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Occasionally it becomes a positive and plentiful hindrance. Even for a trained and alert intelligence there is a certain effort in reading, say 1 Thessal., and at the same time refusing to allow the intrusion of ideas developed in the Galatian and Roman letters which precede it in the printed Testament. How arduous, yet how necessary, to read the Apocalypse before the fourth gospel, or again to study Hebrews and Acts without being swayed by the previously printed and subsequently written pages of John !1 These are but instances of the blurring effect produced by the canonical order, with all its excellence and convenience. Nor is there any reason why such an effect should not be obviated. Print may be made to serve the mind instead of misdirecting it, and the service is greatly to be desired. True criticism of the NT is like science, it becomes “a precious visitant” only when it has been trained in the methods of historical evolution,
“ Taught with patient interest to watch
The processes of things, and serve the cause
Of order and distinctness.” Part of this teaching is to have the imagination impressed exactly and vividly with the recurring sequences of thought and feeling. But these, again, to be lucid, must be exhibited in the natural order of their expression; and they can readily be thus exhibited. Under the most favourable circumstances, a taxing effort is required to realise the NT facts and conceptions with anything like consecutiveness and coherence. To reduce some of the initial and avoidable obstacles, and to help the mind past these to a scrutiny and appreciation of the matters which are really at issue in NT criticism, constitute one aim of the present edition, and furnish the justification of its divergence from the canonical order. It is offered as a minor contribution to the study of the records, on the principle that some light is often to be found in the mere knowledge that one book comes after another, especially when that knowledge is stereotyped in black and white. The customary arrangement fails to entirely conceal or express this truth of succession. Consequently these pages will do their work as they present, in some more adequate form, the materials for that regular survey apart from which the process of critical research is apt to find itself misled or hampered.
1 To this in part may be also due the unhistorical presuppositions which treat the minor writings of the NT unfairly by reading into them or expecting from them more or less systematic developed conceptions. Cp. Deissmann's spirited protest in regard to the mishandling of the catholic epistles, ZTK (1893), pp. 133, 134, with Wrede's equally judicious discussion, Veber Aufgabe U. Methode der sog. NTTh, p. 17 f.
One or two sentences fall to be added by way of explanation.
The priority of the Pauline epistles to the gospels suggests three considerations which are extremely important for a proper attitude to the whole subject-(a) Their priority does not ipso facto support, although it certainly suggests, a theory of literary dependence between these writings and, say, the third and fourth gospels. The final proofs of such filiation are internal. There is a natural temptation to lay almost peremptory stress upon the external positions of books, and this delusion is encouraged by the printed form of a modern edition. But such unscientific assumptions must be ruled out of court. In this case, as in the case of other NT groups, the literary relationship between an earlier and a later document (when their relative position can be independently fixed) depends upon a far wider and subtler range of facts, such as the extent to which any writing may have circulated 1 during the first century, beyond its originally local scope (an extent which varies, of course, with its subject and form), and also the amount of organic connection which may be presumed to have existed between one writing and another 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.
Classical literature furnishes some analogies for this. Christian writings may have been (a) reproduced by means of written copies, a method which would be at best limited, or (b) read with comments to various circles of listeners. Probably the latter method was more common in the early days of Christianity (1 Ti 413, Apoc 13, wakápos ó åvayıvớokwv kai oi å koúovteS TOUS
oyous tñs a poontelas, etc.). Pliny's correspondence is full of references to the custom of "publishing" a book by reading it aloud to a group of friends.
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 who 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 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. To what degree each of the subsequent writings has been influenced 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.1 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.
1 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 seduceil. Similarly, Headlam, DB, ii. 791. Feine (Das gesctöcsfreie Erangelium des Paulus, 1899) tries to show that Hellenistic Judaism only influenced Paul 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.
2 See Dr. Denney's finely sympathetic paragraphs in ErGT, ii. pp. 572-575, and Harnack's appreciation in Das Wesen Christentums (1900), 110 f. (E. Tr. 177 f.).