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The Problem of the Fourth Gospel


If I venture the following personal explanation, the reason is simply and solely this: I have been advised clearly to define the relations between the present volume and a little work of mine which, published about a dozen years ago, was entitled The Fourth Gospel and some recent German Criticism.

Let me accordingly inform the reader that, when asked for a second edition of a work which—so, at all events, people were good enough to tell me—had served a useful purpose, I was for some time loth to acquiesce in such altogether unexpected but certainly encouraging suggestions. It was, indeed, far from being the case that, because the fates had determined that I should stray into Synoptic fields and the region of Eschatological research, I had therefore ceased to be fascinated by the Johannine literature en masse, and in particular by the very noble treatise which bears the name of £John'; on the contrary, I had actually betaken myself to what bade fair to be a prolonged and laborious attempt to trace connecting links between the 'Schmerzenskind der Theologie' (as Pfleiderer calls the Fourth Gospel) and that great writing of—may I say it?—uncertain provenance which is designated 'The Epistle to the Ephesians.' My hesitation was, of course, partly due to natural reluctance even temporarily to forsake a work which was already rising on the stocks; it was, however, mainly grounded in a difficulty which stared me in the face. To put the matter in a nut-shell: I was speedily compelled to realize that, were any action taken in response to the aforesaid kindly suggestions, it would mean that time must be found for the drastic re-writing of a work which I could but turn to with added dissatisfaction and no small measure of dissent. Mere revision was not to be thought of.

Somehow or other time has been found—or rather made; and in the event the present volume arrives at its completion.


Looking to the circumstances, it had better be accompanied by something like a warning note. To all intents and purposes a new book, it wears but slight, if any, resemblance to its now superseded predecessor, and there is significance in the fact that, if old pages have been utilized, not one of them re-appears intact. To speak quite frankly: the contrast extends from arrangement and amplification to view and standpoint; and, should any one be at pains to institute a comparison, he will scarcely fail to observe that—to quote from the Preface to the earlier volume—I have been only too 'glad to claim liberty to disagree with myself.' Nor will he be surprised if, the question being of 'das Haupt-problem aller Bibel-Kritik,' the same liberty be claimed in the present instance.

Obviously a change of title was imperative; and my regret on this score is that, as there is no need to inform me, the one ultimately acquiesced in promises far more than the book performs.

There is, perhaps, less ground of apprehension as my eye is caught by an incisive sentence in Professor Percy Gardner's Ephesian Gospel; it runs thus: 'no one has a right to publish a book about the (Fourth) Gospel who has not in a measure surveyed the mass of literature' called forth by the intricate and delicate subject. That Dr Gardner's requirements in the case of others are satisfied by himself is patent; and if so be that my friend—he will allow me so to speak of him—now puts me on my defence, I can make appeal, I fancy, to the 'heavily documented' pages now gone to press. They shall bear witness on my behalf;—not only that the works of modern scholars and students have really been 'in a measure surveyed' by me, but also that, consequent on much ransacking of libraries, acquaintance has been made or renewed with not a few pioneers of Fourth Gospel criticism. In the case of these last my experience has been similar to that of Friedrieh Nippold: the reading or re-reading of their books has, speaking generally, been fraught with both interest and reward.

It may be politic to add that, not exactly content to read books about the Fourth Gospel, I have had that Gospel itself continually at my side.

Large is my debt of gratitude. As might be expected, it


points first and foremost to Cambridge; but the friends more immediately concerned will readily understand why they are not alluded to by name. Once again it bids me dwell on the literary help, varied and continuous, which I am privileged to receive from my wife. It extends to foreign soil; and it is just here that, altogether refusing to discard the aid of German scholarship, I am painfully alive to the dark reasons which emphatically forbid me to allude as heretofore to Germany as a second home. Yet even so I look ahead; and it is to indulge a "hope that, to adapt from John Inglesant, old friends and he who cannot banish them from his thoughts may hereafter find themselves 'standing together in a brighter dawn.'

Christmas Day, 1917.


There are two points on which, perhaps, a few words ought to be said. To begin with, I have been guided to the decision that, as regards pronouns relative to the divine names, the use of capitals should be dispensed with—except, now and again, when they occur in citations; I adhere, that is, generally to the principle adopted in the English Bible. And next; the question of an Index having been duly considered, it has seemed best to offer as substitute such a detailed Synopsis of Contents as will, I trust, enable readers to find their way about my book.


AVAuthorized Version.
CBThe Century Bible (Eng. text, A.V. and R.V., with notes).
CBEEssays on some Biblical Questions of the day, by Members of the Univ. of Cambridge (Edited by H. B. Swete, D.D.).
CTEEssays on some Theological Questions of the day, by Members of the Univ. of Cambridge (Edited by H. B. Swete, D.D.).
DBHastings' Dictionary of the Bible.
DCGHastings' Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels.
DACHastings' Dictionary of the Apostolic Church
EBThe Encyclopedia Biblica.
Einl. or Intr.Einleitung, Introduction.
Exp.The Expositor (Edited by Sir W. R. Nicoll).
GHDThe Gospels as Historical Documents, by V. H. Stanton, D.D.
HBNTHandbuch zum Neuen Testament (Tübingen, edited by Lietzmann).
HEEusebius, Histor. Eccles.
HJThe Hibbert Journal.
JEThe Jewish Encyclopaedia.
JTSThe Journal of Theological Studies.
LXXThe Septuagint.
LZLiterarisches Zentralblatt.
NKZNeue Kirchliche Zeitschrift.
NTAFThe New Testament in the Apos. Fathers (Oxford Society of Histor. Theology).
RGGDie Religion in der Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen, edited by Schiele).
RVRevised Version.
Schw. TZSchweiz. Theol. Zeitschrift.
SKStudien und Kritiken.
SNTDie Schriften des Neuen Testamentes (edited by Joh. Weiss).
TLZTheologische Literaturzeitung.
TRTheologische Rundschau
TSTexts and Studies (Cambridge).
TTTheolog. Tijdschrift (Haarlem).
TUTexte und Untersuchungen.
ZKGZeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte
ZTKZeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche.
ZWTZeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie.

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