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L i f e  a n d  E p i s t l e s  o f  S a i n t  P a u l
By W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson
Introduction
The purpose of this work is to give a living picture of Paul himself and of the circumstances by which he was surrounded. 

The biography of the Apostle must be compiled from two sources; first, his own letters and secondly, the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles. The latter, after a slight sketch of his early history, supplies us with fuller details of his middle life. His Epistles afford much subsidiary information concerning his missionary labours during the same period. 

The light concentrated upon this portion of his course, makes darker by contrast the obscurity which rests upon the remainder; for we are left to gain what knowledge we can of his later years, from scattered hints in a few short letters of his own, and from a single sentence of his disciple Clement. 

But in order to present anything like a living picture of St. Paul’s career, much more is necessary than a mere transcript of the Scriptural narrative, even where it is fullest. Every step of his course brings us into contact with some new phase of ancient life, unfamiliar to our modern experience, and upon which we must throw light from other sources, if we wish it to form a distinct image in the mind. For example, to comprehend the influences under which he grew to manhood, we must realise the position of a Jewish family in Tarsus, "the chief city of Cilicia;" we must understand the kind of education which the son of such a family would receive as a boy in his Hebrew home, or in the schools of his native city, and in his riper youth "at the feet of Gamaliel" in Jerusalem; we must be acquainted with the profession for which he was to be prepared by this training, and appreciate the station and duties of an expounder of the Law. And that we may be fully qualified to do all this, we should have a clear view of the state of the Roman empire at the same time, and especially of its system in the provinces; we should also understand the political position of the Jews of the "dispersion;" we should be (so to speak) hearers in their synagogues; we should be students of their Rabbinical theology. And in like manner, as we follow the Apostle in the different stages of his varied and adventurous career, we must strive continually to bring out in their true brightness the half effaced forms and colouring of the scene in which he acts; and while he "becomes all things to all men, that he might by all means save some," we must form to ourselves a living likeness of the things and of the men among which he moved, if we would rightly estimate his work. Thus we must study Christianity rising in the midst of Judaism, we must realize the position of its early churches with their mixed society, to which Jews, Proselytes, and Heathens had each contributed a characteristic element; we must qualify ourselves to be umpires (if we may so speak) in their violent internal divisions; we must listen to the strife of their schismatic parties, when one said "I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos;" we must study the true character of those early heresies which even denied the resurrection, and advocated impurity and lawlessness, claiming the right "to sin that grace might abound," "defiling the mind and conscience" of their followers, and making them abominable and disobedient, and "to every good work reprobate;" we must trace the extent to which Greek philosophy, Judaizing formalism, and Eastern superstition blende their tainting influence with the pure fermentation of that new leaven which was at last to leaven the whole mass of civilized society. 

Again, to understand St. Paul’s personal history as a missionary to the heathen, we must know the state of the different populations which he visited; the character of the Greek and Roman civilization at the epoch; the points of intersection between the political history of the world and the scriptural narrative; the social organization and gradation of ranks, for which he enjoins respect; the position of women, to which he especially refers in many of his letters; the relations between parents and children, slaves and masters, which he not vainly sought to imbue with the loving spirit of the Gospel; the quality and influence, under the early empire, of the Greek and Roman religions, whose effete corruptness he denounces with such indignant scorn; the public amusements of the people, whence he draws topics of warning or illustration; the operation of the Roman law, under which he was so frequently arraigned; the courts in which he was tried, and the magistrates by whose sentence he suffered; the legionary soldiers who acted as his guards; the roads by which he travelled, whether through the mountains of Lycaonia or the marshes of Latiumn; the course of commerce by which his journeys were so often regulated; and the character of that imperfect navigation by which his life was so many times endangered. 

