Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

THE SURVEY OF THOUGHT.

PROF. DUFF ON ISAIAH.-Nearly half of Prof. Duff's Old Testament Theology; or, The History of Hebrew Religion from the Year 800 B.C. is devoted to an examination of the religious ideas of Isaiah and their place in Hebrew religious history, and an analysis of the writings in which they are stated. The standpoint of the whole discussion is distinctly that of the Higher Criticism. In common with other representatives of this school—if that term can be employed — Professor Duff accepts only about thirty of the sixty-six chapters as the work of Isaiab the son of Amoz. The motto proposed for the whole of these chapters is the often-recurring expression, “ Jehovah the Holy One of Israel,” or as Professor Duff prefers to render it, “Jehovah is the Devoted One of Israel,” the word “kodesh,” which he transliterates “Q-D-Sh," meaning, he thinks, when used of God, His devotion to His own peculiar people. Chronologically the prophecies of Isaiah are arranged in the two following groups: (1) The Oracles of Judgment; Amoslike in character; uttered probably from 740-735 B.C., and consisting of ii.-V. and ix. 8—x. 4. They are characterized by the motto “Shear-jashub," or

— a remnant shall return." (2) The Oracles of Grace; Hosea-like in character; uttered in the period extending from 733-700 B.C., and comprising all the remaining chapters. They are characterized by the motto “Emmanuel," or rather “ Immanu-El,” that is, “ With us is God." The kernel of Isaiah's character was his faith in revelation. His work marks a distinct advance on the teaching of his predecessors. Amos was the prophet of judgment, the prophet of despair so far as the sinner was concerned. Of his prophecy it may be said that “there was no room for mercy in it.” Hosea went further, “ seeing with deeper insight man's need of forgiveness, and also God's need to forgive,” but he did not preach regeneration. He cherished a despairing hope. Isaiah combined earlier faiths, and centralized "the faith in a material revelation of the gracious love of Jehovah in the sanctuary of Zion." He rose higher than his predecessors in his conception of God, and understood better than they the nature of man. The latter, he saw clearly, was in need of nothing less than regeneration, and the former was both able and willing to meet the need. Not at once, however, was this perceived by the prophet. His religious thought developed, and the process can in some measure be traced. Fierce denunciation was the work of his younger ministry. In his later life he attained to a maturer, calmer, truer condemnation of wrongs, striking at evil principles rather than evil deeds. There is much freshness and suggestiveness

[ocr errors]

NO. III.

- VOL. 1.—THE THINKER.

N

OF

in Dr. Duff's treatment of his subject, but also much which is likely to provoke adverse criticism. Several passages are paraphrased in a style which cannot be commended. The opening portion of the great prophecy, for instance, about the shoot from the stem of Jesse in the eleventh chapter, is reproduced in the following extraordinary manner :

“Now David's time hath come; his plants shall sprout,
In his tree-tops shall rustle the winds of God,
Wise winds that give kings strength,

Bowing their reverent crowns before Jehovah's throne.” Sometimes rhyme is employed for a line or two and then dropped without any visible reason. Nevertheless, these so-called paraphrases, eccentric though some of them are, deserve careful study. Students of history will be puzzled by the statement that Merodach-baladan visited Hezekiah; and few or none, we imagine, will endorse the suggestion that the Babylonian embassy was despatched after the loss of Babylon. THE MEANING THE WORD ETERNAL.

A pamphlet on this important subject, by the Rev. Francis M. Cameron, M.A., Rector of Bonnington, Kent, has just been issued by Mr. Elliot Stock, . Mr. Cameron makes an unfortunate slip at the very commencement of bis pamphlet, where he writes, “First, I would premise that the New Testament contains no word to express absolute eternity or endlessness.” Has he never met with the word àídios (see Rom. i. 20; Jude 6)? Still, Mr. Cameron is not so far wrong as regards his special object, because this word is not applied to any human experience either of blessedness or of punishment. His analysis of the Greek word translated “eternal" in our New Testament (aióvios) is a little misleading. No doubt that word comes from a word (aiúv), which has two meanings in the New Testament. Sometimes it stands for the “ world "-the world regarded in its successive stages of existence, especially under the category of time, while the word kóojos describes the world rather under the category of space, in its beauty and order. At other times the word means an indefinite “ age.” But it cannot have both these meanings at the same time, nor can we choose arbitrarily between them to suit our purpose. Further, wherever we can fix the meaning of the adjective aióvios by the context, this is invariably connected with the meaning “age," not with the meaning “world." Yet, in dealing with the adjective, Mr. Cameron glides from one meaning to the other, and sometimes regards it as signifying that which is real or substantial. There is no evidence that it ever has this meaning. Still, the best critics are agreed that it does not mean absolute everlastingness. It seems to point down the vista of ages without assigning any limit of time.

