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AFTER devoting something like twenty-five years to the study of the problems of literary and historical criticism in connexion with the Gospels, and especially to the minutiae of source criticism, I am conscious of a strong desire to investigate some more vital issue, arising out of these studies, which bears intimately upon Christian life and practice. For this reason during the last four years, in the intervals of a busy life spent in teaching and administration, I have endeavoured to make a careful investigation of the Passion-sayings, with a view to discovering how Jesus interpreted His suffering and death. The results of this inquiry are published in the present volume. Portions of the work were included in a course of Lectures given at University College, Bangor, in May, 1936, and I gladly take this opportunity of expressing my deep gratitude to Principal D. Emrys Evans and the members of the University Staff for the wonderful kindness I received during my visit to Wales. I also recall with the greatest pleasure the keen interest which is taken by Welsh ministers and students in theological studies.

The plan of the work is simple. In Part I, I have examined the outstanding Old Testament ideas which form a necessary background to the sayings of Jesus, and in the light of which alone they can be understood. Part II contains the critical investigation of the sayings themselves, in Mark, Luke, I Cor. xi, 23-5, and the Fourth Gospel. Here I have thought it well to give special attention to questions of genuineness, as well as of interpretation, in consequence of the most recent phase of Gospel research represented by Form-Criticism in Germany, Great 6 Britain, and the United States of America. Part III is constructive. It is devoted to an attempt to state the results to which the investigation leads. I am well aware that, in this section, my work reaches its most vulnerable point. Differences of opinion on these matters are inevitable, and I cannot expect that the views I have outlined will commend themselves to every reader. There is a not unnatural inclination on the part of many Gospel critics to avoid discussing ultimate questions. The critic comforts himself with the opinion that these are not his province; they are the responsibility of the theologian, whereas his own duty is to observe the wisdom of the proverb which warns us that the shoemaker must stick to his last. There can be no doubt at all that the observance of this principle has made possible a vast amount of learned research to which all students are indebted. It was, however, always a dangerous principle, since, in the limited province within which the expert must work, it is easy to see results out of focus. Many examples of this peril could easily be given, especially the attempts of the Liberal School to understand and explain the beginnings of Christianity. But, however hazardous it may have been, this method is doubly dangerous to-day, when the fortunes of the Christian religion in the world approach a kind of Armageddon in which its immense claims must finally be tried in the fires of conflict. The critic of to-day must live in two worlds, the academic region of his particular interests and the larger world of contemporary religion. At least once in his life he should be compelled to come out into the open and declare the bearing of his tentative results upon the larger problems of Christian belief and worship. Only in this way can he discover whether his work is worth while, or whether it is nothing more than academic trifling. It is in this persuasion that I have written Part III, and in 7 particular the last chapter, in which I have sketched a theory of the Atonement in harmony with the conclusions reached in Parts I and II.

A sacrificial interpretation of the doctrine of the Atonement is regarded with hesitation by some theologians, in view of popular misconceptions about sacrifice, and the variety of opinion current among anthropologists as to its origins. I should therefore like to take the opportunity of saying that my discussion is not necessarily bound up with any one explanation, although I have not disguised my preference for the communion-theory of Robertson Smith rather than the gift-theory supported by G. Buchanan Gray, My argument, however, does not depend on a particular rationale of sacrifice, but is based rather on what is undoubtedly the highest expression of sacrificial worship as we find it in the Old Testament. I understand this to be the idea of an offering which man can make his own, and it is this conception which I have specially in mind when I speak of the sacrificial principle.

For the most part the references in footnotes will, I think, be sufficiently clear, but I ought perhaps to explain that when well-known commentaries are mentioned, I have simply given the page number after the author's name. A list of these commentaries is supplied on p, xiii.

It remains for me to express my deep sense of gratitude to my friends and colleagues who have so generously helped me by reading the typescript and proof sheets; to Dr. J. W. Lightley, formerly Principal of Wesley College, and to my present colleagues, Dr. H. Watkin-Jones, Dr. Harold Roberts, the Rev. N. H. Snaith, M,A., and the Rev. P. S. Watson, M.A. I am also very grateful for the help of one of my students, Mr. G. T. Roberts, M.A., who has compiled the Index of Proper Names and corrected the proof sheets, I desire also to thank the 8 members of the firm of Robert MacLehose & Co., The University Press, Glasgow, for their patience, skill, and accuracy. The responsibility for any errors which may remain rests, of course, with myself. I send out this book in the hope that it may make some small contribution to the study of one of the most important doctrines of the Christian Faith.


College House,

Wesley College,

Headingley, Leeds.

Aug. 5th, 1937.

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