The general purpose of this course of lessons has been set forth in the introduction to the Student's Text Book. There is a tendency in the modern Church to neglect the study of Bible history. Such neglect will inevitably result in a loss of power. The gospel is a record of something that has happened, and uncertainty about the gospel is fatal weakness. Furthermore the historical study of the apostolic age—that age when divine revelation established the great principles of the Church's life—is the best corrective for a thousand vagaries. Much can be learned from modern pedagogy; but after all what is absolutely fundamental, both for teacher and for student, is an orderly acquaintance with the Bible facts.
The Teacher's Manual, therefore, is intended not merely to offer suggestions as to methods of teaching, but primarily to supplement the teacher's knowledge. A teacher who knows only what he actually imparts to the class is inevitably dull. The true teacher brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.
The sections in the Teacher's Manual, since they are intended to be supplementary, should not be read until after careful attention has been paid to the corresponding sections in the Student's Text Book. Moreover, both sections together are of course in themselves insufficient. They should be supplemented by other reading. Suggestions about reading have been put at the end of every lesson. Here, however, a few general remarks may be made.
Davis' ''Dictionary of the Bible'' and Purves' ''Christianity in the Apostolic Age,'' which have been recommended even to the student, will be to the teacher almost invaluable. The earnest teacher will also desire to refer to good commentaries on The Acts. The commentaries which have been mentioned in connection with the individual lessons are based upon the English Bible; but every teacher who has any knowledge of Greek, however slight, should use, instead, the commentary of Knowling, in ''The Expositor's Greek Testament.'' For the life of Paul, Lewin's ''Life and Epistles of St. Paul'' and the similar book of Conybeare and Howson are still very valuable for their vivid and extended descriptions of the scenes of the missionary journeys. A similar service is rendered, in more up-to-date form, by the various works of Ramsay. Stalker's ''Life of St. Paul'' is a good handbook. M'Clymont's ''New Testament and Its Writers'' contains instructive, though very brief, introductions to all of the New Testament books. Hastings' ''Dictionary of the Bible'' and ''Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels'' number among their contributors many writers of many opinions. They are rich in references to the vast literature of modern Biblical discussion.
The writer of this course has derived information from many quarters. Definite acknowledgment of indebtedness, since no originality is claimed, may be regarded as unnecessary. It is a pleasure, however, to render special thanks to Rev. Professor William Park Armstrong, D. D., of Princeton Theological Seminary, whose wise counsel has been of incalculable assistance at many points.
The actual presentation of the lessons will, of course, vary according to the needs of the classes and the preferences of the teachers. The Student's Text Book may often provide a convenient order of presentation. That book is intended not merely to be read, but also to be studied. It is to be regarded as a sort of outline of the course.
The ''topics for study'' are intended to serve a double purpose. In the first place, they will test the student's knowledge of the lesson material; in the second place, they will afford encouragement to special investigation. Individual topics may often be assigned for thorough treatment to individual students, while the class as a whole may use all the topics as guides to a general knowledge.
Personal interest in the individual students is of the utmost importance. Instruction has a tenfold value when it is backed by friendship. The relation of the students to the Church should be a matter of especial concern. If any member of the class has not confessed his faith in Christ, the study of this year offers abundant opportunity for a word in season. Our study reveals the Church as a divine institution. Shall we then stand aloof?
In this course the teacher has the opportunity of introducing young people of maturing minds to the historical study of the New Testament. There could be no more inspiring task. Carried about with every wind of doctrine, the Church is sadly in need of an assured anchorage. That anchorage should be sought in history. Ignorance is weak; sound knowledge, sought with prayer, and blessed by the Spirit of God, will lead to a more stalwart and more intelligent faith.