TO THE HISTORY OF









                         DR. G. ADOLF DEISSMANN








                   Digitally prepared by Dr. Ted Hildebrandt

                                 (Gordon College, 2006)





                                   TRANSLATED BY

                  ALEXANDER GRIEVE, M.A., D. PHIL.


                        T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1901






PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION                                                   vii


EXTRACT FROM THE PREFACE TO Bibelstudien                                            ix


TRANSLATOR'S NOTE                                                                                           xiii


ABBREVIATIONS                                                                                                    xv




II. CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE HISTORY OF THE LANGUAGE OF THE        GREEK BIBLE                                                                                              61



            OF THE GREEK BIBLE                                                                               171

            Introductory Remarks                                                                                   173

            (i.) Notes on the Orthography                                                                      181

                        1. Variation of Vowels                                                                      181

                        2. Variation of Consonants                                                               183

            (ii.) Notes on the Morphology                                                                     186

                        1. Declension                                                                                    186

                        2. Proper Names                                                                               187

                        3. Verb                                                                                                189

            (iii.) Notes on the Vocabulary and the Syntax                                            194

                        1. So-called Hebraisms                                                                    194

                        2. So-called Jewish-Greek "Biblical" or "New Testament"

                                    Words and Constructions                                                     198

                        3. Supposed Special "Biblical" or "New Testament" Mean-

                                    ings and Constructions                                                         223

                        4. Technical Terms                                                                            228

                        5. Phrases and Formulae                                                                   248

                        6. Rarer Words, Meanings and Constructions                                256




V. NOTES ON SOME BIBLICAL PERSONS AND NAMES                               301

            1. Heliodorus                                                                                                 303

            2. Barnabas                                                                                                     307

            3. Manaen                                                                                                       310

            4. Saulus Paulus                                                                                             313




vi                                       CONTENTS.






VII. SPICILEGIUM                                                                                       337

            1. The Chronological Statement in the Prologue to Jesus

                        Sirach                                                                                                 339

            2. The Supposed Edict of Ptolemy IV. Philopator against the

                        Egyptian Jews                                                                                    341

            3. The "Large Letters" and the "Marks of Jesus" in

                        Galatians 6                                                                                         346

            4. A Note to the Literary History of Second Peter                                    360

            5. White Robes and Palms                                                                           368


INDEXES                                                                                                                   371






            Having been honoured by a request to sanction

an English translation of my Bibelstudien and Neue

Bibelstudien, I have felt it my duty to accede to the

proposal. It seems to me that investigations based

upon Papyri and Inscriptions are specially calculated

to be received with interest by English readers.

            For one thing, the richest treasures from the

domain of Papyri and Inscriptions are deposited in

English museums and libraries; for another, English

investigators take premier rank among the discoverers

and editors of Inscriptions, but particularly of Papyri;

while, again, it was English scholarship which took

the lead in utilising the Inscriptions in the sphere

of biblical research. Further, in regard to the Greek

Old Testament in particular, for the investigation

of which the Inscriptions and Papyri yield valuable

material (of which only the most inconsiderable part

has been utilised in the following pages), English

theologians have of late done exceedingly valuable

and memorable work. In confirmation of all this I

need only recall the names of F. Field, B. P. Grenfell,

E. Hatch, E. L. Hicks, A. S. Hunt, F. G. Kenyon,

J. P. Mahaffy, W. R. Paton, W. M. Ramsay, H. A.

Redpath, H. B. Swete, and others hardly less notable.

            Since the years 1895 and 1897, in which respec-






tively the German Bibelstudien and Neue Bibelstudien

were published, there has been a vast increase of

available material, which, again, has been much more

accessible to me as a Professor in the University

of Heidelberg than it was during my residence at

Herborn. I have so far availed myself of portions

of the more recent discoveries in this English edition;

but what remains for scholars interested in such

investigations is hardly less than enormous, and is

being augmented year by year. I shall be greatly

pleased if yet more students set themselves seriously

to labour in this field of biblical research.

            In the English edition not a few additional

changes have been made; I must, however, reserve

further items for future Studies. With regard to the

entries kuriako<j (p. 217 ff.), and especially i[lath<rion  

(p. 124 ff.), I should like to make express reference

to the articles Lord's Day and Mercy Seat to be

contributed by me to the Encyclopcedia Biblica.

            Finally, I must record my heartiest thanks to

my translator, Rev. Alexander Grieve, M.A., D. Phil.,

Forfar, for his work. With his name I gratefully

associate the words which once on a time the trans-

lator of the Wisdom of Jesus Sirach applied with

ingenuous complacency to himself:  pollh>n a]grupni<an

kai> e]pisth<mhn prosenegka<menoj.



                                                            ADOLF DEISSMANN.



27th December, 1900.









            Bible Studies is the name I have chosen for the

following investigations, since all of them are more

or less concerned with the historical questions which

the Bible, and specially the Greek version, raises for

scientific treatment. I am not, of course, of the

opinion that there is a special biblical science.

Science is method: the special sciences are distin-

guished from each other as methods. What is

designated "Biblical Science" were more fitly

named "Biblical Research". The science in ques-

tion here is the same whether it is engaged with

Plato, or with the Seventy Interpreters and the

Gospels. Thus much should be self-evident.

A well-disposed friend who understands some-

thing of literary matters tells me that it is hardly

fitting that a younger man should publish a volume

of "Studies": that is rather the part of the ex-

perienced scholar in the sunny autumn of life. To

this advice I have given serious consideration, but I

am still of the opinion that the hewing of stones is

very properly the work of the journeyman. And in

the department where I have laboured, many a block

must yet be trimmed before the erection of the edifice

can be thought of. But how much still remains to

do, before the language of the Septuagint, the relation





to it of the so-called New Testament Greek, the

history of the religious and ethical conceptions of

Hellenic Judaism, have become clear even in outline

only; or before it has been made manifest that the

religious movement by which we date our era origin-

ated and was developed in history—that is, in con-

nection with, or, it may be, in opposition to, an already-

existent high state of culture! If the following pages

speak much about the Septuagint, let it be remem-

bered that in general that book is elsewhere much

too little spoken of, certainly much less than was the

case a hundred years ago. We inveigh against the

Rationalists—often in a manner that raises the sus-

picion that we have a mistrust of Reason. Yet these

men, inveighed against as they are, in many respects

set wider bounds to their work than do their critics.

During my three years' work in the Seminarium

Philippinum at Marburg, I have often enough been

forced to think of the plan of study in accordance

with which the bursars used to work about the

middle of last century. Listen to a report of the

matter such as the following :— 1

            "With regard to Greek the legislator has laid

particular stress upon the relation in which this

language stands to a true understanding of the .N.T.

How reasonable, therefore, will those who can judge

find the recommendation that the Septuagint (which,


            1 Cf. the programme (of the superintendent) Dr. Carl Wilhelm Robert:

. . . announces that the Literary Association . . . shall be duly opened . . .

on the 27th inst. . . . [Marburg] Miller's Erben and Weldige, 1772, p. 13.

That the superintendent had still an eye for the requirements of practical

life is shown by his remarks elsewhere. For example, on page 7f., he good-

naturedly asserts that he has carried out "in the most conscientious manner"

the order that "the bursars shall be supplied with sufficient well-prepared

food and wholesome and unadulterated beer". The programme affords a fine

glimpse into the academic life of the Marburg of a past time.



on the authority of an Ernesti and a Michaelis, is of

the first importance as a means towards the proper

understanding of the N.T.), has been fixed upon as

a manual upon which these lectures must be given!

And how much is it to be wished that the bursars,

during the year of their study of this book, should go

through such a considerable part of the same as may

be necessary to realise the purposes of the legislator!"

            I am not bold enough to specify the time when

academical lectures and exercises upon the Septua-

will again be given in Germany.1  But the coming

century is long, and the mechanical conception of

science is but the humour of a day! . . .

            I wrote the book, not as a clergyman, but as a

Privatdocent at Marburg, but I rejoice that I am

able, as a clergyman, to publish it.


                                    G. ADOLF DEISSMANN.



                            7th March, 1895.


            1 1. Additional note, 1899: Professor Dr. Johannes Weiss of Marburg

has announced a course upon the Greek Psalter for the Summer Session, 1899;

the author lectured on the Language of the Greek Bible in Heidelberg in the

Winter Session of 1897-98.






                      TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.


            In addition to the supplementary matter specially

contributed to the present edition by the Author,

the translation shows considerable alterations in other

respects. Not only has the smaller and later volume,

Neue Bibelstudien, 1897, found a place in the body

of the book, but the order of the Articles has been all

but completely changed. It has not been thought

necessary to furnish the translation with an index

of Papyri, etc., more especially as the larger Bibel-

studien had none; but there has been added an index

of Scripture texts, which seemed on the whole more

likely to be of service to English readers in general.

The translator has inserted a very few notes, mainly

concerned with matters of translation.

            For the convenience of those who may wish to

consult the original on any point, the paging of the

German edition has been given in square brackets,

the page-numbers of the Neue Bibelstudien being

distinguished by an N. In explanation of the fact

that some of the works cited are more fully described

towards the end of the book, and more briefly in the

earlier pages, it should perhaps be said that a large

portion of the translation was in type, and had been

revised, before the alteration in the order of the

Articles had been decided upon.

            The translator would take this opportunity of



xiv            TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.


expressing his most cordial thanks to Professor

Deissmann, who has taken the most active interest

in the preparation of the translation, and whose

painstaking revision of the proofs has been of the

highest service. A word of thanks is also due to the

printers, The Aberdeen University Press Limited,

for the remarkable accuracy and skill which they

have uniformly shown in the manipulation of what

was often complicated and intricate material.


                                    ALEXANDER GRIEVE.



   21st January, 1901.



AAB. = Abhandlungen der Konig-                       Parthey, see p. 322, note 5.

            lichen Akademie der Wissen-                 Paton and Hicks, see p. 131, note 1.

            schaften zu Berlin.                                 PER., see p. 179, note 2.

Benndorf u. Niemann, see p. 157,                       Perg., see p. 178, note 4.

            note 1.                                                  Peyron (A.), see p. 88, note 1.

BU. = Aegyptische Urkunden aus den                R-E 2 = Real-Encyclopadie fur protest.

            Koeniglichen Museen zu Berlin,                          Theologie and Kirche von Herzog,

            Berlin, 1892 ff.                                                  2. Aufl., Leipzig, 1877 ff.

CIA. = Corpus Inscriptionum Atti-                      Schleusner = J. F., Novus Thesaurus

            barum.                                                              philologico-criticus sive lexicon in

CIG. = Corpus Inscriptionum Grae-                                LXX et reliquos interpretes grae-

            carum.                                                              cos ac scriptores apocryphos V. T.,

CIL. = Corpus Inscriptionum Latin-                                5 voll., Lipsiae, 1820-21.

            arum.                                                    Schmid (W.), see p. 64, note 2.

Clavis3, see p. 88, note 5.                                  Schmidt (Guil.), see p. 291, note 1.

Cremer, see p. 290, note 2.                                Scharer, see p. 335, note 2.

DAW. = Denkschriften der K. K.                       Swete = The Old Testament in Greek

            Akademie der Wissenschaften zu                       according to the Septuagint, edited

            Wien.                                                               by H. B. Swete, 3 voll., Cambridge,

Dieterich (A.), see p. 322, note 8.                                   1887-94.

Dittenberger, see p. 93, note 2.                           Thesaurus =H. Stephanus, Thesaurus

DLZ. = Deutsche Literaturzeitung.                                 Graecae Linguae, edd. Hase, etc.,

Fick-Bechtel, see p. 310, note 4.                                     Paris, 1831-65.

Field, see p. 284, note 2.                                     Thayer, see p. 176, note 3.

Fleck. Jbb. = Fleckeisen's Jahrbacher.               ThLZ. = Theologische Literaturzei-

Frankel, see p. 84, note 2.                                              tung.

GGA. = Gottingische gelehrte An-                      Tromm. = Abrahami Trommii concor-

            zeigen.                                                              dantiae graecae versionis vulgo

HApAT. = Kurzgefasstes exegetisches                           dictae LXX interpretum . . ., 2

Handbuch zu den Apocryphen des                                  tomi, Amstelodami et Trajecti ad

            A.T., 6 Bde., Leipzig, 1851-60.                           Rhenum, 1718.

Hamburger, see p. 271, note.                              TU. = Texte mad Untersuchungen zur

HC. = Hand-Commentar zum N.T.                                Geschichte der altchristlichen

Hercher, see p. 4, note 1.                                               Literatur.

Humann u. Puchstein, see p. 309,                       Waddington, see p. 93, note 1.

            note 1.                                                  Wessely, see p. 322, note 7.

IGrSI., see p. 200, note 1.                                  Wetstein, see p. 350, note 1.

IMAe., see p. 178, note 5.                                  Winer7, or Winer-Lunemann = G. B.

Kennedy, see p. 213, note 1.                              Winer, Grammatik des neutesta-

Kenyon, see p. 323, note 1.                                            mentlichen Sprachidioms, 7 Aufl.

Lebas, see Waddington.                                                 von G. Lunemann, Leipzig, 1867.

Leemans, see p. 322, note 6.                                          [9th English edition, by W. F.

Letronne, Recherches, see p. 98, note 3.                         Moulton, Edinburgh, 1882 = 6th

            Recueil, see p. 101, note 6.                                 German edition.]

Lumbroso, Recherches, see p. 98, note 2.           Winer-Schmiedel =  the same work,

Mahaffy, see p. 336, note 1.                                           8th Aufl. neu bearbeitet von P. W.

Meisterhans, see p. 124, note 1.                                      Schmiedel, Gottingen, 1894 ff.

Meyer = H. A. W. Meyer, Kritisch                    ZAW. = Zeitschrift fur die alttesta-

            exegetischer Kommentar caber das                    mentliche Wissenschaft.

            N.T.                                                     Z KG. = Zeitschrift fur Kirchenge-

Notices, xviii. 2, see p. 283, note 3.                                 sohialite.




















                                   AND EPISTLES.





















    ginesqe  dokimoi  trapezitai












            I. Men have written letters ever since they could write

at all. Who the first letter-writer was we know not.1 But

this is quite as it should be: the writer of a letter accom-

modates himself to the need of the moment; his aim is a

personal one and concerns none but himself,—least of all

the curiosity of posterity. We fortunately know quite as

little who was the first to experience repentance or to offer

prayer. The writer of a letter does not sit in the market-

place. A letter is a secret and the writer wishes his secret

to be preserved; under cover and seal he entrusts it to the

reticence of the messenger. The letter, in its essential idea,

does not differ in any way from a private conversation; like

the latter, it is a personal and intimate communication, and

the more faithfully it catches the tone of the private con-

versation, the more of a letter, that is, the better a letter, it

is. The only difference is the means of communication.

We avail ourselves of far-travelling handwriting, because


            1 It appears sufficiently naïve that Tatian (Or. ad Graec., p. 1 15 f

Schwartz) and Clement of Alexandria (Strom. i. 16, p. 364, Potter) should

say, following the historian Hellanikos, that the Persian queen Atossa

(6th-5th cent. B.C.) was the discoverer of letter-writing. For it is in this

sense that we should understand the expression that occurs in both, viz.,

e]pistola>j sunta<ssein, and not as collecting letters together and publishing them,

which R. Bentley (Dr. Rich. Bentley's Dissertation on the Epistles of

Phalaris, London, 1699, p. 535 f., German edition by W. Ribbeck, Leipzig,

1857, p. 532) considers to be also possible; cf. M. Kremmer, De catalogis

heurematum, Leipzig, 1890, p. 15.

4                       BIBLE STUDIES.                           [190, 191


our voice cannot carry to our friend: the pen is employed

because the separation by distance does not permit a tete-a-

tete.1 A letter is destined for the receiver only, not for the

public eye, and even when it is intended for more than one,

yet with the public it will have nothing to do: letters to

parents and brothers and sisters, to comrades in joy or

sorrow or sentiment—these, too, are private letters, true

letters. As little as the words of the dying father to his

children are a speech—should they be a speech it would be

better for the dying to keep silent—just as little is the letter

of a sage to his confidential pupils an essay, a literary produc-

tion; and, if the pupils have learned wisdom, they will not

place it among their books, but lay it devoutly beside the

picture and the other treasured relics of their master. The

form and external appearance of the letter are matters of

indifference in the determination of its essential character.

Whether it be written on stone or clay, on papyrus or parch-

ment, on wax or palm-leaf, on rose paper or a foreign post-

card, is quite as immaterial2 as whether it clothes itself in

the set phrases of the age; whether it be written skilfully

or unskilfully, by a prophet or by a beggar, does not alter

its special characteristics in the least. Nor do the particular

contents belong to the essence of it. What is alone

essential is the purpose which it serves: confidential per-

sonal conversation between persons separated by dis-

tance. The one wishes to ask something of the other,

wishes to praise or warn or wound the other, to thank

him or assure him of sympathy in joy—it is ever something

personal that forces the pen into the hand of the letter-

writer.3 He who writes a letter under the impression that


            1 [Pseudo-] Diogenes, ep. 3 (Epistolographi Graeci, rec. R. Hercher,

Parisiis, 1873, p. 235).—Demetr., de elocut., 223 f. (Hercher, p. 13).—[Pseudo-]

Proclus, de forma epistolari (Hercher, p. 6).

            2 Cf. Th. Birt, Das antike Buchwesen in seinem Verhaltniss zur Lit-

teratur, Berlin, 1882, top of p. 2.—It is most singular that Pliny (Hist. Nat.,

xiii. 13), and, after him, Bentley (p. 538 f.; German edition by Ribbeck, p.

532 f.), deny that the letters on wax-tablets mentioned by Homer are letters.

            3 Demetr., de elocut., 231 (Hercher, p. 14).


191, 192]          LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                   5


his lines may be read by strangers, will either coquet with

this possibility, or be frightened by it; in the former case

he will be vain, in the latter, reserved;1 in both cases un-

natural—no true letter-writer. With the personal aim of

the letter there must necessarily be joined the naturalness

of the writer's mood; one owes it not only to himself

and to the other, but still more to the letter as such,

that he yield himself freely to it. So must the letter,

even the shortest and the poorest, present a fragment


            1 Cic., Fam. 15,214, aliter enim scribimus quod eos solos quibus mittimus,

aliter quod multos lecturos putamus. Cic., Phil. 2,7, quam multa iota solent

esse in epistulis quae prolata si sint inepta videantur! quam multa seria neque

tamen ullo modo divolganda!—Johann Kepler wrote a letter to Reimarus

Ursus, of which the latter then made a great parade in a manner painful

to Kepler and Tycho Brahe. Having got a warning by this, Kepler de-

termined that for the future:  "scribam caute, retinebo exemplaria".

(Joannis Kepleri astronomi opera omnia, ed. Ch. Frisch, i. [Frankfurt and

Erlangen, 1858], p. 234; of. C. Anschutz, Ungedruckte wissenschaftliche Cor-

respondent zwischen Johann Kepler and Herwart von Hohenburg, 1599,

Prague, 1886, p. 91 f.—The Palatinate physician-in-ordinary Helisaus Ros-

linus ( 1616) says about one of his letters which had been printed without

his knowledge:  "I wrote it the day immediately following that on which I

first beheld with astonishment the new star—on the evening of Tuesday, the

2/12 October; I communicated the same at once in haste to a good friend in

Strassburg. . . . . This letter (6 paginarum) was subsequently printed without

my knowledge or desire, which in itself did not concern me—only had I

known beforehand, I should have arranged it somewhat better and ex-

pressed myself more distinctly than I did while engaged in the writing of

it" (Joannis Kepleri opp. omn. i.,  p. 666). Moltke to his wife, 3rd July,

1864:  "I have in the above given you a portrayal of the seizure of Alsen,

which embodies no official report, but simply the observations of an eye-

witness, which always add freshness to description. If you think it would

be of interest to others as well, I have no objection to copies being taken

of it in which certain personal matters will be left out, and myself not

mentioned:  Auer will put the matter right for you " (Gesammelte Schriften,

tend Denkwurdigkeiten des General-Feldmarschalls Grafen Helmuth von

Moltke, vi. [Berlin, 1892], p. 408 f.). One notices, however, in this "letter,"

that it was written under the impression that copies of it might be

made. Compare also the similar sentiment (in the matter of diary-notes,

which are essentially akin to letters) of K. von Hase, of the year 1877:

"It may be that my knowledge that these soliloquies will soon fall into

other hands detracts from their naturalness. Still they will be the

hands of kind and cherished persons, and so may the thought of it

be but a quickly passing shadow!" (Annalen meines Lebens, Leipzig, 1891,

p. 271).

6                      BIBLE STUDIES.                         [192, 193


of human naivete—beautiful or trivial, but, in any case,


            2. The letter is older than literature. As conversation

between two persons is older than the dialogue, the song

older than the poem, so also does the history of the letter

reach back to that Golden Age when there was neither

author nor publisher, nor any reviewer. Literature is that

species of writing which is designed for publicity: the

maker of literature desires that others will take heed to

his work. He desires to be read. He does not appeal to

his friend, nor does he write to his mother; he entrusts

his sheets to the winds, and knows not whither they will

be borne; he only knows that they will be picked up and ex-

amined by some one or other unknown to him and unabashed

before him. Literature, in the truest essence of it, differs in

no way from a public speech; equally with the latter it

falls short in the matter of intimacy, and the more it attains

to the character of universality, the more literary, that is

to say, the more interesting it is. All the difference between

them is in the mode of delivery. Should one desire to address,

not the assembled clan or congregation, but the great foolish

public, then he takes care that what he has to say may be

carried home in writing by any one who wishes to have it

so: the book is substituted for oral communication. And

even if the book be dedicated to a friend or friends, still its

dedication does not divest it of its literary character,—it

does not thereby become a private piece of writing. The

form and external appearance of the book are immaterial

for the true understanding of its special character as a

book: even its contents, whatever they be, do not matter.

Whether the author sends forth poems, tragedies or his-

tories, sermons or wearisome scientific lucubrations, politi-

cal matter or anything else in the world; whether his book

is multiplied by the slaves of an Alexandrian bookseller, by

patient monk or impatient compositor; whether it is pre-

served in libraries as sheet, or roll, or folio: all these are as


            1 Demetr., de elocut., 227 (Hereher, p. 13). Greg. Naz., ad Nicobulum

(Hercher, p. 16).

193, 194]             LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                   7


much matter of indifference as whether it is good or bad, or

whether it finds purchasers or not. Book, literature, in the

widest sense, is every written work designed by its author

for the public.1

            3. The book is younger than the letter. Even were the

oldest letters that have come down to us younger than the

earliest extant works of literature, that statement would still

be true. For it is one which does not need the confirmation

of historical facts—nay, it would be foolish to attempt to give

such. The letter is perishable—in its very nature necessarily

so; it is perishable, like the hand that wrote it, like the eyes

that were to read it. The letter-writer works as little for

posterity as for the public of his own time;2 just as the

true letter cannot be written over again, it exists in but a

single copy. It is only the book that is multiplied and

thus rendered accessible to the public, accessible, possibly,

to posterity. Fortunately we possess letters that are old,

extremely old, but we shall never gain a sight of the oldest

of them all; it was a letter, and was able to guard itself and

its secret. Among all nations, before the age of literature,

there were the days when people wrote, indeed, but did not

yet write books.3  In the same way people prayed, of course,

and probably prayed better, long before there were any

service-books; and they had come near to God before they

wrote down the proofs of His existence. The letter, should

we ask about the essential character of it, carries us into

the sacred solitude of simple, unaffected humanity; when we

ask about its history, it directs us to the childhood's years of

the pre-literary man, when there was no book to trouble him.


            1 Birt, Buchwesen, p. 2: " Similarly the point of separation between a

private writing and a literary work was the moment when [in antiquity] an

author delivered his manuscript to his own slaves or to those of a contractor

in order that copies of it might be produced".

            2 A. Stahr, Aristotelia, i., Halle, 1830, p. 192 f.

            3 Wellhausen, Israelitische and Judische Geschichte, p. 58:  "Already

in early times writing was practised, but in documents and contracts only ;

also letters when the contents of the message were not for the light of day

or when, for other reasons, they required to be kept secret".  Hebrew litera-

ture blossomed forth only later.

8                            BIBLE STUDIES.                     [194, 159


            4. When the friend has for ever parted from his comrades,

the master from his disciples, then the bereaved bethink

themselves, with sorrowful reverence, of all that the de-

parted one was to them. The old pages, which the beloved

one delivered to them in some blessed hour, speak to them

with a more than persuasive force; they are read and re-

read, they are exchanged one for another, copies are taken

of letters in the possession of friends, the precious fragments

are collected: perhaps it is decided that the collection be

multiplied—among the great unknown public there may

be some unknown one who is longing for the same

stimulus which the bereaved themselves have received.

And thus it happens now and then that, from motives of

reverent love, the letters of the great are divested of their

confidential character: they are formed into literature, the

letters subsequently become a book.   When, by the

Euphrates or the Nile, preserved in the ruins of some

fallen civilisation, we find letters the age of which can

only be computed by centuries and millenniums, the science

of our fortunate day rejoices; she hands over the vener-

able relics to a grateful public in a new garb, and so, in our

own books and in our own languages, we read the reports

which the Palestinian vassals had to make to Pharaoh upon

their tablets of clay, long before there was any Old Testa-

ment or any People of Israel; we learn the sufferings and

the longings of Egyptian monks from shreds of papyrus

which are as old as the book of the Seventy Interpreters.

Thus it is the science of to-day that has stripped these

private communications of a hoary past of their most

peculiar characteristic, and which has at length transformed

letters, true letters, into literature. As little, however, as

some unknown man, living in the times of Imperial Rome,

put the toy into the grave of his child in order that it should

sometime be discovered and placed in a museum, just as

little are the private letters which have at length been trans-

formed into literature by publication, to be, on that account,

thought of as literature. Letters remain letters whether

oblivion hides them with its protecting veil, or whether now

195, 196]             LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                    9


reverence, now science, or, again, reverence and science in

friendly conspiracy, think it well to withhold the secret no

longer from the reverent or the eager seeker after truth.

What the editor, in publishing such letters, takes from

them, the readers, if they can do anything more than spell,

must restore by recognising, in true historical perspective,

their simple and unaffected beauty.

            5. When for the first time a book was compiled from

letters,—it would be reverential love, rather than science,

that made the beginning here—the age of literature had, of

course, dawned long ago, and had long ago constructed

the various literary forms with which it worked. That

book, the first to be compiled from real letters, added

another to the already existent forms. One would, of

course, hardly venture to say that it forthwith added the

literary letter, the epistle,1 to the forms of published litera-

ture; the said book only gave, against its will, so to speak,

the impetus to the development of this new literary eidos.2

The present writer cannot imagine that the composition

and publication of literary treatises in the form of letters

was anterior to the compilation of a book from actual

letters. So soon, however, as such a book existed, the

charming novelty of it invited to imitation. Had the in-

vitation been rightly understood, the only inducement that

should have been felt was to publish the letters of other

venerable men, and, in point of fact, the invitation was not

seldom understood in this its true sense. From almost

every age we have received such collections of "genuine,"

"real" letters—priceless jewels for the historian of the

human spirit. But the literary man is frequently more

of a literary machine than a true man, and thus, when the


            1 In the following pages the literary letter [Litteraturbrief] will

continue to be so named: the author considers that the borrowed word

appropriately expresses the technical sense.

            2 F. Susemihl, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur in der Alexan-

drinerzeit, ii., Leipzig, 1892, p. 579: "It may well be that the first impulse

to this branch of authorship was given by the early collecting together, in

the individual schools of philosophy, such as the Epicurean, of the genuine

correspondence of their founders and oldest members".

10                  BIBLE STUDIES.                           [196, 197


first collection of letters appeared, it was the literary, rather

than the human, interest of it which impressed him; the

accidental and external, rather than the inscrutably strange

inmost essence of it. Instead of rejoicing that his pur-

blind eye might here catch a glimpse of a great human

soul, he resolved to write a volume of letters on his own

part. He knew not what he did, and had no feeling that

he was attempting anything unusual;1 he did not see that,

by his literary purpose, he was himself destroying the very

possibility of its realisation; for letters are experiences,

and experiences cannot be manufactured. The father of

the epistle was no great pioneer spirit, but a mere para-

graphist, a mere mechanic. But perhaps he had once

heard a pastoral song among the hills, and afterwards at

home set himself down to make another of the same: the

wondering applause of his crowd of admirers confirmed him

in the idea that he had succeeded. If then he had achieved

his aim in the matter of a song, why should he not do the

same with letters? And so he set himself down and made

them. But the prototype, thus degraded to a mere pattern,

mistrustfully refused to show its true face, not to speak of

its heart, to this pale and suspicious-looking companion,

and the result was that the epistle could learn no more

from the letter than a little of its external form. If the

true letter might be compared to a prayer, the epistle which

mimicked it was only a babbling; if there beamed forth

in the letter the wondrous face of a child, the epistle grinned

stiffly and stupidly, like a puppet.

