Early Church Fathers
Preface to the American Edition.
In the preparation of this volume of Chrysostom's Homilies on Acts and Romans, the effort has been to improve the Oxford edition by some changes and corrections, and by the addition of critical and explanatory notes. The translation remains substantially unchanged. Frequent minor changes have, however, been made in phraseology, where it has seemed to me that the sense could thereby be made plainer. Archaic and obsolescent words or expressions have often been replaced by more idiomatic modern language. In Biblical quotations where the translation was an inaccurate rendering of the original, I have substituted either the Revised Version or a translation conformed to the recent critical texts. A considerable number of errors in the English edition have been corrected. The imperfect state of the original text of the Homilies on Acts is a serious embarrassment, alike, to translator and editor, in this part of the work. Often the reports of the discourses are in hopeless confusion, and it is impossible to determine confidently the meaning of what has been reported, much less of what the preacher originally said. Happily this remark applies to only a part of the exposition.
The notes which I have added are intended to bring modern criticism into relation with the statements of Chrysostom upon points of special difficulty or importance. Sometimes they are added by way of correction to what is stated in the text. More frequently however, they are intended to present briefly the opinions of critical interpreters upon disputed or doubtful points, and thus to supplement for the modern reader the practical expositions of these books of the New Testament. At other times it has seemed desirable to explain matters which are but lightly touched upon in the text or passed over without explanation or notice. There is frequent occasion to observe how the spiritual insight of the great preacher has led him, in the case of difficult passages, to a right discernment of the same sense which critical exegesis discovers. I trust that these brief annotations, touching upon a great variety of points, may contribute somewhat to the usefulness of the edition.
These notes are distinguished from those of the English editors by having appended to them the initials, G. B. S.
The annotations of the English editors which are so copious upon the Homilies on Acts have been, with trifling exceptions, retained and the references have been, so far as possible, adapted to the American edition. It is obvious, however, that this adaptation could not be perfectly made because but few of the volumes of the American edition of the Homilies had appeared when this volume was prepared for the press. References to English editions of works not yet accessible in an American edition were, of necessity, left unchanged. Some small-portions of the work of the English editors which seemed to have no present value have been omitted. It is not improbable that still other omissions might well have been made, but the editor has been slow to follow his own judgment in this particular in dealing with the conscientious and painstaking labors of the Oxford editors.
It will be noticed that the English notes to the Homilies on Romans are few and brief. These have been retained with such adaptations as could be made, and the American editor has added a considerable number of statements of critical opinions, together with such explanations of the course of thought and connections of ideas in difficult passages of the Epistle, as seemed desirable and useful. In the Homilies on Romans the state of the text is such and the work of the translators so well performed, that one is rarely at a loss to perceive the author's meaning; the nature and limitations of his exposition, however, seem to call for occasional supplementing and correction.
The indexes have been carefully revised. Topics which seemed unimportant and texts which are merely quoted or alluded to, without being explained, have often been omitted. By this process of revision the size of the indexes has been considerably reduced. It is hoped that they will be found sufficient to guide those who consult the volume to what is said upon the main themes which find place in it.
George B. Stevens.
Yale University, New Haven, March, 1889.