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j: A. M'CLYMONT, D.D. (DIN.). 

Author of " The New Testament and its Writers," " St. John" in the 
" Century Bible," etc. 


25- S-S 



Printed in 1913 


THE Author desires to acknowledge the kind 
assistance he has received from his friends, 
the Rev. William Cruickshank, B.D., and the 
Rev. R. S. Kemp, B.D., in the revision of 
proof-sheets. He has also to thank Mr. 
Cruickshank for drawing up the list of 
kindred literature, published within the last 
quarter of a century, which will be found in 
the Appendix. Many of the books contained 
in the list have been consulted by the Author- 
in the preparation of these Lectures. 

November, 1913. 






THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) 89 



III John ; and the Eevelation) - - - 154 




EPISTLES OF PAUL (I and II Thessalonians, 
Galatians, I and II Corinthians, Romans, 
Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philip- 
pians) - - 207 


Titus), Hebrews, James, I and II Peter, and 
Jude - ... - 290 



BIBLICAL Criticism has often been regarded 
with suspicion by devout members of the 
Church ; it has been denounced and deplored, 
as if it were injurious to the interests of the 
Christian religion. Even in this scientific age, 
when everything else is subjected to the strict- 
est examination, there are some who would 
make an exception of the Scriptures, and who 
look upon Criticism as an enemy of the faith. 
But no such immunity can be granted, and 
none should be sought by the defenders of the 
faith. If it be guided by sound principles, 
Criticism cannot injure the interests of truth ; 
only error and falsehood have anything to fear 
from its conclusions. It cannot be denied, 
indeed, that its history has been marked by 
many indiscretions and many blunders ; its 
representatives have often seemed to forget 


the momentous nature of the interests involved 
in their inquiries, and to be more influenced 
by the hope of winning distinction through 
the originality of their speculations than by a 
desire to advance the interests of the religion 
they profess. This is especially true of the 
nineteenth century, 1 when ecclesiastical pre- 
judice has been more than counterbalanced 
by academic license, and veneration for received 
opinions has given place to restless love of 
novelty, the boldest theorist being too often 
regarded as the most enlightened critic, whose 
lead should be followed by all who desire to 
keep abreast of the age. It must also be 
admitted that great part of the labour spent 
on the discussion of critical questions in con- 
nexion with the study of the Bible has fre- 

1 In a wider sense it has been said by Prof. Saintsbury : 
"It has been the mission of the nineteenth century to 
prove that everybody's work was written by somebody 
else, and it will not be the most useless task of the 
twentieth to betake itself to more profitable inquiries." 
Speaking with reference to New Testament Criticism, Sir 
Wm. M. Ramsay says : " We are no longer in the nineteenth 
century with its negations, but in the twentieth century 
with its growing power of insight and the power of belief 
that springs therefzx>m," 


quently been of little use except to bring out 
the scholarship and argumentative powers of 
those who are engaged in theological pursuits, 
the result of such inquiries being either to 
bewilder the reader with conflicting theories, 
or to concentrate attention unduly on minute 
points of controversy which are of no real im- 
portance. But, when all this is said, it still 
remains true that there is a legitimate field 
for Criticism in connexion with the Bible in 
other words, for the application of scientific 
methods in the solution of its literary problems ; 
and in the long-run such studies cannot fail to 
advance the cause of righteousness and truth. 
While tradition is never to be disregarded, 
and is often to be treated with the greatest 
respect, it can never be held to be an infallible 
guide in the settlement of critical questions. 
Such absolute authority cannot be conceded 
to it even when the testimony of the Church 
is unbroken, much less when it is divided. 
No Protestant, no one acquainted with the 
history of the Canon or with the wider history 
of the Church, can accept the principle laid 
down by Bishop Wordsworth when he says : 
" If any book which the Church universal 


propounds to us as scripture, be not scripture ; 
if any book which she reads as the word of 
God, be not the word of God, but the work of 
an impostor, then, with reverence be it said, 
Christ's promise to His Church has failed, and 
the Holy Spirit has not been given to guide 
her into all truth." l 

Although it was not till last century that 
New Testament Criticism came prominently 
into view, its history can be traced back to 
the first century of the Christian era. There 
is a sense in which it may be said to be older 
than the New Testament itself. Before the 
sacred volume came into existence, the vari- 
ous writings of which it is composed had 
for many years to submit to the judgment of 
the Christian communities in which they cir- 
culated, before they could be admitted to a 
position of respect and honour in the Church 
at large. If they bore the name of an apostle, 
their authorship had to be established ; if they 
made no such claim, they had to depend for a 
favourable reception on the intrinsic value 
and importance of their contents. All of them 

1 Wordsworth's " Greek Testament ; The General 
Epistles," p. 77. 


had thus to go through a period of probation, 
in common with many other writings which 
competed with them for the confidence of the 
Church ; and it was only because they com- 
mended themselves to general approval that 
the writings which we find in the New Testa- 
ment gradually obtained a position of authority 
similar to that which the Old Testament held 
among the Jews. 

In this respect the history of the New Testa- 
ment may be contrasted with that of the 
Koran. The sacred book of Islam was invested 
from the first with the authority of Mahomet 
himself, who claimed to have received its con- 
tents by Divine revelation from heaven, and 
imposed it on the faith and obedience of his 
followers. On the other hand, with the excep- 
tion of the recorded words of Christ Himself, 
than which nothing could have been more 
authoritative for the early Christians, the adop- 
tion of the New Testament writings as a rule 
of faith was the result of a gradual process, 
being due to the estimate put upon the several 
writings by Christians themselves as the result 
of experience, rather than to any high claims 
made for them by their authors, who never 


dreamt of their productions being put on a 
level with the Old Testament. 

It was only by slow degrees that the in- 
fluence of these writings spread from the 
communities in which they originated, or to 
which they were addressed, to the congrega- 
tions of the Church at large. They were 
found suitable for reading in the public services 
of the Church ; they were quoted and appealed 
to by the leaders of the Church when contend- 
ing for the " tradition of the apostles " against 
heresy and schism ; they were translated into 
various languages to meet the wants of 
Christians in different parts of the world ; and 
in consequence of the use thus made of them 
they tended more and more to acquire a sacred 
character, and came to be regarded as a sup- 
plement, and ultimately as a counterpart, to 
the Old Testament. Some of them had to 
wait for a considerable time before they gained 
recognition in parts of the world where they 
were little known, or where some heresy pre- 
vailed which could not be reconciled with their 
teaching ; but by the end of the second century 
we find the idea of a New Testament fully 
recognized by representative men in all parts 


of the Church, with a consensus of opinion in 
favour of the great majority of the writings 
which have a place in our Canon. In the 
Muratorian Fragment, as it is called, a rough 
Latin translation of a Greek original which is 
supposed to have been written by a Roman 
ecclesiastic before the end of the second 
century, we find an interesting statement re- 
garding the books which were to be received 
as authoritative, showing what a serious ques- 
tion this was felt to be, and what care was 
taken to exclude from the number even useful 
and edifying books which could not claim any 
kind of apostolic authority. At the same 
time, so much freedom of opinion was per- 
mitted on the subject, and there was so little 
of an attempt on the part of the Catholic 
Church to fix a definite Canon as an article 
of the faith, that in some quarters we find 
permission given for the public reading of 
certain books which were not acknowledged as 
authoritative ; and some of these books we find 
included in several of the oldest manuscripts. 
One of the most important witnesses on 
the subject of the Canon is Eusebius, Bishop 
of Gesarea, who lived in the early part of 


the fourth century. No man was better ac- 
quainted with the history of the Church, or in 
a better position to know the views of his 
contemporaries ; and he tells us that, while 
opinion was divided regarding five of the 
shorter Epistles, and, in some quarters, about 
the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse 
of John, the rest of the books which have 
a place in the New Testament, and no others, 
were unanimously accepted. As time went 
on, even those writings which had been looked 
upon as doubtful were regarded with increas- 
ing favour, so that by the end of the fourth 
century a collection of sacred books, identical 
with our New Testament, was generally ac- 
cepted by the Church at large, both in east 
and west. 1 

For the next thousand years the history 
of Biblical Criticism is almost entirely a his- 
tory of interpretation dominated by tradition. 
Being regarded as all alike Divine, the Scrip- 
tures were too often treated as if they had little 
or nothing in common with other literature, 

1 Such a list is given in the Easter letter of Athanasius 
(367 A.D.) and in the 39th Canon of the Council of 
Carthage (397). 


and every endeavour was made to find even 
in their most casual and homely references a 
meaning that would be worthy of their Divine 
Author. It was in this way that the alle- 
gorical method of interpretation, which has 
played so great a part in the history of the 
Bible, came into vogue. As might have been 
expected, the Old Testament was the first to 
suffer. The fanciful exegesis of the Jewish 
Elders reappeared in the writings of the 
Church Fathers, who exercised their ingenuity 
in the attempt to justify the statements, and 
spiritualize the teaching, of the Old Testament. 
The idea of a progressive revelation was still 
a great way off. There were some bold 
thinkers in the Church who thought to get rid 
of their difficulties in connexion with the Old 
Testament by regarding it as the work of an 
inferior Being, whom they called the Demiurge, 
as the Creator of the physical universe ; but 
most of the early theologians, abjuring this 
and other Gnostic heresies, were content to 
have recourse to the allegorical mode of inter- 
pretation, availing themselves of it more or 
less in their treatment both of the Old and 
the New Testament. If the Gnostic views 


had prevailed in the Church, they would soon 
have destroyed the historic foundations of 
the Christian faith ; and for that reason they 
were discountenanced and condemned by the 
ecclesiastical authorities, who insisted on the 
reality of the evangelical facts, received by tra- 
dition from the apostles, which were to be found 
in the Gospels. Unfortunately, in the en- 
deavour to counteract such heretical teaching, 
they gave their imprimatur to a traditional 
exegesis, that too often coloured the facts of 
the Gospel with ideas of a mystical character 
which the sacred writers had never intended 
to convey. For illustrations of this tendency 
we need only refer to the works of Justin 
Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and 
Origen, the last named representing the tend- 
ency in its most highly developed form. 

During the Middle Ages, when the Bible 
fell into the hands of sacerdotal and monastic 
Orders, the interpretation of Scripture became 
more and more artificial, more and more 
arbitrary. To the infallibility which had been 
long claimed for Scripture itself there was 
added a claim to infallibility on the part of its 
authorized interpreters. Under the Papal 


Supremacy this claim was enforced, the result 
being that the laity were practically debarred 
from the study of the Bible. Although the 
Church of Rome never denied the authority of 
Scripture, she practically nullified it by her 
tradition, confining its use to a privileged class, 
and preventing her members generally from 
coming into direct contact with the living and 
abiding truth which it enshrined. 

But in the good providence of God the time 
came when the barrier thus erected was to be 
thrown down. For hundreds of years before 
the Reformation, forces were at work, both in 
Church and State, which tended to dispel the 
darkness in which the Scriptures had been 
shrouded, and to bring them out of their sacred 
isolation into touch with the new knowledge 
which men were everywhere acquiring. The 
change was due partly to the revival of classical 
learning, partly to the powerful stimulus given 
to the intelligence of the laity by the discovery 
of the New World. A spirit of inquiry was 
awakened, and when the Reformers set the 
Scriptures free from the bondage of ecclesiasti- 
cal tradition and put them into the hands of the 
people, they met one of the great needs of the 


age. The advantage was specially great in 
the case of the New Testament, as it was in 
no sense the product of a priestly or a hermit 
class, but represented the thought and experi- 
ence of men who lived among their fellows, 
and had for its chief subject the ministry of 
one who was made like unto his brethren, 
associating with them in their homes, their 
streets, and their market-places, as well as in 
their synagogues. It was an immense gain 
for the right understanding of such a book 
when it was set free for the study of all ranks 
and classes ; but in course of time the exi- 
gencies of the Protestant position tended to 
impair this freedom. Disowning the authority 
of the Church, the Reformers were tempted to 
lay undue emphasis on the authority of Scrip- 
ture and to claim for it something very like 
infallibility. In theory both Luther and Calvin 
held that the rightful claimant to authority in 
opposition to the Church was not the Scriptures 
but the Holy Spirit speaking through the 
Scriptures the true antithesis to Scripture 
being the Tradition by which it had been 
superseded in the Church of Rome, as the Old 
Testament had been superseded by the teach- 


ing of the scribes and Pharisees. But while 
the Reformers repudiated the Romish super- 
stition they fell into the ancient error of read- 
ing into the Bible a great deal that was not 
warranted either from a grammatical or histori- 
cal point of view. Even Calvin, who professed 
to adhere to the literal sense, and did so to 
a much greater extent than any of his con- 
temporaries, was so much under the influence 
of dogmatic prepossessions as frequently to 
pervert the true meaning of Scripture. 

Still, with all its shortcomings, the Reforma- 
tion was essentially a critical movement ; it was 
based on the principle laid down by Paul, 
" He that is spiritual judgeth all things, and 
he himself is judged of no man " (I Cor. 2 15 ). 
On this principle Luther argued for the ab- 
solute necessity of private judgment in the 
recognition of Divine truth. 1 He held that 

1 " The Romanists say. Yes, but how can we know what 
is God's word and what is true or false ? We must learn 
it from the Pope and the Councils. Very well, let them 
decree and say what they will, still say I, Thou canst not 
rest thy confidence thereon, nor satisfy thy conscience : 
thou must thyself decide ; thy neck is at stake, thy life is 
at stake. Therefore must God say to thee in thine heart : 
This is God's word, else it is still undecided," (Disputa- 
tion with Eck.) 


Scripture required no outward testimony, the 
Gospel message being authenticated by the 
Holy Spirit in the heart ; and everything else 
in Scripture was to be judged by its relation 
to the sovereign truth. In the application of 
this test he was led to set special value on 
certain books of the New Testament which 
contained, as he said, the very marrow of the 
Gospel, and to call in question the claims of 
other books which seemed to be less evan- 
gelical. " That which does not teach Christ is 
not apostolic, though Peter or Paul should 
have said it ; on the other hand, that which 
preaches Christ would be apostolic, even if it 
came from Judas, Annas, Herod, and Pilate." 
Again : " The Church cannot give more author- 
ity or force to a book than it has in itself. A 
Council cannot make that to be scripture 
which in its own nature is not scripture." 
Luther's test was subjective and spiritual, but 
without some regard to the testimony borne 
to them by the early Church, it is difficult to 
see how he could have justified the exclusive 
attention which he paid to the books in the 


The same principle was laid down by Calvin, 
though in a somewhat different form. 1 

1 " There are several in this pernicious error that the 
Scripture has no more weight than is given to it by the 
consent of the Church, as if the eternal and inviolable truth 
of God were founded on the pleasure of men. For they, 
showing contempt of the Holy Spirit, make this demand : 
Who will certify to us that the Scriptures come from God ; 
who will assure us that they have been preserved in their 
entirety down to the present day ; and who will persuade 
us that one book is to be received and another rejected, if 
the Church is not our guarantee on all these matters? 
Hence they conclude that it lies in the power of the Church 
to determine what reverence we owe to the Scriptures, and 
what book ought to be included among them. Thus these 
blasphemers, wishing to exalt an unlimited tyranny under 
cover of the Church, care not in what absurdity they in- 
volve themselves and others, provided they can gain this 
point among the simple that all things are in the power of 
the Church. Now, if this be so, what would become of 
the poor consciences that seek certain assurance of eternal 
life, when they saw all the promises concerning it based 
solely on the judgment of men ? ... If we wish to make 
provision for consciences, so as to keep them from being 
agitated in perpetual doubt, we must take the authority of 
the Scriptures as higher than human reasoning or proofs 
or conjectures. In other words, we must found it on the 
inner witness of the Holy Spirit. . . . For granting that, in 
their own majesty, there is sufficient ground for reverenc- 
ing them, yet they begin truly to touch us when they are 


From the authority of the Church Calvin 
appealed to the testimony of the Holy Spirit 
in the heart of the reader, as an all-sufficient 
evidence of God's Word ; but in doing so he 
made Scripture the sole outward standard, 
leaving no room, in theory, for the authority 
of tradition, and taking for granted that the 
testimony of the Holy Spirit would always 
prove the Bible to be the Word of God. 
While Luther considered that there was room 
for difference of opinion with regard to the 
inspiration of certain books and portions of 
books, 1 Calvin regarded the whole Bible as a 

sealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Being then illum- 
inated by His power, we believe, not on our own judg- 
ment nor on the judgment of others, that the Scriptures 
are from God ; but above all human judgment, we decide 
beyond dispute that they were given us from the very 
mouth of God, just as if with the eye we were contemplat- 
ing in them the essence of God." (Institutes, Bk. I, 
Chap, vii, from Reuss on The Cation, E. T., p. 294 f.) 

1 Using a freedom of criticism which had been already 
claimed by Erasmus on literary grounds. Luther put 
Hebrews, James, Jude, and the Apocalypse on a lower 
level than the rest of the New Testament. Karlstadt went 
farther, arranging the New Testament books in three 
grades of merit, and attributing Second and Third John 
not to the Apostle but to "John the Presbyter " in which 
he was followed by Hugo Grotius, the Arminian, in the, 
next century. 


homogeneous revelation, and did not hesitate 
to appeal to any statement contained in it as 
resting on Divine authority, although he held 
independent opinions regarding the authorship 
of certain books. 1 Strictly speaking, he was 
only entitled to claim authority and infalli- 
bility for those parts of Scripture which could 
be verified by the Christian conscience. But 
the time was not yet ripe for such a discrimina- 
tion between the essential and the non-essen- 
tial ; and the practical needs of Protestantism 
could only be met by maintaining and en- 
hancing the authority of the traditional Bible 
which had been acknowledged by the Western 
Church for a thousand years. 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries the critical efforts of the Reformers 
were largely directed against the claims of the 
Jewish Apocrypha, their object being to justify 
its exclusion from the Canon in such a way as 
not to prejudice the claims of the books which 
were retained in the Protestant Canon. 

At the same time, any critical treatment of 
the canonical books was to a large extent pre- 
cluded by the Confessions which now became 

1 Hebrews, James, II Peter, and Jude. 


general, embodying the settled opinions of the 
Reformers, and forming the Protestant equi- 
valent to the Decrees of the Council of Trent. 1 
When the Confessions gave a list, as many 
of them did, of the books accepted as canonical, 
the natural effect of this was to render almost 
nominal the idea, so dear to the heart of the 
Reformers, of applying a personal test to the 
Scriptures. Their successors, instead of keep- 
ing the Bible subject to the judgment of the 
Spirit, tended to make an idol of it, claiming for 
it absolute infallibility, or inerrancy, as it is 
now called. This led to a theory of Verbal In- 
spiration which culminated in the declaration 
of the Helvetic Convention of 1675, that " the 
Hebrew text, both as regards consonants and 

1 These Decrees determined the Roman Catholic Canon 
by giving full and final sanction to the collection of sacred 
books which had been translated into Latin by Jerome 
and was known as the Vulgate. The Decrees at the same 
time stated that the Church " receives and venerates with 
an equal piety and reverence the Traditions pertaining 
both to faith and to morals, as proceeding from the mouth 
of Christ, or dictated by the Holy Spirit, and preserved 
in the Church Catholic by continuous succession." Ap- 
pended to this decree is a catalogue of the books " which 
the Synod thus receives." 


as regards vowels or, if not the vowel points 
themselves, at least the significance of the 
points is divinely inspired." Perfection was 
claimed for the form as well as for the sub- 
stance, for the letter as well as for the spirit, 
and it was accounted by some a heinous sin, 
" blasphemy against the Holy Ghost " (to use 
the language of the Wittenberg theologians), to 
criticize the diction or style of the Greek 
Testament. Even such a sensible and sober- 
minded man as John Owen, the Puritan, main- 
tained that "the Scriptures of the Old and 
New Testament were immediately and entirely 
given out by God himself, His mind being in 
them represented unto us without the least 
intervening of such mediums and ways as were 
capable of giving change or alteration to the 
least iota or syllable." In accordance with 
this view the sacred writers were often spoken 
of as God's pen-men or amanuenses, as if He 
were to be held responsible for every word 
they committed to writing. It is only of recent 
years that this view has been questioned by 
the Churches. Yet it is difficult to understand 
how it could ever have been held by any one 
who had a thorough knowledge of the Scrip- 


tures. That it was not the view of the Old 
Testament taken by our Lord and His apostles 
may be inferred from the manner in which they 
quote its words. Out of two hundred and 
seventy-five Old Testament quotations in the 
New Testament there are only sixty-three 
which agree exactly with the Hebrew ; in 
thirty-seven cases the quotation is taken from 
the Septuagint or Greek translation, 1 where it 
does not correctly render the Hebrew ; there 
are seventy-six cases in which the correct 
rendering in the Septuagint has been modified ; 
and there are ninety-nine passages in which 
the New Testament differs both from the 
original Hebrew and the Septuagint. 

If there are any utterances that we might 
expect to be preserved verbatim et literatim, it 
would surely be our Lord's discourses. But 
we find that in reporting them the evange- 
lists are far from adhering to the letter. 
Their several reports frequently differ from 
one another, reproducing the sayings in the 
spirit, and not in the letter. This is the 
case even as regards the Lord's Prayer, the 

1 Begun in the third century B.C., but probably not 
completed till about the beginning of the Christian era. 


Beatitudes, and the words of institution of 
the Lord's Supper. A similar variety is 
found in the several records of events in the 
history of our Lord and of His Church. The 
accounts given in the Gospels differ so much 
in matters of detail that it is almost impossible 
to construct out of them a perfect harmony of 
the life of Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles 
there are sometimes more than one account of 
the same incident, for example, the conversion 
of Saul, and the vision of Peter at Joppa ; but 
in such cases the accounts differ from one 
another in a way that would have been im- 
possible if the speakers and writers had been 
under the influence of verbal inspiration. 

Even if it had been otherwise, however, 
even if the words of the speakers and writers 
had been secured against the slightest inac- 
curacy, it is difficult to see of what use this 
would have been to Christendom, unless the 
Greek or Hebrew text had been preserved 
intact through all generations, and the trans- 
lations into other languages had also been 
kept free from error. Hence we can under- 
stand John Owen's contention when he said 
that " the notion that the Bible had not been 


properly protected, bordered in his mind on 
Atheism," as well as the claim which the West- 
minster Confession makes for the original 
Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, that " being 
immediately inspired by God, and by His 
singular care and providence kept pure in all 
ages, they are therefore authentical." l 

The more closely we examine the Scriptures, 
the more are we led to the conclusion that the 
sacred writers were left to the free exercise of 
their natural faculties, and that any influence 
brought to bear upon them from above was 
merely for the purpose of securing their effi- 
ciency as witnesses to Divine truth. It is to this 
we owe the striking variety in their writings 
which is one of the great charms of the Bible, 
but is quite incompatible with the literal ac- 
curacy and verbal infallibility which many 
people desiderate in a Divine revelation. 
Most of us would like an infallible Bible if we 

is one of the points of doctrine on which the 
more liberal formula of subscription to the Confession of 
Faith recently adopted by the Church of Scotland is fitted 
to afford relief to tender consciences : "I hereby subscribe 
the Confession of Faith, declaring that I accept it as the, 
Confession of this Church, and that I believe the funda- 
mental doctrines of the Christian faith contained therein." 


could get it. It would save us so much trouble 
and perplexity, affording unerring guidance on 
every question. In this as in so many other 
respects the Roman Catholic Church has taken 
care to adapt her teaching to the cravings of 
human nature. In a papal encyclical issued 
by Pope Leo XIII we find it stated that 
" those who maintain that an error is possible 
in any genuine passage of the sacred writings 
pervert the Catholic notions of inspiration and 
make God the author of such error." 

But the truth is, as Bishop Butler said long 
ago in his " Analogy " : " We are in no sort 
judges, by what methods, and in what pro- 
portion, it were to be expected, that this 
supernatural light and instruction would be 
afforded us." The only question concerning 
the authority of Scripture is " whether it be 
what it claims to be ; not whether it be a book 
of such sort, and so promulged, as weak men 
are apt to fancy, a book containing a divine 
revelation should. And therefore, neither ob- 
scurity, nor seeming inaccuracy of style, nor 
various readings, nor early disputes about the 
authors of particular parts ; nor any other 
things of the like kind, though they had been 
much more considerable in degree than they 


are, could overthrow the authority of the 
Scripture ; unless the prophets, apostles, or 
our Lord, had promised, that the book, contain- 
ing the divine revelation, should be secure 
from those things." If this reasoning be 
sound, it is evident that instead of bringing to 
the Scriptures a preconceived theory of in- 
spiration we ought to study them humbly and 
reverently, with the view of ascertaining their 
real nature and characteristics. In other 
words, we ought to form our theory of inspira- 
tion by the method of induction. The result 
of an impartial examination of the Bible is to 
show that there is no such thing as Verbal 
Inspiration in the sense of every word being 
equally authoritative and equally Divine. In 
some passages there is no sign of any super- 
natural influence having been exerted on the 
writer, his natural faculties being sufficient for 
the task assigned to him, as, for example, in 
the compilation of historic facts such as were 
collected by Luke ; while in other cases, where 
a mysterious influence can be traced, it appears 
to have varied greatly in the case of different 
writers, and even in different compositions 
of the same writer, rising to the greatest height 


in those prophetic utterances in which the 
writer or speaker is lifted above himself and 
so overborne by the Divine Spirit as to bear 
witness to Divine truth even against his own 
inclination, under the influence of a will that is 
stronger than his own, the will of the Eternal. 
When we speak of the inspiration of the 
Bible, therefore, it is well to remember that 
we are not using an exact scientific expression, 
but are merely describing the general char- 
acter of the Scriptures as being in some sense 
of Divine origin. Great mischief may be done 
by claiming for the Bible more than it claims 
for itself. The effect of making claims that 
cannot be substantiated is to alienate thought- 
ful and honest men, who are repelled by false 
pretensions, especially when made in the sup- 
posed interests of religion. Many a man's 
faith has been weakened when he has found 
the Bible not to be what his teachers repre- 
sented it to be. On this subject the "judicious 
Hooker " justifies the epithet so commonly 
applied to him when he says: "Whatsoever 
is spoken of God, or things appertaining to 
God, otherwise than truth is, though it seem 
an honour, it is an injury. And as incredible 


praises given unto men do often abate and 
impair the credit of their deserved commenda- 
tion, so we must likewise take great heed, lest, 
in attributing to Scripture more than it can 
have, the incredibility of that do cause even 
those things which it hath most abundantly 
to be less reverently esteemed." Much to the 
same effect is the caution given by Richard 
Baxter in his " Catechising of Families " : 
" The Scripture is like a man's body, where 
some parts are but for the preservation of the 
rest, and may be maimed without death : the 
sense is the soul of the Scripture ; and the 
letters but the body, or vehicle. The doctrine 
of the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Decalogue, 
Baptism and the Lord's Supper, is the vital 
part, and Christianity itself." 

It is remarkable how carefully those who 
framed the Confessions and Articles of the 
Reformed Churches have refrained from laying 
down any definite theory of inspiration. In 
the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of Eng- 
land the term is not applied to Scripture at 
all ; while the Westminster Confession, after 
enumerating all the books of the Old and the 
New Testament " under the name of Holy 


Scripture, or the Word of God written," simply 
adds : " all which are given by inspiration of 
God, to be the rule of faith and life." It is 
also remarkable that the word "inspiration" 
which has figured so largely in theological con- 
troversy, occurs only twice in the whole Bible, 
once in the Old Testament (Job 32 8 , A.V.), 
and once in the New Testament (II Tim. 3 16 , 
A.V.) ; and in neither case is there any in- 
dication of the nature or the limits of the 
Divine influence exerted on the sacred writers. 
A great deal of labour has been spent both by 
Jewish and Christian writers in the attempt 
to define in a scientific manner the various 
degrees of inspiration which may be traced in 
different parts of the Bible. But it is much 
better at once to recognize the fact that the 
operations of the Holy Spirit are beyond our 
comprehension, whether they relate to the 
intellect or to the heart, whether they tend to 
illuminate the understanding or to sanctify the 
soul. In either case the co-operation of the 
Divine with the human is as inscrutable as the 
union of divinity and humanity in the person 
of Jesus Christ. It is quite beyond our power 
to analyse the forces which have been at work, 


though we can discern and appreciate their 
result. 1 

The word " inspiration " is now so commonly 
used in other connexions that it is too late to 
contend for its exclusive application to Scrip- 
ture. Even the " Word of God " is an expres- 
sion which theoretically we have no right to 
confine to Scripture. It is one thing to say 
that Scripture contains the Word of God and 
another thing to say that it is the Word of 
God, although the distinction has not always 
been recognized in the Reformed Churches. 
In the fullest sense Jesus Christ alone is the 
" Word of God." As John says : " In the 
beginning was the Word, and the Word was 

1 Dr. Sanday offers a definition of biblical inspiration in 
his article "Bible" in the ''Encyclopaedia of Religion and 
Ethics" : "If we were to try to sum up in a single word 
the common property which runs through the whole Bible 
and which, broadly speaking, may be said to distinguish it 
from other literature of the kind, we might say that it con- 
sists in the peculiar energy and intensity of the God-con- 
sciousness apparent in the writers." The same tendency 
that during the last half century has led commentators 
to dwell more than formerly on the human side of our 
Lord's life and ministry, has also shown itself in the greater 
attention now paid by critics to the personal idiosyncrasies 
and historical environment of those who committed the 
Divine truths to writing. 


with God, and the Word was God. . . . There 
was the true light, which lighteth every man, 
coming into the world. . . . And the Word 
became flesh, and dwelt among us." We can 
therefore understand what Ruskin meant when 
he said that it is a grave heresy to call any 
book, or collection of books, the Word of God. 
" By that Word, or Voice, or Breath, or Spirit, 
the heavens and earth and all the host of them, 
were made ; and in it they exist. It is your 
life ; and speaks to you always, so long as you 
live nobly ; dies out of you as you refuse to 
obey it ; leaves you to hear, and be slain by, 
the word of an evil spirit, instead of it. It may 
come to you in books, come to you in clouds, 
come to you in the voices of men, come to you 
in the stillness of deserts. You must be strong 
in evil, if you have quenched it wholly ; very 
desolate in this Christian land, if you have never 
heard it at all." (" Fors Clavigera," 36 3 .) 

All that we are entitled to claim, or have 
any need to claim, for the Bible is that it con- 
tains the Word of God to a degree unequalled 
in any other book or in any other literature. 
In doing so, we may admit, with Luther, 
regarding certain portions of Scripture, that 


the gold and silver and precious stones are 
mingled with wood and hay and stubble. Or 
we may adopt the language of a learned divine 
who took part in the composition of the Shorter 
Catechism and was one of the clerks of the 
Westminster Assembly : " The Scriptures them- 
selves are rather a lanthorn than a light ; they 
shine indeed, but it is alieno lumine ; it is not 
their own but a borrowed light. ... It is a 
light as it represents God unto us, who is the 
original light. It transmits some rays, some 
beams of the Divine nature ; but they are re- 
fracted, or else we should not be able to behold 
them. They lose much of their original lustre 
by passing through this medium, and appear 
not so glorious to us as they are in themselves. 
They represent God's simplicity obliquated 
and refracted by reason of many inadequate 
conceptions ; God condescending to the weak- 
ness of our capacity to speak to us in our own 
dialect." (From a sermon by John Wallis.) 

So many tributes have been paid, from many 
different quarters, to the intrinsic value of the 
Scriptures, that the question of inspiration is 
not one about which we need be greatly con- 
cerned at the present day. There are more 


vital and pressing questions of a critical 
nature, the chief of these being whether we 
may rely on the historic truth of the Gospel 
narrative and the Book of Acts, and whether 
the Epistles were really written by the men 
whose names they bear. 

The Church demands, and has a right to 
demand, that these questions be fairly con- 
sidered, and that a decision be given in every 
case according to the evidence adduced. If a 
document be proved to be otherwise trust- 
worthy, the mere fact that it bears witness to 
the supernatural, whether in a physical or a 
spiritual sense, cannot be allowed to invalidate 
the evidence in its favour. The Church could 
not consent to this without turning its back 
on its own parentage, since all history shows 
that it was founded on belief in the super- 
natural. While ready to give due weight to 
all that scholars and philosophers have to say, 
the Christian community cannot give up the 
right which belongs to it as a spiritual jury to 
come to a verdict on all that pertains to the 
essentials of the faith. 

It seems now to be practically certain that 
the literary criticism of the New Testament 


will never of itself destroy the foundations of 
the faith. No investigation of documentary 
sources is ever likely to discredit the character 
of the witnesses whose testimony is embodied 
in our sacred books. But it is always open to 
those who are sceptically inclined to explain 
away such testimony by one means or another. 
Behind all questions of criticism there lies a 
region of mystery in which philosophical pre- 
suppositions and personal predilections can 
hardly fail to make their influence felt. In 
this region new problems have recently pre- 
sented themselves, arising out of the discovery 
of a new world of Jewish thought in the form 
of an apocalyptic literature of the last century 
B.C. and the first century A.D., as well as from 
the fuller recognition of various Gentile in- 
fluences which are supposed to have contri- 
buted to the religion of the primitive Church 
as represented in the New Testament. It is 
coming to be seen that the teaching of our 
Lord and His apostles was not so exclusively 
related to the Old Testament as was at one 
time believed to be the case ; and we cannot 
deny the possibility of their having been in- 
fluenced in some degree by ideas derived from 


other sources, which were current in the com- 
munities whose intellectual life they shared. 1 
To trace such tributary sources of thought and 
expression outside of the Old Testament comes 
fairly within the scope of Historical Theology : 
but the ultimate question for critics and for 
theologians, as for all other human beings 
who hear the Gospel, is whether that Gospel is 
a unique and supernatural manifestation of 
Divine love, to which there is nothing similar 
and nothing parallel ; or whether it is only one 
the highest and best, it may be of the 
numberless forms of religion which have been 
evolved in the course of human history. This 
is a question which no examination or analysis 
of the New Testament will ever be sufficient 
to settle. We have a striking illustration of 
this in the fact that recently a book was pub- 
lished by a learned critic, entitled " Myth, 
Magic, and Morals," which did away with the 

1 According to Dr. Clemen in his " Primitive Christian- 
ity and its Non-Jewish Sources " (1912), the influence of 
such sources on the New Testament writers was very 
slight, affecting the form and expression of their teaching, 
rather than its substance. Prof. Kennedy, in his " St. 
Paul and the Mystery- Keligions " (1913), comes to a 
similar conclusion. 


historical character of the Gospels and left as 
little of the personality of Jesus Christ as the 
most reckless of random magazine articles, 
making him out to be an ideal creation of the 
Apostle Paul. Yet the critical opinions of this 
writer with regard to the date and authorship 
of the New Testament books are as conserva- 
tive as those of many who firmly believe both 
in the humanity and the divinity of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. This shows that no results of 
criticism, however favourable to the traditional 
view, can ever compel men to accept the Chris- 
tian faith ; in the last resort their attitude to- 
wards it will be determined, not by the intellect, 
but by the conscience and the heart, operating 
on the will. In this sense every man must 
judge of the Gospel for himself, and is bound to 
study the Scriptures for himself. 

At the Eeformation, as we have said, the 
people regained possession of the Bible. But 
it was not long before they allowed it to fall 
into the hands of specialists as before, not 
monks or priests, but academic theorists who 
treated it as a theological text-book and left 
too much out of account its human and homely 
character. In "recent times, however, there 


has been a strong reaction, and the discussion 
of Biblical problems is now engaging the at- 
tention of all classes of the people, especially 
in Protestant lands. Handbooks dealing with 
questions affecting the genuineness, authenti- 
city, and exegesis of the Scriptures, have now 
a wide circulation in forms more suitable for 
popular use than at any previous time. In some 
quarters, especially in Germany, such literature 
is too often dominated by naturalistic theo- 
ries regarding the origin of Christianity and 
the person of the Saviour, with a tendency 
to exalt the life of the nation above that of 
the Church, and to merge theology in a philo- 
sophy which can find no room for the super- 

In these circumstances we can scarcely 
wonder at the recent papal encyclical de- 
nouncing Modernism, especially in view of 
the fact that the more prominent Roman 
Catholic critics, such as Tyrrell and Loisy, 
like Renan in the previous generation, have 
taken an extreme position on some of the 
most vital questions involved. The conse- 
quence is that the Church of Rome, which was 
at one time less disposed to assert the infal- 


libility of Scripture than Protestants, is now 
claiming for it inspiration in the hardest and 
most mechanical sense. Fearing that criticism 
may undermine its whole dogmatic system, it 
has set itself once more in opposition to the 
principle of private judgment and to the rights 
of the laity. In this, as in so many other re- 
spects, it has departed widely from the spirit of 
the primitive Church, in which there is little 
or no trace of official or ecclesiastical domina- 
tion in matters affecting the reception and in- 
terpretation of the New Testament writings. 

In this connexion it is interesting to find 
that the result of recent research among the 
papyri and other ancient memorials has been 
to show that with very few exceptions the 
books of the New Testament are written in 
colloquial Greek, and were intended for the 
use of the common people. This still further 
justifies the Protestant position, and it is 
fitted to exert a salutary influence on profes- 
sional critics, checking any tendency to heart- 
less pedantry, and bringing home the fact that 
humanity and piety have even a more import- 
ant part to play than learning and philosophy 


in the just appreciation and the right use of 
the New Testament. 

As Professor Deissmann says : " The New 
Testament is the people's book. When Luther, 
therefore, took the New Testament from the 
learned and gave it to the people, we can only 
regard him as restoring what was the people's 
own. And when at some tiny cottage window, 
behind the fuchsias and geraniums, we see an 
old dame bending over the open Testament, 
there the old Book has found a place to which 
by right of its nature it belongs. Or when a 
Red Cross sister finds a New Testament in the 
knapsack of a wounded Japanese, here too, 
the surroundings are appropriate. . . . Time 
has transformed the Book of the people into 
the Book of Humanity." 

But it is the Book of God as well as the 
Book of Humanity, and for that reason it will 
always maintain its supremacy as the Book of 
Books. Thomas Carlyle said of it : " There 
never was any book like the Bible and there 
never will be another like it." That is a 
verdict that will stand, not merely because of 
the unparalleled influence which the Bible has 


exerted and is still exerting as a moral and 
intellectual force, but because it is the abiding 
record and the true interpretation of a mani- 
festation of God in human history, culminating 
in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, that 
can never be repeated while the world lasts. 



THERE are two departments of New Testa- 
ment Criticism, which are usually distinguished 
as Higher and Lower, or as Historical and 
Textual Criticism. While the former has to 
do with questions affecting the authorship, 
sources, and dates of composition of the sacred 
writings, the aim of the latter is to determine 
the ipsissima verba of the original documents 
and remove any corruptions which may have 
crept into the text. From a general point of 
view the Higher Criticism is the more import- 
ant, as it affects to a much greater extent the 
credentials of the Christian faith. But it would 
be a serious omission in such a course of 
lectures as the present to ignore the part which 
has been played by Textual Criticism since the 
revival of Greek learning. It is a field of in- 
quiry in which many difficult problems present 



themselves ; and to the solution of these prob- 
lems a vast amount of erudition, ability, and 
industry has been devoted, not least by English 

Even if the results of Textual Criticism 
merely affected the readings in individual 
passages of Scripture, the labour of investiga- 
tion would be well spent. But indirectly these 
results have sometimes an important bear- 
ing on questions of date and authorship, by 
showing that the text had already become 
deteriorated and must therefore have been 
in existence for a considerable time. The im- 
portance of Textual Criticism is enhanced at 
the present day by the tendency of a certain 
school of critics to undermine the historical 
character of the Gospels and other books of 
the New Testament by their ingenious theories 
of interpolation. 

The need for inquiry is primarily due to the 
fact that the New Testament autographs have 
all disappeared, and, so far as is known, have 
all perished. This is only what might have been 
expected, considering the fragile nature of the 
material on which they were generally written. 
That material was papyrus, translated by the 


word " paper " in II John ver. 12, the only 
passage in the New Testament in which the 
word occurs. 1 

It was scarcely more durable than our 
writing-paper, and in ordinary circumstances 
could only have been preserved for many 
centuries in a dry country like Egypt. 2 During 
the last thirty years many fragments of it have 
come to light in that country, disinterred from 
the rubbish heaps of buried towns and villages, 
or imbedded in a material covered with plaster 
which was used for mummy cases and in one 
instance was found wrapped around entombed 
crocodiles, whose bodies were also stuffed with 
the same material. The oldest specimen was 
found at Sakkara in 1893 and is dated 3580 B.C. 

1 It was made from the pith of a plant which grew 
in great abundance in the Nile and its marshes, and was 
turned out in the form of sheets, from 3 to 9 inches wide, 
which were glued together so as to form a roll, varying in 
length according to the space required for the writing, but 
scarcely ever more than 30 feet long. The writing was 
arranged in narrow vertical columns, and, in using the 
manuscript, the reader unrolled it with his right hand, 
and rolled it up with his left. 

2 The preservation of the papyri discovered at Her- 
culaneum in the eighteenth century was due to the prox- 
imity of Mount Vesuvius. 


Comparatively few of the fragments which 
have been discovered relate to the New Testa- 
ment, and any information these afford regard- 
ing its text is of a very meagre character. 
The oldest of them were discovered at Oxy- 
rhynchus, and are usually assigned to the third 
or fourth century. Two of them contain only 
eighteen and thirty-two verses respectively, of 
our first and fourth Gospels, but another has 
about a third of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
and is all the more precious because one of 
our most ancient manuscripts is very defective 
in that epistle. To the Biblical student the 
chief value of the papyri lies in the information 
they afford regarding the form and appearance 
of the New Testament autographs and their 
copies during the first three centuries, and the 
characteristics of the language and literature 
of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, when the 
Old Testament was translated into Greek and 
the New Testament writings (a little later) 
came into existence. It is now apparent that 
the language of the New Testament has much 
more in common with the colloquial Greek of 
the period than was formerly supposed to be 
the case ; and the study of the papyri has 


thrown considerable light on the orthography, 
grammar, and vocabulary of the sacred writings. 

Probably most of the New Testament papyri 
were inscribed by private individuals, who 
were not likely to copy with much precision, 
and would be ready to make interesting addi- 
tions to the text whenever they had any kind 
of authority for doing so. Even in the cities 
few of the Christians would be able to employ 
professional scribes to make copies for them, 
and there would not be such a large demand 
for the sacred writings as to induce the book- 
sellers to take an interest in their sale, as they 
did in the case of some of the classical works. 
In course of time, however, the demand in- 
creased ; by the middle of the second century 
there must have been thousands of copies in 
circulation, and within a century afterwards 
we find slaves put at the disposal of Origen for 
the purpose of acting as scribes, their work 
being revised by his friend and follower Pam- 
philus, who used to carry about copies with 
him for distribution. 

In the fourth century papyrus began to be 
superseded by vellum, which was not unknown 
even in the first century, as we see from Paul's 


reference to " parchments " in II Timothy 4 13 , 
which were probably manuscripts of the Old 
Testament. About the same time as the 
vellum began to come into general use for 
the Christian writings, the roll gave place to 
the book ; and in this and other respects more 
attention began to be paid to the external 
appearance of the Scriptures, largely owing to 
the adoption of Christianity by the Roman 
emperor. 1 

The copying of manuscripts soon became an 
important industry both at episcopal sees and 
in monasteries, and a great deal of art was 
often expended on the work. Sometimes the 
parchment used was of a purple colour, and 
in some cases the lettering was executed in 
gold and silver ink. The titles and initial 

1 We read of Constantino giving an order to Eusebius, 
Bishop of Caesarea, for fifty copies of a very fine quality, 
suitable for use in the churches of his eastern capital. 
Two of these appear to have survived to the present day, 
the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, which 
probably emanated from Egypt. The latter was rescued 
from oblivion nearly fifty years ago, having been found in 
the monastery of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai, by the 
famous critic, Tischendorf, and now lies in the Library of 
St. Petersburg. It is written on snow-white vellum, sup- 
posed to have been made from the skins of antelopes. 


lines were usually in red, and the initial letters 
were beautifully ornamented. In one case 
(Ev. 16) four different colours of ink were 
used, the words of the evangelist being written 
in green, those of Jesus in red, those of the 
apostles in blue, and those of the enemies of 
Jesus in black: By and by pictorial illustra- 
tions were added, and the style of production 
became so luxurious as to provoke the censure 
of some of the monastic Orders. This led to 
a reaction for a time, but the ornamental 
style had again set in before the appearance 
of the first printed Bible (in 1456), which was 
also the first printed book. By that time 
paper had come into general use. It first 
made its appearance in Europe in the tenth 
century, but the oldest Greek manuscript of 
this material that has been preserved dates 
only from the thirteenth century. 

There are extant numerous manuscripts of 
a later date than the sixth century, but the 
only Greek manuscripts of an earlier date that 
have come down to us, in addition to the 
papyrus fragments, are the Codex Vaticanus 
(B), at Rome, and the Codex Sinaiticus (N) at 
St. Petersburg, both of the fourth century ; 


the Codex Alexandrinus (A) in the British 
Museum, and the Codex Ephraemi (C) at Paris, 
both of the fifth century ; the Codex Bezae (D) 
presented to Cambridge University by the 
reformer in 1581, of the fifth or sixth cen- 
tury ; l and a manuscript of the Gospels re- 
cently discovered in Egypt and acquired by 
an American named Freer, supposed to date 
from the fourth century, which is to be known 
as the Washington (W). 

If it be asked what has become of the rest 
of the manuscripts, it is not difficult to give an 
answer. As regards papyri, their existence 
would probably be confined during the first 
two centuries to Alexandria and its neighbour- 
hood, where the soil and climate would be too 
damp to admit of their preservation, unless 
special means were employed for the purpose. 
This was very unlikely to be done, both be- 
cause the material was too cheap to be worth 
preserving, and because the improvements in 
writing which were gradually introduced 
rendered the later manuscripts more legible 

1 The former date is preferred by Prof. Burkitt. See 
his article, " The Date of Codex Bezae " in the Journal of 
Theological Studies, Vol. III. (1901-2), pp. 501-13. 


and therefore more valuable. As regards 
manuscripts of a more substantial nature, we 
know that many of them were destroyed in 
the persecutions to which Christians were 
subjected. Gildas, the historian, tells us that 
in Britain great piles of . them were burned 
during the persecutions of the third century ; 
and in the Diocletian persecution in the be- 
ginning of the next century immense numbers 
were destroyed by imperial edict, many of 
them having been given up to the authorities 
by their owners to escape punishment. 1 Great 
havoc was also wrought on this and other 
forms of church property in succeeding cent- 
uries in connexion with the successive in- 
vasions of the Roman Empire. 

