Prophecy and History
in Relation to the Messiah

The Warburton Lectures for 1880-1884

Alfred Edersheim



But we hoped that it was He which should have redeemed Israel.
Luke 24:1.

We have reached that stage in the inquiry proposed in these Lectures, when we might have been expected to gather together the individual predictions in the Old Testament, with the view of presenting in them a prophetic picture of the Messiah. But the exigencies of the time, and indeed of the present argument, impose on me another duty than once more to attempt what, in one or another part of it, has been so often and so well done by my predecessors. In truth, it must have been felt in the course of this argument, that those great questions regarding the date and component parts of the Pentateuch, or rather of the Mosaic legislation, and its relation to the Prophets, which are at present so largely engaging the attention alike of scholars and of general readers of the Old Testament, are of vital importance in our present inquiry.

Notwithstanding the interest awakened in the subject, it may be doubted whether the history and progress of this question are sufficiently known, intelligently to follow its discussion. Accordingly, I propose to give a brief sketch of its history, before considering the results arrived at—avoiding, so far as possible, merely technical details.1

What may be called the traditional or Church-view of the Mosaic date and authorship of the Pentateuch (entertained not only by the Roman Catholic, the Greek, and by all the Protestant Churches, but also by the Synagogue) prevailed with but little and not influential exception or dissent2 till the second half of the last century. The first systematic attempt to trace different documents, in the first place, in the book of Genesis (inclusive of Exodus 1, and 2) was made by Jean Astruc (1684-1766), a French physician, the son of a Protestant pastor, and afterwards a convert to Roman Catholicism. His work, ‘Conjectures sur les mêmoires originaux dont il paroit que Moyse s’est servi pour composer le livre de la Genèse,’ appeared anonymously at Brussels in 1753, when the author was nearly seventy years old.3 Starting from the exclusive use in different parts of Genesis of the terms Elohim and Jehovah, he ascribed the portions in which either the one or the other designation occurred to separate documents, which he respectively marked by the letters A and B. Those parts in which there were repetitions of the same narrative, and the name of God did not occur, he ascribed to another document (comprising Genesis 7, 20, 23, 24) which he called C. Finally, those narratives which seemed to him foreign to the history of the Jewish people he ranged in yet a fourth column, D, which, however, really comprised various documents (eight in number), and which he marked by the letters E to M. Thus the book of Genesis was composed of eleven documents (A, B, C, and E to M).4

The investigations of Astruc soon found a more congenial soil, and received fuller development, in Germany. Here (after a few not influential predecessors)5 we have specially to name J. G. Eichhorn,6 whose ‘Introduction to the Old Testament’ (in 5 vols.) appeared at Leipsic in 1780-1783, and rapidly passed through several editions.7 The work of Eichhorn lays down the main principles and lines which have since been followed in German criticism of the Pentateuch. After stating the various reasons for his distinction of the two documents which he traces in Genesis, Eichhorn endeavours to prove that each of them is again based upon a previous document, arriving at the final conclusion that the Jehovah-document had finished with the death of Joseph, the Elohim-document with the public appearance of Moses,8 and that these two documents may have been put together by someone before Moses (p. 94)—although not in their completeness, but often in fragmentary form, in accordance with the plan of the compiler, and with not unfrequent glosses and interpolations. These three elements (the Elohistic, the Jehovistic, and glosses) Eichhorn traces in detail through the Book of Genesis (pp. 107-110). The author next proceeds to vindicate the genuineness of Genesis9 and to defend its high antiquity (pp. 135-172) by arguments well worthy of consideration. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, Eichhorn regards as older than all the other books in the Old Testament, proving this both from their language and contents (pp. 187-193), and from later history. These books cannot be post-Mosaic, notably they have neither been written nor compiled by Ezra, although these Mosaic documents have passed through many hands and received glosses and additions. But all this before the time of Ezra, since otherwise the Samaritans would not have accepted the Pentateuch (pp. 204-205). Other reasons confirmatory of this view are given. It is further shown that these books could not have been composed at the time of Josiah (2 Kings 22), nor yet between that of Joshua and David, but must have originated from documents by Moses and some of his contemporaries, although (as already remarked) not without later interpolations, alterations, and additions. The notices of these by Eichhorn mark the points of departure for later and more destructive criticism. The arguments by which all these views are supported in detail are very interesting and deserve the attention of modern critics. Emphatic is the testimony of Eichhorn in favour of what is now known as the ‘Priest-Code,'10 and very detailed the examination of Numbers, which is followed (p. 322) by a refutation of objections and a demonstration of the authenticity of the Pentateuch which, it is declared ‘not even the most boundless scepticism could regard as fictitious’—the analysis closing with the literary history of the subject.

