William Rainey Harper.

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The Evolution of the Hebrew People and
Their Influence on Civilization


Profm—OT of Bibiicai History and Litmraturo, Mount Holyokm CoUogm

Cloth. $i.so net

This book furnishes the foundation that every student of Hebrew history must have if
he is to imderstand the development of the life, literature, and thought of the Hebrews.

It traces the development of prehistoric man and the great racial group? and describes
the interaction between the evolution of religious ideas and advancing civilization in the develop-
ment of the Hebrews as a people. Two important sections show the influence of ]^3rsical
environment upon the Hebrews and the growth of their economic and social organization. The
book contains much interesting and valuable material not readUy available to most students in
colleges or to general readers. It is written in a clear, attractive style.

597-599 Fifth Avenue New York

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VoiuM* L OCTOBER 1917 Numbr 4


The war is teaching the church how a great cause dignifies com-
mon tasks. A new perspective always threatens life's routine.
Heroism sets new standards. There are so many duties that are
humdrum that we are tempted to slight them. When the youth
of the nation is offering its life for the common good, dish-washing
and keeping accounts, church-going and Sunday-school lessons
seem commonplace.

But these duties may be all treated as a part of a great Cause.
The war helps us see this. The daily routine of a camp, the cease-
less drill, the long hikes, are all a part of men's service to the nation.
They get dignity, not alone because they make men efficient for
battle, but also because they are themselves service.

We have talked of serving God in small duties. Now we realize
more than before just what such appeals really mean. They dis-
cipline us for a great Cause.

J^ J^ jf^

The war is teaching us how we may better co-operate for the
common good. The women of the nation are uniting in Red Cross
service. They see the connection of such homely matters as knitting
and bandage-making with a great Cause. They work incessantly
together because they are spurred by the sense of a common need.

Cannot the church make us feel the pressure of persistent needs
like those the Red Cross supplies ? Is not the obligation to relieve
the miseries of peace as great as that to relieve the miseries of war ?
If the need of social service were made immediate. Christian hands
and hearts would be always busy. For needs are not measured
by crises alone. They cease to be spurs when they are taken as a
matter of course.


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Let the church learn to bring humanity as near to human hearts
as the war has brought soldiers.

J^ J^ J^

The war is teaching us the meaning of sacrifice for duty and

Who has not been startled and sobered by the new meanings
that have been found in familiar words? Fathers and mothers
who have forced back tears when bidding their boys farewell; wives
who have let husbands go to camps; young men who have aban-
doned office and factory to make their lives into a nation's wall of
defense — what depths of meaning have they not foimd in words
like Nation, Democracy, and Sacrifice ?

Such experiences will not leave us the same men and women.
If the church does not appeal to such stirrings of our deeper selves,
it will be unworthy of the world that now is in the making.

We must realize the gravitation of a great Cause if we are to
sacrifice comfort and smug content.

Religion must not be a palliative. It must stir the sort of
moral discontent that leads men to die.

A religion that is sublimated selfishness made respectable by
being made transcendental, may survive the war, but there will
be too many recollections of the joy of real sacrifice for it to be

J^ J^ J^

Is the church learning the lessons this stem teacher gives ?

Christian individuals at least are learning. Can they stir their
church organizations to equal experiences ?

We believe we can already see the answer. The church is
awakening anew. Appeals for new consecration of wealth and
labors abound. Seriousness and loyalty to Christ are more in

But we must see more if we are not to see less. For a church
that fails to make great emotions and ideals permanent is a church
that is decadent.

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Columbus, Ohio

Anything thai Dr. Gladden writes compels thoughtful attention. In these days
when there is so much undue emphasis upon the accidental elements of Christianity ^
his presentation of fundamental Christian truths ought to be of great weight.

Some young minister wrote me not
long ago raising the question about this
phrase, "Back to Pentecost," which
those about him were using as a slogan.
How much virtue or significance is there
in this cry? — this was his question.
How desirable is it that we who live in
the twentieth century after Christ
should go back to Pentecost for our
ideals and our ruling motives ? To what
extent ought we of this generation to
direct our aims by the conduct and
teachings of the Christians of the earliest
apostolic times, as we find them set
before us in the first chapters of the
Acts of the Apostles ?