Notwithstanding all this, however, it is 
estimated that there are about two thousand 
five hundred different Greek manuscripts still 
extant in whole or in part ; or, if we include 

1 Eusebius, Bishop of Csesarea (who lived to see Christi- 
anity adopted as the religion of the Empire), says : " With 
mine own eyes I beheld the houses of prayer being plucked 
down and razed to the ground, and the divine and sacred 
Scriptures being consigned to the flames in the public 


lectionaries, about four thousand. In this re- 
spect the New Testament is in a far superior 
position not only to the Old Testament but to 
almost all the classical works of antiquity. 1 
They fall into two classes, the Uncials 
(numbering about 160, most of them frag- 
ments), in which the characters are large and 
written separately, and the Minuscules or 
Cursives, dating from the eighth century, 
when the running hand, which had been pre- 
viously used in private correspondence only, 
began to be adopted for literary purposes. 
There is another kind of evidence, available 

1 For example, of the plays of Sophocles there are about 
a hundred manuscripts ; of ^Ischylus less than fifty ; of 
Catullus there are only three ; of the Annals of Tacitus 
only one complete ; and in each of these cases the earliest 
manuscript is more than a thousand years later than the 
original. A few of the ancient classics are represented by 
hundreds of manuscripts, but in no case does any manu- 
script come so near its original as the Codex Vaticanus 
does. Papyri as early as the first century have been 
recently discovered, containing some of the works of 
Homer, Isocrates, and Aristotle ; but even this leaves a 
longer interval between the composition and the date of 
the earliest manuscript than is the case with the New 


to a very slight extent in the case of secular 
literature, that comes to the aid of the Greek 
manuscripts, and enables us to go back to an 
early period in the history of the text. We re- 
fer to the Versions, or translations of the New 
Testament writings, ranging from the second 
to the ninth century. Owing to the wide 
prevalence of Greek throughout the Roman 
Empire the need for such aids does not seem 
to have been felt till near the close of the 
second century, though oral translation in 
church seems to have been in use long before 
that time. Even as late as 200-230 A.D. we 
find Greek freely employed by a Roman ec- 
clesiastic, Hippolytus. But a little before 
that time two versions appear to have come 
into existence a Syriac one in the East, and 
a Latin one in the West, the latter occasioned 
by the needs of the Church in Africa. The 
Egyptian or Coptic version was probably more 
than a century later, and was followed by the 
Gothic and Armenian (the latter through the 
Syriac) in the fourth century, the Georgian 
and Ethiopic (both through the Syriac) in the 
fifth century, and a number of others still 
later, the work of the missionary then, as 


now, frequently calling for a translation of 
the Scriptures into the vernacular. 1 

Although the oldest extant manuscripts of 
versions date only from the fourth century, 
they carry us back to the period in which the 
version was produced, if we are sure that we 
have the genuine text ; and our knowledge of 
the date, and, to a certain extent, of the place 
of its production, is a great help in determining 
the value of the testimony borne by a version 
to a particular reading, and its relation to 
other authorities. There may sometimes be a 
difference of opinion as to what its testimony 
really is, owing to the want of exact correspon- 
dence between its language and that of the 
original ; but where the translation is of a 
literal character as it is, for example, in the 
case of the old Latin version the language of 
the original in a disputed passage may be in- 
ferred with a near approach to certainty. 
Even the errors of the translator sometimes 
indicate quite plainly what word he had before 

1 It is estimated that there are about 8000 manuscripts 
in Latin, and probably more than 1000 in the other 
languages above mentioned. They are frequently bilingual, 
having the Greek on one side and the version on the other. 


him in the Greek ; while in a question of the 
omission or insertion of a clause, an ordinary 
version speaks as plainly as a manuscript in 
the original. When the testimony of a version 
is clear and unmistakable, its confirmation of 
a reading may be more valuable, especially if 
supported by another version, than if it were in 
Greek, owing to the improbability of a passage 
being corrupted in the same way in two, and 
still less in three or more, different languages. 
There is another kind of evidence that goes 
back to a still earlier period than either manu- 
scripts or versions, namely, the quotations from 
the New Testament which are to be found in 
the writings of early Christian writers usually 
spoken of as the Church Fathers. Of these 
writers there are nearly a hundred anterior 
to the date of the earliest manuscript ; and 
they sometimes expressly refer to the manu- 
scripts in their hands and the various readings 
to be found in them. The value of their 
testimony, however, is much impaired by the 
fact that having no concordance to consult, 
and no division of the text into chapters and 
verses, perhaps not even having a manuscript 
beside them, they had frequently to quote 


from memory. The result is that their 
citations cannot always be identified, much 
less accepted as correct, especially when they 
a IT brief so brief that the writer did not think 
it worth while to undo his roll, if he had one, 
to reproduce the exact words. We have to 
remember that the patristic writings, like the 
Greek manuscripts and the versions, were 
liable to corruption through the mistakes of 
scribes, especially in the case of quotations 
from Scripture, in which they would not feel 
so much need to attend to what was before 
them. But when there is reason to believe 
that a passage contains a careful and accurate 
quotation from Scripture, it bears witness to 
the reading current in the writer's time and 
country, and may afford valuable confirmation 
of a reading found elsewhere, though little 
reliance could be placed upon it if it stood 
alone. In the matter of early and frequent 
quotations, as in regard to manuscript au- 
thorities, the New Testament books occupy 
a better position than most of the ancient 
classics. 1 Towards the end of the second cen- 

1 For example, the Annals of Tacitus, already referred 
to, is not distinctly mentioned till the fifteenth century, 


tury their contents are reproduced in great 

As the New Testament writings had origin- 
ally little or no connexion with one another, 
and, after their unity had begun to be re- 
cognized, were too extensive to be conveniently 
written on a single roll or codex, it was not 
to be expected that they could be transmitted 
through the hands of so many readers in dif- 
ferent parts of the world, for fourteen centuries 
before the invention of printing, without under- 
going considerable alterations. As a matter 
of fact, they had not been a century in existence 
before many corruptions had crept into the 
text, due partly to the imperfect way in which 
the copying had been done by the Christians 
themselves or by those whose services they 
were able to engage at a rate suitable to their 
humble means ; partly to the fact that the 
sacred writings were not then treated with the 
reverential care with which they were guarded 
at a later period, when their authority was 

although there is what may possibly be an allusion to 
it in a work of the fifth century. Livy is not quoted for 
a century, Thucydides for two centuries, after he wrote ; 
while Herodotus is only quoted twice for two hundred 
years after his death. 


fully recognized by the Church ; and partly 
also to the disappearance, through wear and 
tear, of papyrus leaves or portions of leaves, and 
the consequent attempts to fill up the gaps. 
Alterations were sometimes deliberately made 
for the purpose of improving the style, or to 
harmonize passages, or with the intention of 
correcting supposed errors in the text a 
practice which has often led to confusion. In 
a few cases the object seems to have been to 
strengthen a doctrinal position or to refute a 
heresy ; and we know that several heretical 
sects had a recension of certain books of the 
Bible to suit their own views. 1 

A famous instance of corruption is found at 
I John 5 7 , which originated in the Vulgate 
towards the close of the fourth century : " For 
there are three that bear record in heaven, 
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost ; 
and these three are one." The verse is only 
found in Latin manuscripts until the fifteenth 

1 They did not share the view expressed by Dr. Johnson 
in conversation about Kennicott's edition of the Bible, 
which it was hoped would be quite faithful : "I know not 
any crime so great that a man could contrive to commit as 
poisoning the sources of eternal truth." 


century, when it appears for the first time in a 
Greek manuscript. It seems to have been a 
comment by Cyprian, and to have been ad- 
mitted into the text by mistake. But it 
obtained a permanent footing and was fre- 
quently quoted as an argument for the doctrine 
of the Trinity. It cannot for a moment be 
defended, and is omitted as spurious in the 
English Revised Version. Even in the seven- 
teenth century it was denounced by Sir Isaac 
Newton, and in the next century by Gibbon 
and the great classical scholar Porson ; but 
it found a defender in an archdeacon of the 
Church of England (Travers), and to this day 
it has never been repudiated by the Church of 

With the gradual unification of the Church 
throughout the Roman empire and its recogni- 
tion by Constantine as a national institution, 
its sacred writings acquired a new importance 
in the eyes of the community ; and their pub- 
lication in a collective form, which was facili- 
tated by the vellum codices coming into use, 
afforded a new security for the preservation of 
the text. Every precaution was taken by the 
Church to prevent alterations or additions by 


heretical writers, though there was still a 
danger of accidental errors occurring in the 
process of transcription, and of well-meant 
additions being made through the inclusion of 
marginal notes. Almost all the corruptions 
known to us had made their appearance before 
our great manuscripts were written, so that even 
if a papyrus older than any extant manuscript 
were yet to be discovered, its value as a witness 
would depend upon its character and history, 
which would have to be carefully investigated. 
There is some reason to believe that a general 
revision of the Greek text took place in the 
beginning of the third century, and it is certain 
that both Irenseus and Origen took a great 
interest in textual questions. Origen, especi- 
ally, perhaps the greatest Biblical scholar that 
has ever lived, came across many perplexing 
varieties of readings which he frequently dis- 
cusses, telling us which reading is to be found 
" in most manuscripts," in " the oldest manu- 
scripts," or in "the best manuscripts." A 
hundred and fifty years later we find Jerome 
complaining that there were almost as many 
texts as codices, although, in preparing the 
Vulgate, he seems to have been very cautious 


about departing from the text of the old Latin 

In these circumstances, we cannot be sur- 
prised that the modern critic should find a 
great amount of diversity in the texts of the ex- 
tant manuscripts, and that he should often have 
the greatest difficulty in deciding on the claims 
of competing words and phrases. Although 
the manuscripts are very seldom dated, their 
age can generally be determined with more or 
less accuracy from their style of penmanship, 
punctuation, and arrangement. Generally 
speaking, the older a manuscript is, the more 
weight is to be attached to its testimony. Yet 
the age of a manuscript is not an absolutely 
safe criterion of its value, for it is quite pos- 
sible that of two manuscripts dating from the 
same century, one may have been copied 
directly from a very pure and ancient source, 
while the other may have a much less noble 
pedigree and embody the faults of many ex- 
emplars from which it has been successively 
derived. It will readily be understood, there- 
fore, that when the scholars of Western Chris- 
tendom, soon after the Renaissance, took in 
hand the preparation of an authentic text of 


the New Testament, they entered upon a work 
of very great difficulty a work, indeed, of far 
greater magnitude and complexity than they 
had any conception of. 

As might have been expected, the work has 
been mainly done by Protestants. To them 
it has seemed a more vital question than to 
Roman Catholics, owing to the supreme im- 
portance which they attach to Scripture, 
rendering any uncertainty about its text a 
much more serious thing for them than for 
those who have Tradition to fall back upon. 
In a sense the Roman Catholics were pre- 
cluded from inquiry, as the Council of Trent 
declared the Latin Vulgate l to be the 
only authorized form of the Scriptures. But 
scholarly instinct has sometimes asserted it- 
self in spite of ecclesiastical prepossessions. 
About the beginning of the seventeenth cen- 

1 A recension of an earlier Latin version, prepared by 
Jerome at the request of Pope Damasus, and published 
383 A.D. The text approved by the Roman Catholic 
Church is that of the edition authorized by Pope Clement 
VIII in 1592, but a new edition is now in preparation by 
a Commission of Benedictines appointed by Pope Pius X 
in 1908. Quite recently a critical text of the Vulgate New 
Testament has been published by the Clarendon Press 
and the British and Foreign Bible Society. 


tury Lucas of Bruges recognized that the true 
text could only be determined by taking into 
account all the three sources of information 
already referred to. Nearly a century later 
notable service was rendered to the cause of 
historical criticism by Richard Simon, a French 
Oratorian, who anticipated principles of Textual 
Criticism which are now generally accepted. 
He incurred the displeasure of his ecclesiasti- 
cal superiors and had ultimately to leave the 
Order. Two of his works were translated into 
English in 1689 and 1692, which may be re- 
garded as a sign of the interest already taken 
in the movement in this country, due in large 
measure to the gift in 1628 of the Alexandrine 
manuscript of the whole Bible to Charles I 
by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, 
and previously of Alexandria, where the manu- 
script was found. 

After the invention of printing, the first 
edition of the Greek New Testament published 
was that of Erasmus, which appeared in 1516 
and was described as " ad Grsecam veritatem 
. . . accurate recogniti," though he had done 
the work very hurriedly and had consulted 
very few manuscripts, none of them earlier 


than the tenth century. In 1522 there ap- 
peared the Complutensian Polyglot of the 
Spanish Cardinal, Ximenes, the printing of 
which had been begun eight years before. It 
gave the text of the Greek New Testament 
and the Latin Vulgate in parallel columns, 
but, from a critical point of view, it had little 
or no value, as the manuscripts used, although 
described by the editor as " antiquissima et 
emendatissima," were late and were used with- 
out much skill. Almost the same may be 
said of Stephen's " Regia " or third edition 
(Estienne, Paris, 1550), though he made use of 
two uncial manuscripts (Bezse and Claromon- 
tanus) and thirteen cursives, and furnished an 
" apparatus criticus " giving " varue lectiones " 
in the margin. 1 A few years later, Theodore 
Beza, Calvin's successor at Geneva, made a 
contribution to the cause by publishing a 
triglot edition of the New Testament, consist- 
ing of Greek, Latin, and Syriac with the 
addition of Arabic in Acts and the Epistles 

1 It is to Stephen we owe our division of Scripture into 
verses. The division into chapters was the work of Stephen 
Langton (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury) in the 
thirteenth century. 


to the Corinthians. A similar service was 
rendered about the same time (1560-72) by 
the " Antwerp Polyglot," edited by a Spanish 
theologian. In 1624 the brothers Elzevir of 
Leyden published an octavo edition, and in 
1633 a revised form of it, containing the an- 
nouncement : " Textum ergo habes nunc ab 
omnibus receptum in quo nihil immutatum aut 
corruptum damus." It was an empty boast, 
for the text was virtually that of the fifth edition 
of Erasmus, with the slight alteration made by 
Beza. The name " Textus Receptus," however, 
caught the public ear, and was extended in Eng- 
land to Stephen's edition (of which our Author- 
ized Version is a translation), though it was 
even more defective than the Elzevir, being 
practically the text of Erasmus's third edition, 
improved in form by the division into chapters 
and verses, as the second edition of the Elzevir 
had been improved by the separation of sen- 
tences into verses instead of their being num- 
bered in the margin. The passages in which the 
two texts differed from one another were less 
than 300 in number ; and both alike represented 
the traditional text which had been in use in 
the Greek Church from the fourth century, and 


is still to be found in numberless mediaeval 
codices emanating from Constantinople and 
the monasteries of Mount Athos. It is usually 
called the Syrian or Antiochian text, and can 
be clearly traced in the writings of Chrysostom, 
who spent many years at Antioch before he 
was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople. 
This text may have been due to a deliberate 
and systematic recension in the third or fourth 
century, but, however this may be, it is in 
many respects faulty, having many " conflate " 
readings (formed by a combination of divergent 
readings, supported by different authorities) 
which do not represent the original Greek. 
Under the name of the Textus Receptus, how- 
ever, it gained such a hold on the confidence 
and affection of the Protestant world, that for 
more than two centuries it stood in the way 
of any thorough revision, and was regarded as 
the standard text by the British and Foreign 
Bible Society, which circulated many millions 
of copies of it in all parts of the world, until 
the adoption of Prof. Nestle's text in 1904. 

The first scholar in England to take up a 
really critical attitude on this subject was 
Brian Walton, an Episcopal divine, who, after 


a chequered career, was appointed to the 
See of Chester in 1660, on the restoration of 
Charles II. In the previous year he had 
brought out his " London Polyglot " in six 
folio volumes, the first work ever published 
by subscription in England. 1 It was also the 
first work in which the Alexandrine Codex was 
consulted, as were also the Syriac, Ethiopic, 
and Arabic versions, with the addition of the 
Persian in the case of the Gospels. Investiga- 
tion was continued by Bishop Fell of Oxford, 2 
who claimed to derive the text of his edition 
of the New Testament (1675) from more 
than a hundred manuscripts, including Codex 
Laudianus of the Acts, which had been re- 

1 It was originally published under the patronage of 
Cromwell, but after the Restoration a new preface appeared 
in which-the late Protector was styled " Maximus ille draco." 

2 This is the same Bishop Fell whose name is familiar 
to us in the well known lines, 

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell, 

The reason why, I cannot tell ; 

But this I know, and know full well, 

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell. 

The dislike here expressed, however, had no reference to Dr. 
Fell as a Biblical critic, but as an examiner in Christ Church, 
Oxford, the lines having been written by a student to 
whom he had prescribed a difficult piece of Latin translation. 


cently presented to the Bodleian Library by 
Archbishop Laud, who had obtained it in 

Hitherto the results of textual criticism had 
been rather of an unsettling character, ex- 
citing in some quarters considerable suspicion 
and distrust, not unlike that which the Higher 
Criticism aroused in the nineteenth century. 
When it became known, early in the eighteenth 
century, as the result of the labours of John 
Mill in collating manuscripts, versions, and 
patristic quotations, that there were about 
thirty thousand various readings in the New 
Testament, the confidence of the public in 
the Textus Receptus received a shock. While 
Protestants were startled and perplexed, Ro- 
man Catholics regarded the new results of 
scholarly research as a proof that " the Pro- 
testants had no assured principle for their 
religion " (Richard Simon). To make matters 
worse, the Deistic writers of the day claimed 
the support of the new learning for their infidel 
views, and affected to believe that it was all 
over with the belief in a Divine revelation. 
In Germany devout Protestants shared the 
anxiety of their brethren in England. " More 


than twenty years ago " (said Bengel, writing 
in 1725), " before Mill appeared, at the very 
beginning of my academic life, when I hap- 
pened on an Oxford exemplar, I was greatly 
distressed by the various readings, but all the 
more was I driven to examine Scripture care- 
fully, so far as my slender abilities would per- 
mit, and afterwards, by God's grace, I got new 
strength of heart" (Appar. Grit., 2nd ed. ; 
1763). After a laborious examination of the 
authorities within his reach, including the 
manuscripts at Oxford and Paris, Mill pub- 
lished an edition of the New Testament in 1707. 
Its value lay not so much in the text, into 
which he imported very few new readings, 
being content to indicate them in the margin, 
but in the prolegomena, of which Dr. Scrivener 
says : " Though by this time too far behind the 
present state of knowledge to bear reprinting, 
they comprise a monument of learning such 
as the world has seldom seen, and contain 
much information the student will not even 
now easily find elsewhere." 

Mill's attempt to purify the text was not ap- 
preciated as it deserved, but he found an able 

defender in Dr. Bentley, the Master of Trinity 



College, Cambridge, who believed in the possi- 
bility of arriving at a nearer approach to the 
original words of Scripture, and was the first to 
realize fully the strong claim to consideration 
of the more ancient manuscripts, while at the 
same time alive to the importance of the early 
versions and patristic writers. He lamented 
that the same care had not been taken to re- 
store the text of the New Testament as had 
been bestowed on the classical works of anti- 
quity. "The New Testament," he wrote, 
" has been under a hard fate since the invention 
of printing. . . . No heathen author has had 
such ill fortune. Terence, Ovid, etc., for the 
first century after printing, went about with 
twenty thousand errors in them. But when 
learned men undertook them, and from the 
oldest manuscripts set out correct editions, 
those errors fell and vanished. But if they 
had kept to the first published text, and set 
the various lections only in the margin, those 
classical authors would be as clogged with 
variations as Dr. Mill's Testament is." 

In 1720 Bentley issued his " Proposals," set- 
ting forth the principles on which he proposed 
to amend the text of the New Testament, and 


expressing the belief that as the result of his 
investigations only about two hundred passages 
would remain in which there would be any 
room for doubt as to the words of the original. 
He was disposed to attach great importance 
to the Latin Vulgate, on the supposition that 
it had been corrected by Jerome in the light 
of the best Greek text of his day, and he be- 
lieved (with a French critic Toinard, who 
wrote somewhat earlier) that by a comparison 
of the oldest Greek manuscripts with the Vul- 
gate he would be able to reproduce the true 
text, which he would find confirmed by the 
Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, and Ethiopic versions. 
But his proposed edition of the New Testament 
never saw the light, partly, it is believed, ow- 
ing to his finding that the results of collating 
the Codex Vaticanus did not bear out his 
theory to the same extent as the evidence of 
the Codex Alexandrinus had done. 

Another great name in the history of Text- 
ual Criticism is that of a Lutheran minister 
already mentioned, John Albert Bengel, who 
devoted special attention to the manuscripts of 
South Germany and brought out an edition of 
the New Testament in 1734. The text, as he 


stated, was to embody the marrow of approved 
editions, but in the margin he gave a large 
number of various readings arranged in five 
grades of merit : (1) genuine ; (2) better than 
the readings in the text ; (3) equal to the 
readings in the text ; (4) inferior ; and (5) 
not to be approved. His chief service con- 
sisted in emphasizing the need for weigh- 
ing manuscripts, not merely counting them ; 
and in the introduction of a system for the 
classification of manuscripts according to their 
geographical connexion, dividing the extant 
authorities into two classes, African and 

Contemporary with Bengel was another 
learned commentator, Wetstein, who rendered 
great service as a collator, examining more 
than a hundred manuscripts, but without much 
discrimination as to their age and value, and 
without sufficient study of their mutual re- 
lations. To him was due the introduction of 
letters and numbers to designate manuscripts. 
A little later, Prof. Semler of Halle developed 
the idea of classification still further, distin- 
guishing three classes, Alexandrian, Oriental, 
and Western. Passing over the names of Har- 


wood of London, Matthyei of Moscow, Alter 
of Vienna, and Birch of Copenhagen, who were 
all more or less distinguished in the work of 
collating, we find the next distinct advance 
made by Prof. Griesbach of Halle and Jena, 
of whom it has been said by Dr. Hort : " What 
Bengel had sketched tentatively was verified 
and worked out with admirable patience, 
sagacity, and candour by Griesbach, who was 
equally great in independent investigation and 
in his power of estimating the results arrived at 
by others." Griesbach made a better use of the 
critical materials which had now accumulated 
than any of his contemporaries, though he 
sometimes pressed his theory too far. He 
based his classifications largely on the evidence 
afforded by the versions as to geographical 
connexion, dividing manuscripts into Western 
and Alexandrian, and disregarding Bengel's 
" Asiatic," which he called Constantinopolitan, 
as being compiled out of the other two. 1 

1 About this time two Roman Catholic professors took 
part in the controversy. The one was Hug of Freiburg, 
who drew attention to the importance of patristic quota- 
tions, as indicating both the time and place at which cer- 
tain readings prevailed, and anticipated the conclusion 
which has now been arrived at as to the prevalence of the 


The next great name is that of Carl Lach- 
mann, Professor of Classical Philology in 
Berlin, who was the first to discard entirely 
the Textus Receptus, and to build up a text for 
himself (1831) on the basis of the evidence 
afforded by the best documentary witnesses. 
Distinguishing between the Oriental and the 
Occidental text, he was content to aim at the 
recovery of the best fourth century text, and 
for this purpose divided manuscripts into 
African and Byzantine. He also laid down a 
number of valuable rules or canons for deciding 
between competing readings, as had been pre- 
viously done by Griesbach, and, to some extent, 
by Bengel. Lachmann's attempt to construct 
a text for himself was only the first of many 
similar experimants by subsequent critics, who 
sought a still nearer approach to the original 
by going behind the Vulgate and the oldest 
Greek manuscripts to the versions and Church 
Fathers of a still earlier date. 

The latter half of the nineteenth century 
was distinguished by the critical achievements 

Western type of text ; the other was Scholz of Bonn, who 
collected upwards of six hundred manuscripts, but collated 
few of them, and was somewhat of a reactionary in his views. 


of a number of eminent scholars, whose names 
will always be associated with this branch of 
theological inquiry. Most of them were Eng- 
lishmen, but perhaps the greatest of them all 
was Tischendorf, Professor of Theology at 
Leipsic, who visited many lands and spent an 
immense amount of labour in the attempt to 
make himself acquainted with the best docu- 
mentary authorities, particularly the oldest 
Greek manuscripts the libraries at Patmos 
and Sinai engaging his special attention. 
Tischendorf was a most voluminous writer 
and editor as well as a careful and diligent 
collator. The most valuable of his numerous 
editions of the New Testament is the eighth 
(Octava Critica Major), which was reissued 
by Caspar Ren Gregory and Dr. Ezra Abbot 
with prolegomena, forming a wonderful store 
of all the knowledge then available on the sub- 
ject. He also helped to develop the principles 
of Textual Criticism, from a scientific point of 
view, by subdividing Lachmann's classification 
of manuscripts into Alexandrian and Latin, 
Asiatic and Byzantine, and by laying down a 
number of additional rules for appraising the 
value of readings. 


Among his contemporaries, Tischendorf had 
only one rival in this field of scholarship, 
namely, Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, who was 
equal to him in ability and zeal, but less fortu- 
nate in his discoveries and more cautious in 
coming to conclusions. While Tischendorf 
published more than twenty editions of the 
New Testament in little more than thirty years, 
Tregelles was content to issue one edition, 
after twenty years' preparation for it. The 
critical principles of the two men agreed in 
the main, although they did not always arrive 
at the same conclusions. 

In contrast with them we may place Dr. 
Scrivener, Prebendary of Exeter, and Dr. 
Burgon of Chichester, who represented more 
conservative tendencies. In his " Introduc- 
tion to the Criticism of the New Testament " 
Dr. Scrivener says : " All that can be inferred 
from searching into the history of the sacred 
text amounts to no more than this : that ex- 
tensive variations, arising no doubt from the 
wide circulation of the New Testament in 
different regions and among nations of diverse 
languages, subsisted from the earliest period 
to which our records extend. Beyond this 


point our investigations cannot be carried with- 
out indulging in pleasant speculations which 
may amuse the fancy but cannot inform the 
sober judgment." Dean Burgon went still 
further than this in depreciation of the study, 
denouncing the attempt to improve the received 
text by comparing it with ancient manuscripts. 
The value of these manuscripts he was dis- 
posed to estimate in the inverse ratio of their 
antiquity, holding that it was in consequence 
of their having been little esteemed and little 
used that they had survived better and more 
authentic texts. Such opinions can only be 
held by those who believe that the very words 
of scripture were not only dictated by the 
Divine Spirit but have also been preserved by 
Divine providence, a theory of which most 
men find a practical refutation in the fact that 
various readings have been found in the text 
of the New Testament as far back as testimony 
carries us, and that it is even possible that 
some of these readings may have been due to 
amendments made upon later copies by the 
sacred writers themselves. In the collation of 
minuscules both Scrivener and Burgon did good 
service, and the latter also made a notable 


collection of patristic quotations from the 
New Testament. 

During the period to which we have just 
referred, two events occurred in the English- 
speaking world which showed how little sym- 
pathy was felt by the leading Biblical scholars 
with the opinions represented by Dean Burgon, 
and at the same time marked the progress 
which had been made in working out the 
principles of a scientific Textual Criticism. 
We refer to the* issue in 1881 of the Revised 
English Version of the New Testament, pre- 
pared by a Commission of British and Ameri- 
can scholars, and the publication, in the same 
year, of Westcott and Hort's " New Testament 
in Greek," with its elaborate introduction on 
the principles and methods of Textual Criticism. 
While the main object of the Revision was 
to correct errors in translation, the emendation 
of the text was not overlooked. As the Re- 
visers in their preface state : " A revision of 
the Greek text was the necessary foundation 
of our work ; but it did not fall within our 
province to construct a continuous and com- 
plete Greek text." One of the rules they laid 
down was that the text to be adopted should 


be " that for which the evidence is decidedly 
preponderating," a rule which could only 
be faithfully carried out by an earnest 
endeavour to arrive at a just verdict with 
regard to every disputed reading, without 
partiality and without prejudice. Accordingly 
we find that nearly 6000 new readings were 
adopted (mainly in accordance with Westcott 
and Hort's text), notwithstanding the fact that 
the Commission included Dr. Scrivener, the 
most influential representative of the conserva- 
tive school. The value of Westcott and Hort's 
work lay chiefly in systematizing the results 
previously arrived at, and in the further 
development and application of the " genea- 
logical " principle for the classification of the 
authorities. Recognizing that any classifica- 
tion is necessarily imperfect owing to the 
mixture of texts which is to be found in almost 
every manuscript, they hit upon the expedient 
of grouping together the witnesses in favour 
of any reading in question, and then appraising 
the value of their united testimony by a series 
of experiments in other disputed passages 
where the true reading had been already 
ascertained. This is called the " Internal 


Evidence of Groups," just as the general char- 
acter of an individual manuscript, when simi- 
larly tested, comes under Internal Evidence of 
Documents. It may be questioned whether 
these principles and methods will ever be much 
improved upon, but the conclusions derived 
from their application are naturally subject to 

Even those who cannot accept Westcott and 
Hort's conclusions ought to admire the candour 
and impartiality with which they have done 
their work. It was charged against them and 
the other Revisers by Canon Liddon that they 
had treated the matter as a literary rather than 
as a religious enterprise. In a sense this was 
their merit. If they had been guided by 
their feelings rather than by their judgment, 
they would have retained a number of passages, 
insufficiently attested, which had endeared 
themselves to the heart of Christendom or had 
rendered service as witnesses for doctrinal 
truths. Of the former we have examples in 
the first of the Seven Words from the Cross : 
" Father, forgive them ; for they know not 
what they do," and in the account of the 
Saviour's agony in Gethsemane ; both of which 


are excluded from the text by Westcott and 
Hort, but are retained by the Revisers with a 
marginal note, stating, in the one case, that some, 
in the other, that many " ancient authorities 
omit." The exclusion of these passages from 
the text does not imply that they are not 
authentic records. On the contrary, Westcott 
and Hort express a conviction that they are 
" the most precious remains of the evangelical 
traditions, written or oral, which were rescued 
from oblivion by the scribes of the second 
century." l Another familiar expression which 
the Revisers would fain have retained in the 
text, if they could have honestly done so, is 
the doxology at the end of the Lord's Prayer 
in Matt. 6 13 . 2 

1 The Jewish writer, Montefiore, therefore, in his recent 
work on the Synoptic Gospels, in which he pays a high 
tribute to the character and teaching of Jesus, is in 
error when he infers from the exclusion of the First 
Word from the cross that the noblest and most original 
sayings ascribed to Jesus are not always authentic. 

- Yet we find Dean Goulburn, in his Life of Dr. Burgon, 
saying : " Are not these three passages alone the record 
of the agony, the record of the first saying on the cross, 
and the Doxology of the Lord's Prayer passages of such 
value as to make it wrong and cruel to shake the faith of 
ordinary Bible readers in them ? " 


Illustrations of the Revisers' readiness to 
give up traditional evidence for the divinity 
of Christ, when it formed no part of the original 
text, are found in their substitution of 05 for 
0eo9 in I Timothy 3 16 , making the verse read, 
" He who was manifested in the flesh," instead 
of "God manifest in the flesh," and in the 
omission of Acts 8 37 , " and Philip said, If thou 
believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. 
And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus 
Christ is the Son of God." They were even 
willing to prefer a reading which implied 
inaccuracy on the part of the Evangelist in 
quoting from the Old Testament, e.g. in Mark 
1 2 , " As it is written in Isaiah the prophet," 
instead of " As it is written in the prophets," 
on the principle that it was more likely the 
original was altered in order to correct the 
mistake, than that the mistake had crept into 
the text through the error of a copyist. 

Since the publication of the Revisers' monu- 
mental work several new editions of the 
Greek New Testament have made their ap- 
pearance, the most notable being " The Re- 
sultant Greek Testament" (3rd edition, 1905), 
by the late R. F. Weymouth, which repre- 


sents the general consensus of former leading 
editors ; and the more recent text of Prof. 
Nestle of Matilbronn (7th edition, 1908), based 
on a stricter selection of authorities, and 
furnished with additional information of a 
critical nature. A new edition of the text 
used by the Revisers (Oxford, 1881), with a 
fresh critical apparatus prepared by Prof. 
Souter, has recently been published (1910). 1 

But finality in this field of labour has by no 
means yet been attained. Much still requires 
to be done, and much is being done, to secure 
an accurate text of the different versions and 
of the Church Fathers, and new manuscripts 
are making their appearance which may throw 
new light on disputed points. In 1882 a 
palimpsest copy of the Gospels in Syriac was 
obtained by Mrs. Lewis from the same convent 
in which Tischendorf found the Codex Sinai- 
ticus. The original writing, which had been 
temporarily effaced, apparently in the eighth 

1 The first volume of an elaborate work by Prof, von 
Soden of Berlin, which undertakes to give the oldest 
attainable form of the New Testament text, and has had 
the advantage of a wider examination of minuscules than 
any previous edition of the New Testament, was published 
jn 1912,. 


century, to make way for an entertaining 
account of the lives of women saints, has been 
in a great measure restored by means of a 
chemical agent. It is believed to represent 
an older form of the Syriac than even the 
Curetonian manuscript, which was brought 
from Egypt in 1842, and edited by Dr. W. 
(Jureton, of the British Museum. Until that 
time the Peshitta had been regarded as the 
original form of the Syriac version, but it is 
now supposed to have been the work of Eab- 
bula, Bishop of Edessa in the fifth century, 
and to have been introduced into the churches 
of his diocese for the purpose of superseding 
the Diatessdron of Tatian, which had been in 
use there for more than two hundred years. 

The Sinaitic Syriac contains several fresh 
readings of an interesting nature. In Matthew 
2 2 , after the words " Where is he that is born 
King of the Jews," it has the words " for we 
have seen His star from the east," not " in the 
east "indicating that the rise of the fateful 
star had been observed by the Chaldaean as.- 
trologers. And in John 1 41 it says of Andrew : 
" At dawn of day he findeth his own brother 
and saith to him, We have found the Messiah." 


This is very likely to be the true reading, 
7rpa)i in the Greek having been mistaken for 
irpuTov owing to its being followed by rov. 

But the testimony of this new manuscript 
has still more important bearings of a general 
nature. Agreeing, as it usually does, with the 
Old Latin Version, it has materially altered 
the balance of evidence with regard to the 
value of the Western text, which Westcott 
and Hort held in little esteem, and it has im- 
parted a new interest to the chief representa- 
tive of that text, Codex Bezae ; though, on 
the other hand, an Armenian manuscript of 
the Gospels, assigned to the tenth century, 
which was discovered in 1891 by F. C. Cony- 
beare, lends some support to Westcott and 
Hort's high estimate of the Codex Vaticanus, 
by a note which goes far to explain and justify 
the blank left in that codex where the last 
twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark are 
usually found. The note consists of two 
words inserted in the blank space, namely, 
"The Presbyter Ariston's," from which we 
may infer that the omitted passage was attri- 
buted by the scribe to " Aristion," one of the 
personal followers of the Lord, from whom 


Papias tells us that he had been in the habit 
of collecting information to supplement the 
written Word. 1 

That the Western text was the predominant 
one in the second century is evident from the 
oldest versions as well as from the writings of 
the early Church Fathers ; but it is open to 
question whether it represents a primitive 
Greek text or was gradually formed by a series 
of accretions. Another cognate question is, 
Where did the Latin version originate, and 
what were its historic relations to the Syriac 
version ? The Western text is remarkable for 
the number of its additions and interpolations, 
especially in the Third Gospel and the Acts of 
the Apostles, and it has been suggested that 
the peculiar readings in these books may have 
been derived from early Greek sources. An- 
other characteristic of this text, especially in 
Luke's works, is that it frequently offers an 
alternative rendering of such a nature that it 

1 There are two other forms of this supposititious passage, 
one (shorter), for which the chief authority is Codex Regius 
of the eighth century, and another (from which Jerome 
quotes in his "Dialogue against the Pelagians") that is 
found in no other Greek manuscript but the Washington 
already mentioned. 


is difficult to find a reason for rejecting either. 
So much is this the case that Prof. Blass and 
Sir William Ramsay are disposed to attribute 
these variations to the issue of a second edition 
of his works by Luke himself, the first edi- 
tion of the Gospel, in the opinion of Blass, 
having been prepared for Theophilus, and the 
second edition for the Church in Rome ; while 
in the case of Acts he supposes the order to 
have been reversed. 

Recently a new theory has been advanced 
by Prof, von Soden, involving a new classi- 
fication of manuscripts, for which he has also 
invented a new notation. A leading feature 
in this theory is that the Diatessaron of Tatian 
was largely responsible for the corruption of 
the Greek text of his day. Fresh problems are 
thus always rising up. In their solution we 
may hope that the ingenuity of critics will be 
aided not only by a more exact presentation 
of the evidence already known to exist, but 
also by the discovery of fresh documents, 
especially in the form of papyri, the search for 
which is now being earnestly carried on. A 
new factor in the situation is that all such 
documentary evidence can now be rendered 


widely available for examination by means of 
photographic reproduction. Whatever happens, 
there is no reason to expect that the integrity 
of the text will ever be more seriously affected 
than it is at present, but rather the reverse. 
We may look forward to the future of Textual 
Criticism with interest but without misgiving, 
as our successors will probably be doing a 
hundred years hence. 

Absolute certainty on this subject will never 
be attained. But meanwhile what shall we 
say of the results of the studies and investiga- 
tions which have been carried on for the last 
three or four hundred years ? Instead of the 
30,000 readings reckoned up by Mill, their 
number is now estimated to be not far short 
of 200,000, counting the same reading again 
and again, as often as it occurs in a passage 
where a. different reading is also found ; while 
the number of different Greek manuscripts, in 
which the New Testament is found in whole 
or in part, has also been multiplied. The in- 
crease of numbers need not alarm us, for in 
the multitude of witnesses, as of counsellors, 
there is safety. One advantage we derive is 
that there is little or no need for conjectural 


emendation, as there is in the case of the Old 
Testament and the Apocryphal literature. 
Moreover, the passages in which there are 
textual difficulties are far less numerous than 
in other ancient literature, and it may be con- 
fidently asserted that even if all the words in 
dispute were to be cut out of the New Testa- 
ment, it would not affect a single doctrine of 
the Christian faith or a single important fact 
in the Gospel history. It was said by Dr. 
JBentley, referring to the state of matters in 
his day : " Make your thirty thousand as many 
more, if numbers of copies can ever reach that 
sum : all the better to a knowing and a serious 
reader, who is thereby more richly furnished 
to select that which he sees genuine. But even 
put them into the hands of a knave or a fool, 
and yet with the most sinistrous and absurd 
choice, he shall not extinguish the light of any 
one chapter, or so disguise Christianity but 
that every feature of it will still be the same." 
A hundred and fifty years later, we find West- 
cott and Hort declaring that " the words still 
subject to doubt only make up about one- 
sixtieth of the whole New Testament," and 
that " the amount of what can in any sense 


be called substantial variation is but a small 
part of the whole residuary variation, and can 
hardly form more than a thousandth part of 
the entire text." 

In these circumstances, it may perhaps be 
thought that the questions involved in Textual 
Criticism are merely of an academic nature, 
with little or no bearing on the practical in- 
terests of the Christian religion, and that the 
subject is scarcely worthy of the immense 
amount of time and learned labour which has 
been expended on it. This is by no means the 
case, for even if the results were less important 
than they are, the subject is one which could 
not be neglected without reproach by any 
Church which has in its service professors 
of sacred learning and an educated ministry. 
If the discovery of the North or the South 
Pole is regarded by explorers as a worthy 
object of ambition, for which they are will- 
ing to make great sacrifices without having 
the prospect of deriving any practical advan- 
tage from it, we surely cannot but appreci- 
ate and admire the zealous and painstaking 
efforts of scholars to ascertain the very 
words of Scripture. As Bengel says : " The 


smallest particle of gold is gold, but we must 
not allow that to pass as gold which has not 
been proved." Or, to quote the words of 
a recent editor who rendered notable service 
in this department (Dr. Nestle) : " Whoever 
should conclude that New Testament criticism 
has reached its goal, would greatly err. As 
the archaeologist in Olympia or Delphi exhumes 
the scattered temples, and essays to recombine 
the fragments in their ancient splendour, so 
much labour is still needed before all the 
stones shall have been collected, and the 
sanctuary of the New Testament writings re- 
stored to its original form." 

The following enumeration by Prof, von Soden of 
tasks still to be accomplished (quoted by Prof. Souter 
in his work on " The Text and Canon of the New 
Testament ") will give the reader some idea of what 
still remains to be done in this field of scholarship : 
"An investigation of the history of the European 
Latin pre-Hieronymian version, with the reconstruc- 
tion of its original form as goal ; a collection as 
critically sifted as possible of all patristic citations 
in the Greek and Latin languages prior to the date 
+ 325, but including Augustine's ; at the same time 
the treatment of citations by translators of Greek 
patristic works into Latin is to be tested ; a sys- 


tematic investigation of all patristic citations in the 
fourth century, to fix whether and how far the re- 
censions have persisted in their original words 
(vocabulary) ; monographs on single manuscripts or 
groups of manuscripts, including the previous history 
and the character of the therein reproduced text and 
the history of the manuscript ; a restoration of the 
archetype of the bilingual edition of Paul on the 
basis of D.E.F.G., a task complete in itself and not 
difficult nor tedious, which could be accomplished 
by a university seminar for textual criticism in two 
terms ; a fixing of the possible interworkings between 
the Egyptian translations and Greek texts, specially 
the H text, as also of the direct relations between the 
Sahidic and Bohairic translations in their original 
forms and their possible stages of development ; the 
translation of Ulfilas, source and causes of its di- 
vergences from K (after the manner of Odefoy, 
" Das gotische Lukas-Evangelium," 1908) ; revision 
of the Wordsworth- White text of Jerome, the estab- 
lishment of the principles followed by Jerome in his 
revision of the Old-Latin text, as also of the Greek 
text consulted by him in connexion with this ; the 
Greek texts behind the later Oriental translations, 
so far as they are made directly from Greek (this has 
as yet been fixed more or less exactly only for the 
Armenian and the Ethiopic)." 



IN taking up in succession the different parts 
of the New Testament and dealing shortly 
with the various critical problems to which 
they have given rise, we shall begin with the 
Gospels, not because they stand first in the 
New Testament, nor yet because they came 
first in the order of publication, which we have 
no reason to believe was the case, but because 
they embody the earliest traditions of the 
Christian Church, and contain the chief record 
of the facts concerning the birth, death, and 
resurrection of Jesus Christ, which lie at the 

1 The titles prefixed to the several Books of the New 
Testament, like the subscriptions appended to many of the 
Epistles, formed no part of the original manuscripts, and 
were the work of copyists. 



foundation of our faith. We say the chief 
record, for it must not be imagined that if we 
lost the testimony of the four Gospels we 
should be left altogether destitute of informa- 
tion on this all-important subject. The Acts 
of the Apostles and the Epistle to the He- 
brews contain various references to Christ's 
life and teaching ; and in the undisputed 
Epistles of Paul, written within a generation 
after the death of the Saviour, we find allusions 
to His incarnation, His appointment of apostles, 
His institution of preaching and of the Lord's 
Supper, His betrayal and crucifixion, His re- 
surrection and ascension, and the supreme 
authority committed to His trust. It is not 
too much to say that the study of these 
Epistles gives one the impression that the 
story of Christ's death and resurrection was 
the chief theme of the great Apostle's preach- 
ing two passages of I Corinthians in particular 
affording direct evidence of this (II 23 - 27 and 


But while great value attaches to Paul's 
letters in this as well as in other respects, the 
Gospels will always be the most precious part 
of Scripture in the estimation of the Church, 


and the authenticity of their contents will 
always be the most important question with 
which criticism can deal. Happily, as regards 
the dates assigned to them by the most com- 
petent critics, the Gospels now stand in a 
much more favourable position than they did 
fifty years ago, when, according to the widely 
received views of the Tubingen school, they 
were supposed to have come into existence in 
the middle or end of the second century. 
The change of opinion has been due partly to 
the more thorough investigation of old evi- 
dence, and partly to the discovery of fresh 
documents. It never admitted of doubt that 
in the last quarter of the second century the 
four Gospels which we possess were widely 
circulated in all parts of Christendom, being 
used for public worship and for private read- 
ing by innumerable Christians who regarded 
them as the sacred depository of a Divine 
revelation. But until lately many scholars 
were disposed to doubt whether they could be 
traced back in their present form to a much 
earlier period. In particular it was questioned 
whether the " memoirs of the apostles," fre- 
quently referred to by Justin Martyr about the 


middle of the second century, were identical 
with our Gospels. But any reason there ever 
was for such a doubt has been largely removed 
by the testimony afforded by Tatian's "Dia- 
tessaron," a work which was hardly known to 
scholars in more than name till near the close 
of last century. Tatian was a pupil of Justin, 
and the title of his work naturally suggested 
that it was intended to be a harmony of the 
four Gospels. This was disputed, however, 
until an Arabic translation of the work came to 
light, and was published at Rome, along with 
a Latin translation, in 1888, on the occasion 
of the jubilee of Leo XIII. An examination 
of these documents, along with an Armenian 
and a Latin translation of a Syrian commentary 
on Tatian's work by Ephrsem of Edessa (c. 
A.D. 373), which had previously come to light, 
has proved that the " Diatessaron " was un- 
doubtedly a compilation from the four Gospels 
which we possess. Another work from which 
fresh testimony has been derived is " The Re- 
futation of All Heresies " by Hippolytus, an 
eminent Roman ecclesiastic, who wrote near 
the end of the second century. A manuscript 
of it was found on Mount Athos in 1842, and 


was published in 1851. On examination it 
was found to contain many quotations from 
earlier Christian writers, chiefly heretics, in- 
cluding Basilides, an eminent Gnostic who 
wrote about A.D. 125. These quotations con- 
tain many allusions to the Gospels and other 
parts of the New Testament, and the allusions 
are of such a nature as to imply that the 
writings referred to held a position of authority 
in the Church and were considered to be on a 
level with the Old Testament Scriptures a 
position which it must have taken them a 
considerable time to attain. 

Again, in the " DidacheV' or Teaching of the 
Twelve Apostles, which was discovered in the 
library of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem 
at Constantinople in 1873, and is usually as- 
signed to the beginning of the second century, 
we find distinct echoes of expressions used in 
our Gospels, especially in that of Matthew. 
In this connexion mention may also be made 
of the " Apology " of Aristides, an Athenian 
philosopher (c. A.D. 140), which was discovered, 
in the form of a Syrian translation, about 
thirty years ago in St. Catherine's, Mount 
Sinai. Being addressed to Gentiles resident 


in Greece, who could not be expected to be 
acquainted with Christian literature, it was not 
likely to contain many quotations from Scrip- 
ture, but we find in it allusions to the chief 
facts of Christ's life, including His birth from 
a Hebrew virgin and His ascension ; and it 
appeals to the Gospel for confirmation of these 

There are other witnesses, of a still earlier 
date, whose testimony is now much more 
firmly established than it was half a century 
ago. Among these are, in particular, Clem- 
ent of Rome's " Epistle to the Corinthians," 
written about A.D. 95 ; the seven genuine 
Epistles of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, writ- 
ten about A.D. 115, while he was on his way 
to suffer martyrdom at Rome ; and the Epistle 
addressed to* the Philippians, probably within 
a year afterwards, by Polycarp, Bishop of 
Smyrna, a disciple of the Apostle John, 
all of which writings show unmistakable signs 
of acquaintance with one or more of our 
Gospels. To this we may add the evidence 
afforded by the fragments of Papias's " Ex- 
position of the Lord's Oracles," preserved by 
Eusebius. The author of this work, who was 


Bishop of Hierapolis about A.D. 135, had been 
a friend of Polycarp and had a personal ac- 
quaintance with a number of those who had 
been disciples or hearers of the Lord. 

All such testimony, before being accepted, 
has been subjected to severe cross-examination 
by those who are unfavourable to traditional 
views. As an illustration of this we may 
refer to the " Epistle of Barnabas," which is 
preserved in full in the " Codex Sinaiticus " 
and in one of the manuscripts discovered at 
Constantinople in 1873. The work is usually 
believed to date from the end of the first 
century, and it contains in the fourth chapter 
what seems to be a quotation from the Gospel 
of Matthew, namely, " Many are called but 
few chosen," preceded by the words, " as it is 
written," which is the usual formula of quota- 
tion from a canonical book. As long as the 
work was known only through a Latin transla- 
tion, it was permissible to suggest that the 
words in question were an interpolation by a 
translator familiar with our Gospel. This 
was the line taken by a number of critics, 
though Hilgenfeld, one of the leaders of the 
Tubingen school, admitted that the words used 


in the original might have been " as Jesus 
said." When the Greek manuscript came to 
light, as part of the " Codex Sinaiticus," in 
1859, and the Latin translation was found 
to be correct, it might have been expected 
that there would be an end of the matter. 
But instead of that, it was suggested that the 
quotation might have been taken not from 
Matthew's Gospel, but from the second Book 
of Esdras, though the nearest approach to the 
words in question that is to be found there is : 
" Many are created but few shall be saved." 
Another suggestion was that the quotation 
might be from some apocryphal book now 
lost, while one eminent critic tried to explain 
away the formula of quotation as due to a 
lapse of memory on the part of the writer, 
who had forgotten where he saw the words. 