I have been thus detailed in the analysis of Eichhorn’s argument, as not only the beginning of modern criticism, but because it deserves more serious attention than it has of late received. To complete this part of our account, we add that K. D. Ilgen11 sought to show the existence of a second ‘Elohist,’ against which Eichhorn protested, and that the contention of Ilgen was further followed out by Hupfeld,12 and by Ewald in his ‘History of Israel.’ To mark yet another step—De Wette13 claimed a separate authorship for Deuteronomy; Bleek14 showed, that the Book of Joshua really formed part of what originally was a Hexateuch; while Ewald and others extended the proposed criticism to all parts of this work. The denial of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch was, as might be expected, further developed by successive critics, whose special views it were out of place to describe in detail—the final result being briefly this, that the existence in Mosaic times of almost any part of the Pentateuch was denied.

2. From this review of the history, we pass to a sketch of the present state of the controversy. Generally speaking, the various views advocated may be grouped under three headings:—

A. The first of these bears the name of the ‘Fragments-hypothesis.’ According to its advocates, we can discover so many interpolations, glosses, and repetitions in the Pentateuch, that the work must be regarded as a collection of separate documents, thrown together without order or care by one or more redactors, with the view of preserving all the literary remains of the past. With this theory, which is now generally abandoned, the names of Vater,15 of our own countryman Dr. A. Geddes, and of A. Th. Hartmann,16 are connected.

B. According to the second theory, which is designated the ‘Supplement-hypothesis,’ the work of the Elohist was the oldest in the collection, and then supplemented by that of the Jehovist, Deuteronomy having been added at a later period. With this view the names of Tuch,17 Bleek, Lengerke,18 and formerly also of Delitzsch,19 are identified. This hypothesis also has been virtually abandoned by modern critics.

C. The third theory, known as the ‘Document-hypothesis,’ is that which at present is most generally received. According to its advocates the whole or most of the Pentateuch consists of various documents, which have been redacted by two or more persons—the original documents themselves being classed as the ‘First Elohist,’ the ‘Second Elohist,’ the ‘Jehovist,’ and the ‘Deuteronomist.’

It will be noticed that, in its outline, this hypothesis is both general and vague. It leaves room for the widest differences in regard to the documents, all, or some, of which may, in our Pentateuch, appear in their original or in an altered form—‘redacted’ and ‘re-redacted’; or may have been incorporated in a previous work, and then re-incorporated in another. Moreover, the theory itself does not settle the question as to the date of the composition, emendation, redaction, or incorporation of the various documents—leaving all these points undetermined, or rather in dispute, between the various critics. And yet, manifestly the most important question is that about the date of the contents of the Pentateuch: whether, broadly speaking, it truly represents, as a whole, the Mosaic legislation, or else must be pronounced, in regard to any such pretension, as in the main a later forgery. On this point it seems, to me at least, difficult to understand how the alternative and question at issue can be misapprehended, although it is only fair to say that there are scholars, both on the Continent and among ourselves, who hold the late date and non-Mosaic composition of so large a part of the Pentateuch, and yet utterly refuse the sequences which seem to me the logical inference from these views. Lastly, it should be added that there are still scholars in Germany and, no doubt, in our own country, who defend the unity and Mosaic authorship, or at least redaction, of the whole Pentateuch. It must, however, be admitted that their opponents have justice on their side in charging them with want of consistency in their views.20

We have said that there was room within the document-hypothesis for the most divergent views on many important questions. Till lately it might, indeed, have been boasted that, although many, and, as we should have thought, serious differences prevailed on matters of detail, there was substantial agreement on all leading points, such as the relative age of the chief documents composing the Pentateuch; the existence of certain sections which are older than any of the documents of which the Pentateuch is composed;21 and the combination of the other principal documents into one work which was completed before the time of the Deuteronomist. But this agreement no longer exists, so far as the most important, points are concerned, unless it were in this, that only small fragments in the Pentateuch are dated from Mosaic times, and that even these have been arranged and rearranged in strangest manner. But, by the side of this, there are on many questions absolute and irreconcilable differences between various critics. These concern: the number of documents in the Pentateuch, and the number of ‘redactors,’ who, in a certain sense, may be regarded as additional writers; the relation, order, and succession of these documents and of their redactions; and, lastly, the respective date or age of some of these documents and redactions. In evidence of the differences prevailing, the various views on the supposed age of the documents composing the Pentateuch have been arranged in seven, or, more strictly speaking, ten22 separate classes, to each of which the name, or names, of distinguished critics are attached. In other words, on the important question of the arrangement and relative age of some of the documents composing the Pentateuch, seven, or, more properly, ten, diverging views prevail;23 while in regard to some of them it may be said that opposite conclusions have been derived by equally competent scholars from the same data. From all this the impartial observer will derive at least this inference, that, where these conclusions so differ, they cannot rest on irrefragable grounds, but must to a large extent have been influenced by subjective considerations.

