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The following chapters are the work of intervals of leisure scattered over a long time. The exposition had advanced some way when an unexpected call to new and exacting duties compelled me to put it aside for several years. Accordingly a certain difference of treatment in the later chapters as compared with the earlier will probably be seen by the reader, particularly a rather fuller detail in the exposition. But purpose and plan are essentially the same throughout.

No attempt whatever is made, here or in the course of the work, to deal with those literary and historical problems which so conspicuously attach themselves to this Epistle. Who the "Hebrews" were is nowhere discussed. Nor is any positive answer offered to a question to which assuredly no such answer can be given, the question, namely, of the authorship. In my opinion, in face of all that I have read vito the contrary, it still seems at least possible that the ultimate human author was St. Paul. All, or very nearly all, the objections to his name which the phenomena of the Epistle primâ facie present, and some of which lie unquestionably deep, seem to be capable of a provisional answer if we assume, what is so conceivable, that the Apostle committed his message and its argument, on purpose, to a colleague so gifted, mentally and by the Spirit, that he might be trusted to cast the work into his own style. The well-known remark of Origen that only God knows who "wrote" the Epistle appears to me to point (if we look at its context) this way. Origen surely means by the "writer" what is meant in Rom. xvi. 22. Only, on the hypothesis, the amanuensis of our Epistle was, for a special purpose presumably, a Christian prophet in his own right.

In any case the author, if not an apostle, was a prophet. And he carries to us a prophet's "burthen" of unspeakable import, and in words to which all through the Christian ages the soul has responded as to the words of the Holy Spirit.


Easter, 1909.


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