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whole human race, but that the human race will destroy sin, or, to relate it in the language of the myth, the serpent shall poison the heel of man, and man shall crush the serpent's head. The Hebrew myth of the expulsion from the garden embodied the truth that sorrow is disciplinary, and the road from the garden of innocence to the victory of virtue is through the struggle of the wilderness. The Hebrew myth of the deluge embodied the truth that destruction of sinners can never cure the world of sin. The Hebrew myth of Abraham taught the truth that he who seeks God shall find him, and that to find him no sacrifice of home or friends or child is or can be too great; the Hebrew myth of Jacob, that God is the God of sinner as well as of saint, and remembers his mercies unto children's children of such as love him and keep his commandments; the myth of Joseph, that he is the Providence of all who put their trust in him God in Egypt as in the Holy Land, in Pharaoh's prison and Pharaoh's palace, God of gods and Lord of lords.
This ancient compilation of prehistoric myths and legends is valuable, not because of any scientific addition which it makes to our knowledge of early history, but because it shows us the consciousness of God in the early experiences of that remarkable people to whom more than to all other peoples combined the world owes its knowledge of God, its standards of righteousness, and its impulse to the divine life.
THE BOOK OF THE COVENANT
It is a common belief among primitive peoples that their code of laws was dictated to the lawgivers by a god or the gods. This seems to have been the opinion of the ancient Hebrews concerning their system of laws contained in the Books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. That opinion has passed over into the Christian Church, where it has been widely held that this entire code, with all its complex regulations respecting both civil life and ecclesiastical offices, was given by Jehovah to Moses and reduced by him to writing. According to this view, the entire code, civil and ecclesiastical, dates from about 1450 B. c.1 References in these codes to conditions that did not exist until long after the death of Moses are supposed to have been prophetic and preparatory for conditions yet to come. Some of the scholars of the olden time even maintained that the account of the death of Moses, contained in the last chapter of Deuteronomy, was written by Moses prophetically before the death occurred, though no one, I think, any longer entertains that opinion. It is generally conceded by the most conservative critics that this postlude to the book, and perhaps some other special provisions scattered through the Pentateuch which are wholly inapplicable to the nomadic life of the wilderness, were added by an unknown writer subsequent to the death of Moses.1
1 Or according to modern chronology 1250 B. C. See chronological table on page xi.
The modern critic believes that no part of these law books was written by Moses in their present form; that they contain laws and prescribe customs which grew up gradually among the Hebrew people during a checkered history of nearly ten centuries; that while the oldest portion of the codes of which these books are composed probably embodies substantially his teaching, the latest civil code, as we have it in Deuteronomy, was not formulated until about the year 620 B. C., and the final ecclesiastical code, as contained in the Levitical or Canon law, and especially in the Book of Leviticus, was not formulated as we now possess it until about the year 525 B. C. These dates, of course, are only approximate ; for it is not supposed that the exact year of the completion of any of the codes can now be ascertained. It will thus be seen that the question between the old and the new view of the Bible is more than one of mere dates or authorship. It is not the question, as it has been humorously defined, whether the Pentateuch was written by Moses or by another man named Moses; it is the question whether the books constituting the Pentateuch were given at one time and through one prophet, as the Mohammedans believe was the case with the Koran, or whether they record the growth of a great people under the guidance and inspiration of God. This is not a mere literary question. It is distinctively a theological, and in some sense a religious, question. I hold the second of these two opinions ; and in this and the next article I propose to elucidate this opinion more fully.
1 This is the substantially unanimous opinion of scholars who insist upon the Mosaic authorship of the rest of the book, e. g.: “This chapter could not be written by Moses himself, but was added by Joshua or Eleazar, or, as Patrick conjectures, by Samuel, who was a prophet, and wrote by divine authority what he found in the records of Joshua, and his successors, the judges.” Matthew Henry, Commentary on Deut. xxxiv. 1-14. “It seems most probable, and is commonly believed, that this chapter was not written by Moses, but by Eleazar or Joshua, or Ezra, or some other man of God, directed herein by the Holy Ghost; this being no more impeachment to the Divine authority of this chapter, that the penman is unknown, which also is the lot of some other books of Scripture, than it is to the authority of the acts of the king or parliament, that they are written or printed by some unknown person.” Pool's Annotations, vol. i. p. 407. The thoughtful reader will probably observe that this argument applies with as much force to the whole Book of Deuteronomy as to a single supplementary chapter of the book.
The parallel between a nation and an individual is a very familiar one, at least as old as Plato. The nation grows as the individual grows. Man has been described as a “bundle of habits.” That is not quite an accurate description. He inherits something from his forefathers. Then on that inheritance he begins to build character. Action frequently repeated becomes a habit; habit long continued becomes a second nature; and this second nature, the product of habit long continued incorporated in and mixed with what he has inherited, makes the man what he is. He
He may in this process of growth write down resolutions, as Jonathan Edwards did, and endeavor to live up to them; but the man is not made by the resolutions he writes ; he is made by the life he lives; and the resolutions which he writes are both a product of the preceding life and an impulse and a guidance to the life that lies before him. In a similar manner grows the nation. It starts with certain racial peculiarities. It is an Anglo-Saxon race, or a Latin race, or a Semitic race. This is its inheritance, and on this inheritance it builds its character. In the building of this character, first comes custom ; for what habit is to the individual, custom is to the nation; after this custom has been long repeated, so that it has entered into and formed a part of the national character, it is not infrequently reduced to writing. Sometimes this is done early in its history ; sometimes some prophet arises who sees in advance of his fellows and reduces to writing that which he thinks the nation ought to aim to be. But the nation is not made by its written constitution or its written laws, it is made by its custom; it is not made by what it resolves it will do, nor by what some one says it has done or ought to do ; it is made by what in point of fact it does. For the nation, like the individual, is built up by the processes of life itself.