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spirit as that in which Paul, speaking in Athens, cites“ certain of your own poets.” It is true that he often refers to these books, and when he does, refers to them by the name by which they were known in his time; but such a reference does not even indicate his opinion as to their authorship, still less does it indicate any intention on his part to make an utterance on the subject which loyalty to him must regard as final. No popular writer or speaker would hesitate to refer to Æsop's Fables, although he might agree with the conclusion of modern scholarship that Æsop did not write them, but only gathered together the collection which bears his name from a mass of fables current among the Greeks of his time. 1
I invite the reader, then, who will follow me further in this volume to follow me in the spirit of this Introduction ; to imagine that there stands before him on the table, not a book, but a library of sixty-six different books, which represent the literature of a peculiar people, extending over a period of twelve hundred years or more, and are a survival of the fittest, out of a much larger number which have not survived ; 1 to remember that this library has produced a profound moral impression on all that portion of the human race who have ever known it; to believe, therefore, that this collection is well worth his careful study; to assume, however, that it is to be studied, not as a collection of texts, out of which, by a process of mosaic work, a theology may be constructed, but as a collection of vital literature, out of which, by a course of literary study, life may be promoted and truth made both more apparent and more effective; and to enter on the study of these books in the spirit in which they were conceived, and with the purpose for which they were written, as that purpose has been defined by one whose writings are recognized as among the loftiest in the whole collection : "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." 2
1 "His (Christ's] allusions to the Old Testament books and narratives are sometimes made a touchstone for determining ethical and historical questions, which were as foreign to the thought of his time as were the researches of anthropology or modern science. If his assertion • Moses wrote' discredits modern criticism, does not his affirmation that the sun rises destroy modern astronomy ?" G. B. Stevens, D. D., The Theology of the New Testament, p. 77. Compare Delitzsch on Genesis : Introduction,
1 Though some of the books to be found in the apocryphal Old Testament are morally equal to some of those included in the
2 2 Tinu. iii. 16, 17.
THE history of the Hebrew nation, as it is recorded in the Bible, begins with the exodus from Egypt of the before-enslaved tribes; this exodus took place, according to the opinions of modern scholars, about B. C. 1250. But the earlier history contained in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers may properly be regarded as constitutional history, and is so interwoven with the constitution and laws of the Hebrews that it will be more appropriately considered in the chapters devoted to a consideration of the origin and growth of those laws. The distinctively historical books are those of Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. If we assume that the exodus took place about 1250 B. C., and the restoration of Israel to her land and the rebuilding of the city and temple, as described by Ezra and Nehemiah, about the year 450 B. C., the history of the ancient Hebrews, as narrated in the Old Testa ment, covers a period of about eight hundred years.
1 See chronological table on page xi. 2 See chapters iv. and v.
How were the facts which are narrated in these histories ascertained by the narrator?
A journalist lives and a biographer may live in the times when the events which he records took place, and then he may tell what he has himself seen ; but a historian rarely is the narrator of events of which he was an eye-witness; he generally gathers his information from various sources, and in his history gives an account of the facts as he bas ascertained them by historical research. There is no reason to suppose that the Hebrew historian pursued any other course. We should expect that, writing of events occupying a period of something like a thousand years, he would have given us in his history the substance of accounts, documentary or oral, in which the history of those years had been preserved; in other words, we should expect that other materials than his own personal knowledge would enter into his history. This expectation is confirmed by a study of Oriental literature. Oriental histories, so the scholars tell us, are rarely original; they are compilations. The Oriental historian does not, as the modern historian, examine and investigate original sources, and give in his own language the results of his investigations ; he takes what I may call the raw materials of history which he has discovered, and weaves them together, connecting them by utterances of his own. When a new edition is to be prepared, the new writer simply takes this conglomerate and intercalates the new material which he has obtained, or appends it in additional pages.1
1 Luke expressly declares that he gathered the materials for his Gospel to some extent in this way (Luke i. 1-4).
If, then, we suppose that Hebrew history was prepared as other Oriental histories have been prepared, we shall assume it possible by painstaking study to ascertain to some extent what are the materials of which it was composed. This is what modern students of Hebrew history have done; they have separated it into its constituent parts. They are not all of one mind in the details, but they are all of one mind in the belief that the Hebrew history is not only composed from preexisting materials, as Macaulay's history or Green's history, but that it is so composed of preëxisting materials that, through linguistic peculiarities, forms of expression, historical references, and other indications, the various elements of the history can be measurably distinguished. Even the English reader of the Bible cannot fail to distinguish two of these constituent elements in the later history of the Hebrews, because these elements are not combined in one narrative. From the time of David,
1 " It is the law of Oriental history writing, in fact, that one book should annihilate its predecessor. The sources of a compilation rarely survive the compilation itself. A book in the East is rarely recopied just as it stands. It is brought up to date by the addition to it of what is known, or supposed to be known, from other sources. The individuality of the historical book does not exist in the East; it is the substance, not the form, which is held of importance, and no scruple is felt about mixing up authors and styles. The end sought is to be complete, and that is all.” The History of Israel, by Ernest Renan, vol. iii. pp. 50, 51.