While thus trying to live in the life of a bygone age and to call up the figure of the past from its tomb, duly robed in all its former raiment, every help is welcome which enables us to fill up the dim outline in any part of its reality. Especially we delight to look upon the only one of the manifold features of that past existence, which still is living. We remember with pleasure that the earth, the sea and the sky still combine for us in the same landscapes which passed before the eyes of the wayfaring Apostle. The plain of Cilicia, the snowy distances of Taurus, the cold and rapid stream of the Cydnus, the broad Orontes under the shadow of its steep banks with their thickets of jasmine and oleander; the hills which "stand about Jerusalem," the "arched fountains cold" in the ravines below, and those "flowery brooks beneath, that wash their hallowed feet;" the capes and islands of the Grecian Sea, the craggy summit of Areopagus, the landlocked harbour of Syracuse, the towering cone of Etna, the voluptuous loveliness of the Campanian shore; all these remain to us, the imperishable handiwork of nature. We can still look upon the same trees and flowers which he saw clothing the mountains, giving color to the plains, or reflected in the rivers; we may think of him among the palms of Syria, the cedars of Lebanon, the olives of Attica, the green Isthmian pines of Corinth, whose leaves wove those "fading garlands," which he contrasts with the "incorruptible crown," the prize for which he fought. Nay we can even still look upon some of the works of man which filled him with wonder, or moved him to indignation. The temples "made with hands" which rose before him—the very apotheosis of idolatry—on the Acropolis, still stand in almost undiminished majesty and beauty. The mole on which he landed at Puteoli still stretches its ruins into the blue waters of the bay. The remains of the Baian Villas whose marble porticoes he then beheld glittering in the sunset—his first specimen of Italian luxury—still are seen along the shore. We may still enter Rome as he did by the same Appian Road, through the same Capenian Gate, and wander among the ruins of "Caesar’s palace" on the Palatine, while our eye rests upon the same aqueducts radiating over the Campagna to the unchanging hills. Those who have visited these spots must often have felt a thrill of recollection as they trod in the footsteps of the Apostle; they must have been conscious how much the identity of the outward scene brought them into communion with him, while they tried to image to themselves the feelings with which he must have looked upon the objects before them. They who have experienced this will feel how imperfect a biography of St. Paul must be, without faithful representations of the places which he visited. It is hoped that the views which are contained in the present work, and which have been drawn for this special object, will supply this desideratum. And it is evident that, for the purposes of such a biography, nothing but true and faithful representations of the real scenes will be valuable; these are what is wanted, and not ideal representations, even though copied from the works of the greatest masters; for, as it has been well said, "nature and reality painted at the time, and on the spot, a nobler cartoon of St. Paul’s preaching at Athens than the immortal Rafaelle afterwards has done." 

For a similar reason maps have been added, exhibiting with as much accuracy as can at present be attained the physical features of the countries visited, and some of the ancient routes through them, together with plans of the most important cities, and maritime charts of the coasts where they were required. 

While thus endeavouring to represent faithfully the natural objects and architectural remains connected with the narrative, it has likewise been attempted to give such illustrations as were needful of the minor productions of human art as they existed in the first century. For this purpose engravings of Coins have been given in all cases where they seemed to throw light on the circumstances mentioned in the history; and recourse has been had to the stores of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as to the collection of the Vatican, and the columns of Trajan and Antoninus. 

But after all this is done—after we have endeavoured, with every help we can command, to reproduce the picture of St. Paul’s deeds and times—how small would our knowledge of himself remain, if we had no other record of him left us but the story of his adventures. If his letters had never come down to us, we should have known indeed what he did and suffered, but we should have had very little idea of what he was. Even if we could perfectly succeed in restoring the image of the scenes and circumstances in which he moved,—even if we could, as in a magic mirror, behold him speaking in the school of Tyrannus, with his Ephesian hearers in their national costume around him,—we should still see very little of Paul of Tarsus. We must listen to his words, if we would learn to know him. If fancy did her utmost, she could give us only his outward not his inward life. "His bodily presence" (so his enemies declared) "was weak and contemptible;" but "his letters" (even they allowed) "were weighty and powerful." Moreover an effort of imagination and memory is needed to recall the past, but in his Epistles St. Paul is present with us. "His words are not dead words, they are living creatures with hands and feet," touching in a thousand hearts at this very hour the same chord of feeling which vibrated to their first utterance. We, the Christians of the nineteenth century, can bear witness now, as fully as could a Byzantine audience fourteen hundred years ago, to the saying of Chrysostom, that "Paul by his letters still lives in the mouths of men throughout the whole world; by them not only his own converts, but all the faithful even unto this day, yea and all the saints who are yet to be born, until Christ’s coming again, both have been and shall be blessed." His Epistles are to his inward life, what the mountains and rivers of Asia and Greece and Italy are to his outward life,—the imperishable part which still remains to us, when all that time can ruin has passed away.

