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REASONS FOR THE HIGHER
CRITICISM OF THE HEXATEUCH



BY

/

REV. ISAAC GIBSON

RECTOR OF ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, NORRISTOWN, PA.

Author of The Pkntateuch and Joshua, or the Hexateuch
Historical



INTRODUCTION BY
REV. WILLIS HATFIELD HAZARD, M.A.

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (HARVARD)

Associate of the Victoria Institute of Great Britain, Member of
the American Oriental Society, Etc.



PHILADELPHIA
GEORGE W. JACOBS & CO.

103 South Fifteenth Street
1897



Copyright. 1897, by George W. Jacobs & Co.



Contents



I.

PROGRESS OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

II.

THE BIBLE IN THE HOUSE OF ITS FRIENDS.

III.

THE TRADITIONS CONCERNING THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE
PENTATEUCH AND JOSHUA OR THE HEXATEUCH, UNRELIABLE.

IV.

THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST UPON THE ORIGIN OF THE
PENTATEUCH.

V.

SOME PROBLEMS OF THE HEXATEUCH THAT PROVE READ-
JUSTMENT BY THE HIGHER CRITICISM TO BE NECESSARY.

VI.

EXAMPLES OF THE CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE HEXATEUCH
INTO THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.

VII.
THE ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF THESE DOCUMENTS.

VIII.
THE ORDER AND DATES OF THE COMPOSITE WORK.

IX.

THE HISTORICITY OF THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.

X.

THEIR INSPIRATION.



Introduction



It is with pleasure that I accept the invitation of
my friend, Mr. Gibson, to write a few introductory
lines for his book. I do this with the greater willing-
ness, because I believe that something more ought to
be said in a brochure of this kind on two or three
points than he has felt himself called on to insert in the
body of the work. Indeed, the things I have in mind
are suf^ciently irrelevant to the general outline of Mr.
Gibson's thought, to render them unsuitable for
elaboration in any other place than just such a semi-
detached ''Introduction.'*



The appeal that this book makes to the reading
public will find its heartiest response among the
clergy and the more intelligent lay people. It is dis-
tinctly not a "popular" statement in the sense of en-
deavoring to do all the thinking for the reader. On the
contrary, the author has wisely chosen to direct his
argument to those persons — after all, the really im-
portant members of society — who are in a position to
assimilate material of this character by independent

5



O REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

and serious thought on their own parts, and who
therefore may be expected to welcome such a state-
ment as the present.

They will do this precisely for the reason that Mr.
Gibson's volume, after having placed before them the
plain facts in the case, pays them the compliment of
taking for granted that they will prefer in large part
to deduce therefrom for themselves the principles and
results that are genetically and logically bound up in
them.

The book, then, presupposes that its readers
shall be sufficiently intelligent and sufficiently inter-
ested {both are essential), to apply for their own indi-
vidual purposes the reasons for the Higher Criticism
that it contains. It also assumes that, should the two
conditions just stated be satisfied, they will not decline
the somewhat strenuous mental exertion which the
work demands for its thorough and candid mastery.
Should one object to this ''tax," the answer is very
simple.

Many popular books have been written on this
subject, and, of course, another could have been
added to the list, had the author so desired. But, with
rare moderation, he chose to forego the delights of
this relatively easy task because it was evident, from
the nature of the case, that all such treatises must be
superficial, slight and cursory. They must skim over
the subject, dipping but little below the surface, and



INTRODUCTION. 7

therefore must set forth facts so obvious that, to the
reader of only average education, they must lack
novelty and cogency, while to the student, they shall
be commonplace and insufficient.