In estimating the value of the testimony 
which the Apostolic Fathers bear to the 
Gospels, it should be remembered that while 
all their extant writings put together hardly 
exceed in length the first two of our Gospels, 
they represent the faith of the Church in 
many different centres widely distant from 
one another, in Europe and Asia and perhaps 


also in Africa ;. and, furthermore, that besides 
frequently reproducing the language of the 
Gospels they agree with them in the general 
tenor of their teaching, so much so that 
Bishop Westcott has said with truth that " the 
Gospel which the Fathers announce includes 
all the articles of the ancient Creeds." 

At this point reference may be made to 
what are called the Apocryphal Gospels, a 
fairly numerous class of writings which bear 
in many cases the names of apostles. A col- 
lection of them was published nearly a hundred 
years ago, when an attempt was made to show 
that they belonged to the same class as the 
canonical Gospels, and to make out that they 
had been suppressed in the interests of ortho- 
doxy about the time of the Council of Nice. 
This was generally felt to be an untenable 
position, but for some time it was thought 
by a certain school of critics that the Apo- 
cryphal Gospels might be among the narra- 
tives referred to in the preface of the Third 
Gospel, and that their contents would be 
found to illustrate the conflicting forces 
which, according to the Tubingen theory, were 
struggling for the mastery in the primitive 


Church ; while the canonical Gospels repre- 
sented the resultant policy of compromise 
which was generally adopted in the second 
century. But fuller investigation has proved 
that nearly all those extraneous writings show 
signs of dependence on one or more of our 
Gospels, and that they were composed either 
to gratify curiosity with regard to topics little 
dealt with in the canonical writings, such as 
the early life of Jesus and of Mary His mother, 
or to bolster up some heresy, generally of a 
Gnostic character. Several of them were in 
existence in the second century, and may con- 
tain some authentic traditions not found in 
our Gospels ; e.g., the Gospel according to the 
Hebrews (assigned by some critics to the 
end of the first century), of which fragments 
have been preserved for us by Jerome ; the 
Gospel of the Egyptians, to which the seven 
sayings of our Lord discovered in Egypt about 
twenty years ago may have belonged ; and the 
Gospel of Peter, a considerable part of which 
was discovered in Egypt in 1886. To the 
second century may also be assigned the apo- 
cryphal " Protevangelium " of James, which 
deals with the early life of the mother of 


Jesus and relates many incidents connected 
with His birth. 

Many works of a similar nature appeared in 
the course of the next two centuries. Among 
the books forbidden by the decree of Pope 
Gelasius in the end of the fifth century was a 
Gospel of Barnabas, and a few years ago there 
was published an English translation of a work 
bearing that title, which was found in an 
Italian manuscript at Vienna, being appar- 
ently the only copy of the work in existence. 
It seems to have been the result of a mani- 
pulation of the canonical Gospels in the in- 
terests of Mohammedanism, and represents 
Jesus as denying that He was the Messiah, 
and as going up to heaven without dying on 
the cross, the latter fate being reserved for 
Judas. Missionaries found the work to be 
a favourite subject of conversation among 
Mohammedans in India and Persia, and they 
urged its publication in order that its spurious 
character might be exposed. 

None of the Apocryphal Gospels seems 
to have had an extensive circulation; and, 
speaking generally, we may say that they 
add nothing of value to our knowledge of 


the Saviour's life and teaching, and in their 
exaggeration and unreality present a striking 
contrast to the simplicity and sincerity which 
distinguish the evangelic records in the New 

The history of opinion with regard to 
the Gospel of Marcion, which is sometimes 
reckoned among the Apocryphal Gospels, 
illustrates the trend of criticism, to which we 
have referred. Marcion was bishop of Pontus 
in Asia Minor in the early part of the second 
century. He was one of the first of those 
Christian idealists, as we may call them, who 
attach little importance to the historical frame- 
work of revelation or to the literal sense of 
Scripture. Having an intense aversion to 
Judaism he rejected the whole of the Old 
Testament ; and of the New Testament he 
accepted only ten Epistles of Paul and a 
Gospel of his own compilation, setting thus an 
example of eclecticism, which was followed by 
many Gnostic sects, each desiring a Gospel to 
suit its own views. It was evident long ago, 
from the extensive quotations from Marcion's 
Gospel which were to be found in the writings 
of Tertullian, that it had much in common 


with our Third Gospel. But those who looked 
on the latter with suspicion were disposed to 
regard it as a corrupt expansion of Marcion's 
work, and therefore posterior to it in date. 
The result of a more thorough investigation, 
however, has been to prove to the satisfaction 
even of extreme critics that the reverse is 
the case, Marcion's work being nothing but a 
mutilated edition of the Third Gospel. This 
obviates what might have been a serious ob- 
jection to the Lucan authorship of the latter, 
and bridges over a considerable part of the 
time anterior to Marcion which has to be 
accounted for in tracing the history of the 

The three first Gospels, Matthew, Mark, 
and Luke, have been known as the Synoptic 
Gospels ever since Griesbach applied the name 
to them more than a century ago (in contra- 
distinction to the Fourth Gospel), because they 
present us with a general view of the Saviour's 
ministry in Galilee. At the same time, each 
of them has distinct characteristics of its own, 
which were early recognized and have been 
frequently illustrated. As early as the second 
century the four Gospels were supposed to be 


symbolically represented by the four faces of 
the cherubim described in Ezekiel 1 10 , namely, 
those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (cf. 
Rev. 4 7 ). Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, 
and Jerome had each a different way of ap- 
plying the comparison, but Jerome's inter- 
pretation, according to which Matthew is 
identified with the man, Mark with the lion, 
Luke with the ox, and John with the eagle, is 
that which is now generally adopted in works 
of art. Apart from symbolism, the First Gos- 
pel may be described as Messianic, exhibit- 
ing the life of Jesus, in word and deed, as a 
fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, and 
being thus specially adapted to the tastes and 
needs of Jewish Christians ; the Second de- 
picts Him in relation to the present rather 
than to the past, and by its graphic picture 
of His beneficent and victorious energy, was 
fitted to commend Him to the Roman mind ; 
the Third, written by a Greek, represents Him 
as the destined Saviour of the whole human 
race, including even the weak, the poor, the 
despised ; while the Gospel of John, rising 
superior to all three, carries the thoughts of 
the reader into a higher region, where there is 


neither past, present, nor future the region of 

The three Synoptics, however, have so much 
in common, and are so closely related to each 
other, that it will be convenient to take, in the 
first instance, a conjunct view of them. As 
far back as the earliest traditions of the 
Church extend, we find them attributed to the 
men whose names they bear ; and until near 
the close of the second century the only 
thing that caused trouble was the apparent 
want of harmony in some of their statements. 
Origen, with his critical eye, could not fail to 
see discrepancies, and met them by means 
of allegorical interpretation. Chrysostom ar- 
gued that, if the agreements of the Evan- 
gelists were tokens of their veracity, their 
disagreements acquitted them of collusion. 
Augustine held the Second Gospel to be an 
abbreviation of the First, and attributed di- 
vergences to varying powers of memory and 
the personal idiosyncrasies of the writers. In 
later times, when the infallibility of Scripture 
had become an established doctrine, all that 
could be done was to devise ingenious re- 
conciliations, and, when ingenuity failed, to 


take refuge in confessions of human ignor- 

But it was inevitable that in course of time 
a bolder style of criticism should arise. 

The first writer who made a serious attack 
upon the credibility of the Gospels in this 
country was Evanson, a clergyman of the 
Church of England. He published a work in 
1792, relating chiefly to the Four Gospels, in 
which he charged them with containing " gross, 
irreconcilable contradictions." In Germany, 
a generation earlier, the honesty of the writers 
had been challenged by Reimarus, the 
" Wolfenbiittel Fragmentist," who died in 1768. 
The fragment which created the greatest sen- 
sation was entitled " The Aims of Jesus and 
His Disciples." After being circulated anony- 
mously in manuscript form, it was published 
by Lessing (some years after the death of 
E/eimarus), not because he agreed with it, but 
in order to rouse the Church to a sense of its 
danger and lead it to strengthen its defences. 
According to Reimarus, the disciples knew 
that the aim of Jesus was to prove Himself 
the Messiah in a political sense, and it was 
only when their hopes of a temporal kingdom 


were blasted by His death upon the cross that 
they were led, under the influence of the 
eschatological ideas of the time, to invest His 
person with a supernatural character and to 
represent Him as having risen from the dead. 
Reimarus wrote under the influence of a fierce 
animosity against the Christian religion, and 
the virulence of his attack on our Lord and 
His apostles offended even those who were out 
of sympathy with orthodox views, the conse- 
quence being that for the next fifty years the 
only opposition which those views had to en- 
counter was of a very mild character, consist- 
ing in an attempt to make out that a great 
deal in the Gospel narratives which seemed to 
imply miraculous occurrences could be other- 
wise accounted for. This mode of interpre- 
tation culminated in the fully developed ration- 
alism of Paulus (1828), who explained away all 
the miracles, except the Virgin birth which 
some modern theologians treat as an open ques- 
tion. His explanations, which were intended to 
preserve the good faith of the apostles and yet 
reconcile the Gospel narrative with the laws 
of Nature, were often very far-fetched and 
extremely improbable. At the same time he 


had the deepest reverence for the character of 
Jesus. " The truly miraculous thing about 
Jesus," he said in his preface, " is Himself, the 
purity and serene holiness of His character, 
which is, notwithstanding, genuinely human, 
and adapted to the imitation and emulation of 

The next great landmark in the history of 
Gospel Criticism was Strauss's Life of Jesus 
(1835). Strauss tried to get rid of the miracu- 
lous, not by rationalistic explanations, nor yet 
by attributing fraud to the apostles, but by 
making out the supernatural elements in the 
narrative to be a mythological growth which 
had gathered round the memory of Jesus, 
under the influence of Messianic ideas derived 
from the Old Testament. As a Hegelian, 
Strauss regarded historic facts as of little 
consequence, compared with the ideas em- 
bodied in them. The idea of God-manhood 
he held to be the abiding fruit of the life and 
teaching of Jesus, over which criticism had no 
power. In the application of his mythical 
theory he subjected almost every incident to a 
close examination, accepting or rejecting in 
the most arbitrary fashion, reversing the 


estimate of the rationalists as to the compara- 
tive value of the Synoptics and the Fourth 
Gospel, and holding the latter to be dominated 
by the ideal Christ in the mind of the writer. 
He thought the key to the life of Christ was 
to be found in His eschatology, that is, in His 
views with regard to the speedy end of the 
world, which led Him to look for the realiza- 
tion of His Messiahship through superhuman 

Ever since Strauss 's time, the Gospels have 
been subjected to severe examination, and 
every means taken to test the historic reality 
of the life of Jesus as depicted in the sacred 
records. In this connexion one of the great 
problems with which German critics have been 
grappling during the last fifty years and more 
has been to determine the real nature of the 
Messiahship as conceived by Jesus and His 
disciples, and to ascertain its relation to the 
Old Testament on the one hand and to 
Jewish apocalyptical literature on the other. 

This is an interesting subject, but it cannot 
be settled by literary criticism alone. Even 
when the genuineness of a Gospel is admitted, 
it is still open to question whether the 


language which it attributes to the Saviour 
was really His own or was put into His mouth 
by His disciples under the influence of the 
ideas current in -their day, and, if the former, 
whether He intended the language to be 
understood in a literal or in a metaphorical, 
an absolute or a relative, sense. Hence there is 
the greatest diversity of opinion on the subject 
even among those who do not stand far apart 
from each other on the question of authorship 
and date. According to C. H. Weisse (1838), 
followed by Holtzmann, Schenkel, and Weiz- 
sacker, Jesus had no sympathy with the 
apocalyptic visions of later Judaism, and, from 
the beginning to the end of His ministry, His 
ideal was spiritual and ethical although views 
and expectations of a different kind were at- 
tributed to Him by His disciples after His 
death. Colani (1864) regarded the eschato- 
logical elements in the Gospel as due to in- 
terpolation, and held that Jesus never aimed 
at being other than a suffering Messiah. This 
was the view of Volkmar also (1882), except 
that he attributed the spurious elements to the 
writer of the Gospel himself. Bruno Bauer 
(1841) who, like Reimarus, combined an in- 


tense hatred of Christianity with great critical 
acumen, denied that any one had ever appeared 
in Palestine claiming to be the Messiah, and 
tried to make out that Jesus Christ was the 
creation of the reflective consciousness of the 
early Church (a favourite idea still with a 
certain class of critics), and that this conscious- 
ness found its best exponent in the Second 
Gospel, which he regarded as a work of art by 
a single writer. On the other hand, Keim had 
no doubt that "a kingdom of God clothed 
with material splendours " was an integral part 
of the theology of Jesus, while in the Lives 
of Jesus by Karl Hase, Beyschlag, and Ber- 
nard Weiss, there is a reconciliation of the 
two conflicting elements. E-enan (1862), who 
treated the Gospels as legendary biographies, 
and took just so much from each as served his 
artistic and literary purposes, represented the 
death of Jesus as no part of His Messianic 
plan, but as forced on Him by circumstances, 
while Ghillany (1863), in his "Theological 
Letters to the Cultured Classes of the German 
Nation," argued that the sacrificial death 
which Jesus voluntarily incurred was intended 
by Him to secure the immediate advent of 


His kingdom as the Messiah. According to 
Weiffenbach (1873), the resurrection of Jesus 
was His second coming, though this was not 
realized by His disciples. 

In 1888 Baldensperger, a professor at Gies- 
sen, wrote a book to prove that while there was 
in the time of Jesus a fully formed Messianic 
expectation, derived from the Book of Daniel 
and the Similitudes of Enoch, Jesus Himself 
had a double consciousness and a double con- 
ception of the Kingdom of Heaven, one spiritual 
and the other apocalyptical, the former, how- 
ever, being the primary and essential one. On 
the other hand, in 1892, Johannes Weiss 
undertook to show that with Jesus the King- 
dom of God was wholly future and supra- 
mundane, His Messianic expectations being 
altogether transcendental and apocalyptical 
a view which is also maintained by Schweitzer, 1 
who finds in the eschatology of Jesus a key to 
His whole life and teaching, His soul being 
filled with a consciousness of His Messianic 
calling, not in a political but in a mystical 

1 For fuller information on the whole subject see 
Schweitzer's " Quest of the Historical Jesus " (Eng. tr., 


sense. Wrede and Bousset have recently 
written on the other side, though from different 
standpoints. The researches of Dillmann, 
Hilgenfeld, Charles, and others, in the field of 
Jewish apocalyptical literature, have created, 
or accentuated, the problem rather than solved 
it. But while we may never be able to say 
with certainty how far Jesus shared the 
eschatological ideas of His countrymen, the 
records of His teaching to be found in the 
New Testament yield us the assurance that to 
Him were chiefly due the ethical qualities with 
which these ideas soon became associated in 
the Christian Church. These qualities were es- 
sential, not accidental. Whatever expectations 
our Saviour may have at any time entertained 
regarding the end of the present world, there 
is no trace in His teaching of a provisional 
morality, an interims 'ethik, as German writers 
call it. The principles He inculcated are in- 
dependent of space and time. Because they 
involve a change of character, they are only 
to be realized in the world by slow degrees, 
but in their own nature they are fitted to meet 
the eternal wants of men, as moral and spiritual 
beings. In these circumstances, any difficulty 


or uncertainty we may feel regarding our 
Saviour's utterances on the mysterious sub- 
ject in question ought not to blind us to the 
matchless wisdom of His teaching, the un- 
approachable grandeur of His character, and 
the incalculable influence for good which the 
Christian religion has exerted, and is still 
exerting, on the condition of the human race. 
Turning to the more purely critical aspect of 
the subject, we find that considerable progress 
has been recently made in determining the 
origin and date of the several Synoptics. To 
modern critics it has been the similarities in 
their language and arrangement, quite as much 
as the differences between them, that have 
seemed to call for explanation. For a long 
time after they began to receive attention, 
these similarities were supposed to be due to 
the Evangelists' dependence on one another ; 
and the chief question debated was as to the 
relative priority of the Gospels. Some idea of 
the diversity of opinion on this subject may be 
formed from the fact that each of the following 
orders of sequence in the production of the 
Gospels has had its advocates among those who 
believed in their inter-dependence, (1), (2), 


and (3) receiving the largest support : (1) 
Matthew, Mark, Luke ; (2) Matthew, Luke, 
Mark ; (3) Mark, Matthew, Luke ; (4) Mark, 
Luke, Matthew ; (5) Luke, Matthew, Mark ; 
(6) Luke, Mark, Matthew. 

On the other hand, the literary independence 
of the Evangelists has been maintained by a 
certain school of critics who have found what 
they believe to be a sufficient explanation of 
the similarities in the supposition that the 
Gospel story, before being committed to writing, 
was circulated and handed down by means 
of oral repetition, which is still the common 
method of instruction in the East. This 
theory, propounded by Gieseler about a hun- 
dred years ago, has been strongly advocated 
in Germany by Wetzel and K. Veit, in 
Switzerland by Godet, in America by Norton, 
and in this country by Dean Alford, Bishop 
Westcott, Dr. Arthur Wright, and others. But 
while oral transmission may account for 
similarities within the compass of a single 
passage suitable for repetition, it could hardly 
have stereotyped the sequence of a series of 
passages in which there was no natural con- 
nexion between the events or the incidents 



narrated, as is frequently the case in the 
Synoptic Gospels. Moreover, there is no evi- 
dence that such a uniform cycle of instruction, 
embracing certain incidents and discourses 
selected from the countless words and deeds of 
Christ, was ever authorized by the apostles. 
It is conceivable, indeed, that some of His 
discourses, and a recital of the great facts of 
redemption which centred in His birth, death, 
and resurrection, may have been prescribed to 
catechumens and evangelists to be committed 
to memory ; but when we have to account for 
the entire narrative common to the three 
Gospels, and the whole of Christ's recorded 
utterances, the theory of constant verbal 
repetition is very difficult to entertain. So far 
as we are acquainted with the preaching and 
teaching of the apostles and their coadjutors, 
it had nothing in common with a mechanical 
presentation of facts and doctrines, but was 
adapted on every occasion to the special wants 
and capacities of the hearers. We are not 
entitled to assume that in the primitive 
Christian Church, which had received a revela- 
tion that was not of the letter but of the 
spirit, and was to wait for more than a 


generation before it had any thought of 
possessing a sacred volume of its own, there 
would be anything resembling the slavish 
and lifeless memorizing of the Koran by Mo- 
hammedan students. If there had been an 
elaborate course of lessons sanctioned by the 
apostles (and nothing else would have secured 
for the tradition anything like the uniformity 
we find in the Synoptics), it would very soon 
have been committed to writing for the 
guidance of those who had to impart the in- 
struction ; and, if it had emanated from Jerusa- 
lem (Luke 24 47 ), it would have been drawn up 
in Aramaic, the vernacular tongue, whereas 
nothing but the use of a common Greek 
tradition would account for the similarities 
which we find in the Synoptic Gospels. 

All that we have now said is quite consistent 
with the fact that for some time after the 
death of Christ the truths of the Gospel, 
speaking generally, could only have existed in 
an oral form. "It is nowadays an accepted 
position that the oral tradition must be con- 
sidered the ultimate basis of the entire 
Gospel" (Holtzmann). Nevertheless, for the 
reasons we have indicated, there has been a 


growing conviction among critics for nearly 
half a century that behind our Gospels we 
must look for earlier documents on which they 
were founded. 

As early as 1716 Le Clerc appears to have 
suggested the existence of such documents, 
and in 1750 we find the same idea broached 
by Michaelis. But the first to put forward a 
definite theory on the subject was Lessing 
(1778), who suggested that all the three 
Synoptics were derived from the Aramaic 
"Gospel of the Nazarenes" (the " Ur-evan- 
gelium "), of which Matthew may have made 
an abstract when he left Jerusalem to preach 
to the Hellenists, his example being followed 
by many others who translated the same 
Gospel' to a greater or less extent into other 
languages. The idea was further developed 
by Eichhorn (1794), who held that the Synop- 
tics were based on three different translations 
and expansions of an Aramaic Gospel, probably 
written by a disciple of one of the apostles 
about A.D. 35, and that the authors of the 
First and Third Gospels also made use of an- 
other work containing a record of some of 
Christ's discourses. The suspicion with which 


such novel speculations were regarded was 
deepened by the fact that Eichhorn assigned 
to the canonical Gospels a very late date, 
somewhere about the end of the second cen- 
tury. The theory was wrought out in stiir 
more detail by Bishop Marsh, the translator 
of Michaelis, who convinced Eichhorn that a 
Greek original must be presupposed, to ac- 
count for the verbal similarities in the Synop- 
tics, a point which has been emphasized by 
recent critics. 

A new form of the theory was suggested by 
Schleiermacher (1817), to which the name of 
Diegesen-theorie was applied (from the Greek 
word translated <; narrative" in Luke 1 l ). 
Instead of one or two comprehensive but con- 
cise documents he suggested that there had 
probably been a number of separate leaflets 
scattered among the Churches, as it was 
" more natural to imagine many circumstantial 
memorials of detached incidents than a single 
connected but scanty narrative." The latter, 
however, is the kind of primitive Gospel at 
which E. A. Abbott and W. G. Eushbrooke 
have arrived, as the result of falling back on 
what they designate the " triple tradition/' 


being the matter common to the three Gospels, 
expressed somewhat differently in each. The 
resultant corresponds much more closely to 
Mark than to either Matthew or Luke, but it 
is so defective that it cannot be regarded as a 
complete outline of the original Gospel. 

A marked contrast to such a solution of the 
problem by the simple process of elimination 
is afforded by the intricate theory of H. 
Ewald, who thought he discovered the exis- 
tence of nine different factors in his attempt 
to trace the Gospels to their original sources. 
A special form of the one-document theory is 
associated with the names of Prof. Marshall 
and Dr. Resch, who attribute the divergences 
in the several Gospels to the variety of the 
translations, by the several Evangelists, of the 
original Gospel, which, according to Prof. 
Marshall, was Aramaic, but, according to Dr. 
Resch, Hebrew. Many plausible illustrations 
of such variations have been adduced, but the 
theory has not been confirmed by fuller in- 
vestigations, and few believe that it is an ade- 
quate explanation of the phenomena that have 
to be accounted for. 

One of the chief questions discussed by 


modern critics in connexion with the Synoptic 
problem has been as to whether Matthew or 
Mark is more nearly related to the original 
Gospel. The trend of opinion for nearly a 
century has been in favour of Mark. This is 
a reversal of the opinion held by Baur, the 
founder of the Tubingen school, and by his 
immediate followers. Like Griesbach, they 
put Matthew first, holding it to be the ex- 
ponent of the Palestinian or Petrine type of 
early Christianity, with which they supposed 
the original edition of Luke to have been in 
conflict as the representative of Paulinism ; 
while they regarded Mark as a compilation, of 
a neutral character, from the two other Gos- 
pels. Starting with the idea that they could 
explain the relations of the Gospels as " some- 
thing which grew up naturally, the working 
out of a principle of inner development," Baur 
and his followers were led by their love of 
philosophical hypotheses, founded on what 
they conceived to be the motives and move- 
ments in the early Church, to disregard the 
testimony of tradition in judging of the date 
and authorship of the canonical writings, and 
the consequence has been that most of their 


negative conclusions have had to be modified 
or abandoned by their successors. Nowhere 
has this been more signally the case than in 
their criticism of the Gospels, which is gener- 
ally acknowledged to have proceeded on a 
wrong principle, and to have led to very erron- 
eous results, the dates now generally assigned 
to the Gospels being more than half a century 
earlier than those which they advocated. 

It has only been after the most careful con- 
sideration of early patristic testimony and the 
most thorough examination of the text of 
Scripture, that the " two documents theory " 
has been generally adopted by scholars and 
critics both at home and abroad. Among 
early writers on the subject C. H. Weisse 
(1838) made the nearest approach to the 
modern form of the theory, which traces the 
Synoptics to two principal sources, one a docu- 
ment substantially identical with our Mark, 
the other a collection of our Lord's sayings, 
made by Matthew and composed originally in 
Aramaic. More recently the theory has owed 
much to the advocacy of H. J. Holtzmann and 
B. Weiss in Germany, and of Dr. Sanday in 
this country. 


Before explaining the theory in detail it may 
be well to quote the early testimonies which 
have come down to us regarding the part taken 
by Matthew and Mark in recording the 
Saviour's life and teaching, and also to state a 
little more in detail the internal relations of 
the Synoptic Gospels to one another, which 
the theory is meant to account for. 

The chief witness both as regards Matthew 
and Mark is Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis 
(c. 135) and author of an "Exposition of the 
Lord's Oracles." 

(1) With reference to Matthew Eusebius 
quotes a statement of Papias in the following 
terms : 

"Matthew compiled the Oracles (or Dis- 
courses) l in the Hebrew dialect, and each 

1 TO, Aoyta. There has been much controversy as to the 
meaning of this expression. Whatever be its lexical 
possibilities there has been a growing feeling that Schleier- 
macher was right in holding that Papias was not referring 
to the whole Gospel of Matthew, as known to us, but to a 
collection of the sayings of Jesus. Recently it has been 
suggested by Prof. Burkitt that the reference may be to a 
collection of Messianic proof-texts, gathered from the Old 
Testament, which occur so frequently in the First Gospel, 
and the suggestion is accepted by Prof. Lake and Prof. 
Gwatkin, But the series of sayings discovered at Oxy- 


interpreted them as he was able " (H. K, III, 
39). This is confirmed by Irena?us (III, 1), 
who adds that Matthew published the Gospel 
among the Jews " while Peter and Paul were 
preaching at Rome and founding the Church 
there. " Eusebius states that Matthew wrote it 
when he was about to leave the Jews and preach 
also to other nations, in order to " fill up the 
void about to be made by his departure " 
(H. E., Ill, 24) ; and he also quotes Origen 
as stating that the Gospel was written by 
Matthew and delivered in Hebrew to the 
Jewish Christians (VI, 25). 

(2) Regarding Mark the statement of Papias 
as quoted by Eusebius is as follows : " This 
also the elder (John) used to say : Mark 
having become Peter's interpreter wrote 
accurately whatever things he remembered 
that were either said or done by Christ ; but 
not in order. 1 For he neither heard the Lord 

rhynchus are an illustration of the former class of literature, 
though the modern editor of these sayings had no special 
authority for applying to them the title of Logia. 

1 eV Tatj. The meaning of this expression, in a technical 
or literary (as distinguished from a chronological) sense, 
is brought out by F. H. Colson in an article in "The 
Journal of Theological Studies" for October, 1912. Ac- 


nor followed Him ; but subsequently, as I 
said, attached himself to Peter, who used to 
frame his teaching to me^et the wants of his 
hearers, but not as making a connected 
narrative of the Lord's oracles. So Mark 
committed no error in thus writing down 
particulars just as he remembered them ; for 
he took heed to one thing, to omit none of 
the things that he had heard, and to state no- 
thing falsely in his account of them " (H. E., 
Ill, 39). This account receives confirmation 
from Irenaeus, who tells us (III, 1) that what 
Peter had preached was handed down in 
written form by Mark at Home after the death 
of Peter and Paul ; from Tertullian, who speaks 
of the Gospel as Petrine ; and also from 
Clement of Alexandria, who affirms, on the 
tradition of a long line of presbyters, that 
Mark wrote at the request of Peter's hearers 
at Rome, without any interference on the 
part of Peter himself (Eus., H. K, VI, 14). 

cording to Mr. Colson, Mark's want of taxis, as compared 
with Matthew, is seen in his abrupt beginning, his defective 
ending, his emphasizing of trivial points and occasionally 
dealing inadequately with important ones, his comparatively 
rare introduction of set speeches, and his inferior grouping. 


As regards the mutual relations of the 
Synoptics, if we leave out of account the two 
opening chapters of Matthew and Luke (where 
each Gospel gives an independent account of 
the birth and early life of Jesus), and part of 
the closing chapter in each case, we find (1) 
that these two Gospels coincide largely with 
Mark both as regards the selection of incidents, 
and the order in which they are recorded. 
This is the case even when there is an infringe- 
ment of the natural order, as in Matthew 14 \ 
Mark 6 M , Luke 9 7 , and also where there is a 
hiatus in the narrative. When Matthew and 
Luke diverge from the order of Mark, they 
rarely agree with one another. In other 
words, it is Mark's order that generally pre- 
vails. As regards diction, Matthew and Luke 
bear a close resemblance to Mark in the 
passages which they contain in common with 
it, identical phrases being of frequent occur- 
rence in the three Gospels, and the resem- 
blance extending even to the use of such a 
parenthetical clause as we find in Matthew 9 6 , 
Mark 2 10 , and Luke 5 24 . In parallel passages 
Matthew and Luke occasionally coincide with 
one another in expression (and even in minute 


points of order), in opposition to Mark ; but, 
as a rule, in expression (as in order) they agree 
with Mark far more than with one another. 
With all their similarities, however, the three 
Gospels exhibit many striking divergencies. 

(2) In addition to the general narrative in 
which they coincide with Mark's Gospel (form- 
ing what is called the " triple tradition "), 
Matthew and Luke have a good deal of other 
matter in common with each other (the " double 
tradition "), consisting chiefly of sayings and 
discourses of Christ, 1 and in such cases they 
exhibit a closer verbal similarity to each other, 
amid occasional divergence, than is found any- 
where else. 

(3) While Mark contains very little that is 
not found in Matthew or Luke, 2 each of the 
two latter Gospels has a considerable amount 

1 Massed together in Matthew's Gospel in five different 
sections (chaps. 5-7, 10, 13, 18, 23-25), followed in each 
case by a closing formula (7 2S , 11 \ 13 53 , 19 1 and 26 l ) ; 
but appearing in Luke in the form of numerous fragments, 
more or less condensed, at many different points in the 

2 Virtually confined to Mark 4 **>, 7 31 ' 37 , and 8 22 - 26 , 
though some other items peculiar to Mark are to be found 

i n 8 17 f. ; 9 33. 14 61f.,85. 15 44, 


of matter peculiar to itself, in addition to the 
introductory and closing passages already 
mentioned, which are outside the range of 
Mark's Gospel. 1 

The conclusions now generally accepted, and 
the points on which there is still a difference 
of opinion, may be summarized as follows : 

(1) The Gospel of Mark, in all probability 
derived from Mark's notes or reminiscences of 
Peter's preaching, is substantially the oldest 
of our canonical Gospels ; and to it the authors 
of the First and Third Gospels were mainly 
indebted for their common outline of Christ's 
ministry, as well as for their detailed accounts 
of many individual incidents. The only alter- 
native to this view is to suppose that the 
striking similarities between the three Gospels 
were due to extensive borrowing by Mark both 
from Matthew and Luke ; but in that case the 
Second Gospel could not have been the simple, 
direct, forcible composition that it is, and its 
language would not have been of so rude and 
primitive a character. 

1 It has to be kept in view that the last twelve verses of 
the canonical Gospel of Mark formed no part of the 
original text. 


(2) In the compilation of our First and 
Third Gospels another document was used, to 
which critics have given the name " Q " (from 
the German Quelle = Source), consisting chiefly 
of sayings of Christ. While it is agreed that 
the author of the First Gospel used this docu- 
ment directly, some think that Luke may 
have been indebted to it only indirectly, 
through the medium of other documents with 
similar contents (cf. Luke 1 x ff ). There 
is general agreement that the writing in 
question was the work of the Apostle Matthew, 
composed in Hebrew (Aramaic), as stated by 
Papias, but there are features in the language 
of our Gospels which show that this document 
must have been translated into Greek, before 
it was used in their compilation. As it was 
originally the work of Matthew, his name was 
naturally given to the Gospel in which the 
discourses of Jesus held the most prominent 
place, especially as such a designation could 
not be given to the Gospel of Luke which was 
known to be published under different auspices. 
It is generally felt, however, that the First 
Gospel, as it stands, cannot be the work of 
Matthew (whatever Papias may have thought), 


both because it cannot be regarded as a 
translation, and because it is extremely im- 
probable that one who was an apostle, as 
Matthew was, and had been an eye-witness of 
Christ's ministry, would have taken his in- 
formation at second-hand from one who, like 
Mark, had not been a personal disciple of 
Jesus. It is generally believed that Q in- 
cluded all that is contained both in Matthew 
and Luke, but not in Mark, and that it may 
also have been the source of some things that 
are found in Matthew or in Luke alone. It 
is supposed to have had some introductory and 
connective matter, with an account of the Bap- 
tism, the Temptation, and the healing of the 
centurion's servant, but not to have had an 
account of Christ's death and resurrection. 1 
Whether it is better represented in Matthew 
or in Luke is a matter of controversy. If the 
beautiful parables peculiar to Luke were 
derived from Q, it is strange that the author 
of the First Gospel did not appropriate more 
of its teaching. On the whole, the probability 
seems to be that in the Messianic teaching of 

1 According to Harnack ; but Burkitt thinks Luke's ac- 
count of the Passion may be traced to it. 


the First Gospel we have the fullest represen- 
tation of the contents of Matthew's work, 1 
while Luke seems to have broken it up into 
fragments, making use only of such portions of 
it as he could insert at a suitable place, in 
accordance with the general design stated in 
his preface. But in the opinion of Burkitt and 
Holtzmann, Q is more faithfully represented 
in Luke. 

(3) Besides making use of Q and the Gospel 
of Mark, both Luke and (to a less degree) the 
author of the First Gospel must have been 
indebted to other sources, oral or written, for 
things peculiar to their Gospels in substance or 
expression (including some of the finest speci- 

Jgir J. C. Hawkins (H.S., p. 132) points out the 
analogy between the five sections in Matthew, and various 
five-fold arrangements in Jewish literature, and says : " It 
is hard to believe that it is by accident that we find in 
St. Matthew the five times repeated formula about Jesus 
'ending' his sayings (7 28 ; II 1 ; 12 53 ; 19 l ; 26 1 )." 
When we add to this that Papias wrote an " Exposition of 
the Lord's Oracles (or Discourses) " in five Books, we see 
that there is considerable reason for the view of W. W. 
Holdsworth and others, that in the five sections of the First 
Gospel, we have the very arrangement of the discourses 
which was attributed to Matthew by Papias (o-vt/era^aro or 


mens of our Lord's teaching in Luke), and 
for information in both Gospels regarding the 
birth and infancy of Jesus (where the style of 
composition is of a very archaic character, 
especially in Luke), and concerning the resur- 
rection of Jesus. 

(4) The coincidences between Matthew and 
Luke, where they differ from Mark in the 
triple tradition, have given rise to the idea that 
they may have had in their hands another form 
of Mark than that which we possess. With 
some (Baur, Schleiermacher, Renan, Davidson, 
Salmon, Holtzmann, Wendt) this Ur-Markus, 
as it is called, means something very different 
from our Second Gospel, whether larger or 
smaller ; but others (e.g. Sanday and Schmiedel) 
are of opinion that the change which took place 
was slight and superficial, a mere revision 
sufficient to account for the coincidences re- 
ferred to, if we bear in mind the tendency to 
assimilation in the process of transmission. 1 
According to Holdsworth, Mark brought out 
three different editions of his Gospel, one in 

1 Although Wellhausen believes in an Ur-Markus, he 
thinks that the authors of our Matthew and Luke used the 
Gospel of Mark in its present form an opinion shared by 
Wernle, Julicher, Burkitt, l and Loisy. 


Palestine, another in Egypt (for Jewish Chris- 
tians) and another in Rome (for Gentiles), 
the first of these being embodied in Luke and 
the second in Matthew, while the third forms 
our canonical Mark. He holds that on this 
theory the problem may be solved without sup- 
posing Q to have contained anything but the 
words spoken by our Lord as a Divine Teacher, 
which might be fitly called "oracles." Others 
get over the difficulty by supposing that Luke 
was acquainted with our Gospel of Matthew 
(Holtzmann, Weizsacker, Wendt, Halevy, 
Soltau, Allen, Jtilicher), or that Mark (as 
well as the authors of Matthew and Luke) 
was acquainted with Q (B. Weiss, Jtilicher, 
von Soden, Bousset, Barth, Loisy, Bacon, 
Adeney). 1 

(5) Q is generally regarded as the oldest 
Gospel record of which we have any know- 
ledge. The words of Christ would naturally 
be committed to writing before the facts of 
His history, as the latter for a considerable time 

1 Those who take this view, account for the sparing use 
which Mark made of Q, by the fact that he did not wish 
his work to compete with Q, which was already the ac- 
knowledged authority with reference to our Lord's utter- 


would be sufficiently attested by the personal 
statements of those who had been eye-wit- 
nesses of His ministry. 

With regard to the authorship, date, and 
character of the several Synoptic Gospels, the 
following are the conclusions which seem to be 
best supported and most generally accepted. 

(1) While there is some difference of 
opinion as to the history of the Gospel of Mark, 
before it assumed its present form, there is now 
general agreement that it is the earliest of the 
Gospels that have come down to us. Not 
many critics put it later than A.D. 70, and 
according to Harnack it must have been 
written by Mark during the sixth decade of 
the first century at the latest. Its early date 
is proved partly by the fact that it lies at the 
foundation of Matthew and Luke, and partly 
by its general style and diction and its freedom 
from any signs of ecclesiastical policy or doc- 
trinal bias. There is only one long discourse 
in the book (chap. 13). It has reference to 
the great event to which the early Christians 
looked forward with intense longing for many 
years, namely, the return of their Lord from 
heaven, and some critics are inclined to think 
that it may have had a circulation, in a separate 


form, before being incorporated in the Gospel. 
A number of critics, such as Wendling and 
Bacon, have attempted to deal with the book 
as some of the Old Testament writings have 
been dealt with, by tracing it to earlier literary 
sources. But the attempts have not been at- 
tended with much success, and it may be 
questioned whether any reliable results will 
ever be attained by such abstruse speculations, 
in which conjecture has to play so great a part. 
As a whole, the Gospel has a unity about it 
which proves its originality, and, in spite of its 
defects from a literary or artistic point of view, 
it gives the reader a wonderfully good idea 
of the gradual development of the Saviour's 
ministry and of the progressive course of events 
which led to the tragic denouement in the cruci- 
fixion. As Dr. Burkitt says : "In St. Mark 
we are appreciably nearer to the actual scenes 
of our Lord's life, to the course of events, than 
in any other document which tells us of Him." 
Similar testimony, from a different point of 
view, is borne by Prof. Swete, when he says ; 
" The freshness of its colouring, the simplicity 
of its teaching, the absence of any indication 
that Jerusalem had already fallen when it was 


written, seem to point to a date earlier than 
the summer of A.D. 70." 1 

According to a very early tradition, the 
author derived his information very largely 
from statements made by Peter in the course 
of his preaching, and many parts of the nar- 
rative bear the marks of being derived from 
an eye-witness, having reference, in some cases, 
to Peter's personal experience. A number of 
things favourable to the Apostle, which are 
found in other Gospels, are here conspicuous by 
their absence, but he holds a prominent place 
in the narrative, being the first person men- 
tioned after the opening of the Ministry, and 
being recognized throughout as the leader of 
the Twelve. There can be no doubt that the 
success of the book, and the place of honour 
given to it as one of the four canonical 
Gospels, was owing to the association of 

1 Clement of Alexandria tells us that it was written 
while Peter was still alive, but until recently this statement 
was supposed to be at variance with the testimony of 
Irenaeus. Dom J. Chapman, however, has shown that this 
is a misunderstanding of Irenaeus's words. There is so 
much uncertainty about the date of Peter's death, and 
also of Paul's, that Clement's statement does not help 
us much, and it is probably better to be content with an 
approximate date, before the destruction of Jerusalem. 


Peter's name with that of its author. Mark 
himself was in no sense a leader in the 
Church, 1 and his reputation was somewhat 
sullied by what is recorded of him in Acts 
13 13 (cf. 15 37 - 39 and Col. 4 10 ). There is no 
reason to doubt the identity of this John 
Mark with the Mark who is referred to in the 
Epistles at a later time as a friend both of 
Peter and of Paul. A comparison of the re- 
lative passages is sufficient to prove this. As 
a Jew who had Hellenistic relatives (Acts 
4 * ; cf. Col. 4 10 ), and had travelled in Asia 
Minor and elsewhere (Acts 13 f.), but was ap- 
parently a native of Jerusalem (12 12>25 ), Mark 
was well fitted to be Peter's interpreter. Al- 
though Peter no doubt preached in Aramaic, 
there is no reason to believe that Mark wrote 
his Gospel in that language (Blass and Allen). 
The occasional use of Aramaic expressions, in 
the form of transliterations, is sufficiently ac- 
counted for by the fact that Aramaic was 
Mark's mother-tongue. That he wrote for the 

1 The nature of his service to the Church may be in- 
ferred from Acts 13 5 , where he is described as Paul and 
Barnabas's "minister'' (B.V. "attendant"), as well as 
from Paul's commendation of him at a later period as 
" useful to me for ministering " (II Tim. 4 n , R.V.). 


benefit of Gentile Christians is evident not only 
from the fact that he translates such expres- 
sions for the reader, but also from his explain- 
ing Jewish customs and beliefs, and from the 
paucity of his allusions to the Old Testament. 
His frequent use of Latin words and idioms 
confirms the tradition that he was writing in 
Rome, where we find him ministering to Paul's 
comfort (Col. 4 u ; cf. Philemon, v. 24) and 
associated, at another time, with Peter (I Pet. 
5 u " Babylon " being here probably a meta- 
phorical name for Rome). An argument in 
favour of this view will also be found on a 
careful comparison of Mark 15 21 and Romans 
16 13 . 

We find traces in patristic writings of an 
early and widely received tradition that Mark 
ultimately went to Egypt and founded the 
catechetical school of Alexandria, where he is 
said to have died a martyr's death. But 
neither Clement nor Origen makes any mention 
of this. 

(2) In the case of our First Gospel the 
tendency of recent criticism has been to follow 
tradition only so far as to admit that most of 
our Lord's discourses which it contains came 
from the pen of Matthew, one of the Twelve, 


who was previously known as Levi the publican. 
At some time previous to the composition of 
this Gospel, a collection of such discourses, 
Papias tells us, had been drawn up by Matthew 
in Hebrew, or rather in Aramaic. This work 
no longer exists as a separate document, but 
it is largely, if not entirely, represented in our 
First Gospel, and also to some extent, directly 
or indirectly, in the Gospel of Luke. According 
to Harnack it may be assigned to the year 50 
or even earlier, 1 but Sir William Ramsay holds 
it to have been written while Christ was still 
living. " It gives us the view " (he says) 
" which one of His disciples entertained of 
Him and His teaching during His life-time." 
Numberless attempts have been made to define 
its limits and determine its contents. Harnack 
thinks that it stopped short of the Last Week 
of the ministry, and did not include the Last 
Supper or the Passion and the Resurrection ; 
while Archdeacon Allen holds that it consisted 
of all the teaching of Christ to be found in 
Matthew, except what is also found in Mark. 

i According to Dr. Moffatt, it "reflects the faith and 
mission and sufferings of the primitive Jewish Christian 
Church of Palestine, long before the crisis of 70 A.D. 
began to loom oh the horizon " (I.L.N.T., p. 203). 


In any of its possible forms, however, the lost 
source seems to have claimed for Jesus a 
unique position in the Kingdom of God, 
representing Him as the perfect Revealer of 
the Father, the supreme Teacher, and the 
final Judge. 

The association of Matthew's name with 
the Gospel is best accounted for by supposing 
him to have been the author of this document. 
After his conversion and call, his name is never 
mentioned, except as one of the disciples who 
were present in the upper room on the day 
of the Ascension, and he did not attach him- 
self to Jesus till some time after the Galilaean 
ministry had begun. In these circumstances, 
it is extremely improbable that he should 
have been credited with the authorship of 
what has been called " the most important 
book in Christendom, the most important 
book that ever was written," unless he had 
had a considerable share in its production. 1 
On the other hand, it is worthy of notice 
that although he held so insignificant a place 
among the apostles, he was perhaps better 

1 The only passages of the New Testament in which 
Matthew is referred to are Matthew 9 9 f -> 10 3 ; Mark 2 
i* 3 18 ; Luke 5 27 - 29 , 6 15 ; Acts 1 13 . 


fitted for the work of a recorder than any of 
his colleagues, owing to the duties of the 
calling in which he had been engaged before 
he became a disciple. 

Who it was that composed the Gospel in its 
present form it is impossible to say. In all 
probability he was a Hellenistic Jew with a 
wide outlook, concerned, above everything, 
with the vindication of the claims of Jesus as 
the Messiah in whom the Old Testament 
promises had been abundantly fulfilled, 1 and 
maintaining the essential validity of the Law 
of Moses ; yet combining with these views a 
full appreciation of the heart-searching teach- 
ing of the Sermon on the Mount, and a strong 
aversion to the religious pretensions of the 
Pharisees. Burkitt describes him as " so to 
speak, a Christian Rabbi," who adapted the 
teaching of Jesus to the wants of the Christian 
Church about 90-100 A.D. But Archdeacon 
Allen thinks that it is just such a Gospel as 
might have been drawn up at Antioch, about 
the year 50, by an earnest Jewish Christian 

1 To prove this he cites no fewer than sixty Old Testa- 
ment prophecies. His Jewish sympathies are shown by 
his use of the Old Testament in the Hebrew, not in the 
Septuagint, in the quotations peculiar to his Gospel. 


who believed that Gentiles were only to be 
admitted to the Kingdom of Heaven on con- 
dition of obedience to the Law, and who was 
looking for a speedy return of the Saviour 
to begin His reign upon the earth. Com- 
paratively few critics, however, date the 
Gospel before 70, 1 although there is no con- 
clusive evidence for a later date. If the 
destruction of Jerusalem had already taken 
place, it is strange that the writer should still 
associate that calamity with the end of the 
world so closely, indeed, that it is scarcely 
possible to distinguish between them (chap. 
24). The baptismal formula (28 19 f ) is al- 
leged to bear the stamp of a later period, but 
the doctrine of the Trinity is equally involved 
in the benediction at the close of II Corin- 
thians ; while the reference to the Church in 
chap. 16 18 fi has many parallels in the Epistles 
of Paul, as well as in Acts 7 38 and 20 2S , and 
is quite in harmony with the ecclesiastical 
conceptions of the Jews. The majority of 
critics favour a date between 70 and 90, 
and some (Schmiedel and Pfleiderer) put 
it as late as 130 or 140. Harnack in his 

1 Among them are Bleek, Meyer, Keim, Godet, Jacquier, 
Adeney, and Bartlet. 


" Date of the Acts and the Synoptic Gospels " 
adheres to his former position and says : " I 
could sooner convince myself that Matthew 
was written before the destruction of Jerusalem 
than believe that one decade elapsed after the 
catastrophe before the book was written." 

