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A Treatise on the Eldership by J.W. McGarvey

My recording of J.W. McGarvey's A treatise on the eldership is available for download or streaming from the Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org/details/TreatiseOnTheEldership. Though it was written over 100 years ago,  McGarvey's practical and Bible-based teaching is as timely as ever. I respectfully dedicate this effort to the many dedicated, hard-working elders I have known. I hope that McGarvey, a fellow-elder from the past, will be an encouragement to them. 

This was recorded from A treatise on the eldership, reprint of 1870 ed., Murfreesboro, TN: DeHoff Publications, 1962. The DeHoff edition does not contain a formal copyright notice, and a search of U.S. copyright records from does not show that it was ever registered. Even so, I have read only the portions original to McGarvey's 1870 publication, which is clearly in public domain, omitting the publisher's introduction and biographical note on McGarvey.

Difficulties with the Text

The text of McGarvey's A treatise on the eldership, as published by DeHoff Publications in 1962, has frequent problems that seem clearly to be printer's errors. I do not know at present whether these were from the original text from the 19th century or from the reprinting process in the 20th, but I doubt that they originated from McGarvey. It is hard to imagine that the man who delivered the valedictory address in Greek at his graduation from Bethany College, would have made such simple mistakes of spelling and punctuation in English.

Where possible I have corrected these to the most obvious solution, with the smallest possible alteration that makes grammatical sense, while making sure that it is in keeping with the sense of the surrounding context and of McGarvey's views as a whole. In almost all these cases there is really no doubt what the text should read.* 

The 1962 reprint text is also available at: http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/jwmcgarvey/atote/ATOTE00.HTM. This online text is part of a large Restoration Movement web site (http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov) edited by Dr. Hans Rollman, Memorial University of Newfoundland. The McGarvey section is edited by Ernie Stefanik of Derry, PA. I am especially indebted to Mr. Stefanik for his vetting of the Scripture references, which in this text contain frequent printer's errors. (Not surprising, since the mistakes would only be obvious to one with an exceptional chapter-and-verse recall of the New Testament--in Greek. Not to mention the Septuagint and the works of Josephus!)

I have gratefully followed Mr. Stefanik's corrections with one exception: the citation of Acts xvii:15 on p. 13 (ch. 2, para. 7) must be correct, since the Greek text uses the very word (kathistēmiunder discussion in McGarvey's text.  (The reader can verify this at http://www.blueletterbible.org by looking up the passage and clicking the box "show Strong's numbers;" the Strong's number in question is 2525.)

I have also added these additional corrections:

p. 21 (ch. 4, para. 3): Jos. Ant. 10.4.2** must refer instead to Jos. Ant. 10.4.1, where Josiah "ordained certain judges and overseers." The Greek text uses the term episkopos that McGarvey seeks to elucidate, and the passage fits McGarvey's mention of "subordinate civil rulers."

p.27 (ch. 4, para. 15): I believe 1 Mac. v:15 should be 1 Mac. v:19, where the expression prostēte is used in the phrase “take charge of this people” in the Septuagint.  I know only a little 1st-year Greek, so I proceed with great caution and offer this evidence to your judgment. Browse the Septuagint at http://en.katabiblon.com/us/?text=LXX, double-click on the word in question, and you will get a lexical entry that shows this to be an imperative form of proistēmi, the verb McGarvey is discussing. Also, it is easy to imagine a typesetter misreading a handwritten "19" for a "15", which makes me even more confident that this is the correct verse.

p.27 (ch.4, para. 15): The reference to Jos. Ant. viii:1,2,3 should read Jos. Ant. viii.12.3. This is an easily imaginable printer's mistake, particularly if it were a person not familiar with the book/chapter/section citation format of Whiston's edition of Josephus's Antiquities. In book 8, chapter 12, section 3 (book 8, section 300 in the older division of the text), Josephus uses a form of 
proistēmi to speak of Baasha "governing" Israel.**

*In at least one instance, however, there is either a word missing or an extra word present. In chapter 4, paragraph 10, the 2nd sentence reads, "In the confirmation of the conclusions drawn from this and overseer are enjoined upon the elder by express command." Since McGarvey had just been discussing the term "shepherd", and since "shepherd" and "overseer" are those titles that are also given as active commands to elders,(1 Pet. 5:2) I have amended this sentence to: "In confirmation of the conclusions drawn, this [i.e. the term shepherd] and overseer are enjoined upon the elder by express command." This reading is awkward, but is consistent with the transition in the subject of the chapter and seems in agreement with both Scripture and McGarvey's views.

**McGarvey's citations of Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews refer to Whiston's method of division into book/chapter/section. A handy online version of this text is found at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0146. Click on any of the Greek words to view a lexical entry.