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attaches to individual opinions. Nor again have I generally quoted the authorities for the views adopted or for the illustrations and references incorporated in my notes, when these are to be found in previous commentaries or in any common book of reference. I have sometimes however departed from this rule for a special reason, as for instance where it was best to give the exact words of a previous writer.
As the plan of this work thus excludes special acknowledgments in the notes, I am anxious to state generally my obligations to others.
What I owe to the fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries will appear very plainly in the notes and in the appendix on the patristic commentators. After these, my obligations are greatest to English and German writers of the last few years. The period from the fifth century to the Reformation was an entire blank as regards any progress made in the interpretation of this epistle. And from that time to the present century, though single commentators of great merit have appeared at intervals, Calvin for instance in the sixteenth century, Grotius in the seventeenth, and Bengel in the eighteenth, there has been no such marked development of interpretational criticism as we have seen in our own time. The value of Luther's work stands apart from and in some respects higher than its merits as a commentary.
To more recent critics therefore I am chiefly indebted. Among my own countrymen I wish to acknowledge my obligations chiefly to Professor Jowett who has made the habits of thought in the Apostolic age his special study, and to Bishop Ellicott who has subjected the Apostle's language to a minute and careful scrutiny. Besides these I have consulted with advantage the portions relating to this epistle in the general commentaries of Dean Alford and Dr Wordsworth. Among German writers I am indebted especially to the tact and scholarship of Meyer and to the conscientious labours of Wieseler. Ewald is always instructive; but my acknowledgments are due more to the History of this truly great biblical scholar than to
his edition of St Paul's Epistles. Roman Catholic theology is well represented in the devout and intelligent commentary of Windischmann: and the Tübingen school has furnished an able and learned expositor in Hilgenfeld. I have found both these commentators useful though in a widely different way. Besides the writers already mentioned I have constantly consulted Winer, Olshausen, De Wette, and Schott; and to all of these, to the first especially, I am indebted.
I need scarcely add that my obligations to these various writers differ widely in kind. Nor will it be necessary to guard against the inference that the extent of these obligations is a measure of my general agreement with the opinions of the writers. He who succeeds signally in one branch of biblical criticism or interpretation will often fail as signally in another. I do not feel called upon to point out what seem to me to be the faults of writers to whom I am most largely indebted, and I have certainly no wish to blunt the edge of my acknowledgments by doing so.
Besides commentaries, great use has been made of the common aids to the study of the language of the Greek Testament. The works to which I am most indebted in matters of
grammar will appear from the frequent references in the notes. The third English edition of Winer (Edinburgh, 1861) has been used'. I have also availed myself constantly of the well-known collections of illustrative parallels by Wetstein, Schöttgen, Grinfield, and others; of indices to the later classical writers and earlier fathers; of the Concordances to the Septuagint and New Testament; and of the more important Greek Lexicons, especially Hase and Dindorf's edition of Stephanus.
My thanks are due for valuable suggestions and corrections to the Rev. F. J. A. Hort, late Fellow of Trinity College, and to W. A. Wright, Esq., Librarian of Trinity College; and also to other personal friends who have kindly assisted me in correcting the proof-sheets.
* The references to Winer have since been altered and adapted to Moulton's Translation, Edinburgh, 1870.
Though I have taken pains to be accurate, experience gained in the progress of the work has made me keenly alive to a constant liability to error; and I shall therefore esteem any corrections as a favour. I should wish moreover to adopt the language of a wise theologian, whose tone and temper I would gladly take for my model, and to claim a right to retract any opinion which improvement in reasoning and knowledge may at any time show me is groundless' (Hey's Lectures on the Articles).
While it has been my object to make this commentary generally complete, I have paid special attention to everything relating to St Paul's personal history and his intercourse with the Apostles and Church of the Circumcision. It is this feature in the Epistle to the Galatians which has given it an overwhelming interest in recent theological controversy. Though circumstances have for the moment concentrated the attention of Englishmen on the Old Testament Scriptures, the questions which have been raised on this Epistle are intrinsically far more important, because they touch the vital parts of Christianity. If the primitive Gospel was, as some have represented it, merely one of many phases of Judaism, if those cherished beliefs which have been the life and light of many generations were afterthoughts, progressive accretions, having no foundation in the Person and Teaching of Christ, then indeed St Paul's preaching was vain and our faith is vain also. I feel very confident that the historical views of the Tübingen school are too extravagant to obtain any wide or lasting hold over the minds of men. But even in extreme cases mere denunciation may be unjust and is certainly unavailing. Moreover, for our own sakes we should try and discover the element of truth which underlies even the greatest exaggerations of able men, and correct our impressions thereby.
A number there are,' says Hooker, 'who think they cannot admire, as they ought, the power of the Word of God, if in things divine they should attribute any force to man's reason.' The circumstances which called forth this remark contrast strangely with the main controversies of the present day; but the caution is equally needed. The abnegation of reason is not the evidence of faith but the confession of despair. Reason and reverence are natural allies, though untoward circumstances may sometimes interpose and divorce them.
Any one who has attempted to comment on St Paul's Epistles must feel on laying down his task how far he has fallen short even of his own poor ideal. Luther himself expresses his shame that his ‘so barren and simple commentaries should be set forth upon so worthy an Apostle and elect vessel of God.' Yet no man had a higher claim to a hearing on such a subject; for no man was better fitted by the sympathy of like experiences to appreciate the character and teaching of St Paul. One who possesses no such qualifications is entitled to feel and to express still deeper misgivings.
February 18, 1865.
TEXT AND NOTES.
i. 1-i. 24