Whatever the date and authorship of the 
Gospel may have been, it soon gained a far 
stronger hold on the affections of the Church 
at large, notwithstanding its Jewish colouring, 
and was far more frequently quoted by early 
patristic writers, than any of the other Gospels. 
This was no doubt partly owing to the fact 
that it combined narrative and discourse so 
well, and gave such a full account of our 
Lord's death and resurrection, partly also, 
perhaps, owing to its being generally regarded 
as the earliest of the Gospels. Its popularity 
must have had the effect of throwing the 
original Matthaean document into the shade, 
the consequence being, apparently, that it soon 
disappeared and was superseded in Ebionite 
circles by the Gospel of the Nazarenes. 1 

1 The Gospel of Mark seems to have suffered from the 
same cause, being comparatively little quoted by the Fathers 


(3) Fifty years ago it was the fashion to deny 
the genuineness of the Third Gospel and 
of Acts as the works of Luke, and to regard 
them as productions of the second century. 
But there is a growing body of critical opinion 
in favour of the Lucan authorship of both, 
and with many scholars the chief question 
now is as to the dates of their composition. 
A majority, including even such conservative 
critics as Zahn, B. Weiss, Sanday,and Plummer, 
hold the Gospel to have been written after 
A.D. 70, basing their opinion mainly on the 
more definite form which Luke gives to our 
Lord's prediction regarding the destruction of 
Jerusalem, in chaps. 19 41 ~ 44 and 21 20 ' 24 , where 
he substitutes the description of a besieged 
city for " the abomination of desolation stand- 
ing in the holy place," or " standing where he 
ought not," which we find in the other Synop- 
tics (Matt. 24 15 , Mark 13 u , RV. ; cf. Dan. 
9 27 ). Wellhausen and others hold that we 
have evidently here (in Luke) a vatwiniam post 
eventum ; but Harnack maintains that this is 
not so, pointing out that Luke's description of 

and made the subject of a Commentary apparently for the 
first time (by Victor of Antioch) in the fifth or sixth century. 


the catastrophe is after all a very natural and 
obvious one. Neither does he see any evi- 
dence of a later date in the opening statement 
of the Gospel as to the many accounts of the 
Christian faith which had been already drawn 
up, and his verdict is that " it seems now to 
be established beyond question that both 
books of this great historical work were 
written while St. Paul was still alive." In 
support of this view he cites the names of 
Hofmann, Thiersch, Wieseler, Resch, and 
Blass, to which we may add those of Guericke, 
Alford, Schaff, Gloag, Salmon, Jacquier, and 
Koch. According to Harnack, the Gospel 
must have been written at the very beginning 
of the seventh decade, as it preceded Acts, 
which he holds to have been written in A.D. 62. 
It is strongly in favour of the Lucan author- 
ship of this Gospel that it was used by Marcion 
before the middle of the second century, and 
it is difficult to understand how Luke's name 
should ever have been given to it, unless he 
was in some sense the author of it. The traces 
of a medical habit of thought and expression, 
which may be discerned here and there, are 
also in favour of its being the work of " the be- 


loved physician l ; " but as regards the evidence 
as a whole we may refer to our chapter dealing 
with Acts, as the two books must stand or 
fall together. 

While there is in Luke more of an attempt at 
a historical arrangement of Q than in Matthew, 
there is also a stronger tendency to tone down 
expressions found in Mark which might seem to 
be at variance with the reverence due to Christ, 
and the respect due to His apostles. But there 
is nothing inconsistent with the writer's purpose 
as stated in the preface, namely, to supply 
Theophilus, (apparently a man of rank), to 
whom the book is dedicated, with trustworthy 
information regarding the rise and spread of 
Christianity. It is the work of a historian, 
and exhibits signs of independence which 
refute the Tubingen notion that the author 
was a strong Paulinist. 2 His tendency to 
universalism, however, is often visible, and 
comes out in the Saviour's genealogy, which 
he traces back to " Adam the (son) of God." 

1 Colossians 4 14 . The only other passages in which 
Luke is mentioned are II Timothy 4 n and Philemon v. 24. 

2 " One of the most assured results of recent research is 
that he was not a Paulinist masquerading as a historian " 
(Dr. Moffatt). 


Luke had no doubt consulted other written 
sources besides Mark and the " Logia," and it is 
not unlikely that he derived information from 
Philip of Csesarea and his daughters during 
Paul's imprisonment in that city, and perhaps 
also from the mother of our Lord. According 
to Dr. Burkitt, Luke's writings are character- 
ized by " a tendency towards voluntary 
poverty and a tendency towards asceticism," 
which appear not only -in his choice of material 
for his Gospel, but also in his literal repre- 
sentation of Christ's words of consolation for 
the poor (e.g. cf. Matt. 5 3 ' 6 and Luke 6 *). 
His work is so comprehensive that, although it 
embodies three-fourths of the Gospel of Mark, 
nearly half of its contents is peculiar to itself. 
The greater part of this is found in the ac- 
count of our Lord's last journey to Jerusalem 
(chaps. 9 51 -18 u ), and it has been suggested, as a 
possible explanation of its absence from Mark's 
Gospel, that, during most of the time referred 
to, Peter may have been travelling through 
Peraea, while Jesus was passing through 
Samaria (Luke 51 ' 56 ), till they met in "the 
borders of Judaea " (Mark 10 l ). 

It will thus be seen that in view of its 


results we have no reason to regret the attempt 
which was made in the course of last century 
to bring down our Gospels to a comparatively 
late date, since it has been the means of stimu- 
lating the defenders of the faith to set forth 
the evidence in their favour in full force, and 
thus reinstate them in the confidence of the 
Church. Few will dispute the very moderate 
assertion recently made by Prof. Menzies that 
" there can be little doubt that the sources of 
the Synoptic Gospels existed a decade or two 
before A.D. 70." This leaves negative critics 
with the difficult task of accounting for the 
rise of the Gospels in the course of a genera- 
tion after Christ's death, without admitting 
the essential truth of the story embodied in 
them, on which the faith of the Church was 

It was said by Strauss, whose " Life of Jesus " 
caused such a commotion in the Christian 
world seventy or eighty years ago, that "it 
would most unquestionably be an argument 
of decisive weight for the credibility of the 
biblical history, could it indeed be shown that 
it was written by eye-witnesses or even by 
persons nearly contemporaneous with the 
events narrated " (I. p. 55, E.T.). But the 


accumulation of evidence for the early date 
of the Gospels has produced no appreciable 
effect on the attitude of the critics to whom 
we have referred. 1 It is vain to expect that 
any amount of evidence in the sphere of 
criticism should ever prove an effectual 
remedy for unbelief based on the repudiation 
of the supernatural. The presence of that 
element in the Gospel creates in some minds 
as strong a prejudice against the acceptance 
of the evangelic narrative in its integrity, 
as the old prepossession in its favour, which 
arose from the doctrine of verbal inspiration. 
Owing to the ascendency of physical science, 
a new dogma of incredibility has taken the 
place of the old theory of infallibility in spite 

1 For example, Pfleiderer, while admitting that our 
Second Gospel was the work of Mark, was unable to believe 
that he had derived his information from Peter, as he 
held it to be impossible that the Apostle, having been an 
eye-witness of Christ's ministry, could have any miracles 
to relate. In a similar spirit, even Weizsacker regarded it 
as decisive against the traditional claim of the Fourth 
Gospel, that it involves a belief that a primitive apostle, 
familiar with Jesus, " should have come to regard and 
represent his whole former experience as a life with the 
incarnate Logos of God." 


of the fact that some of the greatest authorities, 
both in science and philosophy, admit that there 
is no a priori impossibility in miracles, and that 
our relation to Nature is beset with mystery. If 
it be true that the churchman is eager to avail 
himself of every possible support for the faith 
once for all delivered to the saints, it is equally 
true that those who abjure the supernatural are 
constantly under temptation to invent some 
theory of fabrication, or interpolation, or legend, 
which may undermine the historical character 
of such statements as they cannot accept. 
And whereas there is no need for the Christian 
apologist to vindicate all the miracles recorded 
in the New Testament (Christ's resurrection 
alone being a sufficient guarantee of the truth 
of Christianity), any more than to prove the 
genuineness and authenticity of every book in 
the New Testament, the opponent of the super- 
natural, on the other hand, is bound to get rid 
of the miraculous in every form, no matter in 
what part of the Scriptures it may make its 

It might have been thought that, as the 
criticism of the Gospels affects the foundation 
of the faith and touches the heart of our re- 


ligion, Christian writers would have been slow 
to propagate opinions of a speculative character, 
that are fatal not only to the Divine claims but 
even to the historical reality of the Saviour. But 
the spirit of doubt, when once aroused, some- 
times gains a strange ascendency over some 
minds, and imparts a fascination to views of a 
revolutionary character. Hence we have re- 
cently had the painful spectacle of ministers 
of the Gospel viewing with complacency the 
surrender of their faith not only in the Divinity 
but even in the very humanity of their Lord, 
and proclaiming to the world their readiness 
to treat as a fable the sacred life which has 
been the object of the Church's faith for 
nineteen centuries. One can imagine the in- 
dignation with which such conduct would 
have been denounced by the apostles. But 
in these days when faith is weak, and criticism 
bold, such utterances do not cause much 
astonishment, being only aggravated instances 
of a destructive tendency that is widely prev- 
alent. As an illustration of the length to 
which criticism will sometimes go, we may 
quote the following instance, mentioned in the 
11 Expository Times " of October, 1910. In an 


American magazine called " The Open Court " 
a discussion, which lasted for more than a 
year, was begun by an article from the pen of 
the editor of the " Polychrome Bible," to prove 
that Jesus, having been born, not in Bethlehem, 
but in Nazareth of Galilee, at a time when the 
inhabitants of Galilee were mostly Medians, 
was probably a Median, and thus belonged to 
the Aryan race. By and by an editorial ap- 
peared in the same magazine disputing the 
assumption that Jesus was born in Nazareth, 
on the ground that there was no such town or 
village at the time in question, and explaining 
away the tradition by supposing the Nazarenes 
to have been a mistake for Nazirites, the prob- 
ability being that he was born in Capernaum. 
Then another professor entered the field to 
prove that Jesus was not born at all, that the 
name " Jesus " was only a title, a Hebrew 
form of the Greek Soter (Saviour), under 
which the Jews found Zeus or Jupiter wor- 
shipped by the Greeks. This did not end the 
controversy, however, for yet another critic 
came forward to maintain that Jesus was no 
other than Buddha himself, clothed in Jewish 
Messianic apparel. 


In order to resolve the personality of Jesus 
into a myth, all sorts of theories have been 
advanced, based partly on natural phenomena, 
partly on national or racial legends. So serious 
is the view some take of the mischievous re- 
sults which may arise from the circulation of 
such literature, that a number of books have 
been written for the very purpose of counter- 
acting its influence and exposing the hollow- 
ness of its reasoning. 1 

Even more dangerous, perhaps, because 
more subtle, than such fantastic vagaries of 
avowed unbelief is the tendency of some 
critical writers within the pale of the Church 
to represent the character and life of Jesus 
depicted in the Gospels, as due to the reflective 
consciousness of a subsequent age, without 
whose imagination the portrait could never 
have been painted. Did Jesus Christ create 
the Church or did the Church create Him? 
is a fundamental question, which can only be 
answered in one way by those who believe 

1 Such are " Jesus the Christ : Historical or Mythical ? " 
by T. J. Thorburn, D.D., LL.D. ; "The Historicity of 
Jesus," by S. J. Case, . Chicago ; " Der Geschichtliche 
Jesus," by Prof. Clemen of Bonn; "The Truth about 
Jesus," by Dr. Friedrich Loofs of Oberlin, U.S.A. 


Him to be a living, personal Saviour. If the 
Gospel records be true, Jesus was the original 
fountain of inspiration to His Church. The 
heights of aspiration and achievement which 
were reached by the Apostles and their con- 
verts, were not the result of a gradual idealising 
of the Saviour's figure after His departure, but 
were due to the fuller realisation of the meaning 
and purpose of words and deeds which were to 
a large extent beyond the comprehension of 
His followers at the time of their occurrence. 
In other words, the early Church was not 
mistaken when it worshipped Jesus as Divine, 
and recognized Him to be " the author and 
perfecter of (their) faith." 

This chapter may be fitly closed with the 
testimony of two of the greatest scholars 
and most acute critics of our time, Prof. 
Harnack of the University of Berlin, and the 
late Dr. Salmon, head of Trinity College, 

"Our knowledge of the history and the 
teaching of our Lord," says Prof. Harnack, 
" in their main features at least, depends upon 
two authorities independent of one another, 
yet composed at nearly the same time. Where 


they agree their testimony is strong, and they 
do agree often and on important points. On 
the rock of their united testimony the assault 
of destructive critical views, however neces- 
sary these are to easily self-satisfied research, 
will ever be shattered to pieces " (" The Sayings 
of Jesus," p. 249). 

The testimony of Dr. Salmon is no less em- 
phatic. " The more I study the Gospels, the 
more convinced I am that we have in them 
contemporaneous history ; that is to say, that 
we have in them the stories told of Jesus 
immediately after His death, and which had 
been circulated, and, as I am disposed to be- 
lieve, put in writing, while He was yet alive. 
... I cannot doubt that these writings present 
us with the story as told in the very first 
assemblies of Christians, by men who had been 
personal disciples of Jesus ; nor do I think 
that the account of any of our Lord's miracles 
would have been very different if we could 
have the report of it as published in a Jerusa- 
lem newspaper next morning" ("The Human 
Element in the Gospels/' pp. 8 and 274). 



THERE are five books in the New Testament 
attributed to the Apostle John, namely, the 
Fourth Gospel, the three Epistles which bear 
his name, and the book of "The Revelation." 
Of these the Gospel is the most important ; in 
the general estimation it is the most precious 
of all the books in the New Testament. 
Augustine said long ago : " John, the apostle, 
not unworthily compared to the eagle in re- 
spect of spiritual intelligence, hath taken a 
higher flight and soared in his preaching much 
more sublimely than the other three, and in 
the lifting up thereof would have our hearts 
lifted up too." Luther pronounced it " the 
one tender right chief Gospel and infinitely 
preferable to the other three." The late Dr. 
Dale has told how it went right to the heart 

of a Japanese reader : " The vision which 



came to him while reading John's account of 
our Lord's life and teaching was a vision from 
another and diviner world ; he fell at the feet 
of Christ exclaiming, ' My Lord and my God.' ' 
A modern German critic says : " Who would 
not confess that in his sweet, unearthly picture 
this evangelist has given us the true religious 
import of the sacred life ? " 

The writer last quoted does not believe the 
book to have been written by John and can- 
not accept it as historical. He is one of 
many critics who hold that the value of the 
book is independent of its authorship and of the 
historical truth of its contents. This might 
be a tenable position if the Gospel made no 
claim to be historical and merely presented us 
with an ideal picture. But it is different when 
the writer expressly claims to have been an 
eye-witness of the ministry of Jesus. He says : 
" The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us 
(and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only 
begotten from the Father), full of grace and 
truth " (1 14 ). In the beginning of the First 
Epistle (which is generally admitted to be from 
the same pen as the Gospel) he says : " That 
which was from the beginning, that which we 


have heard, that which we have seen with our 
eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands 
handled, concerning the Word of life (and the 
life was manifested, and we have seen, and 
bear witness, and declare unto you the life, 
the eternal life, which was with the Father, and 
was manifested unto us) ; that which we have 
seen and heard declare we unto you also." In 
harmony with this is the statement in the last 
chapter of the Gospel, whether written by the 
Apostle or, as seems more probable, added by 
others : " This is the disciple which beareth 
witness of these things, and wrote these things : 
and we know that his witness is true " (21 24 ). 
The context shows that the disciple here re- 
ferred to is " the disciple whom Jesus loved," 
who appears in the Gospel under this name on 
four occasions at the last supper, at the cross, 
at the empty tomb, and on the beach of the Sea 
of Galilee, when he was the first of a company 
of seven disciples to recognize the risen Lord 
(13 23 ; 19 a6 f - ; 20 ; 21 7 ' 23 ). 1 The claims thus 
definitely made leave no room for a theory 

1 19 3 '~> also implies that the testimony in question was 
given by an eye-witness, but whether it is the writer 
that is referred to is open to question. 


of pseudonymous authorship, in the sense of 
an innocent assumption of a great historic 
name. For the book is largely a narrative, 
and the assertion that the author speaks from 
personal knowledge is of vital importance, and 
could not have been made with a good con- 
science unless it had been well founded. 
The question of authorship, therefore, is of 
the greatest importance, and all the evidence 
on the subject ought to be carefully considered. 
The first writer, so far as is known to us, 
who definitely quotes from this Gospel as the 
work of " John," is Theophilus, Bishop of 
Antioch, who had been brought up as a pagan 
but was converted through the study of the 
Bible. In a defence of Christianity addressed 
to a pagan friend, Autolycus, about A.D. 180, 
he says : "The Holy Scriptures teach us, and 
all the inspired writers, one of whom, John, 
says, In the beginning was the Word, and the 
Word was with God." In the "Muratorian 
Fragment," a little earlier, the Gospel is as- 
signed to John, " a disciple of the Lord," and 
the following account of its origin is given : 
" At the entreaties of his fellow-disciples and 
his bishops, John said : Fast with me for three 


days from this time, and whatsoever shall be 
revealed to each of us (whether it be favour- 
able to my writing or not) let us relate it to 
one another. On the same night it was re- 
vealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that 
John should relate all things in his own name, 
aided by the revision of all. . . . What wonder 
is it then that John so constantly brings for- 
ward Gospel phrases even in his epistles, saying 
in his own person, What we have seen with 
our eyes, and heard with our ears, and our 
hands have handled, these things have we 
written ? For so he professes that he was not 
only an eye-witness, but also a hearer, and 
moreover a historian of all the wonderful works 
of the Lord." 

We have a most important witness in 
Irenseus, Bishop of Vienne and Lyons in Gaul, 
who was born and brought up in Asia Minor 
and had for his predecessor a man named 
Pothinus, who died as a martyr about A.D. 177, 
when he was ninety years of age. Irenaeus 
had not the shadow of a doubt that the Fourth 
Gospel was the work of the Apostle John- 
regarding which, as he says, "all the disciples 
associated with John, the disciple of the Lord 


in Asia, bear witness " ; and he tells how John 
lived in Ephesus till the time of Trajan. What 
makes the evidence of Irenaeus particularly 
valuable is the fact that in his youth he had 
been brought into close personal contact with 
Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, who 
was for about forty years Bishop of Smyrna 
(a few miles distant from Ephesus), and 
suffered martyrdom in his eighty-sixth year, 
about A.D. 155. 

We have an interesting addition to this 
statement of Irenaeus, in a reference by Ter- 
tullian of Carthage, a few years later, to the 
claim made by the Church at Smyrna that Poly- 
carp had been appointed as their bishop by 
the Apostle John. Elsewhere Tertullian says : 
1 'John and Matthew form the faith within 
us : among the companions of the Apostles 
Luke and Mark renovate it." Another impor- 
tant witness of about the same time is Clement 
of Alexandria, a man of very wide reading and 
great scholarship. In a short treatise of his 
that has come down to us, entitled, " Who is 
the rich man that shall be saved ? " he mentions 
that " after the tyrant's death John returned 
from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus." In 


Eusebius's " Church History " we find a repro- 
duction of a passage in a lost work of Clement's 
called " Outlines," giving an account of the 
traditions of the Elders regarding the order in 
which the four Gospels were written. This 
is what is said about the Fourth Gospel : 
" John, perceiving that what had reference to 
the body was clearly set forth in the other 
Gospels, and being encouraged by his familiar 
friends, and urged by the Spirit, composed a 
spiritual Gospel." 

The Johannine authorship of the Fourth 
Gospel and its singular worth were attested no 
less strongly by Origen, Clement's famous suc- 
cessor at Alexandria, who says : " We make 
bold to say that of all the Scriptures the 
Gospels are the firstfruits ; and the first- 
fruits of the Gospels is that according to John, 
the meaning whereof none can apprehend who 
has not leaned upon the breast of Jesus, or 
received, at the hands of Jesus, Mary to be 
his mother too." 

Eusebius represents the general tradition on 
the subject when he says : " The three Gospels 
previously written having come into general 
circulation and also having been handed to 


John, they say that he admitted them, giving 
his testimony to their truth ; but alleging that 
there was wanting in the narration the account 
of the things done by Christ at the commence- 
ment of His ministry. And this was the 
truth ; for it is evident that the other three 
evangelists only wrote the deeds of our Lord 
for one year after the imprisonment of John 
the Baptist, and intimated this in the very 
beginning of their history. . . . One who 
understands this can no longer think that the 
Gospels are at variance with one another, in- 
asmuch as the Gospel according to John con- 
tains the first acts of Christ, while the others 
give an account of the latter part of his life." 
There is only one discordant note in the 
testimony of the early Church on this subject. 
It appears from statements made by Hippoly- 
tus in his " E/efutation of all Heresies," and 
by Epiphanius, a writer in the fourth century, 
that in the latter part of the second century 
there were some people who rejected the 
Fourth Gospel, alleging that it was the work 
of a Gnostic, Cerinthus, although, strange to 
say, Irenseus tells us that it was the very ob- 
ject of the Gospel to refute the errors of this 



(Vrinthus, a purpose which it was well fitted 
to serve by the emphasis which it laid on the 
reality of the Incarnation. Epiphanius calls 
these rejectors of the Gospel Alogi, that is, 
deniers of the " Logos " or Word (the title given 
to Christ in the prologue), though perhaps he 
also meant the expression to be taken in 
another sense, as a name for people devoid of 
reason, the same word in the singular neuter 
being applied, in modern Greek, to a beast of 

In opposition to the notion entertained by 
this obscure sect, of whom only one supporter 
can be named with any degree of probability, 
namely, Caius of Rome, we have to consider 
not only the weighty consensus of opinion above 
mentioned, but also evidence derived from still 
earlier writers, who appear to have been ac- 
quainted with the contents of the book. We 
find echoes of it in the writings of Ignatius, 
who seems to have known it almost by heart, 
and also, to some extent, in the "Didache." 
It was used by several Gnostic writers who are 
quoted by Hippolytus and Irenaeus, namely, 
Basilides (A.D. 125), Valentinus (145), and his 
friend and disciple Heracleon, who wrote 


commentary on it, from which it would appear 
to have already held an assured position in the 
Church. Eusebius tells us that Papias (c. 135), 
Bishop of Hierapolis, about eighty miles from 
Ephesus, quoted from the First Epistle of 
John as authoritative, which Polycarp also did. 
Justin Martyr (c. 155) appears in a number of 
passages to use language derived from this 
Gospel, and Tatian (c. 170) began his " Diates- 
saron," or Harmony of the Four Gospels, with 
its opening verse and drew largely from its con- 
tents. In the " Clementine Homilies," which 
are usually assigned to the latter part of the 
second century, Lagarde found fifteen quota- 
tions from this Gospel ; and, according to Ren- 
del Harris, the lately recovered "Gospel of 
Peter," which may also be dated in the second 
century, shows a considerable acquaintance 
with it. The testimony in its favour thus 
reaches back to the beginning of the second 
century, and it is therefore not surprising to 
find that in the fourth century it was included 
by Eusebius in the list of writings universally 
acknowledged to be canonical. 

One of the first to question the authority of 
the book was the clergyman of the Church of 


England already referred to in connection with 
the synoptics (p. 104). He regarded the Fourth 
Gospel as the work of a Christian Platonist of 
the second century. In 1820 a more formidable 
attack was made by Bretschneider in his "Prob- 
abilia." Since that time its genuineness and 
authenticity have been the subject of continual 
controversy. On the one side, favouring the 
traditional claims of the Gospel, but not ex- 
cluding the possibility of John's having received 
assistance in the work, we may reckon Schlei- 
ermacher, Bleek, Godet, B. Weiss, Beyschlag, 
Zahn, Barth, Feine, Jacquier, Westcott, Light- 
foot, Milligan, Dods, Salmon, Reynolds, Wat- 
kins, Sanday, Bernard, Swete, Stanton, Nicol, 
Drummond, Askwith. On the other side are 
ranged Baur, who regarded it as an ideal 
picture of the Christ, intended to meet the 
intellectual wants of the Church about 160- 
170 A.D. ; Keim, who held it to be a theological 
poem by a liberal Jewish Christian, probably 
one of the Diaspora in Asia Minor, in the 
reign of Trajan (110-117) ; Pfleiderer, who 
pronounced it "a transparent allegorization 
of religious and dogmatic conceptions," written 
somewhere between A. P. 135 and 150 ; Matthew 


Arnold, who regarded the author as a sincere 
Christian, a man of literary talent and a 
theologian, a Greek, not a fisherman of Gali- 
lee ; Thoma, who attributed the Gospel to a 
Jewish Christian of Alexandrian culture, liv- 
ing at Ephesus about 134 ; Jtilicher, who 
suggests from 100 to 125, and considers 
that the one unassailable proposition is 
that the author (100-125) was not " the 
disciple whom Jesus loved " ; Schmiedel, who 
holds that it was not written by the son 
of Zebedee, or by an eye-witness or contem- 
porary, but by a later writer, probably after 
A.D. 132, under the influence of Alexandrian 
and Gnostic ideas ; von Soden, who regards it 
as the work (A.D. 110) of a devoted adherent 
of the beloved disciple, who was the " Elder" 
of Ephesus, but not the son of Zebedee. To 
these we may add Hausrath, Scholten, Grill, 
Wernle, Wrede, Scott, Reville, Loisy, and 
others of whom some make out the author 
to have been a Gnostic, some an anti-Gnostic ; 
according to some the Gospel was a polemic 
against Judaism, according to others against a 
heretical sect named after John the Baptist : 
while some are content with the assertion 
that the author was an unknown writer of the 


second century, who composed the Gospel for 
the purpose of putting before the Church his 
view of Christ and Christianity. 

There are a considerable number of critics 
who are disposed to take a middle position, 
not admitting that the Apostle was responsible 
for the composition or publication of the 
Gospel in its present form, but believing that 
parts of it may be from his pen, or else that 
he was one of the original sources from which 
the writer derived his information, or his in- 
spiration, if that expression be preferred. 
Wendt, for example, thinks that the dis- 
courses are based on a genuine document, 
which may be classed with the two original 
sources of the Synoptics, while Wellhausen 
finds a Johannine nucleus in the narrative 
portion. 1 Kenan thought the history was prob- 
ably derived from the Apostle John through 

1 Many others (e.g. Delff, Spitta, Bousset, Schwartz) 
seek to arrive at a Grundschrift by a process of disinte- 
gration, but the view expressed even by such a radical 
critic as Schmiedel still finds general favour : " In the 
end we shall have to concur in the judgment of Strauss, 
that the Fourth Gospel is, like the seamless coat, not to be 
divided, but to be taken as it is." E. Bi. ii. 2556. 


one of his disciples. Holtzmann thinks that 
though the Apostle did not write it, the book 
may have owed much, perhaps its very exist- 
ence, to his teaching and inspiration. Harnack 
thinks all the Johannine writings were produced 
about 80-110 by John the Presbyter (see pp. 
186 ff.) with the aid of the Apostle's reminis- 
cences ; while Bousset would attribute them 
to a disciple of the Presbyter. In this cate- 
gory may also be included Schiirer, Weiz- 
sacher, Sabatier, Soltau, Dobschlitz, E. A. 
Abbott, Briggs, Moffatt, and Bacon. 

As regards the indications of the authorship 
to be found in Scripture, it is quite true that 
while the writer of the Gospel, as of the First 
Epistle, claims to have been an eye-witness of 
the Saviour's ministry, he nowhere expressly 
identifies himself with the Apostle John. But 
this is an inference which a careful reader can 
hardly fail to draw, when he observes the 
remarkable absence of John's name from the 
Gospel narrative except in connexion with the 
last meeting of the risen Christ with His 
disciples, on which occasion John and his 
brother are referred to as "the sons of 
Zebedee " (John 21 l fl ). The inference is con- 


firmed when we take into account, further, that 
on several occasions the part assigned to the 
disciple whom Jesus loved, in relation to Peter, 
is precisely such as we might have expected of 
the Apostle John. We have another sign of 
the author's identity with the Apostle in the 
fact that, although generally exact in his mode 
of designation, he always calls the Baptist 
simply " John," without any mention of his 
office, as if he knew no other John from whom 
the Baptist had to be distinguished. 

All this, as we have seen, is in harmony with 
the tradition of the Church. What, then, is 
to be said against accepting the Gospel as the 
work of the Apostle ? Space will not permit 
us to notice all the minute objections raised, 
many of which have been so successfully 
met that they are no longer advanced. We 
shall only attempt to deal with the more im- 
portant of the arguments still brought against 
the Johannine authorship. 

One of the chief objections is that the account 
which the Gospel gives of the ministry of Jesus 
differs in many respects from what is found in 
the Synoptics. It lays the scene of the ministry 
chiefly in Judaea, and extends it to a period of 


about three years, during which Jesus is repre- 
sented to have been present in Jerusalem at 
five different feasts, including two Passovers, 
whereas the Synoptics tell of only one visit to 
Jerusalem, and seem to confine the ministry 
within less than a single year. 

But in reality there is no contradiction, no 
absolute inconsistency, between the two ac- 
counts. For, on the one hand, the Fourth 
Gospel expressly recognizes two periods spent 
by Jesus and His disciples in Galilee (4 43 ^ 4 
and 6 l - 7 9 ), in addition to the short visit to 
Cana and Capernaum recorded in the second 
chapter ; while, on the other hand, the form of 
expression used by Mark (1 u RV.), when he 
states that " after that John was delivered up, 
Jesus came into Galilee," like Matthew's state- 
ment (4 12 RV.) that " when He (Jesus) heard 
that John was delivered up, He withdrew 
into Galilee," implies that He had been 
somewhere else previous to the Baptist's im- 
prisonment, which did not take place for a con- 
siderable period after His baptism. If we 
had only the Synoptics to guide us, we should 
be apt to think that the active ministry of Jesus 
did not begin till after John's imprisonment ; 


but we have here apparently one of the cases 
to which J. D. Michaelis refers, " where John 
appears in a delicate manner to have corrected 
the faults of his predecessors/' for in the 
Fourth Gospel (3 22 ' 24 ) we read, " After these 
things came Jesus and his disciples into the 
land of Judaea ; and there he tarried with 
them, and baptized. And John also was bap- 
tizing in ^Enon near to Salim, because there 
was much water there : and they came, and 
were baptized. For John was not yet cast 
into prison." At the beginning of the next 
chapter the true reason is given for departing 
again into Galilee " When therefore the Lord 
knew how that the Pharisees had heard that 
Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples 
than John (although Jesus himself baptized 
not, but his disciples), he left Judaea, and de- 
parted again into Galilee." This account of 
the ministry, as dating from the baptism of 
Jesus, not from the imprisonment of John the 
Baptist, is not only more probable in itself, 
but is more in harmony with the reference 
made to it by Peter when the apostles were 
about to appoint a successor to Judas Iscariot 
(Acts 1 - >l f< ) : " Of the men therefore which have 


companied with us all the time that the Lord 
Jesus went in and went out among us, begin- 
ning from the baptism of John, unto the day 
that he was received up from us, of these must 
one become a witness with us of his resurrec- 

That Christ's ministry should have centred 
in Judaea and Jerusalem was only to be ex- 
pected, if He had a message for the whole 
Jewish nation. Indeed, unless He had often 
taught in the capital, it would be difficult to 
understand His words of lamentation over 
Jerusalem (Luke 19 42 R.V.), when He " wept 
over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this 
day, even thou, the things which belong unto 
peace ! but now they are hid from thine eyes," 
or that other pathetic utterance recorded 
both by Matthew (23 3T ) and Luke (13 34 ), "O 
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the pro- 
phets, and stoneth them that are sent unto 
her ! how often would I have gathered thy 
children together, even as a hen gathereth 
her chickens under her wings, and ye would 
not ! " 

The same thing may be argued from other 
points of view. It was incumbent on all Jews 


to repair to Jerusalem three times a year to at- 
tend the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and 
Tabernacles, and it would have been strange 
if Jesus had never gone up before His last 
fatal visit, even if His ministry had been as 
short as the Synoptic Gospels might lead us to 
believe. There is a tendency in some quarters 
to assume that the Synoptics are to be pre- 
ferred to the Fourth Gospel where they do 
not agree with it. But when it is remembered 
that the author of the latter had the three 
others in his hands, or at all events within his 
reach, it will be seen that the reverse is the 
view which we should naturally take, especially 
having regard to the fact that tradition re- 
presents the Apostle as having written with 
the intention of supplying certain omissions 
in the other Gospels, and with the conception 
of a more orderly arrangement than Mark had 
attempted in his Gospel, the want of order 
being, as Papias tells us, a feature which 
" John " recognized in Mark's narrative, while 
he admitted it to be nevertheless quite reliable 
(cf. p. 122). 

A good many critics are now beginning to 
see that in one very important matter the 


Fourth Gospel is right and the Synoptics 
are wrong, namely, as to the date of the last 
Supper, which, according to the latter, took 
place on the evening of the Passover, but, ac- 
cording to the former, on the preceding even- 
ing (John 19 l4 ). Matthew and Mark give 
evidence unwittingly in favour of John's view 
when they represent it as part of the plot 
formed by the priests and elders that it should 
be carried out " not during the feast, lest a 
tumult arise among the people " (Matt. 26 5 
and Mark 14 2 R.V.) ; and Luke does the 
same when he reports Jesus as saying : " With 
desire I have desired to eat this passover with 
you before I suffer : for I say unto you, I will 
not eat it, until it be fulfilled in the king- 
dom of God " (22 15 f - R. V.)- The wearing of a 
sword, too, by one of the followers of Jesus 
after they had partaken of the Supper, and 
Simon of Gyrene's coming into the city from 
the country on the day of the crucifixion, con- 
firm the supposition that the Jewish Passover 
had not yet been celebrated. If the Fourth 
Gospel is right in this instance, it may also be 
right when it puts the cleansing of the temple 
at the beginning instead of the end of the 


ministry. There could have been no more 
fitting initiation of Christ's work as a messenger 
of God, even apart from the assertion of His 
claims as the Messiah ; and it seems far more 
likely that the Synoptists, having no place in 
their narrative for an earlier visit to Jerusalem, 
should have included the incident in their ac- 
count of the final conflicts in the temple, 
than that the aged apostle or any other later 
writer should have diverged so widely from 
the narrative familiar to the Church, without 
having reason to do so. 

Exception has been taken to the omission of 
our Saviour's baptism in the Fourth Gospel, 
and also to the representation which it gives 
of the Baptist's testimony to Jesus. But the 
baptism is really implied in the narrative, and 
we can understand how the testimony of the 
Baptist, which was involved in a true concep- 
tion of his office, required to be specially 
emphasized when the last Gospel was written, 
if it be true, as some hostile critics have 
suggested, that there was still in Ephesus a 
remnant of the party indicated in the Book 
of Acts (18 24ff -), who were disposed to call 
themselves disciples of the Baptist rather than 


of Christ (cf. 1 s ). In the same way fault has 
been found with the Gospel for omitting the 
institution of the Lord's Supper and for intro- 
ducing sacramental teaching in connexion with 
the feeding of the multitude (John, chap. 6). 
But there was no necessity to repeat what had 
been sufficiently recorded by the three other 
Evangelists ; and the discourse regarding the 
bread of life helps us to understand how the 
disciples could receive apparently without any 
surprise or difficulty the mysterious announce- 
ment, "This is my body." 

Still stronger exception has been taken to 
the story of the raising of Lazarus from the 
dead, on the ground that there is no mention 
of it in the Synoptics, 1 and that there is no 
room for it in their account of Christ's last 
visit to Jerusalem. But, as regards the nature 
of the miracle, the Synoptics tell us of two 
other cases in which Jesus raised the dead to 
life ; and, as to the order of events, their ac- 
count is not always to be relied on. The 

1 For example, Wernle says : " That the three Synoptists 
mention not a syllable of this greatest of all the miracles of 
Jesus, is enough, quite by itself, to destroy all faith iri th 
.Tohannine tradition," 


books are Gospels, not chronicles ; and, when 
we look at the question from a higher than a 
chronological standpoint, in the light of cause 
and effect, we can see that the alarm which 
was caused among the rulers by the public 
excitement produced by this crowning miracle, 
marked the crisis in the conflict which had 
been going on all along between the faith of 
the disciples and the unbelief of the Jews. 
This was the view taken by Schleiermacher 
more than fifty years ago : " The Johannine 
representation of the way in which the crisis 
of His fate was brought about is the only 
clear one." And again : " I take it as estab- 
lished that the Gospel of John is the narrative 
of an eye-witness and forms an organic whole. 
The first three Gospels are compilations formed 
out of various narratives which had arisen 
independently ; their discourses are composite 
structures, and their presentation of the history 
is such that one can form no idea of the 
grouping of events." 

Another thing which is a stumbling-block 
to many critics is the marked difference be- 
tween the style of our Saviour's teaching in 
the Fourth Gospel and that which is met 


with in the other three. In the Synoptics 
Christ's utterances are generally of a popular 
character, frequently taking the form of 
parables, and relating to the laws and the 
prospects of the Kingdom of Heaven, while in 
this Gospel they are largely of a theological 
nature, and take the form of arguments 
addressed to the Jewish authorities regarding 
Christ's claims. Modern critics make a good 
deal of this objection, but they have not im- 
proved much on Bretschneider, the first for- 
midable opponent of the Gospel, who wrote as 
follows nearly a hundred years ago : 

"Jesus, as pictured by the earlier Gospels, 
never employs dialectic skill, the ambiguity of 
artifice, a mystical style, whether he be speak- 
ing, preaching or disputing ; on the contrary, 
there is the utmost simplicity, clearness, a cer- 
tain 'natural eloquence which owes far more 
to the genius of the mind than to acquired art. 
In the Fourth Gospel he disputes as the 
dialectician, his speech is ambiguous, his style 
mystical, he deals in obscurities, so much so 
that even very learned people are quite in the 
dark as to the real meaning of many of his 

sayings. In the one case there are short and 



pregnant utterances, parables so beautiful and 
of such inward truth that they grip the atten- 
tion and sink deep into the soul ; in the other 
the parabolic style of teaching is practically 
absent. In the one case the question turns 
on conduct, on rules of life, the Mosaic law, 
errors of the Jewish people ; in the other the 
speaker is concerned with dogma, with meta- 
physics, with his own divine nature and dig- 
nity." With regard to the difference in the two 
portraits of Jesus, Bretschneider says : " The 
one has almost nothing to bring forward as to 
his divine nature, and judging by his utter- 
ances, will solely describe himself as endowed 
with divine gifts, sent by God, Messiah ; as 
for the other, he makes everything turn on 
himself, pre-existence is claimed, one with God 
he has shared the divine glory, he had come 
down from heaven in all the fullness of divine 
knowledge and might ; he is about to return 
speedily to the throne on high." 1 

What is to be said in answer to this ? In 
the first place, it is not to be supposed that 
Jesus would be confined to one mode of address 

1 These quotations from the Probabilia are taken from 
H. L. Jackson's work on " The Fourth Gospel ". 


or one style of argument. We might ex- 
pect Him to adapt His teaching to the wants 
and the capacities of the different classes of 
hearers, as we know He did in dealing with 
individuals. Dialectics which were suitable 
for the trained ecclesiastics of Jerusalem 
would have been quite out of place among the 
unsophisticated people of Galilee, who knew 
little of doctrinal theology. Yet nowhere in 
the Fourth Gospel does Jesus utter any more 
profound truth, or advance any higher claim, 
than He does in words recorded in the eleventh 
chapter of Matthew's Gospel, where we read : 
"At that season Jesus answered and said, 
I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and 
earth, that thou didst hide these things from 
the wise and understanding, and didst reveal 
them unto babes : yea, Father, for so it was 
welUpleasing in thy sight. All things have 
been delivered unto me of my Father : and no 
one knoweth the Son, save the Father ; neither 
doth any know the Father, save the Son, and 
he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal 
him." And again : " Come unto me, all ye that 
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest." 


If Jesus was more reticent regarding His 
Messiahship in addressing the Galilean multi- 
tude, it was doubtless because the flames of 
insurrection would have been so easily kindled 
there. But even in Judaea He did not press 
His claims as the Messiah. Many of His 
words and actions were eminently in keeping 
with that office even as conceived by the Jewish 
nation ; but He left every man to form his 
own impressions on the subject, and even His 
disciples did not realize the height of His 
calling till after He rose from the dead. At 
His first visit to Jerusalem He showed no 
desire to take people into His confidence and 
increase the number of His avowed followers, 
but rather the reverse (John 2 23 fft ). Even 
towards the close of His ministry the Jewish 
populace were so uncertain regarding the 
nature of His claims that when He was in the 
temple " the Jews came round about him, and 
said unto him, How long dost thou hold us in 
suspense ? If thou art the Christ, tell us 
plainly " (John 10 24 ). 

As regards His rebukes to the scribes and 
the chief priests and Pharisees, it should not 
be forgotten that the Synoptics attribute to 


Him a tone of still greater severity in the 
arguments and appeals which He addressed 
to the same men a few days before His cruci- 
fixion. If there had not been such previous 
encounters as the Fourth Gospel records, it 
would have been difficult to understand the 
strong and deep-seated antagonism on the part 
of the Jewish authorities, which made them so 
bent on His destruction. 

Such considerations as these may help to 
meet the difficulty created by the striking 
difference of style and treatment in the fourth 
as compared with the three earlier Gospels. 
But no explanation will be satisfactory which 
leaves out of account the personal idiosyn- 
crasies of the writer and the circumstances of 
the age whose spiritual needs his book was 
intended to meet when the Christian Church 
had completely broken with Judaism and was 
threatened with many subtle forms of error 
within its own pale. While we cannot doubt 
that the words which the Evangelist puts into 
our Lord's mouth are in essential harmony 
with what He had said, it was inevitable that, 
in giving his personal reminiscences of what 
had taken place more than fifty years before, 


and in recalling discourses of which no record 
had been preserved, the Apostle's imagination 
should come to the aid of his memory. It 
would have been strange too, if, after having 
passed through such a long and wonderful 
experience, and writing, as he was doing, in 
Ephesus, a meeting-place of Oriental mysti- 
cism and Greek philosophy, he had not seen 
in the Saviour's words deeper meanings and 
wider implications than he could ever have 
divined at the time they were uttered. 

There is a point of view not yet referred to, 
from which the surprising differences between 
the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics may 
be regarded as an evidence that the former 
had apostolic authority behind it. Otherwise 
how can we account for its gaining general 
acceptance in all parts of the world, although 
it came so much later than the other Gospels 
and set forth views of Christ's life and teaching 
so very different from those to which the 
Church had been accustomed for a generation ? 

The strength of this argument is much 
enhanced when we find that closer examination 
tends to explain away most of the apparent 


inconsistencies, and at the same time brings 
to light many confirmations of the author's 
claim to personal knowledge of the incidents 
and conversations he records. 1 The narratives 
are generally so true, in detail, to Jewish 
opinion and practice at the period referred to, 
and present traits of character, in those who 
come upon the scene, so vividly and so consist- 
ently, as to imply the possession of marvellous 
literary genius on the part of the writer, unless 
he had lived in Palestine in close association 
with our Lord and His apostles, or derived his 
information from some one who had done so. 
Though he brings before us a great variety of 
character in a variety of circumstances, and 
is generally very precise in describing time 

1 It is significant that the veteran critic, Dr. E. A. 
Abbott, in the preface to his recently published Introduc- 
tion to his work on "The Fourfold Gospel," says : " I find that 
the Fourth Gospel, in spite of its poetic nature, is closer to 
history than I had supposed. The study of it, and especi- 
ally of those passages where it intervenes to explain ex- 
pressions in Mark altered or omitted by Luke, appears to 
me to throw new light on the words, acts, and purposes of 
Christ, and to give increased weight to His claims on our 
faith and worship." 


and place and number and other particulars, 
he has not been proved guilty of a single 
anachronism. We have illustrations of his ac- 
curacy in the details given of the first calling 
of the disciples by the banks of the Jordan, of 
Christ's examination in the presence of Annas 
before His trial by Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, 
of the crucifixion, of the conversation with 
Pilate, and of the resurrection ; as well as in 
the circumstantial account given of the healing 
of the man born blind and the subsequent 
inquiry, and of the conversations v which 
our Lord held with Nathanael and with the 
woman of Samaria. Not least remarkable is 
the acquaintance the author shows with the 
state of parties in Jerusalem, and the plans and 
policy of the high court. This is not so sur- 
prising, however, if he was indeed that " other 
disciple " who accompanied Peter to the high 
priest's palace, and, being known to the high 
priest, used his influence to procure Peter's 
admission. Of this supposition we have a 
curious confirmation in the fact that it is the 
author of the Fourth Gospel only who tells 
us that the name of the high priest's ser- 
vant whose ear was cut off was Malchus, 


and that it was Peter who inflicted the 
wound. 1 

Recently a disposition has been shown by a 
number of critics to admit the claim of the 
writer to be an eye-witness, and to identify 
him with the disciple whom Jesus loved, but 
not with the Apostle John. In particular, it 
has been argued that John Mark fulfils all 
the requirements of the case. As his mother 
had a house in Jerusalem, he may be identified 
with the disciple known to the high priest 
(18 15f *), through whose influence Peter was 
admitted to the palace, as well as with the 
disciple who was entrusted by Jesus at the 
cross with the care of His mother and took 
her in that same hour to his own home (19 26f> ). 
The acceptance of this theory is quite con- 
sistent with the historicity of the book, but 
there is nothing to support it in the early life 
of John Mark so far as known to us, and it 
would leave the Apostle John and his brother 
in strange obscurity, considering the promi- 
nence assigned to them in the Synoptics, and 

1 For a fuller statement of the internal evidence the 
author may refer to his Introduction to the volume on St. 
John's Gospel in the " Century Bible." 


the intimate way in which John is associated 
with Peter not only there but also in the Book 
of Acts and in the Epistle to the Galatians. 
Similar objections may be taken to other 
theories which would identify " the disciple 
whom Jesus loved " with some other John of 
Jerusalem than the Apostle (as held by Delff, 
von Dobschiitz, Burkitt, and others). On the 
other hand, if we identify the disciple whom 
Jesus loved with the Apostle John, we get a 
harmonious picture of him, alike in relation 
to his Master and his fellow-disciples (cf. Luke 
22 8 ; John 13 23 , 20 3 , and 21). 