But all other differences pale into insignificance by the side of the fundamental divergence introduced by what is popularly known as the theory of Wellhausen. We call it by his name, not because it originated with him, but because of his lucid and popular advocacy, and his thorough application of it to all questions connected with Hebrew history and literature; and because its recent presentation, both in Germany and in this country, has identified the theory with his name. On the other hand, it is only fair to state, even at this stage, that many scholars whose names are identified with Hebrew learning have, on critical grounds, refused to accept his conclusions. The genesis of the theory is not without interest. Vatke24 and George25 contended, chiefly on philosophical grounds, that the Book of Deuteronomy, which was supposed to date from the time of Josiah, was older than the legislation of the other books in the Pentateuch. This position was next advocated on critical grounds by other writers. Thus E. Reuss (since 1833) laboured to establish that the notices in the historical books26 implied what was contradictory to the provisions of the so-called Mosaic law, and hence that the latter could not have existed at the time;27 that the prophets of the eighth and ninth centuries B.C. knew nothing of a Mosaic code; that Jeremiah was the first prophet who spoke of a written Law; and that his references were exclusively to Deuteronomy; and, lastly, that Deuteronomy (4:45 to ch. 28) was the oldest portion of the Pentateuch-legislation, being the very book which the priests in the time of Josiah pretended (prétendaient) to have found in the Temple; while Ezekiel (40-48) was anterior to the redaction of the ritual code and of the laws (the ‘Priest-Code’) which the Jewish priesthood afterwards introduced into the Pentateuch.

The most important argument on which this theory rests is the supposed ignoring of the Mosaic Law in the historical books, and the inconsistency of its provision with the state of matters then existing. Full reference will be made to this in the sequel. At present we only add, that this argument was capable of wide application, notably to all the religious institutions referred to in the Pentateuch: sacrifices, the priesthood, the central place of worship, and the great festivals. The theory just described broke with all the past. For, whereas Deuteronomy had formerly been regarded as being, on any supposition, the latest book in the Pentateuch, it was now declared to be the earliest, while the Levitical legislation in the Pentateuch was relegated to the times of the Exile. It follows that there must have been an immense difference between the times before, and those after, Josiah, when Deuteronomy first emerged. It would further follow that the earlier period of Jewish history was one of religious barbarism, confusion, and mostly worship of nature, when the voice of the prophets brooded over the moral chaos, and sought to introduce order in it. To other sequences of a theory so destructive, and which, even at this stage, I venture to designate as utterly incompatible with the facts of the case, reference will be made in the sequel.

The theory of Reuss was at first coldly received, and only gained adherents when developed by his pupils. One of them, K. H. Graf (1869), maintained28 that the ‘original document’ [the old historical work of the Elohist] had been successively recast by the Jehovist and the Deuteronomist, while the code of the middle books in the Pentateuch29 was certainly post-exilian. This view he afterwards modified, retracting what he had said about the ‘original document’ (the Grundschrift), which, in direct contradiction to his former contention, he now declared to have been post-exilian, and, indeed, to form the latest part of the Pentateuch. Graf was followed in much the same direction by Kayser.30

We have now, lastly, to sketch the system of Wellhausen, which may most conveniently be studied in his ‘History of Israel,’31 of which only the first volume has as yet appeared; and in the article ‘Israel’ in the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ where it is presented with much greater moderation of language and form than in the ‘History.’32 To avoid the possibility of personal bias in our account of Wellhausen’s views, we propose, so far as possible, to follow the sketch of Professor Strack, verifying it by constant reference to Wellhausen’s writings.

