Christ had left the haunts of men far behind, but he had not left temptation and danger behind. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, He finds the devil waiting for Him even there: and so we learn perhaps the most vital lesson the scene of the temptation was meant to teach us. In every age of the Church’s history men and women have imagined that by fleeing from the world they could flee from temptation: and the “religious houses” of the Roman Catholic Church, its monasteries and convents, the cell of the anchorite or the recluse, and the pillow of the miserable devotee, all have been hailed as retreats from the world, because they were believed to be refuges from temptation. How deadly the disaster that has come to the spiritual life of those who thus imagined they could serve God best by breaking God’s own laws, it is needless to say; but against this foolish dream of escaping temptation by fleeing from the world, the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is the divine and solemn warning. He found the devil in the deepest solitudes of the desert: and we shall find that he waits for us there too, for whether in the city or in the desert the tempter is near.
George Slatyer Barrett, B.A. (1839-1916) was for 45 years (1866-1911) the minister of Prince’s Street Congregational (now United Reformed) Church in Norwich, which under his tutelage was considered “one of the most influential Congregational churches in England.” He was educated at University College, London; trained for the ministry at Lancashire Independent College, Manchester; was invested with the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity at the University of St. Andrew’s; and was the 1894 Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. As an author, he made several important contributions to theological literature, including his best-known work as editor of The Congregational Church Hymnal (1887).
With The Temptation of Christ, Barrett (ever the Nonconformist) challenges traditional thinking concerning Jesus’ time in the wilderness by focusing his attention on its perceived psychological problems, positing “if instead of such a mechanical and literal interpretation of the narrative, we suppose that our Lord was tempted by doubts as to His own Divine plan?” An analysis that has been lauded as “wisely and reverently and spiritually interpreted, with ever fresh pertinence and power.”
"Intelligent, reverent, and spiritual,
marked by much literary beauty."
Concerning the text, we’ve used the original 1883 MacNiven & Wallace text, but for clarity and readability’s sake we’ve abandoned all of the British spellings (many were archaic) for their modern, American equivalents, except those quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. We’ve also swapped all Bible verse Roman numerals for their Arabic parallels. And, in addition to our own annotations, we’ve researched, revised, clarified, and expanded on the original footnotes to include further information as well as additional publication details for the various texts that Barrett references.
My cats do not care in the least, but I think our version is certainly a marked improvement upon the original. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have.
“Marked alike by careful language and sober thought.” –Guardian
“…conveys many valuable thoughts, and suggests much that will be profitable to the reader.” –The Universalist Quarterly
“The theme is one of absorbing interest, and is treated throughout with reverence and perspicuity, while practical lessons are drawn with considerable skill.” –Outlook
“It is in the pulpit that the secret of [Barrett’s] career lies. When the sermon is over … our impulse just then is to go home, and in quiet think out the questions between God and our soul which he has raised.” –Thomas Robinson, Evangelical Magazine
“Theologically and ecclesiastically Mr. Barrett is an earnest Nonconformist, with definite and dogmatic views. In some directions he is a long way in advance of current opinion, be he draws the line very clearly and sharply. Few men maintain so high a level of preaching as he … a true priest.” –Christian Age
“Intended for devotional reading, but of a kind somewhat different from that of the last generation, Mr. Barrett’s work, although strictly practical, is written in the light of the latest results in scholarship. It holds firmly by the conclusions of the Evangelical school, and deals chiefly with the psychological problems of the narrative. It is intelligent, reverent, and spiritual, marked by much literary beauty, and will be read with interest by both learned and simple. The temptation of our Lord has been expounded a thousand times; but it has its own special lesson to every generation of men, and when, as here, wisely and reverently and spiritually interpreted, it comes with ever fresh pertinence and power. Its teaching lies close to human life, and Mr. Barrett has applied it with fine discernment, broad sympathies, and excellent literary taste.” –British Quarterly Review
Published: February 17, 2018
Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.37 inches
Weight: 6.9 ounces
Cover: Matte Finish
Interior: Black & White on Cream Paper
Pages: 146 (+2 POD)
Annotations: 183 Footnotes
George S. Barrett
February 17, 2018