22 JULY 1882, Page 19


A 'VENERABLE Free-kirk Edinburgh minister is reported to have held the following colloquy with one of his sons, at the family supper-table on a certain " sabbath " night :—" Weel, Jamie, where have yo been the nicht ?" " Oh, I went to hear Dr. N—." "And what did he say to you P" "He was trying to reconcile Paul and James." " Reconcile Paul (find Ames I never heard that they had cast oot " (i.e., anglice," quarrelled "). We have been forcibly reminded of this story by the volumes before us, for Dr. Davidson's " Introduction " is nothing, if not an exhibition to the world of the "casting oot" among them- selves of nearly all the writers of the New Testament, while, un- fortunately, he makes no attempt whatever to "reconcile " them. The author's failure, however, in conciliatory effort is, perhaps, the less to be regretted, except on account of his own imper- cipience, as St. Paul himself, in his letter to the Galatians, dis- tinctly proclaims the non-existence of the irreconcilable " schools of thought" which, according to the Ttibingen hypothesis, as here endorsed by Dr. Davidson, rent the early Church in twain. St. Paul would. have tolerated a various " use " in secondary matters, and he would have become " weak " to St. Peter, in order that he might win him over to a higher apprehension of Christian liberty, if he had found him simply adhering in good- faith to Mosaic ritual, because he was unable to recognise that its character was accidental and transitory, and must lose itself in the essential and abiding. But he could not, by his silence, give seeming sanction for a moment to a policy which was temporising, compromising, which was in direct contradiction to principles admitted, and elsewhere acted on, by St. Peter himself, and which, in strictly logical consideration, was nothing less, nothing other, than the building-up again of the "things which Christ" destroyed." St. Peter "was to be blamed," or, ac- cording to the Revised Version, "stood condemned," not because he appeared at Antioch as the leader of a party opposed to " Paul- inismus," but because, while agreeing in principle with St. Paul, he " dissembled." St. Peter was a very different sort of person from St. Paul, and we have no doubt that, as the Apostle to the Circumcision, he betook himself ultimately to Babylonia, still a great centre at the time of Hebrew thought and of Hebrew mercantile activity. But his First Epistle, which we hold to be both authentic and genuine, is of a purely Catholic character, and the early Church was universally of opinion that he was the very first of the Apostles who opened the gate for the Gentiles to all the privileges of Christian liberty and sonship ; yet Dr. Davidson is of a contrary mind, and he seems.to think that he cannot honour St. Paul sufficiently, though he honours him at best in a very jejune, dry-as-dust kind of way, unless he first of all robs St. Peter of the merit which he undoubtedly claims at our hands.

Dr. Davidson is of opinion that great and permanent results iu New-Testament inquiry have been effected by the Tubingen, School. But water does not rise above its level, and no abiding guidance for the honest critical student is to be obtained from a system which arose from the reading of an exorbitant "inner consciousness " into the patent facts of history, and from its alleged discovery of a " literary purpose" in documents which, no doubt, have a special reason for claiming to exist, but which are penetrated through and through by the most transparent sim- plicity. However, our author does not follow his leaders entirely blindfold. He accepts the authenticity of the "Philippians," which is heresy according to Baur, who will receive no epistle as acht Paulinischer, except the " Romans," both " Corinthians," and "Galatians." On the other hand, he insists on the authen- ticity of the title " of the " Ephesiaus," notwithstanding the fact that such scholars as Olshausen have all but demonstrated that the letter was an encyclical one, and his pleading in favour of the commonly received " title " seems to be dominated by the a priori conclusion that the author could not have been St. Paul. And this is the form of Dr. Davidson's argument :—" The in- scription to the Ephesians ' must be retained, the writer of the letter appears to have known nothing of the Church to '0 An Introduction to tha Study of the Now Testament, Critioat, Etnegetieal, and Thoological. By Samuel Davidson, D.D. Seoond Edition, Revised and Improved. 2 vole. London : Longman;, 3882.

which he wrote, there are many expressions which St. Paul could never have employed, and, therefore, the document must be pro- nounced to be the composition of a later date and another hand.

