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In an ancient Rabbinical story it is told that when the Lord gave the Law from Sinai He wrought great marvels with His Voice. The Voice sounded from the South, and as the people hastened to the South, lo ! it sounded from the North. They turned to the North, and it came from the East. They turned to the East, and it came from the West. They turned thither, and it came from Heaven. They lifted their eyes up towards Heaven, and it came from the depths of the Earth. And they said one to another, Where shall Wisdom be found ?' And the Voice went forth throughout the world, and was divided into seventy voices, according to the seventy tongues of men. And each nation heard the Voice in its own tongue, and their souls failed them. But Israel heard and suffered not. And each one in Israel heard it according to his capacity ; old men, and youths, and boys, and sucklings, and women ; the Voice was to each one as each one had the power to receive it."
The object of this edition of a portion of the New Testament is to help Young Readers especially to hear that Voice.
Chief among the principles by which the present Editor has sought to be guided in his work is the Sacredness of the Book with which he and his readers have to do. When the young Arthur Stanley, afterwards Dean of Westminster, first introduced himself to the German
theologian Ewald, an indelible impression was made upon him when that great man grasped the small Greek Testament which he had in his hand as we entered, and said: 'In this little book is contained all the wisdom of the world.'"
Another important principle is this, that young readers, on their first introduction to Scripture, should be led as soon as possible to the true point of view, and should be saved from the need of unlearning in after life that which in their earliest years they have been taught to think of as vital and essential to the faith. “You must teach your children truth in part," says Bishop Brooks,“ but the partial truth you teach them must be true, and so have in it the essential completeness of all truth, or else they will outgrow it, and cast it off as hundreds of growing children do leave behind the whole well-meant but narrowly-conceived religion of their nurseries, as they pass out of the nursery door into the world.”
Both these principles lead to a third. This "little book” must be read historically if we would reach down into the depths of its meaning. That veteran student of the Bible, and helper of others' studies, Bernhard Weiss, is a true discerner of the time and its needs when he says, “The main thing in an Introduction to the New Testament is ... the actual initiation into a living historical knowledge of Scripture. . . . It appears to me that nothing less than the whole future of theology and the Church depends on the wider diffusion of such an understanding of Scripture”; and adds that without it no one can be "well equipped for the battle of the present that is imposed as a duty on us all." Whatever “battle " is upon us is due largely to the fact that in an age which is historical in all its instincts and sympathies we are passing
away from an unhistorical reading of Scripture, and too often that means a passing away from all Bible reading. There is a great deal of truth in the remark with which another veteran scholar, Reuss, closes his History of the New Testament : “ The history of the theological use of the Scriptures shows that the Church for but a short time received the will of her Lord and the teaching of His disciples through brief and simple instruction, and that Christian theologians have been laboring for seventeen hundred years since to fix by learning and speculation the meaning of certain pages which were written for the unlearned and simple-minded." The historian Neander described our time as one in which “the Gospel itself rests on an immovable rock, while human systems of theology are everywhere undergoing a purifying process."
"Amid changing interpretations" of the Book our aim, as Dr. Jowett has well said, should be “not to add another, but to recover the original one ; the meaning, that is, of the words as they first struck on the ears or flashed before the eyes of those who heard and read them.”
As to the Contents of this volume, it does not profess to be the whole New Testament, but an Introduction to the Study of the New Testament. The Epistle of St. Jude, the Second of St. Peter, and Chapters 1V.-xx. of the Apocalypse have been omitted because they seemed more suited for older readers or to need a fuller treatment than the original plan of the volume had in mind ; but their probable place in the historical development of the New Testament literature has been indicated at what appeared to be a proper point. The Second and Third Epistles of St. John have been omitted because from their private nature and their brevity they scarcely require or admit of an introduction such as is given in
the notes of this volume. In the larger Epistles also a few brief passages have been omitted where it seemed that so it would be easier for beginners to keep the clue to the main thought ; such omissions are generally indicated by a dash. The volume as it stands should be regarded only as an Introduction, leading on and (may it not be hoped ?) inciting to a completer study of the whole New Testament in its historical order and its historical setting. The endeavor has been to set forth the individual character of each book that was taken up, to let each speak for itself, to draw out and display the internal structure of each, and to give thus an introduction to whatever may follow in later years when comparisons and contrasts are studied, and when the questions that are not yet settled come up for further consideration. As Hagenbach well says, the Bible should be read “as a Book which, with all its Divinity, its Divine origin and Divine ends, is still written by human hands for human beings, for a human eye, a human heart, a human understanding, as a Book which, though written for all times, even for eternity, still refers to certain times and occasions, and must from these given times and occasions be interpreted."
The Revised Version forms the basis of the present work, but only the basis. The readings and renderings preferred by the American Committee of Revisers have in most places commended themselves upon close consideration, and the Editor cannot refrain from saying at this point that as he has studied their work it has more and more approved itself to him as deserving a very much higher recognition than it has yet received.
As the plan of the volume did not admit of marginal or alternative readings, and as it cannot be said of the