[ocr errors]

THE EFFECT OF BIBLICAL CRITICISM UPON THE JEWISH RELIGION.An article on this subject appearing in The Jewish Quarterly Review, with the well-known name of “Montefiore" appended, naturally leads an uninitiated Gentile reader to look for a weighty pronouncement on the

[ocr errors]

vexed questions of Old Testament controversy. But one effect of the article on such a reader must be to discover to him the immense divergence of Jewish writers in their interpretation of their own religion-a divergence, at least, as wide as that which separates an Archdeacon Denison from a Bishop Colenso in the Christian Church. Prof. Friedländer has recently represented orthodox Judaism in a book which simply ignores Old Testament criticism. But in this recent article in the Jewish Quarterly we are told that “ to ignore criticism altogether is to run a tremendous risk.” There are three positions taken

up in regard to this matter. The first is that of ancient orthodoxy. Following the precepts of Maimonides, it is maintained that the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is an article of faith which Jews are bound to believe as a religious duty. The second position is that of Moses Mendelssohn, revived by the school of Breslau ; according to which the doctrine is unimportant so long as the rites and ceremonies of Judaism are duly observed. “There are people," we are told, “who are apparently willing to give up all the dogmas, if only they may retain their beloved rites and ceremonies. Retain them, be it observed, albeit emptied of all religious values, bereft of all religious life.” This barren ceremonialism is justly repudiated by thoughtful and spiritually-minded Jews. A third position is now before us, viz., to accept the results of what is called the Higher Criticism, involving, as they do, the abandonment of the old creed of Maimonides. But, then, what is most essential to Judaism is still thought to remain. It is true that what is most distinctive of Judaism is lost, and we have little left but theism ; still, what is distinctive of a system, what marks it off from other systems, is not necessarily what is most valuable in it or what is most vital to it. And if there is little left in the expurgated Judaism to distinguish it from pure theism, we are reminded that this is because Jewish theism has passed beyond the borders of the nation and permeated other societies—a proof of its victorious truth and power. But something more is left. The miraculous history is abandoned; the authority of the law is discarded; even the racial exclusiveness is let go. Still, to the great ideas of the Being of one God, Providence, and the immortality of the soul is added the unique national destiny of the Jews. Whether this can survive a ruthless pruning of the old faith remains to be seen. Meanwhile, it is refreshing to see the essential spiritual truths of Judaism singled out as of supreme importance, for it is just in these truths that it comes nearer to Christianity.

To our READERS.—We shall publish in our Magazine during the next month or two some very important papers on the history of Zoroastrianism, and on the books of Chronicles in their relation to recent critical theories. This latter subject has not received the attention it deserves. We shall also give a prize of books, to the value of one pound, for the best expository note on any text of Scripture, sent to the Editor by the end of March

EXPOSITORY THOUGHT.

THOUGHT.

THE MAN THAT FELL AMONG THIEVES.

By Rev. J. E. H. THOMSON, B.D.

LUKE X. 25-37.

Few of the many things the historical method has taught us have been more pregnant with good to the interpretation of Scripture than the importance it has led us to give to the setting of words or incidents. The words of Isaiah have a deeper meaning to us now that we see behind the words the court and kingdom of Hezekiah, now swayed by dread of the terrible Sargonid princes of Nineveh, now seduced into compromising alliances by the intrigues of the Court of Egypt. We can better appreciate the terrible force of the insinuation the rulers made to Pilate when Jesus stood before him, “ If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend,” when we recall the suspicious recluse of Capreæ. Although few of the parables have been studied more than this of the good Samaritan, we have, as it seems to me, made but little use in the interpretation of it of the setting supplied us by the narrative. The great lesson of the parable is certainly obvious, yet any further light that can be thrown on it or through it on the character of Christ ought to be welcomed.

