Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

not whether God commanded all that the ancient Hebrews thought he commanded, or approved all that they thought he approved. The historian recites their errors as well as their sins. It is not whether all the occurrences took place as they are recorded; whether Samson tied foxes or jackals together; 1 whether Elijah was fed by ravens or Arabians ; 2 whether Elisha made the axe-head swim in the water. The value of the history does not depend upon its scientific accuracy in detailed incidents in this remote past. The question to consider is whether the historian is right or wrong in his interpretation of human history, whether God is in his world of men, whether Jehovah is to be reckoned with in national policies, whether moral forces are to be taken account of by wise men in the world's adminstration ; or whether might makes right and God is only on the side of the strong battalions. This question I do not discuss ; for it is no part of the object of this volume to show that the view of life taken by the Biblical writers is correct. I only seek to show what that view is; to interpret the Old Testament, not to discuss its accuracy. To interpret it we must understand first of all the purpose of the writers; and the purpose of the historical writers of the Old Testament was not to secure infallible accuracy in dates, numbers, statistics, and historical incidents, but to interpret their national history as Jehovah’s dealing with his people. Did they interpret it aright? and does this interpretation give us a clue by which we can interpret also the history of our own times ? If so, the Bible history is true, and its truth is not impugned, and not even a suspicion is cast upon its truth, by the conclusion that certain of the incidents recorded in it are unhistorical, and many of the moral judgments which it records are to be corrected in the light of a later moral development, and by the standards of a later revelation.

1 Judg. xv. 4.

2 1 Kings xvii. 4, 6. See Robert Tuck's Handbook of Biblical Difficulties, p. 439; Kitto's Bible Ilus., vol. i. part 2, pp. 216 220.

8 2 Kings vi. 1-7.

CHAPTER III

PREHISTORIC TRADITIONS REWRITTEN

The principles respecting Hebrew history which were set forth and illustrated in the preceding chapter are two. The first principle is that this history is a compilation from previously existing materials, and that by careful study it is possible to distinguish in some measure these different materials, to separate the strand and show the threads of which it is composed, and that this task is made easier for us because in the latter portion of the history two of these strands are separated for us into two books -- the Book of Chronicles, which is priestly or ecclesiastical, and the Book of Kings, which is prophetic. The second principle is that this history is not factual nor philosophical, but epic; that it is not compiled by a scientific student whose aim it is to give accurate information as to details, nor by a philosophical thinker whose aim it is to enforce a theory of human life, but by a prophetic or poetic or dramatic writer, who uses the material which he finds ready to his hand for the purpose of illustrating a certain phase or aspect of human life, namely, that aspect which presents itself to one who believes that God is in his world of men, and who in his observation of the course of human events looks for the indications of a divine presence guiding and directing them. The historical book of the Bible which affords, if not the most striking illustration of these two principles, at least the illustration most apparent to the English reader, is the Book of Genesis; and this for three reasons: first, because the narratives which that book contains appear on their face to be epic or dramatic rather than factual; second, because we are able easily to separate the narratives of which the book is composed, and to show that there are two or more not always consistent accounts of the same events; and, third, because the researches of archæologists have discovered in other and admittedly older literature the materials of which the narratives might easily have been composed.

1 The student who wishes to pursue more fully the study of the question whether the historical books were written by one author, or were compiled from a variety of documentary and traditional sources by an editor or editors, will find material for the purpose in the following volumes : An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, by S. R. Driver, D. D. ; the best book in the English language, so far as I know, to give the student the results of modern scholarship in its analysis of the Old Testament. The Genesis of Genesis and The Triple Tradition of Exodus, by Professor B. W. Bacon, D. D., of the Yale Theological Seminary, which give analyses of these two books into their supposed constituent parts. The Beginnings of History according to the Bible and the Traditions of Oriental Peoples, by Francis Lenormant, Professor of Archæology at the National Library of France; to this and the following volume I am indebted for the parallel traced in this chapter between the Genesis tradition and one of the Assyrian

D.D.;

An early tradition, still regarded as trustworthy by the traditional school of Biblical critics, attributes the Book of Genesis to Moses. If we were tablets. The Chaldæan Account of Genesis, by George Smith of the Department of Oriental Antiquities in the British Museum. Encyclopædia Britannica, article Pentateuch, by J. Wellhausen, Professor of Oriental Languages, University of Halle. For the view of those who maintain the single and Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch the reader is referred to The Unity of the Book of Genesis and the Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch, by William Henry Green, D. D., LL. D., Professor of Oriental and Old Testament Literature in Princeton Theological Seminary, who, at the time of his death, was the ablest representative in this country of the traditional school. See, also, The Veracity of the Hexateuch, by Samuel C. Bartlett, D. D., LL. D., late President of Dartmouth College ; The New Testament under Fire, by A. J. F. Behrends,

and Anti-Higher Criticism, edited by L. W. Munhall, M. A. The two latter are general in their character, and are not confined, as are the others, to the problems of the Pentateuch.

1 “Is the Pentateuch the work of Moses? It is universally conceded that this was the traditional opinion among the Jews. To this the New Testament bears the most abundant and explicit testimony." In support of this Dr. Green refers to the following New Testament passages: “The Pentateuch is by our Lord called the book of Moses' (Mark xii. 26); when it is read and preached the Apostles say that Moses is read (2 Cor. iï. 15) and preached (Acts xv. 21). The Pentateuch and the books of the prophets, which were read in the worship of the synagogue, are called, both by our Lord (Luke xvi. 29, 31) and the Evangelists (Luke xxiv. 27), “Moses and the prophets' or 'the law of Moses and the prophets' (Luke xxiv. 44; Acts xxviii. 23). Of the injunctions of the Pentateuch not only do the Jews when addressing our Lord, ‘Moses commanded' (John viü. 5), but our Lord repeatedly uses the same form of speech (Matt. viii. 4 ; xix. 7, 8; Mark i. 44 ; x. 3; Luke v. 14), as testified by three of the Evangelists. Of the law in general he says, 'Moses gave the law' (John vii. 19), and the Evangelist echoes, “the law was given by Moses' (John i. 17). And that Moses was not only the author of the law, but committed its precepts to writing, is affirmed by

say,

« AnteriorContinuar »