Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

THE BOOK OF NUMBERS.—On the authorship of the Book of Numbers there is a valuable contribution in the new volume of the American Commentary on the Old Testament (New York), which is reviewed in the Bibliotheca Sacra. The exposition of Leviticus and Numbers is the work of Dr. Daniel Steele, who decides that the latter book contains plain declarations of its authorship in chap. xxxiii. 2 and xxxvi. 13, and that this view is confirmed by Joshua's possession of the Torah, i. 7, 8, and his use of the book in dividing the land and assigning the Levitical cities. Moses, too, undoubtedly was well acquainted with the art of writing which was practised among the Egyptians centuries before his era. And the book could not have been the production of a later age, because it is quoted, or alluded to, as the work of Moses by a succession of writers from Joshua to Christ. No man subsequent to Moses combined the knowledge and experience exhibited herein. A forger would not, in pointing to the Land of Promise, convey the impression that the Canaanites were to be immediately expelled, but would have shaped his story to suit the facts. Other arguments pointing to the same conclusion are adduced ; and the difficulties which some have seen in phraseology, style, and acquaintance with Palestine are completely cleared away by closer etymological knowledge, and considerations drawn from Moses' previous life, and from recent researches in Egyptian history.

ISAIAH-ONE OR MANY ? –The question of the Unity of Isaiah is still exciting wide interest, and to many it will seem that the higher criticism, which decides for the dual or plural authorship, has the best of the argument. This conclusion is maintained by two new writers, the Rev. G. A. Smith, The Book of Isaiah, and Rev. Buchanan Blake, How to Read Isaiah. The former, while sturdily asserting the Exilic origin of the major portion of the second part, chaps. xl.-lxviii., does not deny the supernatural, and indeed holds that no question of doctrine is involved in the discussion ; but he considers that while the sacred writer might have been inspired to foretell events, the mention of Cyrus is not a prophecy, but a statement of the fulfilment of past prophecy. He has already appeared, and is now on the point of delivering his blow on Babylon. Mr. Blake does not discuss the second part of Isaiah, but contents himself with affirming that the point of view therein taken, and the historical condition implied, preclude the opinion that these chapters are genuine. The contrary side of the discussion is boldly taken by Dr. Kennedy, who, in A Popular Argument for the Unity of Isaiah (London : James Clarke & Co.), shows that the “higher criticism " is not irreversible, that the tendency to multiply the authors of the book has gathered strength in its course, so that the work is reduced to a mere medley of compositions, and that in order to confirm their crude theories, critics obscure or deny the plain meaning of the text, and often part with essential truths under the erroneous notion that they are preserving spiritual realities. The controversy recalls Lewis Carrol's ironical verdict touching the Homeric Poems, viz., that they were not written by Homer, but by another person

of the same name; only here the poet or poets bad passed utterly into oblivion at the time of the formation of the Canon, merely a few years after the supposed date of the writers.

AN INTERPOLATION IN SOME HISTORICAL BOOKS OF THE BIBLE.—There is an article in the October number of Bibliotheca Sacra entitled, somewhat enigmatically, “A Canonical Formula introducing certain Historical Books of the Old Testament,” and written by Professor J. A. Paine. It is a praiseworthy attempt to explain two apparent errors in the Scriptures hitherto not elucidated satisfactorily. The difficulty first attacked is found in Judges i., where it is asserted that the whole of the south of Palestine was subdued and its inhabitants exterminated “after the death of Joshua”; whereas in the Book of Joshua these events are said to have been brought about by Joshua himself. The second difficulty occurs in Ruth i. 1, which opens

with the words, “ Now it came to pass in the days when the Judges judged," &c. From the genealogies that follow it must be inferred that Boaz was contemporary with Eli; and the whole action and surroundings of this idyl are utterly contrariant to the spirit of the savage and turbulent era of the Judges. Dr. Paine's short and easy method of explaining away these errors is to look upon the beginnings of the Books of Judges and Ruth as interpolations introduced by the first framer of the Canon to indicate sequence without much regard to the correctness of the form in each case (comp. Joshua i. 1 ; 2 Sam. i. 1; 2 Kings i. 1). The formula was not required in

; any of these passages, and its removal rids the history of anachronisms and tautologies. Of course, all this is pure assumption, but it is not the outcome of irreverent criticism, and is very possibly correct.

