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Early Years of Christianity: The Apostolic Era.
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A. [See page 23.]

LITERATURE OF THE SUBJECT.

WE shall not do more here than indicate the principal works on the apostolic age, those, at least, which have come under our particular notice. It is scarcely needful to say that our fountain-head is the New Testament. We shall treat, in the course of this work, of the title of each of its books to our confidence. Christian Antiquity presents to us also a wealth of information. The "Ecclesiastical History" of Eusebius;628628Eusebii Pamphili, "Eccles. Hist.," libri decem. the writings of the "Fathers" of the first three centuries, especially the "Philosophoumena" of St. Hippolytus; the treatise of St. Jerome, "De Viris illustribus Ecclesiæ;" the fragments of the early "Fathers" contained in the "Spicilegium" of Grabe, and in Routh's "Reliquiæ Sacræ,"629629Joannes Ernestus Grabe, "Spicilegium S. Patrum," Oxoniæ, 2 vols. Routh, "Reliquiæ Sacræ," 5 vols., 1846. have been constantly consulted by us. If we pass on to the various memorials of Christian antiquity, we should refer first of all, for the old Catholic school, to the "Annals" of Baronius, the vast repertory of Catholic tradition, in which the erudition equals the lack of criticism;630630C. Baronii, "Annales Ecclesiastici," 1588-1609. and next, to the "Mémoires" of Lemain de Tillemont, which, while they are not at all more critical, are more conscientious, and are always valuable for reference.631631"Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire ecclesiastique des six premiers siècles." Paris, 1693, 16 vols. The Catholicism of our day in France offers very few works on the history of the apostolic age. The crude medley, dignified by Rohrbacher with the name of "Ecclesiastical History," is beneath serious notice; it is the most senseless of compilations. Germany has given to Catholicism a distinguished historian in Döllinger, but he is too much fettered by a preimposed system to judge of facts with impartiality. A recent work of the same school, "The History of Revelation," by Mesmer,632632"Geschichte der Offenbarung," von Aloïs Messmer, Freiburg in Brisgau, 1857. Professor of Theology, attempts to defend the hierarchy on historical grounds, with great moderation of language and ingenuity of thought, but always evidently under the influence of preconceived ideas. M. Albert de Broglie, in the preliminary chapter of his History of the Fourth Century, has drawn a striking sketch of the first age of Christianity, but it is wanting in any scientific demonstration, to which, indeed, it makes no pretense.633633"L’Eglise et l’Empire Romain au Quatrième Siècle," par A. de Broglie, Paris, 1856.

We need not enumerate here all the historical memorials of early Protestantism. We will content ourselves with mentioning only the "Centuries of Magdeburg" in Germany, and in France, the learned "Ecclesiastical History" of Basnage.634634"Histoire de l’Eglise depuis Jesus Christ," par Basnage. La Haye, 1724. This erudite author occupies too much the controversialist's stand-point to set forth with sufficient breadth the destinies of the primitive Church. In England, Church histories abound, but few are remarkable for criticism or historical connection. The history of the early ages of the Church has received large contributions from Puseyism, and also from the narrow dogmatism which persistently traces its own likeness in the theology of the Apostles. Some progress, however, has been already made under the influence of Germany. We may refer to the noble works of Howson, on the Life and Writings of St. Paul,635635"The Life and Epistles of St. Paul," by W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson, 2 vols., London, 1856. (somewhat too diffuse and broken up by episodes;) also to the commentaries of Dean Stanley and Professor Jowett on the epistles of the same Apostle. These distinguished divines have discovered the true secret of awakening interest in exegetical studies, by taking their stand on historic ground. Among the principal writings in France, up to the present time, we may mention M. Rillet's "Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians," and M. Arnaud's on the "Epistle of St. Jude." There are also valuable suggestions in the' Sermons on St. Paul," by A. Monod, and in many recent treatises. The "Revue de Thèologie," founded at Strasburg by M. Colani, has touched on most of the great problems arising out of the apostolic age. We have given careful consideration to these works, even when we differed from their conclusions. We must not omit to note a series of articles by M. Rèville on "The First Century of the Church," published in the journal "Le Lien," (years I856-7.) The learned work of M. Reuss on the "History of the Theology of the Apostolic Age," which we have constantly before us, either for purposes of consultation or of refutation, forms a kind of link between France and Germany, leading us into the much-tilled field of German criticism.636636"Historie de la Théologie Chrètienne au Siècle Apostolique," par Ed. Reuss, Strasburg, 1852.