At the outset we are warned not to look in the Pentateuch for anything really Mosaic. Even the Decalogue is not Mosaic; in truth, the song of Deborah, in Judges 5, may be the oldest historical monument in the Old Testament.33 It is indeed true that the foundation-document which Wellhausen calls the ‘Priest-Code,’34 assumes the guise of the Mosaic age, seeking, so far as possible, to mask itself (p. 9), and that it seriously pretends to be the legislation of the wilderness, assuming an archaic appearance so as to hide the real date of its composition (p. 10). But the true critic has no difficulty in seeing through this disguise. The ‘book of the Covenant’ (Exo 20; 21:1-23:19) is ‘Jahvistic.’ The Jehovist (JE)—who must not be confounded with the Jahvist (J)—dates from the golden age of kings and prophets, before the Assyrian conquest of Israel or Judah. The substance of the two works, J and E, of which that of the Jehovist is composed, dates from before the prophets, but each of them has been repeatedly re-edited before the work appeared in the form of JE, or the Jehovist. We are bidden to remark that J presents more of the real original state of things, and shows less trace of prophetic influence than E (p. 371). The document J breaks off suddenly at the blessing of Balaam, although there may be traces of the work in Numbers 25:1-5, and Deuteronomy 34. But when we speak of JE (the Jehovist work), we must remember that, as already stated, the documents do not appear in their original form, but have been edited and re-edited with additions; in fact, they are J3E3. Deuteronomy, or rather the original D, appeared shortly before the eighteenth year of Josiah, when it only contained chapters 12-26i. Then, ‘not before the exile,’ D underwent a twofold redaction, of which the first prefaced D by Deuteronomy 1-4, and tacked to it chapter 27, while the next redaction added at the beginning chapters 5-11, and at the end chapters 28-30. The combination of these two editions and the insertion of the work into JE was probably made at the same time and by the same Deuteronomist as the combination of J and E into JE (p. 370).

But this is not nearly all. The section Leviticus 17-26, is said to represent what originally was a separate and distinct code of laws, the writer of which made manifold use of previous documents. It dates from the close of, or after the Exile, and is more cognate to Ezekiel than to the ‘Priest-Code,’ into which, after due redaction, it was inserted. In fact, the redaction was made by the same hand as the Priest-Code (pp. 388, 391, 396). Putting aside JE and D, we have still to consider the ‘Priest-Code’ itself, which embraces the legislation of the middle books of the Pentateuch.35 It is posterior to Ezekiel (his supposed legislation: Ezekiel 40-48), and must be viewed, not as the product of one person, but ‘as a conglomerate, as it were, the outcome of a whole school.’ In its language and contents, as well as by direct references, it is interwoven with an historical document Q (the book of the four—quatour—covenants), to which originally the following had belonged: Exodus chapters 25-29; Leviticus chapter 9; 10:1-5,12-15; chapter 16; Numbers 1:1-16; 1:48-3:9; 3:15-10:28; chapter 16 in part; chapters 17; 18; 25:6-19; chapters 26; 27; 32 in part; 33:50-chapter 36: The whole Pentateuch—unknown as such till then—was finally published by Ezra in or about the year 444 (Neh 8:1-10:40), although many minor amendments and considerable additions may have been made at a later date.36 It should, however, be added, that other critics of that school, such as Reuss, Graf, Kayser, hold that only the work P, or even its main part, was published by Ezra, the rest at a later period. But, as Strack rightly objects: in that case it seems impossible to explain how D, which is supposed, in many points, to contradict P, could have remained ‘latent’ for a considerable period after the Exile; and still more, to understand how the Samaritans had accepted the Pentateuch at a period not later than Nehemiah.37 These objections might evidently be applied and extended to many other points in the system.