This is inevitably the case for one constant and char-
acteristic reason: the Higher Criticism of the Old Testa-
ment is an extremely intricate, complex and elaborate
intellectual procedure. The talk one finds in books
of the popular class about the ''simplicity" and "plain-
ness" of critical investigation is all specious nonsense.
The Higher Criticism of the Old Testament or of any
other body of literature is the diametrical opposite —
it involves the fullest and broadest training on the part
of its professors. It requires as a prerequisite years
of special study resulting in the development of a reli-
able critical faculty, illuminated by a wide familiarity
with not only the laws of literary production and the
universal principles of literary criticism, but (certainly
in the case of the Old Testament) a technical knowl-
edge of Semitic Philology in the broadest sense of that
term, together with at least a working knowledge of
Oriental Archaeology, anthropology in the depart-
ment of ethnic psychology, the phenomenology of
comparative religion, the history of the development
of thought among the Semitic nations, and last, but
not least, an original native endowment of that crit-
ical sense by which alone, despite the widest intellec-
tual culture, the student is able to pronounce reliable
critical judgments.



8 REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

It will be seen at once that if this sort of training
is necessary, only a comparatively small fraction of
educated people can possibly attain anything ap-
proaching distinction in higher literary criticism.
Further, it is clearly quite out of the question to
make an expert of every clergyman, though fairly in-
structed in the general theological sciences. Indeed,
very few people are in a position to put them-
selves through even the necessary external train-
ing, to say nothing of creating that fundamental
habit or predilection of mind and essential critical
faculty, without which the other is just so much
sterile material. The bare absorption of the vast
learning which constitutes the apparatus of criticism
requires a diligence in application and an accuracy of
apprehension that must forever restrict it to a mere
fragment of the educated world. Literally years of
the most patient and laborious endeavor will prepare
the vast majority of students only to understand the
significance of the work already done.

II.

This being the situation, it may reasonably be
asked: Why undertake to ''popularize" such a subject
at all? If it really demands such unusual sacrifices, why
endeavor to disseminate knowledge among untrained
minds, which cannot help being altogether superficial,
in large degree merely elementary, and, to some



INTRODUCTION. 9

extent, on account of its partialness, positively mis-
leading?

The answer is the same that would be given
by the author of a non-technical work on astronomy,
or mathematical physics, or therapeutics, theology,
linguistics, physiological psychology, chemistry, zool-
ogy, or any other abstruse subject, namely, that
enough can be said on the general topic to ac-
quaint the ordinary reader with many important
results, to show their significance for the general
methodology of science, and in some degree even to
exhibit — if only in a very simple way — the instru-
ments by which the specialist works to reach them.

Such a consequence — while it in no degree invests
the reader with authority in matters critical — any
man with the slightest spark of altruism in his com-
position or desire for elevating the standard of general
education, must hail with cordial enthusiasm. The
old adage, that half a loaf is better than none, notwith-
standing the complementary warning as to the danger
of a little learning, still stands for a universal truth that
men, fortunately, have never yet been willing to dis-
card as a principle of the- intellectual life. It is the
underlying raison d'etre of all education. Indeed we
may go further and say that partialness is a note of our
whole life — cabin'd, cribb'd and confin'd as it effectu-
ally is by its finite structure. Therefore, to reject some
knowledge because it is not complete, would involve
rejecting all knowledge of whatever description.



10 REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

On the contrary, the inherent yearning, even pas-
sion, for knowledge which clamors as an insatiable
thirst for ''more" is the sure guarantee that mankind
will never cease its quest. With Mr. Bain: "Among
the sensations of organic life, I may cite thirst as re-
markable for the urgency of its pressure upon the
will;" which means, figuratively, that the "flaming
thirst" of knowledge compels the will to any expe-
dient and any exertion whereby it may be appeased.
And when, as in the case of the Higher Criticism of
the Old Testament, the interest is stimulated by some
impulse connected with the vital sentiment of relig-
ion, then everyone is prepared to study, so far as in
him lies, to gratify its requirements.

The demand has resulted in a corresponding sup-
ply of "popular" books of the class of which I spoke
at the beginning. The present treatise in a general
way does belong with them. In a different sense, as
I have said, it does not, since it presupposes a certain
amount of Biblical scholarship, a certain intensity
of interest and a capacity to comprehend the sub-
ject, which are associated usually with previous study.
In other words, the man who knows nothing of the
questions involved in this particular branch of learn-
ing, and who has not a somewhat intimate acquaint-
ance with the text of the Old Testament, will find this
book rather difficult and sometimes obscure reading.
In my opinion, this is exactly as it should be;



INTRODUCTION. II

since the general reader is already amply pro-
vided for, while there is a large class of clergyman and
professional men who apparently have been neglected.
To them this book will be a real boon. It presup-
poses just enough familiarity with the subject, and its
perusal requires just enough time to suit their many
exacting engagements.