As a preliminary to a right understanding of this parable, it would be advantageous could we assign accurately its chronological position in the history of our Lord's life, but the want of external notes of time, and still more the loose connectives of the Gospel of Luke, in which alone it is recorded, make this difficult—indeed, impossible, in any but the most general

The position in the Gospel of Luke would seem to indicate that this incident occurred comparatively early in our Lord's public ministry. Were we sure that kapeis, “ in order" in Luke's preface, refers to order in time, the position an incident has in his Gospel would be a matter of high importance. Although, however, he does not seem to have made the chronological order paramount, yet in a general way he does follow it; so, unless we have some clear indication to the contrary, or have conflicting evidence to adduce, it must be assumed that any event recorded by Luke occurred probably at the time he assigns to it. If our conclusion is correct, then this incident is distinct from that related in Matt. xxii. 34-40 and Mark xii. 28-34. The fact that while Luke relates the other incidents related in Matt. xxii. and in Mark xii., he does not relate the story of the lawyer who put a similar question, may be due to the resemblance between the two cases, and the desire to avoid the appearance of repetition. While there are strong resemblances between these two occurrences, there are also marked divergences-divergences too great to permit identifying them. In the incident recorded in Matthew our Lord repeats the summary of the com

sense.

66

[ocr errors]

mandments; in Luke it is the lawyer who does so. In the narrative in Mark, the lawyer commends our Lord, and has the grateful assurance given him that he is not far from the kingdom of heaven; in the narrative before us, our Lord commends the correctness of the lawyer's answer, while the lawyer feels the commendation a disguised condemnation, for which he has to justify himself. The connection in the two cases is also very

different. The fact seems to be that this occurred during some visit to Jerusalem, prior to that of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. We have in the Gospel of John some incidents from these earlier visits to Jerusalem which show the relationship of our Lord to the Scribes and Pharisees to be much the same as that implied in the present narrative. The intimacy with the household in Bethany, so fully described in the fourth Gospel, implies earlier intercourse, like that related in the incident recorded immediately after that before us.

We think the parable of the Good Samaritan and the supper in Martha's house were in close connection. This renders it necessary that we disagree with Greswell, who would place both incidents in Galilee.

Our Lord, with all the reputation as a teacher and wonder-worker which He had gained in Galilee, had come to Jerusalem. One can easily imagine that the accredited Rabbis of the Pharasaic schools looked askance at this new teacher. If, as some have held—not without reason—that our Lord received His title of Rabbi, or Master, from the Essenes, this would scarcely lessen the suspicion with which He was regarded by the Doctors of the Law. Not unlikely some of His sayings of the need of faith and repentance to the attainment of the higher life, His demand for absolute belief in Himself, and absolute self-denial, had been reported in a garbled form in the capital; just as the sayings of any preacher in our own day, who has anything startling to say, get modified and made more eccentric than they were if they were at all eccentric to begin with, or are made eccentric even if they were not originally so at all. A Doctor of the Law enters the Temple court while our Lord is teaching. He sees this young Galilean seated surrounded by a circle of eagerly listening hearers. He goes up to the group to hear what this Man of Nazareth has to say, much as a clergyman among ourselves might linger about the edge of a crowd which has gathered around a street preacher to hear what are his methods of address. After standing for a little, interested perchance somewhat in what he hears—a Rabbi, however, may not compromise himself by being a simple hearer-he determines to examine this young Galilean; he will see whether what is said about His doctrine is strictly correct, and at the same time will exhibit before this audience that is listening to Jesus how much superior he-& Jerusalemtrained Rabbi-is to this carpenter. For this purpose of testing our Lord, he puts the question, “What

". shall I do to inherit eternal life?” If our Lord declares faith-especially faith in Himself—to be the only way of salvation, then at once the Scribe will be ready to denounce Him as one who dishonoured the law of God. Our Lord, however, avoids the snare set for Him. He returns the question

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »