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PREFACE - Saint Paul, The Epistles of St. Paul, vol. 1 (Jowett trans.) 
The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Galatians and Romans. Vol. 1 Translation and Commentary by the late Benjamin Jowett, M.A. (3rd edition, edited and condensed by Lewis Campbell) (London: John Murray, 1894).
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I am convinced that the Bible will always be more beautiful the more it is understood; the more, that is, we see and observe that every word which we take in a general sense and apply specially to ourselves, had, under certain circumstances of time and place, a peculiar, special, and directly individual reference.
The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe: translated by Bailey Saunders: No. 459, p. 166.
The book which is now presented to the reader in an abridged form, was first published in June 1855; and the second Edition from which this reprint is taken appeared in 1859. Both editions were dedicated to Dr. Temple, the present Bishop of London.
The writer was one on whom the responsibilities of authorship pressed with unusual weight. He had reached the age of thirty-seven before the publication of this his first book; and when to his surprise his work gave grave offence to some classes of his countrymen, he sought earnestly to bring it nearer to perfection. The second Edition gave proof of much assiduous toil in the revision. Many parts of it, particularly the Essay on the Atonement, were entirely re-written, with the view rather of elucidating what had been misunderstood, than of merely conciliating opposition. Years passed, the book was out of print, a secondhand copy fetched more than the original price, and by-and-by became wholly unprocurable. Yet no hint was given of renewed publication. The author would not reprint without revising, and a multitude of occupations made revision, as he understood revision, impossible. Not that his mind was ever wholly absorbed in other work, or that his interest in theology was at all abated. But a position, of which he saw the vast possibilities, had at last opened to him, and engaged his active powers. Great tasks connected with his Professorship of Greek had been undertaken, and were pursued with characteristic tenacity. The resumption of yet deeper studies was reserved for a time of leisure which never came to him — Senectuti seposuit. But when ‘the days closed around him, and the years,’ he more than once expressed a wish that his theological writings might again be given to the world, and this re-publication of them has been undertaken in obedience to his last commands.
In projecting the Edition of St. Paul’s Epistles, which Arthur Penrhyn Stanley and Benjamin Jowett undertook conjointly, there is little doubt that they were originally inspired by the example of Dr. Arnold1 .
The two friends had worked on a concerted plan, and the amount of general agreement and difference between their methods has been well stated by Dean Stanley’s biographer (vol. i. p. 473). Jowett’s work had characteristics of a deeper and more far-reaching kind than that of the graphic delineator of the Apostolical age and of so much besides. He had chosen for his province what may be called the pivot-documents of Augustinian, of Lutheran and of Calvinistic theology; and his endeavour had been nothing less than to penetrate the clouds of tradition, and apprehend the original meaning of the Apostle. He found every chapter, every word, enveloped with many layers of uncritical commentary, and even of passionate controversy; coloured over with the reflected lights of many ages. The duty of the interpreter, which he was one of the first to realize, was to get away from Paulinism, and to find St. Paul — just as afterwards he got away from Platonism and found Plato:—
How much of imaginative sympathy, of independent judgement, of varied learning and calm critical insight, the Oxford tutor brought to such an arduous task, will be partly felt by those who read now for the first time the notes which are here selected, or the Essay on the Character of St. Paul. His method as an interpreter is one which had never before been applied so strenuously, and to this day has hardly been again employed with the same simple boldness. He steeped himself in his author, and while laying hold of every aid that was available, still sought to interpret him mainly from himself—working from within outwards, not building up, however closely, round.
But he was not content with mere interpretation. As the thoughts which burned in the Apostle of the Gentiles were of universal import, they could not be without their application to the present age; and when seen once more in themselves, apart from the accumulations of tradition, they could not fail to be suggestive of fruitful thoughts, arising out of the contemplation of eternal themes. The note on the words ‘It is one God’ (εἱ̑ς ὁ θεός) in Rom. iii. 30, may serve to illustrate this germinal consideration, which lies at the root also of such extended speculations as those on Natural Religion, on Casuistry and on Predestination and Free-will.
In the Essay on Philo he endeavoured to bring out the incidental light which Alexandrine Judaism casts on the interpretation of St. Paul—the similarities of language—even of forms of thought—and the deep-lying spiritual difference.
The reception of the book showed plainly that it was before its time. Evangelical and Tractarian authorities alike anathematized it. Even Frederick Maurice, who himself had suffered for independence of theological speculation, could not bear to have it said, that an Apostle in his lifetime had been mistaken—for example, in looking for the immediate advent of his Lord. Professor Jowett met all attacks with silence, and simply laboured in re-writing his book, to make his meaning clearer. Echoes of the intervening controversy are heard only in undertones, as in the concluding passage of the revised Essay on the Atonement, and in various parts of the Essay on the Interpretation of Scripture. That Essay had been originally designed to form part of the edition of 1859, but the pertinacity of his opponents, while somewhat hindering his labours, so stimulated public interest, that the second edition was called for before the new Essay could be completed. And when the Rev. H. B. Wilson, whose Bampton Lectures had met with similar obloquy, sought contributions for a volume, which should vindicate the ‘free handling in a becoming spirit’ of theological subjects, Mr. Jowett sent in this dissertation after re-writing and enlarging it.