III.

I have entered thus fully into the nature of the
critical study of the Old Testament, partly to intro-
duce the observation that a graduate in theology from
any ordinary seminary is not qualified by the usual
curriculum which is pursued in such institutions
either to conduct original research on his own
account, or to test the labors of those who are. At
that stage he is simply "beginning to be a learner."
If any one will try to realize what it means to fit
oneself for competency in these matters as outlined
in Section I, and then compare therewith the scope of
the undergraduate course in theology, he will admit
the truth of this remark ; and since the learned pursuits
of the seminary are seldom continued in the active
work of the ministry, it follows, as a matter of fact,
that the ordinary parish priest stands in much the
same relation to the expert in Biblical criticism as
that in which the general practitioner of medicine
stands to the specialist in appendichotomy, or bacteri-
ology, or neuropathology.



12 REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

But there is to be noted this pervasive difference:
The general practitioner looks on the specialist
not only as a source of information and direction, but
as an authority in his own department, whose dicta
cannot be combated except by his peers. His relation
to the specialist is therefore that of unaffected open-
mindedness and frank receptivity. But in the other
case, a new element is introduced. We find not only
the moderate and mutually respectful interest that
attaches to every sincere business relationship, but a
religious enthusias^n. Here we meet one of the strong-
est psychical characteristics of our race, — the senti-
ment of religion. It modifies, because it supersedes,
all other influences.

This is peculiarly true of the clergyman. His re-
ligion, I mean his religion — the theological thought
that forms the material of the peculiar religion that
belongs to his individual personality — is his very life's
breath. To transmute or deliberately orientate any
large segment of it, implies not only overcoming the
natural tendency to conservatism which is as much
characteristic of the physician as of the priest, but it
means relinquishing some of the essential elements —
for, such they must seem at first — of his intellectual
and moral make-up. Very naturally no true man
does this hastily; and very naturally he is equally
slow in appropriating antithetical views.

Here then, we touch the core of that world-wide



INTRODUCTION. 13

antagonism which from the earliest ages of philoso-
phy has been the constant feature in the correlation of
science and religion. The scientific mind, from the
present point of view, may be said to be, from its very
constitution, frankly and unreservedly open to new
truth, no matter what radical modifications it may
carry with it. The perfect scientific mind, which ex-
ists only as a psychical abstraction, is marked by per-
fect neutrality. Obviously, such a mind cannot be
found, because it is impossible to rid oneself com-
pletely of a certain warp of the affections, and con-
sequently of the will, which precludes the perfect ad-
justment of the judicial faculty.

The religious temper, on the contrary, is one that,
broadly speaking, has committed itself, with all the
ardor and abandon and resolute perseverance that
belong to the religious sentiment, to the defence of a
particular theological system. This defence calls into
play, indeed, has its very seat, in the emotions or affec-
tions rather than in the reason. It has a direct and
almost unimpeded influence on the will, which in turn
reflects on the mind. Volition modifies and condi-
tions, while it inspires the reason. It does this in both
types, but in the religious it does it more habitually,
and often unrecognised ly. The subject is not con-
scious of the creation of an intellectual twist at the
dictate of the will taught by the affections.

In the scientific mind, while the same thing may



14 REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

take place, for both are sharers in the psychical unity
of mankind, yet the purely intellectual so consciously
predominates over the emotional, and is characteristic-
ally so much less subject to such impulses, as to be
practically different in kind. The religious mind, as
thus described, must always sufifer in comparison with
the scientific from the standpoint of truth. If our
theory of epistemology will admit the legitimacy of
the decisions of the faculty called in Sir Wm. Hamil-
ton's scheme the faculty of cognition, then we are
bound to admit that the progressive character of all
knowledge puts at serious disadvantage that type of
mind which has committed itself irreformably to cer-
tain concepts in defiance of fresh information.