A more serious rival than John Mark is 
" John the Presbyter," although the only evi- 
dence for his existence is found in a passage 
in the writings of Papias, which has been pre- 
served by Eusebius. It reads as follows : " If 
I met anywhere with one who had been a fol- 
lower of the Elders, I used to inquire as to the 
discourses of the Elders what was said 
by Andrew, or by Peter, or by Philip, or by 
Thomas, or James, or by John, or Matthew, 
or any other of the Lord's disciples, and what 
Aristion and the Elder John, disciples of 
the Lord, say." From this Eusebius inferred 


that there were two Johns at Ephesus, one the 
Apostle, and the other known as John the 
Presbyter, a contemporary of Papias. This 
seems a natural interpretation of the pas- 
sage, but the only confirmation of it that 
Eusebius offers (on the authority of Dionysius 
of Alexandria, who wrote in the previous 
century) is that there were two tombs at 
Ephesus associated with the name of John, 
and that if the theory were accepted it would 
admit of a separate author being assigned to 
the Apocalypse, whose apostolic origin both 
Eusebius and Dionysius were inclined to doubt. 
This is really all the evidence that has been 
adduced for the separate existence of John the 
Presbyter (i.e. Elder). Against it is the fact 
that none of the other writers previous to 
Dionysius who were connected with Asia 
Minor (in particular Justin, Irenaeus with 
whom we may associate Polycarp and Poly- 
crates), seems ever to have heard of any leader 
of the Church in Asia Minor or elsewhere 
bearing the name of John, except the Apostle. 
In view of the fact that Justin and Irenaeus 
were well acquainted with the writings of 
Papias, we may be excused if we decline to 


accept Eusebius's novel interpretation of the 
words in question, especially as he had a liter- 
ary motive for it, as indicated above. There 
is really nothing to prevent us from identi- 
fying the " Elder John, a disciple of the Lord," 
who is referred to in the closing part of the 
statement as still alive when Papias used to 
make his inquiries, 1 with the "John" who, 
in the preceding clause, is mentioned among 
the apostles (" the Lord's disciples "), whose 
sayings had been reported to him by men of 
a former generation. This identification is the 
more probable, as the writer of II and III 
John assumes to himself the name of " the 
elder " the very title given to " John " by 
Papias at the close of his statement, whereas 
all that Peter claims for himself is that he is 
" a fellow-elder" (I Peter v. I). 2 

If "John the Presbyter" was not the Apostle, 
he must have been some one who could 
speak with authority regarding the early his- 

1 Supposed to have been made about the close of the 
first century. 

2 A careful and learned argument in support of this view 
will be found in Dom J. Chapman's " John the Presbyter " 


tory of the Church, for Papias quotes else- 
where his testimony regarding the authorship 
and composition of the Gospel of Mark. If 
the Fourth Gospel was his work, it may still 
have been a trustworthy record, and the as- 
sociation of the Apostle's name with the book 
may have been due to a popular misapprehen- 
sion. Prof. Harnack, however, is inclined to 
think that it was the result of a deliberate 
attempt to invest the Gospel with a fictitious 
authority, although he accepts the tradition 
that the Apostle spent his later years at 
Ephesus. The supposition is one that does 
little honour to the early Church and its 
leaders. Such men as Polycarp and Irenseus 
must have been poor guardians of the truth, if 
they allowed themselves and others to be de- 
ceived in a matter of such vital importance. 

Of late there has been an increasing tendency 
among negative critics to reject the tradition, 
which was widely spread before the end of 
the second century, as to the Apostle John's 
residence in Ephesus. In support of this view 
(which was first taken by Vogel in 1801 and 
adopted by Keim) they cite a statement attri- 
buted to Papias and Origen by Georgius 


Hamartolus, an obscure chronicler of the 
ninth century, to the effect that John the 
Apostle was put to death by the Jews, after 
being recalled from Patmos to Ephesus in the 
reign of Nero. Confirmation of this is alleged 
to be found in a late manuscript of an epitom- 
izer of Philip of Side, a chronicler of the fifth 
century, where it is stated that John and James 
were killed by the Jews. As regards Origen 
it is found that Georgius was mistaken, and it 
is not unlikely he misunderstood Papias also, 
who may have been referring to John the 
Baptist ; or Papias may have been misled, as 
Clemen suggests, by the prediction referred to 
below. If Papias really said that John was 
put to death by Herod at the same time as his 
brother, this is directly at variance with Acts 
(chap. 12), and also with Galatians (2 9 ) 
where John isjspoken of, at a later period, as 
one of those " who were reputed to be pillars." 
Moreover, if such a fact was recorded by 
Papias, it is strange that none of the Chris- 
tians of Asia Minor in succeeding generations 
betrays any knowledge of it. Justin Martyr 
and Irenaeus, who were well acquainted with 
the country, and Polycrates, who was Bishop 


of Ephesus c. 190, all speak with confidence of 
the Apostle's connexion with Ephesus ; and the 
same may be said of the writer of the Leucian 
Acts of John (c. 150), 1 Clement of Alexandria, 
and Eusebius. Such positive testimony is not 
to be set aside on account of the silence of 
Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and 

In all probability the story about John's 
martyrdom arose from the prevalent belief 
that Jesus had predicted a similar death for 
the two brothers, when He said to them, " Ye 
shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of ; 
and with the baptism that I am baptized withal 
shall ye be baptized" (Mark 10 38f -; cf. Matt. 
20 20 f * A. V.). Indeed we know as a matter of 
fact that from this cause several legends arose 
regarding the fate of the two brothers. 

Finally, if we wish to judge this Gospel 
fairly, we ought always to bear in mind the 
avowed purpose of the author, which is, that 
his readers may believe that Jesus is the Christ, 
the Son of God, and that believing they may 

1 Corssen and Pfleiderer regard the Gospel as designed 
to counteract the Docetic teaching of this apocryphal 


have life in His name a very different object 
from that of the Third Gospel, which is that 
the reader may know the certainty of those 
things wherein he has been instructed. The 
key to this Gospel is found in the prologue, 
where Divine revelation culminates in the in- 
carnate Word. This idea dominates the mind 
of the writer and stamps its character upon 
the whole book. Believing, as he did, in the 
continual presence of the Saviour through the 
influence of the Holy Spirit, and reflecting on 
the wonderful words and works which he still 
treasured in his memory, the last and most 
thoughtful of those who had enjoyed personal 
intercourse with Him who was God manifest 
in the flesh, was enabled to give to the sacred 
life a more spiritual interpretation than the 
earlier Evangelists had done, and has be- 
queathed to the Church a Gospel which is as 
remarkable for its simplicity of style as for 
its sublimity of thought. When John wrote, 
he beheld the ministry of Jesus with other 
eyes, he understood His words in a higher and 
fuller sense, than when he walked with Him 
over the fields of Galilee or in the streets of 


Since much that at the first, in deed and word, 

Lay simply and sufficiently exposed, 

Had grown (or else my soul was grown to match, 

Fed through such years, familiar with such light, 

Guarded and guided still to see and speak) 

Of new significance and fresh result ; 

What first were guessed as points I now knew stars, 

And named them in the Gospel I have writ. 



This Epistle has very strong external evi- 
dence in its favour, and is included by Euse- 
bius among the Homologoumena. Internally it 
presents a striking contrast, both in form and 
substance, to the Epistles of Paul ; but, on 
the other hand, in many of its features, it 
bears a resemblance to the Fourth Gospel. 
The resemblance is so close (closer, according 
to Holtzmann, than between the Third Gospel 
and the Acts) that the Epistle has been likened 
to a postscript, or a pendant, or a covering 
letter ; but perhaps it might be better de- 
scribed as a counterpart, designed to show how 
those great truths regarding God and man, 
which in the Gospel are historically illustrated 
in the person of Jesus Christ, ought to be 

realized in the lives of His followers, 



The genuineness of all the three Epistles of 
John was denied by Joseph Scaliger more than 
three hundred years ago, but the first serious 
attack on this Epistle was made by F. C. Baur, 
who rejected both it and the Gospel. Baur 
held the Epistle to be an imitation of the 
Gospel, and the majority of his followers 
attribute the two compositions to different 
authors, neither of whom they admit to be the 
Apostle John, their chief reason for rejecting 
the Epistle being that it differs so irreconcil- 
ably from the Apocalypse, which they hold to 
be genuine. A few of them accept the single 
authorship of Gospel and Epistle, and others of 
them admit that the author of the latter may 
have had a hand in the revision of the Gospel, 
when the twenty-first chapter was added. On 
the other hand, almost all critics who admit 
the apostolic authorship of the Gospel also 
accept the Epistle, and regard the differences 
which, amid all their similarity, may be 
discerned between them, as sufficient to prove 
their independence and refute Baur's theory 
of imitation. 

The ground on which the rejection of the 
Epistle is usually based is that it contains 


references to Gnostic heresies of the second 
century. But the objection is met by point- 
ing out that the Johannine authorship is 
consistent with a very late date in the first 
century, and that the passages in question 
(2 22 f -, 4 2 f> , etc.) are quite intelligible on the 
supposition that they refer to Docetic views, 
which began to be held about this time, and 
especially to the doctrinal vagaries associated 
with the name of Cerinthus, who taught that 
the Christ became united with Jesus only at 
his baptism and left him at his passion. 

Owing to the absence of a superscription 
and greeting, and of some other features usu- 
ally found in an epistle, I John has been 
described as a " catholic homily, " which might 
as fitly have been delivered to a Christian 
audience as addressed to a Church in writing. 
There is no indication to what Church or 
Churches it was to be sent, but probably it 
was more or less an encyclical intended for a 
circle of Churches in the neighbourhood of 
Ephesus, from which we may suppose it to 
have emanated. The writer frequently ad- 
dresses his readers in such terms of fatherly 
affection as would well befit the aged Apostle. 


His last words are, " Little children, keep 
yourselves from idols" (A.V.) an exhortation 
specially appropriate at Ephesus, which was a 
stronghold of idolatry. 


The nature of these two short letters (which, 
as Origen said, do not contain a hundred lines 
between them) precludes any reasonable sus- 
picion of their genuineness, as we can hardly 
conceive of any object being served by associ- 
ating them with the name of " the elder." 
Their brevity and insignificance also account 
for the scanty references to them in patristic 
literature ; and when we consider their unsuit- 
ableness for reading in church, owing to their 
private and personal nature (which makes 
them letters in the strictest sense), we cannot 
wonder at their tardy recognition in parts of 
the Church where their origin was little known. 
It is very unlikely, indeed, that they would 
ever have been preserved, if they had not been 
invested with authority from the first in the 
community or communities to which they were 


There is sufficient evidence to show that 
before the end of the second century the 
Second Epistle was known and acknowledged 
as written by the Apostle John ; but the 
Third Epistle was later in obtaining recogni- 
tion. The two are so closely related, however, 
that Jerome was justified in calling them twin 
sisters. While he admitted the common 
authorship of the First Epistle and the Fourth 
Gospel, he attributed the Second and Third 
Epistles to " John the Presbyter," whose 
separate existence in Asia Minor was believed 
in by Eusebius on the strength of the vague 
statement made by Papias (cf. pp. 186 ff.). This 
view is still taken by a considerable number 
of scholars in modern times, but it is scarcely 
likely to prevail, and the claims made for the 
mysterious presbyter must be settled in some 
other way. It is generally admitted that 
the Second Epistle resembles the First both in 
ideas and expressions, and there is so great 
a family likeness in all three that they must 
stand or fall together. 

The title of " the elder " was one which the 
writer could only fitly assume (cf. I Peter 5 x ), 
if he was the elder par excellence among the 


hundreds of elders in Asia Minor at that time ; 
and the use of it harmonizes with the quiet 
tone of authority which runs through the 
Epistles. Such a position the general tradi- 
tion of the Church, from the earliest times, has 
attributed to the Apostle John. 

There has been much controversy as to 
whether the Second Epistle is addressed to a 
Church or to an individual, and, if to an 
individual, whether we are to translate the 
designation of the recipient (e/cXe/crr/ Kvpia) 
by " the elect lady," or "the lady Eklekte," or 
"the elect Kyria." The opinion held by 
Jerome that a Church was referred to under 
the figure of a lady and her children has been 
recently gaining ground among all classes of 
critics. Such a metaphor need not surprise 
us when employed by a writer so fond of 
symbolism as the author of the Fourth Gospel, 
and it gives more dignity to the sentiments 
and language of the Epistle. In particular it 
suits better the closing message sent by "the 
elder": "The children of thine elect sister 
salute thee " language which is intelligible 
and natural when the message comes from the 
members of a Church, but would be strangely 


defective if the greeting came merely from the 
sister's children and not from herself. 

Probably the local destination of the two 
letters was the same, II John being the previous 
(or possibly the accompanying) communication 
referred to in III John v. 9. The object of the 
letters, however, was somewhat different, the 
former being directed against heresy, while 
the latter relates rather to the evils of schism. 
Both illustrate the difficulties encountered by 
those who were responsible for the govern- 
ment and administration of the Church at that 
early period of her history. 

There is no means of determining the date 
of the Epistles, or discovering who were their 
recipients, beyond inferring that they were 
composed in the last quarter of the first cen- 
tury, and that they were in all probability 
intended for Christians in Asia Minor. 


A few words still remain to be said with re- 
gard to " The Revelation," otherwise called the 
Apocalypse (the Unveiling). It is a book whose 
origin, authorship, and interpretation have been 
the subject of infinite controversy, beginning 


in the second century and culminating in the 
voluminous literature which has appeared on 
the subject during the last hundred years. 

The Apocalypse shared the fate of the Fourth 
Gospel in being attributed by a heretical sect 
in the latter half of the second century to Cer- 
inthus, the chief Gnostic antagonist of the 
Apostle John : but otherwise it held a secure 
position in the Church, and is strongly attested 
from an early period in the second century. 
The first serious attack upon the Johannine 
authorship was made in the third century 
by Dionysius of Alexandria, who was chiefly 
influenced by the marked difference between 
the barbarous Greek of the Apocalypse and 
the more correct grammar and better style of 
the Gospel an argument which has also led 
not a few modern critics to conclude that 
both could not have been written by the same 
author. 1 Dionysius thought the Apocalypse 
might be the work, not of John Mark (though 
he" mentions him in this connexion), but of a 
John of Ephesus other than the Apostle, there 

l lu this question, however, the Hebraic features of 
the Gospel, both in style and otherwise, must not be over- 


being two tombs of John shown, as he says, 
in that city. This view was favoured by 
Eusebius and by the Eastern Church generally, 
which was slow to admit the book into the 
Canon. In the West, on the contrary, its 
canonicity was hardly ever disputed till the 
Reformation, when it was looked upon with 
suspicion by Luther and Zwingli and some of 
their followers, but its ecclesiastical authority 
remained unimpaired. During the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries it was subjected to 
increasing criticism. 

In the middle of last century the prevailing 
opinion among German critics was that John 
the Presbyter, not John the Apostle, was the 
author of the work, and this view is still held 
by many scholars, including some of the most 
eminent English critics. On the other hand, 
Baur and his immediate followers maintained 
the apostolic authorship and dated the publi- 
cation of the work about A.D. 70. A number 
of recent writers regard the use of the name 
John in the opening of the book as a case 
of pseudonymity, which was a common thing 
in apocalyptic literature, and hold the epistles 
to the seven Churches, with which the book 


commences, to be a separate composition. 
Zahn, on the other hand, attributes the whole 
book to the Apostle, as Sir William Ramsay 
also does. Briggs takes a similar view as re- 
gards the epistles and a considerable part of 
the remainder of the book, while Spitta be- 
lieves it to be partly based on a Christian 
apocalypse written about A.D. 60 by John 
Mark, to whom Hitzig attributed the whole 

Dr. Swete is so impressed with the lin- 
guistic difference between the Gospel and the 
Apocalypse that he holds it to be " due to 
personal character rather than to relative 
familiarity with Greek," the latter being an 
explanation which commended itself to many, 
when it was supposed there had been an in- 
terval of twenty or thirty years between the 
composition of the two books. But Harnack, 
on the strength of the deep, underlying simi- 
larity of their thought, holds the two books to 
have had the same author, whom he identifies 
with John the Presbyter, while Ramsay and 
Feine, on the same principle, attribute both 
to the Apostle. In this connexion we have to 
bear in mind the part that may have been 


taken by amanuenses, as well as the peculiar- 
ities of apocalyptic literature and the position 
of a convict in Patmos. 

The question of literary sources, and of re- 
visions or interpolations, has of late received 
much greater attention than that of the 
personal authorship. In the investigations 
and discussions which have been going on for 
the last thirty years, various theories of com- 
position have been advanced by Weizsacker, 
Volter, Vischer, Spitta, J. Weiss, Wellhausen, 
Gunkel, Bousset, and others. An important 
point, suggested by Gunkel and admitted by 
Bousset, is the likelihood of many elements in 
the book having come from ancient Jewish 
sources through a succession of traditions de- 
rived from Babylonian. Persian, or Egyptian 
sources. 1 The composite nature of the book 
may be inferred from the fact that some 
passages (especially chapter 11) appear to have 
been written while Jerusalem was still stand- 
ing, while others imply that the period of tbe 

1 In chapter 12. Gunkel finds a reflection of the birth 
of Marduk, and Bousset of that of Horus ; while Dieterich 
thinks he can trace in it a reminiscence of the birth of 


compulsory worship of Caesar had set in 
(13 14 f- , etc.) ; as well as from the symptoms, in 
some passages, of Jewish exclusiveness, and, in 
others, of a broad missionary outlook (7 4 " 9 ). 
That the book in its present form has a literary 
unity about it cannot be denied ; l but it seems 
equally certain that its author made use of 
some earlier source or sources, Jewish or 
Christian, though, when it comes to details, 
the critics are as hopelessly at variance on this 
question as with respect to the authorship. 

With regard to its interpretation, the moderns 
have the credit of being the first to realize that 
the key to its meaning is, partly at least, to be 
found in contemporary events, and that its 
relation to the Book of Daniel, as well as to 
other apocalyptic literature which has recently 
come to light, must not be left out of sight. 
As to its occasion and date, it is now generally 
agreed that in its present form it appeared, as 
Iremeus informs us, towards the close of 

1 Jiilicher says : " The uniformity of the book in lan- 
guage, style, and tone must not be forgotten, and especially 
the fact that the general plan introduction, seven epistles, 
three cycles of seven visions, Kingdom of the Messiah on 
earth, end of the world, New Jerusalem, and finally the 
literarj 7 conclusion is perfectly straightforward." 


the reign of Domitian, say A.D. 95, when the 
persecution of the Christians had become so 
much a matter of public policy that it would 
have been dangerous for them to speak plainly 
in matters affecting their relation to the State. 
It is also agreed that the great theme of the 
book is the heroic stand the members of the 
Church were called upon to make against the 
worship of the Emperor, which was then being 
enforced by the Roman authorities, especially 
in Asia Minor. It hardly admits of doubt that 
the first beast rising out of the abyss is to be 
identified with Nero, the " number of the 
beast " (666) corresponding to his official de- 
signation in Greek, and that the second beast 
represents the provincial priesthood of Asia 
Minor, while the seven heads and the ten horns 
symbolize the power of the Roman Empire 
looked at from different points of view. The 
healing of the wounded head of the beast is to 
be understood with reference to the expected 
return from the underworld of Nero, as the 
protagonist of evil, to wage war with Christ at 
His second coming. 

The Chiliastic, or literal and sensuous view 
of the Thousand Years (20 - f ), which was 


held by Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hip- 
polytus, and others, has given place to a more 
spiritual interpretation, which leaves room for 
many symbolic applications of the visions 
and prophecies contained in the book, and 
recognizes its fitness in all generations to 
sustain the faith and courage of Christians 
in times of danger and distress. As a modern 
critic, who has departed widely from the tra- 
ditional view of its authorship, has said : " The 
book has its imperishable religious worth, 
because of the energy of faith that finds ex- 
pression in it and the splendid certainty of its 
conviction that God's cause remains always 
the best and is one with the cause of Jesus 




IT is from this book that we derive our chief 
knowledge of the early history of the Church. 
Probably no historical work has ever been 
subjected to so severe examination from every 
point of view ; but, generally speaking, the more 
thoroughly it has been tested, where a test 
could be applied, the more firmly has its 
character been established as a faithful and 
reliable account of the early history of the 
Church, from the pen of a contemporary 

Thex identity of its authorship with that of 
the Third Gospel is admitted with practical 
unanimity. It is implied in the opening state- 
ment addressed to Theophilus, to whom " the 
former treatise " had been dedicated, and it is 

borne out by the general similarity in style and 



character between the two books. Who the 
author was, is another question. According 
to the unanimous tradition of the Church he 
was Luke, " the beloved physician," Paul's 
travelling companion, who was with him during 
his imprisonment at Rome (Col. 4 u , Philemon 
v. 24). Even among negative critics there are 
very few who deny that Luke had a hand in the 
composition of the two books ; and as regards 
Acts the only question is whether the whole 
narrative or only part of it came from his pen. 
Numberless theories have been proposed by 
those who cannot believe that the whole book 
was the work of Luke. These theories all rest 
on the fact that in certain sections 1 of the 
book the writer employs the first person plural, 
as if to indicate that he had been an eye-wit- 
ness of what he records, whereas in the rest of 
the book the ordinary style of a historian is 
adopted. There are indeed a few critics who 
would deny to Luke even the authorship of 
this travel-diary, as it has been called, some of 
them ascribing it to Titus, though there is no 
evidence of his having accompanied Paul to 
Rome or of his ever having been there at all ; 
1 Acts 16 10 - 17 ; 20 5 - 21 18 ; 27 l - 28 l6 . 


others to Timothy, though he is mentioned in 
chap. 20 4 f< in such a way as to imply that 
he was not the writer ; others to Silas (Sil- 
vanus), though he also is mentioned in' the 
diary, by name, a few verses after the writer 
has made use of the first person plural (16 19 ). 
Among the critics who admit Luke's con- 
nexion with part of the narrative, there are a 
considerable number who hold that the book 
as a whole is a work of the second century. 1 
This was the view generally maintained 
by the Tubingen school, who attributed the 
composition to a Pauline Christian, de- 
sirous to promote the interests of cathol- 
icity by harmonizing the Petrine and 
Pauline elements in the Church of the 
second century. It is now generally acknow- 
ledged, however, that the doctrinal differ- 
ences in the Apostolic Church were greatly 
exaggerated by Baur and his followers, and 
that the policy of reconciliation had less to 

1 E.g. Schwegler, Overbeck, Keim, Hausrath, David- 
son, Pfleiderer, and Schmiedel. Yet, if the dedication be 
genuine (1 1 ; cf . Luke 1 IA ), the " We " passages, as they 
are called, which imply that the writer was a contemporary 
of Paul, would have put a second-century author in an 
awkward position. 



do with the production of the New Testament 
books than they imagined. In the case of this 
book in particular, Baur's theory has been 
discredited by the most recent criticism, which 
finds it to be comparatively free from doctrinal 
bias and pronounces it to be generally trust- 

It is true that the miracles, which enter so 
largely into the narrative, are still a stumbling- 
block to many critics, and predispose them to 
disparage the historical character of the book. 
For this purpose some of them try to reduce 
Luke's share in it to a minimum, and attribute 
the book in its present form to a redactor of 
the second century. The arguments for putting 
this construction on it are of a very conjectural 
and precarious nature. The chief reason al- 
leged is that it betrays the influence of Josephus, 
who wrote near the end of the first century. 
But this alleged dependence is so uncertain 
that it is denied by many of the most eminent 
critics both in this country and in Germany, 
such as Keuss, Schiirer, Zahn, Harnack, 1 

1 Harnack says : " Schiirer sums up as follows : Either 
St. Luke had not read Josephus, or, if he had read him, 


Bousset, Wellhausen, Salmon, Sanday, and 
Plummer, while on the other side are ranged 
Krenkel, Holtzmann, Schmiedel, Wendt, and 
Burkitt. That there should be some coinci- 
dences between two historians belonging to 
the same century and dealing with the same or 
similar topics, is not surprising. But how un- 
safe it is to argue from such a phenomenon is 
evident from the fact that nowhere is the 
resemblance more noticeable than in the ac- 
count of Paul's voyage and shipwreck, which 
was certainly written long before the auto- 
biography of Josephus, where we have an ac- 
count of a similar experience. 

Critics have fastened on one passage in 
particular, not included in the travel- document, 
which appears to them to show unmistakable 
signs of being derived from Josephus, namely 
Acts 5 36 f \ There Luke refers first to Theudas, 
and afterwards to Judas of Galilee, as hav- 
ing stirred up the Jews against the Roman 
power by appeals to their Messianic hopes. 
What seems to be a parallel passage is found 
in the twentieth book of Josephus's " Anti- 
he had forgotten what he had read. Schiirer here exactly 
hits the mark." 


quities," where the names of Theudas and 
Judas the Gaulonite are also introduced, 
with an interval of a few verses between them. 
But if the writer in Acts got his information 
from this passage, he must have read it with a 
carelessness very unlike his usual habits. For 
Josephus states plainly when the risings under 
these two leaders took place ; the one under 
Theudas, though mentioned first, being much 
later in time than that under Judas the Gaul- 
onite, and being some years subsequent to the 
speech of Gamaliel in which the risings in ques- 
tion are referred to. Such carelessness would 
be all the more surprising as the writer in Acts 
states the number of men who joined themselves 
to Theudas, namely, about four hundred, a detail 
not mentioned by Josephus, and gives quite a 
different account of the insurrection from that 
of Josephus. In these circumstances, the most 
reasonable inference seems to be that there had 
been two men bearing the name of Theudas 
(quite a common name among the Jews), who 
had at different times headed a revolt, though 
it is also quite conceivable that Luke had 
received an imperfect report of Gamaliel's 


There is a passage in the Gospel which is 
also alleged to show the influence of Josephus, 
namely, Luke 3 \ where Lysanias is mentioned 
as the tetrarch of Abilene. It seems to be cer- 
tain that at the time in question Lysanias 
was dead, and, as Josephus (XX, chap. 7) refers 
to Abilene as belonging to the tetrarchy of 
Lysanias, it is held that this reference has 
been the cause of the mistake in the Book of 
Acts. But Sir William Ramsay has shown that 
this is not a safe inference, as the tetrarchy 
might still be called by the name of Lysanias 
even after his death. 

In this connexion it is worth noting, as 
telling, so far, against the supposition of depen- 
dence on Josephus in these two passages, that 
there is every reason to regard the descrip- 
tion of the death of Herod in Acts (12 21 ff> ) as 
independent of the account of it given by 
Josephus (XIX, 8 2 ). 

Another great argument against the Lucan 
authorship is derived from an alleged incon- 
sistency between Paul's relation to the Jewish 
law in his Epistles and the more favourable 
attitude attributed to him in Acts. Objection 
is specially taken to the apparent want of 


harmony between the account of his visit 
to Jerusalem in the fifteenth chapter of Acts 
and the allusion to it in the second chapter of 
Galatians. Ramsay meets the difficulty by 
identifying the visit in Galatians with that 
referred to in the eleventh chapter of Acts, 
while other critics find a sufficient explanation 
in the fact that in Acts it is the public aspect 
of the matter that is chiefly dealt with, whereas 
in Galatians the Apostle is looking at it from 
a private and personal point of view. Har- 
nack also suggests that the inconsistency to 
a great extent disappears if we adopt the 
Western reading in the apostolic decree (Acts 
15 20> 29 ), which omits the reference to " things 
strangled," so that the prohibition would in- 
clude only offences against the moral law, 
namely, idolatry, murder (" blood "), and forni- 
cation, all which Paul would be as ready to 
condemn as any of the other apostles. But 
this view has not met with much acceptance. 

There are other passages which are said to 
show the Apostle's character in a false and 
unworthy light (especially 21 20ff -, 23 6 , and 26 6 ). 
But we would require to have a fuller know- 
ledge of the circumstances in order to judge 


of Paul's conduct, and we may maintain the 
genuineness of the book without claiming in- 
fallibility for its writer or perfection for the 

Against all such problematic objections to 
the Lucan authorship we have a great amount 
of positive evidence in its favour. 

In the first place, as regards external 
evidence, there is no trace of its genuineness 
ever having been challenged in any age or 
country until the rise of modern criticism in 
last century. It is not so frequently quoted by 
early Christian writers as the Third Gospel, 
and it seems to have taken longer to come 
into general use, but that is only what might 
have been expected, considering the nature of 
its contents ; and the fact is of little conse- 
quence if it be admitted that the two books 
have a common author, the evidence in their 
favour having then a cumulative force. In the 
case of Acts we find traces of its language in 
Clement of Home, in the Didache, in Ignatius, 
in Polycarp ; and what is particularly signi- 
ficant is that the apparent quotations are 
taken from other parts of the book than those 
in the travel-document of which we have 


spoken. It also appears to have been used 
by Justin Martyr (A.D. 155) and Tatian (170) ; 
and it has a place in the two earliest versions. 
But the internal evidence is still more 
weighty and convincing. A careful analysis 
of its language has shown that there are 
seventeen words and phrases scattered through- 
out the book that are found nowhere else in 
the New Testament, and there are fifty-eight 
words common to the Third Gospel and Acts 
that are also found nowhere else in the New 
Testament. Compared with its relation to the 
two other Synoptics, Acts is found to have 
much more in common with the Third Gospel, 
as might have been expected if these two 
books had the same author. After giving 
figures to illustrate their verbal relations, Sir 
John Hawkins asks : " Is it not utterly im- 
probable that the language of the original 
writer of the ' We '-Sections should have 
chanced to have so very many more correspon- 
dences with the language of the subsequent 
compiler than with that of Matthew or Mark ? " 
(" Horse Synoptics," p. 185). 

To this we may add that while there is no 
trace of any artificial dove-tailing of the diary 


sections into other parts of the book, there 
are cross-references here and there which be- 
token a unity of plan and composition. For 
example, in 6 5 , Philip is introduced to us as 
one of the seven men chosen to look after 
the poor in Jerusalem ; then at 8 40 he is re- 
presented as " preaching the gospel in all the 
cities till he came to Csesarea " ; and then at 
21 8 , after the arrival of Paul and his party at 
Caesarea, the historian says : " and entering 
into the house of Philip the evangelist, who 
was one of the seven, we abode with him." 

Another strong argument for the unity and 
the genuineness of Acts is afforded by the 
medical language which occurs in all parts of 
the book and also in the Third Gospel. This 
feature was observed long ago by Wetstein and 
Bengel, but it was reserved for Dr. Hobart in 
his work on the " Medical Language of St. 
Luke " to exhibit the evidence in its full 
strength. The force of the argument is now 
generally acknowledged both by British and 
Continental writers, but it has not prevented 
Dr. McGiffert from suggesting that the writer 
may have been some other Luke than the com- 
panion of Paul ! 


Perhaps the most convincing of all the 
arguments in favour of the traditional view is 
to be found in the accuracy of the political 
and topographical allusions occurring in all 
parts of the book, and in the entire absence of 
any such second-century colouring as we find 
in the "Acts of Paul and Thecla" and the 
"Clementine Homilies." We are largely in- 
debted to Sir William Ramsay for this kind of 
evidence, which is absolute and objective as 
compared with the hypothetical and subjective 
nature of the arguments generally brought 
against the genuineness and authenticity of 
the book. The correctness of the titles ap- 
plied to the various rulers who come upon 
the scene the title of " proconsul " to Sergius 
Paulus of Cyprus and Gallio of Corinth 
(13 7 ; 18 12 ) ; that of " praetors " to the magis- 
trates of Philippi (16 20 ff -) ; of " politarchs " 
to those of Thessalonica (17 6 ) ; and of 
" chief man " to the governor of Malta (28 7 ) 
no less than the precision with which Lystra 
and Derbe (but not Iconium) are described as 
" cities of Lycaonia " (14 6 ), all testify to the 
character of the writer as a careful historian, 
and betoken an acquaintance with the state 


of things at the time referred to, which a 
second-century writer would have been very 
unlikely to possess. 

In the account of Paul's voyage and ship- 
wreck we have a remarkable illustration of 
the writer's accuracy. For the discovery of 
this evidence we are largely indebted to the 
investigations of a Glasgow citizen, of last 
century, James Smith, of Jordanhill, whose 
" Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul " is an 
acknowledged authority on the subject. Dr. 
Breusing, Director of the " Seefahrtschule," 
Bremen, endorses Mr. Smith's testimony when 
he says : " The most valuable nautical docu- 
ment of antiquity which has come down to us 
is the account of the voyage and shipwreck of 
the Apostle Paul. Every one can see at a 
glance that it could only have been composed 
by an eye-witness." 

It has often been pointed out that in Acts 
there is no sign of acquaintance with any of 
the Epistles of Paul, and this fact has some- 
times been supposed to be prejudicial to the 
claims of the former or the latter, as the case 
may be. But rightly viewed it is favourable to 
the genuineness of Acts. For we know that 


towards the end of the first century the Epistles 
of Paul, or some of them at least, were so 
well known and so highly prized by the 
Christian world that any one wishing to give 
an account of the life and labours of the 
Apostle would have been sure to consult 
them and to betray his acquaintance with 
them. But, if Acts was written, at a com- 
paratively early period, by a man who had 
become acquainted with the facts through 
long and intimate association with Paul, we 
can understand how there should be no 
reference to the Epistles in his narrative. 
Yet we find that there is a certain similarity 
of thought and diction between the history 
and the letters, such as we might have ex- 
pected from the sympathy and fellowship 
between the two writers ; and in the " unde- 
signed coincidences," set forth by Paley in his 
" Horae Paulinas," we have a proof that the 
author of Acts had a thorough knowledge of 
Paul's movements and circumstances. He is 
scarcely less faithful and successful in the 
account he gives of the part played by Peter 
and Stephen, who represent the types of 
Christian thought which prevailed before the 


doctrinal aspects of the Gospel had been so 
clearly recognized as they are in Paul's writings. 
His indication, too, of the change which the re- 
surrection of Jesus made on the attitude of the 
Pharisees and the Sadducees towards His cause, 
is another token of his fidelity and independence. 
If there be still many things in the narrative 
which we are unable to verify, we are war- 
ranted in trusting the author in such cases, 
both on account of his acknowledged merit as 
a historian and because he had excellent 
opportunities of getting information at first 
hand, not only from the Apostle Paul (who 
seems to have been very communicative regard- 
ing his personal experiences II Cor. 1 8 ' 10 ; 12 1 ' 9 ; 
Gal. 1 and 2 ; Phil. 3 4 ff> ), but from many others 
who took part in the events which he records. 
Such were John Mark (to whom Acts 12 may 
have been largely due ; cf . Col. 4 10 and Philemon 
v. 24) ; Barnabas (Acts 4 30 ) ; Philip the evangel- 
ist (Acts 21 8 ff ) ; Mnason (Acts 21 lfi ) ; Silas 
(Acts 15 * 2 ; 16 l9 ff -) ; Manaen, the foster-brother 
of Herod the tetrarch (Acts 13 l ) ; and James 
the Lord's brother (Acts 15 13 ; 21 18 ) with all 
of whom Luke had been brought into personal 


It has been suggested that the author of 
Acts had the benefit of other documents ; and 
this may not improbably have been the case, 
as regards the early part of the narrative. 
But there is no reason to doubt that Luke was 
the author of the book as a whole. The minute 
schemes of partition and redaction associated 
with the names of Van Manen, Sorof, Spitta, 
Hilgenfeld, J. Weiss, C. Clemen, and Jiingst 
have met with little acceptance. In these 
speculations the Tubingen theory lias been 
reversed, for according to Baur the Book of 
Acts derived its motive from the second cen- 
tury, whereas according to the newer critics 
its value lies in the early fragments which 
have been pieced together by an unskilful 
redactor. The more elaborate the theories of 
compilation are, the greater demand they 
make on our credulity, and it is no wonder 
that the two critics who have gone farthest 
in this direction are found accusing each other 
of excessive ingenuity. 

Whatever the author's sources may have 
been, whether written or oral, he had evidently 
throughout the whole book a clear and con- 
sistent view of the gradual development of the 


Church's life under the influence of Christ's 
Spirit and the guidance of His providence. 
To trace this course of development, and at 
the same time to exhibit, in as favourable a 
light as the truth would permit, the relations 
of the Church to the Jewish religion on the 
one hand and the imperial power of Rome on 
the other, was the main object of the book. 
The historical perspective is well preserved 
throughout, and alike in the narration of 
incidents concerning those who are otherwise 
known to us, and in the report of their speeches, 
there is a high degree of verisimilitude. 

With regard to the date of composition, 
there is still considerable divergence of view 
among those who accept the Lucan authorship, 
chiefly owing to difference of opinion about 
the date of the Third Gospel, which was 
written before Acts, as the preface to the latter 
implies. Harnack has recently declared that 
he sees no reason to believe that the Gospel 
was written after A.D. 70, and he has come to 
the conclusion that Acts was written at the 
close of Paul's two years' imprisonment at 
Rome. Those who date the Gospel after the 
destruction of Jerusalem generally assign to 


Acts a date somewhere between 72 and 81 
(e.g. Meyer, B. Weiss, Ramsay, Headlam), and 
some are disposed to believe that Luke had in 
view the preparation of a third "treatise" 
for the completion of his subject. But in 
reality there is no want of finish in the con- 
cluding portion of Acts if it marks the close 
of Paul's imprisonment as the result of his 
acquittal. On the other hand, if he had 
been condemned and had suffered martyrdom 
(which was very unlikely to be the case, judg- 
ing from the opinions expressed by Festus 
and Agrippa (Acts 25 f.)), Luke's silence 
would have been very disappointing, and un- 
worthy of his character as a historian. As to 
the date of publication, it seems very improb- 
able that, if he had his travel-document in his 
possession when he arrived at Rome, and had 
acquired other materials during Paul's im- 
prisonment at Caesarea and at other times after 
joining Paul's company, he should have allowed 
many years to pass before the publication of 
his book. (Cf. pp. 291 ffi). 

Those who hold Luke to be the author, but 
feel constrained to admit his dependence oh 
Josephus (e.g. Peake), fix on a date a few 


years after the publication of Josephus's 
"Antiquities " (A.D. 93). Those who reject the 
Lucan authorship generally choose a date 
somewhere between 100 and 150. 

The main question is as to the historical 
value of the book, and on this point we may 
quote, in conclusion, the words of two eminent 
critics who have done more to influence opinion 
on this subject than any other writers in recent 
times. Prof. Harnack, in spite of his prejudice 
against the book on account of the prominence 
it gives to the miraculous, says : " Judged 
from almost every possible standpoint of 
historical criticism, it is a solid, respectable, 
and in many respects extraordinary work ; 
and its author's courage is also extraordinary 
the courage with which he approaches 
the task of describing the complicated history 
of a religious movement still in process of 
most active development." Sir William Ram- 
say, who began his inquiry, as he tells us, 
11 with the fixed idea that the work was essen- 
tially a second century composition," says : 
"Acts was written by a great historian, a 
writer who set himself to record the facts as 

they occurred, a strong partisan, indeed, but 



raised above partiality by his perfect confidence 
that he had only to describe the facts as they 
occurred, in order to make the truth of Chris- 
tianity and the honour of Paul apparent." 


There is reason to believe that all the thirteen 
letters in the New Testament which purport to 
be written by Paul, with the exception of the 
Pastoral Epistles (I and II Timothy and Titus), 
were accepted by the Church of the first cen- 
tury as genuine writings of the Apostle. It is 
certain that the ten Epistles in question were 
included in the collection of writings accepted, 
under the name of " Apostolicon," by the 
Gnostic leader Marcion (about A.D. 140). 
While he held nearly all of them to have 
suffered from interpolation in the interests of 
Judaism, he never raised a doubt, so far as we 
are aware, of their being substantially the work 
of Paul. That they were also accepted by his 
contemporaries may be inferred from the 
secure position which they occupied in the 
general estimation of the Church thirty or 
forty years later, when we find them all in- 
cluded in the Muratorian Canon as Scriptures 


read at public worship. It is incredible that 
they could have owed this position to the 
favour of such a notorious heretic as Marcion, 
the " first-born son of Satan," who seceded 
from the Church in Rome, and set up an or- 
ganization of his own. 

If we may assume that these Epistles were 
generally acknowledged to be Paul's about 
A.D. 140, we have only to compare them with 
the writings of the Apostolic Fathers (from 
A.D. 95 onwards), as well as with the pseud- 
epigraphic writings of the same period, to be 
satisfied that they could not have been the 
productions of a post-apostolic writer who 
had recourse to forgery in order to get a 
favourable hearing from his contemporaries. 
Carrying our thoughts back to a still earlier 
period, when original members of the Churches 
to which the Epistles were addressed were 
still alive, we can realize how extremely diffi- 
cult it would have been to palm off upon 
these Churches, as letters of Paul, writings of 
which they had never heard before, containing 
numerous greetings and other personal refer- 
ences, in which any mistake would have been 
readily detected and been much commented on. 


We know that several spurious writings were 
put forth in Paul's name long after he was 
dead, but they never obtained currency in the 
communities to which they were addressed, any 
acceptance which they met with being confined 
to places far distant from their avowed des- 
tination. This was the case with the Epistles 
to the Laodiceans and the Alexandrians, and 
the Third Epistle to the Corinthians. 

As regards those Pauline Epistles which 
were contained in Marcion's "Apostolicon " and 
found their way into the Canon, any difference 
in the reception which they met with for a 
time in different parts of the Church was due 
not so much to the results of critical investiga- 
tion as to local interest or doctrinal predilec- 
tion, an epistle being held in less esteem where 
it was little known or where its teaching was 
unpalatable. Marcion professed to subject all 
of them to critical examination, but he was 
obsessed with the idea of an irreconcilable 
antagonism between the Jewish and the Chris- 
tian religion, and the only result of his labours 
was to cut out what seemed to him to be in- 
terpolations a kind of criticism which has 
frequently reappeared in modern times and 


to insert a few words here and there, usually 
borrowed from some other Epistle, for the 
purpose of bringing the passage into harmony 
with his own conception of Paul's teaching. 
While the text current in Marcion's time 
cannot be said to have been altogether free 
from corruption, yet the fact that the writings 
of an apostle were as a rule highly prized by 
the Churches to which they were addressed, 
and were frequently communicated to other 
Churches, long before any steps were taken to 
collect them into one volume, renders it ex- 
tremely improbable that in the course of their 
history they should have suffered so many 
serious alterations as Marcion supposed to have 
taken place. 


Though it was not till 1792 that any doubts 
were raised as to the substantial genuineness 
of the Epistles attributed to Paul, a few years 
before (1786) J. S. Semler suggested that the 
Epistles had been preserved, not in the form 
in which they were originally written, but as 
they were adapted for reading in church, and 
the same writer had anticipated modern critics 
by his theories of interpolation in the case of 
Romans 15, 16, and II Corinthians 9 and 12, 13. 


The first to call any of the Epistles seriously 
in question was Evanson, in his work on the 
Gospels already mentioned (p. 104), in which he 
rejected Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, 
and threw doubt on Titus, Philippians, and 
Philemon. He was answered in England 
by Joseph Priestley (1792-3) and a Bampton 
Lecturer (T. Falconer, 1810), but the con- 
troversy on the subject was mainly carried on 
in Germany. For many years adverse criticism 
was confined to the Pastoral Epistles, I and II 
Thessalonians, and Ephesians, led by J. E. C. 
Schmidt (1798), Eichhorn (1804), Schleier- 
macher (1807), Usteri (a Swiss theologian, 
1824), de Wette (1826), F. C. Baur (1835), and 
Kern (1839). 

In 1845 Baur published his epoch-making 
"Paulus," in which he aimed at a scientific 
treatment of the literary and historical quest- 
ions involved in the Acts of the Apostles and 
the Pauline Epistles. Viewing the develop- 
ment of the early Catholic Church from a 
Hegelian standpoint, as the product of conflict- 
ing forces represented by a Petrine or Jewish- 
Christian party and a Pauline or Gentile- 
Christian party, Baur arrived at the conclusion 


that the only certainly genuine Epistles of 
Paul were Galatians, I and II Corinthians, and 
Romans, which seemed to bear the most dis- 
tinct traces of the supposed antagonism. He 
based his acceptance of them, however, on 
somewhat different grounds when he said : 
" They bear on themselves so incontestably 
the character of Pauline originality that it is 
not possible for critical doubt to be exercised 
upon them with any show of reason." The 
rest of the Epistles attributed to Paul he re- 
garded as second-century productions of the 
Pauline school, designed to reconcile antagon- 
istic forces, and to promote the unity of the 
Church in opposition to Gnosticism, which 
threatened its very existence. 

A few years later, Bruno Bauer, an anti- 
supernaturalist, published his " Kritik der 
Paulinischen Briefe" (1850-2), in which he 
pronounced all the Pauline Epistles to be, 
without exception, fabrications of the second 
century (somewhere between A.D. 130 and 170), 
their teaching being, in his opinion, for the 
most part a creation of the Greek mind. 
Bauer's views were repudiated by the Tubingen 
school and made little impression at the time. 


But what is virtually the same position has 
been recently adopted by the radical school of 
Dutch critics, 1 who claim to be the true suc- 
cessors to F. C. Baur, carrying out his principles 
to their logical and ultimate consequences. 
They reduce the external evidence to a mini- 
mum, rejecting the Ignatian Epistles and bring- 
ing Clement of Rome down from A.D. 95 to the 
middle of the second century. 

But the general current of opinion during the 
last forty years has run in an opposite direction. 
Even apart from the external evidence, it has 
been felt that, in several of the Epistles re- 
jected by Baur, the personality of the writer 
is too strong and vivid, and too true to apostolic 
times, to have been a creation of the second 
century ; and, in consequence, there has been a 
tendency to accept I Thessalonians, Philip- 
pians, Colossians, Philemon, and, in some 
quarters, even II Thessalonians and Ephesians, 
and the Pastoral Epistles themselves, in addi- 
tion to those acknowledged by Baur. This 

1 Represented by Pierson, Naber, Loman, Volter, van 
Manen, and (in a modified form) by Steck of Berne. Prom- 
inent among their opponents in Holland were J. H: 
Scholten (1882) and Baljon (1899), and, in Germany, 
Heinrici (1886) and M. Bruckner (1890). 


tendency has been most apparent in Great 
Britain, where sympathy with the negative 
views of the Tubingen school has been con- 
fined to a small number of writers, represented 
by S. Davidson and the author of " Super- 
natural Religion." But even in Germany the 
traditional views have been maintained by 
some critics of the first rank, such as Th. Zahn 
and B. Weiss, and in France by Godet, while 
the prevailing tendency in both these countries 
has been to qualify the negations of Baur, 1 
which are unreservedly accepted by hardly 
any of those who inherited the traditions of his 



Proceeding now to the consideration of in- 
dividual Epistles, we shall begin with I and II 
Thessalonians, as being probably the earliest 
extant Epistles of Paul, though there are a 
number of modern scholars who claim that 

1 So Reuss, Ewald, Bleek, Mangold, Ritschl, Beyschlag, 
Weizsacker, Harnack, Holtzmann, Pfleiderer. 


position for Galatians. As regards the external 
evidence in their favour, we find that by the 
time of Irenaeus (A.D. 185) they were widely 
and generally accepted as writings of Paul. 
Forty years earlier, as we have seen, they had 
a place in Marcion's " Apostolicon," and for 
half a century before that time, we hear echoes 
of their language in the writings of the Apos- 
tolic Fathers. Notwithstanding this testimony 
in their favour, they have both been called in 
question in certain quarters. 

The earliest writer to throw doubt on I 
Thessalonians was Schrader, in 1836 ; and in 
1845, as we have seen, it was rejected by Baur. 
This verdict, however, has not been generally 
adopted, for the Epistle is accepted by Hilgen- 
feld, Lipsius, Holtzmann, Weizsacker, Jtili- 
cher, P. Schmidt, Schmiedel, von Soden, and a 
host of more conservative critics. As McGif- 
fert says : " Its authenticity, denied a couple 
of generations ago by many scholars, is to-day 
generally recognized, except by those who deny 
the genuineness of all the Pauline Epistles" 
(art. Thessalonians in E. Bi.). 