3. Probably the first impressions derived from the analysis of the system of Wellhausen will be that of its extreme elaborateness and intricacy. Indeed, we fear that with all our care we have failed to make it quite intelligible in its details—the main fact only standing out, that the great body of Mosaic legislation, such as we have been wont to regard it, is declared to be post-exilian. The theory reflects great credit on the industry, and especially the ingenuity of its author; but common sense instinctively rejects it as incredible. A work so elaborately tesselated, into which so many different documents, redacted and re-redacted, have been so cunningly inserted, that one piece breaks off in the middle of a chapter, or even of a verse, to which a piece from a different document is joined, and so on, till the mind becomes bewildered amidst documents and redactions: such a piece of literary mosaic has never been done, so far as we know, and we refuse to believe that it could have been done. Whatever objections may be raised against what is called the ‘traditional’ view, whatever difficulties may attach to the conciliation of the supposed differences between notices in the historical books and the enactments of the Mosaic code, the theory of Wellhausen is not the thread to lead us out of, rather that to lead us into, the labyrinth. Viewed quite from the outside, it only adds to our difficulties. Indeed, although the distinction between the two great documents known as those of the Elohist and the Jahvist does not depend merely on the distinctive use of the designations Elohim and Jehovah—being supported by other and weighty considerations—it makes us almost doubt what weight should be attached to this fundamental distinction. We put aside this, that the different use of the two Names has been explained as expressing a difference of meaning, each presenting a special relation of God to man—because, to our thinking, this explanation does not fully meet the case. But, supposing the workmanship of the composition and redaction of the Pentateuch to have been so manifold and so cunning as Wellhausen’s theory implies—indeed, in almost any case of multiple composition, unless of the most clumsy kind—it seems almost impossible to believe that one of the later writers or redactors, into whose hands E and J had come, might not sometimes have interchanged, for reasons of his own, the two designations; or else himself have used them promiscuously, as he leaned towards one or the other document, or the exigencies of the narrative pointed to the use of either one or the other. Hence it seems extremely difficult entirely to rely on the great test, with which the absolute separation of documents originally started.

And more than this requires to be taken into account. Ewald had long ago remarked,38 that the last writer or redactor of the Pentateuch could not have thought that it contained any mere repetitions or contradictory accounts of the same facts. This most reasonable canon gains immensely in application as we recall, on Wellhausen’s theory, the elaborateness of workmanship, the immense skill displayed in it, and the multiplicity of composition and redaction in the Pentateuch. Only a very clumsy litterateur would have left so many contradictions and inconsistencies unnoticed, if indeed they existed. And it seems utterly inconceivable—nothing short of impossible—that, in a work which had passed through so many hands, all of them admittedly able, and which, on Wellhausen’s supposition, was, at least in great part, designed—shall we not say, falsified—for a definite purpose, so much should have been left, which was transparently inconsistent with, and opposed to, the purpose in view. And when we go a step further, and recall that the historical books which contain the notices that are said to be in direct contradiction to the Pentateuch legislation,39 were at least manipulated by those to whom we owe the Pentateuch, it seems still more impossible to believe that these notices could have been considered, or, indeed, could have been, quite inconsistent40 with the arrangements introduced by the Pentateuch. These writers must have seen some mode of conciliating the seeming discrepancies, or else—and this seems not too bold a statement, on Wellhausen’s theory—they would have unhesitatingly removed them.

These considerations cannot, we feel assured, be overlooked when thinking of such a theory as that under review. There are others which must weigh with every serious mind and every critical student. I have previously expressed, with all gravity, my personal feeling that, if the theory in question, with all that it implies, were true, it would seem logically impossible to maintain the claims of Christ as the Old Testament Messiah of Moses and the Prophets, and the Son of David. This is not said with the view of foreclosing inquiry, or influencing its results. On the contrary, I would insist, as strongly as our opponents, that every question should be examined on its own merits, irrespective of preconceived opinions or possible consequences. In fact, I claim for our side equal, if not greater, independence, since those acquainted with the controversy will scarcely deny that much of the reasoning on the other side has been prompted by, and grounded, on à priori conclusions about the possibility of the miraculous, prophetism, the supposed relation between God and Israel, and similar matters. But, while not wishing to prejudice inquiry by the consideration of the consequences involved, these are sufficiently grave to render extreme care and caution imperative. When we read, as the outcome of the theory we are combating, that ‘what has gained for the history of Israel pre-eminently the designation of sacred is mostly due to what a later period has painted over the original picture,’41 we feel that the whole basis of our religion is being seriously shaken. For, if the largest portions of the Old Testament are myths, legends, and forgeries, it would be difficult to retain any belief in the trustworthiness of the rest. And, in truth, this school of criticism has spoken with sufficient plainness on the subject. We are assured that we do not owe to Moses any of the laws or historical notices in the Pentateuch; nor yet, in all probability, to David any of the Psalms, nor to Solomon any of the Proverbs. The historical books are often recast and retouched in the spirit of the later Law, and indeed unreliable.42 And here I must add that the manipulations of passages in the historical (and in the prophetical) books which appear inconsistent with the new theory of the date and authorship of the Pentateuch,43 are sometimes, to say the least, peculiar. It is easy to get rid of such passages by declaring them interpolations or corrupted texts, but solid reasons of an absolute character must be adduced for the assertion, and not merely such à priori assertions as that they are inconsistent with the proposed Pentateuch theory. It were easy in this manner to cut off, so to speak, the head of every opponent so soon as he emerges; but the justice of the procedure has in each case to be vindicated before the tribunal of criticism. And, although the impression made by the accentuation of difficulties and seeming inconsistencies, which are all removed by the new theory, may be that of a brilliant discovery, we distrust it from its inception, not only for the reasons already adduced, and for those which will be stated in the sequel, but for its very brilliancy, and the ease with which everything may be fitted into its Procrustes-bed.

