CHAPTER I.

ORIGIN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

ITS AUTHOR.

"Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Thus did Peter explain the origin of the Old Testament Scriptures, and by clear implication that of the New Testament also. And that which he implied, is frequently asserted and everywhere assumed in the writings of this later Testament; and such guidance as is thus claimed is but a fulfillment of the Lord's promises concerning the Comforter. He was to bring to remembrance whatsoever Jesus had said to His chosen ones, and He was also to guide them into all truth. Thus the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, was the foretold guide for those who should record the deeds and words of the Lord, and who, upon this foundation, should erect the symmetrical structure of revealed truth. The Holy Ghost is, therefore, the author of the Scriptures Of the New Testament as well as of the Old. In answer to inquiry as to the ultimate origin of this volume, we may, therefore, reply, in the language of a familiar formula, "It has God for its Author."

ITS WRITERS.

God was its Author, but "holy men of God" transcribed the utterances to which He moved them. So far as the New Testament is concerned, He was pleased to employ eight, or possibly nine, writers, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke (on two books), John (on five books), Paul (on thirteen, and probably fourteen, according the authorship of Hebrews to him), James, Peter (on two books), Jude, and possibly an unknown writer, on :Hebrews. The biographies of these sacred writers is familiar to all hovers of the Bible. It need not be dwelt upon here. Suffice it to say that these persons were chosen for this work in preference to others, because God saw in them qualifications which it pleased Him to use. Matthew's natural affiliations were with Jews; those of Luke with Gentiles. God saw fit to approach Jews in the one case and Gentiles in the other, by means of men specially fitted for such approach, and therefore He chose these two, and similar principles doubtless apply in all other cases.

ITS ORIGINAL LANGUAGES.

There are those who claim that Matthew wrote his gospel, and that Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew language. This language would have been a very natural means of approach to the Jews; but to so great an extent had the Hebrew, even then, ceased to be a living language, that the Greek of that day would have done equally good service for the mass of that nation. That Matthew wrote his gospel in both these languages is believed by many, and, indeed, it is the more probable hypothesis.

With these exceptions, if indeed they may be reckoned as exceptions, the original language of the New Testament writings was Greek. It was not, however, the pure classical Greek of that and earlier days, but a modified dialect, into which many Hebraisms and other idioms had worked their way. Luke employs the purest Greek of all the writers in this volume, while Matthew, Mark and Paul abound in shades of thought and forms of expression decidedly Hebrew. So peculiar is the language of the New Testament, that it is customary to speak of "New Testament Greek" as of a classification clearly recognized and readily distinguishable from other Greek dialects.

ORIGINAL COPIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

In all probability, the original copies of the New Testament. books were made on papyrus, which was the ancient paper. It was made by gluing together layers of the rind under the bark of the papyrus plant, and then pounding or rolling them into a convenient thickness for writing purposes. This substance was by no means durable. Some fragments of it have been recovered from the ruins of Herculaneum and from the tombs of Egypt; but use and exposure to the atmosphere caused its sure and speedy destruction. For this reason, the originals of the New Testament books have all perished. Our possession of these truths would have been utterly lost had it not been for two sources of preservation, namely, the numerous copies of these books which were early made in the original languages themselves, and also in other languages for the convenience of converts; and, secondly, the abundance of Scripture quotation, in which the early disciples habitually indulged in their writings.

But these transcripts of the originals were themselves perishable. They, too, were upon the papyrus. But about the fourth century, more durable materials were sought. Skins of various animals were prepared, and thus vellum, parchment and other substances came into common use. Paper made from cotton and linen fibre, as with us today, was employed for writing purposes about the twelfth century. This, of course, opened up a new era in writing material, because of its good quality and its cheapness. But the immense advantages we enjoy from its combination with the printing-press, and particularly with steam-power, are the peculiar inheritance of this age, rather than of any earlier generation.

ARRANGEMENT OF THE BOOKS.

That the books of the New Testament should stand in their chronological order, would be a very natural assumption. In fact, however, this is far from true, as will be seen in the appended tabular showing. And yet the arrangement of these books, as followed in our Bibles, is far from being ill-considered. The gospels form the broad solid historic basis of facts, which underlie the entire Christian system like four great massive rocks. And their order is a very natural one. Matthew builds most closely on the bed-rock of the old Jewish system. Mark clings to Matthew by striking resemblances, but at the same time reaches out toward the Gentile world and illustrates specially the active side of the Christian system. Luke abandons Matthew's connections, and writes specially for the Gentile nations beyond; and John philosophizes upon the entire subject, and shows up the eternal truth, as it is in itself, without respect to any one class of men, but with the purpose of convincing all.

As a book of history, and as a very natural supplement to the gospels and a preface to the epistles, the book of Acts is placed between these two classes of writings; continuing the history of the evangelists to a point when in the progress of events the gospel was preached at Rome, the capital of the then known world.

Paul's epistles, from their important character, take place next after the historic books. The catholic epistles, written for all men everywhere, and dealing with those matters which pertain to daily living as men of God, naturally follow up the historic portions, while Revelation, which is essentially a book of prophecy looking out into the future, closes the collection.

The general order of the New Testament books is like that of the Old. First come those which are chiefly historic; then those chiefly experimental, and finally, such as are chiefly prophetic. Such an arrangement is certainly more logical than one based upon the mere incident of date of production or of publication.

TIME OF WRITING THE BOOKS.

The precise time when the several books of the New Testament were written, cannot in every case be determined certainly; but the following table will show the facts with a very close approximation to the true state of the case.

AFTER CHRIST'S DEATH A.D
Matthew
Mark
I. Peter
I. Thessalonians
II. Thessalonians
Luke
Galatians
I. Corinthians
II. Corinthians
Romans
Philippians
Philemon
Colossians
Ephesians
Hebrews
Acts
I. Timothy
II. Timothy
Titus
II. Peter
James
Jude
Revelation
John
I. John
II. John
III. John
6
10
19
19
19
23
23
24
24
24
29
29
29
29
29
30
30
30
30
30
33
33
61
63
65
65
65
39
43
52
52
52
56
56
57
57
57
62
62
62
62
62
63
63
63
63
63
66
66
94
96
98
98
98