The question b pertinent. There is
no doubt that we can find instruction
and inspiration in that history. Yet
the expectation that the examples or the
ideals of that early day will furnish a
pattern by which our thinking and living
must be shaped is most misleading.

The call to go back is one that we are
always hearing. "Back to Christ!"
has been a common motto in late years,
and it is not without pertinence. Yet
it is well to remember that that is not,
as a rule, the way to find him. "Be-
hold he goeth before you," the angel
said to the disciples before Pentecost;
and this has always been true. There
has never been a day when he has not

been far in advance of his most progres-
sive followers. "Forgetting the things
that are behind," cries Paul, "I stretch
forward to the things that are before!"

Yet, if there ever was a time when this
cry of "Back to Christ" was the counsel
of wisdom, it was this Pentecostal time.
It is doubtful whether there has ever
been a day since Jesus went away from
the earth when his followers departed
from him so fatally and so far as during
these Pentecostal days. That, I am
aware, will be an astonishing and an
incredible statement; but it is made
deliberately and after careful study, and
I ask serious attention to it. I have been
giving considerable study, of late, to
these beginnings of the Apostolic Age,
and I am convinced that the mind of the
church has been confused and its ideals
clouded through all the ages by the
record of what was said and done in
these Pentecostal days.

That the record is very imperfect
there can be no doubt. It must have
been made up a great many years after
the events which it narrates. That the
author of the Third Gospel is the author
of the Book of Acts is hardly question-
able; the Gospel was probably written
as late as 80 a.d. and the history some-
time afterward. It must therefore have
been composed fifty years or more after


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the things which it describes had taken
place; and probably very few of the
actors in those scenes were alive. At
any rate, we know that there is much
confusion in the narrative.

What became of the disciples after
the death of Jesus we do not know.
Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus
promised to reappear to them in Galilee,
and that they went thither in obedience
to his summons, and that there he re-
vealed himself to them. Luke, on the
other hand, neither in the Gospel nor in
the Acts, gives any intimation of this visit
to Galilee; it is clearly implied, if it is
not explicitly stated, that all the events
connected with the reappearances of
Jesus took place in or about Jerusa-
lem. "His silence [concerning this Gal-
ilean visit], both in the Gospel and
in the Acts, can be explained," says
Dr. McGiffert, "only on the supposition
that he knew nothing of a post-
resurrection visit to Galilee. Indeed,
the account given in the Gospel is so
constructed as to seem to exclude such
a visit."* When there is such uncer-
tainty as to highly important matters
of fact it is clear that we are dealing
with documents that need scrutiny.

Especially needful is it that we should
be on our guard with respect to state-
ments which are supposed to interpret
or reflect the spirit of the teachings of
Jesus. It is doubtful whether these
disciples, scattered by the tragedy of
Calvary, and brought hurriedly to-
gether in Jerusalem after his departure,
were in a mental condition which quali-
fied them to represent the mind that
was in Jesus. They had shown them-
selves, as the gospel records make plain,

» The Apostolic Age, p. 38.

quite capable of misunderstanding him
while he was with them; it is only by
the assumption that a miracle had been
wrought upon their minds, making them
incapable of error, that we can regard
this record as inerrant. But the record
itself invalidates this assumption. If
we had, therefore, the exact report of
their sayings and doings in these first
da3rs, we should be entitled to look for
a great many evidences of prejudice and
narrowness of mind. We should have
reason for doubting whether these dis-
ciples were capable of revealing, in their
corporate life, the spirit and purpose
of the life of their Master. And when
we know that this record represents an
accumulated tradition of fifty years in
which the pure teachings of Jesus may
well have been somewhat adulterated,
we can see why the Pentecostal gospel
may have diverged considerably from
the message first spoken by the Master.