CANON DRIVER ON THE BOOKS OF THE LAW.—Principal Cave, who has more than once found himself constrained to do battle with Professor Driver in the interests of conservative criticism, enters the lists again in the pages of the Contemporary Review, and deals with one portion of the Professor's new work, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, the first volume of Messrs. Clark's “International Theological Library.” Dr. Cave combats Canon Driver's extreme views concerning the composition and authorship of the Books of the Law (excluding Genesis), and upholds the Journal theory, which considers the homogeneity of these books to be due to their contemporaneousness with the events described. It is true that we can distinguish the Draft code ; the first, or Levitical, code; and the second, or Deuteronomic, code; but all the differences in these codes, whether phraseological or historical, are reasonably accounted for by their production during a space of forty years, by the change of circumstances, and by the alterations required in enactments which originally were intended for life in the wilderness, and had to be modified to suit life in Canaan.

[ocr errors]

MR. GLADSTONE AND ANCIENT BELIEFS IN IMMORTALITY.

The ipse dixit of Mr. Gladstone does not carry that conviction on theological subjects which, to many minds, it conveys in political matters. Professor Cheyne, at any rate, justifies himself in the Nineteenth Century for dissenting from some of the conclusions at which the statesman arrived in an article in the October number of that review. The Professor finds no acknowledgment of a belief in immortality in any pre-Exilic writing, and will allow some possibility of a vague expression of the hope in two or three Psalms only on condition that these poems are regarded as of late Persian or early Greek origin, when Zoroastrian ideas had influenced Jewish theology. He does not, indeed, hold that psalmists or prophets borrowed designedly from Zoroaster; but " the example of this faith stimulated Jewish writers to expand their own germs of truth.” Mr. Gladstone has no such belief in development; he adopts, without much research, the old view of the existence of a belief in immortality implied or expressed throughout the earlier Scriptures. We do not know whether the layman will discover the weak element in the divine's theory ; but the controversy cannot be left without further handling, and (irony of fate!) the Liberal statesman will doubtless continue passionately to uphold the conservative side of the question.

THE JOHANNEAN QUESTION.-Professor Sanday throws the weight of his great name on the side of the party which adheres to the traditional view of the authorship of the Johannine writings. In an article contributed to the Expositor he maintains that, though confessedly there is no formal attribution of the authorship to John till 100 years after their supposed composition, yet even so, the evidence of their genuineness is more complete and satisfactory than that on which we rely in the case of most of the classical authors. But quite lately old evidence has been strengthened and new proof has appeared. We know now that the fourth Gospel is quoted in Tatian's Diatessaron; that Justin, Tatian's teacher, plainly refers to the fourfold Gospel; that the text which he used had already suffered corruption; that Valentinus and Basilides quoted St. John's Gospel ; and that there is ground for supposing that Hermas had and used the books of the four Evangelists. Thus the gap in the evidence is being gradually filled up; and the Professor enunciates these conclusions: 1. That the writing (the Epistles and Revelation are not specially included) was not composed in the second century. 2. That it had its origin in some leading Church circle at the time and in the place assigned by tradition. 3. That it is most probable that John was the author.

6

[ocr errors]

EXPOSITORY THOUGHT.

THE EPIPHANY.

By Rev. PROF. T. K. CHEYNE, D.D. Arise, shine ; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord (Jehovah) is risen upon thee.-Isa. Ix. 1. How beautiful are the illusions of the noble-hearted young, and how tender we should be in dealing with them! The world is before them, and they seem to have nothing to do but to enter in and take possession, not so much for themselves, as for God, and all that that undefinable word represents. The world is before them, and if they have the happiness to enter it when some great step forward has been taken by the community, when some great wrong has been redressed, and some fresh pledges given to the cause of justice and freedom, they feel as if God had come down to earth and visibly set up His kingdom on the ruins of the past. Let us be careful not to meet such enthusiasm with the sneer of the cynic. There is one people which has for ages cherished its illusions in spite of the most appalling disappointments, and has found in this its strength-the people of the Jews. Illusion is inseparable from idealism, and though idealism may learn to rein itself in, and to make large concessions to the workaday world, yet it cannot abdicate its sway over the character without injury alike to the man and to society. God permits our illusions; nay, in a sense, He wills them; for through them He teaches us what otherwise we should not be able to bear; and even when He providentially breaks them, He permits the old idealism to frame for itself a new robe of illusion. For illusion is not delusion, as the history of Israel sufficiently shows. Illusion is simply the inadequate attempt to imagine what is to be, made by those whose imperfect vision cannot discern the truth. The imaginative faculty which produces it is God's gift to man, that he may beautify this poor world by glimpses of a richer one beyond. Let us not despise it, but use it prudently and for the highest ends.