Now, of course, no religious man would admit for
a moment that his way of looking at things has preju-
diced in the sHghtest degree the power of his mind to
assimilate new truth. But, as a matter of fact, the his-
tory of religion incontrovertibly proves that it does.
It must be conceded, however, in fairness, that mere
whimsical captiousness plays little part; it is largely an
efifect of self-deception and the unrecognized influ-
ence of volition. Still, the fact remains, that theolo-
gians, from the inherent nature of their rational activi-
ties, are unwisely — often disastrously sluggish in
allowing their heads to instruct their hearts in matters
with which the latter not only have no true concern,
but on which, by a fatal inversion, the hearts insist
they should instruct the heads.



INTRODUCTION. 1 5

Let me cite a representative illustration. A bishop
of the American Church recently stated in an open
letter (not in these words) that as regards higher criti-
cism, the old traditional view was "good enough for
him;" and for this reason: it had been the view of his
fathers in ofBce and of practically the whole Church
for many centuries, and the sentiment of reverence
which its venerability inspired infinitely outweighed
the rationality of the science of Biblical criticism, as to
which, he protested, he knew nothing and cared less.
This attitude, which is simply that of illiterate obscur-
antism, is accurately emblematic of the religious type
of mind. It has manifested itself on myriads of occa-
sions since the dawn of the modern scientific era, and
though it belongs to a crude stage of ethnic culture,
yet every student of the evolution of human thought
knows that it is bound to persist so long as religion
is allowed to maintain positions antagonistic to the
dictates of enlightened reason. All of which is in line
with the profound remark made by Mr. Lowell, that
"theology will find out in good time that there is no
atheism at once so stupid and so harmful as the fancy-
ing God to be afraid of any knowfedge with which He
has enabled man to equip himself."

IV.

Now, while the attitude just sketched is surely that
taken by many clergymen, it is perfectly evident that



l6 REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

things must not be permitted to remain in statu quo.
Those who have the best interests of religion at heart
are by no means prepared to capitulate in the struggle
for the higher illumination of religious thought at the
vociferous and blatant behests of superstition, preju-
dice, bigotry, infatuation, and above all — ignorance.

It is the noble privilege of every man who believes
that God will give the ultimate victory to truth, to
facilitate to his full ability the spread of knozvledge.
He must further the inculcation, especially among
clergymen, of an appreciation of the intelligibility, the
reliability and the fundamental religiousness of all true
science. After a while, this will achieve two invaluable
results. First, it will make it possible for the clerical
mind to slough off, to rid itself of much effete matter
that the expansion of the theological sciences has ren-
dered acutely burdensome; i. e., it will be possible
for that type of mind, while maintaining with greater
cogency and attraction than ever before, the funda-
mental verities of the Catholic faith, to discard many
old interpretations thereof which to-day are utterly
discredited and antiquated. And second, it will
"popularize" (in the best sense) to a degree simply
out of the question in the present state of clerical
alienation, those vast stores of cultural influences that
make so gloriously for the spread of social efificiency
which are found in the new readings that have become
ours during this marvellous Victorian era of the book



INTRODUCTION. I'J

of nature, the book of the human mind and the Book
of God!

V.

A word in conclusion on the particular thought
this Introduction has endeavored to present.

The following pages were written by the busy
rector of a large parish to meet, as I take it, precisely
the conditions that have called forth the preceding re-
marks. The author of this book has tried to do his
part in circulating certain ideas that he has found to
be of inestimable value in his own thinking about
the problems that have emerged since the youngest
reader of these words was born. As compared with
the stereotyped, obsolescent treatment of the Bible
that was accepted outside the limited circle of special-
ists down to within the last two or three decades, the
present system is an advance of such profound signifi-
cance, that the two are nothing short of mutually
destructive.

The old view is indeed exploded beyond hope
of rehabilitation; and any modification of the new
must be the result of discoveries so radical and
remote and discordant with the whole tenor of
discoveries up to the present, that their possibility,
humanly speaking, is merely supposititious and hypo-
thetical.