            But the puppet pleased; its makers knew how to bring

it to perfection, and to give it more of a human appearance.

Indeed, it happened now and then that a real artist occupied

an idle hour in the fashioning of such an object. This, of

course, turned out better than most others of a similar kind,


            1 Cf. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Aristoteles and Athen, ii., Berlin,

1893, p. 392: "He [Isocrates] did not understand that the letter, as a con-

fidential and spontaneous utterance, is well written only when it is written

for reading, not hearing, when it is distinguished from the set oration kat

ei#doj". This judgment applies also to real, genuine letters by Isocrates.

197, 198]                   LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                  11


and was more pleasant to look at than an ugly child for

instance; in any case it could not disturb one by its noise.

A good epistle, in fact, gives one more pleasure than a

worthless letter, and in no literature is there any lack of

good epistles. They often resemble letters so much that a

reader permits himself for the moment to be willingly deceived

as to their actual character. But letters they are not, and

the more strenuously they try to be letters, the more vividly

do they reveal that they are not.1  Even the grapes of

Zeuxis could deceive only the sparrows; one even suspects

that they were no true sparrows, but cage-birds rather, which

had lost their real nature along with their freedom and

pertness; our Rhine-land sparrows would not have left their

vineyards for anything of the kind. Those of the epistle-

writers who were artists were themselves most fully aware

that in their epistles they worked at best artificially,

and, in fact, had to do so. "The editor requests that the

readers of this book will not forget the title of it: it is only

a book of letters, letters merely relating to the study of

theology. In letters one does not look for treatises, still less

for treatises in rigid uniformity and proportion of parts.

As material offers itself and varies, as conversation comes

and goes, often as personal inclinations or incidental occur-

rences determine and direct, so do the letters wind about

and flow on; and I am greatly in error if it be not this

a thread of living continuity, this capriciousness of origin and

circumstances, that realises the result which we desiderate

on the written page, but which, of course, subsequently dis-

appears in the printing. Nor can I conceal the fact that

these letters, as now printed, are wanting just in what

is perhaps most instructive, viz., the more exact criticism of

particular works. There was, however, no other way of

doing it, and I am still uncertain whether the following

letters, in which the materials grow always the more special,


            1 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Antigonos von Karystos (Philologischz

Untersuchungen, iv.), Berlin, 1881, p. 151, says, "Such letters as are actually

written with a view to publication are essentially different in character from

private correspondence".

12                            BIBLE STUDIES.                      [198, 199


the more important, the more personal, are fit for printing at

all. The public voice of the market-place and the confidential

one of private correspondence are, and always continue to

be, very different." Herder,1 in these words, which are a

classical description of the true idea of a letter, claims that

his book has, in fact, the character of actual letters, but is

nevertheless quite well aware that a printed (that is, accord-

ing to the context, a literary) letter is essentially different

from a letter that is actually such.

            It is easy to understand how the epistle became a

favourite form of published literature in almost all literary

nations. There could hardly be a more convenient form.

The extraordinary convenience of it lay in the fact that

it was, properly speaking, so altogether "unliterary," that,

in fact, it did not deserve to be called a "form" at all.

One needed but to label an address on any piece of tittle-

tattle, and lo! one had achieved what else could have been

accomplished only by a conscientious adherence to the strict

rules of artistic form. Neither as to expression nor contents

does the epistle make any higher pretensions. The writer

could, in the matter of style, write as he pleased, and the

address on the letter became a protective mark for thoughts

that would have been too silly for a poem, and too paltry

for an essay. The epistle, if we disregard the affixed

address, need be no more than, say a feuilleton or a causerie.

The zenith of epistolography may always be looked upon as

assuredly indicating the decline of literature; literature be-

comes decadent—Alexandrian, so to speak—and although

epistles may have been composed and published by great

creative spirits, still the derivative character of the move-

ment cannot be questioned:  even the great will want to

gossip, to lounge, to take it easy for once. Their epistles

may be good, but the epistle in general, as a literary pheno-

menon, is light ware indeed.

            6. Of collections of letters, bearing the name of well-

known poets and philosophers, we have, indeed, a great


            1 Briefe, dots Studium der Theologie betreffend, Third Part, Frankfurt

and Leipzig, 1790, Preface to the first edition, pp. i.-iii.

199, 200]         LETTERS AND EPISTLES.              13


profusion. Many of them are not "genuine"; they were

composed and given to the world by others under the pro-

tection of a great name.1  A timid ignorance, having no

true notion of literary usages, inconsiderately stigmatises

one and all of these with the ethical term forgery; it fondly

imagines that everything in the world can be brought be-

tween the two poles moral and immoral, and overlooks the

fact that the endless being and becoming of things is

generally realised according to non-ethical laws, and needs

to be judged as an ethical adiaphoron. He who tremulously

supposes that questions of genuineness in the history of

literature are, as such, problems of the struggle between

truth and falsehood, ought also to have the brutal courage

to describe all literature as forgery. The literary man, as

compared with the non-literary, is always a person under

constraint; he does not draw from the sphere of prosaic

circumstance about him, but places himself under the

dominion of the ideal, about which no one knows better than

himself that it never was, and never will be, real. The

literary man, with every stroke of his pen, removes himself

farther from trivial actuality, just because he wishes to alter

it, to ennoble or annihilate it, just because he can never

acknowledge it as it is. As a man he feels indeed that he

is sold under the domain of the wretched "object". He

knows that when he writes upon the laws of the cosmos,

he is naught but a foolish boy gathering shells by the

shore of the ocean; he enriches the literature of his nation


            1 The origin of spurious collections of letters among the Greeks is

traced back to "the exercises in style of the Athenian schools of rhetoric in

the earlier and earliest Hellenistic period," Susemihl, ii., pp. 448, 579. If

some callow rhetorician succeeded in performing an exercise of this kind

specially well, he might feel tempted to publish it. But it is not impossible

that actual forgeries were committed for purposes of gain by trading with the

great libraries, cf. Susemihl, ii., pp. 449 f. ; Bentley, p. 9 f., in Ribbeck's

German edition, p. 81 ff. ; A. M. Zumetikos, De Alexandri Olympiadisque

epistularum fontibus et reliquiis, Berlin, 1894, p. 1.—As late as 1551, Joachim

Camerarius ventured on the harmless jest of fabricating, "ad institutionem

puerilem," a correspondence in Greek between Paul and the Presbytery of

Ephesus (Th. Zahn, Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons, ii., 2,

Erlangen and Leipzig, 1892, p. 365).

14                        BIBLE STUDIES.                   [200, 201


by a Faust, meanwhile sighing for a revelation; or he is

driven about by the thought that something must be done

for his unbelief—yet he writes Discourses upon Religion.

And thus he realises that he is entangled in the contradic-

tion between the Infinite and the Finite,1 while the small

prosperous folks, whose sleepy souls reek not of his pain,

are lulled by him into the delightful dream that we only

need to build altars to truth, beauty, and eternity in order

to possess these things; when they have awaked, they can

but reproach him for having deceived them. They discover

that he is one of themselves; they whisper to each other

that the sage, the poet, the prophet, is but a man after all

—wiser, it may be, but not more clever, or better, than

others. He who might have been their guide—not in-

deed to his own poor hovel but to the city upon the hill,

not built by human hands—is compensated with some

polite-sounding phrase. The foolish ingrates! Literature

presents us with the unreal, just because it subserves the

truth; the literary man abandons himself, just because he

strives for the ends of humanity; he is unnatural, just be-

cause he would give to others something better than him-

self. What holds good of literature in general must also

be taken into account in regard to each of its characteristic

phenomena. Just as little as Plato's Socrates and Schiller's

Wallenstein are "forgeries," so little dare we so name the

whole "pseudonymous"2 literature. We may grant at

once, indeed, that some, at least, of the writings which go

under false names were intentionally forged by the writers


            1 Cf. the confession made by U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Aristoteles

und Athen, i., Berlin, 1893, Preface, p. vi.:  "The task of authorship demands

an end attained—in irreconcilable antithesis to the investigations of science.

The Phaedrus has taught us that the book in general is a pitiful thing as

compared with living investigation, and it is to be hoped that we are wiser in

our class-rooms than in our books. But Plato, too, wrote books; he spoke

forth freely each time what he knew as well as he knew it, assured that he

would contradict himself, and hopeful that he would correct himself, next

time he wrote."

            2 The term pseudonymous of itself certainly implies blame, but it has

become so much worn in the using, that it is also applied in quite an in-

nocent sense.

201, 202]                LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                    15


of them; pseudonymity in political or ecclesiastical works

is in every case suspicious, for no one knows better how to

use sacred and sanctifying ends than does the undisciplined

instinct of monarchs and hierarchs, and the followers of

them. But there is also a pseudonymity which is innocent,

sincere, and honest,1 and if a literary product permits of any

inferences being drawn from it respecting the character of

the writer, then, in such a case of pseudonymity, one may

not think of malice or cowardice, but rather of modesty and

natural timidity. Between the genuine2 and the pseudony-

mous epistle there does not exist the same profound and

essential difference as between the epistle and the letter.

The epistle is never genuine in the sense in which the letter

is; it never can be so, because it can adopt the form of the

letter only by surrendering the essence. An epistle of

Herder, however like a letter it may look, is yet not a letter

of Herder: it was not Herder the man, but Herder the

theological thinker and author, that wrote it: it is genuine

in an ungenuine sense—like an apple-tree which, flourishing

in September, certainly has genuine apple blossoms, but

which must surely be altogether ashamed of such in the

presence of its own ripening fruits. Literary "genuine-

ness" is not to be confounded with genuine naturalness.

Questions of genuineness in literature may cause us to rack

our brains: but what is humanly genuine is never a problem


            1 Cf. on this point specially Julicher, Einleitung in das N. T., p. 32 ff.

            2 The discussion which occupies the remainder of this paragraph is one

which may, indeed, be translated, but can hardly be transferred, into English.

It turns partly on the ambiguity of the German word echt, and partly on

a distinction corresponding to that which English critics have tried to

establish between the words "genuine" and "authentic"—a long-vexed

question which now practice rather than theory is beginning to settle. Echt

means authentic, as applied, for instance, to a book written by the author

whose name it bears; it also means genuine both as applied to a true record

of experience, whether facts or feelings, and as implying the truth (that is

the naturalness, spontaneity or reality) of the experience itself. The trans-

lator felt that, in justice to the author, he must render echt throughout

the passage in question by a single word, and has therefore chosen genuine,

as representing, more adequately than any other, the somewhat wide con-

notation of the German adjective.—Tr.

16                             BIBLE STUDIES.                    [202, 203


to the genuine man. From the epistle that was genuine in

a mere literary sense there was but a step to the fictitious 

epistle; while the genuine letter could at best be mimicked,

the genuine epistle was bound to be imitated, and, indeed,

invited to imitation. The collections of genuine Letters

indirectly occasioned the writing of epistles: the collections

of genuine epistles were immediately followed by the litera-

ture of the fictitious epistle.



            7. In the foregoing remarks on questions of prin-

ciple, the author has in general tacitly presupposed the

literary conditions into which we are carried by the Graeco-

Roman civilisation, and by the modern, of which that is

the basis.1  These inquiries seem to him to demand that we

should not summarily include all that has been handed down

to us bearing the wide, indefinite name of letter, under

the equally indefinite term Literature of letters (Brief-

litteratur), but that each separate fragment of these in-

teresting but neglected compositions be set in its proper

place in the line of development, which is as follows—real

letter, letter that has subsequently become literature, epistle, ficti-

tious epistle. Should it be demanded that the author fill

up the various stages of this development with historical

references, he would be at a loss. It has been already in-

dicated that the first member of the series, viz., the letter,

belongs to pre-literary times: it is not only impossible to

give an example of this, but also unreasonable to demand

one. With more plausibility one might expect that some-

thing certain ought to be procured in connection with the

other stages, which belong in a manner to literary times,


            1 The history of the literature of "letters" among the Italian Humanists

is, from the point of view of method, specially instructive. Stahr, Aristotelia,

ii., p. 187 f., has already drawn attention to it. The best information on

the subject is to be found in G. Voigt's Die Wiederbelebung des classischen

Alterthums oder das erste Jahrhundert des Humanismus, ii.3, Berlin, 1893,

pp. 417-436.

203, 204]           LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                   17


and, as such, can be historically checked. But even if the

broad field of ancient "letters" were more extensively

cultivated than has hitherto been the case, still we could

establish at best no more than the first known instance of

a subsequent collection of real letters, of an epistle or of a

fictitious epistle, but would not reach the beginnings of the

literary movement itself. The line in question can only be

drawn on the ground of general considerations, nor does the

author see how else it could be drawn. No one will ques-

tion that the real letter was the first, the fictitious epistle

the last, link in the development; as little will any one

doubt that the epistle must have been one of the intervening

links between the two.1 The only uncertainty is as to the

origin of the epistle itself; it, of course, presupposes the

real letter, being an imitation of it; but that it presupposes

as well the collection of real letters, as we think pro-

bable in regard to Greek literature, cannot be established

with certainty for the history of literature in general. As a

matter of fact, the epistle, as a form of literature, is found

among the Egyptians at a very early period, and the author

does not know how it originated there. The Archduke

Rainer's collection of Papyri at Vienna contains a poetical

description of the town of Pi-Ramses, dating from the 12th

century B.C., which is written in the form of a letter, and

is in part identical with Papyrus Anastasi III. in the British

Museum. This MS. "shows that in such letters we have,

not private correspondence, but literary compositions,

which must have enjoyed a wide circulation in ancient

Egypt; it thus affords us valuable materials towards the

characterisation of the literature of ancient Egypt".2 If,


            1 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Antigonos von Karystos, p. 151:  "I

cannot imagine that fictitious correspondence, as a species of literature, was

anterior in time to genuine".

            2 J. Karabacek, Mittheilungen, aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog

Rainer, i., Vienna, 1887, p. 51; cf. J. Krall, Guide-book of the Exhibition

[of the Pap. Erzh. Rainer], Vienna, 1894, p. 32.—The author doubts whether

the term literature should really be applied to the letters in cuneiform

character which were published by Fried. Delitzsch (Beitrage zur Assyriologie,

1893 and 1894) under the title of "Babylonisch-Assyrische Brief littertaur".

18                           BIBLE STUDIES.                     [204, 205


therefore, we can hardly say that the epistle first originated

among the Greeks, yet, notwithstanding the above facts, we

may assume that it might arise quite independently under

the special conditions of Greek Literature, and that, in fact,

it did so arise.

            8. Now whatever theory one may have about the origin

of the epistle among the Greeks, that question is of no

great importance for the problem of the historian of literary

phenomena in general, viz., the analysis into their con-

stituent parts of the writings which have been transmitted

to us as a whole under the ambiguous name of "letters".

What is important in this respect are the various categories

to which those constituent parts must be assigned in order

that they may be clearly distinguished from each other.

We may, therefore, ignore the question as to the origin of

these categories—like all questions about the origin of such

products of the mind, it is to a large extent incapable of any

final solution; let it suffice that all these categories are

represented among the "letters" that have been transmitted

from the past. The usage of scientific language is, indeed,

not so uniform as to render a definition of terms super-

fluous. The following preliminary remarks may therefore

be made; they may serve at the same time to justify the

terms hitherto used in this book.

            Above all, it is misleading merely to talk of letters,

without having defined the term more particularly. The

perception of this fact has influenced many to speak of the

private letter in contradistinction to the literary letter, and

this distinction may express the actual observed fact that

the true letter is something private, a personal and con-

fidential matter. But the expression is none the less in-

adequate, for it may mislead. Thus B. Weiss,1 for instance,

uses it as the antithesis of the pastoral letter (Gemeindebrief);

a terminology which does not issue from the essence of

the letter, but from the fact of a possible distinction among

those to whom it may be addressed. We might in the same

way distinguish between the private letter and the family


            1 Meyer, xiv.5 (1888), p. 187.

205, 206]           LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                 19


letter, i.e., the letter which a son, for instance, might send

from abroad to those at home. But it is plain that, in the

circumstances, such a distinction would be meaningless, for

that letter also is a private one. Or, take the case of a

clergyman, acting as army chaplain in the enemy's country,

who writes a letter1 to his distant congregation at home;

such would be a congregational letter—perhaps it is even read

in church by the locum tenens; but it would manifestly not

differ in the slightest from a private letter, provided, that is,

that the writer's heart was in the right place. The more pri-

vate, the more personal, the more special it is, all the better

a congregational letter will it be; a right sort of congrega-

tion would not welcome paragraphs of pastoral theology—

they get such things from the locum tenens, for he is not

long from college. The mere fact that the receivers of a

letter are a plurality, does not constitute a public in the

literary sense, and, again, an epistle directed to a single

private individual is not on that account a private letter

—it is literature. It is absurd, then, to define the specific

character of a piece of writing which looks like a letter

merely according to whether the writer addresses the re-

ceivers in the second person singular or plural;2 the dis-

tinguishing feature cannot be anything merely formal (formal,

moreover, in a superficial sense of that word), but can only be

the inner special purpose of the writer. It is thus advisable,

if we are to speak scientifically, to avoid the use of such

merely external categories as congregational letter, and also to

substitute for private letter a more accurate expression. As

such we are at once confronted by the simple designation

letter, but this homely term, in consideration of the in-

definiteness which it has acquired in the course of centuries,

will hardly suffice by itself; we must find an adjunct for it.


            1 Cf. for instance the letter of K. Ninck to his congregation at Frucht,

of the 1st September, 1870—from Corny ; partly printed in F. Cuntz's Karl

Wilh. Theodor Ninck,. Ein Lebensbild. 2nd edn., Herborn, 1891, p. 94 ff.

            2 This difference does not, of course, hold in modern English; we can

hardly imagine a letter-writer employing the singular forms thou, thee, But

the distinction does not necessarily hold in German either.—Tr.

20                     BIBLE STUDIES.                            [206, 207


The term true letter is therefore used here, after the example

of writers1 who are well able to teach us what a letter is.

            When a true letter becomes literature by means of its

publication, we manifestly obtain no new species thereby.

To the historian of literature, it still remains what it was

to the original receiver of it—a true letter: even when given

to the public, it makes a continual protest against its being

deemed a thing of publicity. We must so far favour it as

to respect its protest; were we to separate it in any way

from other true letters which were fortunate enough never

to have their obscurity disturbed, we should but add to the

injustice already done to it by its being published.

            A new species is reached only when we come to the

letter published professedly as literature, which as such is

altogether different from the first class. Here also we meet

with various designations in scientific language. But the

adoption of a uniform terminology is not nearly so im-

portant in regard to this class as in regard to the true

letter. One may call it literary letter,2 or, as has been done

above for the sake of simplicity, epistle—no importance need

be attached to the designation, provided the thing itself be

clear. The subdivisions, again, which may be inferred from

the conditions of origin of the epistle, are of course unessen-

tial; they are not the logical divisions of the concept epistle, but

simply classifications of extant epistles according to their

historical character, i.e., we distinguish between authentic

and unauthentic epistles, and again, in regard to the latter,


            1 E. Reuss, Die Geschichte der h. Schriften N. T.6 § 74, p. 70, uses the

expression true letters, addressed to definite and particular readers. Von

Wilamowitz-Moellendorft, Aristoteles und Athen, p. 393; p. 394: real

letters ; ibid., p. 392, letters, e]pistolai< in the full sense of the word. The same

author in Ein Weihgeschenk des Eratosthenes, in Nachrichten der Kgl. Gesell-

schaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, 1894, p. 5: true private letter.--Birt

also uses—besides the designations private writing (Buchwesen, pp. 2, 20, 61,

277, 443) and incidental letter (pp. 61, 325)—the expression true correspondence

(wirkliche Correspandenzen, p. 326). Similarly A. Westermann, De epi-

stolarum scriptoribus graecis 8 progrr., i., Leipzig, 1851, p. 13, calls them

"veras epistolas, h. e. tales, quae ab auctoribus ad ipsos, quibus inscribuntur,

homines revera datae sunt".

            2 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Ein Weihgeschenk des Eratosthenes. p. 3,

207, 208]                 LETTERS AND EPISTLES.              21


between innocent fabrications and forgeries with a "ten-


            Furnished with these definitions, we approach the im-

mense quantity of written material which has been be-

queathed to us by Graeco-Roman antiquity under the

ambiguous term e]pistolai<, epistulae. The sheets which we

have inherited from the bountiful past, and which have been

brought into confusion by legacy-hunters and legal advisers,

so to speak, perhaps even by the palsied but venerable hand

of their aged proprietrix herself, must first of all be duly

arranged before we can congratulate ourselves on their

possession. In point of fact, the work of arrangement is

by no means so far advanced as the value of the inheritance

deserves to have it.1 But what has already been done

affords, even to the outsider, at least the superficial impres-

sion that we possess characteristic representatives, from

ancient times, of all the categories of e]poistolai<, which have

been established in the foregoing pages.



            9. We can be said to possess true letters from ancient

times—in the full sense of the word possess—only when we

have the originals. And, in fact, the Papyrus discoveries

of the last decade have placed us in the favourable position

of being able to think of as our very own an enormous

number of true letters in the original, extending from the

Ptolemaic period till far on in mediaeval times. The author

is forced to confess that, previous to his acquaintance with

ancient Papyrus letters (such as it was—only in facsimiles),

he had never rightly known, or, at least, never rightly

realised within his own mind, what a letter was. Com-

paring a Papyrus letter of the Ptolemaic period with a

fragment from a tragedy, written also on Papyrus, and of


            1 Among philologists one hears often enough the complaint about

the neglect of the study of ancient "letters". The classical preparatory

labour of Bentley has waited long in vain for the successor of which both it

and its subject were worthy. It is only recently that there appears to have

sprung up a more general interest in the matter.

22                        BIBLE STUDIES.


about the same age, no one perceives any external dif-

ference; the same written characters, the same writing

material, the same place of discovery. And yet the two

are as different in their essential character as are reality

and art: the one, a leaf with writing on it, which has served

some perfectly definite and never-to-be-repeated purpose in

human intercourse; the other, the derelict leaf of a book, a

fragment of literature.

            These letters will of themselves reveal what they are,

better than the author could, and in evidence of this, there

follows a brief selection of letters from the Egyptian town of

Oxyrhynchus, the English translation of which (from Greek)

all but verbally corresponds to that given by Messrs. Gren-

fell and Hunt in their edition of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.1

The author has selected such letters as date from the century

in which our Saviour walked about in the Holy Land, in

which Paul wrote his letters, and the beginnings of the New

Testament collection were made.2



      Letter from Chaireas to Tyrannos.3 A.D. 25-26.


            "Chaireas to his dearest Tyrannos, many greetings.

Write out immediately the list of arrears both of corn

and money for the twelfth year of Tiberius Caesar

Augustus, as Severus has given me instructions for demand-

ing their payment. I have already written to you to be firm

and demand payment until I come in peace. Do not there-

fore neglect this, but prepare the statements of corn and

money from the . . . year to the eleventh for the presenta-

tion of the demands. Good-bye."

            Address : " To Tyrannos, dioiketes ".


            1 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, edited . . . by Bernard P. Grenfell and

Arthur S. Hunt, Part I., London, 1898 ; Part II., London, 1899. For those

who feel themselves more specially interested in the subject, a comparison

with the original Greek texts will, of course, be necessary.

            2 The German edition of this work contains a Greek transcription, with

annotations, of ten Papyrus letters (distinct from those given here) from

Egypt, of dates varying from 255 B.C. to the 2nd-3rd centuries A.D.

            3 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, No. 291, ii., p. 291. Chaireas was strategus

of the Oxyrhynchite nome. Tyrannos was dioikhth<j.

                      LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                     23



Letter of Recommendation from Theon to Tyrannos.1

                                    About A.D. 25.

            "Theon to his esteemed Tyrannos, many greetings.

Herakleides, the bearer of this letter, is my brother. I

therefore entreat you with all my power to treat him as

your protege. I have also written to your brother Hermias,

asking him to communicate with you about him. You will

confer upon me a very great favour if Herakleides gains your

notice. Before all else you have my good wishes for un-

broken health and prosperity. Good-bye."

            Address: "To Tyrannos, dioiketes".



Letter from Dionysios to his Sister Didyme.2 A.D. 27.

            "Dionysios to his sister Didyme, many greetings, and

good wishes for continued health. You have sent me no

word about the clothes either by letter or by message, and

they are still waiting until you send me word. Provide the

bearer of this letter, Theonas, with any assistance that he

wishes for. . .. Take care of yourself and all your house-

hold. Good-bye. The 14th year of Tiberius Caesar Augus-

tus, Athyr 18."

            Address : " Deliver from Dionysios to his sister Didyme ".



Letter from Thaeisus to her mother Syras.3 About A.D. 35.

            "Thaeisus to her mother Syras. I must tell you

that Seleukos came here and has fled. Don't trouble to

explain (?). Let Lucia wait until the year. Let me know

the day. Salute Ammonas my brother and . . . and my

sister . . . and my father Theonas."



Letter from Ammonios to his father Ammonios.4 A.D. 54.


            "Ammonios to his father Ammonios, greeting. Kindly

write me in a note the record of the sheep, how many more


            1 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, No. 292, ii., p. 292.

            2 Ibid., No. 293, ii., p. 293.                                 3 Ibid., No. 295, ii., p. 296.

            4 Ibid., No. 297, ii., p. 298.

24                       BIBLE STUDIES.


you have by the lambing beyond those included in the first

return. . . . Good-bye. The 14th year of Tiberius Claudius

Caesar Augustus, Epeiph 29."

            Address:  "To my father Ammonios".



Letter from Indike to Thaeisus.1 Late First Century.


            "Indike to Thaeisus, greeting. I sent you the bread-

basket by Taurinus the camel-man; please send me an

answer that you have received it. Salute my friend Theon

and Nikobulos and Dioskoros and Theon and Hermokles,

who have my best wishes. Longinus salutes you. Good-

bye. Month Germanikos 2."

            Address: "To Theon,2 son of Nikobulos, elaiochristes

at the Gymnasion ".



Letter of Consolation from Eirene to Taonnophris and

                        Philon.3 Second Century.


            "Eirene to Taonnophris and Philon, good cheer. I

was as much grieved and shed as many tears over Eumoiros

as I shed for Didymas, and I did everything that was fitting,

and so did my whole family,4 Epaphrodeitos and Thermuthion

and Philion and Apollonios and Plantas. But still there is

nothing one can do in the face of such trouble. So I leave

you to comfort yourselves. Good-bye. Athyr 1."

            Address: "To Taonnophris and Philon".



Letter from Korbolon to HerakIeides.5 Second Century.


            "Korbolon to Herakleides, greeting. I send you the

key by Horion, and the piece of the lock by Onnophris, the

camel-driver of Apollonios. I enclosed in the former packet

a pattern of white-violet colour. I beg you to be good

enough to match it, and buy me two drachmas' weight, and

send it to me at once by any messenger you can find, for


            1 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, No. 300, ii., p. 301.

            2 Theon is probably the husband of Thaeisus.

            3 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, No. 115, i., p. 181.

            4  pa<ntej oi[ e]moi<. Grenfell and Hunt: all my friends.

            5 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, No. 113, i., p. 178 f.

216, 217]            LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                  25


the tunic is to be woven immediately. I received everything

you told me to expect by Onnophris safely. I send you by

the same Onnophris six quarts of good apples. I thank all

the gods to think that I came upon Plution in the Oxy-

rhynchite nome. Do not think that I took no trouble about

the key. The reason is that the smith is a long way from

us. I wonder that you did not see your way to let me have

what I asked you to send by Korbolon, especially when I

wanted it for a festival. I beg you to buy me a silver seal,

and to send it me with all speed. Take care that Onnophris

buys me what Eirene's mother told him. I told him that

Syntrophos said that nothing more should be given to

Amarantos on my account. Let me know what you have

given him that I may settle accounts with him. Otherwise

I and my son will come for this purpose. [On the verso] I

had the large cheeses from Korbolon. I did not, however,

want large ones, but small. Let me know of anything that

you want, and I will gladly do it. Farewell. Payni 1st.

(P.S.) Send me an obol's worth of cake for my nephew."

            Address: "To Herakleides, son of Ammonios."


