"The contents of this volume consist largely of the Smyth Lectures delivered at Columbia Theological Seminary, 1941. Chapters III and VI have been completely rewritten and there has been some revision in each of the other four.
The conclusions stated in these chapters have grown out of firsthand investigation of the materials lying in the twenty-seven ‘canonical books’ of the New Testament. The method pursued has been to study the New Testament directly, rather than to read what others say about it. It is an increasingly strong conviction with me that we as ministers have not done enough of this kind of study.
Reference to the various theories of authorship, date, and provenance of the ‘books’ has been studiously avoided, for the simple reason that I wanted to examine the New Testament as a body of writings expressing the convictions and faith of the Early Church."
–From the Preface