It is in these letters then that we must study the true life of St. Paul, from its inmost depths and springs of action, which were "hidden with Christ in God," down to its most minute developements, and peculiar individual manifestations. In them we learn (to use the language of Gregory Nazianzene) "what is told of Paul by Paul himself." Their most sacred contents indeed rise above all that is peculiar to the individual writer; for they are the communications of God to man concerning the faith and life of Christians; which St. Paul declared (as he often asserts) by the immediate revelation of Christ himself. But his manner of teaching these eternal truths is coloured by his human character, and peculiar to himself. And such individual features are naturally impressed much more upon epistles than upon any other kind of composition. For here we have not treatises, or sermons, which may dwell in the general and abstract, but real letters, written to meet the actual wants of living men; giving immediate answers to real questions, and warnings against pressing dangers; full of the interests of the passing hour. And this, which must be more or less the case with all epistles addressed to particular Churches, is especially so with those of St. Paul. In his case it is not too much to say that his letters are Himself—a portrait painted by his own hand, of which every feature may be "known and read of all men." 

It is not merely that in them we see the proof of his powerful intellect, his insight into the foundations of natural theology, and of moral philosophy; for in such points, though the philosophical expression might belong to himself, the truths expressed were taught him of God. It is not only that we there find models of the sublimest eloquence, when he is kindled by the vision of the glories to come, the perfect triumph of good over evil, the manifestation of the sons of God, and their transformation into God’s likeness, when they shall see Him no longer "in a glass darkly, but face to face,"—for in such strains as these it was not so much he that spake, as the Spirit of God speaking in him; —but in his letters, besides all this which is divine, we trace every shade, even to the faintest, of his human character also. Here we see that fearless independence with which he "withstood Peter to the face, because he was to be blamed;"—that impetuosity which breaks out in his apostrophe to the "foolish Galatians;"—that earnest indignation which bids his converts "beware of dogs, beware of the concision," and pours itself forth in the emphatic "God forbid," which meets every Antinomian suggestion; —that fervid patriotism which makes him "wish that he were himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites;"—that generosity which looked for no other reward than "to preach the glad tidings of Christ without charge," and made him feel that he would rather "die, than that any man should make this glorying void;"—that dread of officious interference which led him to shrink from "building on another man’s foundation;"—that delicacy which shows itself in his appeal to Philemon, whom he might have commanded, "yet for love’s sake rather beseeching him, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ," and which is even more striking in some of his farewell greetings, as (for instance) when he bids them; that refined courtesy which cannot bring itself to blame till it has first praised, and which makes him deem it needful almost to apologize for the freedom of giving advice to those who were not personally known to him; —that self-denying love which"will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest he make his brother to offend;"—that impatience of exclusive formalism with which he overwhelms the Judaizers of Galatia, joined with a forbearance so gentle for the innocent weakness of scrupulous consciences; —that grief for the sins of others, which moved him to tears when he spoke of the enemies of the cross of Christ,"of whom I tell you even weeping;"—that noble freedom from jealousy with which he speaks of those who out of rivalry to himself, preach Christ even of envy and strife, supposing to add affliction to his bonds, "What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice;"—that tender friendship which watches over the health of Timothy, even with a mother’s care; -that intense sympathy in the joys and sorrows of his converts, which could say, even to the rebellious Corinthians, "ye are in our hearts, to die and live with you;"—that longing desire for the intercourse of affection, and that sense of loneliness when it was withheld, which perhaps is the most touching feature of all, because it approaches most nearly to a Weakness,"when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia."and"when I was come into Macedonia, my flesh had no rest, but I was troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforteth those that are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus." "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me; for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia; only Luke is with me." 