Similar violence is done to much in the prophetic writings and the Psalms by the new school of criticism.44 More especially is this the case in regard to Ezekiel. A careful investigation,45 the results of which have not yet been met by the school of Wellhausen, has established that Ezekiel reflects back upon the Pentateuch, and not the reverse. Nor can we even at this stage for a moment hesitate not only to dissent from the theory of Wellhausen with regard to the post-exilian date of the legislation in the Priest-Code, but also to express our conviction that Deuteronomy could not have been composed so late as about the time of its recovery in the reign of King Josiah. To begin with, the statement that the account of its finding (2 Kings 22:8) means that it had not previously existed, but been just written, is merely an à priori gloss upon the text—a suggestio mali, for which the text itself affords no warrant. It might seem almost as reasonable to deny the truth of the whole narrative as that of the part which speaks of the finding of the Law. Moreover, this view of 2 Kings 22:8 is not only inconsistent with what is expressly characterised in verse13 as the sins of their fathers in not formerly obeying ‘the words of this book,’ but the whole account about the finding of the Book of the Law presupposes a general knowledge and belief in the existence of such a code, which it would be most unreasonable to assume could have been palmed off by Hezekiah as Mosaic, or received by the people as such, if no one had ever heard of the existence of a written Mosaic legislation. Lastly, there are many provisions in the so-called Priest-Code inconsistent with the idea of its post-exilian origin,46 just as there are notices in Deuteronomy incompatible with the theory of its composition in the time of Josiah.47 But to these points we shall have to refer at greater length in the sequel.

Let it not be said that the line of argument which we have hitherto followed proceeds, in great measure, upon à priori considerations, which we have contended our opponents must not bring to that criticism of the facts on which their theory rests. For there is great difference between establishing an hypothesis on à priori considerations which determine our criticism of facts, and proving by à priori considerations that such an hypothesis is not only highly improbable but morally impossible. The latter method is lawful; not so the former. If a document, such as a will, were propounded in a court of law, it would not do to argue that its provisions were spurious—introduced by a later falsifier—because they seemed to the advocate incredible, such as that such a person could not have made certain charitable bequests; or, to apply it in the present argument, that miracles, prophetism, direct revelation, and the like, are contrary to our ideas. In both cases direct evidence would be required. And if such direct evidence were offered from the incompatibility of these provisions with certain supposed indications in the document, it would not do to brand as spurious and falsified other indications in the same document which are in accordance with the provisions invalidated, on the ground that they accord with provisions which, on the hypothesis of the advocate, are spurious.48 This were vicious reasoning in a circle, and evidence on which a jury would not pronounce against a document. On the other hand, it would be quite lawful for the advocate who defended the document to show, that the opposition to it proceeded on a theory and on grounds intrinsically so improbable and so inconsistent as to involve moral impossibility.

But the issues of this controversy are so important that I must emphasise what, from fear of seeming to prejudge the question, may have been too lightly touched. There are, no doubt, many, scholars and general readers, who would earnestly refuse to attach to the theory in question the absolutely destructive sequences which seem to me logically involved in it. But quite irrespective of this, that Christ and the Apostles, in appealing as so often they did to Moses and the Prophets, must, on the theory in question, have been in such grave and fundamental error as cannot be explained on the ground of popular modes of speaking, and seems incompatible with the manner in which the New Testament would have us think of them—there are other and most weighty considerations. If there really is no Mosaic legislation; if the largest, the central, and most important part of what professes to be such, was the invention of the priesthood about the time of Ezra, foisted upon Moses for a specific purpose; if there was not a ‘Tabernacle,’ in our sense of it, with its specific institutions, nor a central place of worship, nor the great festivals, nor a real Aaronic priesthood; and if the so-called historic books have been coloured and elaborated deuteronomistically, or in that spirit; if they are full of spurious passages and falsifications—as, for example, in the history of Solomon; and if every now and then ‘a prophet is put in’ (einqelegt wird) who expresses himself in the spirit of Deuteronomy and in the language of Jeremiah and Ezekiel;49 if the ‘anonymous prophets of 1 Kings 20 have all been afterwards inserted for the purpose of a detailed vaticinium ex eventu [prophesy after the event], because Israelitish history is never complete without this kind of garnish’;50 if, in short, what has gained for the history of Israel pre-eminently the designation of sacred is mostly due to what a later period ‘has painted over the original picture’: then, there is in plain language only one word to designate all this. That word is fraud.51 Then, also, on the supposition that, what we had regarded as the sacred source of the most sacred events, was in reality the outcome of fraud, must the Gospel narratives and the preaching of Christ lose their historical basis, and rest in large measure on deception and delusion. For Holy Scripture, as the communication of God to man by man, does indeed contain a distinctively human element, but that element cannot have been one of human imposture.