Certainly neither the Prophets nor the Psalmists despised it. Both in the Old and in the New Testament they make constant use of it. Read the prophetic visions in the Book of Revelation, or read those Christian psalms, the Magnificat and the Benedictus, and ask yourselves if they correspond to the literal truth of things, so far as history has as yet revealed it to us? But who loves them the less on this account? And who loves the prophecies and the psalms of the Old Testament the less because they are full of imaginative illusions ? Let us take one of them. When in B.c. 515 the building of the second temple was completed, it seemed as if Jehovah had visibly ascended the throne in the centre of His kingdom, and gifted temple-singers burst out into these five songs of praise (Ps. xciii. and xcv.-c.), which make up a group of seven psalms, inferior to none in vigour and brightness. But, as history shows, that impassioned outburst of praise was half based upon illusion. The perfected kingdom of God turned out

[ocr errors]

"1

to be still future. A Psalmist, in his festival mood, had bidden the idolgods prove themselves to be alive by recognizing their own defeat:

“ Shamed are all they that serve graven images,

That make their boast of idol-gods ;

Worship him, all ye gods. But alas! the idol-gods still seemed to mock Jehovah, and to have divided His kingdom among themselves. The Persian lords of the Jews had fallen away from the pure and lofty moral precepts of their religion, and become as cruel and as unjust as the Babylonians of old. “ They crush Thy people, Jehovah,

(says one of the Temple-poets of the time) And afllict Thine heritage ; They slay the widow and the sojourner,

And put the orphans to death.”! And so the author of Ps. Ixxxii. has not the heart to repeat the refrain, " Jehovah hath become king,” lest some doubting philosopher would hurl back the denial (revising the Psalmist's words)

" Jehovah reigneth not; He hath put off His majesty ;

The world is not stablished, but moveth to and fro.” But does the author of Ps. lxxxii. lose his faith, or basely “fall down and worship Satan "? No, indeed ! He believes that God will yet “arise" and "judge the earth, and take all nations to His inheritance,"3 even though at present “all the foundations of the earth" seem out of course,"4 and though, in spite of schools and synagogues, it is already manifest that “not all are Israel that are of Israel.” 5

I will now try to explain in simple language how this glance at the illusions of faith, by which, in the providence of God, the Jewish Churchnation was educated after the Return from Babylon, is connected with the 60th chapter of the Book of Isaiah and the festival of the Epiphany. The Epiphany, as we should all be aware, is not, properly speaking, the name of a festival, but of the great event which at this time we commemorate. It means the Manifestation of the Messiah, which has been always regarded by Christians as the fulfilment of the prophetic hopes of the great poem which begins "Arise, shine." Now, the Manifestation of the Messiah ought, one would suppose, to have been followed by the swift conversion of the Jewish and heathen world to the true religion. The first disciples of Jesus certainly thought that this would be the case, or at any rate that all those heathen who had any spiritual susceptibility would join the little flock of the true believers. Such, however, was not the will of Providence; it was an illusion, precisely as the hope of the returned exiles in B.c. 515 proved to be. And again and again since then, and not least in our own time, have Christian hearts beat high with the hope that the call to "arise and shine” was about to be fulfilled. But again and again the hope has proved to be an illusion — not a

i Ps. xcvii. 7. ? Ps. xciv. 6. 3 Ps. lxxxii. 8. 41b, 5. 5 Rom. ix. 6.

9

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »