An Introduction to the New Testament

By Adolf Jülicher

Author's Preface


ʽTHE main lines that I have pursued in my treatment of the Introduction to the New Testament were laid down for me by the editorial conditions of this series.1 In order not to transgress these lines I have kept back a good deal that J would otherwise gladly have put forward in defence of my views. Nevertheless, the book is more voluminous than I could wish. The second and third parts, containing the history of the Canon and of the text, are mostly to blame for this; I was least willing to be sparing on this subject, because, as a rule, it is held of too little account, whereas an insight into the growth of the Canon and the text is calculated more than anything else to bring about a healthy conception of theological problems.

ʽThe idea of competing with a work like Holtzmannʼs “Introduction” has naturally never occurred to me. As before, his book will remain indispensable for exhaustive studies in this branch of science. All I have desired has been to furnish an introduction to Holtzmann and to Weizsacker, and to stimulate the interest of students towards yet further study. The expert will not fail to detect that I often quietly expound other peopleʼs views while appearing only to advance my own; and everyone knows that what I have brought forward in this book has been gradually accumulated by the faithful labour of whole generations and has not been discovered by me. I shall not dispute priority with anyone on the strength of the present book.

ʽAs to readers, I only wish for those who regard as justified a strictly historical treatment of the study of the New Testament, but, granted this condition, a special theological training is not necessary. On the contrary, I hope to meet ʽa want that undoubtedly exists, outside theological circles, among people of education, by telling the history of the New Testament from its beginnings in the simplest possible way, confining myself to essentials.

ʽAs this is not an edition of the text, or merely a book of reference, the Index is only meant to facilitate the discovery of items which are not easily to be found in the Table of Contents.ʼ


The above sentences from the Preface to the first edition (1894) are still valid for the present one. The book has been so benevolently judged by theological critics, as well as by the general reader, so far as the judgments of both have reached me, that I have not thought myself at liberty to change anything essential in its form and point of view. If it has unfortunately grown to the extent of some 100 pages, that is merely the result of an increase in the new material which calls for consideration within the old subdivisions. I have not confined myself to the elimination of certain errors of detail which had been pointed out to me, nor to providing a richer and more convenient supply of bibliographical data chiefly in the interests of students, nor to making the treatment of the different sections more strictly uniform. Impelled and enlightened by the contributions which German, English and French writers have made in wonderful fulness and variety to New Testament science precisely during the last six years, I have once more worked through all problems properly belonging to an ʽIntroduction,ʼ and am not ashamed to say that I have attained to a better insight in many points of importance. But even where that was not the case, I found myself compelled to discuss new questions which had been raised, to put before the reader new proposals that had been offered for the solution of old problems, and generally to make him acquainted with the special circumstances and influences affecting our subject (Disciplin) at the opening of the new century.2 Though I have not altered for the sake of altering, I hope that I have throughout written as I must have written in 1900 if no 1894 had gone before.

The portion of the book which has been subjected to least revision is the history of the Canon: in an outline like this there is simply no room for the numerous additions which I would gladly have made. By far the largest share has gone to Part I., the history of the different Books of the New

Testament. The Gospel of John and Acts, which had previously come off but poorly, have had justice done them; in the case of the Synoptic Gospels also, the Apocalypse, the Catholic Epistles, and many Pauline Epistles, including the Pastoral Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews, as well as in the introductory paragraphs concerning the Apostle Paul, it will be found that I have not ceased to learn.

I have not yet been able to meet the desire expressed by a particularly valued critic that I should open the first chapter with a brief history of Greek epistolary literature: I am unable to perform the task in such a way that the interpretation of Paulʼs letters would gain thereby. In other cases where I appear to have overlooked certain publicly expressed objections to my ʽIntroduction,ʼ the reason lies in the firmness of my own conviction,— for instance, that the persons addressed in the Epistle to the Hebrews are not Jewish Christians, and still less natives of Palestine.

Only one deficiency in my book have I maintained on principle: one of my critics found it not ʽtheologicalʼ enough. If that meant that I was wanting in love for the subject and in understanding of it, and if I failed to increase both in my readers, that deficiency would be the gravest conceivable. As that is not the meaning, what is asked for must either be a more detailed investigation of the world of religious thought in which the New Testament writers lived, or what is called ʽan edifying tone.ʼ It is not for me, however, to trespass on the domain of another science, that of New Testament theology, nor to win praise by a style unsuited to this handbook. I can only hope that in a book which ought to be universally intelligible, 1 have never allowed myself to be driven on to a false road by the special interests of theology, or the preconceptions of the theological ʽDocentʼ!


Marburg: October 31, 1900.



1) Grundriss der Theologischen Wissenschaften, J.C. B. Mohr, Tübingen and Leipzig.

2) The preceding is not an exact translation, but a paraphrase of the German, omitting certain controversial allusions more likely to be understood by German than by English readers.