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under the ascertained literary methods of the age. The order of documents in time, as that is exhibited in a printed scheme, does not necessarily involve the dependence of the later on the earlier. Apart from a further scrutiny of the conditions under which the writings were composed and of their contents, the assumption is unwarranted. The precedence of one writing over another in the matter of years may or may not imply literary dependence. Print at any rate can merely afford a basis for the discussion of such problems, and it is only in a minority of cases that the date of a NT writing cannot be established with some measure of security apart from the question of its literary connections.
The special relation of Paulinism to the literature and life of the next generation forms, however, a problem of great moment for the study of the apostolic age. After Philippians, the early Christian literature represents a development which is merely semi-Pauline, so far as it can be termed Pauline at all. The distinctive principles of Paulinism were too characteristic and individual to form a basis for the general Christianity of the churches as a whole; although these were largely indebted for their emancipation from Judaistic Christianity to Paul's vigour, yet their relation to Jesus, the Law, and the OT, and their conceptions of faith, sin, and righteousness, were for the most part only verbally akin to those of the great apostle. The sharp antithesis of the earlier conflict waned. Paul's general universalism passed on to find analogous elements in the more liberal phases of Jewish Christianity, and from these under the prevalent Hellenism of the age grew the “ catholicism ” which stamps the subPauline literature. The original Paulinism, however, in its religious idiosyncrasies of thought and feeling, was buried with its author, or survived merely in his epistles. Outside of these it never lived in its entireness and individuality. Paulinism touched more or less deeply all subsequent Christian writers, for without it they could hardly have written at all. But none was a Paulinist, in the strict sense ; none even an anti-Paulinist. For them and their age, as even Clem. Rom. proves, the Pharisaic world of Paul had
little interest or attraction. It merely represented a special phase in which the principles of catholic Christianity had first won a final triumph. The great“ pathologist of Judaism ” was the pioneer, not the founder, of Gentile Christianity as it rose after 70 A.D. into a denationalised and broad organisation of communities throughout the Empire. His main contribution was to build the bridge from Semitic monotheism to those Hellenistic conceptions which were needed to develop the essential spirit of the new faith. As for many of his arguments and antitheses, his theological categories, solutions, and methods of interpretation, they proved of little or no service to the majority of later Christians, whose early training and altered circumstances demanded help from quite another standpoint. The presuppositions of the later catholicism or general Christianity of the sub-apostolic age did not lie in distinctively Pauline conceptions. The Gentile Christians wbo formed the large majority in most of the Christian communities, were susceptible less to the idiosyncrasies of Paul's great genius than to the influences making for monotheism and morality which his preaching shared with the liberal Judaism of the Diaspora, Hellenistic ethics, and the social aspirations in the Empire. These ideals and dispositions converged to create a situation which formed a vantage-ground for what proved to be the permanent shape of the new faith. Law to these Christians was a different thing from what “the law” had been to Paul or to the Palestinian nationalists within the church. Such essential principles as the universalism of the gospel-an idea of Jesus which Paul had the honour of being the first to enunciate and urge—the abolition of national distinctions, the supremacy of Jesus as a revelation of God,—these and the like passed into the average consciousness of Christianity. But the deep postulates upon which Paul based his religious psychology failed to win a similar recognition. The conceptions of faith and redemption, the idea of the Christian's
union with Christ, the principle of the Spirit, are instances of i elements unassimilated by a later age, which even in employing
the same language failed to use it with the rich thought and feeling of the great apostle. It is a complex and important problem, this whole question of the relation between early
Christianity and its great figure who was second only to Jesus. p To what degree each of the subsequent writings has been in
fluenced by the style and conceptions of Paulinism, how far such influence—when it can be traced—was conscious, or due to the general atmosphere of the age which had absorbed many of the Pauline phrases, how far also such apparent resemblances may be the result of a common pre-Christian consciousness, to what extent Paul can be taken as a fair exponent of average Christianity,—these are among the chief
inquiries which fall to be answered before the early Christian [ development can be historically traced. Especially vital is
the question of how far the Pauline epistles can be regarded as representing even the common Christianity of their own period. The loss of any other documents directly springing from that period, and reflecting some of the varied phases of early Christian development during these decades between 30 and 70, is quite irreparable. How different, for example, would be our conception of the Reformation did we merely possess the writings of Luther without a vestige of Zwingli, Carlstadt, Melanchthon, Hutten, or Erasmus ! But in any case there was nothing in the development of post-Pauline Christianity which exactly corresponded to the revival by which Isaiah's ideas were carried forward to a central and dominant place in the Deuteronomic phase, after the bitter reaction which followed the great prophet's death. The heroic spirit of Paulinism 2 met with no reaction and no revival-inside the limits covered by the NT literature.