The storm which broke out in 1860 over Essays and Reviews is hardly yet forgotten, and has to some extent effaced the impression of Professor Jowett’s earlier work. But it is long since over, and has cleared the air: and it is hoped that these writings may now obtain a hearing on their merits, with ‘better quiet
than was possible during the heat of the struggle. Had their author lived, and found the necessary leisure, he would have brought his work again into the front line of critical and historical inquiry. He would have again re-written much in his later style of admirably lucid prose. He might have illuminated his subject by the comparison not only of Alexandrianism, but of other great religions, such as Buddhism or Zoroastrianism. He might have expressed his thoughts on ‘the religion of all good men; that which all know, but none will tell.’—He gave authority for the re-publication of his work ‘altered or unaltered.’ I have not ventured to change a single line. But (1) Lachmann’s Greek text on which the work was based has not been reprinted in full. It was immensely in advance of what preceded it, but the investigations of Tischendorf, Tregelles and others, the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus, and the elaborate discussion of the documents by Westcott and Hort, have again superseded Lachmann. The differences, however, between Lachmann’s and the Cambridge text are only in a few places really significant, and it has been thought sufficient, in reprinting Jowett’s revised version, to add in a footnote to such places the special reading of Lachmann.
(2) In attempting to bring the volumes within convenient compass, it was necessary to make further omissions, and to rearrange the contents. The choice of passages for omission has been determined in some instances by Professor Jowett’s expressed wish; for the rest, those parts have been left out which could most easily be dispensed with, either as assuming facts which subsequent inquiries have rendered doubtful, or as involving repetition, or as explaining what the translation now makes sufficiently obvious to a well-informed student. Old lovers of the book may regret the absence of many things: but this was true of the author’s own second edition: some would like to have renewed acquaintance with the impassioned outburst against a crude phase of contemporary theology, which drew down such anathemas on the work when it first appeared. Others would recapture, if they could, the brief excursus on the Conversion of St. Paul. But Professor Jowett himself decided all this otherwise.
(3) The examination of Paley’s Horae Paulinae has not been reprinted, although it is full of sound and subtle reasoning. Paley is but little studied in the present day; and these chapters could only interest those who have studied Paley1 .
(4) The contents have been slightly rearranged. The Epistles themselves with Introductions, notes and shorter Essays now full volume one; and volume two consists of the more general Dissertations. The connexion of these with the subjects of the Epistles is indicated where this appeared to be required. The readings of the Authorized Version are subjoined to the English text as before, and are printed in italics, where they represent a different Greek reading.
The work is once more commended to all students of early Christianity, to all who desire that religion should be real and permanent, and to all those who care to contemplate under enlightened guidance ‘what is highest in man.’
A fear is sometimes expressed lest sixty years of theological logical controversy, while hardening superstitious prejudices, may have left the reading public cold—lest the ‘visible Church’ should be growing narrower, and the world more and more indifferent to Christianity. But there are not wanting signs of very different augury — symptoms of widening thought within the Christian Churches, of a re-awakening of religious aspiration amongst mankind at large. And it is with the hope which such indications have suggested, that these volumes are now sent forth.
A review of the First Edition by Dr. James Martineau, which has been since reprinted amongst his Studies of Christianity (Longmans & Co.), caught with rare insight the characteristic excellence of the book. The following sentences especially deserve quotation here:—
‘The text being chosen on grounds purely critical, the notes are written in a spirit purely exegetical; they aim, simply and with rare self-abnegation, to bring out, by every happy change of light and turn of reflective sympathy, the great Apostle’s real thought and feeling. How very far this faithful historic purpose in itself raises the interpreter above the crowd of erudite and commenting divines, can scarcely be understood till it has formed a new generation, and fixed itself as a distinct intellectual type.’
‘it is not in the notes—which are wholly occupied in recovering St. Paul’s own thought — but in the interposed disquisitions, which avowedly deal with the theology of to-day, that a certain breadth and balance of statement, and delicate ease in manœuvring the forms and antitheses of abstract thought, and fine appreciation of human experience, make us feel the double presence of metaphysical power and historical tact. The author, accordingly, appears to us, not only to have seized the great Apostle’s attitude of mind more happily than any preceding English critic, but also to have separated the essence from the accidents of the Pauline Christianity, and disengaged its divine elements for transfusion into the organism of our immediate life.’
Thanks are due to several friends for encouragement in the preparation of this edition, and particularly to Mr. Claud G. Montefiore, for help in verifying some allusions to Hebrew custom and tradition.
35 Kensington Court Mansions, W.
Dec. 28, 1893.
[1 ]That this is more than a surmise, appears from the following passage in the Life of Arnold (6th Edition, 1846, p. 163). ‘Strong as was his natural taste for history, it was to Theology that he looked as the highest sphere of his exertions, and as the province which most needed them. The chief object which he here proposed to himself—in fact, the object which he conceived as the proper end of Theology itself—was the interpretation and application of the Scriptures. From the time of his early studies at Oxford, when he analysed and commented on the Epistles of St. Paul, with Chrysostom’s Homilies, down to the last year of his life, when he was endeavouring to set on foot a Rugby edition of them, under his own superintendence, he never lost sight of this design.’
[1 ]See The Times for Oct. 15, 1859.