In thus arguing we are not setting up any extravagant theory of Inspiration, nor are we ignoring either the repeated redactions which the Old Testament has undergone, nor yet the fact that scarcely any religious documents of that period can be expected to have come down to us without bearing the marks of redaction. We are simply proceeding on a broad line of demarcation, visible to all men: that between falsehood and truth. Nor is it to the point to argue that pseudonymic literature was so common in antiquity. Even were this the case in regard to what we call the ‘canonical’ writings, there is clearly a great difference between the assumption of a spurious name and the assertion of spurious facts, such as that to have been given or ordered of God by Moses, which was the invention of the priesthood in the time of Ezra. ‘Every literary untruth,’ writes one of the distinguished modern historians, ‘brought forward for the purpose of deception, was treated in the first centuries of the Church, by all those Fathers whose writings have come down to us, as an abominable sin.’ The Apocrypha and the so-called Pseudepigraphic Writings form no part of the Canon, and therefore cannot be quoted as instances in point. Such books in the Old Testament as we sometimes, though erroneously, associate with certain names, will, on examination, be found not strictly to claim such precise authorship. Besides, as already stated, the Old Testament Canon has undergone repeated investigation and discussion.52 And we know sufficient of the discussions in those early Jewish assemblies which fixed the Old Testament Canon, to assure us, that a book would not have been inserted which was known to be false in its title—still less, one that was fraudulent in its object. And these assemblies—at least the earlier of them—sat close on, if not in the very time, that the fraud is supposed to have been published! Or, to go back a step, and to Old Testament times, how can we reconcile the introduction of such a fraud as the ‘invention’ of the Book of Deuteronomy in the time of Josiah with the denunciations of his contemporary Jeremiah, who inveighs in such stern language against the Prophets that prophesied lies in God’s Name, when He had not sent them, neither had commanded them, nor spoken unto them, but they prophesied a false vision, a thing of nought, the deceit of their own hearts, and so caused the people to err? (Jer 14:14; 23:16, 31, 32)

We have yet another consideration to urge before closing this preliminary part of our inquiry. If we were to accept the views of the school of criticism to which we have referred, much more than what has already been stated would seem logically to follow. When we have relegated the so-called Levitical legislation to the time of Ezra, and resolved all that is really distinctive in the Biblical history of Israel into legends and myths, a blank remains which must be filled up. What was the history of Israel, and what their religious institutions? Take away all the sacred element, and Israel appears as only a horde of barbarians and of slaves, lately emancipated, and not distinguishable from the Canaanites around. In such case their religion was really the old indigenous nature-worship (as they call it ‘naturwüchsig’), in which Jahveh is really Moloch and Baal; sacrifices, often those of human beings; and where all the abominations of the races in Palestine have their place. In drawing such sequences we are not making inferences of our own. We do not, indeed, impute them to Wellhausen, although he designates the Ark as ‘an idol’;53 but the sequences mentioned have been made; they are stated in the most pronounced manner; and they have, in consequence of the new theory, become present and pressing questions,54 which are being discussed as ‘the chief problems of ancient Israelitic religious history.’55 Moreover, they really are the logical sequences of the new treatment of Jewish history, although they had been propounded before that theory was broached. Such statements as those of Kuenen,56 that the religion of Israel was only one of the old religions—neither more nor less; and that Judaism and Christianity belong, indeed, to the principal religions, but that between them and all others there is not any specific difference—point out the direction which has been followed. And such titles of books as ‘The Fire and Blood Service of the Ancient Hebrews, the Ancestral, Legal, and Orthodox Worship of the Nation’ (Daumer, 1842), ‘The Human Sacrifices of the Ancient Hebrews’ (Ghillany, 1842), 'Mythology and Revelation’ (Noack, 1853), ‘Mythology Among the Hebrews’ (Goldziher, 1876)—or the attempt to show that the original sanctuary of Mecca was founded by emigrants from the tribe of Simeon in the time of David, and that the religion there enacted was that of Abraham (Docy, 1864)—point out the manner in which this direction has been followed.