            10. But we must not think that the heritage of true

letters which we have received from the past is wholly com-

prised in the Papyrus letters which have been thus finely

preserved as autographs. In books and booklets which have

been transmitted to us as consisting of e]pistolai<, and in

others as well, there is contained a goodly number of true

letters, for the preservation of which we are indebted to the

circumstance that some one, at some time subsequent to

their being written, treated them as literature. Just as at

some future time posterity will be grateful to our learned

men of to-day for their having published the Papyrus letters,

i.e., treated them as literature, so we ourselves have every

cause for gratitude to those individuals, for the most part

unknown, who long ago committed the indiscretion of

making books out of letters. The great men whose letters,

fortunately for us, were overtaken by this fate, were not on

that account epistolographers; they were letter-writers—

like, the strange saints of the Serapeum and the obscure

men and women of the Fayyum. No doubt, by reason of

their letters having been preserved as literature, they have

26                          BIBLE STUDIES.                       [217, 218


often been considered as epistolographers, and the misunder-

standing may have been abetted by the vulgar notion that

those celebrated men had the consciousness of their cele-

brity even when they laughed and yawned, and that they

could not speak or write a single word without imagining

that amazed mankind was standing by to hear and read. We

have not as yet, in every case, identified those whom we

have to thank for real letters. But it will be sufficient for

our purpose if we restrict ourselves to a few likely instances.

            The letters of Aristotle ( 322 B.C.) were published at a

very early period: their publication gave the lie, in a very

effective manner, to a fictitious collection which came out

shortly after his death.1 These letters were "true letters,

occasioned by the requirements of private correspondence,

not products of art, i.e., treatises in the form of letters".2

This collection is usually considered to be the first instance

of private letters being subsequently published.3 It is there-

fore necessary to mention them here, though, indeed, it is

uncertain whether anything really authentic has been pre-

served among the fragments which have come down to us;4

by far the greater number of these were certainly products

of the fictitious literary composition of the Alexandrian

period.5—The case stands more favourably with regard to

the nine letters transmitted to us under the name of Isocrates

(† 338 B.C.).6 The most recent editor7 of them comes to

the following conclusions. The first letter, to Dionysios, is

authentic. The two letters of introduction, Nos. 7 and 8, to

Timotheos of Heracleia and the inhabitants of Mitylene

respectively, bear the same mark of authenticity: "so much


            1 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Antigonos von Karystos, p. 151.

            2 Stahr, Aristotelia,        p. 195.

            3 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Antigonos von Karystos, p. 151; Suse-

mihl, ii., 580.

            4 Hercher, pp. 172-174.              5 Susemihl, ii., 580 f.

            6 Hercher, pp. 319-336.

            7 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Aristoteles und Athen, ii., pp. 391-399.

It is unfortunate that some of the most recent critics of Paul's Letters had

not those few pages before them. They might then have seen, perhaps,

both what a letter is, and what method is.

218, 219]             LETTERS AND EPISTLES.               27


detail, which, wherever we can test it, we recognise to be

historically accurate, and which, to a much greater extent,

we are not at all in a position to judge, is not found in

forgeries, unless they are meant to serve other than their

ostensible purposes. There can be no talk of that in the

case before us. In these letters some forms of expression

occur more than once (7, 11 = 8, 10), but there is nothing

extraordinary in that. If Isocrates wrote these we must

credit him with having issued many such compositions."1

These genuine letters of Isocrates are of interest also in

regard to their form, as they show "that Isocrates applied

his rhetorical style also to his letters. . . . Considered from

the point of view of style, they are not letters at all."2 The

author considers this fact to be very instructive in regard to

method; it confirms the thesis expressed above, viz., that in

answering the question as to what constitutes a true letter,

it is never the form which is decisive, but ultimately only

the intention of the writer; there ought not to be, but as a

matter of fact there are, letters which read like pamphlets;

there are epistles, again, which chatter so insinuatingly that

we forget that their daintiness is nothing but a suspicious

mask. Nor need one doubt, again, the genuineness of the

second letter—to King Philip:  "its contents are most un-

doubtedly personal".3 Letter 5, to Alexander, is likewise

genuine, "truly a fine piece of Isocratic finesse: it is genuine

—just because it is more profound than it seems, and because

it covertly refers to circumstances notoriously true".4 The

evidence for and against the genuineness of letter 6 is

evenly balanced.5 On the other hand, letters 3, 4 and 9 are

not genuine; are partly, in fact, forgeries with a purpose.6

This general result of the criticism is likewise of great value

in regard to method: we must abandon the mechanical idea

of a collection of letters, which would lead us to inquire as to

the genuineness of the collection as a whole, instead of

inquiring as to the genuineness of its component parts. Un-

discerning tradition may quite well have joined together one


            1 P. 391 f.                   2 P. 392.         3 P. 397.

            4 P. 399.                     5 P. 395.         6 Pp. 393-397.

28                          BIBLE STUDIES.                     [219, 220


or two unauthentic letters with a dozen of genuine ones;

and, again, a whole book of forged "letters" may be, so to

speak, the chaff in which good grains of wheat may hide

themselves from the eyes of the servants: when the son of

the house comes to the threshing-floor, he will discover them,

for he cannot suffer that anything be lost.—The letters of

the much-misunderstood Epicurus ( 270 B.C.) were collected

with great care by the Epicureans, and joined together with

those of his most distinguished pupils, Metrodorus, Polyaenus,

and Hermarchus, with additions from among the letters

which these had received from other friends,1 and have in

part come down to us. The author cannot refrain from

giving here2 the fragment of a letter of the philosopher to

his child (made known to us by the rolls of Herculaneum),

not, indeed, as being a monument of his philosophy, but be-

cause it is part of a letter which is as simple and affectionate,

as much a true letter, as that of Luther to his little son


            . . . [a]] feu<gmeqa ei]j La<myakon u[giai<nontes e]gw> kai> Puqo-

klh?j ka[i>    !Erm]arxoj kai> K[th<]sippoj, kai> e]kei? kateilh<famen

u[g[i]ai<nontaj qemi<stan kai> tou>j loipou>j [fi<]lo[u]j.  eu# de>

poie[i]j kai> su> e[i] u[]giai<neij kai> h[ m[a<]mmh  [s]ou kai> pa<p%

kai> Ma<trw[n]i pa<nta pe[i<]qh[i, w!sp]er kai> e@[m]prosqen.  eu#

ga>r i@sqi, h[ ai]ti<a, o!ti kai> e]gw> kai> o[i<]  loipoi> pa<ntej se me<ga

filou?men, o!ti tou<toij pei<q^ pa<nta . . . .


            Again in Latin literature we find a considerable num-

ber of real letters. "Letters, official3 as well as private,

make their appearance in the literature4 of Rome at an

early period, both by themselves and in historical works,5


            1 Susemihl, i., p. 96 f.; H. Usener, Epicurea, Leipzig, 1887, p. liv.

            2 From Usener's edition, p. 154.

            3 Of course, official letters, too, are primarily "true letters," not litera-

ture, even when they are addressed to a number of persons.—(This note and

the two following do not belong to the quotation from Teuffel-Schwabe.)

            4 Hence in themselves they are manifestly not literature.

            5 The insertion of letters in historical works was a very common literary

custom among the Greeks and Romans. It is to be classed along with the

insertion of public papers and longer or shorter speeches in a historical report.

If it holds good that such speeches are, speaking generally, to be regarded as

220, 221]            LETTERS AND EPISTLES.               29


and, soon thereafter, those of distinguished men in collec-

tions."1  We may refer to a single example—certainly a very

instructive one. Of Cicero ( 43 B.C.) we possess four collec-

tions of letters; in all 864, if we include the 90 addressed

to him. The earliest belongs to the year 68, the latest is

of the date 28th July, 43.2  "Their contents are both per-

sonal and political, and they form an inexhaustible source

for a knowledge of the period,3 though partly, indeed, of

such a kind that the publication of them was not to Cicero's

advantage. For the correspondence of such a man as Cicero,

who was accustomed to think so quickly and feel so strongly,

to whom it was a necessity that he should express his thoughts

and feelings as they came, either in words or in letters to

some confidential friend like Atticus, often affords a too

searching, frequently even an illusory,4 glance into his inmost

soul. Hence the accusers of Cicero gathered the greatest

part of their material from these letters."5  The letters show

a noteworthy variation of language: "in the letters to Atti-

cus or other well known friends Cicero abandons restraint,

while those to less intimate persons show marks of care and

elaboration".6  The history of the gathering together of

Cicero's letters is of great importance for a right understand-


the compositions of the historian, yet, in regard to letters and public papers,

the hypothesis of their authenticity should not be always summarily rejected.

In regard to this question, important as it also is for the criticism of the

biblical writings, see especially H. Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Uber die Reden and

Briefe bei Sallust, Leipzig, 1888, p. 1 ff., and the literature given in Scharer, i.,

p. 66, note 14 [Eng. Trans. I., I., p. 90]; also Teuffel-Schwabe, 1., p. 84,

pos. 3, and Westermann, i. (1851), p. 4.

            1 W. S. Teuffel's Geschichte der romischen Literatur, revised by L.

Schwabe i., Leipzig, 1890, p. 83.

            2 Teuffel-Schwabe, p. 356 ff.

            3 This point is also a very valuable one for the critic of the biblical

"letters" in the matter of method. For an estimation of the historical im-

portance of Cicero's letters, the author refers, further, to J. Bernays, Edward

Gibbon's Geschichtswerk in the Gesammelte Abhh. von J. B., edited by H.

Usener, ii., Berlin, 1885, p. 243, and E. Ruete, Die Correspondenz Ciceros in

den Jahren 44 and 43, Marburg, 1883, p. 1.

            4 The present writer would question this.

            5 Teuffel-Schwabe, i., p. 356 f.               6 Ibid., i., p. 357.

30                          BIBLE STUDIES.                     [221, 222


ing of similar literary transactions.  "Cicero did not himself

collect the letters he had written, still less publish them, but

even during his lifetime his intimate friends were already

harbouring such intentions."1  "After Cicero's death the

collecting and publishing of his letters was zealously pro-

moted; in the first place, undoubtedly, by Tiro, who, while

Cicero was still living, had resolved to collect his letters."2

Cornelius Nepos, according to a note in that part of his

biography of Atticus which was written before 34 B.C., had,

even by that date, a knowledge, from private sources, of the

letters to Atticus;3 "they were not as yet published, indeed,

as he expressly says, but, it would appear, already collected

with a view to publication. The first known mention of a

letter from Cicero's correspondence being published is found

at the earliest" in Seneca.4  The following details of the

work of collection may be taken as established.4 Atticus

negotiated the issue of the letters addressed to him, while

the others appear to have been published gradually by Tiro;

both editors suppressed their own letters to Cicero. Tiro

arranged the letters according to the individuals who had

received them, and published the special correspondence of

each in one or more volumes, according to the material he

had. Such special materials, again, as did not suffice for a

complete volume, as also isolated letters, were bound up in

miscellanea (embracing letters to two or more individuals),

while previously published collections were supplemented in

later issues by letters which had only been written subse-

quently, or subsequently rendered accessible. The majority

of these letters of Cicero are "truly confidential outpourings

of the feelings of the moment,"5 particularly those addressed

to Atticus—"confidential letters, in which the writer ex-


            1 Teuffel-Schwabe, p. 357, quotes in connection with this Cic. ad

Attic., 16, 55 (44 B.C.) mearum epistularum nulla est sunagwgh<, sed habet Tiro

instar LXX, et quidem sent a te quaedam sumendae; eas ego oportet perspiciam,

carrigam; tum denique edentur,—and to Tiro, Fam., 16, 171 (46 B.c.) tuas quo-

que epistulas vis referri in volumina.

            2 Teuffel-Schwabe, p. 357.                                 3 Ibid.

            4 Ibid., p. 358.                                                   5 Ibid., p. 83.


222, 223]           LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                 31


presses himself without a particle of constraint, and which

often contain allusions intelligible to the receiver alone. In

some parts they read like soliloquies."1 The authenticity

of the letters to Brutus, for instance, has been disputed by

many, but these assailants "have been worsted on all points,

and the authenticity is now more certain than ever. The

objections that have been urged against this collection, and

those, in particular, which relate to the contradictions be-

tween Cicero's confidential judgments upon individuals and

those he made publicly or in utterances of other times, are

of but little weight."2

            11. The fact that we know of a relatively large number

of literary letters, i.e., epistles, of ancient times, and that,

further, we possess many such, is a simple consequence of

their being literary productions. Literature is designed not

merely for the public of the time being; it is also for the

future. It has not been ascertained with certainty which

was the first instance of the literary letter in Greek litera-

ture. Susemihl3 is inclined to think that the epidictic

triflings of Lysias ( 379 B.C.) occupy this position—that is,

if they be authentic—but he certainly considers it possible

that they originated in the later Attic period. Aristotle em-

ployed the "imaginary letter" (fictiver Brief) for his Protrep-

tikos.4 We have "didactic epistles" of Epicurus, as also of

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and we may add to these such

writings of Plutarch as De Conjugalibus Praeceptis, De Tran-

quillitate Animi, De Animae Procreatione5—literary productions

to which one may well apply the words of an ancient expert

in such things,6 ou] ma> th>n a]lh<qeian e]pistolai> le<gointo a@n,

a]lla> suggra<mmata to> xai<rein e@xonta prosgegramme<non, and

ei] ga<r tij e]n e]pistol^? sofi<smata gra<fei kai> fusiologi<aj,


            1 Teuffel-Schwabe, i., p. 362.

            2 Ibid., p. 364. This is another point highly important in regard to

method,—for the criticism of the Pauline Letters in particular.

            3 ii., p. 600.

            4 Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Aristoteles und Athen, ii., p. 393.

            5 Westermann, i. (1851), p. 13. See Susemihl, ii., p. 601, for many

other examples in Greek literature.

            6 Demetr. de elocut., 22S (Hercher, p. 13), and 231 (H., p. 14).

32                            BIBLE STUDIES.                            [223, 224


grafei me<n, ou] mh>n e]pistolh>n gra<fei.1  Among the Romans,

M. Porcius Cato (149 B.C.) should probably be named as one

of the first writers of epistles;2 the best known, doubtless,

are Seneca and Pliny. L. Annaeus Seneca3 (165 A.D.) began

about the year 57—at a time when Paul was writing his

“great” letters—to write the Epistulae Morales to his friend

Lucilius, intending from the first that they should be pub-

lished; most probably the first three books were issued by

himself. Then in the time of Trajan, C. Plinius Caecilius

Secundus4 (ca. 113 A.D.) wrote and published nine books

of "letters"; the issue of the collection was already com-

plete by the time Pliny went to Bithynia. Then came his

correspondence with Trajan, belonging chiefly to the period of

his governorship in Bithynia (ca. September 111 to January

113). The letters of Pliny were likewise intended from the

first for publication, "and hence are far from giving the

same impression of freshness and directness as those of

Cicero";5 "with studied variety they enlarge upon a multi-

tude of topics, but are mainly designed to exhibit their author

in the most favourable light";6 "they exhibit him as an

affectionate husband, a faithful friend, a generous slaveholder,

a noble-minded citizen, a liberal promoter of all good causes,

an honoured orator and author";7 "on the other hand,

the correspondence with Trajan incidentally raises a sharp

contrast between the patience and quiet prudence of the

emperor and the struggling perplexity and self-importance

of his vicegerent".8  "All possible care has likewise been

bestowed upon the form of these letters."9

            There are several other facts illustrative of the extremely


            1 A saying of the Rhetor Aristides (2nd cent. B.c.) shows how well an

ancient epistolographer was able to estimate the literary character of his

compositions. In his works we find an e]pi>  ]Aleca<ndr& e]pita<fioj dedicated t^?

boul^? kai> t&? dh<m& Kotuae<wn, of which he himself says (i., p. 148, Dindorf),

o!per ge kai> e]n a]rx^? th?j e]pistolh?j ei#pon h} o! ti bou<lesqe kalei?n to> bibli<on.

Hence Westermann, iii. (1852), p. 4, applies to this and to another " letter "

of Aristides the name declamations epistolarum sub specie latentes.

            2 Teuffel-Schwabe, i., pp. 84, 197 f.                    3 Ibid., ii., p. 700.

            4 Ibid., ii., pp. 849, 851 ff.                                   5 Ibid., ii., p. 852.

            6 Ibid., ii., p. 849.                                               7 Ibid., ii., p. 852.

            8 Ibid.                                                               9 Ibid.

224, 225]              LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                    33


wide dissemination of the practice of epistle-writing among

the Greeks and Romans. The epistle, having once gained a

position as a literary eidos, became differentiated into a

whole series of almost independent forms of composition.

We should, in the first place, recall the poetical epistle1

(especially of Lucilius, Horace, Ovid); but there were also

juristic epistles—a literary form which probably originated

in the written responsa to questions on legal subjects;2

further, there were epistulae medicinales,3 gastronomic "letters,"4

etc. In this connection it were well to direct particular

attention to the great popularity of the epistle as the special

form of magical and religious literature. "All the Magic

Papyri are of this letter-form, and in all the ceremonial and

mystic literature—to say nothing of other kinds—it was the

customary form. At that time the pioneers of new religions

clothed their message in this form, and even when they

furnish their writings with a stereotype title of such a kind,

and with particularly sacred names, it would yet be doing

them an injustice simply to call them forgers."5

            12. A very brief reference to the pseudonymous epis-

tolography of antiquity is all that is required here. It will

be sufficient for us to realise the great vogue it enjoyed, after

the Alexandrian period, among the Greeks and subsequently

among the Romans. It is decidedly one of the most char-

acteristic features of post-classical literature. We already

find a number of the last-mentioned epistles bearing the

names of pretended authors; it is, indeed, difficult to draw

a line between the "genuine" and the fictitious epistles

when the two are set in contrast to letters really such.6 As

may be easily understood, pseudonymous epistolography

specially affected the celebrated names of the past, and not

least the names of those great men the real letters of whom

were extant in collections. The literary practice of using


            1 Teuffel-Schwabe, i., p. 39 f.     2 Ibid., i., p. 84.

            3 Ibid., i., p. 85.                         4 Susemihl, ii., p. 601.

            5 A. Dieterich, Abraxas, p. 161 f. Particular references will be found

there and specially in Fleck. Jbb. Suppl. xvi. (1888), p. 757.

            6 Cf. pp. 15 and 20 above.

34                   BIBLE STUDIES.                                          [225, 226


assumed or protective names was found highly convenient by

such obscure people as felt that they must make a contribu-

tion to literature of a page or two; they did not place their own

names upon their books, for they had the true enough pre-

sentiment that these would be a matter of indifference to their

contemporaries and to posterity, nor did they substitute for

them some unknown Gaius or Timon: what they did was to

write "letters" of Plato or Demosthenes, of Aristotle or

his royal pupil, of Cicero, Brutus or Horace. It would be

superfluous in the meantime to go into particulars about any

specially characteristic examples, the more so as the present

position of the investigation still makes it difficult for us to

assign to each its special historical place, but at all events

the pseudonymous epistolography of antiquity stands out

quite clearly as a distinct aggregate of literary phenomena.

Suffice it only to refer further to what may be very well

gleaned from a recent work,1 viz., that the early imperial

period was the classical age of this most unclassical manu-

facturing of books.



            13. The author's purpose was to write Prolegomena to

the biblical letters and epistles: it may seem now to be high

time that he came to the subject. But he feels that he

might now break off, and still confidently believe that he has

not neglected his task. What remains to be said is really

implied in the foregoing pages. It was a problem in the

method of literary history which urged itself upon him; he

has solved it, for himself at least, in laying bare the roots by

which it adheres to the soil on which flourished aforetime

the spacious garden of God—Holy Scripture.

            To the investigator the Bible offers a large number of

writings bearing a name which appears to be simple, but

which nevertheless conceals within itself that same problem

—a name which every child seems to understand, but upon

which, nevertheless, the learned man must ponder deeply


            1 J. F. Marcks, Symbola critica ad Epistolorgraphos Graecos, Bonn, 1883.

226, 227]        LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                 35


if ever he will see into the heart of the things called by it.

"Letters"! How long did the author work with this term

without having ever once reflected on what it meant; how

long did it accompany him through his daily task in science

without his observing the enigma that was inscribed on its

work-a-day face! Others may have been more knowing:

the author's experiences were like those of a man who

plants a vineyard without being able to distinguish the

true vine-shoots from the suckers of the wild grape. That

was, of course, a sorry plight—as bad as if one were to

labour upon Attic tragedies without knowing what an Attic

tragedy is. One may, indeed, write a letter without

necessarily knowing what a letter is. The best letter-

writers have certainly not cherished any doctrinaire opinions

on the subject. The ancient Greek and Latin "guides to

letter-writing"1 appeared long after Cicero: neither did the

Apostles, for that matter, know anything of Halieutics.

But if one is to understand those literary memorials in the

Bible which have come to us under the name of "letters,"

and to make them intelligible to others, the first condition

is, of course, that one must have an historical comprehen-

sion of his purpose, must have previously divested the

problematic term of its problematic character:  ou] ga>r e]peidh>

e]pistolh> prosagoreu<etai e[nik&? o]no<mati, h@dh kai> pasw?n tw?n

kata> to>n bi<on ferome<nwn e]pistolw?n ei$j tij e]sti xarakth>r kai>

mi<a proshgori<a, a]lla> dia<foroi, kaqw>j e@fhn.2 If we rightly

infer, from an investigation of ancient literature, that the

familiar term "letter" must be broken up—above all, into the

two chief categories real letter and epistle, then the biblical

"letters" likewise must be investigated from this point of


            1 Cf. on this Westermann, (1851), p. 9 f. For Greek theorists in

letter-writing, see Hercher, pp. 1-16; for the Latin, the Rhetores Latini,

minores, em., C. Halm, fasc. ii., Leipzig, 1863, pp. 447 f. and 589.

            2 [Pseudo-]Procl. De Forma Epistolari (Hercher, p. 6 f.). This quota-

tion, it is true, refers not to the various logical divisions of the concept

"letter," but to the 41 [!] various sub-classes of true letters. The process of

distinguishing these various classes ([Pseudo-]Demetr. [Hercher, p. 1 ff.]

similarly enumerates 21 categories) is, in its details, sometimes very extra-


36                           BIBLE STUDIES.                     [228


view. Just as the language of the Bible ought to be studied

in its actual historical context of contemporary language;1

just as its religious and ethical contents must be studied in

their actual historical context of contemporary religion and

civilisation2—so the biblical writings, too, in the literary in-

vestigation of them, ought not to be placed in an isolated posi-

tion. The author speaks of the biblical writings, not of the bibli-

cal literature. To apply the designation literature to certain

portions of the biblical writings would be an illegitimate

procedure. Not all that we find printed in books at the pre-

sent day was literature from the first. A comparison of the

biblical writings, in their own proper character, with the

other writings of antiquity, will show us that in each case

there is a sharp distinction between works which were

literature from the first and writings which only acquired

that character later on, or will show, at least, that we must

so distinguish them from each other. This is nowhere more

evident than in the case under discussion. When we make

the demand that the biblical "letters" are to be set in their

proper relation to ancient letter-writing as a whole, we

do not thereby imply that they are products of ancient

epistolography; but rather that they shall be investigated

simply with regard to the question, how far the categories

implied in the problematic term letter are to be employed

in the criticism of them. We may designate our question

regarding the biblical letters and epistles as a question

regarding the literary character of the writings transmitted

by the Bible under the name letters,3 but the question re-

garding their literary character must be so framed that the

answer will affirm the preliterary character, probably of

some, possibly of all.


            1 Cf. p. 63 ff.

            2 The author has already briefly expressed these ideas about the history

of biblical religion in the essay Zur Methode der Biblischen, Theologie des

Neuen Testamentes, Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche, iii. (1893), pp. 126-139.

            3 E. P. Gould, in an article entitled "The Literary Character of St.

Paul's Letters" in The Old and New Testament Student, vol. xi. (1890), pp.

71 ff. and 134 ff., seems to apply the same question to some at least of the

biblical "letters," but in reality his essay has an altogether different purpose.

229]                 LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                        37


            The latter has been maintained by F. Overbeck,1—at

least in regard to the "letters" in the New Testament. He

thinks that the Apostolic letters belong to a class of writings

which we ought not to place in the province of literature at

all;2 the writer of a letter has, as such, no concern with

literature whatever,—"because for every product of litera-

ture it is essential that its contents have an appropriate

literary form".3 The written words of a letter are nothing

but the wholly inartificial and incidental substitute for

spoken words. As the letter has a quite distinct and

transitory motive, so has it also a quite distinct and re-

stricted public—not necessarily merely one individual, but

sometimes, according to circumstances, a smaller or larger

company of persons: in any case, a circle of readers which

can be readily brought before the writer's mind and dis-

tinctly located in the field of inward vision. A work of

literature, on the other hand, has the widest possible pub-

licity in view: the literary man's public is, so to speak, an

imaginary one, which it is the part of the literary work to

find.4 Though Overbeck thus indicates with proper precision

the fundamental difference between the letter and literature,


            1 Uber die Anfange der patrristischen Litteratur in the Historische Zeit-

schrift, 48, Neue Folge 12 (1882), p. 429 ff. The present writer cannot but

emphasise how much profitable stimulation in regard to method he has

received from this essay, even though he differs from the essayist on im-

portant points.

            2 P. 429, and foot of p. 428.

            3 P. 429. Overbeck would seem sometimes not to be quite clear with

regard to the term form, which he frequently uses. The author understands

the word in the above quotation in the same way as in the fundamental pro-

position on p. 423: "In the forms of literature is found its history". Here

form can be understood only as Eidos. The forms of literature are, e.g.,

Epos, Tragedy, History, etc. Overbeck, in his contention that the form is

essential for the contents of a literary work, is undoubtedly correct, if he is

referring to the good old ei@dh of literature. No one, for example, will expect

a comedy to incite fo<boj kai> e@leoj. But the contention is not correct when it

refers to such a subordinate literary Eidos as the epistle. The epistle may

treat of all possible subjects—and some others as well. And therefore when

all is said, it is literature, a literary form—even when only a bad form


            4 P. 429.

38                    BIBLE STUDIES.                     [229, 230


yet he has overlooked the necessary task of investigating

whether the Apostolic letters—either as a whole or in part

—may not be epistles, and this oversight on his part is the

more extraordinary, since he quite clearly recognises the dis-

tinction between the letter and the epistle. He speaks, at

least, of "artificial letters," and contrasts them with "true

letters";1 in point of fact, he has the right feeling,2 that

there are some of the New Testament letters, the form of

which is quite obviously not that of a letter at all, viz., the

so-called Catholic Epistles: in some of these the form of

address, being so indefinite and general, does not correspond

to what we expect in a letter, and, in fact, constitutes a

hitherto unsolved problem. Hence he is inclined to class

them along with those New Testament writings "which, in

their own proper and original form, certainly belong to

literature,3 but which, in consideration of the paucity of

their different forms, must not be thought of as qualifying

the New Testament to be ranked historically as the be-

ginning of that literature". Easy as it would have been

to characterise the "letters," thus so aptly described, as

epistles, Overbeck has yet refrained from doing this, and

though he seems, at least, to have characterised them as

literature, yet he pointedly disputes4 the contention that

Christian literature begins with "the New Testament,"—

that is, in possible case, with these letters,—and he ex-

pressly says that the "artificial letter" remains wholly

outside of the sphere of this discussion.5

            14. The present writer would assert, as against this,

that "in the New Testament," and not only there but also

in the literature of the Jews as well as of the Christians of

post-New-Testament times, the transmitted "letters" permit

of quite as marked a division into real letters and epistles, as

is the case in ancient literature generally.


            14. Most investigators of the New Testament letters

seem to overlook the fact that this same profound difference


            1 P. 429 at the top.                     2 P. 431 f.

            3 Overbeck here means the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and Revelation.

            4 P. 426 IL                                5 P. 429.

231]                 LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                   39


already manifests itself clearly in the "letters" found

among the writings of pre-Christian Judaism. Looking

at the writings of early Christianity from the standpoint

of literary history, we perceive that Jewish literature1 was

precisely the literary sphere from which the first Christians

could most readily borrow and adopt something in the way

of forms, ei@dh, of composition.2  If, therefore, the existence of

the ei#doj of the epistle can be demonstrated in this possibly

archetypal sphere, our inquiry regarding the early Christian

"letters" manifestly gains a more definite justification.

Should the doubt be raised as to whether it is conceivable

that a line of demarcation, quite unmistakably present in

"profane" literature, should have also touched the outlying

province of the New Testament, that doubt will be stilled

when it is shown that this line had actually long intersected

the sphere of Jewish literature, which may have been the

model for the writers of the New Testament. Between the

ancient epistles and what are (possibly) the epistles of early

Christianity, there subsists a literary, a morphological connec-

tion; if it be thought necessary to establish a transition-link,

this may quite well be found in the Jewish epistles. The

way by which the epistle entered the sphere of Jewish author-

ship is manifest: Alexandria, the classical soil of the epistle

and the pseudo-epistle, exercised its Hellenising influence


            1 Not solely, of course, those writings which we now recognise as


            2 The influence of a Jewish literary form can be clearly seen at its best

in the Apocalypse of John. But also the Acts of the Apostles (which, along

with the Gospels, the present writer would, contra Overbeck, characterise as

belonging already to Christian literature) has its historical prototype, in the

matter of form, in the Hellenistic writing of annals designed for the edifi-

cation of the people. What in the Acts of the Apostles recalls the literary

method of "profane" historical literature (e.g., insertion of speeches, letters,

and official papers), need not be accounted for by a competent knowledge of

classical authors on the part of the writer of it; it may quite well be ex-

plained by the influence of its Jewish prototypes. When the Christians

began to make literature, they adopted their literary forms, even those

which have the appearance of being Graeco-Roman, from Greek Judaism, with

the single exception of the Evangelium—a literary form which originated

within Christianity itself.

