« AnteriorContinuar »
THE New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ contains twenty-seven separate writings by at least ten different authors. They appeared at various times during a course of years. The order of their appearance was not that in which they have been arranged either in the authorized or in the revised English Bible, and in consequence the reader does not approach the New Testament in the same way as did the Christians of the earliest age of the Church. The lack of chronological arrangement does not lessen our knowledge of the historical facts and spiritual forces which lie at the basis of our common Christianity, but it may hinder our perfect sympathy with the first readers. For my own part I have long found it necessary in studying the beginnings of the Christian religion to attempt, with the assistance of modern scholarship, to arrange the writings of the New Testament in the order of their appearance, so far as that can be settled.
The arrangement which I have used privately for very many years has been adopted in this edition. In presenting it to English readers these remarks are necessary :
(1) In the absence of all exact external evidence for the dates at which the various books of the New Testament were written, the arrangement in chronological order must contain an element of conjecture; it only represents what a consensus of conservative scholarship is inclined to accept as the true
(2) While valid reasons could be given, if space permitted, for the arrangement of twenty-four books, I have to confess frankly that three occupy purely arbitrary places—the Letters of James and of Jude, and the Second Letter of Peter. The first of these appears to me to have come very early, but I am unable to determine its exact relative position; and
while I do not accept the late date which many scholars have assigned to the Letter of Jude and to the Second Letter of Peter, I have placed them last simply because I cannot fix their exact place in the order of appearance.
(3) While many of the letters came before any of the Gospels, it has to be remembered that the Christians of the first generation were prepared for their reception by collections of the sayings and deeds of Jesus which were stored in the retentive Oriental memory and transmitted from one to another. Modern readers cannot be placed in the exact position of the earliest Christians without something like that preparatory oral Gospel. Accordingly there has been placed in a Prologue the matter common to the three Synoptic Gospels stated in the words of St. Mark.
The only English edition which has arranged the books of the New Testament in chronological order is the Historical New Testament of the Rev. James Moffatt, D.D.—a valuable and scholarly work, but based on critical methods which I have never been able to sympathize wholly with, and coming to conclusions about the late date of some of the writings which I am unable to accept. A Student's Chronological New Testament, with historical notes and brief outline of each book, was edited by Dr. A. T. Robertson (New York, 1904). The other features of this edition of the New Testament which call for attention are the following:
The arbitrary divisions into chapters and verses have been omitted and are indicated at the top of the page.
Italics have been used to denote quotations from the Old Testament, two quotations from heathen poets, for the utterances of heavenly voices, the words of the institution of the Lord's Supper, and a prophetic utterance of John the Baptist.
The sayings of our Lord have been printed in shorter lines and can be seen at a glance.
The large amount of dialogue contained in the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles has been made clear.
The text is that of King James's version, with a few slight