A recent editor of the Book of Jubilees (W. Singer, 1898) has actually assigned it to the years 58-60 A.D., treating it as a Pharisaic manifesto against the lax method of Pauline Christianity with reference to the law, and as a sharp recall to the exclusiveness and rigidity from which many were being seduced. Similarly, Headlam, DB, ii. 791. Feine (Das gesetzesfreie Evangelium des Paulus, 1899) tries to show that Hellenistic Judaism only influenced Pau) after his conversion, and that the apostle's pre-Christian consciousness was rigidly Pharisaic, but already superior to the position of the original apostles relatively to the law.
? See Dr. Denney's finely sympathetic paragraphs in ExGT, ii. pp. 572–575, and Harnack's recent appreciation in Das Wesen des Christentums (1900), pp. 110–118.
Nonkaulinism that liter
The rest of that literature may be said to lie in the wake of Paulinism, but only in the qualified sense already noted. None of the writings can be described as directly derivative from it.1
(6) A cognate reflection, arising from what has been already urged, is that the printed order of the writings must not be hastily identified with a dogmatic or religious progress. For example, the chronological arrangement is not a diplomatic attempt to exaggerate, by a sort of revived Marcionitism, the value of Paul's epistles, or to displace the gospels from their premier position as Christian sources. The connection between the Pauline letters and the gospels is too delicate a problem to be solved on purely chronological presuppositions. How far the facts and sayings in the synoptics have been affected 2 by the statements of the epistles or the influence which they exerted, is a question which really lies outside the province of the present attempt. Bias against such a theory or in favour of it, does not enter into one's commission. Here documents are treated as documents. The scientific study of the NT must begin—wherever it may finish—with the serious and thorough estimate of its extant records, and it is exclusively for the sake of this that the present arrangement has been compiled. To call attention to the factswhich in this case include the literary priority of the Pauline epistles —is the sole business of literary chronology. An estimate of that priority, in its bearings and limitations, belongs to other methods of research, and to another province of inquiry. As regards the idea of a logical progress of development, the Pauline epistles illustrate again the truth of that inevitable and familiar axiom, that succession does not necessarily coincide with a progressive or a retrograde series. Priority is not equivalent to superiority. The NT presents no graduated scale upwards or downwards. Development, here as well as elsewhere, is not synonymous with ordered and orderly advance on every side. While the Pauline letters apparently give the keynote to the whole, in reality the subsequent literature indicates a wealth of thought and experience which can be construed neither as an expansion of Paul's original conceptions nor as a declension from them. The same is true of the other groups. Further, the printed order is apt again to hide the fact that phases of thought may have been for some time in existence before any expression of them occurs in literature. The synoptic gospels and the fourth gospel are instances in point. That one book is dated some years after another does not prove the greater maturity of the former. Nor—to take an opposite illusiondoes the religious authority of writings in the NT vary absolutely with their proximity to the third and fourth decades of the first century. It is often difficult to conjecture why one book came to be written so early as it was actually written, difficult also to imagine how another was not composed at a much earlier period. Metaphors are notoriously unsafe ; but one is tempted to compare the cognate writings of the NT not so much to the locks of a canal, or to the waves of a flowing tide, as to the various branches of a delta. To speak without figure, it is risky to base judgments of development and maturity upon arguments which are mainly drawn from chronological appearances. Affinities of thought and feeling do not necessarily accompany chronological proximity. Writings that belong to the same school of experience and reflection may be separated by years, even by whole decades, from one another; while, given conflicting interests and a scattered area, a single epoch will often produce works of
1 There is a growing disposition in the best criticism of to-day to discount either anti- or pro-Pauline tendencies even in the synoptic gospels. By the time that these came to be written it is probable that the nascent catholicism of the early churches formed a prevailing atmosphere in which the earlier Paulinism only survived as one of several elements. Besides, a number of ideas and expressions may have been the common possession of early Christianity previous to 60 A.D., though from the accident of their preservation solely in the Pauline letters we dub them specifically “Pauline.”
2 Tendency-criticism, as I have already said, is a detected idol ; but so is the literalism which would read the NT out of all connection with its period. Beyond dispute, the whole meaning of historical criticism implies the existence of such forces and feelings as those which the older critics of the Tübingen school shaped into too rigid a mould. Their main error lay in neglecting personalities for ideas, and in ascribing to deliberate volition what was for the most part either the unconscious effect of prepossession, or the outcome of popular prejudice shared by a large body of the early Christians.