40                       BIBLE STUDIES.                          [232


upon Judaism in this matter as in others. We know not

who the first Jewish epistolographer may have been, but it

is, at least, highly probable that he was an Alexandrian.

The taking over of the epistolary form was facilitated for

him by the circumstance that already in the ancient and

revered writings of his nation there was frequent mention

of "letters," and that, as a matter of fact, he found a number

of "letters" actually given verbatim in the sacred text.

Any one who read the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah

with the eyes of an Alexandrian Hellenist, found, in chap.

29 (the prophet's message to the captives in Babylon),1

something which to his morbid literary taste seemed like an

epistle. As a matter of fact, this message is a real letter.

perhaps indeed the only genuine one we have from Old

Testament times; a real letter, which only became literature

by its subsequent admission into the book of the Prophet.

As it now stands in the book, it is to be put in exactly the

same class as all other real letters which were subsequently

published. In its origin, in its purpose, Jer. 29, being a

real letter, is non-literary, and hence, of course, we must not

ask after a literary prototype for it. The wish to discover

the first Israelitic or first Christian letter-writer would be

as foolish as the inquiry regarding the beginnings of Jewish

and, later, of Christian, epistolography is profitable and

necessary; besides, the doctrinaire inquirer would be cruelly

undeceived when the sublime simplicity of the historical

reality smiled at him from the rediscovered first Christian

letter—its pages perhaps infinitely paltry in their contents:

some forgotten cloak may have been the occasion of it—

who will say? Jer. 29 is not, of course, a letter such as

anybody might dash off in an idle moment; nay, lightnings

quiver between the lines, Jahweh speaks in wrath or in

blessing,—still, although a Jeremiah wrote it, although it

be a documentary fragment of the history of the people and

the religion of Israel, it is still a letter, neither less nor more.

The antithesis of it in that respect is not wanting.  There


            1 It is, of course, possible, in these merely general observations, to avoid

touching on the question of the integrity of this message.

233]            LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                            41


has been transmitted to us, among the Old Testament

Apocryphal writings, a little book bearing the name e]pistolh>

 [Ieremi<ou.  If Jer. 29 is a letter of the prophet Jeremiah,

this is an Epistle of "Jeremiah". Than the latter, we could

know no more instructive instance for the elucidation of the

distinction between letter and epistle, or for the proper

appreciation of the idea of pseudonymity in ancient litera-

ture. The Greek epistolography of the Alexandrian period

constituted the general literary impulse of the writer of the

Epistle of "Jeremiah," while the actual existence of a real

letter of Jeremiah constituted the particular impulse. He

wrote an epistle,—as did the other great men of the day: he

wrote an epistle of "Jeremiah," just as the others may have

fabricated, say, epistles of "Plato". We can distinctly see,

in yet another passage, how the motive to epistolography

could be found in the then extant sacred writings of

Judaism. The canonical Book of Esther speaks, in two

places, of royal letters, without giving their contents: a

sufficient reason for the Greek reviser to sit down and

manufacture them, just as the two prayers, only mentioned

in the original, are given by him in full!1

            Having once gained a footing, epistolography must

have become very popular in Greek Judaism; we have still

a whole series of Graeco-Jewish "letters," which are un-

questionably epistles. The author is not now thinking of

the multitude of letters, ascribed to historical personages,

which are inserted in historical works2; in so far as these

are unauthentic, they are undoubtedly of an epistolary


            1 The following is also instructive: It is reported at the end of the

Greek Book of Esther that the "Priest and Levite" Dositheus and his son

Ptolemaeus, had "brought hither" (i.e., to Egypt) the e]pistolh> tw?n Frourai<

(concerning the Feast of Purim) from Esther and Mordecai (LXX Esther

929, cf. 20), which was translated (into Greek) by Lysimachus, the son of

Ptolemaeus in Jerusalem. It would thus seem that a Greek letter concern-

ing Purim, written by Esther and Mordecai, was known in Alexandria. It

is not improbable that the alleged bearers of the "letter" were really the

authors of it.

            2 The Books of Maccabees, Epistle of Aristeas, specially also Eupolemos

(cf. thereon J. Freudenthal, Hellenistische Studien, part i. and ii., Breslau,

1875, p. 106 ff.), Josephus.

42                              BIBLE STUDIES.                            [234


character, but they belong less to the investigation of

epistolography than to the development of historical style.

We should rather call to mind books and booklets like the

Epistle of Aristeas, the two1 epistles at the beginning of the

2nd Book of Maccabees, the Epistle of "Baruch" to the nine and

a half tribes in captivity, attached to the Apocalypse of

Baruch,2 perhaps the twenty-eighth "Letter of Diogenes,"3 and

certain portions of the collection of "letters" which bears the

name of Heraclitus.4


            15. Coming, then, to the early Christian "letters" with

our question, letter or epistle? it will be our first task to de-

termine the character of the "letters" transmitted to us

under the name of Paul. Was Paul a letter-writer or an

epistolographer? The question is a sufficiently pressing one,

in view of the exceedingly great popularity of epistolography

in the Apostle's time. Nor can we forthwith answer it,

even leaving the Pastoral epistles out of consideration, and

attending in the first place only to those whose genuineness

is more or less established. The difficulty is seen in its

most pronounced form when we compare the letter to

Philemon with that to the Romans; here we seem to have

two such heterogeneous compositions that it would appear

questionable whether we should persist in asking the above

disjunctive question. May not Paul have written both

letters and epistles? It would certainly be preposterous to

assume, a priori, that the "letters" of Paul must be either

all letters or all epistles. The inquiry must rather be

directed upon each particular "letter"—a task the ful-  

filment of which lies outside the scope of the present


            1 C. Bruston (Trois lettres des Juifs de Palestine, ZAW. x. [1890], pp.

110-117) has recently tried to show that 2 Macc. 11-218 contains not two but

three letters (11-7a, 1 7b-10a, 1 10b-218).

            2 Unless this be of Christian times, as appears probable to the present

writer. In any case it is an instructive analogy for the literary criticism of

the Epistle of James and the First Epistle of Peter.

            3  Cf. J. Bernays, Lucian and die Kyniker, Berlin, 1879, p. 96 ff.

            4 J. Bernays, Die heraklitisclien Briefe, Berlin, 1869, particularly p.

61 ff.

235]              LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                      43


methodological essay.1 But, as it is, the author may

here at least indicate his opinion.

            It appears to him quite certain that the authentic

writings of the Apostle are true letters, and that to think

of them as epistles2 is to take away what is best in them.

They were, of course, collected, and treated as literature—in


            1 At some future time the author may perhaps pursue the subject

further. He hopes then to treat also of so-called formal matters (form of

the address, of the beginning and the end, style of letter, etc.), for which he

has already gathered some materials.

            2 But seldom has this been more distinctly maintained than quite re-

cently by A. Gercke, who designates the letters of Paul, in plain language,

as "treatises in the form of letters" (GGA., 1894, p. 577). But this great

and widely-prevalent misconception of the matter stretches back in its be-

ginnings to the early years of the Christian Church. Strictly speaking, it

began with the first movements towards the canonisation of the letters.

Canonisation was possible only when the non-literary (and altogether un-

canonical) character of the messages had been forgotten; when Paul, from

being an Apostle, had become a literary power and an authority of the past.

Those by whom the letters were treated as elements of the developing New

Testament considered the Apostle to be an epistolographer. Further, the

pseudo-Pauline "letters," including the correspondence between Paul and

Seneca, are evidences of the fact that the writers of them no longer under-

stood the true nature of the genuine letters; the bringing together of the

Apostle and the epistolographer Seneca is in itself a particularly significant

fact. We may also mention here the connecting—whether genuine or not—

of Paul with the Attic orators (in the Rhetorician Longinus: cf. J. L.

Hug, Einleitung in die Schriften des Neuen Testaments, ii.3, Stuttgart and

Tubingen, 1826, p. 334 ff.; Heinrici, Das zweite Sendschreiben des Ap. P. an

die Korinthier, p. 578). The same position is held very decidedly by A.

Scultetus († 1624), according to whom the Apostle imitates the "letters" of

Heraclitus (cf. Bernays, Die heraklitischen, Briefe, p. 151). How well the

misunderstanding still flourishes, how tightly it shackles both the criticism

of the Letters and the representation of Paulinism, the author will not

further discuss at present; he would refer to his conclusions regarding

method at the end of this essay. In his opinion, one of the most pertinent

things that have been of late written on the true character of Paul's letters

is § 70 of Reuss's Introduction (Die Geschichte der heiligen Schrr. N.T.

P. 70). Mention may also be made—reference to living writers being omitted

—of A. Ritschl's Die christl. Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versohnung, ii.3,

P. 22. Supporters of the correct view were, of course, not wanting even in

earlier times. Compare the anonymous opinion in the Codex Barberinus,

iii., 36 (saec. xi.): e]pistolai> Pau<lou kalou?ntai, e]peidh> tau<taj o[ Pau?loj i]di<% e]pi-

ste<llei kai> di ] au]tw?n ou{j me>n h@dh e[w<rake kai> e]di<dacen u[pomimnh<skei kai>

e]pidiorqou?tai, ou{j de> mh> e[w<rake spouda<zei kathxei?n kai> dida<skein in E. Klostermann's

Analecta zur Septuaginta, Hexapla und Patristik, Leipzig, 1895, p. 95.

44                            BIBLE STUDIES.                        [236, 237


point of fact, as literature in the highest sense, as canonical

—at an early period. But that was nothing more than an

after-experience of the letters, for which there were many

precedents in the literary development sketched above.

But this after-experience cannot change their original char-

acter, and our first task must be to ascertain what this

character actually is. Paul had no thought of adding a

few fresh compositions to the already extant Jewish epistles,

still less of enriching the sacred literature of his nation;

no, every time he wrote, he had some perfectly definite

impulse in the diversified experiences of the young Christian

churches. He had no presentiment of the place his words

would occupy in universal history; not so much as that

they would still be in existence in the next generation, far

less that one day the people would look upon them as Holy

Scripture. We now know them as coming down from the

centuries with the literary patina and the nimbus of canoni-

city upon them; should we desire to attain a historical

estimate of their proper character, we must disregard both.

Just as we should not allow the dogmatic idea of the mass

to influence our historical consideration of the last Supper

of Jesus with His disciples, nor the liturgical notions of a

prayerbook-commission to influence our historical considera-

tion of the Lord's Prayer, so little dare we approach the

letters of Paul with ideas about literature and notions

about the canon. Paul had better work to do than the

writing of books, and he did not flatter himself that he

could write Scripture; he wrote letters, real letters, as did

Aristotle and Cicero, as did the men and women of the

Fayyum. They differ from the messages of the homely

Papyrus leaves from Egypt not as letters, but only as the

letters of Paul. No one will hesitate to grant that the

Letter to Philemon has the character of a letter. It must

be to a large extent a mere doctrinaire want of taste that

could make any one describe this gem, the preservation of

which we owe to some fortunate accident, as an essay, say,

"on the attitude of Christianity to slavery". It is rather a

letter, full of a charming, unconscious naivete, full of kindly

237, 238]               LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                     45


human nature. It is thus that Epicurus writes to his

child, and Moltke to his wife: no doubt Paul talks of other

matters than they do—no one letter, deserving the name, has

ever looked like another—but the Apostle does exactly what

is done by the Greek philosopher and the German officer.

            It is also quite clear that the note of introduction

contained in Rom. 16 is of the nature of a true letter.

No one, it is to be hoped, will make the objection that

it is directed to a number of persons—most likely the

Church at Ephesus; the author thinks that he has made

it probable that the number of receivers is of no account

in the determination of the nature of a letter.1  But

the Letter to the Philippians is also as real a letter as

any that was ever written. Here a quite definite situation

of affairs forced the Apostle to take up his pen, and the

letter reflects a quite definite frame of mind, or, at least,

enables us to imagine it. The danger of introducing into

our investigation considerations which, so far as concerns

method,2 are irrelevant, is, of course, greater in this case.

Some reader will again be found to contend that, in con-

trast to the private letter to Philemon, we have here a

congregational letter: some one, again, who is convinced of

the valuelessness of this distinction, will bring forward the

peculiarity of the contents the letter is of a "doctrinal"

character, and should thus be designated a doctrinal letter.

This peculiarity must not be denied—though, indeed, the

author has misgivings about applying the term doctrine to

the Apostle's messages; the "doctrinal" sections of the

letters impress him more as being of the nature of con-

fessions and attestations. But what is added towards the

answering of our question letter or epistle? by the expression


            1  Cf. pp. 4 and 18 f.

            2 The relative lengthiness of the letter must also be deemed an

irrelevant consideration—one not likely, as the author thinks, to be ad-

vanced. The difference between a letter and an epistle cannot be decided

by the tape-line. Most letters are shorter than the Letter to the Philip-

pians, shorter still than the "great" Pauline letters. But there are also

quite diminutive epistles: a large number of examples are to be found in the

collection of Hercher.

46                       BIBLE STUDIES.                       [238, 239


"doctrinal" letter—however pertinent a term? If a letter

is intended to instruct the receiver, or a group of receivers,

does it thereby cease to be a letter? A worthy pastor, let

us say, writes some stirring words to his nephew at the

university, to the effect that he should not let the "faith"

be shaken by professorial wisdom; and he refutes point by

point the inventions of men. Perhaps, when he himself

was a student, he received some such sincere letters from

his father against the new orthodoxy which was then, in its

turn, beginning to be taught. Do such letters forthwith

become tractates simply because they are "doctrinal"?1

We must carefully guard against an amalgamation of the

two categories doctrinal letter and epistle. If any one be so

inclined, he may break up the letter into a multitude of

subdivisions: the twenty-one or forty-one tu<poi of the old

theorists2 may be increased to whatever extent one wishes.


            1 At the present day it would be difficult enough, in many cases, to

determine forthwith the character of such letters. For instance, the so-

called Pastoral Letters of bishops and general superintendents might almost

always be taken as epistles, not, indeed, because they are official, but because

they are designed for a public larger than the address might lead one to

suppose. Further, at the present day they are usually printed from the outset.

An example from the Middle Ages, the "letter" of Gregory VII. to Hermann

of Metz, dated the 15th March, 1081, has been investigated in regard to its

literary character by C. Mirbt, Die Publizistik im Zeitalter Gregors VII.,

Leipzig, 1894, p. 23. Cf., on p. 4 of the same work, the observations on

literary publicity. The defining lines are more easily drawn in regard to

antiquity. A peculiar hybrid phenomenon is found in the still extant cor-

respondence of Abelard and Heloise. It is quite impossible to say exactly

where the letters end and the epistles begin. Heloise writes more in the

style of the letter, Abelard more in that of the epistle. There had, of course,

been a time when both wrote differently: the glow of feeling which, in the

nun's letters, between biblical and classical quotations, still breaks occa-

sionally into a flame of passion, gives us an idea of how Heloise may once

have written, when it was impossible for her to act against his wish, and

when she felt herself altogether guilty and yet totally innocent. Neither,

certainly, did Abelard, before the great sorrow of his life had deprived him

of both his nature and his naturalness, write in the affected style of the

convert weary of life, whose words like deadly swords pierced the soul of the

woman who now lived upon memories. In his later "letters" he kept, though

perhaps only unconsciously, a furtive eye upon the public into whose hands

they might some day fall—and then he was no longer a letter-writer at all.

            2 See p. 35.

239, 240]                  LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                     47


The author has no objection to any one similarly breaking up

the Pauline letters into several subdivisions, and subsuming

some of them under the species doctrinal letter; only one

should not fondly imagine that by means of the doctrinal

letter he has bridged over the great gulf between letter and

epistle. The pre-literary character even of the doctrinal

letter must be maintained.

            This also holds good of the other Letters of Paul, even of

the "great Epistles". They, too, are partly doctrinal; they

contain, in fact, theological discussions: but even in these, the

Apostle had no desire to make literature. The Letter to the

Galatians is not a pamphlet "upon the relation of Christianity

to Judaism," but a message sent in order to bring back the

foolish Galatians to their senses. The letter can only be

understood in the light of its special purpose as such.1  How

much more distinctly do the Letters to the Corinthians bear the

stamp of the true letter! The second of them, in particular,

reveals its true character in every line; in the author's

opinion, it is the most letter-like of all the letters of Paul,

though that to Philemon may appear on the surface to have

a better claim to that position. The great difficulty in the

understanding of it is due to the very fact that it is so truly

a letter, so full of allusions and familiar references, so per-

vaded with irony and with a depression which struggles

against itself—matters of which only the writer and the

readers of it understood the purport, but which we, for the

most part, can ascertain only approximately. What is

doctrinal in it is not there for its own sake, but is altogether

subservient to the purpose of the letter. The nature of the

letters which were brought to the Corinthians by the fellow-

workers of Paul, was thoroughly well understood by the

receivers themselves, else surely they would hardly have

allowed one or two of them to be lost. They agreed, in fact,

with Paul, in thinking that the letters had served their

purpose when once they had been read. We may most

deeply lament that they took no trouble to preserve the

letters, but it only shows lack of judgment to reproach


            1 Cf. the observations upon this letter in the Spicilegium below.

48                         BIBLE STUDIES.                      [240, 24]


them on this account. A letter is something ephemeral,

and must be so by its very nature;1 it has as little desire

to be immortal as a tete-et-tete has to be minuted, or an

alms to be entered in a ledger. In particular, the temper

of mind in which Paul and his Churches passed their

days was not such as to awaken in them an interest for

the centuries to come. The Lord was at hand; His advent

was within the horizon of the times, and such an anticipa-

tion has nothing in common with the enjoyment of the

contemplative book-collector. The one-sided religious temper

of mind has never yet had any affection for such things as

interest the learned. Modern Christians have become more

prosaic. We institute collections of archives, and found

libraries, and, when a prominent man dies, we begin to

speculate upon the destination of his literary remains:  all

this needs a hope less bold and a faith less simple than

belonged to the times of Paul. From the point of view

of literature, the preservation even of two letters to the

Corinthians is a secondary and accidental circumstance,

perhaps owing, in part, to their comparative lengthiness,

which saved them from immediate destruction.

            The Letter to the Romans is also a real letter. No doubt

there are sections in it which might also stand in an epistle;

the whole tone of it, generally speaking, stamps it as different

from the other Pauline letters. But nevertheless it is not

a book, and the favourite saying that it is a compendium of

Paulinism, that the Apostle has, in it, laid down his Dog-

matics and his Ethics, certainly manifests an extreme lack

of taste. No doubt Paul wanted to give instruction, and

he did it, in part, with the help of contemporary theology, but

he does not think of the literary public of his time, or of

Christians in general, as his readers; he appeals to a little

company of men, whose very existence, one may say, was

unknown to the public at large, and who occupied a special

position within Christianity. It is unlikely that the Apostle


            1 This explains why, of the extant "letters" of celebrated men who

have written both letters and epistles, it is the latter that have, in general,

been preserved in larger numbers than the former. Compare, for instance,

the extant "letters" of Origen.

241, 242]                  LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                 49


would send copies of the letter to the brethren in Ephesus,

Antioch or Jerusalem; it was to Rome that he despatched

it: nor did the bearer of it go to the publishers in the

Imperial City,1 but rather to some otherwise unknown

brother in the Lord—just like many another passenger by the

same ship of Corinth, hastening one to that house, another

to this, there to deliver a message by word of mouth, here

to leave a letter or something else. The fact that the Letter

to the Romans is not so enlivened by personal references as

the other letters of Paul is explained by the conditions under

which it was written: he was addressing a Church which

he did not yet personally know. Considered in the light of

this fact, the infrequence of personal references in the letter

lends no support to its being taken as a literary epistle; it is

but the natural result of its non-literary purpose. Moreover,

Paul wrote even the "doctrinal" portions in his heart's

blood. The words talai<pwroj e]gw> a@nqrwpoj are no cool

rhetorical expression of an objective ethical condition, but

the impressive indication of a personal ethical experience: it

is not theological paragraphs which Paul is writing here,

but his confessions.

            Certain as it seems to the author that the authentic

messages of Paul are letters, he is equally sure that we

have also a number of epistles from New Testament times.

They belong, as such, to the beginnings of "Christian litera-

ture". The author considers the Letter to the Hebrews as

most unmistakably of all an epistle. It professes, in chap.

1322, to be a lo<goj th?j paraklh<sewj, and one would have no

occasion whatever to consider it anything but a literary ora-

tion--hence not as an epistle2 at all—if the e]pe<steila and


            1 It is a further proof of these "epistles" being letters that we know

the bearers of some of them. The epistle as such needs no bearer, and

should it name one it is only as a matter of form. It is a characteristic cir-

cumstance that the writer of the epistle at the end of the Apocalypse of

Baruch sends his booklet to the receivers by an eagle. Paul uses men as his

messengers: he would not have entrusted a letter to eagles —they fly too high.

            2 Nor, strictly speaking, can we count the First Epistle of John as an

epistle—on the ground, that is, that the address must have disappeared. It

50                        BIBLE STUDIES.                       [242, 243


the greetings at the close did not permit of the supposition

that it had at one time opened with something of the nature

of an address as well. The address has been lost; it might

all the more easily fall out as it was only a later insertion.

The address is, indeed, of decisive importance for the under-

standing of a letter, but in an epistle it is an unessential

element. In the letter, the address occupies, so to speak,

the all-controlling middle-ground of the picture; in the

epistle it is only ornamental detail. Any given lo<goj can be

made an epistle by any kind of an address. The Epistle

to the Hebrews stands on the same literary plane as the

Fourth Book of Maccabees, which describes itself as a

filosofw<tatoj lo<goj; the fact that the latter seems to

avoid the appearance of being an epistle constitutes a purely

external difference between them, and one which is im-

material for the question regarding their literary character.—

The author is chiefly concerned about the recognition of the

"Catholic" Epistles, or, to begin with, of some of them at

least, as literary epistles. With a true instinct, the ancient

Church placed these Catholic Epistles as a special group over

against the Pauline. It seems to the author that the idea

of their catholicity, thus assumed, is to be understood from

the form of address in the "letters," and not primarily from

the special character of their contents.1 They are composi-


is a brochure, the literary eidos of which cannot be determined just at once.

But the special characterisation of it does not matter, if we only recognise

the literary character of the booklet. That it could be placed among the

"letters" (i.e., in this case, epistles) of the N.T., is partly explained by the

fact that it is allied to them in character: literature associated with litera-

ture. Hence the present writer cannot think that Weiss (Meyer, xiv.5 [1888],

p. 15) is justified in saying: "It is certainly a useless quarrel about words to

refuse to call such a composition a letter in the sense of the New Testament

letter-literature". The question letter or epistle? is in effect the necessary pre-

condition for the understanding of the historical facts of the case. The

“sense” of the New Testament letter-literature, which Weiss seems to assume

as something well known, but which forms our problem, cannot really be

ascertained without first putting that question.—The author does not venture

here to give a decision regarding the Second and Third Epistles of John; the

question "letter or epistle?" is particularly difficult to answer in these cases.

            1 This idea of a catholic writing is implied in the classification of the

Aristotelian writings which is given by the philosopher David the Armenian

243, 244]           LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                    51


tions addressed to Christians—one might perhaps say the

Church—in general. The catholicity of the address implies,

of course, a catholicity in the contents. What the Church

calls catholic, we require only to call epistle, and the un-

solved enigma with which, according to Overbeck,1 they

present us, is brought nearer to a solution. The special

position of these "letters," which is indicated by their

having the attribute catholic instinctively applied to them,

is due precisely to their literary character; catholic means

in this connection literary. The impossibility of recognising

the "letters" of Peter, James and Jude as real letters fol-

lows directly from the peculiarity in the form of their

address. Any one who writes to the elect who are sojourners

of the Diaspora in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and

Bithynia, or to the twelve tribes which are of the Diaspora, or

even to them which have obtained a like precious faith with us,

or to them that are called, beloved in God the Father and kept

for Jesus Christ, must surely have reflected on the question

as to what means he must employ in order to convey his

message to those so addressed. Quite similarly does that

other early Christian epistle still bear the address to the

Hebrews; quite similarly does the author of the epistle at

the close of the Apocalypse of Baruch write to the nine-and-a-

half tribes of the Captivity, and Pseudo-Diogenes, ep. 28,2 to

the so-called Hellenes. The only way by which the letters

could reach such ideal addresses was to have them reproduced

in numbers from the first. But that means that they were

literature. Had the First Epistle of Peter,3 for instance, been

intended as a real letter, then the writer of it, or a substitute,

would have had to spend many a year of his life ere he could

deliver the letter throughout the enormous circuit of the


(end of the fifth cent. A.D.) in his prolegomena to the categories of Aristotle

(Ed. Ch. A. Brandis, Schol. in Arist., p. 24a, Westermann, iii. [1852], p. 9).

In contrast to meriko<j special, kaqoliko<j is used as meaning general; both

terms refer to the contents of the writings, not to the largeness of the public

for which the author respectively designed them.

            1 P. 431.                       2 Hercher, p. 241 ff.

            3 For the investigation of the Second Epistle of Peter see the observa-

tions which follow below in the Spicilegium.

52                       BIBLE STUDIES.                            [245


countries mentioned. The epistle, in fact, could only reach

its public as a booklet; at the present day it would not be

sent as a circular letter in sealed envelope, but as printed

matter by book-post. It is true, indeed, that these Catholic

Epistles are Christian literature: their authors had no desire

to enrich universal literature; they wrote their books for a

definite circle of people with the same views as themselves,

that is, for Christians; but books they wrote. Very few

books, indeed, are so arrogant as to aspire to become univer-

sal literature; most address themselves to a section only of

the immeasurable public—they are special literature, or

party literature, or national literature. It is quite admissible

to speak of a literary public, even if the public in question be

but a limited one—even if its boundaries be very sharply

drawn. Hence the early Christian epistles were, in the first

instance, special literature; to the public at large in the

imperial period they were altogether unknown, and, doubt-

less, many a Christian of the time thought of them as

esoteric, and handed them on only to those who were

brethren; but, in spite of all, the epistles were designed

for some kind of publicity in a literary sense: they were

destined for the brethren. The ideal indefiniteness of this

destination has the result that the contents have an ecumeni-

cal cast. Compare the Epistle of James, for instance, with

the Letters of Paul, in regard to this point. From the

latter we construct the history of the apostolic age; the

former, so long as it is looked upon as a letter, is the enigma

of the New Testament. Those to whom the "letter" was

addressed have been variously imagined to be Jews, Gentile

Christians, Jewish Christians, or Jewish Christians and

Gentile Christians together; the map has been scrutinised

in every part without any one having yet ascertained where

we are to seek—not to say find—the readers. But if Diaspora

be not a definite geographical term, no more is the Epistle

of "James" a letter. Its pages are inspired by no special

motive; there is nothing whatever to be read between the

lines; its words are of such general interest that they

might, for the most part, stand in the Book of Wisdom, or the

246]                     LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                        53


Imitation of Christ. It is true, indeed, that the epistle reveals

that it is of early Christian times, but nothing more. There

is nothing uniquely distinctive in its motive, and hence no

animating element in its contents. "James" sketches from

models, not from nature. Unfortunately there has always

been occasion, among Christians, to censure contentions and

sins of the tongue, greed and calumny; indignation at the

unmercifulness of the rich and sympathy with the poor are

common moods of the prophetic or apostolic mind; the scenes

from the synagogue and the harvest-field are familiar types

—the epistle, in fact, is pervaded by the expressions and

topics of the aphoristic "wisdom" of the Old Testament

and of Jesus. Even if it could be demonstrated that the

writer was alluding to cases which had actually occurred,

yet we cannot perceive how these cases concern him in any

special way; there is no particular personal relation between

him and those whom he "addresses". The picture of the

readers and the figure of the writer are equally colourless

and indistinct. In the letters of Paul, there speaks to us a

commanding personality—though, indeed, he had no wish

to speak to us at all; every sentence is the pulse-throb of a

human heart, and, whether charmed or surprised, we feel at

least the "touch of nature". But what meets us in the

Epistle of James is a great subject rather than a great man,

Christianity itself rather than a Christian personality. It

has lately become the custom, in some quarters, to designate

the book as a homily. We doubt whether much is gained

by so doing, for the term homily, as applied to any of the

writings of early Christianity, is itself ambiguous and in

need of elucidation; it probably needs to be broken up in the

same way as "letter". But that designation, at least, gives

expression to the conviction that the book in question is

wholly different in character from a letter. In the same

Way, the recognition of the fact that the Catholic Epistles in

general are not real letters, is evinced by the instinctive

judgment passed on them by the Bible-reading community.

