ment, in which what was evidently a literary commis-
sion of King Hezekiah is mentioned in connection with
a supplementary collection of proverbs : â€”
"These also are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of
Hezekiah king of Judah copied out." Proverbs 25:1.
Added to this collection are Proverbs ch. 30, The
Words of Agur and ch. 31, The Words of King Lemuel.
This note about Hezekiah, who was himself a poet (see
Isaiah 38:9), is of great interest because of what it sug-
gests concerning a library at Jerusalem and a trained
group of copyists such as were the scribes in Nineveh.
Professor Sayce thinks that there must have been a
royal library at Jerusalem in the time of Hezekiah, and
says : â€”
"The vassalage of Judah to the king of Assyria in the
reign of Ahaz had necessarily led to the introduction of
Assyrian culture into Jerusalem. Ahaz himself had led the
way. In the court of the palace he had erected a sundial, a
copy of the gnomons, which had been used for centuries in
the civilized kingdoms of the Euphrates and the Tigris. But
the erection of the sundial was not the only sign of Assyrian
influence. The most striking feature of Assyrian and Baby-
lonian culture was the libraries, where scribes were kept
constantly employed, not only in writing and compiling new
books, but in copying and reediting older ones. The 'men of
Hezekiah' who 'copied out* the proverbs of Solomon per-
THE BACKGROUND OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 29
formed duties exactly similar to the royal scribes in Nin-
Hezekiah is credited with having done much to re-
store and preserve the customs of the past. We are
told, II Kings, chs. 18-20, and II Chronicles, chs.
29-32, that he destroyed the brazen serpent, which
Moses had made, and which the people worshipped,
restored the laws of Moses, the services of the Temple,
the observance of the Passover, and "commanded the
Levites to sing praises unto Jehovah with the words
of David and Asaph the seer." He likewise believed
in civic improvements and "made the pool and the
conduit and brought water into the city." II Kings
20:20. We see in these references evidence that litera-
ture was preserved, 1, by oral transmission, 2, by care
on the part of authors and scribes, and 3, by special
care in collecting on the part of authorities and com-
missions like those of Hezekiah.
We now come to what is one of the most interesting
facts concerning ancient Hebrew literature and that is,
that what we know as the Old Testament, which is com-
posed of the three sacred collections of the Jews, the
Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, is, with a few
exceptions, all that has come down to us of what we
know, indirectly, from the literary qualities of the ex-
tant books, and from evident quotations, and directly,
from the names of other books referred to in the Old
Testament, must have been a highly developed and
diversified literature. The oldest Hebrew inscriptions
found are those on the Moabite Stone, found in 1868,
and the Siloam inscription, found in 1880. The former
is now in the Louvre and dates from the time of Ahab,
1 The Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments, 4th edition,
London, 1894, pp. 475, 476.
30 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
about 850 b. c. It is Mesha's account of a revolt men-
tioned in II Kings 3 14, 5. The inscription which is quite
long contains much of the deepest interest to students
of the language and the contents of the Old Testament.
The Siloam inscription, found in 1880 on the wall of
a tunnel connecting the Pool of Siloam with the Virgin's
Well at Jerusalem, is now in the Imperial Ottoman
Museum at Constantinople. It is believed to date from
the time of Hezekiah, 700 b. c. who built a conduit.
The inscription records the completing of such a con-
duit drilled through the rock. 1
In Numbers 21:27-30, we have a quotation from an
old collection of proverbs that had been preserved
orally or in writing. Evident quotations, either from
oral transmission or from earlier writings, are the Song
of the Sword, Genesis 4:23, 24, and the Song of the
Well, Numbers 21:17-18, and such poetical passages
as the words of Isaac to Jacob, Genesis, 27: 27-29,
39-40. It is probable that such passages as the
Blessing of Jacob, Genesis, ch. 49 and the Song by the
Sea, Exodus, ch. 15, the Song of Deborah, Judges,
ch. 5, and others, were preserved in books from which
the writers of our present books took them. That was
the way in which the present book of Psalms was
formed. Poems were selected from earlier collections
in which they had been preserved.
