This volume, as the title page indicates, comprises three small books on Jesus, the earliest of which was published in 1941 and all of which have been continuously in print for more than a decade. Although originally written separately and independently, they all deal, from a fairly consistent point of view, with the same general theme. This basic unity is the justification for the present publication of the three books together -- this and the desire to make the books available at a price lower than the combined price of the separate books.
Although what revision seemed necessary has been made, the three books are here presented very much as they originally stood. They do not constitute, of course, a systematic study of New Testament Christology; but among them they do touch on the major themes in such a study. The second book takes up for more thorough treatment many of the matters more summarily dealt with in the first; and the third, which is concerned with the meaning of Christ in the church’s devotion and thought, follows logically, as it did actually, upon the other two.
Critics have sometimes said that the third book discloses a different position on the importance of what is known as the historical Jesus than is revealed in the first. Some change in my thinking on this as on other matters during the six years separating the two books cannot be denied and perhaps is not to be apologized for; but critics have been mistaken if they have supposed that the authenticity and the unique quality of Jesus’ humanity have ever become less precious to me than when I wrote the first book. As I read the books through with a view to this revised edition, I found myself making slight changes here and there. But no radical revision seemed to me necessary to bring the books into essential harmony either with one another or with my present position. But no attempt has been made to eliminate the evidences of the original separateness of the three books.
One detail should be mentioned. Since the three books were written the most important development bearing on the study of the origins of Christianity has undoubtedly been the discovery and the progressive investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. If I were now writing the books de novo -- particularly the second of them -- I should certainly be including more references to the Scrolls than are now found. No substantial modification of what these books try to say, however, would have been required.
Both the publishers and the author wish to express their thanks to Charles Scribner’s Sons, the original publishers of On the Meaning of Christ, and especially to Mr. William Savage, for their co-operation in making the publication of the combined books possible.
For the record it should be added that Christ the Lord was originally published as the Ayer Lectures at the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and On the Meaning of Christ as the Noble Lectures at Harvard University.