« PreviousContinue »
JAN 2 1857
Luke, the beloved physician.
COL. iv. 14.
Only Luke is with me.
2 TIM. iv. 11.
Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellow-labourers.
THE COLLECT FOR ST. LUKE'S DAY.
Almighty God, who calledst Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist, and Physician of the soul; May it please Thee, that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrines delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
WHEN, in 1886, I published some notes on the Greek text of the Acts, it was with little hope that a commentary which kept the narrow path of pure exegesis, without diverging into doctrinal controversy on the one hand or homiletic eloquence on the other, would prove acceptable to any but a few students. As, however, it has met with some favour and been reprinted four times, I have ventured to accept the offer of my friend, the Rev. A. S. Walpole, to adapt my notes to the Authorised Version so as to make them available for English readers. That exegetical notes on any translation can be wholly satisfactory is impossible, and although the Revisers (chiefly owing to their having had a better Greek text at their disposal) have removed many errors from the Authorised Version, still they have left much which needs correction (see especially i. 16-22, and x. 34-39), and so adds to the labour of a commentator. On the other hand, in spite of difficulties in the task and defects in the execution of it, I am convinced that the object aimed at in the present work is a good and necessary one. Sound criticism and explanation of the New Testament records must be the basis of
Christian theology, but English scholars seem to shrink from the work, so that, for example, there is at the present time no English commentary on the Synoptic Gospels which is approximately firstrate, while the editions of these great documents -the Magna Charta of our faith—which are used in schools for the most part deal with difficulties by ignoring them. It is no doubt urged-and the reproach has been flung at me by several ecclesiastical journals-that, in comparison with true religious knowledge, an exact acquaintance with grammar and Hellenistic Greek is but as the dust in the balance. This is obviously true, but it is perhaps curious that the men who most strenuously maintain the supreme authority of the Bible are also the men who seem to believe that their own reflections on doctrine or morals are more important than an accurate elucidation of the meaning of the inspired writers or even of the words of Christ. Moreover, editors who desire to argue or to admonish ought in reason to follow the example set by Lange in his Bibelwerk and divide their notes into (1) exegetic, (2) doctrinal, and (3) homiletic; for the student who turns to commentary for information and only obtains advice has certainly some cause to complain that he asked for bread and has been given a stone. Finally, it is clear that, apart from philosophic and scientific questions, the controversy as to the claims of Christianity as a historic religion starting from certain historic facts will be continually more and more closely connected with a critical and exact study of the New Testament records. Yet at present
in that department of knowledge foreign scholars hold the field. England, which during this century has made such vast progress in classical learning, still lags behind Germany in that devotion to New Testament exegesis which it is easy to deride, but which is becoming daily more necessary for theologians.
I have written a brief Introduction. To those who are acquainted with the literature of the Acts its defects will be obvious. If, however, it is even of the slightest use to any one who desires to understand the significance of the remarkable record with which it deals, I shall be more than satisfied.
Mr. Walpole has added a Glossary containing an explanation of obsolete words and phrases occurring in the English text, which is printed from The Cambridge Paragraph Bible. The Glossary is largely indebted to Dr. Aldis Wright's Bible Word Book.
T. E. PAGE.