The Epistle of James and particularly the First Epistle of

Peter, one may say, are examples of those New Testament

54                         BIBLE STUDIES.                         [246, 247


"letters" which play a most important part in popular

religion, while the Second Letter to the Corinthians, for

instance, must certainly be counted among the least-

known parts of the Bible. And naturally so; the latter,

properly speaking, was adapted only to the needs of the

Corinthians, while later readers know not what to make of

it. They seek out a few detached sayings, but the connection

is not perceived; in it, truly, they find some things hard to be

understood. But those epistles were adapted to Christians in

general; they are ecumenical, and, as such, have a force the

persistence of which is not affected by any vicissitude of

time. Moreover, it also follows from their character as

epistles that the question of authenticity is not nearly so

important for them as for the Pauline letters. It is allowable

that in the epistle the personality of the writer should be

less prominent; whether it is completely veiled, as, for in-

stance, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, or whether it modestly

hides itself behind some great name of the past, as in

other cases, does not matter; considered in the light of

ancient literary practices, this is not only not strange, but in

reality quite natural.—Finally, we may consider the Pastoral

Epistles and the Seven Messages in the Apocalypse in regard to

the question whether they are epistles. Though it seems to

the author not impossible that the former have had worked

into them genuine elements of a letter or letters of Paul,

he would answer the question in the affirmative. The

Seven Epistles of the Book of Revelation, again, differ from

the rest in the fact that they do not form books by them-

selves, nor constitute one book together, but only a portion

of a book. It is still true, however, that they are not letters.

All seven are constructed on a single definite plan,—while,

taken separately, they are not intelligible, or, at least, not

completely so; their chief interest lies in their mutual cor-

respondence, which only becomes clear by a comprehensive

comparison of their separate clauses: the censure of one

church is only seen in its full severity when contrasted

with the praise of another.

            16. There is now no need, let us hope, of demon-

247, 248]             LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                  55


strating that the distinction between letters and epistles does

not end in mere judgments as to their respective values.

We would be the last to ignore the great value of, say,

the Epistle of James or the Epistles of Peter; a com-

parison of these writings with the Epistle of Jeremiah, for

example, and many of the Graeco-Roman epistles, would

be sufficient to guard us against that. In regard to the

latter, one must frequently marvel at the patience of a public

which could put up with the sorry stuff occasionally given

to it as epistles. The more definitely we assign to the New

Testament epistles a place in ancient epistolography, the

more clearly will they themselves convince us of their own

special excellence. But our distinction proves itself, as a

principle of method, to be of some importance in other re-

spects, and we may, in conclusion, gather up our methodo-

logical inferences in brief form as follows (some of these

have already been indicated here and there).


            (1) The historical criticism of early Christian writings

must guard against conceiving of the New Testament as a

collection of homogeneous compositions, and must give due

weight to the pre-literary character of certain parts of it.

The literary portions must be investigated in regard to their

formal similarity with Graeco-Latin and Jewish literature;

further, this line of connection must be prolonged well into

the Patristic literature. The much-discussed question,

whether we should view the whole subject as the History of

Early Christian Literature or as the Introduction to the New

Testament, is a misleading one; the alternatives contain a

similar error, the former implying that some, the latter that

all, of the constituent parts of the New Testament should

be considered from a point of view under which they did not

originally stand: the former, in regarding even the real

letters as literature; the latter, in seeking its facts in a

historical connection in which they did not take their rise.

The history of the collection and publication of the non-

literary writings of primitive Christianity, and the history of

the canonisation of the writings which subsequently became

56                              BIBLE STUDIES.                      [248, 249


literature, or were literary from the first, constitute, each of

them, a distinct field of study.


            (2) The letters of Paul afford a fixed starting-point for

the history of the origin of the early Christian "letters". We

must ask ourselves whether it is conceivable that the literary

temperament and the epistles which were its outcome can

be older than the letters of Paul.


            (3) The collection and publication1 of the letters of

Paul was indirectly influenced by the analogy of other col-

lections of letters2 made in ancient times.3 The only pos-

sible motive of such collecting and publishing was reverential

love. Once the letters of Paul had been collected and

treated as literature, they in turn, thus misconceived, pro-

duced a literary impulse. We must, then, carefully weigh

the possibility that their collection and publication may

form a terminus post quem for the composition of the early

Christian epistles.


            (4) The sources by means of which we are enabled to

judge of the knowledge of the New Testament letters which

was possessed by Christians of the post-apostolic period, the

so-called testimonia, and specially the testimonia e silentio, have

an altogether different historiacl value according as they

relate to letters or epistles.4 The silentium regarding the


            1 That is to say, of course, publication within Christianity.

            2 Especially those which were made on behalf of a definite circle of


            3 It is not likely that the collection was made all at one time. It may

be assumed that the Letter to Philemon, for instance, was a relatively late

addition. The collection was probably begun not very long after the death

of Paul.

            4 Upon this point the author would specially desire to recommend a

perusal of the sketch of the earliest dissemination of the New Testament

letters in B. Weiss's Lehrbuch der Einleitung in das Neue Testament, Berlin,

1886, §§ 6, 7, p. 38 ff. Many of the apparently striking facts in the history

of the "evidence" which are indicated there might find a simple enough

explanation if they were regarded from our point of view.

249, 250]            LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                     57


letters (most striking of all, externally considered, in the

Book of Acts), is really explained by the nature of the letter

as such, and cannot be employed as an evidence of spurious-

ness. A. silentium, on the other hand, regarding epistles is,

on account of their public character, to say the least, sus-

picious. The distinction between letters and epistles has

also perhaps a certain importance for the criticism of the

traditional texts.


            (5) The criticism of the Letters of Paul must always

leave room for the probability that their alleged contradic-

tions and impossibilities, from which reasons against their

authenticity and integrity have been deduced, are really

evidences to the contrary, being but the natural concomitants

of letter-writing. The history of the criticism of Cicero's

letters,1 for instance, yields an instructive analogy. The

criticism of the early Christian epistles must not leave out

of account the considerations which are to be deduced from

the history of ancient epistolography.


            (6) The exegesis of the letters of Paul must take its

special standpoint from the nature of the letter. Its task is

to reproduce in detail the Apostle's sayings as they have

been investigated in regard to the particular historical occa-

sions of their origin, as phenomena of religious psychology.

It must proceed by insight and intuition, and hence it has

an unavoidable subjective cast. The exegesis of the early

Christian epistles must assume a proper historical attitude

with regard to their literary character. Its task is not to

penetrate into the knowledge of creative personalities in the

religious sphere, but to interpret great texts. As the element

of personality is wanting in its object, so must that of sub-

jectivity disappear from its procedure.


            (7) The value of the New Testament "letters," as

sources for the investigation of the Apostolic age, varies

according to their individual character. The classic value of


            1 See p. 81.

58                              BIBLE STUDIES.                     [250, 251


the letters of Paul lies in their being actual letters, that is to

say, in their being artless and unpremeditated; in this re-

spect also, they resemble those of Cicero.1 The value of the

epistles as sources is not to be rated so highly, and, in par-

ticular, not for the special questions regarding the "constitu-

tion" and the external circumstances of Christianity; many

details are only of typical value, while others, again, are but

literary exercises, or anticipations of conditions not yet fully



            (8) In particular, the New Testament letters and

epistles, considered as sources for the history of the Chris-

tian religion in its early period, are of different respective

values. The letters of Paul are not so much sources for the

theology, or even for the religion, of the period, as simply

for the personal religion of Paul as an individual; it is only

by a literary misconception that they are looked upon as the

documents of "Paulinism". The result of their criticism

from the standpoint of the history of religion can be nothing

more than a sketch of the character of Paul the letter-writer,

and not the system of Paul the epistolographer; what

speaks to us in the letters is his faith, not his dogmatics;

his morality, not his ethics; his hopes, not his eschatology—

here and there, no doubt, in the faltering speech of theology.

The early Christian epistles are the monuments of a religion

which was gradually accommodating itself to external con-

ditions, which had established itself in the world, which

received its stimulus less in the closet than in the church,

and which was on the way to express itself in liturgy and

as doctrine.—


            "The Hero who is the centre of all this did not himself

. . . become an author; the only recorded occasion of his

having written at all was when he wrote upon the ground


            1 Cf. p. 29, note 3. One may adduce for comparison other non-literary

sources as well, e.g., the "We" source of the Acts. It, too, became literature

only subsequently—only after it had been wrought into the work of Luke.

251, 252]                  LETTERS AND EPISTLES.                    59


with his finger, and the learning of eighteen centuries has

not yet divined what he then wrote."1  If Jesus is the gospel,

then it must hold good that the gospel is non-literary. Jesus

had no wish to make a religion; whoever has such a wish

will but make a Koran. It was only lack of understanding

on the part of those who came after (die Epigonen) which

could credit the Son of Man with the writing of epistles—and

to a king to boot! The saints are the epistles of Christ.2

Nor did the Apostle of Jesus Christ advocate the gospel by

literature; in point of fact, the followers of Christ learned

first to pray and then to write—like children. The begin-

nings of Christian literature are really the beginnings of

the secularisation of Christianity: the gospel becomes a

book-religion. The church, as a factor in history—which

the gospel made no claim to be—required literature, and

hence it made literature, and made books out of letters; hence

also at length the New Testament came into existence. The

New Testament is an offspring of the Church. The Church

is not founded upon the New Testament; other foundation

can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The gain which accrued to the world by the New Testament

carried with it a danger which Christianity—to the detriment

of the spirit of it—has not always been able to avoid, viz.,

the losing of itself as a literary religion in a religion of the



            1 Herder, Briefe, das Studium der Theologie betreffend, zweyter Then,

zweyte verbesserte Auflage, Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1790, p. 209.

            2 2 Cor. 3 3.











































a]noi<gw ta> mnh<mata u[mw?n kai> a]na<cw u[ma?j e]k tw?n mnhmatwn u[mw?n

                  kai> ei]sa<cw u[ma?j ei]j th>n gh?n tou?   ]Israh<l.





            Ever since the language of the Greek Bible became a

subject of consideration, the most astonishing opinions have

been held with regard to the sacred text.

            There was a time when the Greek of the New Testament

was looked upon as the genuinely classical; it was supposed

that the Holy Spirit, using the Apostles merely as a pen,

could not but clothe His thoughts in the most worthy garb.

That time is past: the doctrine of verbal Inspiration, petrified

almost into a dogma, crumbles more and more to pieces

from day to day; and among the rubbish of the venerable

ruins it is the human labours of the more pious past that

are waiting, all intact, upon the overjoyed spectator. Who-

ever surrenders himself frankly to the impression which is

made by the language of the early Christians, is fully assured

that the historical connecting-points of New Testament

Greek are not found in the period of the Epos and the Attic

classical literature. Paul did not speak the language of the

Homeric poems or of the tragedians and Demosthenes, any

more than Luther that of the Nibelungen-Lied.

            But much still remains to be done before the influence

of the idea of Inspiration upon the investigation of early

Christian Greek is got rid of. Though, indeed, the former

exaggerated estimate of its value no longer holds good, it yet

reveals itself in the unobtrusive though widely-spread opinion

that the phrase "the New Testament" represents, in the

matter of language, a unity and a distinct entity; it is thought

that the canonical writings should form a subject of linguistic

investigation by themselves, and that it is possible within

such a sphere to trace out the laws of a special "genius of


64                             BIBLE STUDIES.                        [58


language". Thus, in theological commentaries, even with

regard to expressions which have no special religious signi-

ficance, we may find the observation that so and so are "New

Testament" a!pac lego<mena,1 and in a philological discussion

of the linguistic relations of the Atticists we are told, with

reference to some peculiar construction, that the like does

not occur "in the New Testament"—a remark liable to mis-

conception.2 Or again the meaning of a word in Acts is to

be determined: the word occurs also elsewhere in the New

Testament, but with a meaning that does not suit the

passage in question nearly so well as one that is vouched

for say in Galen. Would not the attempt to enrich the

"New Testament" lexicon from Galen stir up the most

vigorous opposition in those who hold that the "New Testa-

ment" language is materially and formally of a uniform and

self-contained character? They would object—with the

assertion that in the "New Testament" that word was

used in such and such a sense, and, therefore, also in the

Acts of the Apostles.

            In hundreds of similar short observations found in the

literature, the methodological presupposition that "the New


            1 The only meaning that can be given to such observations—if they are

to have any meaning at all—is when it is presumed that "the genius of the

language of the New Testament" is not fond of certain words and construc-

tions. It is of course quite a different matter to speak of the a!pac lego<mena

of a single definite writer such as Paul.

            2 W. Schmid, Der Atticismus in seinen Hauptvertretern von Dionysius

von Halikarnass bis auf den zweiten Philostratus, iii., Stuttgart 1893, p. 338.

The kai< which is inserted between preposition and substantive is there dealt

with. The present writer does not suppose that Schmid, whose book is of

the greatest importance for the understanding of the biblical texts, would

advocate the perverse notion above referred to, should he be called upon to

give judgment upon it on principle: especially as the context of the passage

quoted permits one to suppose that he there desires to contrast "the N. T."

as a monument of popular literature with the studied elegance [?] of AElian.

But the subsuming of the varied writings of the Canon under the philological

concept "New Testament" is a mechanical procedure. Who will tell us

that, say, even Paul did not consciously aspire to elegance of expression now

and then? Why, the very meta> kai< which, it is alleged, does not belong to

the N. T., seems to the author to occur in Phil. 43 (differently Act. Ap. 2523

su<n tekai>): cf. a!ma su<n 1 Thess. 417 and 510.

59]            LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.               65


Testament" is a philological department by itself, somewhat

like Herodotus or Polybius, reveals itself in the same manner.

The notion of the Canon is transferred to the language, and

so there is fabricated a "sacred Greek" of Primitive Christi-



            It is only an extension of this presupposition when the

"New Testament" Greek is placed in the larger connection

of a "Biblical" Greek. "The New Testament" is written

in the language of the Septuagint. In this likewise much-

favoured dictum lies the double theory that the Seventy

used an idiom peculiar to themselves and that the writers

of the New Testament appropriated it. Were the theory

limited to the vocabulary, it would be to some extent justifiable.

But it is extended also to the syntax, and such peculiarities

as the prepositional usage of Paul are unhesitatingly explained

by what is alleged to be similar usage in the LXX.

            The theory indicated is a great power in exegesis, and

that it possesses a certain plausibility is not to be denied.

It is edifying and, what is more, it is convenient. But it is

absurd. It mechanises the marvellous variety of the linguistic

elements of the Greek Bible and cannot be established either

by the psychology of language or by history. It increases

the difficulty of understanding the language of biblical texts

in the same degree as the doctrine of verbal Inspiration proved

obstructive to the historic and religious estimate of Holy

Scripture. It takes the literary products which have been

gathered into the Canon, or into the two divisions of the

Canon, and which arose in the most various circumstances,

times and places, as forming one homogeneous magnitude,


            1 It is of course true that the language of the early Christians contained

a series of religious terms peculiar to itself, some of which it formed for the

first time, while others were raised from among expressions already in use

to the status of technical terms. But this phenomenon must not be limited

to Christianity: it manifests itself in all new movements of civilization. The

representatives of any peculiar opinions are constantly enriching the language

with special conceptions. This enrichment, however, does not extend to the

"syntax," the laws of which rather originate and are modified on general


66                                BIBLE STUDIES.                              [60


and pays no heed to the footprints which bear their silent

testimony to the solemn march of the centuries. The author

will illustrate the capabilities of this method by an analogy.

If any one were to combine the Canon of Muratori, a frag-

ment or two of the Itala, the chief works of Tertullian, the

Confessions of Augustine, the Latin Inscriptions of the

Roman Christians in the Catacombs and an old Latin trans-

lation of Josephus, into one great volume, and assert that

here one had monuments of "the" Latin of the early

Church, he would make the same error as the wanderers

who follow the phantom of "the" biblical Greek. It cannot

be disputed that there would be a certain linguistic unity

in such a volume, but this unity would depend, not upon

the fact that these writings were, each and all, "ecclesi-

astical," but upon the valueless truism that they were, each

and all, written in late-Latin. Similarly we cannot attribute

all the appearances of linguistic unity in the Greek Bible

to the accidental circumstance that the texts to which they

belong stand side by side between the same two boards of

the Canon. The unity rests solely on the historical circum-

stance that all these texts are late-Greek. The linguistic

unity of the Greek Bible appears only against the background

of classical, not of contemporary "profane," Greek.

            It is important, therefore, in the investigation of the

Greek Bible, to free oneself first of all from such a methodo-

logical notion as the sacred exclusiveness of its texts. And

in breaking through the principle, now become a dogma, of

its linguistic seclusion and isolation, we must aspire towards

a knowledge of its separate and heterogeneous elements, and

investigate these upon their own historical bases.

            We have to begin with the Greek Old Testament. The

Seventy translated a Semitic text into their own language.

This language was the Egypto-Alexandrian dialect. Our

method of investigation is deduced from these two facts.

            If we ignore the fact that the work in question is a

translation, we thereby relinquish an important factor for

the understanding of its linguistic character. The trans-

lation is in method very different from what we nowadays

61, 62]          LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.            67


call such. We see the difference at once when we compare

the Alexandrian theologians' way of working with, say, the

method which Weizsacker applied in his translation of the

Epistles of Paul. Was it mere clumsiness, or was it rever-

ence, which caused them to write as they often did? Who

shall say? One thing is certain; in proportion as the idea

of making the sacred book accessible in another language

was at that time unheard-of, so helpless must the translators

have felt had they been required to give some account of

the correct method of turning Semitic into Greek. They

worked in happy and ingenuous ignorance of the laws of

Hermeneutics,1 and what they accomplished in spite of all

is amazing. Their chief difficulty lay, not in the lexical,

but in the syntactical, conditions of the subject-matter. They

frequently stumbled at the syntax of the Hebrew text; over

the Hebrew, with its grave and stately step, they have, so to

speak, thrown their light native garb, without being able to

conceal the alien's peculiar gait beneath its folds. So arose

a written Semitic-Greek2 which no one ever spoke, far less

used for literary purposes, either before or after.3  The sup-

position, that they had an easy task because the problem of


            1 Some centuries later an important Semitic work was translated into

Greek in a very different manner, viz., the original text of Josephus's Jewish

War. In the preface he states that he had written it first of all in his native

language (i.e., Aramaic). In the work of translation he had recourse to col-

laborateurs for the sake of the Greek style (c. Ap. i. 9), cf. Schurer, i. (1890),

p. 60 f. [Eng. Trans., i., p. 83]. Here then we have the case of a Semitic text

being translated under Greek superintendence with the conscious intention

of attaining Greek elegance. Thus the Jewish War should not, strictly

speaking, be used as an authority for the style of Josephus the Semite. The

case is different with the Antiquities—unless they likewise have been redacted

in form. Moreover, it has been shown by Guil. Schmidt, De Flavii Iosephi

elocution observations criticae, Fleck. Jahrbb. Suppl. xx. (1894), p. 514 ff.—

an essay in the highest degree instructive on the question of the "influences"

of the Semitic feeling for language—that at most only one Hebraism is found

in Josephus, and that a lexical one, viz., the use of prosti<qesqai = Jsy

            2 Cf. the remarks of Winer, adopted by Schmiedel, Winer-Schmiedel,

§ 4, 1 b (p. 25 f.) [Eng. Trans., p. 28 f.], upon the Greek which was really

spoken by the Jewish common people and was independent of the Greek of

translation. But see the author's remark on p. 74, note 1.

            3 See below, p. 295 ff.

68                              BIBLE STUDIES.                             [62


the syntax was largely solved for them through a "Judaeo-

Greek" already long in existence,1 is hardly tenable. We

have a whole series of other Jewish texts from Alexandria,2


            1 In particular, J. Wellhausen formerly advocated this supposition;

cf. his observations in F. Bleek's Einleitung in das A. T.4, Berlin, 1878, p.

578, and, previously, in Der Text der Bucher Samuelis untersucht, Gottingen,

1871, p. 11. But the very example which he adduces in the latter passage

supports our view. In 1 Sam. 4 2.3, the verb ptai<w is twice found, the first

time intransitively, the second time transitively, corresponding respectively

to the Niphal and Qal of Jgn.  Wellhausen rightly considers it to be incred-

ible that the Seventy "were unwilling or unable" to express "the distinction

of Qal and Hiphil, etc.," by the use of two different Greek words. When,

however, he traces back the double ptai<w, with its distinction of meaning,

to the already existent popular usage of the contemporaries of the LXX (i.e.,

from the context—the Alexandrian Jews), he overlooks the fact that the

transitive sense of ptai<w, is also Greek. The LXX avoided a change of verb

because they desired to represent the same Hebrew root by the same Greek

word, and in this case a Greek could make no objection.—Regarding another

peculiarity of the LXX, viz., the standing use "of the Greek aorist as an

inchoative answering to the Hebrew perfect," it is admitted by Wellhausen

himself that "for this, connecting links were afforded by classical Greek."

—Wellhausen now no longer advocates the hypothesis of a "Judaeo-Greek,"

as he has informed the author by letter.

            2 To the literary sources here indicated there have lately been added

certain fragments of reports which refer to the Jewish War of Trajan, and

which were probably drawn up by an Alexandrian Jew: Pap. Par. 68

(Notices, xviii. 2, p. 383 ff.), and Pap. Lond. 1 (Kenyon, p. 229 f.); cf. Schurer,

i., p. 53; further particulars and a new reading in U. Wilcken, Ein Aktens-

Nick zum jadischen Kriege Trajans, Hermes, xxvii. (1892), p. 464 ff. (see also

Hermes, xxii. [1887], p. 487), and on this GGA. 1894, p. 749. Pap. Berol.

8111 (BU. xi., p. 333, No. 341), is also connected with it. I cannot, how-

ever willing, discover the slightest difference in respect of language be-

tween the readable part of the fragments, which unfortunately is not very

large, and the non-Jewish Papyri of the same period. Independently of their

historical value, the fragments afford some interesting phenomena, e.g.,

kwstwdi<a (Matt. 27 65 f., 2811 koustwdi<a, Matt. 27 66 Cod. A kwstoudi<a; Cod. D

has koustoudi<a), a]xrei?oi dou?loi (Luke 1710, cf. Matt. 25 30). The identification

of the o!soi  ]Ioudai?oi with the successors of the  ]Asidai?oi of the Maccabean

period, which Wilcken advances, hardly commends itself; the expression

does not refer to a party within Alexandrian Judaism, but is rather a self-

applied general title of honour.—Wilcken, further, has in view the publication

of another Papyrus fragment (Hermes, xxvii., p. 474), which contains an

account of the reception of a Jewish embassy by the Emperor Claudius at

Rome. (This publication has now seen the light; for all further particulars

see the beginning of the author's sketch, "Neuentdeckte Papyrus-Fragmente

zur Geschichte des griechischen Judenthums," in ThLZ. xxiii. (1898), p. 602 ff.)

[62, 63, 64]    LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.         69


but do their idioms bear comparison even in the slightest

with the peculiarities of the LXX, which arose quite inci-

dentally?1 So long as no one can point to the existence of

actual products of an original Judaeo-Greek, we must  be per-

mitted to go on advocating the hypothesis, probable enough

in itself, that it was never an actual living language at all.

Thus the fact that the Alexandrian Old Testament is a

translation is of fundamental importance for an all-round

criticism of its syntax. Its "Hebraisms" permit of no con-

clusions being drawn from them in respect to the language

actually spoken by the Hellenistic Jews of the period: they

are no more than evidences of the complete disparity between

Semitic and Greek syntax. It is another question, whether

they may not have exercised an influence upon the speech of

the readers of the next period: it is, of course, possible that

the continually repeated reading of the written Judaeo-Greek

may have operated upon and transformed the "feeling for

language" of the later Jews and of the early Christians. In

respect of certain lexical phenomena, this supposition may of

course be made good without further trouble; the parts of the

O. T. Apocrypha which were in Greek from the beginning,

Philo, Josephus, Paul, the early Christian Epistle-writers,

move all of them more or less in the range of the ethical and

religious terms furnished by the LXX. It is also quite con-

ceivable that some of the familiar formula and formulaic

turns of expression found in the Psalms or the Law were


            1 The relation which the language of the Prologue to Sirach bears to

the translation of the book is of the utmost importance in this question.

(Cf. the similar relation between the Prologue to Luke and the main con-

stituent parts of the Gospel; see below, p. 76, note 2.) The Prologue is

sufficiently long to permit of successful comparison: the impression cannot

be avoided that it is an Alexandrian Greek who speaks here; in the book

itself, a disguised Semite. The translator' himself had a correct appre-

hension of how such a rendering of a Semitic text into Greek differed from

Greek—the language which he spoke, and used in writing the Prologue.

He begs that allowance should be made for him, if his work in spite of all

his diligence should produce the impression tisi> tw?n le<cewn a]dunamei?n: ou] ga>r

i]sodunamei? au]ta> e]n e[autoi?j e[brai*sti> lego<mena kai> o!tan metaxh^? ei]j e[te<ran glw?ssan.  Whoever counts the Greek Sirach among the monuments of a "Judaeo-Greek,"

thought of as a living language, must show why the translator uses Alex-

andrian Greek when he is not writing as a translator.

70                             BIBLE STUDIES.                              [64, 65


borrowed from the one or the other, or again, that the occa-

sional literary impressiveness is an intentional imitation of

the austere and unfamiliar solemnity of that mode of speech

which was deemed to be biblical. But any fundamental in-

fluence of the LXX upon the syntactic, that is to say, the

logical, sense of a native of Asia Minor, or of the West, is

improbable, and it is in the highest degree precarious to con-

nect certain grammatical. phenomena in, say, Paul's Epistles

straightway with casual similarities in the translation of the

O. T. A more exact investigation of Alexandrian Greek will,

as has been already signified, yield the result that far more of

the alleged Hebraisms of the LXX than one usually supposes

are really phenomena of Egyptian, or of popular, Greek.1

            This brings us to the second point: the real language,

spoken and written, of the Seventy Interpreters was the

Egyptian Greek of the period of the Ptolemies. If, as

translators, they had often, in the matter of syntax, to

conceal or disguise this fact, the more spontaneously, in

regard to their lexical work, could they do justice to the

profuse variety of the Bible by drawing from the rich store

of terms furnished by their highly-cultured environment.

Their work is thus one of the most important documents

of Egyptian Greek.2  Conversely, its specifically Egyptian

character can be rendered intelligible only by means of a

comparison with all that we possess of the literary memorials

of Hellenic Egypt from the time of the Ptolemies till about

the time of Origen.3 Since F. W. Sturz4 began his studies


            1 References in regard to the truly Greek character of alleged Hebraisms

in Josephus are given by U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff and Guil. Schmidt

in the already-quoted study of the latter, pp. 515 f. and 421.—See below, p. 290 f.

            2 Cf. the remarks of Buresch, Rhein. Ins. fur Philologie, N. F., xlvi.

(1891), p. 208 ff.

            3 In the rich Patristic literature of Egypt there lies much material

for the investigation of Egyptian Greek. One must not overestimate here

the "influence" of the LXX, particularly of its vocabulary. The Egyptian

Fathers doubtless got much from the colloquial language of their time, and

the theory of borrowing from the LXX need not be constantly resorted to.

The Papyri of the second and third centuries may be used as a standard

of comparison.

            4 De dialecto Macedonica et Alexandrina liber, Leipzig, 1808.



65, 66]        LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.              71


in this subject there has passed nearly a century, which has

disclosed an infinite number of new sources. Why, if the

Inscriptions in Egyptian Greek, when systematically turned

to account, could put new life into Septuagint research even

then, the Papyrus discoveries have now put us in the position

of being able to check the Egyptian dialect by document—so

to speak—through hundreds of years. A large part of the

Papyri, for us certainly the most valuable, comes from the

Ptolemaic period itself; these venerable sheets are in the

original of exactly the same age as the work of the Jewish

translators1 which has come down to us in late copies.

When we contemplate these sheets, we are seized with a

peculiar sense of their most delightful nearness to us—one

might almost say, of historical reality raised from the dead.

In this very way wrote the Seventy—the renowned, the un-

approachable—on the same material, in the same characters,

and in the same language! Over their work the history of

twenty crowded centuries has passed: originating in the

self-consciousness of Judaism at a time of such activity as

has never been repeated, it was made to help Christianity to

become a universal religion; it engaged the acuteness and the

solicitude of early Christian Theology, and was to be found

in libraries in which Homer and Cicero might have been

sought for in vain; then, apparently, it was forgotten, but it

continued still to control the many-tongued Christianity by

means of its daughter-versions: mutilated, and no longer

possessed of its original true form, it has come to us out of the

past, and now proffers us so many enigmas and problems as

to deter the approach not only of overweening ignorance but

often of the diffidence of the ablest as well. Meanwhile the

Papyrus documents of the same age remained in their tombs

and beneath the rubbish ever being heaped upon them; but

Our inquiring age has raised them up, and the information

concerning the past which they give in return, is also help-

ful towards the understanding of the Greek Old Testament.

