When Ralph Morton wrote The Twelve Together in the mid-1950s, it was in response to the need he perceived for an understanding of Jesus’s life with his disciples in order to inform a more appropriate pattern of church life in his own day. It had been more than eighty years since anything substantial had been published on the subject.
While many people were interested in the history of the early Church, very few deemed it necessary to examine the interaction of Jesus with his disciples, where surely the roots of the early Church were to be found.
Ralph Morton considered it vital to study the disciples as a body, not least because their experience as a group with Jesus had an impact on how they wrote about him. If we are really to understand the truth of the gospels and be able to answer the perennial questions about church and ministry, we must first grasp the experience of the disciples in their training by Jesus.
Ralph Morton (1900-1977) spent his early adult life in missionary work in China and on his return served as minister of St Columba’s Church in Cambridge. In 1943 he became warden of Community House – the youth work venture started by George MacLeod of the Iona Community in Glasgow. He assumed the role of deputy leader of the Community in 1950, a post he held for 17 years until his retirement in 1967.