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PROFESSOR BURTON'S COMMENTARY ON GALATIANS'
Students of Paulinism, who for long have been looking forward to
the appearance of Professor Burton's GalaUans, will not, when they have
studied this volume, regret the time they have had to wait. For very
rarely in the history of the New Testament scholarship does a book appear
which so remarkably reveals complete mastery of the material, scrupulous
balance of judgment, and the capacity of stating conclusions in language
which no inteUigent reader can mistake.
The writer tells us in the Preface that he determined to give his
chief attention to "fresh historical study of the vocabulary of the letter."
And he has brilliantly succeeded in his aim. Many of the notes are most
important contributions to the lexicography of the New Testament, and
he has added full appendixes on some of the most prominent terms of
Paul's vocabulary, such as airSaroKos, iiackricrla, x^pts, i-na-prla, vbiwi,
biKaioahini, SiaOriKri, and Others, which are models of scholarly workman-
ship, and constantly most valuable studies of New Testament theology.
Noteworthy in this respect is the elaborate appendix on "Titles and
Predicates of Jesus Recurring in the PauUne Epistle."
As we might expect, from Professor Burton's past work, large emphasis
is laid on grammatical considerations, and perhaps nowhere else does he
achieve more satisf jdng lucidity. We are all acquainted with grammatical
explanations that leave us utterly befogged. These often spring from
lack of clear thinking. Dr. Burton has thought out his expositions to
the end, and therefore is not contented with vague remarks. But this
clearness is never reached hastily. Seldom have we come across a
commentator who states his position with greater caution. Take, e.g.,
his view of the destination of the epistle. After presenting a very conclu-
sive argument in favor of the South-Galatian theory, he sums up:
In view of all the extant evidence we conclude that the balance of proba-
bility is in favor of the South-Galatian view. The North-Galatian theory
in the form advocated by Sieffert, Schmiedel and Moffatt is not impossible.
If in place of the incomplete and obscure, possibly inaccurate, language of
Acts i6:6 and 18:23 we had clear and definite evidence, the evidence might
' A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. By Ernest D.
Burton. New York: Scribner, 1920. lxxxix-l-S4i pages. $4.50.
BOOK REVIEWS 319
prove the existence of the North-Galatian churches founded by Paul before
the writing of this letter But the evidence as it stands is not sufficient
to bear the weight of theory which this hypothesis involves, including, as it
does, the very existence of churches of whose existence we have no direct or
definite evidence [p. xUv].
What a contrast to the dogmatic statement of partisans on both sides of
this keenly debated controversy. Similarly, Dr. Burton, in deference to
the evidence, does not hesitate to oppose the fashionable current of
opinion regarding the explanation of the phrase to. o-roixeta tov kooimv
[Gal. 4:3]. After a most careful examination of all the facts, Burton
While .... the discovery of convincing evidence that o-roixeta was in
correct use as a designation of the heavenly bodies conceived of as living beings,
or of spirits that inhabit all existence, might make it possible that it was to
these that Paul referred, it would become probable only on the basis of new
evidence, and even then the contextual evidence is against it [p. 518].
He agrees, therefore, with the older interpretations, as found in Tertul-
lian, Erasmus, Lightfoot, and others, and translates: "The rudimentary
religious teachings possessed by the race."
But this scrupulous respect for the evidence does not lead to any
haziness of statement. Indeed, one of the special merits of this com-
mentary is that the author invariably prints his interpretation of the
passage under review in such a way that one can catch his meanmg at
once. But that meaning is reached by the most patient investigation.
One only fears that in this hurried age readers may not be willing to
follow the laborious steps of the editor. The only passage in which we
ourselves must plead guilty of this impatience is the appendix on Paul's
use of pojuos. We could not help feeling that that discussion was more
hairsplitting than the facts demanded. Surely the apostle did not vary
between such minute shades of meaning, as he dealt with the Law. We
are inclined to think that Dr. Burton has not sufficiently realized Paul's
final antipathy to the Law, as suggested by such passages as Col. 2 : 14 and
We have little space in which to illustrate the richness of the exposition
of the epistle. But we would call special attention to the notes on the
difficult verse, 1:10, the examination of the phrase rah k/cXijo-tais tjjs
'louSaias, the grammatical investigation of TjvayKkaBri (2:3), the exhibition
of the territorial rather than racial force of «is tA Win) (2:9), the discussion
of the chronology of the dispute at Antioch (p. 105), the meaning of the
Jerusalem decision, "a compromise between contradictions," the validity
of the Law, and its non-validity (p. 114), the remarkably acute estimate
320 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION
of the argument in 2:16-17, the exact interpretation of 3:13 (p. 174).
Peculiarly convincing is Dr. Burton's treatment of the term Siad^Ki] in
the third chapter. He gives the clue to what it means on page 183 : "In
it God toolc the initiative, and it was primarily an expression of his grace
and authority, not a bargain between equals." And again, in the
Appendix, page 504:
It remains, therefore, that while it is by no means impossible that Paul
should, availing himself of the more common usage of dtaBrjKri in the Greek-
speaking world at large, have converted the "covenant" with Abraham into
a "will, " and based an argument concerning it on the usage of the Greek world
in respect to wills, yet the evidence of usage and the passage tend strongly to
the conclusion that this is not what he did, but that, though in 4: i he arrived
by successive shadings of thought at the idea of an heir, by biadrjKr] (3:15,17)
he meant not "will" but "covenant" in the sense of the Old Testament n^13 ■
It is to be hoped we shall have no more irrelevant Papyri evidence dragged
into the discussion, in entire forgetfulness of the fact that Paul was far more a
Jew than a Greek.
Dr. Burton inserts some unusually valuable notes when we should
have scarcely expected them, e.g., that on t6v \6yov, page 337, in which
we have a most illimiinating discussion of the elements that entered into
early Christian instruction. We hesitate to differ from the editor on a
point of grammar, but we are not clear that, to the extent he supposes,
ev in the phrase kv XpiarQ 'Irjcrov is intended " to mark its object as the
causal ground or basis" of something rather than to mean "in fellowship
The book is excellently printed. We have noticed some trifling
misprints (mostly in Greek words) on pages Ixxv, Ixxxix, 54, 126, 166,
179, 192, 237, 240, 251, 256, 353, 450, 49S.
H. A. A. Kennedy
New College, Edinburgh
THE PREACHER CONFRONTING THE MODERN WORLD'
In the long and notable series of "Yale Lectures on Preaching," no
volume is more searching and provocative than this. No man can read
it and remain neutral. It demands either gratitude for a true diagnosis
of world-wide soul-sickness, or resistance and rejection.
The lectures affirm that the modern preacher to be effective must
understand the regulative ideas of the age in which he lives, and that
those ideas today are largely pagan. For the last three or four centuries
" Preaching and Paganism. ("The Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching.") By
Albert Parker Fitch. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920. 229 pages. $2 .00.