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RELIGION, THEOLOGY, AND BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
The Rise of the New Testament. By DAVID SAVILLE MUZZEY, B.D. 12mo, pp. 146.
New York : The Macmillan Company. Price, cloth, $1.25.
This brief outline attempts to give a short and readable account in English of the formation of our New Testament. The historic method of scholarship is explained so that the general reader may understand the movements which have produced the results. The author says: "For three generations scholars have worked with untiring zeal over the interpretation of the early documents of Christianity; and to-day, despite manifold differences as to the date or the genuineness of a passage here or there, as to the purpose of an Epistle, or the priority of one Gospel over another, critics are so perfectly agreed as to the historico-genetic construction of the New Testament that their points of difference are comparatively insignificant.” “It is now time to take down the scaffolding of the ological professionalism from the structure of the early Church, and let the interested public see the results of so much brick-dust aud tumbling mortar. A beginning of the process of popularization of knowledge has been made in pamphlets and magazine articles, and still more is promised in the new series of handbooks of the New Testament edited by Professor Shailer Matthews." (History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, by Marvin R. Vincent; History of New Testament Times in Palestine, by Shailer Matthews; History of the Higher Criticism of the New Testament, by Henry S. Nash; and Introduction to the Books of the New Testa. ment, by B. W. Bacon.) This book is neither apologetic nor polemic, but purely expository; written not for scholars but for popular information. “Mooted points of literary and historical criticism are put to one side, and only the common tenets of all the schools are brought into emphasis.” The chapters are entitled, “The Canon of the New Testament,” “The Bible of Jesus and the Apostles," "The Lord's Words,” “The Apostles' Writings," "A New Testament," "The New Testament," "The New Testament and the Word of God." The first chapter says: “Our New Testament did not drop from heaven, like Mohammed's Korán in the legend, nor is it a book which appeared by an arbitrary fiat of the Catholic Church some sixteen hundred years ago, as an ultra school of Dutch critics would have us believe. It is not merely a Scripture, a complete book of equal and divine worth in all its parts, as a timorous or belligerent orthodoxy must maintain, nor is it merely Scriptures, a bundle of books without interrelation, and joined together quite artificially by the Church in a hasty movement of anxiety for its own existence. Such theories as these are mechanical and a priori; they savor of a violation of historical truth which is only too common among those critics who have a pet theory to defend. They are, in a word, a part of the critical paraphernalia of the age of Rationalism, rather than the outcome of that diligent, dispassionate historical method which is the feature of the new age of Criticism. It is by an appeal to history, then, that we must determine the genesis of the authority of the New Testament. In fact, the history of the Canon of the New Testament, more than any other branch of Biblical study, is bound up with the history of the Church. The New Testament was not the product of immediate arbitrary legislation. It was of slow growth, and the stages of its growth from a mere interchange of loving words of exhortation to a binding rule of faith are as clearly marked as the steps in the development of the Church from mere companies of like-minded believers, each armed with the resistless authority of the Holy Ghost, to the jealously conservative and hidebound institution whose stability may have suggested to the Emperor Diocletian the model for the reorganization of the mighty Roman Empire. In this development from the authority of brotherly exhortation to the authority of despotic injunction the New Testament, like every other organism, was subject to the necessary conditions of all growth-conditions which defy hasty and superficial definition. A table is defined in a few words: quality, measurements, ornaments, etc.; but who will exhaust the