Q. E. D. !" No further comment is necessary, on a logic like this.

According to the Tbbitigen School, the two most uncom- promising champions who ever entered the lists of theological controversy were the respective authors of the Apocalypse and of the Gospel of St. John. According to Dr. Davidson, however, St. John's Gospel is not "polemical," and he can only express his astonishment that " so great an author should be utterly unknown." He says it is "singular." To us, as to most people, it is very singular indeed ; but let us hear what Neander has to say on the subject :—

" So far from this Gospel having been written by a man of the second century, we cannot oven imagine a man existing in that century so little affected by the contrarieties of his times, and so far exalted above them. Could an age involved in perpetual contradictions, an Ago of religious materialism, anthropomorphism, and one-sided in- tellectualism have given birth to a production like this, which has no trace of one of these deformities P How mighty must the man have boon who in that age could produce from his own mind such an image of Christ as this P And this man, moreover, in a period almost destitute of eminent minds, remained in total obscurity, as if it had been necessary for the master-spirit, who felt in himself the capacity and the calling to accomplish the greatest achievement of the day, to resort to a pitiful trick to smuggle his ideas into circulation P"

As an expositor, Dr. Davidson writes from without inwards, but never seems to get to the heart of any one of the New- Testament documents ; and his summary of the teaching of the Epistle to the Galatians simply loses the significance

of its pregnant contents, as if the "faith" which the Apostle pleads for with such fervour and such emphasis had been a mere acceptance of a forensic deliverance on. a question of law, and not a rooted, filial trust, the growing realisation within his disciples of the very faith of Christ himself in the

absolutely righteous will of a perfect Father.

We do not forget, however, while we thus write, that Dr. Davidson is a veteran and well-read student in Biblical criticism, and his industry is entitled to our sincere commendation. In- deed, no clergyman, or recognised public teacher of religious truth, should feel quite satisfied that he has made himself ac- quainted with the latest phase of rationalistic critical inquiry— rationalistic, but still claiming to occupy a plane of thought and belief far above that occupied by the Agnostic—without perusing the two volumes before us. Nevertheless, they are very dry, and very dull, unless, indeed, we ought to qualify this statement with the additional one that we never met with anything in Biblical criticism more pathetically ridiculous than the pas- sage on page 203, Vol. IL, in which our author, confounding the experience of St. Paul on the road to Damascus with the later "inner revelation" of the "filial constitution of humanity," proceeds to maintain that the Apostle to the Gentiles is the great authority on whom to lean in affirming the purely visionary character of all the so.called appear- ances of Christ after his death on the Cross. Accordingly,

Dr. Davidson would have us believe that a rich, prosperous Jew flung to the winds in a moment name, fame, honour, obligation, troops of friends, and his money too, at the behest, which proved to be imperative, of a mere " inner " phantasy. With a new application of the old phrase, we would say, " Let a Jew believe this." An " epileptic " woman, a shrewd tent-maker with a large

fortune, and some five hundred other people, became the subjects of an immense illusion, and hence the origin of the society which has poured the life-blood of a new hope into the heart of' humanity ! A company of " forced " cucumbers suddenly imagined themselves to be penetrated with genuine sunlight, and succeeded in deluding a large section of the world, even up to the days of Dr. Davidson, into thinking that there was such a thing as sunlight in nature, though science now knows quite well that the solar luminary existed only in the imaginations of those exceptional cucumbers.

Dr. Davidson knows German, and instead of quoting, as an authority, the author of Supernatural Religion, we would, in

conclusion, request him to turn again to—for, of course, he has already read—Dr, Tieyschlag's lecture on "The Resurrection." The arguments of Beyseblag are simply impregnable. The " visionary " hypothesis of the Resurrection of our Lord has been blown to fragments by this masterly essay, and Dr. Davidson would certainly " improve " a new revision of his " Introduction" by taking special note of Beyschlag's conten- tion, and by carefully indicating, as the German Professor so emphatically does, the importance which St. Paul attached to matter-of-fact experience, as compared with moods of which he could give no intelligible account at all.