One can't help hoping that in the face of the
present situation, we have seen nearly the end of that



l8 REASONS FOR THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

buoyant, airy juvenility which presumes, without the
slightest qualification, to pronounce judgments upon
and usually to dismiss with easy nonchalance and
almost incredible superciliousness, the results of the
labors of scores of the best minds with which this
nineteenth Christian century has been blessed. Is it
strange if such ''judgments" seem to scholars a trifle
premature, not to say silly? Do not such people, in
what all admit is a well-intentioned zeal for religion,
deliberately lay themselves open to the charge of
talking about things of which, in honest candor, they
must be judged ignorant f We all know what is said
when such things happen in other departments of
learning that involve special preparation, and can the
''critics of the critics" be surprised or hurt when the
same is said of them?

VI.

It is pleasanter to turn from this picture of jarring
ecclesiastics to the broad meads and inviting shades of
academic groves where, if anywhere, through devo-
tion to pure scientific truth and direct intercourse
with each other, men should always be able to sink
differences of belief in the higher unity of personal
respect and warm affection. That spirit of fraternal
deference and of admiration for noble qualities of soul
which belongs peculiarly to our Christian religion, is
the indissoluble bond that unites every one of us.



INTRODUCTION. I9

When each is striving in unimpeachable sincerity for
''the truth as it is in Jesus," we are all within reach of
that magic solvent — the Christian's love — which de-
molishes animosities and rears that fabric in the
heavens toward which we are toiling ourselves and
helping to direct others. In no spirit of mawkish
religionism, but with profoundest reverence and aspi-
ration, we can all pray the Whitsun collect:

"O God, who didst teach the hearts of thy faithful
people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy
Spirit; Grant us by the same spirit to have a right
judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his
holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our
Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the
unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.
Amen.

Willis Hatfield Hazard.

West Chester, Pa.,
Whitsuntide, 1897.



'Co tbc Reader



The author regrets to be compelled to apologize for
the frequent repetitions that occur in the following pages,
but he will be forgiven when it is seen that they could
not have been avoided without sacrificing the clearness
of the argument to the demands of literary taste. Each
chapter is complete in itself, and in order to preserve
unity of subject and make evident the logical character
of the argument, it was found necessary to use the same
historical matter and forms of analysis in several of them.

Other shortcomings it will be more difficult to for-
give, but even these, it is hoped, do not seriously interfere
with the reasons presented for the existence of the Higher
Criticism of the Hexateuch. I. G.



ERRATA.

Page 23. 8 lines from top, for " has " read " had."
" 3r. 18 " " " " " xxiv " read " xxxiv."
"39. 17 " " " " " 8 " read " 15 and 16. "
" 39. 17 " for quotation following "S" read "They
went in unto Noah into the Ark two and two of all flesh ^ * * * * *
as Eloliim commanded him."

Page 41, 7 lines from top, for "x " read " v "

" 57. 8 " " bottom, for " xxii " read " xxvii."
" 70, 5 " " " " "provinces" read "provi-

dences. "

Page 75. 13 lines from top, for " xxii " read " xvii."



Reasons for the f)igber Criticism



CHAPTER I.

THE PROGRESS OF CRITICISM.
I.

Within the present generation there has been a revo-
lution in the methods and resuhs of Bibhcal Studies.

For centuries the scholars of the Church accepted,
with httle question, the tradition that the Pentateuch was
written by Moses and the book of Joshua by Joshua. The
highest Enghsh and American authorities so gave their
verdict.

Continental Europe 4f»^ made greater progress.
The traditional theory of the origin of the Pentateuch
and Joshua had not only been questioned, but, as multi-
tudes of the best scholars in Orientalism believed, it had
been disproved. The Higher Criticism had vindicated
its claim that the Pentateuch and Joshua were parts of
one book — the Hexateuch, which was the work of many
writers during many ages ; that it was a composite book,
completed late in Hebrew life and composed of excerpta
from four leading documents usually denominated by
critics the Yahvistic, Elohistic, Deuteronomistic and the
Priestly Documents.

When the Higher Criticism began to attract notice


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