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ligation to endeavour to meet the exigencies of the times in regard to criticisms recently made upon the epistle to the Hebrews, do not render it compatible for me, as I view the subject, to comply with the wishes of this class of readers. I am quite sure, moreover, that if they were fully aware of the force which is already organized against its Pauline origin and its canonical authority, they would feel and judge very differently with respect to the importance of critical efforts to defend the commonly received opinion of the churches in regard to the author of the epistle.
Persuaded that no efforts of learning or ingenuity can ever extinguish the light, which the most ancient testimony of the Christian Fathers and the internal structure of the writing itself afford in relation to the origin and author of the epistle to the Hebrews, I feel it to be a duty, while my convictions remain as they are, not to pass in silence any attempt which is worth regarding, to obscure this light. This is my apology for the additional matter of the present edition ; which although it does not amount in itself to a large number of pages, has, from the nature of the discussions, cost much severe labour ; such, indeed, as only those can estimate, who have been engaged in the like occupation. I do not mention this in order to enhance any claims of mine on the reader; but only to satisfy him, that I have not spared any efforts which it has been in my power to make, in order to accommodate my work to the present state of sacred literature.
Prof. Kuinoel, the well known Commentator on the historical books of the New Testament, has also published, a short time since, a commentary on the epistle to the Hebrews, with a somewhat extended and laboured introduction. He accords in the main with Bleek; but he has merely given a synopsis of what has been advanced by others, without adding any thing that requires notice which is strictly his own. On this account, I have not deemed it expedient to make his introductory essay a subject of special examination in the present edition of my work. His commentary presents some things which are worthy of attention, and by which I shall endeavour to profit in my notes upon the epistle; although, in general, it seems to me far inferior to his other critical works.
The alterations and additions, both great and small, made in the present edition, are too numerous to be specified. It is my sincere wish to render the work more complete, and more worthy of the reader's approbation. All the changes that have been made, have originated in this desire, and in a sense of the obligation to do the best in one's power, which necessarily attaches itself to the publication of a work on subjects so important as those of which the present volume treats.
I have only to add, that the type used in printing the present edition, enables the publishers to present it to the reader within the compass of fewer pages than were occupied in the first edition, and at a somewhat less price, notwithstanding the additions which it has received. This, indeed, is some sacrifice on the part of the publishers, inasmuch as their labour of setting up the work in type (taking the additions into the account) is increased, while their profit is diminished. But this sacrifice they cheerfully make, with the hope of accommodating the public.
Tbeol Sem. Andover,
Sept. 2, 1833.
5 1. Preliminary Remarks. No part of the New Testament, if perhaps we may except the Apocalypse, has occasioned so much difference of opinion, and given rise to so much literary discussion among critics, as the Epistle to the Hebrews. The principal reason of this seems to be, that this epistle does not exhibit, either at the beginning of it or elsewhere, any express evidence of having been addressed to any particular church, nor any designation of the author's name. If it bad been expressly inscribed to a particular church, and if the author had originally affixed his name to it, there would of course have been as little occasion for dispute respecting the persons to whom it was addressed, or in regard to the author of it, as there has been in the case of the epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, or Galatians.
At a somewhat early period of the Christian era, the eastern and western churches appear to have been divided in opinion respecting the author and canonical authority of this epistle. In modern times, and especially of late, every topic which its literary history could suggest, has been the subject of animated discussion. It has been disputed whether it is an epistle, an essay, or a homily; whether it was written by Paul, Apollos, Barnabas, Clement of Rome, or some other person ; and whether it was originally written in Hebrew or in Greek. There has also been a difference of opinion as to the place where, and the time when, it was written. On every one of these topics, critics have been and still are divided. Nor has this division been occasioned merely by a difference in theological opinions. The subjects of dispute have, in this case, been more generally, although not always, regarded as topics of literature, rather than of religious sentiment or doctrine. Men of very different views and feelings, in other respects, have often been found united in the same ranks, when questions respecting the epistle to the Hebrews have been disputed. Such too is the case, even at the present time. All the learning and ability which have hitherto been summoned to the contest, have as yet failed to achieve a victory so complete, as to bring about a general acknowledgment that all ground for further dispute is fairly removed.
The student, who is unacquainted with these facts, and who has merely read the epistle to the Hebrews with the same views and feelings which he has entertained while reading the acknowledged epistles of Paul, finds himself thrown into a situation not a little perplexing, when he begins to make such critical inquiries respecting the epistle in question, as are usually made respecting any ancient writing. He finds philologists and critics of great reputation in the church strangely divided and opposed to each other, in respect to every topic to be examined. What he reads in one author, which perhaps for a time satisfies his mind, he finds controverted, shaken, or overthrown by another; who again, in his turn, receives castigation from a third; while a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth, differ each from all his predecessors. The curiosity of the inquirer thus becomes roused, and he begins to pursue some train of thought or investigation, with hope, or perhaps with confidence, that it will lead him to an important and satisfactory result. He presses forward with eagerness, peruses and reperuses modern critics, dives into the recesses of the ancient ones, and finds, perhaps, after all his toil, that he has been pursuing a phantom, which recedes as fast as he advances. Perplexed with doubt, and wearied at last with the pursuit, he becomes exposed to the danger of entirely abandoning his object, or of settling down in the cold and comfortless conclusion, that nothing satisfactory can be known in regard to it.
Such, or not much unlike to this, will be the experience, I believe, of nearly every one who sets out with his mind unfettered by any notions of · early education, and determined seriously and thoroughly to investigate
and weigh for himself all the evidence which can be found, in respect to the topics suggested by the literary history of the epistle to the Hebrews. He who begins such an investigation, with his mind already made up that Paul wrote, or did not write, this epistle; and that it was, or was not, directed to the Hebrews of Palestine; may indeed spare himself most of the perplexity in which an inquirer of the class just nained will be involved. But then if bis mind is already made up, what need is there of further investigation ? And why not spare himself the time and trouble which it must cost?
Minds of a different order, however, will doubtless wish to examine for themselves, to“ prove all things," and then “to bold fast that which is good;” if indeed they may be able to distinguish what is of this character. It is for such, that the following investigations are intended ; and it is only to persons of this class, that they can be particularly useful, even supposing that they are conducted in such a manner as the subject demands. The writer commenced them, in the discharge of his duty as a lecturer upon the epistle in question. He found many unforeseen and unexpected obstacles in his path. He had been accustomed, with those ard him, to regard Paul as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews; and he did not well know, until he came to examine, how long and how extensively this had been doubted. Men of high reputation in the church, and who admitted the canonical authority of the epistle, he found to have been doubtful in regard to the question, Who was the author of it? Neither Luther, nor Calvin admitted it to be from the hand of Paul; and so early, at least, as the latter part of the second century, more or less of the Western churches, seem to have doubted or rejected its authority.
With such facts before him, he became deeply interested in the subject, and resolved, if possible, to satisfy his own mind. For this purpose, he directed his attention principally toward the original sources of evidence, although he has not knowingly neglected any writer of importance among modern critics. The results of his investigation he now gives to the public, in hope that if they do not serve to satisfy the minds