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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
Apart from the translation, the main feature of originality within these pages consists of the leading idea which dominates the volume, and of the way in which this idea has been executed. The critical materials constitute what either are or ought to be more or less familiar positions upon the lines of modern NT research; but they are grouped under a scheme which, so far as I am aware, is quite unique.1 Briefly put, the design is to arrange that selection of early Christian literature which is known as the "New Testament" in the order of its literary growth, and at the same time to indicate the chief grounds upon which such an order may be determined or disputed. This aim, with its difficulties, utility, and limitations, I have discussed in the Prolegomena.
The Historical Tables will explain themselves. Most of them represent an endeavour to further one of the subsidiary objects for which this edition has been prepared, namely, the need of seeing and setting the NT writings in vital connection with one another and with the main currents of contemporary thought and history. Occasionally this connection becomes obvious at a glance. Sometimes it is indirect. Often it may be a matter of interest rather than of relevance. But
1 When my work was almost completed, I came across the following sentence quoted by Dr. Walter Lock from a friend's letter (The Exegesis of the NT, 1896, p. 19): "Yon don't want to know about animals and plants and musical instruments; the real Bible is overlaid and smothered by all this . . . I should like to see an English NT with the contents in a different, i.e. a chronological order."
upon the whole the significance of a NT writing is never reduced—now and then it is immensely heightened—by juxtaposition with its antecedents and context, even in the outlying history and literature which are lightly named "pagan" and untruly judged as alien. To approach and analyse the NT in the sphere of the unconditioned, is an indefensible mistake: unfortunately it is a mistake which has been hitherto confessed rather than avoided in several schools of criticism. The NT may stand by itself; but the full secret of its genius will be yielded only to the research which goes patiently behind and outside the limits of the canonical collection. Of all unhistorical or semi-historical methods, none has operated so disastrously upon the interpretation of the NT as the tendency to insulate its form and contents; and it is to supply some materials for a mental impression that may counteract such an error, that these Tables have been compiled. In the Jewish and early Christian literature (it is only fair to add), while the various documents have been dated in view of the most recent and reliable criticism, one cannot hope to assign much more than an approximately accurate position to a number of the records, where so considerable a portion of the field is disputable and disputed.
As the printing of the NT text has reduced the available space, I have been obliged substantially to cut out a Historical Introduction written to accompany the Tables, in which the origin and development of the NT literature was sketched from 30 to 150 A.D., in relation to the external context of the Eoman Empire as well as to the inner forces at work within the Christian Communities. Some paragraphs from this have been incorporated in the Prolegomena and Notes, and its outlines are reflected throughout the volume. But I wish to take this opportunity of reiterating the need for treating these subjects in connection with each other, since the impression often left upon most people's minds by the average NT Introduction is that the literature in question lies unrelated and accidental, resembling either
A lonely mountain tarn,
or a series of deep scattered pools, one book or group of books coming after the other in a more or less haphazard fashion. Such a dead and spiritless disconnection is to be strenuously repudiated. It is essential for the modern reader to detect the running stream of life that winds, for all its eddies and backwaters, steadily between and through these varied writings. They possess remarkable cohesion. But it is a cohesion which is either misinterpreted or wholly invisible until you stand beside the life they presuppose, and out of which they rise. In fact, NT Introduction and the History of early Christianity are two departments of research which cannot be prosecuted with entire success, so long as they are held apart. Each gains in vitality as it approaches the other.
For similar reasons of brevity, the critical Notes are limited to what is practically a condensed statement of results. Anything like a detailed or continuous account of the processes of argument which lead up to the conclusions underlying the printed text, has been impracticable. I have merely attempted to collate some of the chief results of modern research upon the NT along its literary and historical sides; although even there many details have been left unelaborated, and some almost untouched. At one or two points, I am afraid, this lack of space and scope in which to deploy argument1 has given an appearance of summary
1 The compression will be felt most where affinities of language and style come up for discussion. These factors often contain important criteria lor dating or placing a given document, and their evidence is repeatedly used throughout the Notes. But the complete grounds for one's judgment in this class of problems are so delicate and various that they cannot be stated, much