Although in some respects different in char- 
acter from all the other epistles which bear 


Paul's name, I Thessalonians gives us such a 
vivid representation of the Apostle and his con- 
verts, revealing so much tenderness and sym- 
pathy and devotion on the one side, and so 
much simple faith and warm enthusiasm on 
the other, that we feel it to be in the highest 
degree improbable that it should have been a 
fabrication produced after the Apostle's death. 
Moreover, it is difficult to conceive any motive 
the writer could have had for his forgery, and, 
in particular, it seems unlikely that any later 
writer, personating the Apostle, would have 
attributed to him the belief that the Second 
Coming would happen during his life-time, 
when the expectation had already been falsi- 
fied by his death, and the Church had become 
reconciled to the mortality of its members 
through the prospect of the resurrection. 
The prominence given to this subject in the 
Epistle has something corresponding to it in 
Acts (17 3 ), but it was, no doubt, largely due 
to the yearning in the hearts of the sorely tried 
converts for the promised return of their Lord. 
The manner, too, in which the primitive truths 
of the Gospel are quietly assumed, without any 
argument, is what we might have expected, 


considering that the greater part of the Epistle 
(chaps. 1-3) was intended (as is now acknow- 
ledged by most critics) to vindicate the char- 
acter of the Apostle under the attacks made 
upon him by unbelieving Jews for having left 
Thessalonica under stress of persecution, 1 while 
the remainder was designed to afford practical 
guidance and encouragement to his converts 
under the trials and temptations to which they 
were exposed. The letter agrees in the main 
with the narrative in Acts, but there is no 
reason to believe that this is the result of de- 
sign in either case, as the former (3 1 " 6 ) gives an 
account of Timothy's movements which at first 
sight seems to be at variance with the history 
(18 1 - 5 ), and tells (1 7f , 2 6 - 10 ) of events which 
must have occupied a longer time than the 
period which a cursory reader of Acts would 

1 Hence Paul's strong condemnation of the Jews in 
2 io f. e The expression in 2 10 strongly resembles Test. 
Levi 6 u , and is held by Schmiedel to be an interpolation 
referring to the fall of Jerusalem. But it may be judicial 
hardening and demoralization that is referred to. Accord- 
ing to Zahn, von Soden, and others, the slanderers of the 
Apostle were not Jews but Gentiles. But, if the latter 
took part in the calumny, the former were probably the 


imagine the Apostle to have spent at Thessa- 
lonica(17 1 - 10 ). 1 

While there is now general agreement 
among scholars as to the genuineness of 
I Thessalonians the same can hardly be 
said of the Second Epistle, although it has 
stronger external evidence in its favour, in- 
cluding the apparent use of it by Polycarp. 

Doubts were first raised in 1801, by J. E. C. 
Schmidt, who finally rejected the Epistle 
altogether. In 1839 Kern suggested that the 
apocalyptic passage in 2 x - 12 was the work of a 
Paulinist, about 70-80 A.D., whose language is 
to be interpreted in the light of the historic 
situation, and that he compiled almost all the 
rest of the Epistle from I Thessalonians, as a 
setting for his eschatology. This view has 
been adopted, with various modifications of 
date and historic reference, by Baur, Weiz- 
sacker, Pfleiderer, Schmiedel, Holtzmann, 
Wrede, Hollmann, von Soden, Weinel, and 
others ; while Hausrath, on the other hand, 
holds the passage in question to be the genuine 
apostolic nucleus of the Epistle. 

1 Cf. Philippians 4 16 (on which see Frame on Thessa- 
lonians, I.C.C., pp. 120 f.). 


The genuineness of the Epistle, as a whole, 
has been maintained by a still greater number 
of scholars, including Llinemann, Lightfoot, 
Jiilicher, Bornemann, Briggs, Zahn, B. Weiss, 
Wendt, Charles, Vincent, Bacon, Askwith, 
Wohlenberg, Lock, Findlay, Clemen, Vischer, 
Wernle, Sabatier, Heinrici, Milligan, Bousset, 
Drummond, von Dobschtitz, Harnack, 1 Know- 
ling, Motfatt, Deissmann, Feine. 

The two points on which the controversy has 
mainly turned have been : (1) the close depend- 
ence of II Thessalonians on the First Epistle, 
both as regards arrangement and language, and 
(2) its strange eschatology. 

(1) The literary dependence referred to is 
certainly very remarkable, but it is as difficult 
to account for it on any theory of forgery as 
when we attribute the composition of both 
letters to the Apostle with the assistance of 
Silas and Timothy. The difficulty arises from 
the fact that while, as Jiilicher says, " on the 

1 Harnack supposes the Epistle to have been addressed 
to the Jewish Christians at Thessalonica (to whom he finds 
an allusion in a various reading of 2 13 aTrapxyv, "first- 
fruits," instead of aTr'dpx^, "from the beginning") ; while 
the First was sent, perhaps a day or two before, to the 
Gentile members, forming the main body of the Church. 


whole the style is so thoroughly Pauline that 
we might indeed admire the forger who could 
imitate it so ingeniously, " there is sometimes 
so close a parallelism between the two Epistles 
as to suggest that the author must have had 
the First Epistle before him when he wrote the 
Second. There is indeed nothing improbable 
in the supposition that Paul may have retained 
a rough draft of the former letter, and even if 
we assume that his chief object in again writ- 
ing to the Thessalonians was to correct their 
misapprehensions about the Second Coming of 
the Lord, he might quite well take the oppor- 
tunity of reverting to other topics on which 
they still required encouragement and exhorta- 
tion, especially if the First Epistle had not been 
received with so much deference as it ought 
to have been (I. 5 2T ; II. 3 "J. 1 In this light the 
Second Epistle may almost be regarded as a 
revised edition of the First, with the omission 
of the first two or three chapters, which were 
no longer needed to vindicate the personal 
character and conduct of the Apostle in rela- 

1 There are also expressions in the Epistle which favour 
the supposition that the Apostle was replying to a letter 
he had received from Thessalonica in answer to his First 
Epistle (1 3 , n ; 3 1 * 5 ). 


tion to his converts. It may have been owing 
to the readjustment thus rendered necessary 
(whether it fell to the Apostle himself or to one 
of his companions acting as his amanuensis or 
secretary ; Rom. 16 a , I Cor. 16 21 , Col. 4 18 , 
II Thess. 3 1T ), that the Second Epistle is less 
smooth and flowing than the First. If it is at 
the same time more severe in tone, this may 
have been due partly to the fact that the state 
of the Church in Thessalonica was now less 
satisfactory (II. 3) than when Timothy brought 
back the good news of the faith and patience 
of its members, and partly to the grievous 
trials which beset the Apostle in Corinth, at 
the hands of the Jews, about the time when the 
Second Epistle would be written (Acts 18 5fL ). 
(2) As regards the second and more serious 
objection taken to the Epistle on account of 
its strange eschatology, recent researches by 
Gunkel, Bousset, and Charles have shown that 
the mysterious passage in question (2 1J2 ) can 
have nothing to do with the growth of Gnostic 
error, and is not to be explained either by 
the Neronic legend (Nero-redimvus)^ as sug- 

1 " The man of sin " has also been identified with such 
different characters as Caligula, Mahomet, the Pope, 


gested by Kern, or by derivation from the 
Book of Revelation (chap. 13) where the 
Roman Empire stands for all that is evil. The 
real origin of the passage is to be found partly in 
the apocalyptic teaching in the Book of Daniel 
(11 36f- referring to the character and career 
of Antiochus Epiphanes) and other Jewish 
writings, partly in the new ideas of " the last 
times " current in the early Church, in which 
"prophecy" had an important place, Silas 
being himself a prophet (Acts 15 32 ). It con- 
tains a veiled expression of the thoughts which 
Paul and his company had been led to en- 
tertain on a subject of supreme importance, on 
which Jesus himself had uttered many solemn 
warnings (Matt. 24), and on which the Apostle 
John was yet to testify, though in a some- 
what different sense (Rev. 1, 2 18 , 4 1 ' 3 etc.). It 
was a subject confessedly mysterious, but Paul 
was bound to recur to it, in view of the intense 
interest it had excited among the Thessalonians, 

Luther, Napoleon ; while " the one that restraineth '' has 
been supposed by some to refer to the German Empire, to 
Claudius, ior even to Paul himself, though it is now gener- 
ally understood to refer to the Roman Government, which 
had not yet begun to persecute the Christians. 



and the misapprehensions and abuses to which 
it was liable. In the present utterance, which 
would be very difficult to account for if it 
stood alone as the invention of a forger, but 
may have been more intelligible to the Thessa- 
lonians owing to the previous instruction they 
had received on the subject (2 5 ), we can trace 
the Apostle's reverence for Roman law and 
order (" that which restraineth," v. 6), as well as 
his despair of the Jewish Church (v. 3), whose 
rulers were now filled with a fanatical hatred 
of the Gospel and its preachers. It was this 
aspect of Judaism that had recently forced 
itself on his attention in Thessalonica, Beroea, 
and Corinth (Acts 17 5 13 , 18 6 , I Thess. 2 "- 16 , 
II. 3 l f- ). And when he pictures the great 
enemy of Christianity as "the man of sin" 
who was to sit in the temple of God, setting 
himself forth as God, whose coming was to be 
with all power and signs and lying wonders, 
he conceives of him as the last and mightiest 
representative of Jewish unbelief, whose as- 
cendency would be a signal for the return of 
the Lord in overwhelming power and glory. 1 

1 It is characteristic of apocalyptic literature that it 
takes its cue from the signs of the time in which it is pro- 


In these circumstances, the absence from the 
Epistle of any reference to the controversies 
about the observance of the Jewish law, which 
had agitated the Churches of Syria and Asia 
Minor through the influence of Jewish Chris- 
tians, may be regarded as a token of genuine- 
ness in the case of an Epistle addressed to 
Macedonian Christians, who had been fiercely 
persecuted by the unconverted Jews. 

As regards the relation between the pro- 
phecy in this Epistle concerning the Second 
Coming and that in I Thessalonians, it has 
often been pointed out that there is no incon- 
sistency between the idea that the great event 
would take place suddenly and the belief that 
it would be preceded by certain signs. The 
two ideas are combined in our Lord's great 

duced. Hence, a few years after this Epistle was written, 
when Christianity was proving too strong for its Jewish 
adversaries, we find Paul looking forward to a complete 
restoration of Israel (Rom. 11 26 ). At a later period, when 
imperial persecution of the Christians and the deification 
of the Emperor had set in, Rome appears as the embodi- 
ment of evil in the Apocalypse of John ; while still later 
in his Epistles the same Apostle finds the spirit of Anti- 
christ in those who deny the reality of the Incarnation 
(I John 2 18 , 4 !- 3 ). 


prophecy on the subject (Matt. 24 29 ff -), where 
the lesson is to watch, and, as Baur himself 
admitted, either idea might be fitly emphasized 
at the proper time. 

With regard to some slight variations of ex- 
pression in the two Epistles, and the unusual 
emphasis laid by the Apostle on his signature 
as a token of genuineness (3 17 ), they may be 
viewed in such a way as to tell rather against 
the supposition of forgery than for it. The 
same may be said of the allusion to possible 
deception by letter or otherwise, as the sug- 
gestion was one which a forger would hardly 
have cared to make, though it was natural 
enough for the Apostle to speak about his 
correspondence as he does in these Epistles, 
if he was only now beginning to employ this 
method of communicating with his converts. 

A suggestion was made by Grotius long ago, 
which commended itself to a number of notable 
critics, including Ewald and Renan, that the 
explanation of certain expressions and allusions 
in I Thessalonians was to be found in the fact 
that it was really of a later date than the so- 
called II Thessalonians. But it is now gener- 
ally felt that there is no sufficient reason to 


reverse the traditional order of the two letters, 
which can be traced back to the time of 
Marcion, and has considerable internal evi- 
dence in its favour. 1 

A recent writer (R. Scott, 1911) considers 
that the Epistles are made up of two documents 
drawn up by Timothy and Silas respectively, 
the former being the author of I. 1-3, and II. 3, 
the latter of I. 4, 5 and II. 1, 2, the whole hav- 
ing been completed and edited by Timothy be- 
tween A.D. 70 and 80. Spitta, on the other hand, 
attributes the whole of II Thessalonians, except 
3 17 fl , to Timothy, whom he holds to be the 
speaker in 2 5 although, in a few other pas- 
sages in which the singular pronoun is employed 

1 E.g., I. 5 27 throws light on II. 2 15 and 3 14 - 17 , as 
I. 4 13 - 18 does on II. 2 l . Again II. 3 6 ff - indicates the in- 
creasing gravity of the situation as compared with I. 4 u f - ; 
while I. 2 17 and II. 1 3 f - show progress and improvement. 
Moreover, I. 2 1T and 3 6 seem to exclude the supposition of 
the Apostle's having had any communication with Thessa- 
lonica since his first visit, except through Timothy on the 
occasion referred to. It is possible Timothy may then have 
brought back a letter with him from Thessalonica, which, 
if we had it, would explain many of the expressions in the 
First Epistle. Dr. Eendel Harris has actually attempted 
to reproduce such a letter, though there is no evidence of 
its ever having existed (Exp. V, viii. pp. 16 ff.). 


(I. 3 5 , 5 *\ II. 3 u ), the words are evidently 
Paul's. But while the partnership of Timothy 
and Silas with Paul in these two Epistles, and 
the influence they may have exerted as amanu- 
enses, are not to be overlooked, the Pauline 
characteristics of many passages are so ap- 
parent, both in thought and feeling, as to put 
out of court such ingenious theories as those 
we have just mentioned. 

As regards date and place of composition, it 
follows from what has been already said that 
both Epistles were written from Corinth when 
Paul was residing there along with Silas and 
Timothy. From an inscription recently dis- 
covered at Delphi (Deissmann's " Paul," Ap- 
pendix I) it appears that Gallic entered on his 
office as proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18 12 ) in mid- 
summer of A.D. 51, and as Paul had already been 
eighteen months in Corinth before that time, and 
the First Epistle appears to have been written 
soon after his arrival, we may with great proba- 
bility assign it to the early spring of 50, and 
put the Second Epistle a month or two later. 


This is one of the Epistles which the Tubingen 
school admitted to be the work of Paul. Its 


genuineness has been questioned by very few 
critics, and by none of great repute. To most 
scholars, indeed, the idea that such a fervent 
outpouring of heart and mind could have been 
produced by an unknown writer in the second 
century seems too improbable to require refu- 
tation. As Moffatt says (" I.L.N.T.," p. 107) : 
" The hypothesis is no longer anything but a 
curiosity of criticism, like Pere Jean Hardouin's 
relegation of most of the classics to the 
fourteenth century and Edwin Johnson's dis- 
covery that the primitive Christian literature 
was forged in the Renaissance and Reforma- 
tion periods." 

But while there is no reason to doubt that 
the letter was written by Paul, the precise 
date of its composition and the geographical 
situation of the Churches to which it was 
addressed, are questions which have given 
rise to a voluminous literature, in the form 
both of books and articles. The two questions 
are closely connected, but it is the destination 
of the Epistle that has excited the keenest 
interest and the fullest controversy. 

According to most New Testament critics 
of the last century and a few of a more recent 


date, such as Chase, Wendt, Schmiedel, 
Jlilicher, Moffatt, von Dobschlitz, Deissmann, 
Feine, the letter was intended for Churches 
planted by Paul in North Galatia during his 
second missionary journey (Acts 16 6 ) and re- 
visited by him in his third journey (Acts 18 23 ). 
But an increasing number of scholars, includ- 
ing Renan, Sabatier, Hausrath, Weizsacker, 
Pfleiderer, Zahn, von Soden, Ramsay, Sanday, 
Kendall, McGiffert, Bacon, Askwith, regard the 
letter as sent to the Churches of Pisidian Anti- 
och, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, which were 
planted by Paul during his first missionary 
journey (Acts 13 14 - 14 23 ) and were revisited 
by him in his second journey (Acts 16 1 ' 5 ). It 
is now a well-established fact, for which we 
are largely indebted to the researches and 
writings of Sir William Ramsay, that the four 
cities just mentioned lay within the Roman 
province of Galatia, defined in A.D. 25, which 
extended much farther south than the district 
previously known as Galatia. Two of these 
cities, Iconium and Antioch, lay in a part of the 
country which was originally Phrygian, and 
the other two, Lystra and Derbe, in a district 
which was previously Lycaonian. The inhabi- 


tants of all alike, as subjects of the Roman 
Empire, were entitled to be called Galatians, 
and this designation was. not only technically 
correct, but also respectful to them and in har- 
mony with the Apostle's taste for imperial no- 
menclature (cf. " Asia" in I Cor. 16 19 , " Achaia" 
and " Macedonia" in Romans 15 26 and I Cor. 
16 5 , "Galatia" in I Cor. 16 l ). Luke's 
usage in Acts is different, but in neither of the 
two passages which are alleged to refer to the 
province of Galatia in its older and narrower 
sense is the term " Galatia " used. In the one 
case, the expression employed is "the Phrygian 
and Galatic region" (16 6 ), in the other, "the 
Galatic region and Phrygia" (18 23 ), both of 
which can be interpreted without any reference 
to North Galatia. In the latter passage the 
Apostle is stated to have gone through all the 
region in order, stablishing all the disciples, 
but on the former occasion, when he is alleged 
to have evangelized the cities of North 
Galatia, there is no mention of his having 
preached to which we may add that nowhere 
in the first century have we any evidence of the 
existence of Christian communities in the part 
of Galatia referred to. It is also strange that 


in the Epistle (2 5 ) Paul should tell his Galatian 
converts that in contending for spiritual free- 
dom at the Jerusalem conference he had had 
their interests in view, if at that time they had 
never even heard the Gospel, as must have 
been the case if Paul's earliest visit to them 
is that recorded in Acts 16 6 . This is an ob- 
jection which holds good whether the confer- 
ence, mentioned in Galatians, is to be identified 
with Acts 11 30 or Acts 15. 

Another point is that the allusion which the 
Apostle makes to " an infirmity of the flesh," 
as the cause or occasion of his preaching the 
Gospel to them at the first (Gal. 4 13 ), is difficult 
to reconcile with his undertaking the long and 
toilsome journey to North Galatia, if he had 
no intention of engaging in missionary labour 
there. It was not a place to which he would 
have been likely to resort for health, whereas 
the removal from the malarious region of 
Pamphylia to the high lands of Pisidia would 
be quite intelligible from that point of view. 1 

1 But T. W. Crafer (Expositor, October, 1913) suggests 
that in Gal. 4 13 the Apostle may be referring to serious 
injury done to his health by the stoning at Lystra, 
rendering him for a time unfit to travel, and marring his 


Moreover, if he did go to the cities of North 
Galatia, it is difficult to see how by such a 
route he should have /'come over against 
Mysia " when he " assayed to go into Bithynia " 
(Acts 16 7 ). 

On the other hand, there are several con- 
siderations, besides the argument from the 
imperial sympathies of the Apostle, that may 
be adduced in support of the South Galatian 
theory. If the name "Galatians" does not 
apply to the Christians of Antioch, Iconium, 
Lystra, and Derbe, they are left without 
any place in Paul's correspondence, except in 
II Tim. 3 n , where there is a reference to the 
persecutions which the Apostle had suffered 
in their neighbourhood ; and they can have 
taken no part in the collections made in Achaia 
and Macedonia (II Cor. 9 l f ) and among " the 
Churches of Galatia" (I Cor. 16 l ) for the 
poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15 26 ). This 
would be the more surprising as " Gaius of 
Derbe " and " Timothy of Lystra " are men- 
tioned as among the deputies who had ac- 
companied Paul on the way to Jerusalem to 
present the joint offering, while we look in 
vain for any representatives of North Galatia 


among them (Acts 20 4 ). Again, if the Epistle 
was addressed to the Christians in the four 
cities referred to, we can see in the Apostle's 
words in Galatians 6 17 : " From henceforth let 
no man trouble me : for I bear branded on my 
body the marks of Jesus " a reference to the 
serious injuries he received "at Antioch, at 
Iconium, at Lystra " (II Tim. 3 n ) ; while the 
repeated allusions to Barnabas in the Epistle, 
especially the statement that " even Barnabas 
was carried away with their dissimulation" (2 13 ), 
acquire a special force and meaning if he had 
been Paul's coadjutor in preaching the Gospel 
to these Churches (Gal. 2 J > 9 ' 13 ; Acts 13 M ). 
To this we may add that the striking language 
of the Apostle regarding the enthusiastic 
reception he had met with from the Galatians, 
when he first appeared among them as the 
herald of the cross (Gal. 4 14 ), corresponds 
well to what is recorded in Acts 14 n ' 28 , and 
especially to the cry of the people at Lystra : 
" The gods are come down to us in the likeness 
of men," when "they called Barnabas, Jupiter ; 
and Paul, Mercury " ; while the charge of in- 
consistency brought against the Apostle, as 
implied in Galations 5 u , finds an apparent 


justification in his circumcision of Timothy 
" because of the Jews " (Acts 16 1 " 3 ). 

Such are the main reasons which have led 
the majority of recent critics and commenta- 
tors to adopt the South Galatian theory. 

The determination of the date and place of 
composition is an even more difficult question, 
on which many different views are held. The 
difficulty is aggravated by the fact that there 
is a difference of opinion as to the Apostle's 
visit to Jerusalem referred to in Galatians 2 l ff , 
some scholars holding, with Ramsay, that it 
is the visit recorded in Acts 11 30 , while the 
greater number adhere to the old view that 
the Apostle is referring to what took place at 
the Council of Jerusalem, of which an account 
is given in Acts 15. But whichever of these 
two opinions is correct, we have a more sure 
indication of time in the fact that the Epistle 
is written throughout in the name of Paul 
alone, the only use of the plural being in 1 8 f> , 
where he is reminding his converts of the way 
in which the Gospel was first preached among 
them. From this we may safely infer that it 
was not written till after the separation be- 
tween Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15 3(Uft ), in 


which case it was posterior to the Council 
of Jerusalem. A number of recent critics 
(Weber, Bartlet, McGiffert) agree with Calvin 
and Beza in dating it from Antioch immedi- 
ately after that event, but this view is only 
tenable if we identify the Apostle's second 
visit to the Galatian Churches, implied in 
Galatians 4 13 (TO irporepov), with his renewed 
intercourse with them during his first mission- 
ary journey, when " they returned (from Derbe) 
to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch." 
Besides, it is hardly likely that Paul would 
have sent a letter when he was about to visit 
the Churches in person (Acts 15 36 ). This ob- 
jection applies also in some measure to the 
suggestion of Renan and Ramsay that the 
Epistle may have been sent from Antioch in 
the interval between the second and third 
missionary journeys. On the whole, the prob- 
ability seems to be either that it was written in 
the course of the second tour (49-52 A.D.), after 
the visit to the Galatians recorded in Acts 16 , 
from Macedonia (Hausrath), or Athens (Cle- 
men), or Corinth (Zahn, Bacon, Rendall), or 
else during the third tour (52-56), after the 
visit mentioned in Acts 18 23 . Such a com- 


paratively late date is necessarily assigned to 
it by those who adhere to the North Galatian 
theory, the general opinion among them being 
that it was written at an early period in Paul's 
long residence at Ephesus (say A.D. 53), while 
some (e.g. Lightfoot) put it after the close of 
that visit (55), when the Apostle was passing 
through Macedonia or Greece (Acts 20 2 ), which 
would explain the unusual form of salutation 
from "all the brethren which are with me" 
(Gal. 1 2 ). There is no inconsistency in sup- 
posing that such a long time had elapsed since 
his last visit to Galatia, if we take the expres- 
sion in Galatians 1 6 , namely " so soon" (R.V. 
" so quickly "), as referring simply to the 
rapidity and suddenness of the change which 
(as the Apostle has just learned) had come 
over their sentiments. Such a late date also 
admits of the Epistle being placed between 
II Corinthians and Romans, to both of which 
it bears a strong resemblance to the former 
in general tone, to the latter in its mode of 
reasoning and its form of expression. This is an 
argument, however, which should not be pressed 
too far, as we can hardly suppose that Paul's 
teaching in his successive Epistles depended on 


the development of his own theological views 
rather than on the needs of those to whom 
he was writing. According to Clemen, Gala- 
tians was composed after Romans, not before it. 


This is an epistle whose genuineness has 
been admitted, with practical unanimity, for 
the last eighteen centuries and more. It is 
the first of the New Testament writings that 
is expressly referred to in early Christian 
literature, being quoted by name in the Epistle 
of Clement, which w r as likewise addressed to 
the Church at Corinth (c. A.D. 95). Within 
thirty or forty years afterwards we find un- 
mistakable allusions to it in the writings of 
Poly carp (cf. his Epistle to Phil., chap. 11 2 , and 
I Cor. 6 2 ), and of Ignatius (whose letters are 
deeply imbued with it), as well as of the 
Gnostic leader Basilides. 

Although it has come down to us under the 
title of I Corinthians, it was evidently preceded 
by another letter from Paul to the same 
Church (I Cor. 5 9 ), warning members to be : 
ware of associating with persons guilty of 


immorality. Partly it was occasioned by un- 
favourable reports which reached the Apostle 
during his residence at Ephesus through mem- 
bers "of the household of Chloe," who had 
means of communication between Corinth and 
Ephesus (I Cor. 1 u ), partly it was an answer 
to a letter of inquiry sent to the Apostle by 
the Corinthian Church, apparently by the hands 
of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (7 *, 
16 17 f -). It affords a better indication of 
the problems confronting the early Church 
than any other Epistle in the New Testa- 

Those who question its genuineness form an 
insignificant minority, beginning with Bruno 
Bauer in the middle of last century (whose 
critical standpoint was determined by his phil- 
osophy of Church History), and represented 
in more recent times by the destructive Dutch 
critics, Loman, Pierson, Naber, van Manen, 
and Meyboom, as well as by Steck of Berne, 
who hold the Epistle to be a conglomerate of 
the second century, made up of fragments of 
Jewish and Christian literature, and emanating 
from Syria or Asia Minor. The arguments 

they adduce are extremely arbitrary, and are 



frequently at variance with the most surely 
established results of criticism, especially as 
regards the testimony afforded by the writings 
of the Apostolic Fathers. The theory they 
advance involves so many improbabilities, and 
is based on so many fanciful conjectures, as to 
make little impression on a candid and sober 
judgment ; and things which to the ordinary 
reader seem natural enough, such as the ac- 
quaintance with the life and teaching of Jesus 
Christ which the writer shows, are held to 
be symptoms of production at a later period 
when the Gospels were in general circula- 
tion. In striking contrast to such precarious 
arguments we may refer to Paley's cogent 
reasoning in this connexion in his " Horse 

With regard to the date of the Epistle, there 
is general agreement that it was written from 
Ephesus in the spring of the last year that 
Paul spent in that city (say A.D. 55), though 
Ramsay and Godet would put it half a year, 
and Kennedy and Jtilicher a year, earlier, 
so as to afford a sufficient interval between 
I and II Corinthians (I. 16 8 ff , 5 6 - 8 , Acts 19 2l > f , 
20 lff ; cf. p. 264, note 1). 



This epistle does not seem to have been so 
well known in the early Church as I Corin- 
thians, probably because it was not felt to be 
of so much value and importance either to 
those who received it or to the Church at 
large ; and hence the external evidence in its 
favour is much less abundant. Notwithstand- 
ing this, however, it has been accepted by the 
scholars of Christendom with almost as much 
unanimity as the other, owing to its internal 
character being sufficient of itself to forbid the 
supposition of forgery, and to accredit it as a 
genuine utterance of the heart and mind of Paul. 

The case is different as regards its integrity, 
which was first called in question by Semler 
in 1767, followed by Weber in 1798 and 
Hausrath in 1870 ; and of late the question 
has been keenly debated in this country and 
America, as well as on the continent of Europe. 
There is such a difference between the relieved 
and grateful feeling which pervades the earlier 
and larger part of the Epistle, and the indigna- 
tion which flashes out so often towards its 


close, that the majority of recent critics (e.g. 
Holtzmann, Pfleiderer, Krenkel, Schmiedel, 
McGiffert, Clemen, von Soden, Peake, Kendall, 
Moffatt, Bacon, Lake, Kennedy) are disposed 
to adopt the view suggested by Hausrath that 
chaps. 10-13 10 (the " Vierkapitelbrief ") is an 
interpolation, being in reality the letter, or 
rather part of the letter, referred to in chaps. 
2 and 7, regarding whose effect upon his con- 
verts Paul had been so painfully anxious, until 
Titus brought the good news which filled his 
heart with gratitude and joy (2 12 ff> , 7 6 f '). 
The four chapters in question are much more 
severe in their tone than I Corinthians, and 
answer much better to the description of the 
previous letter which is given in II Corinthians 
2, a letter written, as the Apostle says : "out 
of much affliction and anguish of heart, with 
many tears " ; whereas, if they are regarded as 
an integral part of II Corinthians, it is very 
difficult to understand how the Apostle should 
have changed his tone so suddenly at the be- 
ginning of chap. 10 without any apparent cause. 
Moreover, as Kennedy and others have shown, 
a good case can be made out for the priority 
of 10-13 10 to the preceding part of the Epistle, 


by a careful comparison of the following pas- 
sages : 2 3 and 13 10 ; 1 23 and 13 2 ; 2 9 , 7 15 f -, 
and 10 6 ; 3 \ 5 12 , and 10-13 10 ; 1 23 , 2 \ and 
12 u , 13 2 . To this we may add that the con- 
fident appeal for contributions of money in 
chaps. 8 and 9 would come with a better grace 
after a reconciliation had been effected, than 
in the course of a letter containing such in- 
vective as we find in chaps. 10-13. 

That the foregoing theory is not free from 
objections has been shown by those who 
identify the severe letter referred to in chapter 
2 with I Corinthians (Sanday, Bernard, Denney, 
Bleek, Weiss, Zahn, and others), as well as by 
those who hold it to have been lost (Klopper, 
Jiilicher, Weizsacker, Holsten, Bousset, Find- 
lay, Kobertson, Lietzmann). The former 
think that II Corinthians can be sufficiently 
explained by reference to the state of things 
disclosed in I Corinthians, but the majority of 
modern expositors, while differing somewhat 
as to the precise order of events and the 
nature of the offence which provoked the 
Apostle's anger, hold that II Corinthians is un- 
intelligible unless we take into account an 
intermediate letter to the Corinthians conveyed 


to them by Titus (2 13 , 7 G> 13 ' 14 ), as well as the 
second visit of Paul to that city (12 u , 13 \ 2 l ), 
and the visits and reports of Timothy (I Cor. 
16 10 , II Cor. 1 l ) and of Titus (II Cor. 12 18 , 
8 16 ~ 24 ). Few now hold with Holtzmann (see 
H.D.B., I, p. 492) that the case of incest men- 
tioned in I Corinthians 5 was still the subject of 
dispute in II Corinthians, the general opinion 
being that some fresh trouble had arisen deeply 
affecting the Apostle personally, through some 
gross insult which had been offered to himself 
or to one of his coadjutors, probably Timothy 
(I Cor. 16 10 f , II Cor. 1). This is the view 
taken by Bleek, Olshausen, Neander, Ewald, 
Hilgenfeld, Weizsacker, Jlilicher, G-odet, 
Clemen, and Robertson, while Krenkel sup- 
poses a bitter quarrel to have taken place be- 
tween two members of the Corinthian Church 
(II Cor. 7 12 ). According to this view, II Corin- 
thians must have been written after ample 
reparation had been offered to the Apostle and 
his authority had been fully restored, but 
while he was still suffering from the recollec- 
tion of the cruel and ungrateful treatment to 
which he had been subjected. 

Another passage in the Epistle is reckoned by 


many to be an interpolation, namely, 6 u - 7 l . 
It breaks the connexion between 6 13 and 7 2 , 
and it is held by a considerable number of 
recent writers to be part of the early epistle 
referred to by Paul in I Corinthians 5 9 ~ 13 (J. 
Weiss, Hilgenfeld, Sabatier, von Dobschiitz, 
von Soden, Franke, Bacon, Clemen, Whitelaw). 1 
This seems not improbable, but there is noth- 
ing in the history or condition of the text, or 
in the tradition of the Church, to bear out the 
supposition. In any case there is no sufficient 
reason to doubt (as R. Scott and a few German 
critics do) that the verses in question were 
written by Paul. 

The same may be said with still greater 
confidence regarding chapter 9, which Semler 
thought to be a separate letter sent to the 
Christians of Achaia a conjecture which has 
little to support it and has not found much 
favour with modern critics. 

There is reason to believe that the Epistle 
was written by Paul (Timothy being as- 
sociated with him in the opening salutation) 
in the autumn of A.D. 55, from some place in 

1 It has been pointed out that a similar conjunction of 
two different letters has taken place in the transmission of 
Cicero's correspondence. 


Macedonia, soon after he was joined by Titus 
bringing news of the great change for the 
better in the state of the Church at Corinth. 
It was sent to Corinth by the hands of Titus 
and two others (8 16 ~ 24 ), one of whom is gener- 
ally identified with Luke (who was a brother 
of Titus, according to Prof. Souter) a com- 
mission being at the same time given them to 
see to the completion of the collection for the 
poor at Jerusalem, with the inception of which 
they had already been connected during the 
previous year (8 6 ' n , 9 2 , 12 17 f -). 1 

Note. There are two short apocryphal 
letters, one from the Corinthians to Paul, 
the other from Paul to the Corinthians, which 
formed part of the Armenian Canon, and are 
found in two Latin manuscripts and in a Coptic 
version of the Acts of Paul. The original was 
probably written in Old Syriac towards the end 
of the second century, in the course of the 
struggle against Gnosticism, especially as re- 
presented by the school of Bardesanes. 

1 a-n-o 7Tpva-L (8 10 , 9 2 ) should be translated "last 
year," not " a year ago " (A.V.). This affects the date of 
the Epistle, if we assume that it was not written before 
October, when the Macedonian and Jewish New Year had 
already begun. 




Like the other Epistles of Paul accepted by 
the Tubingen school, Romans has been called 
in question by the extreme Dutch critics and 
a few others, who hold it to be a compilation 
by a Paulinist at the end of the first or the 
beginning of the second century. They attach 
no importance to the external evidence in its 
favour prior to Marcion 1 (who is the first 
writer to refer to the Epistle by name as the 
work of Paul), and base their rejection of it 
on the signs which they think they can detect 
in it of a composite and post-apostolic origin. 2 
Among the host of critics who have adopted 
the traditional view that it was written by 
Paul, there has been an immense amount of 

1 In the writings of Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, 
Aristides, Basilides, etc. to which we may add I Peter, 
whose resemblance to Eomans in thought and diction is 
so marked as to give the impression that its author must 
have been acquainted with this Epistle. The same may 
be said to some extent of Hebrews and possibly also of 

2 See van Manen's art. EOMANS in E. Bi. Vol. IV also 
an article on the subject by an American follower, W. B. 
Smith, in the " Hibbert Journal '' for January, 1903, and 
the reply to it by Schmiedel in the April number. 


somewhat fruitless controversy (for which 
F. C. Baur and his followers are mainly re- 
sponsible) with regard to the origin and 
nationality of the Christian community at 
Rome, and as to the precise object the Apostle 
had in view in sending to Rome such an 
elaborate theological statement. The results 
of the inquiry have not been at all adequate 
to the labour expended on it, and we have 
still to be content with a general view of the 
situation. There is no reason to doubt that 
there were both Jewish and Gentile Christians 
at Rome, and nothing could have been more 
characteristic of Paul, the Roman citizen and 
the Apostle of the Gentiles, than to preface 
his visit to the seat of empire with an epistle 
such as this, fitted to vindicate his authority as 
an apostle, and at the same time to exhibit 
the religion of the cross in its true relations 
both to the Jewish faith, which was strongly 
represented in the metropolis, and to the pagan 
religions, which were also to be found there 
with their attendant idolatry and immorality. 
He had now reached the culminating point in 
his career, and in this communication we have 
the ripest fruit of his philosophy as a Christian 


and his experience as an apostle, providing 
for the needs of a Church that was destined 
to take a leading place in Christendom, and 
laying a sure foundation, intellectually and 
spiritually, for a fresh missionary campaign 
in the West. 

As regards authorship, the only serious differ- 
ence of opinion has had reference to the 
integrity of the Epistle in its present form. 
Owing to a variety of circumstances l the two 
last chapters have been regarded in many 
quarters with suspicion, and a number of 
critics with a taste for literary dissection have, 
as the result of a microscopic examination of 
the text, advocated the omission or re-arrange- 
ment of some of the earlier passages, while 
some of them have even thought they could 
trace in it a conjunction of two different 

1 The doxology in 16 25 ff - of our text which is in 
itself somewhat peculiar is found in some manuscripts 
at the end of chapter 14, in others at both these places, 
and in others at neither. The benediction is in some 
manuscripts found between verse 23 and verse 25 of 
chapter 16 instead of at verse 20. The manuscript G, 
both in Greek and Latin, omits " in Kome " at verse 7 
and verse 15 of chapter 1. Moreover, there is reason to 
believe that some manuscripts as early as the second 
century omitted chapters 15 and 16 altogether. 


epistles. In this way countless theories l have 
been advanced to account for all the phenomena 
presented by the Epistle, but much of the 
evidence on which they are founded is of so 
elusive and uncertain a character that no 
reliable conclusion can be drawn from it, the 
result being that up to the present time 
opinion is hopelessly divided. This is especi- 
ally the case as regards the question whether 
the shorter recension, consisting of chaps. 1- 
14 (with the addition of the doxology, 16 25 ffi ), 
which is known to have existed as early as 
the second century, originated with Marcion, 
or was drawn up by Paul himself for the 
purpose of being despatched to a number 
of Churches. 

Equally uncertain is the idea suggested by 
Keggermann in 1767, revived by Schultz in 
1829, and now adopted by many, that most of 
the sixteenth chapter, with its long list of sal- 
utations and its recommendation of Phoebe 
(who appears to have been the bearer of the 

1 Associated with the names of Neumann, Semler, 
Eichhorn, Baur, C. H. Weisse, Laurent, Renan, Straatman, 
Volkmar, Scholten, Spitta, Volter, Lightfoot, Hort, Zahn, 
Gifford, and others. 


letter), was intended for the Church at Ephesus. 
The appearance of so many greetings in a letter 
addressed to the Christians of a place which 
Paul had never visited seems strange ; but 
when we remember that the Apostle is usually 
very sparing in singling out individuals for 
special mention, when he is writing to a Church 
whose membership is well known to him, the 
occurrence of so many names in this instance 
may be due to the fact that Paul mentions 
every person of his acquaintance who had 
been drawn to the metropolis from the great 
centres of population in the East in which he 
had laboured. Possibly it had been largely 
through their influence that Christianity was 
propagated at Rome, and, if so, nothing 
could have been more natural than for the 
Apostle to seek to enlist their interest in his 
intended visit to the capital, and to associate 
them with the Epistle which he was now 
sending to the community of which they 
formed part. 

The greetings sent to Prisca and Aquila, and 
to Epsenetus " the firstfruits of Asia" (16 3 ff -), 
seem at first sight to favour the suggestion 
that Ephesus may have been the destination 


of the Epistle, but it has been shown by Light- 
foot, followed by Sanday and Headlam, that 
a careful examination of the names in chapter 
16 is, on the whole, more favourable to Rome 
than to any other city. Even as regards Prisca 
and Aquila, their previous residence at Rome 
(Acts 18 2 ), as well as their migration from 
Corinth to Ephesus in connexion with Paul's 
missionary labours (Acts 18 1S ff ), render it not 
improbable that they had returned to E/ome, 
partly for commercial purposes, and partly for 
the furtherance of the Gospel. 

With regard to the date, place, and occasion 
of the Epistle, there is no room for doubt, if we 
regard the Book of Acts as a trustworthy re- 
cord, and accept Romans, with I and II Corin- 
thians, as written by Paul. It was evidently 
sent from Corinth during the three months 
which Paul spent in that city 1 (at the end of 
55 or the beginning of 56 A.D.), when he was 
about to proceed to Jerusalem with the offer- 
ing from the Churches of Macedonia and 
Achaia for the relief of the poor brethren 
in that city, and it was intended to pave the 

i Acts 20 w , Romans 15 30 ff -, 16 L 2 '. 28 , I Corinthians 
1 14 , JI Timothy 4 *. 


way for his intended visit to the Christians at 
Rome. 1 


These are Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 
and Philippians (Col. 4 3> 18 ; Philemon v. 9, 
10, 13 ; Eph. 3 \ 4 l ; Phil. 1 * 13 ' u - 1T ; cf. Acts 
28 16 * 2 ). There has been a difference of opinion 
as to whether they were written during Paul's 
imprisonment at Csesarea (56-58) or at Rome 
(58-60). A number of eminent critics 2 have 
decided for Csesarea, especially as regards 
Colossians, Philemon, and (in some cases) 
Ephesians, but the prevailing opinion is in 

1 Acts 19 21 , 23 n , 24 17 , Eomans 1 *- 1 *, 15 22 f - , I Cor- 
inthians 16 l ff -, II Corinthians 8 l ff -, 9 ] ff - In this 
connexion chapter II of Paley's " Horae Paulinse " is 
worthy of study. It is remarkable that van Manen, in the 
article above referred to, repeats the erroneous statement 
of Evanson (1792) that there is no reference in the Book 
of Acts to Paul's intended visit to Rome. It is worthy of 
note that the Apostle's experience at Rome, as recorded in 
Acts 28, was so very different from what he had expected 
(Rom. 15 24 ) that we cannot suspect either Acts or Romans 
to have borrowed from the other. Neither is there any- 
thing in the Book of Acts to suggest any thought of the 
intended visit to Spain, of which we read in Romans 15 24 . 

2 E.g. Paulus, D. Schultz, Reuss, Schenkel, Hausrath, 
Hilgenfeld, Laurent, B. Weiss, Haupt-Meyer, 


favour of Rome, and, as regards Philippians in 
particular, it is now generally acknowledged 
that internal evidence proves conclusively that 
it emanated from the imperial city. 1 


Nowhere is the conservative tendency of 
modern criticism more evident than in the case 
of Philemon and Colossians. Baur's rejection 
of the short Epistle to Philemon was almost 
entirely due to its close connexion with Colos- 
sians and, through it, with Ephesians. He 
tried to explain it away as " the embryo of a 

1 (1) Rome was a much more likely place than Caesarea 
for a runaway slave like Onesimus to seek refuge in 
(Philemon w. 10 ff.). (2) " The whole praetorian guard," 
and " Caesar's household," point to the Roman capital, 
(Phil. 1 13 , 4 22 ). (3) Both Colossians and Philippians 
are written in the name of Paul and Timothy, but there is 
no mention of Timothy in the account of the Caesarean 
imprisonment in the Book of Acts. (4) " Philip the 
evangelist" had entertained Paul and his companions 
"for many days" in his house in Caesarea (Acts 21 8 ff -), 
yet he is never mentioned in any of these four Epistles. 
(5) Paul's expectation to visit the Philippians "shortly" 
(Phil. 2 24 ), if he wrote from Caesarea, would not be in 
harmony with the intention he had already formed to visit 
Rome (Acts 19 <J1 ), especially if he had made up his mind 
to appeal unto Caesar. 


Christian romance," like the " Clementine Ke- 
cognitions " of the second or third century. 
Weizsacker held it to be an allegorical com- 
position that was never intended to be taken 
literally, and in proof of this he pointed to the 
metaphorical character of the name Onesimus 
(" Profitable ") an argument which has been 
met by the recent discovery of the name in a 
papyrus dated A.D. 81, and of another slave's 
name with a similar meaning, C/iresimus 
(" Useful ") in another papyrus. To this we 
may add that if the story was meant to be an 
allegory it would be apt to fail of its purpose, 
because it leaves the reader in doubt as to the 
liberation of the slave. According to Steck, 
our Epistle is an imitation, by a writer towards 
the middle of the second century, of a letter 
written to a friend by the younger Pliny on a 
somewhat similar occasion, about A.D. 135-140. 
The resemblance had been pointed out by 
Grotius long ago, but it lies mainly on the 
surface, for in some respects the two writers 
take quite a different attitude towards the 
offending slave. Even if it were at all likely 
that a Christian writer should have selected 
such a model for his imitation, it is difficult to 



understand how he could have succeeded in 
getting his forgery admitted into Marcion's 
Canon within a few years after its composition, 
notwithstanding the trifling nature of its con- 
tents from an ecclesiastical point of view 
which, we know, militated at a later time against 
its reception in some parts of the Church. 

The style of the Epistle is acknowledged by 
an overwhelming majority of scholars to be 
thoroughly Pauline, though its subject is 
unique. " Few pages have so clear an accent 
of truth Paul alone, it would seem, could 
have written this little masterpiece " (Benan). 
" The fact that criticism has presumed to call 
in question the genuineness of these harmless 
lines shows that itself is not the genuine thing " 
(Reuss). It is now generally felt that Baur's 
maintenance of the spuriousness of this letter 
to Philemon was one of his worst blunders. 


As we have already indicated, the Epistle 
to Philemon would probably never have been 
called in question but for its connexion with 
Colossians. The connexion is such that, if 


Philemon be genuine, Colossians must also be 
the work of Paul, or it must be a forgery 
suggested by the other and dependent on it. 
The latter supposition is extremely improb- 
able, since the letter to Philemon makes no 
mention of Colossae and says nothing that 
could have suggested the sending of a letter 
to that city ; neither is there in it any mention 
of Tychicus who is so prominent in Colossians 
(4 7 * 9 ). On the other hand, Colossians makes 
no reference to Philemon or to the peculiar 
circumstances of Onesimus, who is described 
as " the faithful and beloved brother, who is 
one of you " (4 9 ). Archippus is indeed men- 
tioned in both Epistles, but in Philemon he is 
simply styled " our fellow-soldier," whereas 
in Colossians we read : " And say to Archippus, 
Take heed to the ministry which them hast re- 
ceived in the Lord, that thou fulfil it " (4 17 ). 
Epaphras is also mentioned in both Epistles, 
but in the private letter he is simply referred 
to as-" my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus," and 
is one of those who salute Philemon, whereas 
in Colossians he is represented as " a faithful 
minister of Christ " who had laboured in 
Colossse and its neighbourhood. 


It is also worthy of note that the variations 
in the salutations of the two Epistles are such 
as we cannot imagine to have been resorted 
to in the interests of forgery, e.g. the insertion 
(4 ") of " Jesus, which is called Justus," one of 
those "who are of the circumcision," who is 
mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament, 
and the curious remark following the name of 
Mark, " If he come unto you, receive him " 
(4 10 ). Altogether, as Dr. Sanday says, " Most 
Englishmen will have a short and easy method 
for deciding the genuineness of Colossians, 
for it is inseparably bound up with the most 
winning little letter to Philemon, which only 
pedantry could think of doubting." 

The first to assail this Epistle was Mayerhoff 
(1838), who took exception to it partly because 
of its want of likeness to other epistles known 
to be the work of Paul, partly on account of 
its apparent dependence on Ephesians, which 
he accepted as genuine. This verdict was re- 
versed by de Wette, who accepted Colossians 
and rejected Ephesians, and in this he has been 
followed by von Soden, who disproves the 
alleged dependence of Colossians, and is only 
doubtful of the genuineness of 1 1W0 . It was 


rejected by Hilgenfeld as a later production 
designed against the Gnostic tendencies repre- 
sented by Cerinthus ; by Schmiedel, who dated 
it between A.D. 100 and 130, but failed to ex- 
plain how it could have won the confidence of 
the Church half a century after the death of 
the Apostle ; and by Holsten and Weizsacker. 
According to Holtzmann, working out an idea 
of Hitzig's, and followed, in part, by Pflei- 
derer, our Epistle is an expansion of a genuine 
letter from Paul to the Colossians, prepared 
by a Paulinist (A.D. 75-100), who had previously 
used the same nucleus for the composition of 
our Ephesians, from which he drew for the 
enlargement of Colossians. A recent critic, 
R. Scott, adopts a view suggested by Ewald, 
that Timothy was the author of this Epistle. 

