth, 99, 111 
Whiston, W. a 84 
Wilcken, U., 16, 93 
Wordsworth, John, 129 
Wydif, 78, 203, 208 

Zahn, T., 56 

Zechariah son of Barachiah, 153 

Zosimus, 197, 198