Nor is it only in the substance, but even in the style of these writings that we recognize the man Paul of Tarsus. In the parenthetical constructions and broken sentences, we see the rapidity with which the thoughts crowded upon him, almost too fast for utterance; we see him animated rather than weighed down by "that which cometh upon him daily, the care of all the churches," as he pours forth his warnings or his arguments in a stream of eager and impetuous dictation, with which the pen of the faithful Tertius can hardly keep pace. And above all, we trace his presence in the postscript to every letter, which he adds as an authentication in his own characteristic handwriting, "which is the token in every epistle; so I write." Sometimes as he takes up the pen he is moved with indignation when he thinks of the false brethren among those whom he addresses; "the salutation of me Paul with my own hand,—if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema." Sometimes, as he raises his hand to write, he feels it cramped by the fetters which bind him to the soldier who guards him, "I Paul salute you with my own hand,—remember my chains." Yet he always ends with the same blessing, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," to which he sometimes adds still further a few last words of affectionate remembrance, "My love be with you all in Christ Jesus."

But although the letters of St. Paul are so essential a part of his personal biography, it is a difficult question to decide upon the form in which they should be given in a work like this. The object to be sought is, that they may really represent in English what they were to their Greek readers when first written. Now this object would not be attained if the authorized version were adhered to, and yet a departure from that whereof so much is interwoven with the memory and deepest feelings of every religious mind should be grounded on strong and sufficient cause. It is hoped that the following reasons may be held such.

1st. The authorized version was meant to be a standard of authority and ultimate appeal in controversy; hence it could not venture to depart, as an ordinary translation would do, from the exact words of the original, even where some amplification was absolutely required to complete the sense. It was to be the version unanimously accepted by all parties, and therefore must simply represent the Greek text word for word. This it does most faithfully so far as the critical knowledge of the sixteenth century permitted. But the result of this method is sometimes to produce a translation unintelligible to the English reader. Also if the text admit of two interpretations, our version endeavours, if possible, to preserve the same ambiguity, and effects this often with admirable skill; but such indecision, although a merit in an authoritative version, would be a fault in a translation which had a different object. 

2nd. The imperfect knowledge existing at the time when our Bible was translated, made it inevitable that the translators should occasionally render the original incorrectly; and the same cause has made their version of many of the argumentative portions of the Epistles perplexed and obscure. 

3rd. Such passages as are affected by the above mentioned objections might, it is true, have been recast, and the authorized translation retained in all cases where it is correct and clear; but if this had been done, a patchwork effect would have been produced like that of new cloth upon old garments; moreover the devotional associations of the reader would have been offended, and it would have been a rash experiment to provoke such a contrast between the matchless style of the authorized version and that of the modern translator, thus placed side by side. 

4th. The style adopted for the present purpose should not be antiquated; for St. Paul was writing in the language used by his Hellenistic readers in every day life. 

5th. In order to give the true meaning of the original, something of paraphrase is often absolutely required. St. Paul’s style is extremely elliptical, and the gaps must be filled up. And moreover the great difficulty in understanding his argument is to trace clearly the transitions by which he passes from one step to another. For this purpose something must be supplied beyond the mere literal rendering of the words. 

For these reasons the translation of the Epistles adopted in this work is to a certain degree paraphrastic. At the same time nothing has been added by way of paraphrase which was not virtually expressed in the original. 

It has not been thought necessary to interrupt the reader by a note, in every instance where the translation varies from the Authorised Version. It has been assumed that the readers of the notes will have sufficient knowledge to understand the reason of such variations in the more obvious cases. But it is hoped that no passage of real difficulty has been passed over without explanation. 

The authorities consulted upon the chronology of St. Paul’s life, the reasons for the views taken of disputed points in it, and for the dates of the Epistles, are stated (so far as seems needful) in the body of the work or in the Appendix, and need not be further referred to here. 

