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6. La Russie Epique. Études sur les Chansons Hé.
roïques de la Russie. By Alfred Rambaud. Paris :
Art. 1.-1. Supernatural Religion : An Inquiry into the
Reality of Divine Revelation. In 2 vols. Sixth Edition,
carefully revised. Part III. London: 1875. 2. The Gnostic Heresies of the First and Second Centuries.
By the late HENRY LONGUEVILLE MANSEL, D.D., Dean of St. Paul's, sometime Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford. Edited by J. B. LIGHTFOOT, D.D., Canon of
, St. Paul's. London: 1875. 3. St. John the Author of the Fourth Gospel. By CHRISTOPH
Ernst LUTHARDT, Professor of Theology at Leipzig, &c. &c. Revised, Translated, and the Literature much enlarged
by Caspar René Gregory, Leipzig. Edinburgh: 1875. 4. Historisch-Kritische Einleitung in das Neue Testament. Von
Dr. ADOLF HILGENFELD, Professor der Theologie in
Jena. Leipzig: 1875. TIE inquiry into the origin of the fourth Gospel, which has
been recently revived by the author of Supernatural Religion,' presents many points of interest to the general reader as well as to the theological student. It may, at first sight, seem strauge that so fierce a battle should be fought over a book the pervading spirit of which is aptly represented in the traditional saying of its reputed author, Little children, love ‘one another. But the surprise thus awakened is speedily dispelled when we take a comprehensive survey of the issues which are involved in the determination of the present controversy. It is, in every respect, undesirable that the importance of those issues should be unduly magnified. Christianity existed as an historical fact, amply attested by credible witnesses, long before the earliest date which has been assigned to the com
VOL, CXLV. NO. CCXCVII.
position of the fourth Gospel; and Christianity would still repose on the same unshaken foundation if that Gospel could be proved to have been written—not by an eye-witness of the events which are recorded in it, but—by some unknown author, in the middle, or the latter end, of the second century. the other hand, it will be admitted by the apologists of Christianity—as it is eagerly urged by its assailants—that there is a sense in which the genuineness of the fourth Gospel is justly regarded as an articulus stantis aut cadentis Ecclesia. If it may be affirmed with truth respecting St. Augustine that he moulded for many centuries the creed of Western Christendom, it may be said with yet greater truth of the writer of the fourth Gospel that he has moulded the outward form of Christianity itself; the theology of that Gospel being stamped on the teaching of the earliest ecclesiastical writers, both orthodox and heterodox, and its doctrinal statements having furnished materials alike for the assaults which have been directed against Christianity, and for the apologies which have been made on its behalf, from the middle of the second century down to the present time.
It is true, indeed, that the fourth Gospel, so far from introducing into the Church any new teaching concerning Christ or Christianity, does but reaffirm that which had been taught from the beginning,' and which is embodied in the three earlier, commonly known as the Synoptic Gospels, and in the Epistles of St. Paul. It is equally true, however, that the negative criticism of our own times has discovered methods of disparaging the contents of those writings which are inapplicable to the fourth Gospel ; and, consequently, that this Gospel has been found to present the most insuperable obstacle in the way of modern unbelief. With a view to the removal of this obstacle, the author of “Supernatural Religion has exerted his utmost efforts and ingenuity to disparage both the external and internal evidence which attest the genuineness of this Gospel. We shall deal very briefly with the former of these topics, (1) because the external evidence in favour of the fourth Gospel—even as it has been exhibited by the author of • Supernatural Religion '-is too strong to be shaken by his attempts to invalidate it; and (2) because Professor Lightfoot, in a series of articles of unrivalled learning and ability, recently contributed to the Contemporary Review,' has not only proved the incapacity of the writer of that book to deal with the subject which he has taken in hand, but has clearly exposed the fallacy of his statements, and supplied conclusive answers to the strongest of his objections.