They preserve for us glimpses into the highly-developed civi-


            l We have Papyri of the very time of Ptolemy II. Philadelphus, who

plays such an important part in the traditions of the LXX.

72                                  BIBLE STUDIES.                           [66, 67


lization of the Ptolemaic period: we come to know the stilted

speech of the court, the technical terms of its industries, its

agriculture and its jurisprudence; we see into the interior of

the convent of Serapis, and into the family affairs which shrink

from the gaze of history. We hear the talk of the people and

the officials—unaffected because they had no thought of making

literature. Petitions and rescripts, letters, accounts and re-

ceipts--of such things do the old documents actually consist;

the historian of national deeds will disappointedly put them

aside; to the investigator of the literature only do they

present some fragments of authors of greater importance.

But in spite of the apparent triviality of their contents at

first sight, the Papyri are of the highest importance for the

understanding of the language of the LXX,1 simply because

they are direct sources, because they show the same conditions

of life which are recorded in the Bible and which, so to speak,

have been translated into Egyptian Greek. Naturally, the ob-

scure texts of the Papyri will often, in turn, receive illumina-

tion from the LXX; hence editors of intelligence have already

begun to employ the LXX in this way, and the author is of

opinion that good results may yet be obtained thereby. In

some of the following entries he hopes, conversely, to have

demonstrated the value of the Egyptian Papyri and Inscrip-

tions for Septuagint research. It is really the pre-Christian

sources which have been used;2 but those of the early im-


            1 A portion at least of the Papyri might be of importance for the LXX

even with respect to matters of form. The author refers to the official de-

cisions, written by trained public functionaries, and approximately contem-

poraneous with the LXX. While the orthography of the letters and other

private documents is in part, as amongst ourselves, very capricious, there

appears to him to be a certain uniformity in those official papers. One may

assume that the LXX, as "educated" people, took pains to learn the official

orthography of their time. The Papyri have been already referred to in

LXX-investigations by H. W. J. Thiersch, De Pentateuehiversione Alexandrina

libri tres, Erlangen, 1841, p. 87 ff.; recently by B. Jacob, Das Bauch Esther

bei den LXX, ZAW. x. (1890), p. 241 ff. The Papyri are likewise of great

value for the criticism of the Epistle of Aristeas; hints of this are given in

the writings of Giac. Lumbroso.

            2 U. Wilcken is preparing a collection of Ptolemaic texts (DLZ. xiv.

[1893], p. 265). Until this appears we are limited to texts which are scattered

throughout the various editions, and of which some can hardly be utilised.

67, 68]               LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.                73


penal period also will yet yield rich results. One fact observa-

tion appears to put beyond question, viz., the preference of

the translators for the technical expressions of their surround-

ings. They, too, understood how to spoil the Egyptians.

They were very ready to represent the technical (frequently

also the general) terms of the Hebrew original by the techni-

cal terms in use in the Ptolemaic period.1 In this way they

sometimes not only Egyptianised the Bible, but, to speak

from their own standpoint, modernised it. Many peculiarities

from which it might even be inferred that a text different

from our own lay before them, are explained, as the author

thinks, by this striving to make themselves intelligible to the

Egyptians. Such a striving is not of course justifiable from

the modern translator's point of view; the ancient scholars,

who did not know the concept "historic," worked altogether

naïvely, and if, on that account, we cannot but pardon their

obliteration of many historical and geographical particulars

in their Bible, we may, as counterbalancing this, admire the

skill which they brought to bear upon their wrongly-con-

ceived task.2  From such considerations arises the demand

that no future lexicon to the LXX3 shall content itself with

the bringing forward of mere equations; in certain cases the


            1 It is specially instructive to notice that terms belonging to the lan-

guage of the court were employed to express religious conceptions, just as

conversely the word Grace, for instance, is prostituted by servility or irony

amongst ourselves. Legal phraseology also came to be of great importance

in religious usage.

            2 Quite similar modernisings and Germanisings of technical terms are

found also in Luther's translation. Luther, too, while translating apparently

literally, often gives dogmatic shadings to important terms in theology and

ethics; the author has found it specially instructive to note his translation of

Paul's ui[oi> qeou? by Kinder Gottes (children of God), of ui[o>j qeou? by Sohn Gottes

(Son of God). Luther's dogmatic sense strove against an identical rendering

of ui[o<j in both cases: he was unwilling to call Christians sons of God, or

Jesus Christ the child of God, and in consequence made a distinction in the

word ui[o<j.  We may also remember the translation of no<hma in 2 Cor. 10 5 by

Vernunft (reason), whereby biblical authority was found for the doctrine fides

praecedit intellectum.

            3 The clamant need of a Lexicon to the LXX is not to be dismissed by

pointing to the miserable condition of the Text. The knowledge of the lexical

conditions is itself a preliminary condition of textual criticism.

74                          BIBLE STUDIES.                           [68, 69


Greek word chosen does not represent the Hebrew original

at all, and it would be a serious mistake to suppose that the

LXX everywhere used each particular word in the sense of

its corresponding Hebrew. Very frequently the LXX did

not translate the original at all, but made a substitution

for it, and the actual meaning of the word substituted is,

of course, to be ascertained only from Egyptian Greek. A

lexicon to the LXX will thus be able to assert a claim to

utility only if it informs us of what can be learned, with

regard to each word, from Egyptian sources. In some places

the original was no longer intelligible to the translators; we

need only remember the instances in which they merely trans-

cribed the Hebrew words—even when these were not proper

names. But, in general, they knew Hebrew well, or had

been well instructed in it. If then, by comparison of their

translation with the original, there should be found a differ-

ence in meaning between any Hebrew word and its corre-

sponding Greek, it should not be forthwith concluded that

they did not understand it: it is exactly such cases that not

seldom reveal to us the thoughtful diligence of these learned


            What holds good of the investigation of the LXX in

the narrower sense must also be taken into consideration in

dealing with the other translations of Semitic originals into Greek.

Peculiarities of syntax and of style should not in the first

instance be referred to an alleged Judaeo-Greek of the trans-

lators, but rather to the character of the original. We must,

in our linguistic criticism, apply this principle not only to

many of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings, but also to

the Synoptic Gospels, in so far, at least, as these contain ele-

ments which originally were thought and spoken in Aramaic.1


            1 The author cannot assent to the thesis of Winer (see the passage re-

ferred to above, p. 67, note 2), viz., that if we are to ascertain what was the

"independent" (as distinct, i.e., from the LXX-Greek, which was conditioned

by the original) Greek of the Jews, we must rely "upon the narrative style

of the Apocryphal books, the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles ".

There are considerable elements in "the" Apocrypha and in "the" Gospels

which, as translations, are as little "independent" as the work of the LXX.--

With regard also to certain portions of the Apocalypse of John, the question must

be raised as to whether they do not in some way go back to a Semitic original.


70]               LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.            75


So far as regards these Apocryphal books, the non-existence

of the original renders the problem more difficult, but the

investigator who approaches it by way of the LXX will be

able to reconstruct the original of many passages with con-

siderable certainty, and to provide himself, at least in some

degree, with the accessories most required. The case is less

favourable in regard to the Synoptic sayings of Jesus, as also

those of His friends and His opponents, which belong to the

very earliest instalment of the pre-Hellenistic Gospel-tradition.

We know no particulars about the translation into Greek of

those portions which were originally spoken and spread abroad

in the Palestinian vernacular; we only know, as can be per-

ceived from the threefold text itself, that "they interpreted as

best they could".1  The author is unable to judge how far

retranslation into Aramaic would enable us to understand

the Semitisms which are more or less clearly perceived in the

three texts, and suspects that the solution of the problem,

precisely in the important small details of it, is rendered

difficult by the present state of the text, in the same way as

the confusion of the traditional text of many portions of the

LXX hinders the knowledge of its Greek. But the work

must be done: the veil, which for the Greek scholar rests

over the Gospel sayings, can be, if not fully drawn aside,

yet at least gently lifted, by the consecrated hand of the

specialist.2  Till that is done we must guard against the


            1 Cf. Julicher, Einleitung in das N. T., 1st and 2nd ed., Freiburg (Baden)

and Leipzig, 1894, p. 235: important observations by Wellhausen in GGA.

1896, p. 266 ff.—We must at all events conceive of this kind of translation as

being quite different from the translation of Josephus's Jewish War from

Aramaic, which was undertaken in the same half-century, and which might

be called "scientific" (cf. p. 67, note 1 above). Josephus desired to impress

the literary public: the translators of the Logia desired to delineate Christ

before the eyes of the Greek Christians. The very qualities which would

have seemed "barbaric" to the taste of the reading and educated classes,

made upon the Greeks who "would see Jesus" the impression of what was

genuine, venerable—in a word, biblical.

            2 The author recalls, for instance, what is said in Wellhausen's Israelit-

ische and Judische Geschichte, Berlin, 1894, p. 312, note 1.—Meanwhile this

important problem has been taken in hand afresh by Arnold Meyer (Jesu

Muttersprache, Freiburg (Baden) and Leipzig, 1896) and others; cf. especially

G. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, vol. i., Leipzig, 1898.

76                           BIBLE STUDIES.                              [71


illusion1 that an Antiochian or Ephesian Christian (even if,

like Paul, he were a product of Judaism) ever really spoke as

he may have translated the Logia-collection, blessed—and

cramped—as he was by the timid consciousness of being

permitted to convey the sacred words of the Son of God to

the Greeks. Perhaps the same peculiarities which, so far as

the LXX were concerned, arose naturally and unintention-

ally, may, in the translators of the Lord's words, rest upon

a conscious or unconscious liturgical feeling: their reading

of the Bible had made them acquainted with the sound,

solemn as of the days of old, of the language of prophet and

psalmist; they made the Saviour speak as Jahweh spoke

to the fathers, especially when the original invited to such

a procedure. Doubtless they themselves spoke differently2

and Paul also spoke differently,3 but then the Saviour also

was different from those that were His.

            Among the biblical writings a clear distinction can be

traced between those that are translations, or those portions

that can be referred to a translation, and the other genus,

viz., those in Greek from the first. The authors of these be-

longed to Alexandria, to Palestine, or to Asia Minor. Who

will assert that those of them who were Jews (leaving out

of account those who belonged to Palestine) each and all

spoke Aramaic—to say nothing of Hebrew—as their native


            1 Also against the unmethodical way in which peculiarities in the

diction of Paul, for example, are explained by reference to mere external

similarities in the Synoptics. What a difference there is—to take one in-

structive example—between the Synoptical e]n t&? a@rxonti tw?n daimoni<wn (Mark

3 22, etc.') and the Pauline e]n Xrist&?   ]Ihsou?!  See the author's essay Die

neutestamentliche Formel "in Christo Jesu" untersucht, pp. 15 and 60.

            2 Compare the prologue to Luke's Gospel. The author is unaware

whether the task of a comparative investigation with regard to the languages

of the translated and the independent parts respectively of the Gospels has

as yet been performed. The task is necessary—and well worth while.

            3 Even in those cases in which Paul introduces his quotations from the

LXX without any special formula of quotation, or without other indication,

the reader may often recognise them by the sound. They stand out distinctly

from Paul's own writing, very much as quotations from Luther, for example,

stand out from the other parts of a modern controversial pamphlet.

72]              LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.            77


tongue? We may assume that a Semitic dialect was known

among the Jews of Alexandria and Asia Minor, but this

cannot be exalted into the principle of a full historical

criticism of their language. It seems to the writer that their

national connection with Judaism is made, too hastily, and

with more imagination than judgment, to support the in-

ference of a (so to speak) innate Semitic "feeling for lan-

guage".  But the majority of the Hellenistic Jews of the

Dispersion probably spoke Greek as their native tongue:

those who spoke the sacred language of the fathers had

only learned it later.1 It is more probable that their Hebrew

would be Graecised than that their Greek would be Hebraised.

For why was the Greek Old Testament devised at all? Why,

after the Alexandrian translation was looked upon as sus-

picious, were new Greek translations prepared? Why do

we find Jewish Inscriptions in the Greek language,2 even

where the Jews lived quite by themselves, viz., in the Roman

catacombs? The fact is, the Hellenistic Jews spoke Greek,

prayed in Greek, sang psalms in Greek, wrote in Greek, and

produced Greek literature; further, their best minds thought

in Greek.3 While we may then continue, in critically examin-

ing the Greek of a Palestinian writer, to give due weight

to the influence of his Semitic "feeling for language,"—an

influence, unfortunately, very difficult to test—the same pro-

cedure is not justified with regard to the others. How should

the Semitic "spirit of language" have exercised influence


            1 This was probably the case, e.g., with Paul, who according to Acts 2140

could speak in the "Hebrew language". That means probably the Aramaic.

            2 So far as the author is aware no Jewish Inscription in Hebrew is

known outside of Palestine before the sixth century A.D.; cf. Schurer, ii.,

p. 513 (=3 iii. p. 93 f.) [Eng. Trans., ii., p. 284], and, generally, the

references given there.

            3 Aristotle rejoiced that he had become acquainted with a man, a Jew

of Coele-Syria, who   [Ellhniko>j h#n, ou] t^? diale<t& mo<non, a]lla> kai> t^? yux^?

(Josephus, c. Ap.  22).—The sentence (De confusion ling. § 26) [M. p. 424],

e@sti de> w[j me>n  [Ebrai?oi le<gousi “fanouhl,” w[j de> h[mei?j  is of

great interest in regard to Philo's opinion as to his own language: he felt

himself to be a Greek. Cf. H. A. A. Kennedy, Sources of New Testament

Greek, Edinburgh, 1895, p. 54, and the present writer's critique of this book

GGA. 1896, p. 761 ff.

78                      BIBLE STUDIES.                                  [73


over them? And how, first of all indeed, over those early

Christian authors who may originally have been pagans?

            This "spirit" must be kept within its own sphere; the

investigator of the Greek of Paul and of the New Testament

epistle-writers must first of all exorcise it, if he would see

his subject face to face. We must start from the philological

environment in which, as a fact of history, we find these

authors to be, and not from an improbable and, at best, in-

definable, linguistic Traducianism. The materials from which

we can draw the knowledge of that philological environment

have been preserved in sufficient quantity. In regard to the

vocabulary, the Alexandrian Bible stands in the first rank:

it formed part of the environment of the people, irrespective

of whether they wrote in Alexandria, Asia Minor or Europe,

since it was the international book of edification for Hellen-

istic Judaism and for primitive Christianity. We must, of

course, keep always before us the question whether the terms

of the LXX, in so far as they were employed by those who

came after, had not already undergone some change of mean-

ing in their minds. Little as the lexicon of the LXX can be

built up by merely giving the Greek words with their corre-

sponding Hebrew originals, just as little can Jewish or early

Christian expressions be looked upon as the equivalents of

the same expressions as previously used by the LXX. Even

in express quotations one must constantly reckon with the

possibility that a new content has been poured into the old

forms. The history of religious terms—and not of religious

ones only—shows that they have always the tendency to be-

come richer or poorer; in any case, to be constantly altering.1

Take the term Spirit (Geist). Paul, Augustine, Luther,

Servetus, the modern popular Rationalism: all of these

apprehend it differently, and even the exegete who is well

schooled in history, when he comes to describe the biblical

thoughts about Spirit, finds it difficult to free himself from

the philosophical ideas of his century. How differently


            1 Acute observations on this point will be found in J. Freudenthal's

Die Flavius Josephus beigelegte Schrift Ueber die Herrschaft der Vernunft,

Breslau, 1869, p. 26 f.

77, 34]      LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.           79


must the Colossians, for example, have conceived of Angels,

as compared with the travelling artisan who has grown up

under the powerful influences of ecclesiastical artistic tra-

dition, and who prays to his guardian angel!  What changes

has the idea of God undergone in the history of Christianity

—from the grossest anthropomorphism to the most refined

spiritualisation! One might write the history of religion

as the history of religious terms, or, more correctly, one

must apprehend the history of religious terms as being a

chapter in the history of religion. In comparison with the

powerful religious development recorded in the Hebrew Old

Testament, the work of the Seventy presents quite a differ-

ent phase: it does not close the religious history of Israel,

but it stands at the beginning of that of Judaism, and the

saying that the New Testament has its source in the Old

is correct only if by the Old Testament one means the book

as it was read and understood in the time of Jesus. The

Greek Old Testament itself was no longer understood in the

imperial period as it was in the Ptolemaic period, and, again,

a pagan Christian in Rome naturally read it otherwise than

a man like Paul. What the author means may be illustrated

by reference to the Pauline idea of Faith. Whether Paul dis-

covered it or not does not in the meantime concern us. At

all events he imagined that it was contained in his Bible,

and, considered outwardly, he was right. In reality, how-

ever, his idea of faith is altogether new: no one would think

of identifying the pi<stij of the LXX with the pi<stij of Paul.

Now the same alteration can be clearly perceived in other

conceptions also; it must be considered as possible in all, at

least in principle; and this possibility demands precise ex-

amination. Observe, for example, the terms Spirit, Flesh,

Life, Death, Law, Works, Angel, Hell, Judgment, Sacrifice,

Righteousness, Love. The lexicon of the Bible must also

discuss the same problem in respect of expressions which are

more colourless in a religious and ethical sense. The men of

the New Testament resembled the Alexandrian translators in

bringing with them, from their "profane" surroundings, the

most varied extra-biblical elements of thought and speech.

80                       BIBLE STUDIES                             [74, 75


            When, then, we undertake to expound the early Christian

writings, it is not sufficient to appeal to the LXX, or to the

terms which the LXX may use in a sense peculiar to them-

selves: we must seek to become acquainted with the actual

surroundings of the New Testament authors. In What other

way would one undertake an exhaustive examination of these

possible peculiar meanings? Should we confine ourselves to

the LXX, or even to artificially petrified ideas of the LXX,--

what were that but a concession to the myth of a "biblical"

Greek? The early Christian writings, in fact, must be taken

out of the narrow and not easily-illuminated cells of the

Canon, and placed in the sunshine and under the blue sky

of their native land and of their own time. There they will

find companions in speech, perhaps also companions in

thought. There they take their place in the vast phenome-

non of the koinh<. But even this fact, in several aspects of it,

must not be conceived of mechanically. One must neither

imagine the koinh< to be a uniform whole, nor look upon the

early Christian authors, all and sundry, as co-ordinate with

a definite particular phenomenon like Polybius. In spite of

all the consanguinity between those early Christian Greeks

and the literary representatives of universal Greek, yet the

former are not without their distinguishing characteristics,

Certain elements in them of the popular dialect reveal the

fact of their derivation from those healthy circles bf society

to which the Gospel appealed:  the victorious future of those

obscure brotherhoods impressively announces itself in new

technical terms, and the Apostles of the second and third

generation employ the turns of expression, understood or not

understood, used by Paul, that "great sculptor of language".1

            It is thus likewise insufficient to appeal to the vocabu-

lary and the grammar of the contemporary "profane" litera-

ture. This literature will doubtless afford the most instructive

discoveries, but, when we compare it with the direct sources

which are open to us, it is, so far as regards the language

of the early Christian authors, only of secondary importance.


            1 The author ad opts this easily enough misunderstood expression from

Buresch, Rh. Mus. f. Phil.  N. F., xlvi. (1891), p. 207.

75, 76]         LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.         81


These direct sources are the Inscriptions1 of the imperial

period. Just as we must set our printed Septuagint side by

side with the Ptolemaic Papyri, so must we read the New

Testament in the light of the opened folios of the Inscrip-

tions. The classical authors reach us only in the traditional

texts of an untrustworthy later period; their late codices

cannot give us certain testimony with regard to any so-called

matters of form, any more than the most venerable uncials

of the New Testament can let us know how, say, the Letter

to the Romans may have looked in its original form. If

we are ever in this matter to reach certainty at all, then it

is the Inscriptions and the Papyri which will give us the

nearest approximation to the truth. Of course even they do

not present us with unity in matters of form; but it would be

something gained if the variety which they manifest through-

out were at least to overthrow the orthodox confidence in the

trustworthiness of the printed text of the New Testament,

and place it among the "externals". Here, too, must we do

battle with a certain ingenuous acceptation of the idea of

Inspiration. Just as formerly there were logically-minded

individuals who held that the vowel-points in the Hebrew

text were inspired, so even to-day there are those here and

there who force the New Testament into the alleged rules

of a uniform orthography. But by what authority—unless

by the dictate of the Holy Spirit—will any one support the

notion that Paul, for instance, must have written the Greek

form of the name David in exactly the same way as Mark

or John the Divine?

            But the help which the Inscriptions afford in the cor-

rection of our printed texts, is not so important as the service


            1 When the author (in 1894) wrote the above, he was unaware that E. L.

Hicks, in The Classical Review, 1887, had already begun to apply the In-

scriptions to the explanation of the N. T.  W. M. Ramsay called attention

to this, and gave new contributions of his own in The Expository Times, vol.

x. p. 9 ff. A short while ago I found a very important little work in the

University Library at Heidelberg, which shows that the Inscriptions had

begun to be drawn from a hundred years ago: the booklet, by Io. E. Imm.

Watch, is called Observationes in Mattizaeum ex graecis inscriptionibus, Jena,

1779; and is not without value even at the present day.

82                          BIBLE STUDIES.                              [76, 77


they render towards the understanding of the language itself,

It may be that their contents are often scanty; it may be that

hundreds of stones, tiresomely repeating the same mono-

tonous formula, have only the value of a single authority,

yet, in their totality, these epigraphic remains furnish us

with plenty of material—only, one should not expect too

much of them, or too little. The author is not now thinking

of the general historical contributions which they afford for

the delineation of the period—such as we must make for

Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Europe, if we would understand

the biblical writings (though for that purpose nothing can

be substituted for them); but rather of their value for the

history of the language of the Greek Bible, and particularly

of the New Testament, Those witnesses in stone come

before us with exactly the same variety as to time and place

as we have to take into account when dealing with these

writings:  the period of most of them, and the original locality

of nearly all, can be determined with certainty. They afford

us wholly trustworthy glimpses into certain sections of the

sphere of ideas and of the store of words which belonged to

certain definite regions, at a time when Christian (churches

were taking their rise, and Christian books being written.

Further, that the religious conceptions of the time may re-

ceive similar elucidation is a fact that we owe to the numerous

sacred Inscriptions. In these, it may be observed that there

existed, here and there, a terminology which was fixed, and

which to some extent consisted of liturgical formulae. When,

then, particular examples of this terminology are found

not only in the early Christian authors, but in the LXX as

well, the question must be asked: Do the Christian writers

employ such and such an expression because they ark familiar

with the Greek Bible, or because they are unaffectedly speak-

ing the language of their neighbourhood? If we are dealing,

e.g., with the Inscriptions of Asia Minor and the Christians

of Asia Minor, the natural answer will be: Such expressions

were known to any such Christian from his environment,

before ever he read the LXX, and, when he met them again

in that book, he had no feeling of having his store of words

77, 78]        LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.            83


enlarged, but believed himself to be walking, so to speak, on

known ground: since, happily for him, there was no Schleus-

ner at his disposal, when he found those expressions in the

LXX—where, in their connection, they were perhaps more

pregnant in meaning, perhaps less so,—he read them with

the eyes of an inhabitant of Asia Minor, and possibly emas-

culated them. For him they were moulds into which he

poured, according to his own natural endowment, now good,

now less valuable, metal. The mere use of LXX-words on  

the part of an inhabitant of Asia Minor is no guarantee that

he is using the corresponding LXX-conceptions. Take as

examples words like a[gno<j, i[ero<j, di<kaioj, gnh<sioj, a]gaqo<j, eu]se<-

beia, qrhskei<a, a]rxiereu<j, profh<thj, ku<rioj, qeo<j, a@ggeloj,

kti<sthj, swthri<a, diaqh<kh, e@rgon, ai]w<n. With regard to all

these words, and many others, common to both the LXX

and the Inscriptions of Asia Minor of the imperial period, it

will be necessary to investigate how far the Christians of Asia

Minor introduced definite local shades of meaning into their

reading of the Septuagint, and, further, how far they uncon-

sciously took these shades of meaning into account either

in their own use of them or when they heard them uttered

by the Apostles. The same holds good of such expressions

as embody the specifically favourite conceptions of primitive

Christianity, e.g., the titles of Christ, ui[o>j qeou?, o[ ku<rioj h[mw?n

and swth<r. The author has, with regard to the first of these,

set forth in the following pages in more detail the reasons

why we should not ignore the extra-biblical technical use

of the expression,—a use which, in particular, is authen-

ticated by the Inscriptions. A similar investigation with

regard to the others could be easily carried out. Even if

it could be established that "the" New Testament always

employs these expressions in their original, pregnant, distinc-

tively Christian sense, yet who will guarantee that hundreds

of those who heard the apostolic preaching, or of the readers

of the Epistles, did not understand the expressions in the

faded formulaic sense, in regard to which they reflected as

little or as much as when they read a votive Inscription

in honour of the ui[o>j qeou? Augustus, or of another emperor

84                               BIBLE STUDIES.                                 [78


who was described as o[ ku<rioj h[mw?n, or of Apollo swth<r?

By the time of the New Testament there had set in a

process of mutual assimilation1 between the religious con-

ceptions already current in Asia Minor on the one hand,

and "biblical" and "Christian" elements on the other.

Biblical expressions became secularised; heathen expressions

gained ecclesiastical colouring, and the Inscriptions, as being

the most impartial witnesses to the linguistic usage previous

to New Testament times, are the sources which most readily

permit us a tentative investigation of the process.

            Other elements, too, of the language of certain portions

of the New Testament can not seldom be elucidated by

parallels from the Inscriptions; likewise much of the so-called

syntax. M. Frankel2 has indicated what an "extraordinary

agreement in vocabulary and style" obtains between the

Pergamenian Inscriptions of pre-Roman times and Polybius

it is proved, he thinks, that the latter, "almost entirely

wanting in a distinctive style of his own," has "assumed

the richly but pedantically developed speech of the public

offices of his time". The Inscriptions of Asia Minor have,

as the author thinks, a similar significance for the history

of the language of the New Testament. It may be readily

granted to the outsider that many of the observations which

it is possible to take in this connection have, of, course,

"only" a philological value; he who undertakes them knows

that he is obeying not only the voice of science but also the

behests of reverence towards the Book of Humanity.3


            The author has, here and there throughout the follow-

ing pages, endeavoured to carry out in practice the ideas of

method thus indicated. He would request that to these


            1 So far as the author can judge, this process shows itself more clearly

in the Catholic and the Pastoral Epistles than in Paul.

            2 Altertumer von Pergamon, viii. 1, Berlin, 1890, p. xvii.

            3 This matter is further dealt with in the author's little work Die

sprachliche Erforschung der griechischen Bibel, ihr gegenweirtiger Stand and

ihre Aufgaben, Giessen, 1898; cf. also GGA. 1896, pp. 761-769; 1898, pp. 120-

124, and 920-923; ThLZ. xxi. (1896), p. 609 ff., and xxiii. (1898), jp. 628 ff.;

Theologische Rundschau, i. (1897-98), pp. 463-472.

79]        LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.             85


should be added the observations that lie scattered through-

out the other parts of this book. If he makes a further

request for indulgence, he would not omit to emphasise that

he is not thereby accommodating himself to the well-worn

literary habit the real purpose of which is only the captatio

benevolentiae. The peculiar nature of the subject-matter,

which first attracted the author, is certainly calculated to

engender the feeling of modesty, unless, indeed, the inves-

tigator has been possessed of that quality from the outset.









            Herodotus and Xenophon speak of the Persian a@ggaroi.

The word is of Persian origin and denotes the royal couriers.

From a@ggaroj is formed the verb a]ggareu<w, which is used,

Mark 15 21 = Matt. 27 32 and Matt. 5 41 (a saying of, the Lord),

in the sense of to compel one to something.  E. Hatch1 finds

the earliest application of the verb in a letter of Demetrius I.

Soter to the high-priest Jonathan and the Jewish people:

keleu<w de> mhde> a]ggareu<esqai ta>   ]Ioudai<wn u[pozu<gia, Joseph.

Antt. xiii. 2 3. The letter was ostensibly written shortly

before the death of the king, and, if this were so, we should

have to date the passage shortly before the year 150 B.C.

But against this assumption is to be placed the consideration

that 1 Macc. 1025-45, which was the source for the statement

of Josephus, and which also quotes the said letter verbally,

knows nothing of the passage in question. Indeed it rather

appears that Josephus altered the passage, in which the

remission of taxes upon the animals is spoken of (ver. 33 kai>

pa<ntej a]fie<twsan tou>j fo<rouj kai> tw?n kthnw?n au]tw?n), so as to

make it mean that they should not be forced into public work.

