CANON RAVEN examines the character of Christianity in Apostolic days and also in the early centuries, and shows the serious nature of the distortions that occurred. These are more obvious in the formative period between the second century and the collapse of the Western Empire. There were three directions especially in which the primitive Gospel was abandoned: The renunciation of Nature, the distortion of history and the development of institutionalism. Dealing with the first of these he points to the stress laid on miracles, the craze for which had permeated all classes of society, and as a consequence of this obsession religion was identified with the crudest supernaturalism. The pernicious influence of Jerome in dealing with sex is well known and is shown by his deliberate mistranslation of "almāh" as meaning "virgin" instead of "a young woman of marriageable age", and in many other ways as well. He maintained that both Joseph and Mary preserved their virginity and explained the "brethren" of Jesus by asserting that they were His cousins, children of Clopas or Alphæus and another Mary, sister to the mother of Jesus.
The Gospel and the Church
A Study of Distortion and its Remedy. By the Rev. Canon Charles E. Raven. Pp. 256. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., 1939.) 8s. 6d. net.