It would be useless to attempt to catalogue the works which have accumulated during the last fifty years in Germany—that fatherland of modern theology. We will only cite the most characteristic. Let us point first to the vast treasures of exegesis—De Wette's exegetical manuals, so full and so exact; the graphic commentaries of Olshausen and Tholuck; the great works of Lücke on the "Writings of St. John," and of Bleek on the "Epistle to the Hebrews," and many other monuments of learning, so solid and so reliable that they furnish inexhaustible resources to the student of the primitive age of the Church. Passing on to the history of the period, properly so called, we place in the first rank Neander's "History of the Foundation of the Apostolic Church,"637637"Geschichte der Pflanzung und Leitung der Christlichen Kirche durch die Apostel," von Aug. Neander, 4th edition, Hamburg, I847. of which there is a French translation by M. Foutanès, but which is better consulted in the last German edition. In it we find all the profound piety, the breadth of view, the elevated spirituality, the historical acumen, which characterize the great historian. We owe him much, though we feel that he no longer meets all the necessities which have arisen out of the incessant discussions of the last few years. We mention, as another work belonging to the same class, the book of Dr. Philip Schaff, Professor at Mercersburg, in the United States. It displays much learning, and a remarkable talent for exposition, but, perhaps, too much theological caution, and a sort of timidity in coming to clear conclusions on delicate questions.638638"Geschichte der Apost. Kirche," von Ph. Schaff, Leipzig, I854. Lange's "Apostolic Age," lately published, combines the merits and the faults of this original and fertile theologian, who is as bold as he is scholarly, and who needs to be consulted with sympathy, and, at the same time, criticised with care.639639"Die Geschichte der Kirche. Das Apostolische Zeitalter," von J. P. Lange, 1853. "The History of the Apostles, or the Progress of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome," by Baumgarten, is notable for attentive and searching study of the sacred documents, and as an animated exposition, which draws copiously from original sources.640640"Die Apostel-Geschichte oder der Entwickelungsgang der Kirche von Jerusalem bis Rom," von Baumgarten, 1852. The author enables us to watch with great clearness the transformations wrought in the apostolic Church, between its early days and the triumph of Christian universalism, without, however, exaggerating the divergences, and without representing two opposing Churches in the bosom of primitive Christianity.

The sacerdotal and hierarchical views, or rather the Irvingite idea, is represented by Thiersch. In spite of the narrowness of his principles, his "History of the Apostolic Age" is written with so much piety, skill, and delicacy that it constantly sustains the interest in his theme. Thiersch is an adversary to be opposed only with feelings of sympathy and gratitude.641641"Die Kirche vom Apostolischen Zeitalter," von W. J. Thiersch, 1852.

The Tübingen school has its most eminent representative in Baur, its learned head. His book on "St. Paul," and his "History of the First Three Centuries,"—especially the pages treating of the first century—comprise the whole programme of that theological school, which, after having outdone itself in Schwegler's book on the "Times Succeeding the Age of the Apostles,"642642"Das Nachapostolische Zeitalter," von Albert Schwegler, 2 vols., Tübingen, 1846. has pursued a more moderate track in the works of Hilgenfeld, and still more of Ritschl, of whom we would say, as of Thiersch, he is a useful adversary, from whom there is much to learn.643643"Entstehung der Altkatholischen Kirche," von Ritschl. Bonn, 1830. A second edition has just appeared. Ewald occupies a place apart in these discussions on the New Testament, as in those on the Old.644644"Die Sendschreiben des Apost. Paulus," von Ewald, 1857. We may notice, also, a polemical work by Lechler, in opposition to the Tübingen school;645645"Das Apostolische und das Nachapostolische Zeitalter," von Lechler, second edition, 1857. the "History of the Sacred Writings of the New Testament," by M. Reuss;646646"Die Geschichte der Heiligen Schriften des Neuen Testaments," von Ed. Reuss, second edition, 1853. and for Biblical theology, the excellent book of Schmid, of Tübingen.647647Schmid, "Biblische Theologie," 1853. Beyond these general indications we have carefully noted, at the foot of each page, the works quoted.


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