Certain it is that it did diverge in
startling ways. The gospel preached
by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, or by
Stephen in his speech before the Sanhe-
drin, is not the gospel preached by
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and
in the great parables of Luke's Gospel.
The atmosphere is different, the accent
is altered, the ruling ideas are utterly
changed. It is strange that sixty gen-
erations of disciples should have kept
on piecing the Acts and the Gospels
together and never have been aware of
the difference in the texture. It is the
fiction of infallibility that closes our eyes
to the presence of facts.

Consider Peter's great sermon on the
Day of Pentecost. *'It is," says Dr. Mc-
Giffert, "the earliest extant Christian

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apology. It is, moreover, a thoroughly
representative discourse. It reproduces,
not the thought of Peter alone, but the
thought of his fellow-Christians as well.
The spirit of primitive Jewish Chris-
tianity in general speaks in it." Pre-
cisely that. And the spirit of primitive
Jewish Christianity was about as far
from the spirit of Christ as the east is
from the west. The spirit of primitive
Jewish Christianity had to be exorcised
before the truth as it is in Jesus ever
found a footing on the earth.

Primitive Jewish Christianity was
simply the belief that Jesus was the long-
promised Messiah — the King who was
to come and restore the Kingdom to
Israel. And this was the message
which the apostles began to proclaim
at Pentecost. Their minds were satu-
rated with the Jewish ideas about the
Messiah, and their aim was to prove that
Jesias fulfilled the messianic prophecies.
In some respects he did not seem to
fulfil them; his death appeared to con-
tradict all their ideas, but the disciples
sought to show that, rightly interpreted,
the prophecies were fulfilled in him.

Instead, therefore, of preaching Jesus,
of enforcing his message, of emphasizing
the . truth he taught, of driving home
the great revelation given by him to the
world concerning the character of God
and his relations to men, they harked
back to Jewish messianism and tried to
show that Jesus was the fulfilment of
its ideas. As they conceived the situa-
tion — so says Dr. McGiffert — "apolo-
getics was the imperative need of the
hour; not simply the proclamation of
the gospel, but the defense of it and
the defense of Jesus himself, the preacher
of it. Thus the emphasis was changed

from the gospel itself to the evidence
of its truth; from the message to the
messenger. Not the fatherhood of God,
but the messiahship of Jesus, formed
the burden of the preaching of the
apostles, and so the Master's estimate
of values was reversed."

Read all the speeches of Peter — the
speech on the Day of Pentecost, the
speech in Solomon's Porch, the speech
before the Sanhedrin, and note their
contents. Compare with them the ex-
tended address of Stephen before his
mart3n*dom. Do any of them recall to
you the words or the spirit of Jesus?
Is there any reference in them to the
doctrines which he made central in all
his teaching? Is the great fact of the
universal fatherhood mentioned in any
of them? Is there anything about the
meaning of prayer, the spirituality of
worship, the inwardness of morality, the
nature of forgiveness, the blessedness
of service, the sacrificial ministry to
the neediest and the lost? Of these
central, cardinal, vital elements in the
message of Christ, the message to which
his life gave all its meaning, you will
find no suggestion in these Pentecostal

They are all devoted to proving that
Jesus is the Messiah; that these mar-
velous signs which have appeared in
connection with his coming are proof
of a condign judgment which is to be
visited on those who have put him to
death; that his resurrection is proof
of his power to judge and punish his
enemies; that those who now accept
him as the Messiah and are baptized
in his name will be spared and forgiven,
and that all who refuse or neglect to do
so will be utterly destroyed from among

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the people. Moreover, this judgment
is impending — Jesus has ascended to
heaven and is sitting at the right hand
of God, but he is coming again inmie-
diately to make his enemies his footstool;
and all who are wise will make haste to
save themselves "from this untoward
generation." It is evident that these
disciples declared this message with
tremendous conviction, that the rulers
were convinced of their guilt in putting
to death an innocent man, that the
people were filled with compunction for
their share in the crime, and that great
numbers of them confessed and were
baptized, accepting as their prophet
the Messiah whom they had crucified.