I have mentioned the titles of these books, of which many are not recent, because they most readily present to the general reader the character of the views which, as before stated, are undoubtedly at present among the burning questions in connection with the new theory of the history and religion of ancient Israel. It is distinctly asserted, that ‘the worship of Moloch was that of Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and David,’ and that ‘the idolatry inveighed against was the primeval national religion of Israel.’ One of the latest writers of the Wellhausen school, Stade,57 seems even to doubt (although in this against Wellhausen), whether there had ever been any Hebrew clan in Egypt, while Jahveh is represented as a national deity by the side of other gods, and much in the worship and religious life of the ancient Hebrews as kindred to that in the cognate nations. I have stated the case briefly, because, without affectation, it is painful to state it at all. The curious reader must be referred to the works of Kuenen, Stade, and others, to learn how such views are carried out, by different writers to different lengths,58 and by what strange Scriptural references they are supported.

But to what extremes a perverted ingenuity may lead a critic, will appear from the following instance. There is not a name among modern scholars which deservedly stands higher, as regards Semitic learning and literature, than that of Paul de Lagarde. Yet this is one of the conclusions propounded, and these are the grounds on which it has been arrived at, by perhaps the greatest living Semitic scholar.59 Deriving the term Levite from the verb lavah, to cleave to another, to accompany him, Lagarde refers to Isaiah 14:1, and 56:3, in both of which this verb (rendered in the A. V. ‘joined to’) is connected with 'strangers.’ From this he infers that the Levites were those who, according to Exodus 12:38 (Num 11:4?), had ‘joined’ themselves to Israel on their exodus from Egypt—the ‘mixed multitude,’ which Lagarde regards as Egyptians. The latter notice he accepts as historical, on the ground that otherwise the Jews, the most vainglorious of men and conceited of nations, would not have admitted that theirs was not pure ‘blue blood.’ On the other hand, he pronounces the account in Exodus 2:1-10, which gives the Israelitish genealogy of Moses, as not worthy of more serious notice than the fable of the Persians that Alexander the Great was the son of Darius. And Lagarde further argues that, regarding Moses not as an Israelite, but as an Egyptian, we can understand how he sought and found support from the Levites, his Egyptian compatriots [why not, if they were his Israelitish tribesmen?]; how the Levites, as the better educated Egyptians, could undertake the intellectual training of the Israelites [where is this stated?]; why the Levites did not appear in the promised land as a real tribe [as if no other reasons had been given for their scattering]; while, lastly, it also explained the manner in which the exodus was referred to in Egyptian documents. And as in ancient times the Ark of the Covenant had marched before the Israelites, those who ‘accompanied’ it were the Levites.60

I have reproduced in detail an hypothesis so manifestly untenable, and supported by such flimsy reasoning, because the great name of Lagarde attaches to it, and because it affords a convenient example, how sweeping, and yet how unsatisfactory, in many instances, is that criticism which is destructive of the history and sacred legislation of the Old Testament. As an almost parallel instance of critical violence we might refer to Wellhausen’s treatment of the history of Solomon in 1 Kings 11:1-13.61 But in view of the issue before us in this great controversy, supported by such arguments, a certain degree of warmth of language may be excused on the part of those who hold and cherish the truth of the Old Testament. Much more will have to be done, before they shall have shaken from their hinges those ‘everlasting doors’ by which Christ the King of Glory has entered in. As we think of the blessings of life with which His coming has enriched the barrenness of our earth, or of the spring of hope with which it has gladdened the winter of our hearts, we tremble as we realise what the hand of science, falsely so called, might have taken from us. For if, indeed, they were words, not of Divine truth, but of delusion or of deceit, when, on that Sabbath evening walk to Emmaus, ‘beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself,’ then may we fold up within our hearts that pang of bitterest disappointment: ‘But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.’ But, thank God, it is not so. As with a thousand chimes from heaven, the voices of the Law and Prophets ring it out into all the world on this Advent Sunday:62 Ring out the old, Ring in the new—as on a thousand altars we worship the mystery of the Incarnation, and ten thousand hearts are filled with the joyous assurance that their sins are forgiven. For Christ has come: the reality of all types, the fulfilment of all promises, the Son of David, the Saviour of the world. ‘For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!’

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