New Testament Criticism: An Illustration. -- By: W. H. Griffith Thomas

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:287 (Jul 1915)
Article: New Testament Criticism: An Illustration.
Author: W. H. Griffith Thomas


New Testament Criticism: An Illustration.

W. H. Griffith Thomas

Toronto, Out.

In The Expositor for March, 1915, Professor H. T. Andrews writes as follows: —

“We have discovered at last that the New Testament cannot be kept sacrosanct from criticism. For years the Church has comforted itself with the thought: Let criticism do its worst with the Old Testament — the New Testament at any rate is safe. Nothing can impugn its veracity or invalidate its authority.’ That illusion is now completely dissipated. It has been a rude shock to those who felt that criticism would never violate the sanctity of the New Testament any more than Germany would precipitate a European war, to find a race of scholars suddenly spring up and assail the inner fortress of the Christian faith — the reality of the person of Jesus” (p. 13).

There was really no need for him or any one else to experience such a “rude shock”; because for a number of years past it has been patent to very many that criticism could not possibly be limited to the Old Testament, and that the idea that men could do what they liked with the Old Testament so long as they did not touch the New was absurdly impossible. It is well, however, that critical scholars like Professor Andrews should even now realize what conservative scholars have known for so long; and it is a great satisfaction that the “illusion,” so characteristic of criticism, is “now completely dissipated.”

But it is not the only danger that the reality of the personality of our Lord is called in question; for those who do not go so far as this, nevertheless deal with the New Testament with such remarkable freedom that they go far to make people wonder whether there is any authority left in the books connected with the new covenant.

One illustration of this tendency will be found in a recent

book, “The Beginnings of the Church,”1 by Dr. Ernest F. Scott, Professor of New Testament Criticism in Queen’s Theological College, Kingston, Canada. His object is “to investigate the aims and beliefs of the Christian community in the time preceding the advent of Paul” (Preface, p. vii); and he bases his position on the hypothesis that “Jesus imparted his message in the terms of Jewish apocalyptic” (Preface, p. viii). Now although his results are admittedly tentative, and many conclusions are still open, yet statements are made in the most unqualified way, which set readers wondering whether, after all, the hypothesis itself can be right. Thus, on the very first page, we are told that “within a generation the church’ ha...

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