CHAPTER XV
LITERARY FORMALIA

The influence of literary conventions is often more obvious in the formalia of a writing than in its main contents. The letters of Paul, for example, and other New Testament epistles reveal the epistolary customs of their time principally in the greetings at the close and in the somewhat stereotyped address at the beginning with the thanksgiving that often follows it. The numerous contemporary letters now available in the papyri show at once how conventional and how limited are the formalia of these New Testament writings. In like manner Luke has adopted a few quite obvious and superficial literary conventions without carrying through his work the standards of composition which these affiliations might seem to imply.

His preface is one of the most evident marks of the littérateur. Neither the ancient Greek writers nor the Semitic authors used prefaces. They came into vogue in the Hellenistic age and were used by all kinds of formal prose writers, whether Greek or Roman. It is noteworthy that in the Greek Bible the only other prefaces are by the grandson of Jesus ben Sira, who translated his work into Greek (Ecclesiasticus), and by the good Greek stylist who wrote the Second Book of Maccabees. But for the Greek and Latin historians, geographers, scientists, doctors and other prose writers of the time the preface was a usual thing and even poets provided their works with prefaces (sometimes in prose).

The contents of the preface were prescribed by rhetorical

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