RPM, Volume 18, Number 2, January 3 to January 9, 2016

Introduction to the New Testament

By Louis Berkhof

Note: some of the "words" in the original text in unintelligible. We have left the original "words" just as they are presently found in the text.

Table of Contents:

The Gospels in General
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The Acts of the Apostles
The Epistles in General
The Epistles of Paul
The Epistle to the Romans
The First Epistle to the Corinthians
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians
The Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle to the Ephesians
The Epistle to the Philippians
The Epistle to the Colossians
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Pastoral Epistles
The First Epistle to Timothy
The Second Epistle to Timothy
The Epistle to Titus
The Epistle to Philemon
The Epistle to the Hebrews
The General Epistle of James
The First General Epistle of Peter
The Second General Epistle of Peter
The First General Epistle of John
The Second and Third General Epistles of John
The General Epistle of Jude
The Revelation of John


1. Name And Idea.

The name Introduction or Isagogics (from the Greek eisagōgÄ") did not always denote what it does today. As it is used by the monk Adrianus (circa 440) and by Cassiodorus (circa 570), it designates a conglomeration of rhetorical archaeo1ogica1, geographical and historical matter such as might be helpful in the interpretation of Scripture. In course of time the connotation of the word changed. Michaelis (1750) was the first one to employ it in something like its present sense, when he entitled his work, devoted to the literary historical questions of the New Testament, Einleitung in die gottlichen Schriften des neuen Bundes. The study of Introduction was gradually limited to an investigation of the origin, the composition, the history, and the significance of the Bible as a whole (General Introduction), or of its separate books (Special Introduction). But as a designation of this discipline the name Introduction did not meet with general approval. It was pointed out--and correctly so--that the name is too comprehensive, since there are other disciplinae that introduce to the study of the Bible; and that it does not express the essential character of the discipline, but only one of its practical uses.

Several attempts have been made to supply a name that is more in harmony with the central contents and the unifying principle of this study. But opinions differed as to the essential character of the discipline. Some scholars, as Reuss, Credner and Hupfeld, emphasizing its historical nature, would designate it by a name something like that already employed by Richard Simon in 1678, when he styled his work, "Critical History of the Old Testament. Thus Hupfeld says: "Der eigentliche und allein richtige Name der Wissenschaft in ihrem heutigen Sinn ist demnach Geschichte der heiligen Schrif ten Alten und Neuen Testaments." Begriff und Methode des sogenannten biblischen Finleitung p. 12. Reuss arranged his work entirely on this principle. It was objected however, by several scholars that a history of the Biblical literature is now, and perhaps for all time an impossibility and that such a treatment necessarily leads to a co-ordination of the canonical and the apocryphal books. And this is just what we find in the History of Reuss. Hence the great majority of New Testament scholars, as Bleek, Weiss, Davidson, Holtzmann, Julicher, Zahn e.a. prefer to retain the old name, either with or without the qualification, "historical-critical."

Another and important stricture on the name suggested by Hupfeld, is that it loses sight of the theological character of this discipline. Holtzmann correctly says: "Als Glied des Organismus der theologischen Wissenschaften ist die biblische Einleitung allerdings nur vom Begriffe des Kanons aus zu begreif en, nur in ihm findet sie ihre innere Einheit, "Historisch-critische Finleitung in das Neue Testament p. 11. This special consideration also leads Kuyper to prefer the name Special Canonics. Encyclopaedie der Heilige Godgeleerdheid III p. 22 ff. Ideally this name is probably the best; it is certainly better than the others, but for practical reasons it seems preferable to abide by the generally recognized name Introduction. There is no serious objection to this, if we but remember its deficiency, and bear in mind that verba valent usu.

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