In conclusion, the authors would express their hope that this biography may, in its measure, be useful in strengthening the hearts of some against the peculiar form of unbelief most current at the present day. The more faithfully we can represent to ourselves the life, outward and inward, of St. Paul, in all its fulness, the more unreasonable must appear the theory that Christianity had a mythical origin; and the stronger must be our ground for believing his testimony to the divine nature and miraculous history of our Redeemer. No reasonable man can learn to know and love the Apostle of the Gentiles without asking himself the question "What was the principle by which through such a life he was animated? What was the strength in which he laboured with such immense results?" Nor can the most sceptical inquirer doubt for one moment the full sincerity of St. Paul’s belief that "the life which he lived in the flesh he lived by the faith of the Son of God, who died and gave Himself for him." "To believe in Christ crucified and risen, to serve Him on earth, to be with Him hereafter; —these, if we may trust the account of his own motives by any human writer whatever, were the chief if not the only thoughts which sustained Paul of Tarsus through all the troubles and sorrows of his twenty years conflict. His sagacity, his cheerfulness, his forethought, his impartial and clear-judging reason, all the natural elements of his strong character are not indeed to be overlooked: but the more highly we exalt these in our estimate of his work, the larger share we attribute to them in the performance of his mission, the more are we compelled to believe that he spoke the words of truth and soberness when he told the Corinthians that last of all Christ was seen of him also, that by the grace of God he was what he was, that whilst he laboured more abundantly than all, it was not he, but the grace of God that was in him." 

P.S.—It may be well to add, that while Mr. Conybeare and Mr. Howson have undertaken the joint revision of the whole work, the translation of the Epistles and Speeches of St. Paul is contributed by the former and the Historical and Geographical portion of the work principally by the latter; Mr. Howson having written Chapters I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIV, XVI, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, with the exception of the Epistles and Speeches therein contained; Mr. Conybeare having written the Introduction and Appendix and Chapters.

Preface to the American Edition

The Publisher, in presenting The Life And Epistles Of St. Paul by the Rev. W. J. Conybeare and Rev. J. S. Howson, needs no apology. During the short interval since its publication in England it has commanded the admiration of scholars and intelligent readers of the Bible both in this country and Europe, and has passed through the ordeal of criticism in the leading Quarterlies and Journals of both countries and received the highest commendation. The expense of the English edition, however, is such as necessarily to limit its circulation in this country and the desire has been repeatedly expressed that the work should be published in a form and at a price which would bring it within the reach of ministers, students, and intelligent readers generally. The present edition, it is believed, will meet the existing want. Though offered at one half of the cost of the London copy, the work has in no way suffered from bridgment, but has been preserved complete in every respect. The notes, coins, maps, plans, and wood engravings generally have been retained, and yet the size of the work has been reduced from the unwieldy quarto to a convenient octavo form. 

The steel engravings, which appear in the English edition simply as embellishments, which are familiar to most readers and which are in no way essential to the text or to the value of the work, have been omitted since the expense of reproducing them here would be such as greatly to increase the cost of the work and yet add nothing to its usefulness. 

The North British Review for February, 1854, after a highly commendatory criticism of this work, makes the following remarks: "We commend the book to that numerous class, increasing every day, whose early culture has necessarily been defective, but whose intelligence and thirst for knowledge is continually sharpened by the general diffusion of thought and education. Such persons, if they are already Christians by conviction, are naturally more and more dissatisfied with the popular commentaries on the Bible; and if they are sceptical and irreligious, this great evil is probably caused by the undeniable existence of difficulties which such commentaries shrink from fairly meeting. They will find in the work before us a valuable help towards understanding the New Testament. The Greek and Latin quotations are almost entirely confined to the notes; any unlearned reader may study the text with ease and profit. And it is from a sense of the great value of the book in this respect, that we would earnestly entreat the publishers to supply it in a cheaper and more convenient form. In these days a quarto book, except for reference, is a monster, ferca naturce."

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