by Charles Hodge
THE author of this Commentary is more widely known as a writer in the departments of controversial and systematic theology than as an expositor of Scripture. Nevertheless, his whole life was primarily devoted to the critical and systematic study of the Bible, and his entire theological method and system is eminently biblical. He became a teacher of the Original Languages of Scripture in Princeton Theological Seminary in 1820, and the professor of Oriental and Biblical Literature in 1822. He spent two years in Germany, from 1826 to 1828, with Tholuck and Hengstenberg and Gesenius, in pursuing exclusively biblical studies. For twenty years his time was wholly occupied with the study of the languages, literature, historical genesis, criticism, and interpretation of the Bible, especially of the New Testament. He continued to lecture on the Pauline Epistles to successive classes for fifty-six years,—from 1822 to 1878.
It was not until 1840 that, much to his own regret, he was transferred to the department of Didactic Theology. And hence the result was inevitable that his theology should bear the mark of his own personal history and habit, and that it should be distinguished from that of the majority of his eminent contemporaries, alike of the New England and of the German schools, as being a simple induction from the teachings of Scripture, instead of being adjusted to, if not founded upon, some of the prevalent philosophical schemes of the day. It is the mode in this day of violent reactions to exaggerate one-sidedly partial truths. Especially is it asserted with unconscientious indiscrimination that systematic theologians of the past as a class have ignored the human and historical genesis of the several writings which compose the Bible; and that, evolving their systems by a speculative process from narrow premises, they have sought to support them by disconnected and irrelevant citation of separate texts. Yet even Archdeacon Farrar, in his recent "Bampton Lectures," acknowledges that Calvin, the father of Protestant systematic theology, "was one of the greatest interpreters of Scripture who ever lived." Yet Calvin published his Institutes first, and his Commentaries afterwards. The order in which Dr. Hodge was providentially led to conduct his studies was more natural and more certain to result in a system in all its elements and proportions inspired and controlled by the word of God. All candid students of the theology of the past generation must acknowledge that Dr. Hodge has anticipated and preserved in his system much of the results of the deservedly vaunted discipline of Biblical Theology, having, as a matter of actual history, as well as of intention, so immediately drawn his material from a continuous study of the sacred text.
His "Commentary on Romans" was first published in 1835. An abridged edition appeared in 1836. The former was translated and published in France in 1841, and the latter republished in England in 1838. The whole work was rewritten and enriched with his mature studies in 1864. It is this last and most perfect edition which is now offered to the public. It should continue to be used by all students of the author's "Systematic Theology," presenting as it does, in continuous exposition of the most systematic of the doctrinal Epistles, the biblical ground and verification of the "system" which he elsewhere so clearly states and defends.
A. A. HODGE.
PRINCETON, N. J., August, 1886.
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