Even if, following Grimm,2 we consider it possible that the

passage in Maccabees has the same purport as the paraphrase

of Josephus, yet the word—and it is only the word which

comes into consideration here—must be assigned to Josephus,

and, therefore, can be made to establish nothing inJ regard to

the second century B.C., but only in regard to the first A.D.


            1 Essays in Biblical Greek, Oxford, 1889, p. 37.

            2 HApAT. iii. (1853), p.155 f.

82]           LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.               87


            But we find the verb in use at a time much earlier than

Hatch admitted. The Comedian Menander ( 290 B.C.) uses

it in Sicyon. iv. (Meineke, p. 952). It is twice employed in

Pap. Flind. Petr. xx.1  (252 B.C.), both times in reference to

a boat used for postal service:  tou? u[pa<rxontoj le<mbou a]ggareu-

qe<ntoj u[po< sou and a]ggareu<saj to>n   ]Antikle<ouj le<mbon.

            This application of the word is established for the

Egyptian dialect2 of Greek by the Inscription from the

Temple of the Great Oasis (49 A.D.),3 in which there is other

linguistic material bearing on the Greek Bible, and to which

Hatch has already called attention mhde>n lamba<nein mhde>

a]ggareu<ein ei] mh< tinej e]ma> diplw<mata e@xwsi.

            In view of these facts the usage of the verb in the

Synoptists4 and Josephus falls into a more distinct historical

connection: the word, originally applied only to a Persian

institution, had gained a more general sense as early as the

third century B.C.5 This sense, of course, was itself a tech-

nical one at first, as can be seen from the Papyrus and the

Inscription as well as from Josephus, but the word must

have become so familiar that the Evangelists could use it

quite generally for to compel.



            The employment of the name brother to designate the

members of Christian communities is illustrated by the


            1 Mahaffy, ii. [64].

            2 The Persian loan-word recalls the Persian dominion over Egypt: cf.

para<deisoj below.—It may appear strange that the LXX do not use a@ggearoj,

etc., though tr,G,xi, perhaps also derived from the Persian, is found in

those portions which belong to the Persian period, and might have prompted

them to use a cognate Greek substantive. But they translate both it and

the Aramaic xrAG;xi in every passage by e]pistolh<, just because there was not

any Greek word formed from a@ggaroj for letter.—For the orthography

e]ggareu<w, cf. III. i. 1 below.

            3 CIG. iii. No. 4956, A 21.

            4 What is the Aramaic word which is rendered by a]ggareu<w in Matt. 5 41?

            5 Cf. Buresch, Rhein. Mus. fur Philologie, N. F., xlvi. (1891), p. 219:

"The Persian loan-word a]ggareu<w, which was naturalised at a very early date,

must have come to be much used in the vernacular—it is still found in the

common dialect of Modern Greek".

88                              BIBLE STUDIES.                         [83


similar use, made known to us by the Papyri, of a]delfoj,

in the technical language of the Serapeum at Memphis.

See the detailed treatment of it in A. Peyron,1 Leemans,2

Brunet de Presle,3 and Kenyon.4a]delfo<j also occurs in the

usage of religious associations of the imperial period as

applied to the members, cf. Schurer, in the Sitzungsberichte

der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1897, p. 207 ff., and

Cumont, Hypsistos, Brussels, 1897, p. 13.



            The moral signification se gerere in 2 Cor. 1 12, Eph. 23,

1 Pet. 117, 2 Pet. 218, Heb. 1033, 13 18, 1 Tim. 315, is illustrated

by Grimm,5 needlessly, by the analogy of the Hebrew j`lAhA.

It is found in the Inscription of Pergamus No. 224 A.6

(middle of the second century B.C.), where it is said of some

high official of the king e]n pa?sin ka[iroi?j a]me<mptwj kai> a]d]ew?j

a]nastrefo<menoj.—Further examples in III. iii. 1.



            LXX Lev. 1341 = HaBeGi forehead-bald, frequent in personal

descriptions in the Papyri of 237, 230 and 225 B.C.;7 cf. a]na-

fala<ntwma = tHaBaGa, LXX Lev. 13 42.43.




            In 1 Pet. 2 14 it is said of Christ: o{j ta>j a[marti<aj h[mw?n

au]to>j a]nh<negken e]n t&? sw<mati au]tou?  e]pi> to> cu<on, i!na tai?j

a[marti<aij a]pogeno<menoi t^? dikaiosun^ zh<swmen.  Many com-

mentators consider the expression a]nafe<rein ta>j a[marti<aj to


            1 Papyri Graeci regii Taurinensis musei Aegyptii, i. Turin, 1826, p. 60

            2 I., pp. 53 and 64.                     3 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 308.                       4 P. 31.

            5 Ch. G. Wilkii Clavis Novi Testamenti philologica3, Leipzig, 1888, p. 28.

            6 Frankel, p. 129. The word occurs also in Polybius in the same sense.

W. Schulze has also called the attention of the author to the Inscription of

Sestos (c. 120 B.c.), line 27; on this cf. W. Jerusalem, Wiener Studien, i. (1879),

p. 53.

            7 For particular references see Mahaffy, i. (1891), Index [88], cf. Kenyon,

p. 46; Notices, xviii. 2, p. 131. For the etymology, W. Schulze, Quaestiones

epicae, Gutersloh, 1892, p. 464; the a]nafalanti<asij in Aristot. iii. 11

presupposes a]nafa<lantoj.

83, 84]             LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.              89


be a quotation of LXX Is. 5312 kai> au]to>j a[marti<aj pollw?n

a]nh<negke and demand that it be understood in the same sense

as in Isaiah:1 to bear sins, i.e., to suffer punishment for sins.

But even granting that the whole section is pervaded by

reminiscences of Is. 53, yet it is not scientifically justifiable

to assert that the writer must have used a]nafe<rein in the very

sense of the original which he followed. The cases are not

few in which phrases from the LXX, given word for word,

and introduced by the solemn formulae of quotation, have

acquired another sense from the particular new context into

which they are brought. The early Christian authors do not

quote with that precision as to form and substance which

must needs be shown in our own scientific investigations;

these "practical" exegetes, in their simple devoutness, have

an ethical and religious purpose in their quotations, not a

scientific one. Thus their references cannot properly be

called quotations at all:  sayings, in our pregnant use of that

term, would be the preferable expression. The "practical"

exegetes of every age have considered the same absolute

freedom with regard to the letter as their natural privilege.

In regard to our passage, the addition of e]pi> to> cu<lon makes

it certain that, even if the allusion is to Isaiah, a]nafe<rein

cannot be explained by its possible2 meaning in the Greek

translation of the book. If to bear be made to mean to suffer

punishment, then the verb would require to be followed3 by

e]pi> t&? cu<l&:  e]pi> cum acc. at once introduces the meaning to

carry up to.

            What then is meant by Christ bearing our sins in His

body up to the tree?  Attention is commonly called to the

frequently occurring collocation a]nafe<rein ti e]pi> to> qusia-

sth<rion, and from this is deduced the idea that the death of

Christ is an expiatory sacrifice. But this attempt at explana-

tion breaks down4 when it is observed that it is certainly

not said that Christ laid Himself upon the tree (as the altar);


            1 So with Heb. 9 28.

            2 If, that is to say, the LXX treated the conceptions a]nafe<rein and xWAnA  

as equivalent.

            3 E. Kuhl, Meyer, xii.5 (1887), p. 165.                  4 Cf. Kahl, p. 166 f.

90                                     BIBLE STUDIES.                                  [85


it is rather the a[marti<ai h[mw?n that form the object of a]nafe<rein,

and it cannot be said of these that they were offered up.

That would be at least a strange and unprecedented mode

of expression. The simplest explanation will be this: when

Christ bears up to the cross the sins of men, then men have

their sins no more; the bearing up to is a taking away. The

expression thus signifies quite generally that Christ took away

our sins by His death: there is no suggestion whatever of the

special ideas of substitution or sacrifice.

            This explanation, quite satisfactory in itself, appears to

the author to admit of still further confirmation. In the

contract Pap. Flind. Petr. xvi. 21 (230 B.C.), the following

passage occurs: peri> de> w$n a]ntile<gw a]naferomen [ . . . . ]

o]feilhma<twn kriqh<somai e]p ]  ]Asklhpia<dou. The editor re-

stores the omission by wn ei]j e]me< and so reads a]naferome<nwn

ei]j e]me<.  In this he is, in our opinion, certainly correct

as to the main matter. No other completion of the participle

is possible, and the connection with the following clauses

requires that the a]nafero<mena o]feilh<mata should stand in

relation to the "I" of a]ntile<gw. It can hardly be determined

whether precisely the preposition ei]j2 be the proper restora-

tion, but not much depends on that matter. In any case the

sense of the passage is this: as to the o]feilh<mata a]nafero<mena

upon (or against) me, against which I protest, I shall let myself be

judged by Asklepiades.3 It is a priori probable that a]nafe<rein ta>

o]feilh<mata is a forensic technical expression: he who imposes4

the debts of another upon a third desires to free the former


            1 Mahaffy, i. [47].

            2 e]pi< were equally possible; cf. p. 91, note 1.

            3 Mahaffy, i. [48], translates:  "But concerning the debts chaged against

me, which I dispute, I shall submit to the decision of Asklepiades".

            4 It is true that a]nafe<rein occurs also in the technical sense of referre

(cf., besides the dictionaries, A. Peyron, p. 110), frequently even in the LXX,

and one might also translate the clause: as to the debts alleged (before the

magistracy) against me; a]nafe<rein would then mean something like sue for.

But the analogies from the Attic Orators support the above explanation. In

LXX 1 Sam. 2013 a]noi<sw ta> kaka> e]pi> se<, we have a]nafe<rw in a qnite similar

sense. Cf. Wellhausen, Der Text der Bb. Sam., p. 116 f., for the origin of this


86]               LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.                91


from the payment of the same. The Attic Orators1 employ

a]nafe<rein e]pi<, in exactly the same way: AEsch. 3, 215, ta>j a]po>

tou<twn ai]ti<aj a]noi<sein e]p ] e]me<; Isocr. 5, 32, h}n a]nene<gk^j au]tw?n

ta>j pra<ceij e]pi> tou>j sou>j progo<nouj.

            That the technical expression was known to the writer

of the Epistle cannot of course be proved, but it is not

improbable.2 In that case his a]nafe<rein would take on its

local colour. The sins of men are laid upon the cross, as, in

a court of law, a debt in money3 is removed from one and

laid upon another. Of course the expression must not be

pressed: the writer intends merely to establish the fact that

Christ in His death has removed the sins of men. The nerve

of the striking image which he employs lies in the correlative

idea that the sins of men lie no more upon them. The

forensic metaphor in Col. 214 is at least quite as bold, but

is in perfect harmony with the above: Christ has taken the

xeiro<grafon, drawn up against mankind, out of the way,

nailing it to His cross.



            Frequent in the LXX, especially in the Psalms; also in

Sirach 1322, Judith 911; nearly always used of God as the

Helper of the oppressed. Not hitherto authenticated in

extra-biblical literature.5 The word is found in Pap. Lond.

xxiii.6 (158-157 B.C.), in a petition to the king and queen, in

which the petitioner says that he finds his katafugh< in them,

and that they are his a]ntilh<mptorej; cf. the similar con-

junction of katafugh< and a]ntilh<mptwr in LXX 2 Sam. 22 3.


            1 A. Blackert, De praepositionum apud oratores Atticos usu quaestiones

selectae, Marp. Catt., 1894, p. 45.

            2 Cf. also the other forensic expressions of the section: kri<nein ver. 23,

and dikaiosu<nh ver. 24.

            3 Sin is often viewed as a debt in the early Christian sphere of thought.

Cf. III. iii. 2 below.

            4 With regard to the orthography, cf. the Programme of W. Schulze,

Orthographica, Marburg, 1894,           p. xiv. ff.; Winer-Schmiedel, § 5, 30 (p. 64),

            5 "Peculiar to the LXX," Cremer 7, p. 554 (= 8 587).

            6 Kenyon, p. 38.

92                              BIBLE STUDIES.                              [87, 88



            Frequent, in the LXX and the Apocryphal books, for

Help. This meaning is not2 peculiar to "biblical" Greek,

but occurs frequently in petitions to the Ptolemies: Pap. Par.

26 3 (163-162 B.c.), Pap. Lond. xxiii.4 (158-157 B.C.), Pap. Par.

8 5 (131 B.C.), Pap. Lugd. A 6 (Ptolemaic period); always

synonymous with boh<qeia. The last two passages yield

the combination tuxei?n a]ntilh<myewj7 which also occurs in

2 Macc. 157 and 3 Macc. 2 33.—See further III. iii. 3 below.

            This meaning of the word (known also to Paul, 1 Cor.

12 28), like that of a]ntilh<mptwr, was found by the LXX,

as it appears, in the obsequious official language of the

Ptolemaic period. One understands how they could, with-

out the slightest difficulty, transfer such terms of the canting

and covetous court speech to religious matters when one reads

of the royal pair being addressed as u[ma?j tou>j qeou>j megi<stouj

kai> a]ntilh<mptoraj, Pap. Lond. xxiii.8 (158-157 B.C.); the

worship of the monarch had emasculated the conception

qeo<j, and thus a]ntilh<mptwr and a]nti<lhmyij had already

acquired a kind of religious nimbus.



            The LXX translate the words hwAq.ABa (Esther 5 3-8, 7 2f.),

hnA.HiT; (Ps. 118 [119] 170) and the Aramaic UfBA (Dan. 6 7),

which all mean request, desire, by a]ci<wma. The word occurs

in 1 [3] Esd. 8 4 in the same sense. It is "very infrequent

in this signification; the lexica cite it, in prose, only from

Plutarch, Conviv. disput. 1 9 (p. 632 C)"9. The Inscriptions

confirm the accuracy of its usage in the LXX: fragment of

a royal decree to the inhabitants of Hierocome (date?) from


            1 For the orthography cf. p. 91, note 4.

            2 Contra Cremer 7, p. 554 (= 8 587); Clavis 3, p. 84.

            3 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 276.                       4 Kenyon, p. 38.

            5 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 175.                       6 Leemans, i., p. 3.

            7 Upon this cf. Leemans, p. 5.    8 Kenyon, p. 88.

            9 Frankel, Altertumer von Pergamon, viii. 1, p. 13 f.

88, 89]           LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.             93


Tralles;1 a decree of the Abderites (before 146 B.C.) from

Teos;2 Inscription of Pergamus No. 13 (soon after 263 B. C.).3

"In all these examples the word signifies a request preferred

before a higher tribunal, thus acquiring the sense of `petition'

or 'memorial'"4.



            Of the construction 2 Macc. 14 30 a]po< tou? belti<stou

in the most honourable way, in which one might suspect an

un-Greek turn of expression, many examples can be found in

the Inscriptions, as also in Dionysius of Halicarnassus and




            O. F. Fritzsche7 still writes Sirach 3619 (14 or 16 in other

editions) as follows:  plh?son Siw>n a#rai ta> lo<gia< sou kai> a]po>

th?j do<chj sou to>n lao<n sou.   M. W. L. de Wette implies the

same text by his rendering: Fill Zion with the praise of Thy

promises, and Thy people with Thy glory; he takes8 a#rai in the

sense of laudibus extollers, celebrare, and thus the verbal trans-

lation would run: Fill Zion, in order to extol Thy declarations,

and Thy people with Thy glory. But against this Fritzsche9

makes the objection that a#rai must stand here in the sense of

xWAnA, and this, again, should be taken as receive, obtain, although,

indeed, such a meaning cannot be vouched for by any quite

analogous example. But leaving aside the fact that it is not

good procedure to illustrate an obscure translation by referring


            1 Waddington, iii. (Ph. Le Bas et W. H. Waddington, Inscriptions

grecques et latines recueillies en Grece et en Asie Mineure, vol. iii., part 2,

Paris, 1870), No. 1652 (p. 390).

            2 Bull. de corr. hell. iv. (1880), p. 50 = Gull. Dittenberger, Sylloge

inscriptionum Graecarum, Leipzig, 1883, No. 228.

            3 Frankel, p. 12.             4 Ibid., p. 14.              5 References in Frankel, p. 16.

            6 Upon this cf. also the investigations of Meister, Berichte der 1 Kgl.

Sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1891, p. 13 ff., to which Wendland

has called attention (Deutsche Litteraturzeitung, 1895, p. 902).

            7 Libri apocryphi Veteris Testamenti Graece, Leipzig, 1871, p. 475.

Similarly the corrected text of 1887 in the edition of L. van Ess.

            8 Cf. on this 0. F. Fritzsche, HApAT. v. (1859), p. 201.                 9 Ibid.

94                         BIBLE STUDIES.                       [89, 90


to a meaning of the possible original which cannot be authen-

ticated, the confusion of the parallelismus membrorum which,

with their reading, disfigures the verse, must be urged against

de Wette and Fritzsche.1 What then is the authority for

this reading? The beginning of the verse has been handed

down in the three principal Codices in the following forms:—

            xA      plhsonsiwnaretalogiasou,

            B         plhsonsiwnaretalogiassou,

            Bb        plhsionsiwnaraitalogiasou.


            The last reading, that of the second reviser of B, has

thus become the standard, except that the plh?son of the

others has been retained instead of the plhsi<on which it

gives.  H. B. Swete2 considers it probable that also the are  

of xA. is to be taken as equivalent to arai; in such case the

current text would be supported by xA as well. But in

reality the matter stands quite otherwise; it is B which

gives the original text:  plh?son Siw>n a]retalogi<aj sou,3 xA

is deduced from this by the hemigraphy of the ss in areta-

logiassou, and Bb is a correction by the misunderstood xA.

The unwillingness to recognise this true state of the case

(Fritzsche says of B's reading:  sed hoc quidem hic nullo

modo locum habere potest) and indeed, to go further back, the

alteration4 which was made by the reviser of B, who mis-

understood the text, are due to a misconception of what

a]retalogi<a meant. If we consult, e.g., Pape,5 under a]reta-


            1 De Wette, guided by a true feeling, has obviated this objection by

rendering a#rai by a substantive.

            2 Textual-critical note to the passage in his edition of the LXX,

Cambridge, 1887 ff.

            3 This is placed in the text by Tischendorf and Swete.

            4 From his standpoint a fairly good conjecture!

Naturally the word is not given in the lexica to the Greek Old Testa-

ment or the Apocrypha; nor is it given by Tromm, either in the Concordance

or in the accompanying Lexicon to the Hexapla, by B. de Montfaucon and

L. Bos. The Concordance of E. Hatch and H. A. Redpath, Oxford, 1892

which takes into account the variants of the most important manuscripts, was

the first to bring the misunderstood word to its rightful position; although

that book seems to err by excess of good when it constructs from the clerical

error of xA a new word a]retalo<gion.

90, 91]            LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.              95


logi<a, we find that its meaning is given as buffoonery (Possen-

reisserei). Now it is clear that God cannot be invited to

fill Zion with "aretalogy" in this sense; then comes the too

precipitate deduction that the text must read differently,

instead of the question whether the lexicon may not perhaps

be in need of a correction. Even Symmachus, Ps. 29 [30] 6,

could have answered the question: in that passage he renders

the word hnAri (shouting for joy) of the original by a]retalogi<a,1

while he always translates it elsewhere by eu]fhmi<a. The

equation of Symmachus, a]retalogi<a = eu]fhmi<a, which can

be inferred from this, and the parallelism of the passage in

Sirach, a]retalogi<a || do<ca mutually explain and support each

other, and force us to the assumption that both translators

used a]retalogi<a sensu bono, i.e., of the glorifying of God. The

assumption is so obvious as to require no further support;

for, to argue from the analogies, it is indisputable that the

word, the etymology of which is certainly clear enough, at

first simply meant, as a matter of course, the speaking of the

a]retai<, and only then received the bad secondary signification.

As to the meaning of a]reth< which is the basis of this usage,

cf. the next article.



            The observations of Hatch 3 upon this word have added

nothing new to the article a]reth< in Cremer, and have ignored

what is there (as it seems to the author) established beyond

doubt, viz., that the LXX, in rendering dOH, magnificence,

splendour (Hab. 3 3 and Zech. 613) and hl.AhiT;, glory, praise,

by a]reth<, are availing themselves of an already-existent

linguistic usage.4 The meaning of a]retalogi<a is readily

deduced from this usage: the word signifies the same as is

elsewhere expressed by means of the verbal constructions,

LXX Is. 4212 ta>j a]reta>j au]tou? [qeou?] a]nagge<llein, LXX


            1 Field, ii., p. 130. The Hexaplar Syriac thereupon in its turn took

this word of Symmachus not as= eu]fhmi<a, but as =acceptio eloquii, Field, ibid.

            2 Cf. p. 93, note 6.                     3 Essays, p. 40 f.

            4 That is, a]reth< as synonymous with do<ca. The word may be used in

this sense in 4 Macc. 1010 also (contra Cremer 7, p. 154 = 8, p. 164).

96                               BIBLE STUDIES.                                 [91, 92


Is. 43 21 ta>j a]reta<j mou [ qeou? ] dihgei?sqai, I Pet. 2 9 ta>j a]reta>j

[qeou?] e]cagge<lein. It seems to the author the most probable

interpretation that the a]retai< of the last passage stands, as in

the LXX, for laudes, seeing that the phrase looks like an

allusion to LXX Is. 4212, more clearly still to Is. 43 20f..

One must nevertheless reckon with the possibility that the

word is used here in a different sense, to which reference has

recently been made by Sal. Reinach,1 and which no doubt

many a reader of the above-cited passages from the LXX,

not knowing the original, found in these phrases. Reinach,

arguing from an Inscription from Asia Minor belonging to

the imperial period, advocates the thesis2 that a]reth<, even in

pre-Christian usage, could mean miracle, effet surnaturel. He

thinks that this is confirmed by a hitherto unobserved signi-

fication of the word a]retalo<goj, which, in several places,

should not be interpreted in the usual bad sense of one who

babbles about virtues, buffoon, etc., but rather as a technical

designation of the interprete de miracles, exegete who occupied

an official position in the personnel of certain sanctuaries.'

The author is unable to speak more particularly about the

latter point, although it does perhaps cast a clearer light

upon our a]retalogi<a. He believes however that he can point

to other passages in which the a]reth< of God signifies, not the

righteousness, nor yet the praise of God, but the manifestation

of His power. Guided by the context, we must Iltranslate

Joseph. Antt. xvii. 5 6, au#qij e]nepar&<nei t^? a]ret^? tou? qei<ou:

he sinned, as if intoxicated, against God's manifestation of His

power.4  Still clearer is a passage from a hymn to Hermes,

Pap. Lond. xlvi. 418 ff. 5:--

            o@fra te mantosu<naj tai?j sai?j a]retai?si la<boimi.


            1 Les Aretalogues dans l'antiquite, Bull. de corr. hell. ix. (1885), p. 257 ff.

The present writer is indebted to W. Schulze for the reference to this essay.

            2 P. 264.                       3 P. 264 f.

            4 The correct interpretation in Cremer 7, p. 153 (= 8, p. 163 f.), also points

to this. But in the other passage there discussed after Krebs, Joseph. Antt.

xvii. 55, a]reth< most probably denotes virtue.

            5 Kenyon, p. 78 f.; Wessely, p. 138; Dieterich, Abraxas, p. 64.

The Papyrus was written in the fourth century A.D.; the present writer cannot

decide as to the date of the composition, particularly of line 400 ff., but considers

that it may, without risk, be set still further back.

92, 93]          LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.                  97


            The original has mantosunaij; the emendation manto-

su<naj (better than the alternative mantosu<nhj also given by

Kenyon) seems to be established.1 It can only mean: that

I may obtain the art of clairvoyance by the manifestations of Thy

power, and this meaning allows the text to remain otherwise

unaltered (after A. Dieterich). This sense of a]retai< seems

to have been unknown to other two editors; but they, too,

have indicated, by their conjectures, that the word cannot

signify virtues. Wessely2 emends thus:—

            o@fra te mantosu<nhj th?j sh?j me<roj a]ntila<boimi,


and Herwerden3 writes :—

   o@fra te mantosu<nhn tai?j sai?j a]retai?si (? xari<tessi) la<boimi.


            We must in any case, in 2 Pet. 13, reckon with this

meaning of a]reth<, still further examples of which could

doubtless be found. A comparison of this passage with the

Inscription which Reinach calls to his aid should exclude

further doubt. This is the Inscription of Stratonicea in

Caria, belonging to the earliest years of the imperial period,4

which will subsequently often engage our attention; the

beginning of it is given in full further on, in the remarks

on the Second Epistle of Peter, and the author has there

expressed the supposition that the beginning of the Epistle

is in part marked by the same solemn phrases of sacred emo-

tion as are used in the epigraphic decree. Be it only remarked

here that the qei<a du<namij is spoken of in both passages, and

that a]reth<, in the context of both, means marvel, or, if one

prefers it, manifestation of power.5


            1 A. Dieterich, Abr., p. 65.

            2 In his attempt to restore the hymn, i., p. 29.

            3 Mnemosyne, xvi. (1888), p. 11. The present writer quotes from A.

Dieterich, p. 65; cf. p. 51.

            4 CIG. iii., No. 2715 a, b Waddington iii. 2, Nos. 519, 520 (p. 142).

            5 Cremer 7, p. 153 (=8, p. 163), guided by the context, points to the true

interpretation by giving self-manifestation; similarly Kuhl, Meyer xii.5 (1887),

p. 355, performance, activity (Wirksamkeit); the translation virtue (H. von

Soden, LTC. iii. 22 [1892], p. 197) must be rejected altogether. Moreover

Hesychius appears to the present writer to be influenced by 2 Pet. 13 when

he, rightly, makes a]reth< = qei<a du<namij.

98                                 BIBLE STUDIES.                         [93, 94



            This occurs in the LXX as the translation of keeper of

the threshold (Esther 2 21) and body-guard (literally, keeper of

the head, 1 Sam. 282). The translation in the latter, passage

is correct, although swmatofu<lac (Judith 127, 1 [3] Esd. 3 4)

would have been sufficient. The title is Egyptianised in

the rendering given in Esther:1 the a]rxiswmatofu<lac

was originally an officer of high rank in the court of the

Ptolemies—the head of the royal body-guard. But the title

seems to have lost its primary meaning; it came to be applied

to the occupants of various higher offices.2 Hence even the

translation given in Esther is not incorrect. The title is

known not only from Egyptian Inscriptions,3 but also from

Pap. Taur. i.4 (third century B.C.), ii.5 (of the same period),

xi.6 (of the same period), Pap. Loud. xvii.7 (162 B.C.), xxiii.8

(158-157 B.C.), Ep. Arist. (ed. M. Schmidt), p. 15 4f.; cf.

Joseph. Antt. xii. 2 2.



            1. The LXX translate water-brooks, Joel 1 20, and rivers

of water, Lam. 3 47, by a]fe<seij u[da<twn, and channels of the sea,

2 Sam. 2216, by a]fe<seij qala<sshj. The last rendering is

explained by the fact that the original presents the same

word as Joel 120, MyqiypixE, which can mean either brooks or

channels. But how are we to understand the strange 9

rendering of the word by a]fe<seij?10 One might be tempted


            1 Cf. B. Jacob, ZAW. x. (1890), p. 283 f.

            2 Giac. Lumbroso, Recherches sur reconomie politigue de l’Egypte sous

les Lagides, Turin, 1870, p. 191.

            3 Jean-Ant. [not M.] Letronne, Recherches pour servir a l'hilstoire de

l'Ègypte pendant la domination des Grecs et des Ramains, Paris, 1823, p. 56;

Lumbroso, Rech. p. 191. Also in the Inscription of Cyprus, CIG.  ii., No.

2617 (Ptolemaic period), an Egyptian official, probably the governor, is so


            4 A. Peyron,      p. 24.                5 Ibid., i., p. 175.           6 Ibid. ii., p. 65.

            7 Kenyon, p. 11.                        8 Ibid., p. 41.

            9 Elsewhere the LX.X. translate it more naturally by ybripayt 1,nd xEl-


            10 In Ps. 125 [126] 4, the "fifth" translation of the Old Testament also

has a]fe<seij    = streams (Field, ii., p. 283).

94, 95]          LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.             99


to think that the rendering has been influenced by aph,1 the

initial syllable of the original, but this does not explain

a]fe<seij = MygilAP; Lam. 3 47, and why is it that such influence

is not perceived in any other passage?