description of the oak from which the table is made? How all the beginnings of organic life are wrapped about with the veil of mystery! How at almost every stage of growth the scientific observer is confronted with all sorts of freaks! Irregularity seems to be the prime condition of growth, especially of fruitful growth. Let us not be dismayed then to find inconsistencies in the history of the Canon of the New Testament. Let us remember that it was the product of a great creative age, and that consistency is the last concern of creation. . .. At no other point does the leaven of Pharisaism threaten so subtly and so successfully to enter the Church as in the doctrine of Scripture. For so long as the Bible is accepted without being studied, quoted without being understood, venerated without being estimated, it will be an idol only, or, words for the familiar. ity, a thing to conjure with or an oracle to seek for responses. An appreciation, then, of the gradual growth in content and authority of the New Testament writings is fundamental to the understand. ing of both their content and their authority." The third chapter begins thus: “The hammerstrokes on Golgotha awoke no echo in the marbles of the Roman Forum, and the 'quaking earth’ did not roll the blue waves of the Neapolitan Gulf higher on the cliffs of Capri, where Tiberius's days were drawing to a close. The Nazarene's death on the cross of Calvary sent less tremor through the great body of the Roman Empire than did a failing crop in Dalmatia, a burning palace in Sicily, or a ship-destroying tide on the coast of Britain. And yet the name of Him who hung upon that cross was to outlast the dynasty of Julius and the crumbling Forum itself; was to spread beyond the provinces, beyond the Alps and the rough forests of Germany, beyond the outpost encampments of Caledonia and the Pillars of Hercules; was to endure the wisdom of all Rome's borrowed philosophies, Stoic, Epicurean, and Skeptic, the cults of Egypt and the mysteries of Mithras; was, to use the words of Renan, 'so to become the corner stone of humanity that to wrest that name from the world would be to shake it to its foundations.'” Of the generation which followed immediately after the death of Jesus, the author says that it was not concerned with writing Him in books. “The words which He had spoken were spirit and life. The divine grace of enthusiasm was upon His disciples. It was the classic age of the new Gospel, warm with the fusion of a mighty fire of faith, and big with issues which a later and more reflective age should chronicle. It was the 'century of salvation.'" Of Luther's mighty work the Epilogue says: “Martin Luther struck the shackles of a millennium from the religion of Europe. He freed ethics from the Jesuitical immorality of the 'more binding' and the 'less binding,' and sent the conscience not to Rome's catalogues, but to Christ's Gospel, for its justification or its condemnation. He freed worship from the idolatry of Virgin and saints, of rosaries and relics, of pilgrimages and penances, of vows and vigils, and bade the Christian bow only before the Lord of Lords—and then his heart and not his knees. He freed the body from fasts and mortifications, and, himself a monk, marrying a nun, he cut to the roots that baneful paganism which proscribed in theory and violated in practice the most sacred relationship of human life. He freed the mind from the fruitless speculations of an effete philosophy concerning God's existence and God's attri. butes, and in place of the God of 'Pope, Jew, and Turk' he proclaimed the God of Jesus Christ, the Father of His children. He freed the soul from a fearful mysticism which hovered between ecstasy and gloom, and proclaimed for it a finished salvation and an unshakable assurance in Christ's mercy. He freed the conscience from masses and indulgences, from the terror of monks and the fables of Purgatory, declaring that penance was a broken heart and the sacrifices of God a contrite spirit. In a word, he freed religion from the authority of men and established the liberty of the authority of God in Christ.”
Christ Came Again. The Parousia of Christ a Past Event. The Kingdom of Christ a
Present Fact. With a Consistent Eschatology. By WILLIAM 8. URMY, D.D. 12mo, pp. 394. New York : Eaton & Mains. Cincinnati : Curts & Jennings. Price, cloth, $1.25.
