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method of studying them. On the one hand, traditional commentators have used these assumptions as a ground for treating the Gospels in a wholly artificial manner. By force of reaction the modern critic has often not only (and quite rightly) insisted on studying the Gospels on historical methods, but has also too often, and with fatal effect, refused to see that these assumptions are of the nature of brilliant intuition of elements in the Gospel, which are in part outside the range and scope of his scientific analysis, but which in some measure his analysis should have discovered, if he had not been wilfully blind to them.

When, if ever, the irritating and provocative influence of false and artificial methods of dealing with the Gospels ceases to create an equally false opposition method of studying them, it will, I believe, be found that the scientific investigation of the Gospels, upon the best historical methods that the future can ever give us, will lead to results which will in large part coincide with the old conservative and traditional intuitions. On the one hand, it will be found that the sources of our Gospels are early in date, and that, with some slight reservations, they describe for us the historical life of the Saviour of Mankind. It will be seen that the personality of the Evangelists plays a relatively very small part in their records, whilst these agree in an astonishing degree in giving to us an harmonious and consistent account of a unique Personality.

No real student of life will ask, "Why then all this critical investigation of the Gospels, if it is simply to give us the old results?" and if the simple-minded should ask this, it is to be feared that no answers which could be given would satisfy him. But two obvious reasons are these. First, that false and antiquated methods of exegesis do incalculable harm to the young and simple, and to the coming generation of men. The science of history has within the last century undergone a revolution. has adopted new methods of research, which are every day being improved and perfected. Nothing is more calculated


to shake the faith of the men of the new age in the historical character of the Gospels, than to find that the Christian commentator still interprets the Gospels on the basis of purely a priori assumptions which should themselves be first proved, and by methods which are outworn and unlike the methods used by students in every other department of history. On the other hand, nothing will so reassure the faith of the younger generation of thoughtful men as the discovery that the Gospels, when studied and interpreted along the lines of ordinary historical research, still present to our love and adoration the figure of the Divine Saviour, and that the efforts to prove the Gospels to be late and legendary growths are in large measure a failure, because they start from unscientific presuppositions, and employ unscientific methods of historical inquiry.

And, secondly, the consideration of value must, of course, always be kept out of sight by the student. A very large part of historical and scientific research will always seem to the practical man to be of little immediate value. But the student will care nothing for that. He investigates because he must. And the Gospels cannot, any more than any other element in life, be hidden away from the curious search and restless probing of the human intellect.

It will hardly be necessary to add now that I have deliberately set aside the methods which I have just tried to describe. I have not employed the other Gospels in order to weaken impressions left by the words of the First Gospel, nor have I allowed myself to approach it as an exact representation of Christ's sayings and words.

It remains, therefore, to describe the method which I have adopted.

In accordance with this method, the work of a commentator upon a Gospel should form only one stage in a complicated process of historical investigation and inquiry. The first stages of this process should belong to the textual critic, and to the scholar whom, in default of a better name, we may term the literary critic. The former should

give us a Greek text of the Gospel upon which to work; the latter should have decided for us such questions as the relationship of the Gospels one to another, and to any source or sources which have been embodied in them. Properly speaking, this first stage of textual and literary criticism should have been completed before the commentator begins his work. But, unfortunately, the day is not yet when we can believe that we have a final Greek text of the Gospels, and the work of literary analysis is probably much nearer its beginning than its end. I have, however, reduced to as small an amount as possible the textual critical element in this Commentary. Handbooks to textual criticism, and editions of the text with full critical apparatus, are now easily accessible. On the other hand, whilst assuming what I believe to be the one solid result of literary criticism, viz. the priority of the Second to the other two Synoptic Gospels, I have thought it desirable to try and prove, by a detailed and full comparison of the first two Gospels, that, so far as they are concerned, this assumption everywhere justifies itself as an explanation of the relationship between them. This will explain the large part which S. Mark's Gospel plays in the following pages. S. Luke's narrative, in so far as it is parallel with the Second Gospel, lies, of course, on this assumption, outside the range of a commentator on the First Gospel.

The second stage in the process should be the work of the commentator on the text of each separate Gospel. Starting with the results given to him by the literary critic, and equipped with the Greek text supplied by the textual critic, the commentator will approach each separate Gospel with the purpose of ascertaining what were the conceptions of the life and Person of Christ which governed and directed the Evangelist in his work. From this point of view the main interest of the commentator will lie rather in what is characteristic of, and peculiar to, each Gospel, than in what is common to them all. He will

refuse to try and harmonise discrepant details or divergent conceptions. Rather he will emphasise these as important, because they enable him to reconstruct the life of Christ as it presented itself to the minds of the Evangelist and of his readers. He will always be mindful of the fact that he is immediately concerned, not with the actual facts of the life of Christ or with His doctrine, but rather with these as mirrored in the mind of the particular Evangelist with whom he is dealing.

The third stage in the process belongs to the historian. Just as the commentator is obliged to rely very largely upon the work already done by the literary critic, so the historian must depend for his material to a great extent upon the work of the commentator and of the critic alike. He will have as his material the Gospels as analysed into their sources by the critic, and the mass of not always harmonious impressions of the life of Christ, as given to him by the commentators upon the separate Gospels. With this material at his disposal, it will be his duty to attempt to recover the historical facts of Christ's life, to ascertain as far as possible the exact words which He spoke, and to determine the meaning which these words originally carried with them.

In accordance with what has been said, I have felt it to be my duty to begin my work equipped with some acquaintance with the results of the literary criticism of the Gospels. If I have found it necessary partly to assume the results of such labour, and partly to work out a view of my own as to the sources of the Gospel, that is only because the work of the critic and of the commentator cannot in the present conditions of knowledge be quite kept apart. On the other hand, I have done my best not to encroach upon the sphere of the historian. Here and there I may have been tempted to express some view as to the historical character of some incident or saying, as apart from the general credibility of the source of which it forms a part, but generally speaking it has

been my aim to consider the contents of the Gospel always in the first place from the standpoint of their meaning for the editor of the Gospel, and only secondarily from the point of view of their relation to the historical Christ.

This explains, of course, in large measure, the limitations of the Commentary which follows. Considerations as to the historical character of the incidents which the Gospel records, have for the most part been carefully avoided; and no attempt has been made to discuss the question whether the teaching here put into the mouth of Christ was as a matter of fact taught by Him. These are questions which should be left to the historian who is dealing with all the sources which are available for the reconstruction of the life of Christ, and should not be approached by the commentator who is dealing with only one Gospel.

This limitation carries with it the omission of reference to much literature, ancient and modern. If the commentator is engaged in explaining the meaning of a single Gospel from the standpoint of the Evangelist, he clearly need not discuss those ancient and modern conceptions of the historical Christ with which an historian of Christ's life must grapple. Consequently purely controversial discussion of modern critical views has been purposely avoided in the following pages.

Of course, I am aware that in practice the several stages in the process which I have described cannot be kept rigidly apart. The commentator must to some extent exercise his independent judgement in revising the work of the literary critic, and the historian will always find it necessary to test the work of both critic and commentator. But the range of subjects and activities connected with the work of using the Gospels as historical sources is so vast, that it is probable that in the future as, and in so far as, scientific method is improved, the commentator on the Gospels will not be expected to cover more than a part of the ground. He will, e.g., to

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