            The explanation is given by the Egyptian idiom. We

have in Pap. Flind. Petr. xxxvii.2 official reports from the

Ptolemaic period concerning the irrigation. In these the

technical expression for the releasing of the waters by opening

the sluices is a]fi<hmi to> u[dwr; the corresponding substantival

phrase a@fesij tou? u!datoj is found in Pap. Flind. Petr. xiii. 23

(258 B.C.), but—and in this the technical meaning reveals


            1 Similar cases in Wellhausen, Der Text der Bb. Sam., p. 10 f.—This

supposition must be taken into account in Ezek. 47 3 dih?lqen e]n t&? u!dati u!dwr

a]fe<sewj, which, in its connection (it is previously stated that the water

issued from under the ai@qrion = atrium), signifies: he walked in the water, in

the water (the nominative has been set down mechanically) of release, i.e., in

the (previously mentioned) released water. So must a reader of the LXX

have understood their words; the remark of Jerome (in Field, ii., p. 895) that

the LXX had rendered it aqua remissionis, rests upon a dogmatic misconcep-

tion; a@fesij here can be translated only by dimissio. Now the Hebrew text

has water of the ankles, i.e., water that reaches to the ankles. This is the only

occurrence of Myisap;xa, ankles, in the 0. T. C. H. Cornill, Das Buch des

Propheten Ezechiel, Leipzig, 1886, p. 501, conjectures that what the LXX

translated was MyqypixE. The author thinks it still more probable that

their a@fesij represents the dual of Mp,x,, cessation. But the most natural

supposition is that they did not understand the a!pac lego<menon, and simply

transcribed aph'sajim, the context prompting them not merely to transcribe,

but to make out of their transcription an inflected word. The present

writer will not reject the supposition that this singular passage might also be

explained in the following way: The Greek translator did not understand

the knotty word, and translated—or transcribed—it u!dwr e!wj (cf. e!wj twice in

ver. 4) afej (cf. Ezek. 2716 LXX, Codd. 23, 62, 147 e]n afek, Codd. 87, 88, Hexapl.

Syr. e]n afeg; Theodotion e]n afek, unless nafek [= jpn] read by

Parsons in a Cod. Jes. originally stood there; these data are borrowed from Field,

ii., p. 842); Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, who understood the strange

word, have a corresponding rendering, e!wj a]straga<lwn (Field, p. 895).

From u!dwr e!wj afej some inventive brain fabricated u!dwr a[fe<sewj, which

could then have the sense explained above. The translator of Ezekiel has, in many

other cases, shown tact in merely transcribing Hebrew words which he did not

understand (Cornill, p. 96).—The reading u!dwr a]faire<sewj of the Com-

plutensian seems to be a correction of u!dwr a]fe<sewj made purely within the

Greek text itself.

            2 Mahaffy, ii. [119] f.                 3 Ibid., [38].

100                           BIBLE STUDIES.                             [95, 96


itself most clearly—the genitive may also be omitted. a@fesij

standing alone is intelligible to all, and we find it so used

in several passages in the first mentioned Papyrus. When

one thinks of the great importance to Egypt of the irrigation,

it will be found readily conceivable that the particular inci-

dents of it and their technical designations must have been

matter of common knowledge. Canals1 were to the Egyptian

what brooks were to the Palestinian; the bursting forth of

the Nile waters from the opened sluices made upon the

former the same deep impression as did the roar of the first

winter-brook upon the Canaanite peasants and shepherds.

Thus the Egyptian translators of Lam. 3 47 have rendered,

by a]fe<seij u[da<twn, the streams of water breaking forth before

the eyes of the people—not indeed verbally, but, on behalf

of their own readers, by transferring into the Egyptian

dialect, with most effective distinctness, the image that was

so expressive for the Palestinians. Similarly the distress of

the land in Joel 120 is made more vivid for the Egyptians

by the picture of the carefully-collected water of the canals

becoming dried up shortly after the opening of the sluices

(e]chra<nqhsan a]fe<seij u[da<twn), than it would be by speaking

of dried-up brooks.2


            2. The LXX translate lbeOy Lev. 25 15, used, elliptically

for Jobel-year,3 by the substantive shmasi<a sign, signal, a

rendering altogether verbal, and one which does, not fail to

mark the peculiarity of the original. But they translate

Jobel-year in vv. 10. 11. 12. 13 of the same chapter (apart from

the fact that they do not supply the ellipsis that occurs here

and there in the Hebrew passages) by e]niauto>j or e@toj a]fe<sewj

shmasi<aj, signal-year of emancipation.4 The technical expression

signal-year was made intelligible to non-Hebrew readers by


            1 a@fesij seems to bear the meaning of sluice and canal exactly.

            2 Cf. below, under diw?ruc.                   3 [English, "Jubilee".]

            4 In this way, and in no other, did the LXX construe the genitives,

as we see from ver. 15; so in ver. 13, where the article belongs to shmasi<aj.

A Greek reader indeed, ignoring the context, might understand the expres-

sion thus: year of the a@fesij of the signal, i.e., in which the signal was given;

a]fi<hmi does occur in similar combinations.

96, 97]         LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.               101


the addition of a]fe<sewj, which comes from ver. 10: diabohs-

ete a@fesin e]pi> th?j gh?j, where a@fesij = rOrD;. From this,

again, it is explained how Jobel-year in the parts of chap. 25

which follow the verse quoted, and in chap. 27, is rendered

by e@toj or e]niauto>j th?j a]fe<sewj, which is not a translation,1

but an "explicative paraphrase".2 Similarly in these pas-

sages the elliptical Jobel (standing in connection with what

goes before) is imitated in a manner not liable to be mis-

taken by an elliptical a@fesij.

            Now this usage of the LXX is not to be explained as a

mere mechanical imitation: it found a point of local con-

nection in the legal conditions of the Ptolemaic period.

Pap. Par. 633 (165 B.C.) mentions, among various kinds of

landed property, ta> tw?n e]n a]fe<sei kai> th>n i[era>n gh?n.4

Lumbroso5 explains the lands thus said to be e]n a]fe<sei as

those which were exempted from the payment of taxes, and

points to several passages on the Rosetta Stone 6 (196 B.C.),

in which the king is extolled as having expressly remitted

certain taxes (ei]j te<loj a]fh?ken).7 With this seems to be

connected also Pap. Flind. Petr. ii. 1 (260-259 B.C.):8 o!tan

h[ a@fesij doq^?; cf. previously ta> e]kfo<ria.

            The LXX might have translated rOrD; Lev. 25 10 (the

rendering of which was determinative for the whole of

their subsequent usage) by a different word, but their imi-

tation of the technical Jobel was facilitated just by their

choice of a@fesij, a technical word and one which was

current in their locality.


            1 The expression Ezek. 4617 is such.

            2 Cremer7, p. 439 ( = 8, p. 466).

            3 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 368.

            4 This i[era> gh? occurs still in the (Berlin) Egyptian documents of the

second and third centuries A.D. (U. Wilcken, Observationes ad historiam

Aegypti provinciae Romanae depromptae e papyris Graecis Berolinensibus

ineditis, Berlin, 1885, p. 29).

            5 Recherches, p. 90. Brunet de Presle (Notices, xviii. 2, p. 471) gives the

extraordinary explanation—with a mark of interrogation, it is true—conge


            6 Letronne, Recueil des inscriptions grecques et latines de 1’Egypte, vol.

Paris, 1842, p. 244 ff. = CIG., iii. No. 4697.

            7 Line 12 and elsewhere.                        8 Mahaffy, ii. [2].

102                         BIBLE STUDIES.                             [97, 98




            In Matt. 817 there is quoted, as the word of "the pro

phet Isaiah," aims au]to>j ta>j a]sqenei<aj h[mw?n e@laben kai> ta>j no<souj

e]ba<stasen.  "The passage Is. 534 is cited according to the

original, but not in the historical sense thereof, . . . . nor

according to the special typical reference which any one

looking back from the Saviour's healing of diseases to that

prophetic saying, might have perceived to be the intention

of the latter (Meyer); but with a free interpretation of the

language. The Evangelist, that is to say, clearly takes lam-

ba<nein in the sense of take away, as the xWAnA of the original

may also signify—though not in this passage. On the other

hand, it is doubtful whether he also understood basta<zein

(lbasA) in the sense of bear hence (John 2015), an impossible

meaning for the Hebrew . . ., or whether he is not thinking

rather of the trouble and pains which the Saviour's acts of

healing, continued till far on in the evening, cost Him."1

H. Holtzmann,2 like Weiss, similarly identifies lamba<nein with

xWAnA, and basta<zein with lbasA. But, if the author's judg-

ment is correct, the case is just the opposite: Matthew has

not only discarded the translation given by the LXX, but

has also, in his rendering, transposed the two clauses of the

Hebrew sentence;3 he does not translate He bore our diseases

and took upon Himself our pains, but He took upon Himself our

pains, and bore our diseases.4 In that case it will not be lbasA

but xWAnA, which  is represented by basta<zein.5 The LXX

also translate xWAnA, in 2 Kings 1814 and Job 213, Cod. A, by

basta<zein; similarly Aquila in the four extant passages

where he uses basta<zein: Is. 4011,6 5311,7 66 12,8 and Jer.


            1 B. Weiss, Meyer, i. 18 (1890), p. 169.               2 HC. 2 (18*, p. 76.

            3 Cf. the remark below upon the Gospel quotations, sub ui[o<j.

            4 Cf., with reference to lamba<nein = lbasA, LXX Is. 46 4, where the same

verb is rendered by a]nalamba<nein.

            5 Thus A. Resch, Aussercanonische Paralleltexte au den Evangelien,

2 Heft (TU. x. 2), Leipzig, 1894, p. 115.

            6 Field, ii., p. 510.                       7 Ibid., p. 535.   8 Ibid., p. 505.

98, 99]      LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.          103


10 5.1  Of these last passages, Is. 53 deserves special atten-

tion, as it approximates in meaning to the quotation in

Matthew: kai> ta>j a[marti<aj au]tw?n au]to>j basta<sei. If we

should not assume, with E. Bohl,2 that the quotation is taken

from an already-existent version, then it must be said that

Matthew, or his authority, in their independent rendering of

the xWAnA of the original by basta<zein, were acting in the

same way as do the LXX and the Jewish translator of the

second century A.D. in other passages. It does not of course

necessarily follow from the fact that the LXX, Matthew,

and Aquila all use basta<zein as the analogue of xWAnA, that

the basta<zein of Matt. 817 must have the same meaning as

the xWAnA of the Hebrew original. One must rather, in re-

gard to this passage, as indeed in regard to all translations

whatever, consider the question whether the translator does

not give a new shade of meaning to his text by the expres-

sion he chooses. It will be more correct procedure to ascer-

tain the meaning of basta<zein in this verse of Matthew from

the context in which the quotation occurs, than from the ori-

ginal meaning of xWAnA--however evident the correspondence

basta<zein = xWAnA superficially regarded, may seem. And

all the better, if the meaning bear away, required here by

the context for basta<zein,3 is not absolutely foreign to xWAnA

—in the sense, at least, which it has in other passages.

            The same favourable circumstance does not occur in

connection with e@laben, for the signification take away, which

the context demands, does not give the sense of lbasA.

            In the religious language of early Christianity the terms

bear and take away, differing from each other more or less

distinctly, and often having sin as their object, play a great


            1 Field, II., Auct., p. 39.

            2 Die alttestamentlichen Citate im N. T., Vienna, 1878, p. 34. Bohl finds

his Volksbibel (People's Bible) quoted in this passage also. But the Volksbibel,

or, more properly, a version that was different from the LXX, would hardly

have transposed the two clauses of the original.

            3 Cf., upon basta<zein in Josephus, Guil. Schmidt, De Flav. Ios. elocution,

Fleck. Jahrbb. Suppl. xx. (1894), p. 521. Upon basta<zw, in Gal. 617 see VII,

below, the study on the "Large Letters" and the "Marks of Jesus," Gal. 6.

104                                 BIBLE STUDIES.                     [100


part; the Synonymic1 of this usage must raise for itself the

problem of investigating words like ai@rw, e]cai<rw, basta<zw,

lamba<nw, a]nalamba<nw, fe<rw, a]nafe<rw, u[pofe<rw in their

various shades of meaning.



            "The seller was required, in general, i.e., unless the

opposite was stipulated, to deliver to the buyer the thing

sold a]namfisbh<thton, without dispute, and had to accept of

the responsibility if claims should be raised to the thing by

others. . . . If he [the buyer], however, had obtained from

the seller the promise of guarantee " . . . he could, if claims

to the thing were subsequently raised by others, "go back

upon the seller (this was called a]na<gein ei]j pra<thn) and

summon him to confirm—as against the person now raising

the claim—that he himself had bought from him the thing

now claimed, i.e., he could summon him bebaiw?sai. If

the seller refused to do this, then the buyer could bring

against him an action bebaiw<sewj."2  In the language of the

Attic Process, bebai<wsij confirmation had thus received the

technical meaning of a definite obligation of the seller, which

among the Romans was termed auctoritas or evictio: 3 the

seller did not only make over the thing to the buyer, but

assumed the guarantee to defend the validity of the sale against

any possible claims of a third party. Among the historians

of the ancient Civil Process there exist differences of opinion4


            1 Had we a discreetly prepared Synonymic of the religious expressions

of Early Christianity—of which there is as yet, one may say, a complete want

—we should then have a defence against the widely-currents mechanical

method of the so-called Biblical Theology of the N. T. which looks upon

the men whose writings stand in the Canon less as prophets and sons of the

prophets than as Talmudists and Tosaphists. This dogmatising method

parcels out the inherited territory as if Revelation were a matter of a

thousand trifles. Its paragraphs give one the idea that Salvation is an ordo

salutis. It desecrates the N. T. by making it a mere source for the history of

dogma, and does not perceive that it was, in the main, written under the

influence of Religion.

            2 M. H. E. Meier and G. F. Schomann, Der Attische Process, neu bear-

beitet von J. H. Lipsius, Berlin, 1883-1887, ii., pp. 717, 719, 720.

            3 Ibid., p. 717 f.

            4 Ibid., p. 721 f. ; K. F. Hermann, Lehrbuch der Griechis hen Rechts-

alterthumer, 3rd edition by Th. Thalheim, Freiburg and Tubingen, 1884, p. 77.

101]          LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.              105


regarding the details of the di<kh bebaiw<sewj that might

possibly be raised by the buyer, but these are immaterial

for the determination of the idea corresponding to the word


            This technical expression found admission into Egypt

in the Ptolemaic period. The Papyrus documents speak not

only of the bebaiwth<j,1 the sale-surety, the auctor secundus

of Roman law, but also of the bebai<wsij itself:  Pap. Taur.

i.2 (2nd cent. B.C.), Pap. Par. 62 3 (2nd cent. B.C.)—twice

in the latter passage, once in the combination as ei]j th>n

bebai<wsin u[poqh?kai.4 How thoroughly the expression had

become naturalised in Egypt is shown by the fact that we

still find the bebai<wsij in Papyrus documents belonging to

a time which is separated from the Lagides by seven hundred

years. It is, indeed, possible that in these, as well as already

in the Ptolemaic documents, bebai<wsij has no longer exactly

the same specific meaning as it has in the more accurate

terminology of the highly-polished juristic Greek of Attica:5

but the word is certainly used there also in the sense of

guarantee, safe-guarding of a bargain: Pap. Par. 21 bis6 (592 A.D.),

Pap. Jomard7 (592 A.D.), Pap. Par. 218 (616 A.D.). In these

the formula kata> pa?san bebai<wsin occurs several times, and

even the formula ei]j bebai<wsin comes before us again in

Pap. Par. 20 9 (600 A.D.), having thus 10 maintained itself

through more than seven hundred years.

            Reference has already been made by Lumbroso11 to the


            1 Hermann-Thalheim, p. 78.

            2 A. Peyron, p. 32, cf. p. 120, and E. Revillout, Etudes sur divers points

de droit et d'histoire Ptolemaique, Paris, 1880, p. xl. f.

            3 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 355.

            4 The text is, indeed, mutilated, but is sufficient for our purpose.

            5 According to Hermann-Thalheim, p. 78, note 1, bebaiwth<j, for instance,

has become nothing but an empty form in the Papyri.

            6 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 250.

            7 Ibid., pp. 25S, 259.                  8 Ibid., p. 244.

            9 Ibid., p. 241.                           10 Cf. above, Pap. Par. 62 (2nd cent. B.C.).

            11 Recherches, p. 78. But the passage belonging to the 2nd cent. B.C.,

indicated above, is more significant than the one of 600 A.D. quoted by him.

106                            BIBLE STUDIES.                       [102


striking similarity of a passage in the LXX with this idiom

of Egyptian Civil law. bebai<wsij is found only once in

the Alexandrian translation, Lev. 2523, but there in the

characteristic formula ei]j bebai<wsin: kai> h[ gh? ou] praqh<-

setai ei]j bebai<wsin, e]mh> ga<r e]stin h[ gh?. The translation is

not a literal one, but one of great fineness and accuracy.

The Israelites are but strangers and sojourners in the land;

the ground, the soil, belongs to Jahweh—therefore it may

not be sold absolutely: such is the bearing of the original

ttumic;li (properly unto annihilation, i.e., completely, for ever).

Looked at superficially, the ei]j bebai<wsin of the LXX is the

exact opposite of the unto annihilation of the original;1 con-

sidered properly, it testifies to an excellent understanding

of the text.2 A sale ei]j bebai<wsin is a definitive, legally

guaranteed sale: mere sojourners could not, of course, sell

the land which they held only in tenure,—least of all ei]j

bebai<wsin. The reading ei]j bebai<wsin3 of Codices xi., 19, 29,

and others, also of the Aldine, is a clumsy mistake of later

copyists (occasioned in part by LXX Lev. 21 4), who only

spoiled the delicately-chosen expression of the LXX by

school-boy literalness; on the other hand, the in confirm-

tionem of the Vetus Latina3 is quite correct, while the renderings

of Aquila,3 ei]j pagkthsi<an, and Symmachus,3 ei]j a]lu<trwton,

though they miss the point proper, yet render the thought

fairly well.

            The LXX have shown the same skill in the only other

passage where this Hebrew word occurs, viz., Lev. 25 30 :

kurwqh<setai h[ oi]ki<a h[ ou#sa e]n po<lei t^? e]xou<s^ tei?xoj

bebai<wj t&? kthsame<n& au]th<n.  That they did not here

make choice of the formula ei]j bebai<wsin, in spite of the

similarity of the original, reveals a true understanding of

the matter, for, as the phrase was primarily used only of the

giving of a guarantee in concluding a bargain, it would not

have answered in this passage.


            1 Which fact explains the variants about to be mentioned.

            2 In the same chapter we also found a pertinent application of a@fesij

as a legal conception.

            3 Field, i., p. 212.

103]           LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.                 107


            The Alexandrian Christian to whom we owe the lo<goj

th?j paraklh<sewj in the New Testament, writes, in Heb. 616,

a@nqrwpoi ga>r kata> tou? mei<zonoj o]mnu<ousin kai> pa<shj au]toi?j

a]ntilogi<aj pe<raj ei]j bebai<wsin o[ o!rkoj. The context of

the passage is permeated by juristic expressions—as is the

Epistle to the Hebrews as a whole. That this Egyptian

legal formula, persistent through hundreds of years, occurs

here also, deserves our notice. We do not need to give

it the same sharply-defined sense which it had in Attic

jurisprudence (guarantee in regard to a sale):1 it must be

interpreted more generally; at all events it is still a technical

expression for a legal guarantee.2

            The use of bebai<wsij elsewhere in biblical literature like-

wise appears to the author to be influenced by the technical

meaning of the word. In Wisd. 619, in the magnificent

hymn3 upon wisdom, occurs the gnomic saying prosoxh>

de> no<mwn bebai<wsij a]fqarsi<aj; here no<mwn suggests very

plainly the juristic conception of the word: he who keeps

the laws of wisdom has the legal guarantee of incorruption;

he need have no fear that his a]fqarsi<a will be disputed

by another.

            bebai<wsij has been spoken of more definitely still by

the man upon whose juristic terminology the jurist Johannes

Ortwin Westenberg was able to write an important treatise4


            1 This interpretation is not impossible. For a legitimate sale an oath

was requisite, e.g., according to the "laws of Ainos" (the name is uncertain)

The buyer must sacrifice to the Apollo of the district; should he purchase a

piece of land in the district in which he himself dwells—he must do the same;

and he must take an oath, in presence of the recording authorities and of

three inhabitants of the place, that he buys honourably: similarly the seller

also must swear that he sells without falsity (Theophrastus peri> sumbolai<wn

in Stobaeus, Flor. xliv. 22); cf. Hermann-Thalheim, p. 130 ff.

            2 Cf. the terms be<baioj, Heb. 22, 3 6, 917, and bebaio<w, Heb. 2 3, which

in the light of the above should probably also be considered as technical.

            3 Upon the form of this  (Sorites or Anadiplosis), cf. Paul's words in

Rom. 53-5, 1014f.; also James 13f., and LXX Hos. 2 21f., Joel 1 3f.

            4 Paulus Tarsensis Jurisconsultus, seu dissertatio de jurisprudentia Pauli

Apostoli habita, Franecker, 1722. The essay has often been reprinted: an

edition Bayreuth, 1738, 36 pp. 4to lies before the present writer. A new treat-

ment of the subject would be no unprofitable task.

108                           BIBLE STUDIES.


a hundred and seventy years ago. Paul, in Phil. 1 7, says

kaqw<j e]stin di<kaion e]moi> tou?to fronei?n u[pe>r pa<ntwn u[mw?n dia>

to> e@xein me e]n t^? kardi<% u[ma?j e@n te toi?j desmoi?j mou kai> e]n t^?

a]pologi<% kai> bebaiw<sei tou? eu]aggeli<ou: he is indeed in

bonds, but he is standing on his defence, and this defence

before the court will be at the same time an evictio or convictio

of the Gospel. To the forensic expressions e]n toi?j desmoi?j,

and e]n t^? a]pologi<%, which, of course,1 are not to be under-

stood as metaphorical, e]n bebaiw<sei tou? eu]aggeli<ou corresponds

very well, and forms at the same time the final step of a very

effective climax.

            That the Apostle was not ignorant of the older Attic

signification of bebai<wsij is rendered probable by a striking

correspondence between the mode of expression he uses in

other passages and the terms applied to the legal ideas which

are demonstrably connoted by bebai<wsij. Observe how Paul

brackets together the conceptions a]rrabw<n and bebaiou?n.

Harpocration, the lexicographer of the Attic Orators, who

lived in the Imperial period, writes in his lexicon, sub

bebai<wsij:2 e]ni<ote kai> a]rrabw?noj monoj doqe<ntoj ei#ta

a]mfisbhth<santoj tou? peprako<toj e]la<gxani th>n th?j bebaiw<-

sewj di<khn o[ to>n a]rrabw?na dou>j t&? labo<nti. Similarly

in the ancient Le<ceij r[htorikai<, one of the Lexica Segueriana,

edited by Imm. Bekker,3 sub bebaiw<sewj: di<khj o@noma< e]stin,

h{n e]dika<zonto oi[ w]nhsa<menoi kata> tw?n a]podome<nwn, o!te e!teroj

a]mfisbhtoi? tou? praqe<ntoj, a]ciou?ntej bebaiou?n au]toi?j to>

praqe<n: e]ni<ote de> kai> a]rrabw?noj mo<nou doqe<ntoj.  e]pi> tou<to

ou#n e]la<gxanon th>n th?j bebaiw<sewj di<khn oi[ do<ntej to>n

a]rrabw?na toi?j labou?sin , i!na bebaiwq^? u[pe>r ou$ o[ a]rra-

bw>n e]do<qh. Now, although doubts do exist 4 about the

possibility of basing a di<kh bebaiw<sewj upon the seller's

acceptance of the earnest-money, still thus much is clear,

viz., that, in technical usage, a]rrabw<n and bebaiou?n stand


            1 Paul hopes, 223 (as also appears from the tone of the whole letter), for

an early and favourable judgment on his case.

            2 In Hermann-Thalheim, p. 77.

            3 Anecdota Graeca, i. Berlin, 1814, p. 219 f.

            4 Hermann-Thalheim, p. 77; Meier-Sehomann-Lipsius, ii., p. 721.

105]         LANGUAGE OF THE GREEK BIBLE.             109


in an essential relation to each other.1 It is exactly in this

way that Paul speaks--his indestructible faith representing

the relation of God to believers under the image of a legally

indisputable relation, 2 Cor. 121f.: o[ de> bebaiw?n h[ma?j su>n

u[mi?n ei]j Xristo>n kai> xri<saj h[ma?j qeo<j, o[ kai> sfragisa<menoj

h[ma?j kai> dou>j to>n a]rrabw?na tou? pneu<matoj e]n tai?j kardi<aij

h[mw?n. Apt as is the metaphor itself, intelligible as it would

be in this verse and in 55, particularly to the Christians of

that great commercial centre, it is in form equally apt. The

Apostle, of course, could have chosen another verb2 equally

well, without rendering the image unintelligible, but the

technical word makes the image still more effective. A

patristic remark upon the passage in question3 shows us,

further, how a Greek reader could fully appreciate the specific

nature of the metaphor: o[ ga>r a]rrabw>n ei@wqe bebaiou?n

to> pa?n su<ntagma.

            Hence we shall not err in construing bebaio<w4 and

be<baioj,5 even where they occur elsewhere in the writings of

Paul and his circle, from this standpoint, and especially as

these words sometimes occur among other juristic expressions.

By our taking confirm and sure in the sense of legally guaran-

teed security, the statements in which they occur gain in

decisiveness and force.


            Symmachus 6 uses bebai<wsij once: Ps. 88 [89] 25 for

hnAUmx< (LXX a]lh<qeia).



            Very common in the LXX for the produce of the land;

so also in the Synoptists: its first occurrence not in Polybius;8


            1 Cf. also below, III. iii. 4.

            2 The kuro<w of Gal. 315, for instance, which is likewise forensic, is a

synonym. Cf., besides, Pap. Par. 20 (600 A.D., Notices, xviii. 2, p. 240) :

pra<sewj th?j kai> kuri<aj ou@shj kai> bebai<aj.

            3 Catenae Graecorum Patrum in N. T. ed. J. A. Cramer, v., Oxford, 1844,

p. 357.

            4 1 Cor. 1 6.8 (observe a]negklh<touj and pisto<j), Rom. 15 8; cf. Mark 1620:

            5 2 Cor. 16, Rom. 416; cf. 2 Pet. 110,19.                6 Field, ii., p. 243.

            7 In reference to the orthography cf. Winer-Schmiedel, § 5, 26 a (p. 55 f.)

The Papyri have ge<nhma; cf. below, III. i. 2.

            8 Clavis3, p. 78.

110                          BIBLE STUDIES.                          106, 107]


it is already found in connection with Egypt in Pap. Flind.

Petr. i. xvi. 21 (230 B.C.): ta> genh<mata tw?n u[parxo<ntwn moi

paradei<swn, and in several other passages of the same age.2




            Very familiar in the LXX, also in Paul,3 Synopt., John;

authenticated in the subsequent extra-biblical literature only

by Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus;4 but already used in the

sense of murmur in Pap. Flind. Petr. ii. ix. 3 5 (241-239 B.C.);

kai> to> plh<rwma (men) goggu<zei fa<menoi a]dikei?sqai.




            In the 0. T. the person designated scribe (rpeso and rFewo)

is generally the official. The LXX translate verbally—gram-

mateu<j—even in those passages where scribe seems to be used

in the military sense, i.e., of officers. One might conjecture

that in this they were slavishly subjecting themselves to the

original, the employment of grammateu<j in the military sense

being foreign to ordinary Greek usage. But their, rendering

is altogether correct from their own point of view: in Egyptian

Greek grammateu<j is used as the designation of an officer.

In Pap. Par. 63 6 (165 B.c.) we find the grammateu>j tw?n

maxi<mwn, and in Pap. Lond. xxiii.7 (158-157 B.c,) the gram-

mateu>j tw?n duna<mewn. This technical meaning 8 of the word

was familiar to the Alexandrian translators. So, e.g., 2 Chron.

2611, where the grammateu<j stands with the dia<doxoj;9 cf.

also Jer. 44 [37] 15.20—if Jonathan the scribe, in this passage,

is an officer. Similarly Judg. 5 14.10 The following passages,

again, are of great interest as showing indubitably that the

translators employed the technical term as they had learned

its use in their locality. The Hebrew of 2 Kings 2519 is

almost verbally repeated in Jer. 52 25, as is 2 Kings 24 18


            1 Mahaffy, i. [47].                      2 Cf. Index in Mahaffy, ii. [190].

            3 He probably knows the word from his Bible-readings: 1 Cor. 1010 is

an allusion to LXX Num. 14 27.

            4 Clavis3, p. 82.             6 Mahaffy, ii. [23].         6 Notices, xviii. 2, p. 367.

            7 Kenyon, p. 41.                        8 Cf. Lumbroso, Recherches, p. 231.

            9 On the technical meaning of this word see below, sub dia<doxoj.

            10 Cod. A has quite a different reading.