« السابقةمتابعة »
THE purpose of this book is to promote the historical study of the Apostolic Age. It aims to perform in respect to the early history of the Christian Church a service corresponding to that which the “ Harmony of the Gospels,” recently put out by Professor William Arnold Stevens and myself, sought to render in respect to the Life of Christ. Like that book, it endeavors, not to indicate the solution of all the historical problems presented by the New Testament documents pertaining to the period under consideration, but to present the material in convenient form for historical study.
The New Testament sources for the history of the Apostolic Age are of three kinds : narrative, epistolary, and apocalyptic. * Of the first
class, we have but one work, the book of Acts; of the third also there is but one example, the book of Revelation; the letters are twenty-one in number.
The task undertaken by the present work in reference to this material is threefold. First, it aims to give to each of the several letters and the Revelation a position, in relation to one another and to the narrative of the Acts, corresponding to the point in the history at which each was written. Secondly, it seeks to glean from the letters, and from the speeches in the book of Acts, all the narrative material they contain, and to place this at the points corresponding to the time of the events narrated. Thirdly, it attempts to divide the whole history into its natural periods and divisions.
Each of these portions of the task presents its own difficulties. Respecting the place of the several epistles in the history, there still remain some problems which must be regarded as in process of investigation rather than as already solved. Among the most difficult are those which involve the question of authorship and genuineness, as well as that of date. The plan of this work renders it impossible to avoid assuming some position upon these latter questions, yet it is
* The gospels indeed bear valuable testimony to the currents of thought in this period. But this testimony respecting the Apostolic Age is so veiled and indirect, the reference to the gospel period of New Testament history so direct and obvious, that it has seemed best not to include the text of the gospels in the present work.