By Harris Franklin Rall
The character of this volume is to be understood in the light of its purpose. It does not aim to include every item of the gospel records. It does not try to give all possible knowledge about customs and places. It seeks to utilize assured critical results, but it does not give critical studies. Though interested in spiritual values, its purpose is not that of a devotional handbook. Nor is its chief concern the attempt to arrange all the gospel incidents in chronological order.
This volume is one of a series of biblical studies under the general title, "The Development of the Kingdom of God." Back of that title lies the conviction that history is the carrying out of a great purpose of God. Jesus of Nazareth has been the greatest creative force in this movement of humanity. It is this place which he holds in the life and faith of the world that gives the supreme reason for our study, and determines the questions that we ask. Under what conditions did Jesus begin his work? What purpose did he set before him? How did he plan its achievement? What course did he pursue? What was the issue of his life ? What manner of man was he ?
Such a study will be historical; it must see Jesus in ^.he movement of history and in the setting of his day. It must be vital, looking beneath words and incidents to deeper meanings. It must be dynamic; not painting a mediaeval saint, beautiful but lifeless upon his background of gold, but showing us that Person from whom the potent forces of human history have come.
In revising these studies the author has had constantly in mind their intended wider uses and value for advanced classes in preparatory and high schools and the first year in college, where there has been an increasing demand for texts which, while scholarly in treatment and modern in standpoint, shall be simpler and briefer than most books now available. A companion volume is being issued on the teachings of Jesus by the same author. Constant reference to the latter will greatly aid in the study of Jesus' life. The world has had no other leader in whom life and Word are so absolutely one, and each so necessary to the understanding of the other.
Harris Franklin Fall.