The chief objection taken to the Pauline 
authorship is based on the references which the 
Epistle is alleged to contain to second century 
Gnosticism. But we have the authority of 
Jlilicher for saying that the false teachers in 
question might as well have appeared in 60 as 
in 120 A.D. On the whole, it would seem that 
any symptoms of incipient Gnosticism which 
can be traced in the Epistle are sufficiently 


accounted for by the peculiar religious ten- 
dencies which were prevalent among the Chris- 
tians of Phrygia, who were in danger of falling 
into a kind of Jewish (perhaps Essene) theo- 
sophy, associated with asceticism, and tending 
to an exaggerated spiritualism, connected in 
some way with the worship of angels as re- 
presenting the elements in Nature. It was in 
the endeavour to combat these tendencies that 
the Apostle was led to emphasize the su- 
premacy of the Lord Jesus Christ over all those 
heavenly beings, real or imaginary, which 
threatened to draw away from Him the faith 
and allegiance of the Christians at Colossee 
(Col. 1 16 ff> ). We have here a signal illustration 
of the fact that the appearance of heresy in the 
Church is frequently the occasion for a fuller 
manifestation of the truth in the endeavour 
to correct it. In this instance the Apostle's 
teaching was only a fuller development of 
principles which he had already laid down in 
other Epistles, for we find essentially the 
same claim made on behalf of Christ in 
1 Corinthians 3 8 6 , 15 24 - 28 , and in Philippians 
2 5 ' 11 , though in a somewhat different connexion. 
Notwithstanding the apparent novelty of its 


teaching, therefore, and the disappearance of 
old watchwords, familiar to us in former 
Epistles but now giving way to new expressions 
suited to new forms of thought, the genuine- 
ness of this Epistle is acknowledged by the 
majority of critics, including Harnack, Blass, 
Zahn, Clemen, Renan, Sabatier, Jacquier, 
Jiilicher, with such English and American 
scholars as Lightfoot, Salmon, Hort, Sanday, 
Knowling, Moffatt, McGiffert, and Bacon. 


This is one of the best-attested books in the 
New Testament, having apparently been used 
by some of the earliest Christian writers out- 
side the Canon, such as Clement of Rome, 
Ignatius, and Polycarp. Hence, as Abbott 
(after Hort) says : " It is all but certain that 
the Epistle already existed about A.D. 95, quite 
certain that it existed about 110." Yet, on 
internal grounds, it has been called in question 
by a considerable number of critics, begin- 
ning with Schleiermacher, who was disposed 
to attribute it to Tychicus the bearer appar- 
ently of this letter (6 21 f ) as well as of Colos- 


sians and Philemon (Col. 4 ) a conjecture 
also favoured by Usteri and Kenan. De 
Wette regarded it as a " verbose expansion " 
of Colossians by a disciple of Paul a view 
combated by Liinemann, Meyer, and others. 
Schwegler and Baur relegated both Ephesians 
and Colossians to the middle of the second 
century on account of supposed traces of 
Gnosticism and Montanism ; in which they 
were followed by Hilgenfeld, who differed, 
however, in attributing the two Epistles to 
different authors. According to Holtzmann 
(as we have already mentioned when treating 
Colossians), Ephesians was based on a genuine 
letter of Paul to the Colossians about A.D. 75- 
100, and the writer afterwards drew from the 
former to enlarge the Colossian letter, a theory 
which is not only too artificial to be true but 
also fails to account for the disappearance of 
the original letter, or to explain why the writer 
of Ephesians should have borrowed from that 
letter alone, while leaving out its most distinc- 
tive message. Harnack and Jlilicher have 
difficulty in accepting the Epistle on account 
of expressions and ideas which seem to them 
to be incompatible with a Pauline origin (e.g. 


2 20 , 3 5 , 4 7 - u ), but they admit that, as the 
genuineness of Philemon helps to establish 
that of Colossians, so the acceptance of the 
latter should obviate the objections taken to 
Ephesians on account of features which it 
shares in common with Colossians. The simi- 
larity between the two Epistles is greater than 
exists between any other writings attributed 
to Paul, half of Ephesians being full of 
expressions found in Colossians. At the same 
time, the parallelism is often marked by such 
a freedom of style as to forbid the supposi- 
tion of mechanical imitation where the likeness 
is of a closer and more literal kind. This 
freedom, and the frequent introduction of 
words and phrases that are not found elsewhere 
in Paul's writings or even in the New Testa- 
ment, tell against the theory of forgery. Both 
Epistles claim to be the work of Paul, and 
the simplest and most natural supposition 
seems to be that they were written within a 
very short time of each other, the interval 
being even shorter, and the consequent simi- 
larity even greater, than between I and II 

In rejecting this Epistle Baur laid stress on 


the incongruity of its title "to the saints 
which are at Ephesus " and its contents ; but 
the objection loses its force when we regard 
the Epistle as a circular letter to be sent to 
various Churches in proconsular Asia, which 
was fast becoming the leading province of 
Christendom (cf. Rev. 1 *). 1 

1 This is the view now generally taken. Many critics 
identify the Epistle with that referred to in Colossians 4 16 , 
where the Colossians are told to read also "the epistle 
from Laodicea," and to send their own letter for perusal 
by the Christians there ; Tychicus, the bearer of the letters, 
having probably visited Laodicea on the way to Colossae, 
bringing the circular letter " from Laodicea " with him, 
after it had been read and perhaps copied there. In this 
connexion it is noteworthy that Marcion refers to the 
Epistle as addressed "to the Laodiceans." It is still 
more significant that the words "in Ephesus" (1 l ) are 
wanting in the two oldest manuscripts (N and B), and 
have also been struck out by correction in manuscript 
67, and that they were also absent from the ancient manu- 
scripts known to Basil in A.D. 360. Add to this that the 
Epistle contains no personal salutations or allusions, and 
that the benediction is in a more general form than usual 
("Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith," 6 23 ) ; 
while the Apostle's usual autograph is absent, perhaps 
because copies of the letter had to be made out by the 
messenger on the way or at the different places which 
were to receive them. That the Epistle was not meant 
exclusively for Ephesus is evident from a number of 


In such a letter the warnings addressed to 
the Colossian Church against the evils with 
which it was specially threatened would 
have been out of place, and are therefore 
omitted, but the rest of Colossians is repro- 
duced and amplified to illustrate and enforce 
the unity of the Christian Church a unity 
which Paul realized to be far deeper and more 
enduring than that of the great empire in 
whose capital he lay a prisoner. It is the 
most catholic of all his Epistles, representing 
the Church universal to be the mystical body 
of Christ, who is the centre of all life and the 
source of all authority, in time and in eternity, 
in this world and in that which is to come. 
This is a great advance on the Apostle's teach- 
ing in any previous letter ; but " the Church," 
" the Church of God," was a conception which 
had long been familiar to him (1 Cor. 10 32 , 

passages which imply that the readers had no personal 
acquaintance or connexion with Paul, though they may 
have received the Gospel from some of his disciples 
(1 i5-i9 j 3 i-4 ? 4 i7-22 f Col. 1 3 ' 9 ). In these circumstances it 
is easy to understand how the Epistle should have become 
associated with the Church at Ephesus, as the leading 
city of the province, at whose port Tychicus would have 
to land in the prosecution of his journey. 


12 28 , 15 9 ; Gal. 1 13 ; Phil. 3 6 ; cf. Acts 20 28 ). 
Although the Epistle is addressed to Gentile 
Christians, Paul could not forget that there 
were many converts from Judaism in the 
province of Asia, and although the day of 
conflict with Pharisaic intolerance within the 
Church was over, he felt that it still remained 
for him to do what he could to foster among 
Christians everywhere, whether Jews or Gen- 
tiles, a fuller sense of their union in Christ 
through the Divine life which they all alike 
derived from Him. 1 

In this connexion the combination of Jewish 
patriotism with thankful and joyful acknow- 
ledgment of the Divine wisdom and goodness 
in the admission of the Gentiles to the cove- 
nant of salvation, which is so characteristic of 
this Epistle, could befit no one so well as 
the Apostle of the Gentiles who was also a 
Hebrew of the Hebrews. On the other hand, 
there are occasional ideas and expressions in 
the Epistle which we should not have expected 
from Paul (2 20 , 3 5 , 4 7 " n ) ; and emphasis is also 

1 Hence the appropriateness of the opening words of 
the Epistle, as rendered by B. Weiss, " to the saints who 
also believe in Jesus Christ." 


laid on aspects of the Gospel revelation on 
which he had not previously dwelt. But the 
key to many of these ideas, which seem so 
strange to us, is probably to be found in the 
Jewish apocalyptic literature which dealt with 
cosmological and eschatological problems, and 
with which the Apostle was evidently familiar. 1 
It must also be remembered that though the 
Epistle is unique, from a literary point of view, 
among the writings attributed to Paul, its poetic 
and lofty style of composition is only in keeping 
with the sublime nature of its contents, winning 
the admiration of thoughtful minds in all ages, 
and leading Coleridge to describe it as "one 
of the divinest compositions of man." 



This Epistle is very generally admitted to be 
the work of Paul. The external evidence in 
its favour is remarkably good, including a refer- 
ence which Polycarp makes, in his Epistle to the 
Philippians, to a letter they had received from 
" the blessed and glorious Paul." It breathes 
such a warm spirit of gratitude and affection, 

1 According to Origen the quotation in 1 Cor. 2 9 is 
from the Apocalypse of Elias. 


and is at the same time so circumstantial in 
many of its allusions, and so free from any sign 
of doctrinal or ecclesiastical purpose on the 
part of the writer, that any suspicion of forgery 
is now generally abandoned. 

Baur stated various objections to it, but 
none of them is considered to have much 
weight. Attributing its composition, as he 
did, to a supposed policy of conciliation in the 
second century, he found its pivot, as Light - 
foot says, 1 in the mention of Clement, a myth- 
ical or almost mythical person, whom he 
supposed to represent the union of the Petrine 
and Pauline parties in the Church. Schwegler 
then carried the theory a step farther and 
declared that the two names, Euodia and 
Syntyche, actually represent these two parties, 
while the " true yokefellow " is Peter himself ; 
then Volkmar, going still farther, held this 
fact to be indicated by the very names Euodia, 
or Rigktway, and Syntyche, or Consort, denoting 
respectively the orthodoxy of the one party 
and the incorporation of the other. Lastly 
Hitzig, lamenting that interpreters of the New 
Testament were not more thoroughly imbued 

111 Essays on Supernatural Religion," p. 24. 


with the language and spirit of the Old Testa- 
ment, maintained that these two names were 
reproductions of the patriarchs, Asher and 
Gad their sex having been changed in the 
transition from one language to another, and 
that they represented the Greek and Eoman 
elements in the Church, while the Epistle itself 
was a plagiarism from the Agricola of Tacitus ! 
Among recent critics there are very few of 
any eminence who deny the genuineness of the 
Epistle, and it is significant that Holsten, who 
is the chief of them, rejects it for other reasons 
than those adduced by Baur, and assigns it, not 
to the second century but to A.D. 70-80, soon 
after the Apostle's death. Holsten's chief ob- 
jection to the Epistle is that in some passages 
its doctrine and expression are not quite 
Pauline. But in most cases this objection can 
be satisfactorily met, and Holsten's reasoning 
has been aptly characterized by Paul Schmidt 
as " New Testament hypercriticism," while 
Schiirer says : " His arguments are so foolish 
that one is sometimes tempted to put them 
down as slips of the pen." 

Among those who admit the Pauline author- 
ship there is a growing tendency to place the 


Epistle last in the series to which it belongs. 1 
It was put first by Lightfoot and Hort on ac- 
count of its likeness to Romans from a literary 
point of view, and its freedom from any refer- 
ence to the " incipient Gnosticism " dealt with 
in Colossians and Ephesians, such as we might 
have expected to find if it had been written 
soon after these Epistles. But this argument 
loses its force when we remember that " it was 
not in Paul's way to send to Philippi an ela- 
borate treatise against a subtle, speculative 
heresy which had never affected that Church " 
(Ramsay) ; and there are various circum- 
stances alluded to in the Epistle which seem 
to show that the two years mentioned in Acts 
28 30f - were now almost over (1 m8 , 2 30 , 4 12 ' 14 ), 
and that the long-delayed trial had begun, 
preventing the Apostle from carrying on 
missionary work in private as he had been 
doing, and leading him to feel that his case 
had reached a crisis (cf. Phil. 1 7 , 2 23 f -). With 
this agrees the fact that the valued fellow- 
workers mentioned in Colossians 4 1(U4 were no 
longer available for service (Phil. 2 19 ' 21 ). 

1 Hilgenf eld, Harnack, Holtzmann, Weizsacker, Pflei- 
derer, Jiilicher, Zahn, Vincent, Moffatt, Kennedy, Gibb, etc. 


From 3 l L it has been inferred by a number 
of critics (Liinemann, Ewald, Schenkel, Man- 
gold), that this was not the first time Paul 
had written to the Philippians, and it has also 
been argued by Lemoyne (1685), Heinrichs, 
Hausrath, Spitta, Volter, Clemen, and others, 
that our Philippians is made up of several 
letters, written in whole or in part by Paul. 
The most plausible form of this theory finds a 
genuine letter in chapters 1, 2, and another in 
chapters 3, 4 ; each letter concluding, as usual, 
with a number of personal references (2 19 " 30 , 
and 4). If this view be adopted, Hausrath and 
Bacon are probably right in thinking that the 
order of the two letters should be reversed (cf. 
2 20 f -, and 4 2l f -). But the unity of the Epistle 
is still maintained by most writers, and even van 
Manen, who assigns it to about 125 A.D., admits 
that there is no appearance of patchwork about 
it. If the abrupt change in 3 l ft * requires ex- 
planation, it may perhaps be found, as Ewald 
and Keuss have suggested, in some fresh news 
the Apostle had received of Jewish hypocrisy 
and wickedness, which led him to write as he 
has done in chapter 3, although he had no in- 
tention of doing so when he began the Epistle. 







IT is generally agreed that the Pastoral 
Epistles (I and II Timothy, and Titus) cannot 
be assigned to any period in the life of Paul 
as recorded in the Book of Acts. The at- 
tempts, recently made by J. V. Bartlet, W. E. 
Bowen and others, to harmonize the statements 
and allusions in them with the course of 
events narrated by Luke are not regarded as 
satisfactory, 1 and if we were shut up to the 

1 The latest statement of this position will be found in 
an able and ingenious article by Prof. Bartlet in the " Ex- 
positor " for April, 1913, in which he seeks to prove that 
I Timothy and Titus were written soon after Paul's arrival 



belief that Paul was never set free from the 
imprisonment in which the Book of Acts leaves 
him, we should be constrained to abandon the 
idea that he ever wrote these Epistles. 

But in point of fact there is much to be said 
in favour of the supposition that Paul's appeal 
to Caesar resulted in his acquittal, and that 
he was thus enabled to resume his missionary 
labours. Sir William Ramsay holds that such 
a result was to be expected, having regard to 
the Roman law and policy of the time ; and of 
this we have some confirmation in the favour- 
able opinion of the Apostle's case which was 
expressed by Festus and Agrippa, when he 
was brought up for trial at Caesarea (Acts 25 
is, 25 . 26 31 f - ; 28 17 ' 19 ). Paul himself seems to 
have expected to be set free, if we may judge 
from the hopeful way in which he expresses 
himself in Philemon v. 22 and Phil. 2 23 f> , as 
compared with II Timothy 4 6 " 8 , where he 
speaks as if his career were practically over. 
There is another passage in II Timothy, 
namely 4 1<W8 , which seems to contain a reference 

in Eome, say in the early summer of 60, and II Timothy 
two years later, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and 
Philippians having been composed in the interval. 


to his acquittal and to the opportunity which 
had thus been afforded him for an extension of 
his apostolic work. 

Tradition bears testimony to the same 
effect. The First Epistle of Clement (c. A.D. 
95) speaks of Paul having gone to " the 
bound of the West,"- 1 and the Muratorian 
Fragment mentions that he went to Spain, 
while Eusebius and Jerome seem to have no 
doubt that he was set at liberty. 3 On all these 
grounds a considerable number of eminent 

1 Against these statements no weight can be attached 
to the presentiment expressed by Paul, some years before, 
to the Ephesian elders at Miletus : " And now, behold, I 
know that ye all, among whom I went about preaching the 
kingdom, shall see my face no more " (Acts 20 25 ). 

2 The words that follow : " And having borne witness 
before the rulers he was thus released from the world and 
went to the holy place " might suggest Rome as the 
Western limit referred to, if Clement had not been writing 
from that city, where the expression would naturally refer 
to Spain, especially as the Apostle had declared it to be 
his intention to pay a visit to that country. 

3 Several apocryphal works of the second century, viz., 
" Acts of Peter and John," " Acts of Peter," and " Acts of 
Paul," imply that the Apostle was liberated and afterwards 
suffered martyrdom in the Neronian persecution. But 
the " Acts of Paul and Peter " assumes that his first trial 
at Borne had a fatal termination, 


critics, including Harnack, Jacquier, Light- 
foot, Salmon, Hort, Zahn, Spitta, Findlay, and 
Bernard, regard the Apostle's liberation, if 
not as an assured fact (Harnack), as highly 
probable. On this hypothesis there is no 
difficulty in finding room in the Apostle's sub- 
sequent life (59-64) for the composition of these 
Epistles and for the events which they imply 
I Timothy and Titus being assigned to the 
period of his renewed activity, and II Timothy 
to the later imprisonment at Rome, before 
his martyrdom under Nero (64 A.D.). 

As regards the external evidence for the 
genuineness of the Epistles, it is generally 
admitted that expressions derived from I and 
II Timothy are to be found in the writings of 
Polycarp, and, from all the three Epistles, in 
the letters of Ignatius. Clement of Rome also 
uses language apparently borrowed from the 
Epistles, but in order to escape the force of 
his testimony it has been suggested that the 
writer of the Epistles may have been the 
borrower, though he must have known that, in 
putting into the mouth of the Apostle language 
derived from so well known a writer as 
Clement, he was running a great risk , of 


having his pseudonymity detected and his 
letters condemned. The most serious defect 
in the external evidence is that the Epistles 
are not included in the Canon of Marcion, 
but this is sufficiently accounted for by their 
insistence on sound doctrine, which Marcion, 
with his heretical views, could not be expected 
to appreciate. 1 

As regards internal evidence, there are 
several things which have excited the grave 
suspicion of a great many critics. Origen 
tells us of some people in his day who dared 
to reject II Timothy on account of its quoting 
from an apocryphal book about Jannes and 
Jambres (II Tim. 3 8 ). But this objection does 
not seem to have been widely felt, and the 
only serious opposition to the Epistles which 
we hear of in the early Church, was among a 
few heretical teachers, such as Marcion, 
Basilides, and Tatian (the last of whom ac- 
cepted Titus only) ; and the three Epistles are 

1 The fact of the Epistles being addressed not to 
Churches but to individuals may have furnished Marcion 
with an excuse for their omission. It is true that he in- 
cluded Philemon in his Canon, but it is almost inseparable 
from Colossians (which he admitted), and it comes last of 
all in his list. 


included by Eusebius in his list of books uni- 
versally received. 

It was not till the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century that an attack was made upon 
them by the Higher Criticism. In 1804 
I Timothy was called in question by J. E. C. 
Schmidt, and in 1807 Schleiermacher suggested 
that it was based on II Timothy and Titus. 
Suspicion gradually extended to the two latter 
also, and in 1812 all three were declared 
spurious by Eichhorn, followed by de Wette 
and Schrader. In 1835 Baur pronounced them 
to be productions of the second century (c. 
150), designed to counteract the Gnostic teach- 
ing of Marcion and others, to which he found 
allusions in such passages as I Timothy 1 4 ; 
4 3, 8 . 6 20 . Titus ! u f. . 3 9 A similar date was 

adopted by Schwegler and Hilgenfeld ; but re- 
cently the adherents of the anti-traditional 
school have taken a different line, in view of 
the Jewish character of the errors referred to 
in I Timothy 1 4 and Titus 1 10t u , and on account 
of the light thrown upon the " fables and end- 
less genealogies " by Philo's work on the sub- 
ject of Biblical Antiquities, and the Book of 
Jubilees, which show that it is not emanations 


of reons and angels that are referred to (as Baur 
imagined) but allegorical interpretations of 
Old Testament pedigrees. As for the " op- 
positions of science falsely so called " (I Tim. 
6 20 ), which Baur supposed to refer to the 
antitheses (or contrasts) that Marcion had made 
out between the Old and the New Testament 
and had taken as a name for one of his books, 
it is now generally agreed that this view is 
untenable, the most probable explanation be- 
ing that the oppositions referred to were the 
rival decisions of Jewish Rabbis on minute 
points of law, which gave rise to endless con- 

In these circumstances most of the critics 
referred to find the milieu of the Epistles in 
the end of the first, or the first quarter 
of the second, century (Holtzmann, Jiilicher, 
Pfleiderer, Beyschlag, Weizsacker, von So- 
den). Among English scholars opinion is 
divided, the genuineness of the Epistles being 
maintained by Hort, Lightfoot, Salmon, San- 
day, Findlay, Bernard, Lock, Ramsay, Know- 
ling, Newport White, Shaw, Grierson (in 
common with such continental critics as 
Zahn, B. Weiss, Belser, Blass, and Riggenbach), 


but denied, in a general sense, by S. Davidson, 
McGiffert, Moffatt, 1 Peake, Strachan, R. Scott, 
and others, who (with the majority of foreign 
critics) admit the genuineness of a few frag- 
ments only, which are to be found in II Tim- 
othy, especially 1 lf - 15 - 18 , 4 9 - 21 , and in Titus. 2 

A great amount of industry and ingenuity 
has been expended 3 in the attempt to deter- 
mine precisely the original documents, and 

J In the E.Bi. Dr. Moffatt declares this view to be 
"one of the best established in New Testament research." 
On the other hand, Canon Grierson in Hastings' most re- 
cent D.B. says: "The general tendency of criticism may 
be said to be towards establishing their genuineness." 
In his recent volume in the I.T.L., Moffatt describes the 
three Epistles as "pseudonymous compositions of a 
Paulinist who wrote during the period of transition into 
the neo- Catholic church of the second century, with the 
aim of safeguarding the common Christianity of the age in 
terms of the great Pauline tradition." 

2 II Timothy is accepted in its entirety (without the two 
others) by Neander, Bleek, Beuss, and Heinrici. Almost 
every reader is struck with its earnestness and sincerity, 
and the verisimilitude of many of its personal allusions, 
especially in the last chapter, where many proper names 
are introduced, both new and old. 

3 By Holtzmann, Hitzig, Hausrath, Hilgenfeld, Lemme, 
Harnack, Hesse, von Soden, Clemen, Krenkel, McGiffert, 
Moffatt, Bacon, and others, led by Credner (1836). 


trace the process of expansion and adaptation 
by which the Epistles reached their present 
form l but without much success, if we may 
judge from the conflicting nature of the results. 
The critics have taken great liberties with the 
text, even II Timothy 4 9 ' 21 , which bears unmis- 
takable tokens of genuineness, being cut up into 
an earlier and a later fragment, in order to get 
rid of its testimony to a second imprisonment 
at Rome. The use of the knife has become 
almost as fashionable in Biblical Criticism as 
in medical surgery. But whereas in surgery 
operations are not resorted to till the presence 
of disease has been ascertained and located 
on indubitable evidence, our Biblical patho- 
logists have often no evidence to offer but their 
own impressions of what the writer could, 
would, or should have written, and they hardly 
ever agree as to the specific operations that 
are needed for the removal of extraneous 
matter and the restoration of a sound text. 

At the same time, it cannot be denied that 
the marked difference in the diction, style, 
reasoning, and subject-matter of these Epistles, 

1 According to Harnack, the process went on till 150 A.D., 
chiefly 90-110, the date of the nuclei being 59-64. 


as compared with the other writings of Paul, 
creates for the critic a difficult problem, which 
resolves itself into the question whether a suffi- 
cient explanation of the difference can be found 
in the special circumstances under which the 
Apostle wrote, and the special purposes which 
the Epistles were intended to serve. 

The excessive number of new words and 
phrases is itself a serious difficulty. The 
number of such expressions is no less than 171, 
averaging one for every verse and a half, which 
is a much larger proportion than is found in any 
of Paul's other Epistles. Some of them are 
Latinisms, which may be attributed to his re- 
cent Western association, and for the rest it has 
to be remembered that the previous Epistles 
reveal a gradual extension of the Apostle's 
vocabulary, as he advanced in life and was 
confronted with new problems in different parts 
of the world. If the verbal peculiarities are 
more numerous here than elsewhere, it is only 
what might have been expected considering 
that the Apostle was now engaged in a task 
which he had not previously been called to 
perform. It was not a task that was likely to 
give rise to lofty flights of eloquence, such as 


we find in some of Paul's earlier Epistles, 
neither did it call for the exercise of the dia- 
lectical powers which he possessed in a high 
degree. The absence of his favourite Greek 
particles, and the comparative smoothness of 
the style, may reasonably be attributed to the 
fact that he was not arguing, but giving practi- 
cal directions with reference to the worship, 
discipline, and government of the Church ; and 
if the composition shows less spirit and freedom 
than usual, we have to remember that the 
writer was no longer possessed of the fire of 
youth, but was now " Paul the aged," in a 
fuller sense than when he used these words in 
his letter to Philemon. 1 

One of the arguments for regarding the 
Epistles as compilations made some time after 
the Apostle's death is the want of logical 
connexion sometimes observable in them, but 
the force of the argument is broken by the fact 
that Pauline words and phrases and ideas are 

1 It is of course possible that the amanuensis may have 
had a hand in the composition, and it has been suggested 
that Luke (II Tim. 4 n ) may have been the amanuensis, 
or even the author. Grau thinks the Epistles may even 
have been written by Timothy and Titus themselves. 


to be found not only in the few passages which 
are confessedly genuine, but in many other 
places. This fact shows that, if the Epistles 
weie not written by Paul himself, they must 
have been produced by some one who desired 
to pass for the Apostle. In that case how are 
we to account for the fact that in many re- 
spects he makes no attempt to preserve Paul's 
obvious characteristics as a letter-writer ? The 
same argument applies to the historical notes 
he has introduced into the Epistles, which are 
so difficult to reconcile with the Apostle's life 
as recorded in Acts. Why has he not tried 
to harmonize his inventions with the historical 
data already familiar to readers of the New 
Testament ? 

It is alleged by many critics that the condi- 
tion of the Church as reflected in these Epistles 
shows a great advance on what we read of in 
the earlier letters, both as regards organized 
effort and fixity of doctrine, and that such an 
advance could not have taken place in the 
Apostle's lifetime. But it has to be remem- 
bered that the Church was still in the full 
flush of its youthful enthusiasm and energy, 
which would naturally seek expression in new 


forms of thought and action. Hitherto its life 
and doctrine, in those parts of the world in 
which Timothy and Titus were called to labour, 
had been largely regulated and controlled by 
the personal influence of Paul, and now that 
his life^ was drawing to a close, he felt that the 
time had come when it behoved him to see to 
the preservation of the great truths of the 
Gospel which he had laboured to establish 
that they might be handed down as a precious 
deposit to future generations, and also to se- 
cure that suitable means were provided for 
the carrying on of the work and worship of 
the Church, after his guiding hand had been 

If it be true that the Epistles are a 
compilation got up in the interests of an 
ecclesiastical policy, it is strange that the 
author did not put more of the genuine Pauline 
remains into the First Epistle, which is much 
more important, from an ecclesiastical point 
of view, than II Timothy. It is also strange 
that a compiler actuated by such a motive 
should have so little to say about questions 
of organization strictly so-called, taking for 
granted the various officials and classes to 


whom he refers, and directing all his efforts to 
the maintenance of a high moral and religious 
standard among those who are in any way 
called to represent the Church. 

As regards the inferences to be drawn from 
the ecclesiastical situation disclosed in the 
Epistles, we have a decisive proof that the 
writer could not have belonged to the sub- 
apostolic age, in the fact that there is here no 
trace either of the monarchical episcopate to 
which Ignatius, writing about A.D. 115, attaches 
so much importance, or of the diocesan episco- 
pate which made its appearance somewhat 
later. As in Philippians (1 1 ), bishops and 
deacons are still the two orders responsible 
for the teaching and superintendence of the 
Church ; and, as in the Book of Acts (20 17 ' 
28 ), " bishop " and " presbyter " (or " elder ") are 
convertible terms (I Tim. 1 5> 7 ; 3 1J ; 5 17 ' 22 ; 
Titus 1 5 - 9 ). The position held by Timothy at 
Ephesus and by Titus at Crete was evidently 
temporary ; they were acting as the Apostle's 
delegates, commissioned to do a special work, 
as they had done elsewhere on former occa- 

There are a number of other objections of a 


minor nature which have been taken to the 
Pauline authorship of the Epistles. It is said, 
for example, that the writer's attitude towards 
Timothy, which would have been appropriate 
enough in addressing a young and inexperienced 
worker, is altogether out of place in the 
case of a man like- Timothy, who had been 
already about fifteen years in the mission field 
(1 Tim. 1 12 ' 18 ; 2 7 ; 4 14 ; 5 22 ; 2 Tim. 1 3 - 4 - 6 - u , 
3 n ' 15 ). But age is relative, and the lapse of time 
was not likely to make any difference on Paul's 
view of Timothy as still " my true child in 
faith." Timothy appears to have been neither 
strong in body (I Tim. 5 23 ), nor self-reliant in 
spirit ; and when we consider the great re- 
sponsibilities which the Apostle was laying 
upon him, we cannot wonder at the solemn ex- 
hortations he addresses to him, almost in the 
form of a last will and testament. Both in his 
personal reminiscences and in his anxiety for 
Timothy's future (II Tim. 4 1 - 18 ), Paul's lan- 
guage is very natural in the circumstances ; and 
the same may be said of his tone in address- 
ing Titus, which is much less tender, because 
he knows him to be quite competent for the 
work entrusted to him, It has been well 


said that such delicate variations form an 
excellent proof of genuineness. 

As regards the writer's assertion of his apos- 
tolic authority, to which objection has also been 
taken, some of the Jewish Christians may have 
still been disposed to call in question Paul's 
apostleship, and in any case there could be 
no impropriety in his alluding to it, when he 
was appointing two comparatively young men 
to act as his deputies over such a wide area. 

Again, it has been pointed out, as at variance 
with Pauline usage, that the word " faith " 
is occasionally employed in these Epistles in 
an objective sense, to denote a system of 
doctrine rather than a personal union with 
Christ, while the word " righteousness," on the 
other hand, is used to denote a personal virtue, 
instead of expressing a theological abstraction. 
But in both these cases the Apostle's language 
was probably in keeping with the changing 
usage of the Church, which was now realizing 
the necessity of safeguarding the interests both 
of Christian ethics as represented by righteous- 
ness, and of Christian doctrine as embodied in 
the creed. 

There are other things in the Epistles 


which are alleged to betray their non- 
Pauline origin, such as the want of any ade- 
quate occasion for a written communication, 
as the Apostle could have found an oppor- 
tunity to give oral instructions ; the want of 
any due recognition of spiritual gifts to be 
exercised by private members of the Church ; 
the occurrence in the Epistles of proverbial 
sayings already current in the Church, and of 
apparent quotations from Christian hymns and 
confessions (I Tim. 1 16 ; 3 16 ; 4 9 ; 6 12 " 16 ; II 
Tim. 2 2 - 8 - n ; 4 x ; Titus 3 8 ) ; the repetition, in 
II Timothy 4 6 , of an illustration referring to 
Paul's approaching death, which he had already 
used in a similar sense in Philippians 2 17 . But 
it may be fairly said that hardly any of these 
features presents any real difficulty, when con- 
sidered in the light of all the circumstances. 

Probably the authorship of the Epistles will 
always remain a subject of controversy, but, by 
whatever process they may have reached their 
present form, we may well believe that they 
represent the ripest fruits of Paul's experi- 
ence as a preacher and as an administrator. 
Though they make no fresh contribution to 
Christian theology, they reconcile in a practical 


form, under the name of " godliness " (an ex- 
pression characteristic of the Epistles), the rival 
interests of faith and works, of doctrine and 
morality, and set before the office-bearers of 
the Church an ideal of pastoral character and 
duty, which has done much during the last 
nineteen centuries to deepen their sense of 
responsibility and keep them faithful to their 
high calling. 

Assuming that the Epistles were written by 
Paul shortly before his death, we may date 
them about A.D. 64. 


In our English Version this Epistle bears 
the title " The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to 
the Hebrews," but in the oldest manuscript of 
which we have any knowledge, the only words 
prefixed are, " To the Hebrews " ; and, unlike 
all the other Epistles attributed to Paul, it 
contains no intimation that it was either 
authorized or penned by him. The first au- 
thority whom we find attributing the writ- 
ing to Paul is Pantaenus of Alexandria, who 
accounted for its being anonymous by the 


desire of the writer to avoid the appearance 
of usurping the position of Apostle to the 
Hebrews, which belonged to Christ himself. 
Pantsenus's successor, Clement of Alexandria, 
regarded it as probable that Paul had written 
the original in Hebrew, which had been trans- 
lated by Luke, and that the suppression of 
Paul's name had been due to a fear of offend- 
ing Hebrew prejudice. Origen, who evidently 
shared the hesitation felt by his predecessors 
at Alexandria in acknowledging the Pauline 
authorship, suggested that the Epistle had 
probably been composed by some one from 
personal recollections of the Apostle's teaching, 
and mentions that it was held by some to be 
the work of Clement of Rome, and by others 
of Luke. Notwithstanding the doubts thus 
felt by some of those most competent to judge, 
the Epistle was admitted into the Peshitta as 
part of the Syriac Canon, and before the end of 
the third century it was commonly regarded 
by the Eastern Church as a genuine writing of 

In the West, on the other hand, notwith- 
standing the use of the Epistle by Clement of 
Rome in the first century (95-6), there is no 


trace of its being acknowledged by any one as 
canonical for a century and a half afterwards. 
It had no place in Marcion's Canon, and is not 
mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment, unless 
under the name of " ad Alexandrinos." We 
do not find it in the Old Latin Version, and 
its apostolic character was not acknowledged 
by Irenaeus, Hippolytus, or Caius three very 
important witnesses in the second and third 
century. It is true that Tertullian of Carthage 
(c. A.D. 220) quotes it, but he attributes it, not 
to Paul, but Barnabas ; and Cyprian (c. 250) 
makes no use of it, notwithstanding the em- 
phasis it lays on Christ's priestly character. 
Eusebius mentions that the Epistle was ques- 
tioned at Kome, on the ground that it was not 
written by Paul. This continued to be the 
case for some time afterwards, and it was not 
till the beginning of the fifth century that the 
Epistle came to be accepted by the whole 
Church as the work of Paul, partly owing to 
the high value set upon its teaching, and partly 
through the deference which Jerome and 
Augustine were disposed to pay to the senti- 
ment and usage of the Eastern Church. 

If the external testimonv to the Pauline 


authorship is quite inadequate, the internal 
evidence is still less favourable. Indeed, the 
Epistle is so unlike the other writings attri- 
buted to Paul, both as regards style and 
diction (notwithstanding a few verbal coinci- 
dences) ; it differs from them so much in its 
mode of quotation from the Old Testament, 
in which it invariably follows the Septuagint ; 
and it looks at Judaism from such a different 
point of view l (the priesthood of Christ, to 
which it gives prominence, being almost en- 
tirely absent from Paul's acknowledged writ- 
ings), that the idea of its being in any sense a 
production of the Apostle's is abandoned by 
all who take an interest in New Testament 

For a long time discussion has turned on 
the comparative probability of other names 
suggested, and the destination of the Epistle 
has also engaged a considerable amount of 
attention. A good many critics, beginning 
with Roth, in 1836, and including more recently 
Weizsacker, Schiirer, Pfleiderer, von Soden, 

1 " The one abolishes the Law, the other transfigures 
it. ..." The one was revolutionist, the other evolu- 
tionist." Menegoz. 


Jlilicher, Wrede, Harnack, Feine, McGiffert, 
Bacon, and Moffatt, are disposed to reject the 
early and unanimous tradition that the Epistle 
was addressed to Jewish Christians. But, 
while it undoubtedly contains many things 
equally suitable for Gentile and for Jewish 
readers, in its main features it appears to have 
been specially fitted to meet the intellectual 
and spiritual needs of those who had been 
converted from the Jewish to the Christian 
faith. Its argument from first to last is built 
upon the teaching of the Old Testament, it 
takes for granted a deep and intelligent in- 
terest, on the part of its readers, in the whole 
Jewish ritual, and its allusions to " the fathers " 
(1 x ), "the seed of Abraham" (2 16 ), "the 
people " (5 3 ; 7 u - 27 ; 13 12 ), and " the camp " (13 
13 ), are such as we might expect if both writer 
and readers were of the stock of Israel. 
Although the title "To the Hebrews" is 
probably nothing more than the supposition 
of an ancient copyist, it expresses the view 
which a perusal of the Epistle naturally pro- 
duces on the reader, and the arguments to the 
contrary which are drawn from a few iso- 
lated passages (6 1 f> ; 3 12fh ) are quite insufficient 


to remove this general impression. The object 
of the communication was to strengthen its 
readers under the trials to which they were 
exposed at the hands of their infatuated 
fellow-countrymen as well as from other 
sources. For this purpose they are reminded 
of the heavenly inheritance to which they 
have succeeded as followers of the risen and 
exalted Christ, in whom the promises made to 
their fathers will yet have a glorious fulfil- 
ment, with which all the blessings of the Old 
Testament dispensation are unworthy to be 
compared. It appears that their early en- 
thusiasm had grown cold, and that there had 
been a serious declension in their spiritual 
life ; but whether the danger which now 
threatened them was that of relapsing into 
Judaism (which is the view generally taken), 
or of falling into unbelief and idolatry (Zahn, 
von Soden, Jtilicher, G. Milligan, and others) 
is not very clear (6 " ; 10 28 f ). 

According to Reuss, Lipsius, Wrede, and 
others, the Epistle was originally intended for 
Hebrew Christians in general, and the last 
chapter with its personal details was an 
addition intended to give the composition an 


epistolary complexion and adapt it to the case 
of a particular Church or congregation. But 
this view is refuted by the fact that the special 
circumstances of the readers are referred to 
not only in the concluding chapter but in 

several places in the body of the Epistle (5 12 ; 
6 9 f. . 1Q 32 ff. . 12 4) . and Qne of the p ro blems 

of Criticism is to determine to what Church in 
particular the Epistle was addressed. Jerusa- 
lem, Caesarea, Ephesus, Antioch, Alexandria, 
and Rome have all been suggested, and some- 
thing can be said for each of them. In some 
respects Jerusalem is the place where we can 
imagine that Jewish Christians would be ex- 
posed to the greatest trial of their faith, owing 
to the fanatical rejection of the Gospel by the 
majority of their countrymen, and the dis- 
appointment of their own hopes of a speedy 
return of the Saviour in His divine power and 
glory. 1 But there are references in the Epistle 
(2 3 ; 5 12 ; 6 10 ; 10 34 ) which seem to be at 
variance with this hypothesis ; and the em- 
ployment of the Greek language, and constant 
reference to the Septuagint, are regarded by 

1 This is the view taken by Hort, Salmon, Westcott, and 


many as proving that the Epistle could not 
have been written by anyone likely to have 
influence with the most conservative section 
of the Jewish Christians in the metropolis. 

Recently there has been a strong tendency 
to identify the readers with the members of a 
congregation at Rome (Rom. 16 5i 14> 15 ; cf. 
Heb. 13 17 and 24 ), composed mainly of 
Jewish Christians. 1 This gives the most 
natural interpretation to the words in 13 24 , 
" They of Italy salute you," as conveying 
the greetings of Italian exiles to fellow- 
Christians at Rome, and it also explains the 
intended visit of Timothy, who was much con- 
nected with Rome in his later years, and the 
acquaintance with the Epistle shown by 
Clement of Rome. In this connexion it is in- 
teresting to learn from ancient inscriptions 
that one of the synagogues in Rome bore the 
name of the " Synagogue of the Hebrews.' 


1 So Renan, Pfleiderer, Harnack, Zahn. 

2 Prof. J. Dickie in an article in the " Expositor " for 
April, 1913, has suggested that the homily may have 
been addressed to a latitudinarian House-Church tinged 
with Alexandrianism, whose interest, both in Judaism and 
Christianity, was largely of a speculative nature, and that 
the congregation may have died out, leaving no cherished 


As regards authorship, there is little to be 
said in favour of Clement (suggested by 
Erasmus), even if we suppose the salutation to 
have been sent from Ttaly and the Epistle to 
have emanated from Rome. While there is 
some resemblance between the two writers, 
Hebrews is on a far higher level than we can 
conceive the author of the Epistle of Clement 
to have been capable of ; and, if he had been 
the writer, his name would have been almost 
sure to be preserved. 

As regards Luke, the fact that he was a 
Gentile (Col. 4 l4 and n ) precludes the possi- 
bility of his having been the author, notwith- 
standing the linguistic similarities which have 
been observed between this Epistle and his 
acknowledged works in the New Testament. 

A name which has the support, as we have 
seen, of Tertullian of Carthage, who had some 
connexion with Rome, is that of Barnabas. 
From his associations as a Levite, his know- 
ledge of Greek as a native of Cyprus, his de- 
vout character, and his influence in the early 
Church, we can readily imagine him to have 

memories behind it, which would account for the want of 
any reliable tradition regarding the history of the Epistle. 


written such an epistle as this, especially if it 
be true, as tradition affirms, that he had some 
connexion with Alexandria, whose allegorical 
mode of thought is reflected in the Epistle. 
Against all this, however, we have to set the 
facts that, so far as we know, Barnabas had 
never any connexion with Rome, and that, 
if the Epistle was addressed to a Church in 
the East, his name as the author could scarcely 
have fallen into oblivion. 

One of the most plausible conjectures is 
that which was favoured, if not originated, by 
Luther, namely, that Apollos was the author. 
The description given, in Acts 18 24 ' 28 , of this 
remarkable man and his preaching as a Jew, 
an Alexandrian by race, a learned man, 
mighty in the Scriptures, who powerfully con- 
futed the Jews, shewing by the Scriptures 
that Jesus was the Christ would afford 
strong confirmation of his authorship, if there 
was any ancient tradition in its favour ; but 
failing such tradition we can only claim for 
the suggestion a high degree of probability. 1 

1 Prof. J. V. Bartlet, in an article in the " Expositor " for 
June, 1913, argues that the Epistle was written by Apollos 
from Rome to Jewish Christians in Ephesus c. 62 A.D. 


Another interesting conjecture, originally 
broached by Bleek, has recently been advo- 
cated with great ability by Harnack (who was 
at one time in favour of Barnabas), and has 
been worked out by Rendel Harris. They 
are of opinion that the Epistle was composed 
by Priscilla and Aquila, two eminent bene- 
factors of the Church, who gave their house 
in Rome as a place of meeting for public wor- 
ship (Rom. 16 3 ff ), before they were banished 
from that city by the edict of Claudius (Acts 
18 2 ), and of whose distinguished zeal and 
ability we have a proof in the fact that when 
they heard Apollos speaking in the synagogue 
at Ephesus, and perceived that he knew only 
the baptism of John, " they took him unto 
them, and expounded unto him the way of God 
more carefully" (Acts 18 24 *). If Priscilla 
had the chief hand in the composition and it 
is noticeable that on several occasions her 
name precedes that of her husband this 
would account for the prominence given to 
women (Deborah excepted) in the roll-call of 
faith in the eleventh chapter, and it might 
also explain how the authors' names had been 
suppressed in deference to Paul's disapproval 


of female teaching in the Church. If we may 
suppose that Apollos collaborated with Pris- 
cilla and Aquila it would render the theory 
still more probable. 1 

According to Sir William Ramsay, the com- 
munication was sent by Philip to the Judaizing 
section of the Church in Jerusalem, as the 
result of discussions held with Paul during his 
imprisonment at Caesarea, the concluding 
passage only having come from the Apostle's 
pen. Even this slight reservation is not 
approved by E. L. Hicks, who attributes the 
whole composition to Philip, basing his argu- 
ment chiefly on a comparison of the language 
of the Epistle with that of Colossians and 
Ephesians, which he also assigns to the period 
of the imprisonment at Caesarea. But, besides 
sharing in the defect common to almost all 
the suggestions which have been mentioned, 
namely, a want of external testimony of any 
real value in their favour, this theory is 
rendered unlikely by the fact that there is in 
the Epistle little trace of the Pauline type of 

x The change from the plural to the singular in 13 18 . f - 
and in 13 23 may be due to the writer being associated 
with others in the composition or sending of the Epistle. 


doctrine, and it is also open to the objections, 
already stated, to the idea that the Epistle was 
addressed to Christians Jiving in Jerusalem. 

The name of Silvanus (Silas) has also been 
suggested. He was at one time a leader of 
the primitive Church in Jerusalem (Acts 15 **), 
and accompanied Paul on his second mission- 
ary journey. Later he became a coadjutor of 
Peter, acting as his amanuensis or secretary 
in the writing of I Peter (5 12 ). We also find 
him associated with Timothy in preaching 
(II Cor. 1 19 ) and correspondence (I Thess. 1 1 , 
II Thess. 1 1 ). But beyond these general facts 
no evidence can be adduced in support of 
the theory, except the resemblance between 
I Peter and Hebrews, which shows that there 
was some degree of indebtedness on the one 
side or the other. Peter himself has been 
suggested on the strength of this resemblance, 
but 2 8 b< gives the impression that the writer 
had not been himself a hearer of Christ, and, 
so far as we know, Peter had never come 
under the influence of Alexandrian culture. 

The date we are to assign to the Epistle 
depends largely on the question whether the 
destruction of Jerusalem by Titus had already 


taken place. While the first impression we re- 
ceive from the reading of the Epistle is that the 
Temple was still standing, it cannot be denied 
that on closer examination certain passages, 
which were supposed to warrant this conclu- 
sion, are found to be capable of a different 
interpretation, and that the ritual which the 
writer had in view was that of the Tabernacle, 
not of the Temple. But it is scarcely conceiv- 
able that, if the Temple and its ritual had been 
already swept away, no reference should have 
been made by the writer to this crowning 
proof of the transitory character of the Old 
Testament dispensation, and that he should 
still have ventured to ask with reference to 
the appointed sacrifices (as if the answer would 
confirm his argument), " Else would they not 
have ceased to be offered ? " (10 2 ). Whether 
there is a reference in 10 32 ff- to the Neronian 
persecution has been much disputed. If there 
be, the Epistle could not have been written 
much before A.D. 70. It is more likely, how- 
ever, that the reference is to the sufferings of 
Christians in connexion with the expulsion qf 
the Jews from Rome by Claudius, and in that 
case the date of writing may be A.D. 64, or 


even earlier. The year 66 is favoured by 
Hilgenfeld, Llinemann, Schtirer, Weiss, Godet, 
and Westcott. Others have in view the 
persecution under Domitian, and prefer a date 
between 81 and 96. 

On the whole, it must be confessed that this 
is one of the Books of the New Testament 
regarding whose authorship and destination 
Criticism has yielded comparatively little fruit. 
We have still to say with Origen, " Who it was 
that wrote the Epistle God only knows 
certainly." But happily its value is to a great 
extent independent of such questions, for it 
speaks for itself from an exegetical point of 
view, and no question of forgery is involved, 
as no name is put forward. We may add 
that this is one of the few compositions in the 
New Testament whose beauty of style gave 
promise of the literary culture that was one 
day to be associated with Christianity. 