But if their only knowledge of the
life and character of Christ was that
which they gained by the methods
described in the record of these Pente-
costal days, it is to be feared that their
discipleship was not in all cases so intel-
ligent as might have been desired.
They may have been convinced that
they were attaching themselves to the
true Messiah; but of the spiritual
revelations and the ethical realities of
the Kingdom which Jesus came to estab-
lish they must have known very little.
Their subsequent history makes it
entirely clear that their "conversion,"
like that of many great accessions of
later generations, must have been a
very superficial experience.

The search for fruits of the Spirit in
this new community brings to light some
interesting facts. The manifestations
of the Spirit, on which most emphasis
was placed, are, indeed, somewhat
equivocal. The astonishing portent of
the tongues, on which Peter so confi-
dently relied, has never been clearly

explained. That special linguistic gifts
were miraculously conferred at that
time has been the conmion understand-
ing, but there is no intimation in the
subsequent history of any continuance
of these gifts; the apostles were com-
pelled to rely on interpreters, and there
is no hint of any miraculous power to
commimicate with men of other lan-
guages. Paul's discussion of the gift
of tongues, in his letters to the Corin-
thians, makes it plain that in his day
the gift had no such significance; for
he declares that the man who spoke with
tongues never knew what he was saying,
and that those who listened knew no
more. Evidently, in his experience, the
gift of tongues was a mere emotional
outpouring of meaningless vocables,
similar, probably, to the utterances of
the Holy Rollers of our own day.
Paul discouraged the cultivation of it;
he said that he would rather speak five
intelligible and sensible words than ten
thousand words in a tongue. Just what
the gift of tongues on the day of Pente-
cost may have been we have no means
of knowing, but Paul's attitude toward
the matter does not encourage the belief
that it was evidence of any profound
moral change in the characters of those
who experienced it.

Other and far clearer tokens of
spiritual influences operating in the
new commimity are foimd in the record.
The unity of the new community — as
it appeared among the original one
himdred and twenty, and later in the
enlarged society — ^was a hopeful sign.

The courage and confidence of their
leaders is also inspiring. The manner
in which these young fishermen con-
fronted the magnates of their nation

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and told them the truth about their
own misdoings is certainly refreshing.
The grand non possumus of Peter and
John has resounded down the genera*
tions and will never be silenced:
" Whether it be right m the sight of God
to hearken unto you rather than unto
God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak
the things which we saw and heard."

The incipient and partial communism
which sprang up in the multitude of
believers may also be appealed to as
proof that the spirit of the Master was
finding expression in their lives. Con-
siderable numbers of the Jewish prose-
lytes from other lands who had come to
Jerusalem for the national feasts, and
had been convinced by Peter's speech,
were probably remaining in Jerusalem,
waiting for the return of the Master,
which Peter had so confidently promised.
For their daily needs some provision was
required, and the response to that call
seems to have been generous. It is not
probable that any enforced community
of goods was attempted, but spontane-
ous contributions of a very liberal sort
were made. It is not singular that men
like Barnabas were ready to dispose
of their property for the replenishment
of this relief fund; the speedy return of
the Messiah, with power to set up his
Kingdom and to reorganize society,
made all possessions precarious. But
this impulse to share the good of this
life was, no doubt, the prompting of that
deeper democracy which some of them
had learned from Jesus.

It does not appear that this impulse
reached beyond the boundaries of their
own communion; and there are signs
of a halting recognition of it even
within that pale. A complaint arose

against the Hebrews among the Grecian
Jews, or Hellenists, that the widows
of the latter were neglected in the daily
distribution of food. The Hellenists
were those who had been converted to
Judaism; they were not native Hebrews,
and the prejudice of race proved to be
stronger than the bonds of religion.
The new allegiance to Jesus as the Mes-
siah had not extinguished that antip-
athy; it was existing here in the heart
of primitive Jewish Christianity at the
very outset, and it was bound to make
its divisive and paralyzing influences
felt in the coming years. The apostles
seem to have dealt with the matter
judiciously at the beginning, but this
was not to be the end of it.

