The Influence of Antioch on Apostolic Christianity -- By: Merrill C. Tenney

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 107:427 (Jul 1950)
Article: The Influence of Antioch on Apostolic Christianity
Author: Merrill C. Tenney

The Influence of Antioch on Apostolic Christianity

Merrill C. Tenney

“Of making hypotheses there is no end, and much speculation is a weariness to the flesh.” So the writer of Ecclesiastes might have expressed his sentiments had he perused at length the scholastic literature of the last two centuries in the field of Biblical criticism. Notwithstanding the wearisomeness of the trial and error method, fruitful results are sometimes produced by it. In hope that this trial may not be too great an error, this paper entitled “The Influence of Antioch on Apostolic Christianity” is being proffered.

The purpose of the essay is twofold: first, to correlate the existing information that bears on the subject, and second, to suggest for discussion a theory that may shed some light on the growth of Christianity in the years that elapsed between the day of Pentecost when the church was founded, and the days of Ignatius when the episcopacy began to emerge. From an historical standpoint, the available literature is fragmentary and scanty at best. The New Testament, as we possess it, does not contain a complete account of the development of the church in the apostolic age. The Gospels are, for the most part, detached apologetic or didactic presentations of the life of Christ which give no direct statements concerning the places in which they originated or to which they were written. The Epistles of Paul do shed some light upon the churches in the various centers to which they were addressed, but they deal almost wholly with the immediate situations, and contribute little to our knowledge of the history of those churches over any protracted period. The General Epistles contribute even less to our knowledge,

since they are either written to groups widely scattered, as were the Petrine Epistles or James, or else are given no identifiable setting, as in the case of Jude. Revelation does sketch for us the Seven Churches of Asia; but again, as in Paul’s letters, no complete view of any one church is available. Only in Acts can development be traced; and even there the author’s interest lies in explaining a movement rather than in describing the places where it flourished. The presentation of material on Antioch, then, will necessarily be rather sketchy, since the existing sources are so meagre.

Some material is available from secular sources, but very little affects this particular period. Seleucid and Byzantine Antioch are described in the historians of antiquity, but neither of them has very great bearing upon the Antioch of the first century.

Not many attempts have been made by scholars to deal with Antioch in the light of its relation to Christian history. K. O. Mülle...

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