Guided By The Gospel
The New Testament: Cambridge Summer School Lectures for 1937. (Burns, Oates and Washbourne, 7s. 6d.) Reviewed by J. H. CREHAN, S.J.
When St. Thomas More has to defend the control exercised by the medieval Church on indiscriminate Bible-reading, he remarks: " lo say the trouth, I can see none harm therein though the Bishop shold cornntit unto some man the gospel of Mathew Marke or Luke, whom lie shoulde yet forbid the gospel! of St. John, and suffer some to read the tales of the Apostles whom he woulde not suffer to mettle with the A pocalips."
It is to meet difficulties of this nature that lectures on New Testament matters, such as those in this book, are put at the disposal of Catholics; and quite fittingly the New Testament was taken as the subject of last year's Summer School, to mark the fact that the new Catholic translation, the Westminster Version, of the New Testament is now complete.
The greater number of these essays are by Scripture scholars from among the secular clergy, and appropriately; for they have the honour of having produced both Rheims and Dottay versloris;valthough -their 'great scholars'andhumanists of Elizabethan days, Allen, Bristow, Reynolds, Worthington, and Gregory Martin, are too little known today.
There are introductions to the various branches of New Testament study (text, history, Canon, Apocrypha, synoptic problems, etc.), but the essays that will probably prove most popular are four, those on St. Peter and St. Paul by Mgr. Knox and Fr. Martindale, an original study of the Parables by Archbishop Goodier, and a very useful treatment of " The Gospels as a Source of Dogma by Dr. Davis.
There is no discussion of the authenticity of the first three gospels, but St. John receives full justice from Fr. Kehoe, O.P. (His concluding paragraph: "It remains to reject the Johannine authorship," disconcerts the reader, but when he reads it carefully he finds no cause for alarm.) There are some discrepancies between essay and essay, as when Mgr. Barton and Dr. Morgan differ about the date of the dividing of the text into verses, or in the two views (given on pp. 92 and 145) of the power of a Jewish memory; and there is not an entire freedom from venial sins against scholarship. (Thus the pax Romana did not reach its greatest extent under Augustus nor was he ever called summits Pontifex.)
Two passages merit special praise, the one being a discussion by Dr. Patten of the first formation of the New Testament as a single entity, and the second, in Dr. Morgan's essay, an exhortation to brighten Scripture teaching. He quotes Fillion as saying : " I burned incense and myrrh in my classes on the Epiphany, I gave my students unleavened bread at Easter, and I taught them some ancient Hebrew melodies."