THIS treatise, Messiah: His Historical Appearance, is the fifth book of the Messianic Series, which, when completed, will contain seven volumes. The four preceding works are The God of Israel, Messiah: His Nature and Person, Messiah: His Redemptive Career, and Messiah: His First Coming Scheduled. The last two are Messiah: His Second Coming Imminent and Messiah: His Final Call to Israel.
In this the fifth book of the Series we come to grips with the greatest question that has ever engaged the attention of manthat which pertains to Jesus of Nazareth, a historical personage concerning whom multiplied millions of people, both in the past and at the present time, have been convinced by positive evidence that He was a historical person (as the late Dr. Stephen S. Wise declared), that He was what He claimed to be, and what the four evangelistsMatthew, Mark, Luke, and Johnsay that He was.
The Apostle John declared, in Revelation 19:11, that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." According to this statement, all revelation revolves around Him, His life, and His labors. Jesus of Nazareth, speaking figuratively, is the leading actor in the great drama of life as presented in the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
But in modern times a section of the world of scholarship imbued with and motivated by the spirit of scientific investigation, apart from divine revelation, calls in question, more or less, the authority of the Scriptures and their message. Rationalism has largely captured the thinking of the man of the twentieth century and is dominating it. I hasten to affirm, however, that there are many scholars who have refused to bow to the dictates of this modern god of rationalism, skepticism, and doubt.
This Baal of modernism at whose shrine very many scholars bow and worship is dictating the life and thinking of multitudes in the educational world, as well as in the religious sphere. I am constrained, therefore, to begin the investigation concerning the historical Jesus by noting very briefly some general principles of scientific research and some prophecies regarding the Almighty's revelation to Israel and to the world.
This treatise in the unabridged edition naturally falls into four sectionsBook One: some general principles taught by scientific observation, practical experience, logical thinking, and open-mindedness to see and to accept truth wherever foundthis part of the treatise prepares the reader for an impartial and candid examination of the truths, evidence, and facts presented; Book Two: some dominant prophecies taught by the Eternal Creator in His revelation to Israel, according to Moses, the Prophets, and the writers of the New Testamentthis section, which draws its material largely from the messages of Moses and the Prophets, paves the way for the reader's understanding of the testimony presented by the Apostle Matthew, an associate of Jesus and an eyewitness of the things concerning which he has written; Book Three: the inspired testimony of the Apostle Matthew, an eyewitnesswith explanatory notes; Book Four: the necessity of the Mosaic doctrine of blood atonement examined scripturally and philosophically.
The abridged edition consists largely of Book Three of the unabridged volume, with some material drawn from other portions of the work. This smaller edition is for the masses who do not have time or inclination to examine the great bulk of material that bears upon the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.
In 1936 I began work on this fifth volume of the Messianic Series. That year I was engaged largely in doing research in some of the principal libraries of Europe. Since then I have worked on this volume as I have had opportunity. The major part of my time and energy, of course, has been consumed by the multitudinous duties connected with the Biblical Research Society in its world-wide ministry. During these years, I have spent literally thousands upon thousands of hours in the study of this subject.
Ordinarily, a volume such as this one should have a bibliography. My reason for not including a list of the works consulted is that I have examined literally hundreds of volumes in my quest for facts and data that might throw new light upon Messiah's historical appearance.
My studies took me to such libraries as the Library of Congress, the British Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, and the library of the Pontificio Istituto Biblico. In my three visits to the Holy Land, I made special investigation of any facts or phenomena that might throw light upon my subject. In all my studies I have, of course, consulted standard works, as well as many others which gave promise of help. If I were to attempt to present the list of books consulted during my long period of research, I would not know where to stop.
I am indebted to various members of the staff and to friends for assisting me in this workespecially to my late private secretary, Miss Annabel Lee Crumly, who went to be with the Lord in October, 1955, for the invaluable assistance that she rendered.
To Miss Aurora Fluker, chief office secretary, I likewise am indebted for typing my dictation and for assisting me in innumerable ways in the prosecution of the work.
To Miss Olive W. Parsons, Ph.D., my assistant, I am greatly indebted for many suggestions and invaluable assistance in the final editing of this volume.
To my faithful, loyal wife, Florence Lita Cooper, who has been an inspiration to me throughout the years, I owe everything, humanly speaking, in the production of this volume. Without her loyal co-operation and prayer life, it could never have appeared.
To David L., Jr., our elder son, vice-president and business manager of Biblical Research Society, I owe much; for he has relieved me of most administrative duties and enabled me to give more time to the production of this work.
To many prayer warriors and friends throughout the world who have been praying, and who have been giving as they could, I likewise am greatly indebted.
To Mr. Robert S. Smethers, assistant manager of The Evangelical Press, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where this book was printed, I am most grateful for his co-operation and sympathetic assistance in producing this volume.
To Mr. and Mrs. James L. Mitchell, members of our praying family, I am especially indebted for their assistance in various ways. Mrs. Mitchell did special tedious work in connection with the final draft of the manuscript.
To my good friends H. Leo Eddleman, Ph.D.; Charles L. Feinberg, Th.D., Ph. D.; Harry J. Hager, Ph.D.; and Wilbur M. Smith, D.D., I am greatly indebted for their taking the time from their busy lives to read and review this volume in galley form. I appreciate and gratefully accept their suggestions.
To my good friend F. Kenton Beshore, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Oceanside, California, I am greatly indebted for assisting me in Bible Conference work and in otherwise enabling me to devote my time to this volume.
To the Board of Directors of Biblical Research Society, I am indeed grateful for the spirit of co-operation and sympathetic understanding which they have given me during the long years of the preparation and production of this volume, without which I could never have completed it.
If the reader is to get the full force of the message of this treatise, he should have a Bible at hand and look up each reference in its context. The best translation in the English language, in my opinion, is the American Standard Version, 1901 editionthough it is not free from imperfections.
In my translation of the Gospel according to Matthew, I have endeavored to give a literal translation wherever possible. At times it is not wise to follow the original text too slavishly. The Greek idioms frequently do not correspond to the English idioms. The translator is supposed to use his best judgment in such instances. There is danger of paraphrasing at times. The translator, therefore, must be very careful not to inject into the translation his own ideas.
As the reader peruses the comments which I make upon the text of the Gospel according to Matthew in Book Three, Chapters XVII to XXXII, he may wonder why comments are made on certain subjects whereas nothing is said on other points which may seem to him to merit discussion. Personally, I would like to comment on each versean absolute impossibility because of lack of space. I have, therefore, chosen those subjects which, as I see the situation, demand special treatment in this treatise. I ask the reader to bear in mind that this volume is the fifth of my Messianic Series. Knowing what has been presented in the first four volumes, I have selected and treated the topics accordingly.
With a note of praise in my heart, and with a prayer upon my lips that God will use this volume in bringing His truth to countless numbers of His Chosen People, Israel, as well as to truth seekers among all nations, I send this volume forth.