These Epistles are seven in number, viz., 
James ; I and II Peter ; I, II, and III John ; and 

1 In connexion with these writings the distinction be- 
tween " letter "and " epistle " has been strongly emphasized 



Jude. They have been known as the Catholic 
Epistles from the end of the second century 

by a number of recent writers. The Catholic Epistles 
"are compositions addressed to Christians one might 
perhaps say the Church in general. The catholicity of 
the address implies, of course, a catholicity in the contents. 
What the Church calls catholic we require only to call 
epistle, and the unsolved enigma with which, according to 
Overbeck, they present us, is brought nearer to a solution. 
The special position of these 'letters,' which is indicated 
by their having the attribute catholic instinctively applied 
to them, is due precisely to their literary character; 
catholic means in this connexion literary. The impossi- 
bility of recognizing the ' letters ' of Peter, James, and 
Jude, as real letters follows directly from the peculiarity in 
the form of their address. . . . The only way by which 
the letters could reach such ideal addresses was to have 
them reproduced in numbers from the first. But that 
means that they were literature. ... It is true, indeed, 
that these Catholic Epistles are Christian literature : their 
authors had no desire to enrich universal literature ; they 
wrote their books for a definite circle of people with the 
same views as themselves, that is, for Christians ; but 
books they wrote. ... It also follows from their character 
as epistles that the question of authenticity is not nearly 
so important for them as for the Pauline letters. It is 
allowable that in the epistle the personality of the writer 
should be less prominent ; whether it is completely veiled, 
as, for instance, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, or whether 
it modestly hides itself behind some great name of the past, 
as in other cases, does not matter ; considered in the light 


onwards, to distinguish them from the Epistles 
of Paul (including Hebrews), which were ad- 
dressed to individual Churches and were attri- 
buted to one Apostle only. They sometimes 
fill a whole Greek manuscript ; in the case of 
manuscripts comprising the whole New Testa- 
ment, they either follow the order given in our 
English Bible, or stand between Acts and the 
Pauline Epistles. 

The first of these Epistles bears the super- 
scription : " James, a servant of God and of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which 
are of the Dispersion, greeting." Opinion re- 
garding its authorship is almost as divided now 
as it was in the fourth century, when it was 
placed by Eusebius among the Antilegomena or 
" Disputed " Books of the New Testament. 
The majority of continental critics regard it as 
a work of the second or latter part of the first 
century, rejecting the traditional authorship 
of the book, partly on account of the want of 
early testimony in its favour, partly because 

of ancient literary practices, this is not only not strange, 
hut in reality quite natural." Deissmann's "Bible Studies," 
pp. 51, 52, 54. 


they think they have detected in it features of 
a post-apostolic character, and partly also be- 
cause it seems to them improbable that a 
Palestinian Jew of no great education should 
have had such a good command of the Greek 
language as is shown in this Epistle. Baur saw 
in it what he called " a toned-down Jewish 
Christianity," and assigned it to about A.D. 110. 
Harnack puts it still later, regarding it as a 
compilation (c. 170) of heterogeneous passages 
taken from Christian homilies, which were 
written between A.D. 120 and 140, based partly 
on sayings of Jesus, partly on those of Jewish 
and Gentile moralists. He finds in it the same 
kind of degenerate Christianity that appears 
in Clement, Hermas, Justin, and other writers 
of the second century. Julicher holds part of 
it to be of Jewish origin, and characterizes it 
as " perhaps the least Christian book of the 
New Testament." He regards it as a work 
of the second quarter of the second century, 
issued in the name of James, the Lord's brother, 
in order to secure a wide circulation for it in 
the Church. 

According to Bruckner, the Epistle was 
forged by an Essene at Rome in the latter half 


of the second century. Pfleiderer, on the other 
hand, regards it as a product of the "practical 
Catholicism " which gained the ascendency in 
the Church before the middle of the second 
century. Spitta (like Massebieau) has pro- 
pounded a theory according to which the 
Epistle is a Christian adaptation of a Jewish 
work of the first century, the only change 
needed to restore it to its original form being 
the deletion of a few words referring to Jesus 
Christ at the beginning of the first and second 
chapters. Von Soden, while regarding many 
passages as of Jewish origin (especially 3 1J8 ; 
4 u - 5 20 ), considers the Epistle as a whole to 
have been addressed to Christians " of the third 
or fourth generation " by a Jewish Christian 
named James, who represents the eclectic and 
ethical tendencies of the Dispersion. Hilgenf eld 
believes it to have been written by an Eastern 
Jewish Christian in the reign of Domitian (81- 
96), while Weizsacker puts it somewhat earlier 
(soon after 70), when the Palestinian Church 
had begun to be Ebionitic in its tendencies, 
and was preaching a Gospel of poverty. 

On the other hand, the great majority of 
critics in this country have maintained the 


genuineness of the- Epistle l as the work of 
James, who was for many years at the head of 
the Church in Jerusalem (Mark 6 3 ; Acts 
12 17 ; 21 18 ; Gal. 2 9 ). For this view a number 
of foreign critics of eminence 2 can also be 
quoted ; but of recent years the tendency has 
been in an opposite direction, not only on the 
continent but also in America, and even, to 
some extent, in our own country. 3 

Recently the Jacobean authorship has been 
presented by two English scholars in a new 
light. G. Currie Martin has suggested that 
the Epistle is composed of short homilies by 
James on certain sayings of Jesus which he 
had preserved, and that they were only issued 
in a collective form after his death. J. H. 
Moulton is also of opinion that the Epistle 
embodies sayings of Jesus not preserved else- 
where, but thinks it was addressed by James 
not to Christians but to Jews, and that this is 

1 This may be attributed, partly at least, to the tendency 
of British scholars to give a book credit for genuineness 
till it is proved to be spurious. 

- Including Neander, Mangold, Bleek, Kern, Ritschl, 
Beyschlag, Weiss, P. Ewald, Lechler, Zahn. 

3 For example, the traditional authorship is denied by 
McGiffert, Bacon, Moff'att, and Peake. 


the reason why it contains so little that is 
distinctively Christian, except in two or three 
passages which may have suffered from inter- 

All are agreed that the external evidence 
is comparatively weak. Apart from coinci- 
dences with several other books of the New 
Testament (which may be accounted for in 
various ways), expressions derived from this 
Epistle are to be found in Hernias, and per- 
haps also in Clement, the " Didache," Irenseus, 
and Tertullian. It was also included in the 
Syriac and Old Latin versions. But it has no 
place in the Muratorian Fragment, and no 
trace of it is to be found in Hegesippus, to 
whom we are indebted for an account of the 
martyrdom of James, or in the spurious 
" Clementine Homilies," which are addressed 
to James as the highest dignitary in the 
Church. 1 Origen is the first to quote from the 

1 Hegesippus tells us that immediately before the siege 
of Jerusalem was commenced (A.D. 66), James was put to 
death by the unbelieving Jews, who cast him down from a 
pinnacle of the Temple, and that his monument still stood 
by the side of the Temple (c. A.D. 160) with the inscription : 
" He hath been a true witness both to Jews and Greeks that 
Jesus is the Christ." There has been much controversy 


Epistle by name, and he does so in such a way 
as to suggest that he felt some uncertainty as 
to the authorship. But before the close of 
the fourth century the claims of the Epistle to 
a place in the Canon (like those of the four dis- 
puted Catholic Epistles II Peter, II and III 
John, and Jude) were fully recognized by the 
Church, at the Council held at Carthage in 
397 A.D. 

regarding the precise relationship in which James stood to 
Jesus. There are three views on the subject, associated 
with the names of Helvidius, Epiphanius, and Jerome re- 
spectively. According to the first theory (the Helvidian), 
James, like Joses, Judas, and Simon (Mark 6 3 ), were the 
sons of Joseph and Mary, born after Jesus, and therefore 
his half-brothers ; according to the second (the Epiphanian), 
they were the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, and 
therefore only the brothers of Jesus in a nominal sense ; 
according to the third (Hieronymian) they were cousins 
of Jesus, being sons of Clopas or Alphaeus, the husband 
of Mary's sister (Matt. 27 56 ; Mark 15 40 , 16 *; John 19 
25. 27^ The first view is that which naturally occurs to 
an unprejudiced reader of the passages in the New Testa- 
ment bearing on the subject, and probably it would never 
have been disputed but for its being at variance with the 
perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord a doctrine 
which grew up in the second century under the fostering 
influence of sentiment, and soon came to be generally 
accepted in the Church. 


Turning to internal evidence, we find it to 
be of a very complex nature, lending support in 
some respects to various theories, but not har- 
monizing perfectly with any one of them. The 
traditional view is not without difficulties, 
it is open to some objections ; but on the whole, 
the evidence, external and internal, seems to 
justify the belief that the early Church was 
right in admitting this Epistle into the Canon, 
and that it is not improbably the oldest book 
in the New Testament. 

The way in which the writer designates him- 
self in the opening verse, " James, a servant 
of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," is very 
significant. One cannot fail to be struck with 
the mingled simplicity and dignity of the ex- 
pression. It would have been quite unsuitable 
as a designation for any ordinary writer who 
wished to make himself known to his readers. 
On the other hand, a pretender wishing to pass 
for James, the Lord's brother, would have 
been sure to claim the dignity of the position 
more plainly, whereas, if James himself was 
the writer, he would feel that there was no 
need for this, as there was no danger of his being 
mistaken by the reader for any other person. 


In keeping with this is the habitual tone of 
authority which runs through the Epistle, there 
being fifty-four imperatives in one hundred and 
eight verses. The writer addresses his message 
11 to the twelve tribes which are of the Dis- 
persion, greeting." This is his Jewish way of 
describing the brethren at a distance from 
Jerusalem, many of whom had been scattered 
abroad by the persecution which broke out in 
the Holy Land. The Epistle may have been 
written when as yet there were comparatively 
few converts from heathenism, and no congrega- 
tions exclusively composed of Gentiles, Paul's 
missionary journeys having not yet taken place. 
Antioch had not become a centre of Gentile 
Christianity, and Jerusalem was still the metro- 
polis of the Christian, as well as of the Jewish, 
world. In keeping with this destination of 
the Epistle is the mention of " your synagogue '' 
as the place of worship, and of " Abraham our 
father " (2 2> 21 ) ; also the designation of God 
by the Old Testament name of " the Lord of 
Sabaoth " (5 4 ) ; and the prominence given to 
the law and the unity of the Godhead (2 10> h '). 
Yet the Christian character of the Epistle is 
unmistakable (1 ' 18 ; 2 T - 5 - 7 - 8 ; 3 1T etc.). 


The early date of the Epistle may be inferred 
from the meagreness of its Christian doctrine, 
as well as from the simplicity of the ecclesias- 
tical arrangements to which it refers teachers 
and elders being mentioned (3 l , 5 14 ), but no 
bishops or deacons. Jesus Christ is acknow- 
ledged as " the Lord of glory " (2 x ), and there 
is a reference to His second coming (5 7 ' 9 ), but 
there is no mention of His death, resurrection, 
or ascension. The new birth is alluded to 
(1 18 ), but not the work of the Holy Spirit ; 
there is a commendation of " the royal law " of 
love, as between man and man (2 8 ), but there 
is no recognition of the redeeming love of God 
in Christ Jesus. 

The Epistle is replete with our Saviour's 
teaching, not in such a form as to give the 
impression that it is derived from the written 
Gospels, but moulded and transformed, as we 
might expect it to be, if the author was 
drawing upon his recollections of what he had 
heard during the Saviour's lifetime, before he 
had learned to believe in Him as the Messiah. 

There is no allusion to the destruction of 
Jerusalem, and, what is still more significant, 
no reference to the question of the obligatori- 


ness of the Jewish law on Gentile converts, 
which excited so much controversy for a time, 
till it was practically settled at the Council of 
Jerusalem, about c. 48 A.D. This is a strong 
argument for dating the Epistle before the rise 
of that controversy, and accordingly Prof. 
Mayor and other advocates of the Jacobean 
authorship suggest 45 A.D. as the most prob- 
able date. 

Tokens of the Palestinian origin .of the 
Epistle have been discovered in the allusions 
to natural phenomena (1 6 ' n ; 3 4 ' " 12 ; 5 7 ), 
and to the troubled state of society, when the 
Jewish converts had to face the hatred and 
oppression of the wealthy Sadducees and the 
proud Pharisees. 

With regard to the language in which the 
Epistle is written, it has to be remembered 
that James, like the other members of the 
apostolic circle, was probably familiar with 
the Greek tongue from his youth, and that 
many of the members of the Church in Jerusa- 
lem, over which he had presided for a consider- 
able time, were Hellenists or Greek-speaking. 
Jews, who used the Septuagint version of the 
Old Testament like those congregations in 
Palestine and Syria and elsewhere, for whom 


the Epistle was intended. Though the author 
is more expert in the use of Greek than most 
of the New Testament writers, his style 
of composition bears a distinctly Hebraic 
character, being abrupt and sententious, re- 
minding one of the Book of Proverbs. More- 
over, the diction employed bears a strong re- 
semblance to the speech delivered by James 
at the Council of Jerusalem, when he proposed 
that a letter should be sent to the Gentile 
converts regarding their relations to the laws 
of Moses. 1 There is some apparent opposition 
between the teaching of this Epistle and Paul's 
letters to the Romans and Galatians, with 
regard to the comparative importance of faith 
and works. This is owing to the fact that the 
two writers look at the question from different 
points of view, and there is no real inconsist- 
ency between them. At the same time, it is 
not unlikely that the warning which Paul 
addresses in the fourth chapter of Romans to 
those who pride themselves on their observance 
of the Law, was intended to guard against 

1 Yet Prof. Bacon ventures to say that " the notion of 
James writing encyclicals before Paul has even begun to 
write his epistles, is almost grotesque," 


abuse of the teaching in the Epistle of James 
(2 14 - 26 ) with regard to the necessity of good 
works. Others, however, who assign a late 
date to the Epistle, allege that its teaching 
was aimed against the extreme Paulinists 
who perverted the Apostle's doctrine of grace, 
and did not realize the need for showing their 
faith by their works. There is a similar con- 
flict of opinion as to how we are to account 
for the connexion between this Epistle and 
I Peter and Hebrews ; according as we as- 
sign the priority to the former or to the two 
latter, we determine to a large extent the 
date and authorship of the Epistle. 1 

On these and other points there is room for 
difference of opinion, but, on the whole, there 
seems to be no sufficient reason to prefer any 
of the various conflicting theories, which deny 
the genuineness of the Epistle, to the traditional 
view which regards it as marking an early 
stage in the slow transition from Judaism to 
Christianity, of which James "the Just," 
the acknowledged leader of the primitive 

1 Prof. Bacon puts it rather strongly when he says that 
" the indications of date by literary relationship are 
really conclusive " against the traditional authorship, 


Church in Jerusalem, was the most notable 


This epistle was hardly ever called in question 
until a comparatively recent time. It was in- 
cluded by Eusebius among the Homologou- 
mena, or books universally received, and 
there is no trace of any objection having been 
taken to it previous to that time. Strong 
evidence in its favour is afforded by the Chris- 
tian writers of the second century, from Poly- 
carp onwards, and echoes of its language are 
to be found in still earlier documents. 1 Even 
among modern critics the general opinion is 
that it was composed by the Apostle Peter, 2 
though on the other side there are some well- 
known names, such as Hausrath, Holtzmann, 
Hilgenfeld, Pfleiderer, Jlilicher, Harnack, von 

1 Hermas, Didache, Clement. Eusebius says it was 
used by Papias (c. A.D. 135). The author of II Peter (3 J ) 
speaks of his work as "the second epistle " written by him 
to the same readers. 

2 So Schleiermacher, Neander, Meyer, de Wette, Bleek, 
Weiss, Salmon, Dods, Plumptre, Ramsay, Bartlet, Bigg, 
Chase, Bennett, 


Soden, Schmiedel, and S. Davidson. 1 Those 
who deny the Petrine authorship differ a good 
deal in their opinions as to the genesis of the 
Epistle, some holding that it was occasioned 
by the persecution under Domitian towards 
the close of the first century (92-96), and 
others connecting it with the rescript of 
Trajan to Pliny, in A.D. 112. Harnack con- 
siders it too Pauline (as Jiilicher also does) to 
be the work of Peter, and regards 1 lf< and 5 12 ff - 
as additions made c. 150-170 (perhaps by the 
author of II Pet.) to an anonymous com- 
position, of 63-93 A.D. McGiffert suggests 
Barnabas as the writer (c. 90) ; von Soden, 
Silvanus (c. 93-96) to whom Zahn also at- 
tributes the authorship (c. 50) under the 
direction of Peter (I Pet. 5 12 ). Some of the 
objections taken to the genuineness of the 
book are similar to those brought against the 
Epistle of James, such as the excellence of its 
Greek but with this Silvanus may have had 
something to do and the use of the Septuagint 
in the quotations from the Old Testament. 
The main arguments against it, however, are 

!Moffatt wavers in his opinion, and calls the writing 
" semi-pseudonymous," 


its want of distinctively Petrine teaching, and 
the advanced character of the persecutions to 
which Christians appear to have been liable 
when the Epistle was written. 

According to the opening verse it was 
addressed " to the elect who are sojourners of 
the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, 
Asia, and Bithynia." A few critics, such as 
Weiss (following Origen and Eusebius), under- 
stand this to be a description of the Jewish 
Christians scattered throughout North-Western 
Asia ; but the contents of the letter are in 
some respects quite at variance with this 
supposition (1 " l8 ; 2 9 f ; 4 2 f ), and the 
great majority of writers take the words to 
be a figurative description of the Christian 
Churches in the districts referred to. This is 
in harmony with the mode of expression em- 
ployed by the writer when he says : " Beloved, 
I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to 
abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against 
the soul " (2 " ; cf. Heb. 11 13 ). On the same 
principle, " Babylon," from which the Epistle 
purports to be sent, is another name for Rome, 1 

1 " That this Epistle was written from Rome, I cannot 
doubt. It is impregnated with Roman thought to a degree 



as in the Apocalypse and elsewhere the use 
of such figurative language being a precaution 
against persecution, in case the document 
should fall into unfriendly hands. The prob- 
ability seems to be that it was written from 
Home shortly before Peter's death, which, 
according to a well-supported tradition, took 
place about A.D. 64, in connexion with the 
persecution under Nero. If such was the 
case, there is no reason to be astonished at 
the large infusion of Pauline thoughts and ex- 
pressions (borrowed especially from Romans, 
Galatians, and Ephesians), 1 or at the resem- 
blance which the letter bears in some respects 
to the Epistle of James. 2 By the time referred 
to, any feeling of antagonism between the 
two apostles, had probably died away under 
the mellowing influence of their advancing 
years, being overruled by the logic of events in 

beyond any other book in the Bible ; the relation to the 
state and its officers forms an unusually large part of the 
whole " (Eamsay). 

1 Sieffert has suggested that Ephesians and I Peter may 
have had the same author. But Weiss (with Kuhl) gives 
the priority to I Peter, which he dates as early as A.D. '54. 

- There are also verbal coincidences with the Johannine 
writings and Hebrews. 


the history of the Church, which called for unity 
of action on the part of its leaders. We may 
see a token of the growing harmony which 
prevailed in the apostolic circle in the fact 
that Mark, whom Paul speaks of in Philemon 
(v. 24) as -his fellow-worker, and in II Tim. 
(4 n ) as " useful to me for ministering," is here 
singled out for affectionate recognition by 
Peter, who calls him " my son," and associates 
him with himself in sending greetings to the 
Churches (5 13 ) ; to which we may add that 
the Silvanus whom Peter employed as an 
amanuensis or secretary (5 12 ), was in all prob- 
ability Paul's former coadjutor Silas, who 
had laboured with him in Syria, Cilicia, and 
Galatia (Acts, chaps. 15-18). 

All this helps to explain the family likeness 
which can be traced in many of the writings in 
the New Testament, even when they bear the 
names of different authors. By the seventh 
decade of the first century the Church had be- 
gun to realize its unity, and the apostles were 
working hand in hand. It was not to be ex- 
pected, therefore, that we should find in this 
Epistle the distinctive views of the " apostle of 
the circumcision," whom Paul withstood to the 


face, when he separated himself from the 
Gentile converts for fear of offending the 
narrow-minded Jewish Christians who had 
come down to Antioch from Jerusalem (Gal. 2). 
About fifteen years had passed since then, 
and during that time we may be sure that 
Peter must have learned much, for he was 
singularly impressionable and open to new 
influences. Apart from his intercourse or 
correspondence with Paul, we cannot suppose 
that his intimacy with John had ceased after 
the conference in Jerusalem (Gal. 2 9 ), or that 
he had failed to share in the intellectual and 
spiritual progress which characterized that 

At the same time, there are some interesting 
points of contact between this Epistle and the 
language or experience of the apostle Peter, 
as otherwise known to us. 1 While it contains 
few reminiscences of Christ's ministry, it is 
significant that the writer speaks of himself as 
" a witness of the sufferings of Christ." He 
emphasizes Christ's meekness and patience as 

1 Of. I Peter 1 * 7 , and Acts 10 34 f ; I Peter 5 *, and 
Acts 20 28 ; I Peter 1 12 , and Acts 2 4 ; I Peter 5 8 , and 
Luke 22 31 . 


an example to His followers under persecution, 
and gives prominence to His resurrection as a 
pledge of the glory that should be revealed. 
The want of any personal reference to Paul 
has been unfavourably commented on, but 
very probably it may have been due to that 
apostle's having left Rome after his liberation 
from prison, perhaps to pay the visit to Spain 
which he had long had in view. 

To some critics it seems very unlikely that 
Peter should have sent a circular letter to 
Churches with which he had no personal con- 
nexion. But the truth is that we know very 
little about Peter's career after he disappears 
from the pages of the Book of Acts. Tradi- 
tion connects him with Syria, Asia Minor, Rome, 
and Corinth ; and it is quite possible that in 
Asia Minor he rendered more extensive service 
than Paul ever did. The Churches which are 
known to have been founded by Paul in that 
part of the world are comparatively few, and 
other agencies may have been at work there 
for the propagation of the Gospel. It has 
been suggested that Paul's quarrel with Mark 
in Pamphylia, when the latter left Paul and 
Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem, may 


have had something to do with the rights and 
interests of other missionaries in the field, and 
the statement in Acts about the Holy Ghost 
forbidding Paul and Silas to speak the word 
in Asia, and about the Spirit of Jesus not 
suffering them to go into Bithynia, admits of a 
similar interpretation (Acts 16 6 f ). In any 
case, we can hardly believe that the arrange- 
ment made many years before, by which Paul 
and Barnabas should go unto the Gentiles and 
the other apostles to the Jews (Gal. 2 9 ), was 
very long or very strictly enforced, for we find 
Paul at a later time frequently addressing the 
Jews in their synagogues, and, as time advanced 
and the Church increased, it would become 
more and more impracticable to carry out 
such an agreement. 

According to Schwegler, the object of the 
Epistle was " that an exposition of the Pauline 
doctrine might be put into the mouth of 
Peter." But there is no sign of any such 
dogmatic or partisan motive, the chief purpose 
of the writer being apparently a desire to 
encourage and comfort his readers under the 
dangers and trials to which they were exposed 
on account of their religion. If the writer 


had been trying to personate Peter, and if con- 
ciliation had been his object, he would have been 
pretty sure to introduce a friendly allusion to 
Paul, who was well known to have passed a 
considerable time at Rome in his later years. 

As regards the objection taken to the Epistle 
on account of the alleged signs of a later date 
in the references to persecution, Mommsen, 
the great historian of Rome, takes a different 
view of the matter ; and while it may be the 
case, as Ramsay contends, that such expres- 
sions as " being reproached for the name of 
Christ " and " suffering as a Christian " (4 " 16 ) 
would be more appropriate in the reign of 
Domitian, or even Trajan, than of Nero, there 
are other expressions which correspond better 
to an earlier time, when the treatment of 
Christians depended a good deal on their own 
character and conduct, and the mere profession 
of Christianity was not of itself a punishable 
offence (2 m5 , 3 13 - 17 , 4 14 - 17 ). No doubt, after 
the example of cruelty set by Nero in the 
murder of thousands of Christians on the 
charge of setting fire to Rome, the name of 
Christian would in fact, though not in law, 
carry with it a certain amount of odium, and 


expose the bearer of it to injurious treatment 
at the hands of unbelievers. This would be 
the case not only at Rome but also in the 
provinces, where the authorities were only too 
ready to follow the imperial lead in such a 
case. Neither in this nor in any other question 
raised by adverse criticism does there seem to 
be any valid reason for giving up our belief in 
the Petrine authorship, which comes to us 
with the authority of the early Church, and 
seems to meet the facts of the case much 
better than any other theory of its origin 
which has yet been suggested. Sir William 
Ramsay is so impressed with its genuineness 
that though he cannot assign it to an earlier 
period than 80 A.D., and the traditional date of 
Peter's death is about 64 A.D., he still believes 
it to be the work of Peter at a later time, when 
he was more than eighty years of age. Weiss, 
on the other hand, who is equally convinced 
of its genuineness, dates it as early as 54 A.D. 


These two epistles have been more ques- 
tioned than any other books in the New Testa- 


ment. II Peter, especially, is not only very 
weak in external evidence but is also open to 
serious objections on other grounds. Origen 
is the first writer who mentions it by name, 
and in doing so he expresses doubt about its 
genuineness. It is found neither in the Mura- 
torian Canon nor in the Peshitta, and the first 
clear quotation from it is by Firmilian (c. 250), 
though it shows many coincidences, in thought 
and expression, with the earliest patristic 
writers. It has much in common with the 
Epistle of Jude, and a comparison of, the two 
leads almost inevitably to the conclusion that 
one is borrowed from the other. Opinion is 
divided as to which is the original, but the 
large majority of critics assign the priority to 
Jude, both because II Peter often contains the 
same things in an expanded form, and also be- 
cause many of its expressions would be almost 
unintelligible but for the light thrown on them 
by the shorter Epistle. 

With regard to the authorship of II Peter, 
the writer distinctly claims to be the apostle 
of that name, and describes the document as 
the " second epistle " addressed by him to the 


same readers (3 *). He also alludes as an eye- 
witness to two well-known incidents in the life 
of Christ in which Peter took a leading part 
(1 u , cf. John 21 18 f - ; 1 16 - 18 , cf. Mark 9 2 - 8 ). 
The claim thus made is supported by the fact 
that the Epistle bears subtle traces of Peter's 
words and deeds as recorded in the Gospel of 
Mark and the Acts of the Apostles, and ex- 
hibits some marked similarities to I Peter to 
which we may add that it is far superior in 
earnestness and force to any of the sub-apos- 
tolic literature that has come down to us. 

On the other hand, there is such a differ- 
ence of style in the two compositions that 
many critics cannot believe them to be the work 
of the same writer. For example, while in 
I Peter our Lord is usually called " Jesus 
Christ," this name occurs only once in II Peter, 
where the favourite designations are "our 
Lord Jesus Christ," " our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ," " our God and Saviour Jesus 
Christ," "Jesus our Lord." From a literary 
point of view the style of II Peter, though 
ambitious and showy, is much inferior to that 
of the other, and the difference is the more 
remarkable because the two epistles purport 


to be addressed to the same readers. One 
of the strongest arguments against apostolic 
authorship is found in the reference to the 
epistles of Paul (3 16 ), as if they were on the 
same level as " the other scriptures," a position 
which they did not fully attain till long after the 
death of both Peter and Paul. Then, again, 
the combination of " the holy prophets," " the 
Lord and Saviour," and "your apostles," in 
3 2 ; the paucity of allusions to the Old Testa- 
ment ; the want of any reference to the sayings, 
doings, or sufferings of Christ, except in the 
two cases above mentioned (which may con- 
ceivably have been introduced for the purpose 
of authenticating the Epistle) ; the language 
put into the mouths of mockers with reference 
to the long delay of the Second Coming : 
" Where is the promise of his coming ? For, 
from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all 
things continue as they were from the begin- 
ning of the creation " ; the appropriation, 
without any acknowledgment, of so large a 
portion of another Epistle ; the absence of 
personal greetings ; and, not least, the want 
of any clear evidence of the use of the Epistle 
by any Christian writer for 150 years after 


Peter's death, have all been adduced as reasons 
for denying the Petrine authorship. 

In these circumstances, it is not surprising 
that the view held by Eusebius, who placed 
the Epistle in his list of Antilegomena or dis- 
puted books, and at the same time indicated 
that in his opinion the tradition in its favour 
was insufficient to authenticate it, has been 
adopted by the majority of modern critics. 
Reuss speaks of its admission into the Canon 
as the only positive mistake made by the 
Church in its collection of sacred books, while 
Jiilicher goes so far as to say that it "is not 
only the latest document in the New Testa- 
ment but also the least deserving of a place 
in the canon," a statement, however, which is 
not borne out by the general sentiment of 
Christendom. Harnack dates it as late as 
160-170. But while opinion in Germany is 
generally unfavourable to the genuineness of 
the Epistle, there are some scholars of eminence 
who are confident that it was written by the 
Apostle whose name it bears. In particular, 
Zahn and Spitta hold it to be more thor- 
oughly Petrine than I Peter, which they 
believe to be largely the work of Silvanus 


(I Pet. 5 12 ), the previous epistle of Peter, to 
which he refers in II Peter 3 *, being supposed 
to have disappeared at an early date. Like 
Ktihl and Weiss, they hold it to have been 
addressed to Jewish readers, and date it about 
A.D. 63-65. 

Among British scholars opinion used to be 
in favour of the apostolic origin of the Epistle, 
but the most recent critics, with the exception 
of the writer on the subject in the I.C.C., are 
disposed to assign it to the second century, 
and to regard it as designed to counteract 
antinomian tendencies of a more or less Gnostic 
character. Some would connect it with the 
so-called Apocalypse of Peter (with which it 
has a good deal in common), and other writings 
put forth in the Apostle's name about the 
middle of the second century, while others 
would give it a much earlier date, and see in 
the evils which it so vehemently attacks such 
shameful practices as those of the Nicolaitans 
of Pergamum and Thyatira, referred to in 
Kev. -2 13 f ' 19 - 22 . The irreconcilable difference of 
style in the two Epistles ascribed to Peter, 
which has been the great stumbling-block from 
the days of Jerome until now, can find no 


better explanation than the one which that 
great scholar suggested, namely, that the 
apostle employed different interpreters in the 
two cases, unless we prefer the view of Calvin 
that it was the work of one of Peter's follow- 
ers, who was carrying out his master's wishes, 
and may have taken the opportunity of giving 
a wider circulation to the warnings in the 
Epistle of Jude, by embodying them in his 
Epistle. It is in this foreign element that the 
difference of style is most marked, and it has 
been suggested, as another solution, that this 
part of the Epistle was a later interpolation. 

It must not be supposed that by giving up 
the Petrine authorship we lose the benefit of 
the Epistle. We may still say, with Calvin, 
that " the majesty of the Spirit of Christ ex- 
hibits itself in every part of it." It has also 
to be remembered that there may never have 
been a time in the history of the Church when 
there was not uncertainty regarding the origin 
of this book. In this respect modern readers 
are no worse off than those who never heard 
of the Higher Criticism. 

It was an idea of Grotius that the words 
" Peter . . . and apostle " (1 l ) were an 


interpolation, and that " the second epistle " 
referred to (3 l ) consisted of the first two 
chapters, the name " Simon " at the head of 
the Epistle representing Simeon, Bishop of 
Jerusalem. According to Bunsen, the first 
twelve verses and the concluding doxology 
were the only genuine parts of the Epistle. 

The Epistle of Jude stands on a different 
footing. It has stronger testimony in its 
favour, having a place in the Muratorian Canon 
and being frequently mentioned by Christian 
writers before the end of the second century. 
We should doubtless have found it much 
oftener quoted than it is, had it not been for its 
brevity and its use of two apocryphal Jewish 
works, namely, the "Assumption of Moses" 
(Jude v. 9) and the " Book of Enoch " (Jude v. 
14 f.), the latter of which is quoted by name. 

With regard to the author, there are some 
who identify him with Jude the Apostle 
(" Judas the son of James," Luke 6 16 ), but 
the reference which he makes to "the apostles 
of our Lord Jesus Christ," in verses 17 and 
18, as well as the fact that he does not himself 
claim to be an apostle, render this conjecture 
extremely improbable. Others think that it is 


" Judas Barsabbas" of Acts 15 22 that is re- 
ferred to, but the general opinion is that it is 
Judas one of the Lord's brethren (Matt. 13 55 , 
I Cor. 9 5 ), whether we understand by that 
description a younger son of Joseph and Mary 
or a son of Joseph by a former wife in either 
case, a "brother of James," the head of the 
Church at Jerusalem. The comparatively 
obscure position of this Jude in the history of 
the early Church (as of the others who bore 
the same name), and the unpretending way in 
which he is described as " a servant of Jesus 
Christ/' though he might have claimed to be 
the Lord's brother, forbid the supposition that 
there was here any attempt to use a great 
name for the purpose of imposing on the 
reader. That one so closely related to Jesus 
should have held a position of influence, if not 
of authority, in the Church at Jerusalem or 
elsewhere in Palestine, is only what might 
have been expected ; and we can readily be- 
lieve that this letter, although formally ad- 
dressed " to them that are called, beloved in 
God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ,'' 
was specially intended for some of the Churches 
known to Jude, in which there had been an 


outbreak of antinomiau license, such as is fore- 
shadowed in the Pastoral Epistles and has 
frequently occurred in the history of the 
Church. From verse 3 it may be inferred 
that the subject had been chosen by the 
writer at the last moment, on hearing news 
of some such perversion of the Gospel. 

The author was evidently acquainted with 
Paul's writings, and from this fact as well as 
from the way in which he speaks of the per- 
sonal teaching of the apostles as a thing of 
the past in the experience of his readers, and 
of faith in the second coming of Christ as on the 
decline, many critics who accept the traditional 
authorship assign a comparatively late date to 
the Epistle (about 70-80), l while others date it 
before A.D. 70, partly on account of its containing 
no allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem 
an event to which the writer might have been 
expected to refer, as an awful instance of 
Divine judgment, if it had already taken place. 2 

1 Ewald, Spitta, Zahn, Mayor, Sieffert, Bartlet, Eeuss, 
Lumby, Bennett, etc. 

- Bleek, Kirchhofer, Weiss, Stier, Salmond, Bigg, Chase. 
But Hofmann and Zahn fancy there is a reference to this 
event in verse 5. 



There are a considerable number of scholars, 
however, who are of opinion that the character 
of the Epistle, and the degenerate state of the 
Church which it implies, 1 betray an acquaint- 
ance on the part of the author with the 
libertine Gnosticism of the second century. 
It shows what a wide divergence of opinion 
there is on the subject, that, while Baur thought 
the Epistle could not have been written till 
late in the second century, E/enan put it as 
early as A.D. 54, regarding it as a covert attack 
on Paul's teaching. Baur's followers gener- 
ally favour an earlier date in the second 
century than he assigned to it. This is the 
case also with Harnack (who dates it about 
100-130, and suggests that the words "and 
brother of James " may have been an inter- . 
polation of a later date intended to give the 
Epistle additional authority), McGiffert, S. 
Davidson, and others, who hold the Epistle 

1 For evidence that similar evils existed in apostolic 
times cf. Revelation 2 H ' 20 * ; Galatians 5 13 ; II Cor- 
inthians 12 21 . It has been suggested that in Jude v. 10 
there is a reference to the Cainites, a Gnostic sect of the 
second century, but if so, this would not be the only passage 
of the New Testament in which Cain is mentioned as a 
type of ungodliness (cf. Heb. 11 4 , I John 3 u> ). 


to be pseudonymous, the name of Jude having 
been selected as a likely exponent for the 
views expressed in it. 

It appears from verse 18 that the 
readers had enjoyed the personal teaching of 
the apostles ; and from this fact, as well as 
from the Jewish associations and traditions 
which enter into the Epistle, we may infer that 
it was intended for some part of Palestine or 
Syria where " ungodly men " professing Chris- 
tianity were turning the grace of God into 
lasciviousness (verse 10). Jude attributes the 
evil practices to false and heretical teaching, 
and as a remedy he exhorts his readers to con- 
tend earnestly for the faith once for all de- 
livered unto the saints, and concludes with one 
of the most beautiful doxologies in the New 

In closing our survey of the History and 
Results of New Testament Criticism, there are 
three things which it would be well to bear in 
mind. (1) With regard to many of the questions 
involved it is quite impossible to arrive at any- 
thing like certainty. (2) Great learning is no 
guarantee of sound judgment ; and the evidence 


of experts, in this as in other fields of inquiry, 
must be carefully considered before their con- 
clusions are accepted. (3) Infinitely more im- 
portant than any opinion we may form regarding 
the authorship, date, or text, of any book in the 
New Testament, is the question : " What think 
ye of the Christ ? " as revealed under various as- 
pects both in the Old and the New Testament. 
It is their testimony to Christ that gives the 
Scriptures their chief value ; it is the revelation 
of Christ that forms their inner bond of union. 


The following list of selected books, relating to New Testament 
Criticism, which have been published within the last twenty-five 
years, may be useful to those who wish to study the subject 
more in detail. 

Hastings : " Dictionary of the Bible." 5 vols. 

" Dictionary of the Bible." 1 vol. 

" Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels." 2 vols. 
Smith's " Dictionary of the Bible." 
" Encyclopaedia Biblica." 4 vols. 
11 Encyc. Britannica," llth edit. 
Murray's " Illustrated Bible Dictionary." 1 vol. 
" Standard Bible Dictionary." 1 vol. 
" Temple Bible Dictionary." 1 vol. 
u International Critical Comm." 
" Cambridge Greek Testament." 
Expositor's "Greek Testament." 
" Century Bible." 
" Westminster Comm." 

Abbot, E , Peabody, A. P., and Lightfoot J. B., " The Fourth 

Gospel." London, 1892. 
Abbott, E. A., " Notes on New Testament Criticism." London, 


" The Fourfold Gospel." Cambridge, 1913. 
Allen, W. C., and Grensted, L. W., " Introduction to the 

Books of the New Testament." Edinburgh, 1913. 
Askwith, E. H., " The Historical Value of the Fourth Gospel." 

London, 1910. 



Bacon, B. \V., " An Introduction to the New Testament." 

New York and London, 1900. 
' The Fourth Gospel in Research and Debate." London, 

" The Making of the New Testament " (Home University 

Library). London and New York, 1913. 
Ball, C. R., "Preliminary Studies in the Books of the New 

Testament, in the probable order of their writing." 

London, 1913. 
Banks, J. S., "The Books of the New Testament." London, 

Beet, J. A., " The New Testament ; its Authorship, Date, and 

Worth : " Revised and Enlarged. London, 1912. 
Bennett, W. H., and Adeney, W. F., " Biblical Introduction." 

London, 1899. 

"The Bible and Criticism " (The People's Books). Lon- 
don, 1913. 
Buckley, E. R., "An Introduction to the Synoptic Problem." 

London, 1912. 
Burkitt, F. C., "The Gospel History and its Transmission." :; 

Edinburgh, 1911. 
"The Earliest Sources for the Life of Jesus." Boston and 

New York, 1910. 
Burton, E. De Witt, "A Short Introduction to the Gospels. " 

Chicago, 1904. 
" Principles of Literary Criticism and the Synoptic Problem. " 

(Chicago Decennial Publications.) 
Carpenter, J. Estlin, <: The First Three Gospels : their Origin 

and Relations. " :! London, 1904. 
Chapman, J., "John the Presbyter and the Fourth Gospel." 

Oxford, 1911. 
Charles, R. H., "Studies on the Apocalypse." Edinburgh, 

Chase, F. H., " The Credibility of the Book of the Acts of the 

Apostles " (Hulsean Lectures). London, 1902. 
Clemen, C., " Primitive Christianity and its Non-Jewish 

Sources." Edinburgh, 1912. 


Coue, O., ''Gospel Criticism and Historical Christianity." 

New York, 1891. 
Conybaare, F. C., ''History of New Testament Criticism." 

London, 1910. 

Deissniann, A., " Light from the Ancient East. " 2 London, 1910. 
"St. Paul; A Study in Social and Religious History." 

London, 1912. 
Dods, M. , "An Introduction to the New Testament. " 2 London, 


" The Bible its Origin and Nature." Edinburgh, 1905. 
Drummond, J., " The Character and Authorship of the Fourth 

Gospel." London and New York, 1904. 
Einmet, C. E., "The Eschatological Question in the Gospels, 

and other Studies in Recent New Testament Criticism." 

Edinburgh, 1911. 
Farrar, F. W., "The Bible its Meaning and Supremacy." 

London and New York, 1897. 

Feine, P., " Einleitung in das Neue Testament." Leipzig, 1913. 
Findlay, G. G., " The Epistles of Paul the Apostle." London, 


Gloag, P. J., " Introduction to the Catholic Epistles." Edin- 
burgh, 1887. 
''Introduction to the Johannine Writings." Edinburgh, 


" Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels." Edinburgh, 1895. 
Godefc, F., "Introduction to the New Testament." 2 vols. 

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Green, A. V., "The Ephesian Canonical Writings." London, 

Gregory, C. R., "Canon and Text of the New Testament." 

Edinburgh, 1907. 

" Einleitung in das Neue Testament." Leipzig, 1909. 
Harnack, A., "Chronologic der altchristlichen Litteratur. " 

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" Luke the Physician " (Crown Theological Library). Lon- 
don and New York, 1907. 
"The Sayings of Jesus" (Crown Theological Library). 

London and New York, 1908. 


" The Date of the Acts and of the Synoptic Gospels " (Crown 

Theological Library). London and New York, 1911. 
Harris, J. Rendel, "Sidelights on New Testament Research." 

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Hawkins, J. C., " Horse Synoptic*." 2 Oxford, 1909. 
Headlam, A. C., "St. Paul and Christianity." London, 1913. 
Holdsworth, W. W., " Gospel Origins : A Study in the Synoptic 

Problem." London, 1913. 

Holtzmann, O., "The Life of Jesus." London, 1904. 
Horton, R. F., "The Growbh of the New Testament : A Study 

of the Books in Order." London, 1913. 
Jackson, H. L., " The Fourth Gospel and some recent German 

Criticism." Cambridge, 1906. 
Jacquier, E., " Histoire des Livres du Nouveau Testament." 4 

vols. Paris, 1908-12. 
James, J. D., "The Genuineness and Authorship of the 

Pastoral Epistles." London, 1906. 
Jiilicher, A., "An Introduction to the New Testament." 

London, 1904. 
Kenyon, F. G., "Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the 

New Testament." 2 London, 1912. 
Knowling, R. J. , " The Witness of the Epistles. " London, 1892. 

" The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ." London, 1905. 
Lake, Kirsopp, " The Text of the Nevr Testament." London, 

" The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul : their Motive and 

Origin." London, 1911. 
Lewis, Agnes Smith, "Light from the Sinai Palimpsest." 

London, 1913. 
Lightfoot, J. B., " Biblical Essays." London and New York, 

McGifiert, A. C., "A History of Christianity in the Apostolic 

Age." Edinburgh, 1897. 
Martin, G. Currie, " The Books of the New Testament " (The 

Century Bible Handbooks). London, 1909. 
Menzies, A., " The Earliest Gospel." London, 1901. 

' ' The Second Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians." 
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Milligan, G., "The New Testament Documents" (Croall 

Lectures). London, 1913. 

" St. Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians." London, 1908. 
Milligan, W., " Discussions on the Apocalypse. " London, 1893. 
Mofiatt, J., "The Historical New Testament."- Edinburgh, 

" An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament. " 

Edinburgh, 1911. 
Moore, E. C., "The New Testament in the Christian Church." 

New York and London, 1904. 
Nash, H. S., " The History of the Higher Criticism of the New 

Testament." New York and London, 1900. 
Nicol, T., " The Four Gospels in the Earliest Church History " 

(Baird Lectures). Edinburgh and London, 1908. 
Peake, A. S., " A Critical Introduction to the New Testament. " 

London, 1909. 
" The Bible : Its Origin, its Significance, and its Abiding 

Worth." London, 1913. 
Petrie, W. M. Flinders, "The Growth of the Gospels, as shewn 

by Structural Criticism." London, 1910. 
Pfleiderer, O., "Christian Origins." London, 1906. 
Plummer, A., "An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel 

according to St. Matthew." London, 1909. 
Pullan, L. , " The Books of the New Testament. " London, 1901. 

" The Gospels." London, 1912. 
Purves, G. T., "Christianity in the Apostolic Age. " London, 

Ramsay, W. M., "The Church in the Roman Empire." 

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"St. Paul the Traveller." Twelfth ed. London, 1911. 
"Pauline and Other Studies in Early Church History. ' 

Second ed. London, 1908. 
"The First Christian Century." London, 1911. (And 

other works). 
Robinson, J. A, "The Historical Character of St. John's 

Gospel." London, 1908. 

"St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians." London, 1909. 
" The Study of the Gospels." London, 1908. 


Ropes, J. i R , ' The Apostolic Age, in the Light of Modern 

Criticism." London, 1906. 
Salmon, G. , "A Historical Introduction to the Study of the 

Books of the New Testament." 8 London, 1897. 
Sanday, \V., " Inspiration" 3 (Bampton Lecture). London, 1896. 
(and others), "Criticism of the New Testament " (St. Mar- 
garet's Lectures). London, 1902. 

" The Criticism of the Fourth Gospel." Oxford, 1905. 
(Editor), "Oxford Studies in the Synoptic Problem. " 

Oxford, 1911. 

Schmiedel, P. W., " The Johannino Writings." London, 1908. 
Schweitzer, A., " The Quest of the Historical Jesus." 3 London, 


" Paul and his Interpreters." London, 1912. 
Scott, E. F., " The Fourth Gospel, its Purpose and Theology." 

Edinburgh, 1906. 

Scott, R., " The Pauline Epistles." 2 Edinburgh, 1911. 
Selwyn, B.C., " Th3 Oracles of the New Testament." London, 


"St. Luke the Prophet." London, 1901. 

Shaw, R. D., "The Pauline Epistles; Introductory and Ex- 
pository Studies." 2 Edinburgh, 1904. 
Simcox, W. H., "The Writers of the New Testament." 

London, 1890. 
Souter, A., "The Text and Canon of the New Testament." 

London, 1913. 
Stanton, V. H., "The Gospels as Historical Documents." 

Cambridge, 1903-9. 
Swete, H. B., "The Gospel according to St. Mark." ' J London, 


"The Apocalypse of St. John." 3 London, 1912. 
(Editor), "Essays on some Biblical Questions of the Day." 

London, 1909. 
Vincent, M. R., "A History of the Textual Criticism of the 

New Testament." New York and London, 1899. 
Von Soden, H., "The History of Early Christian Literature." 

London and New York, 1906. 


Warschauer, J., "What is the Bible? a Modern Survey." 

London, 1911. 
Weiss, B., "A Manual of Introduction to the New Testament." 

2 vols. London, 1887. 

"Genuineness of the Pauline Ep''btles." Chit ago, 1897. 
Weiss, J. , " Paul and Jesus." London and New York, 1909. 
Weizsacker, C. von, "The Apostolic Age of the Christian 

Church." 2 vols. London, 1895. 

Wendt, H. H., "The Gospel according to St. John." Edin- 
burgh, 1902. 
Wernle, P., "The Sources of our Knowledge of the Life of 

Jesus." London, 1907. 
Westcott, B. F., " Introduction to the Study of the Gospels." * 

London, 1894. 

" The Canon of the New Testament." 7 London, 18y6. 
Wilson, J. M., " Studies in the Origins and Aims of the Four 

Gospels." London, 1910. 
"The Origin and Aims of the Acts of the Apostles." 

London, 1912. 
Worsley, F. W., "The Fourth Gospel and the Synoptists." 

Edinburgh, 1909. 
Wrede, W., "Paul." London, 1907. 

"The Origin of the New Testament." London and New 

York, 1909. 
Wright, A., " The Composition of the Four Gospels." London 

and New York, 1890. 

" Some New Testament Problems." London, 1898. 
Zahn, T ., " Introduction to the New Testament." 3 vols. Edin- 
burgh, 1909. 



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