The theory advocated by Dr. Urmy in this volume has at least the charm of relative novelty. "The doctrine, therefore, which we present,” he writes, “is that the second advent of our Lord is a past occurrence; that his parousia took place about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem; and that we are therefore in a very different relation to this event from that in which the primitive Christians were, and cannot regard it in the same manner that they did." The arguments which prove this striking claim the author finds in "the words of Christ and his apostles," in "the great eschatological discourse of our Lord,” in “the Apocalypse," in "necessity," and in “the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.” So minute and so profuse is his study of the New Testament Scriptures that it is altogether impossible to cite more than these summaries of his arguments, contenting ourselves with the general observation that his treatment gives every indication of profound and long-continued study. Not satisfied with the announcement and vigorous defense of his own positions, Dr. Urmy in four succeeding chapters combats various objections that may be offered to his theory, and closes with certain deductions that follow the establishment of his doctrine, such as the changed attitude of the present Church toward the second coming of Christ, a "different view of all the great doctrines which cluster about the parousia of Christ as the great central doctrine of Christian eschatology,” and marked changes in the creed, ritual, and hymnology of the Church. This brings us to Part Second of the volume, in which the author discusses from his standpoint such eschatological themes as “The Resurrection," "The Resurrection Body," "The Change of the Living,” “The Rapture of the Saints," "The Judgment,” “Future Destiny," "The Intermediate State," "The Millennium,” and “The New Jerusalem.” The changes which this system of eschatology requires, as set forth in his conclusion, are many and peculiar. He enumerates them, as follows: "A rearrangement of the books of the New Testament, if not those of the whole Bible;” the alteration of the sentence in the Creed which reads, "and from thence shall come again at the end of the world to judge the quick and the dead;" a change in the fourth Article of Religion of the Church of England and the third Article of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the incorrect statement now being, "and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day;" an improvement in the ritual of various Churches for the burial of the dead; an alteration in the Form for the Dedication of a Church; “numerous changes in the hymnology now current in the Churches” -all allusions to a future coming of Christ, all references to a final judgment in the future, and all expressions teaching that the material body shall be raised at the sounding of the seventh trumpet being eliminated; and alterations in the notes on Sunday school lessons, “so that the true teaching of the Scriptures may be imparted in our thousands of Sunday schools." From this brief outline of Dr. Urmy's book it will be seen that his variance with the current views upon eschatology is most radical. We might wish that he had dwelt in more specific and graphic description than seems evident to the ordinary observer upon the details of that great parousia which, he holds, took place about 70 A. D. If the event were proven, it would be clear that his many deductions logically follow. The book, however, will possibly impress many as the erection of an extensive superstructure upon an insufficient foundation stone, which a wise master-builder would not ehoose in his construction. The edifice can hardly stand the test that must come from the winds and storms of scholarly criticism.
The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity. By JOHN CAIRD, D.D., LL.D. Late
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. With a Memoir by EDWARD CAIRD, D.C.L., LL.D., Master of Balliol. 2 vols. crown 8vo, pp. 232, 597. New York : The Macmillan Company. Price, cloth, $3.50.
These are the Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow for 1892-3 and 1895-6. There are eight lectures in the first volume and thirteen in the second. The interesting memoir of one distinguished brother by the other is fascinatingly written. It truly says that John Caird "was completely emancipated from that fear of reason which seems to hang so often like a weight upon the most spiritu. ally-minded of the orthodox clergy. He was prepared to sacrifice everything that would not stand the test of criticism; but he had an assurance deeper than could be felt by anyone who had not gone through a similar experience, that such criticism would be fatal only to the 'wood, hay, and stubble' that had been built by unskilled hands upon the foundation of Christ, and not to the stones of the temple, still less to the foundation itself.” Commenting on his lectures, he said: “I shall be satisfied if my work leads some few who are in doubt on the highest matters to see that Christianity and Christian ideas are not contrary to reason, but rather in deepest accordance with both the intellectual and moral needs of man. He broke down the artificial distinctions made between the religious and the secular and showed the organic unity of the whole life. His first sermon before Queen Victoria at Balmoral was on "Religion in Common Life." His theological teachings are in the fullest light of modern scholarship, yet hold fast to all that the Christian Church has universally regarded as vital. The Caird brothers have been the champions of idealism and have had no little share in making that the dominant philosophy in England, Scotland, and America. The idealistic philosophy is herein set forth in its relaton to the fundamental ideas of Christianity. The evidence for immortality which seemed to John Caird to be of greatest value was that given by the spiritual view of the nature of reality, and that derived from the goodness which must belong to God, who is a Spirit, and who is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Some, no doubt, will question whether the author's form of idealism is adequate to the place he gives it in his argument; but all will agree that a magic style is fluent in his pages. He casts the world into the life of God and makes it a means by which he realizes himself. These lectures treat in order of "Natural and Revealed Religion;" "Faith and Reason;" “The Christian Idea of God;" "The Relation of God to the World" accord