How much was lacking of the spirit
and temper of Christ in the hearts of
these teachers is shown in the story of
Ananias and Sapphira. Their attempt
to deceive the commimity and to gain
credit which was not rightly theirs was
discreditable and even deplorable; that
they merited indignant rebuke is clear,
but the manner of dealing with them
reveals little of the spirit of Christ. It
is not stated that the infliction of death
upon them was by the direct volition of
Peter, but that is the implication, and
his address to Sapphira gives that im-
pression. It is not probable that Jesus
ever intended, in giving to Peter the
leadership of the apostolic band, to con-
fer on him the power of striking people
dead for telling lies; it is not congruous
with the life or the teachings of Jesus,
and yet it appears probable that Peter
thought himself intrusted with this
power and that his associates and fol-
lowers believed him to possess it. For
after these tragical deaths it is reported

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that "great feaf came upon the whole
church and upon all that heard these
things. And by the hands of the apos-
tles were many signs and wonders
wrought among the people." Certainly
we cannot imagine such a story being
told about Jesus, and the appearance of
it in this record is an indication of the
imperfect Christianity of these Pente-
costal days.

When there arose the larger question
of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the
Christian communion, these Jerusalem
Christians at once adopted an obstruc-
tive policy. Peter is reported to have
had miraculous revelations of the divine
purpose to make no distinctions of race
in the offers of the gospel, and he seems
to have been temporarily convinced by
them. When he was afterward arraigned
by the Jerusalem church for having gone
so far as to eat with Gentiles, he justified
himself on the ground of the special
revelation which had been given him.
But the Jerusalem church seems to have
staunchly maintained its exclusive atti-
tude. It was willing to receive Gen-
tiles into the Christian communion, but
only on condition that they first be
circumcised and become Jews. It was
to Paul that the breaking of these
obstructive barriers to the program of
Christianity was mainly due. The
church at Antioch, gathered largely
under his labors, became the head-
quarters of the liberated church, by
which the gospel, freed from the fetters
of the old Judaism, was spread through
Western Asia and Europe. Between
these two centers of influence, Jerusalem
and Antioch, the controversy was some-
times sharp. Peter, as the leader of
the mother-church in Jerusalem, had a

part in it which was not alwa)rs credi-
table to him — sometimes fraternizing
with the liberal party and eating with
uncircumcised Christians, then again,
prodded by the rigid Judaizers from the
mother-church, withdrawing from fel-
lowship with the Gentiles. An attempt
was made to reconcile these conflicting
tendencies, and an agreement was
reached by which it was supposed that
the difficulty was settled, but it is
doubtful whether either party adhered
to it; Paul went on preaching to Jews
and Gentiles and gathering them into
one fellowship, but for many years he
was hindered and harassed by the
"primitive Jewish Christianity," which
had its center and seat at Jerusalem
and which perpetuated the traditions
of the Day of Pentecost. Emissaries
of this church followed him from city
to city and sought to create dissensions
in the churches which he had organ-
ized; considerable portions of his earlier
epistles are devoted to controversies
with them. The bitterest words he
ever wrote were directed at their machi-
nations. "I fear," he says, speaking
of their influence, "lest by any means,
as the serpent beguiled Eve in his crafti-
ness, your minds should be corrupted
from the simplicity and the purity that
is toward Christ." More explicitly:
"Such men are false apostles, deceitful
workers, fashioning themselves into apos-
tles of Christ." They are Satan's
ministers, "whose end shall be according
to their works."

As the years went on this controversy
became less bitter; in the later epistles
of Paul it seems to be quiescent. The
fact appears to be that 'the liberated
gospel was advancing so rapidly that

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these attempts to obstruct it became

Professor Ropes says:

Jewish Christianity failed to dominate
the growing church throughout the world,
and coincidently with this failure, its im-
portance in Christian history gradually
diminished When Jewish Christian-
ity once suffered the loss of its leadership
and control its case was hopeless. In the

Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe Biblical world [microform] → online text (page 28 of 55)