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Christianity in the Apostolic Age

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Summary

The purpose of this volume, A history of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, is strictly historical. At the same time brief accounts of the New Testament books, with occasionally a defence of their right to be classed with apostolic literature, have been introduced, both because they constitute practically our only sources for the history and because an examination of them is the best means of illustrating the history itself. It is hoped, also, that this feature will make the volume serviceable to a larger number of readers.

In writing upon a theme so vital to the interests of our religion, and upon which a vast amount of literature, representing all shades of opinion, has been produced during this century, I have, of course, often taken positions which readers of different schools will condemn. The positions, however, have been taken only after careful and candid investigation; and, if the result is to uphold in all essential points the traditional conception of apostolic Christianity, it has been because such appears to me to be the inevitable issue of unprejudiced inquiry. An account of the course which the criticism of the New Testament and the consequent constructions of the history of the apostolic age have taken in modern times would show that there has been a steady return on the part of most investigators towards the acceptance, in the main, of the dates to which tradition has assigned the origin of the books out of which apostolic history must be ascertained. This, indeed, does not prevent the most widely different theories both of the interpretation of the books and of the forces which entered into the formation of Christianity. But, in the opinion of the author, it does not appear possible, if the dates of the origin of the books be thus established, to account for the rise and course of apostolic Christianity except by the recognition of those supernatural facts and forces to which the books themselves testify. The frank acknowledgment of the supernatural, together with the perception of the no less truly genetic way in which the original faith in Jesus as Messiah was unfolded and extended, would seem to be required of the historian who wishes to be faithful to his sources of information and to present apostolic Christianity as it really was. (From the Preface)

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