Two books, which were themselves collections of
writings, are mentioned as sources, one is the Book
of the Wars of Jehovah, quoted in Numbers 21:14,
the other is the Book of Jasher which is referred to
twice, in Joshua 10:13, as tne source of Joshua's ad-
dress to the sun and moon, and in II Samuel 1:18, as
1 These inscriptions in full are to be found in Archaology and the Bible,
G. A. Barton, pp. 363, 377.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 3 1
the source of the Song of the Bow, or David's
Lament over Saul and Jonathan. Except for these
quotations, the two collections are lost. Existing books
to which the title Book of Jasher is given are, one
of them, a collection of legends and stories based on the
Old Testament, and dating from the 12th century, the
other an 18th century forgery.
That there was a collection of psalms attributed to
Asaph is indicated by the existence in Psalms of such
poems, evidently taken from an earlier collection. In
I Chronicles 16:7, David gives thanks unto Jehovah,
"by the hand of Asaph and his brethren," but the
psalm then sung, made up of Psalms 105:1-15, 96:1-13,
106:1, and 106:47-48, is not stated to have been by him,
the passages referred to, in the Psalter, being all of
them anonymous. There were doubtless other collec-
tions of poetry in which were preserved the poems,
other than psalms, of which a considerable number are
given in the Old Testament.
In I Kings 4:29-34, is a remarkable passage concern-
ing Solomon which contains references to what we must
suppose to have been writings on a variety of subjects.
Except for such as may be contained in the Old Testa-
ment, these works of Solomon have been lost. The
passage is: â€”
"And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding ex-
ceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that
is on the sea-shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the
wisdom of all the children of the east, and all the wisdom of
Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the
Ezrahite, and Heman, 1 and Calcol, and Darda, the sons of
Mahol: and his fame was in all the nations round about.
And he spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a
1 To Ethan is ascribed Psalm 89 and to Heman Psalm 88.
32 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar
that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out
of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of birds, and of creep-
ing things, and of fishes. And there came of all peoples to
hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth,
who had heard of his wisdom."
Besides these general statements concerning other
literature by which the Old Testament writings were
surrounded there are in the historical books, especially
the later ones, Chronicles, references by title to books
and authors from which information has been drawn,
or to which the reader is directed for a fuller account
than that given. Here are the titles of some books
thus mentioned: â€”
I Samuel 10:25, a book written by Samuel telling "the
manner of the Kingdom," perhaps the "book of Samuel the
seer" (mentioned in I Chronicles 29:29).
I Kings 11 41, "the book of the acts of Solomon."
I Kings 14:29, "the book of the chronicles of the kings
of Judah." (Often referred to in I and II Chronicles.)
II Kings 15:15, "the book of the chronicles of the kings
of Israel." (Often referred to in I and II Chronicles.)
I Chronicles 5:17, "genealogies in the days of Jotham King
of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, king of Israel."
I Chronicles 23 127, "the last words [or acts] of David."
I Chronicles 27:24, "the chronicles of king David."
I Chronicles 29:29, "the history of Samuel the seer;" "the
history of Nathan the prophet," "the history of Gad the
II Chronicles 9:29, "the history of Nathan the prophet,"
"the prophecy of Ahijah, the Shilonite," "the visions of Iddo
II Chronicles 12:15, "the histories of Shemaiah the
prophet" and of "Iddo the seer after the manner of geneal-
THE BACKGROUND OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 33
II Chronicles 13:22, "the commentary [Midrash] of the
II Chronicles 16:11, "the book of the kings of Judah and
II Chronicles 20:34, "the history of Jehu, the son of
Hanani, which is inserted in the book of the kings of Israel."
II Chronicles 24:27, "the commentary [Midrash] of the
book of the kings."
II Chronicles 26:22, "the acts of Uzziah," by Isaiah the
II Chronicles 32:32, "the vision of Isaiah the prophet â€”
in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel." (Compare
Isaiah 36-39, with II Kings 18:13-20:21.)
II Chronicles 33:18, 19, "the acts of Manasseh . . .
among the acts of the kings of Israel" â€” "his prayer . . .
written in the history of Hozai" [or the seers]. The Prayer
of Manasseh is preserved in the Apocrypha.
II Chronicles 35:25, "the lamentations. " (Not the book
in the Bible called the Lamentations of Jeremiah.)
I Maccabees 16:24, "chronicles" of John the High Priest.
II Maccabees 2:23, "five books" of Jason of Cyrene.
The term "Midrash" applied to the book of Iddo,
II Chronicles 13:22, and to the book of Kings, II
Chronicles 24:27, is perhaps better translated "story"
as in the King James Version, than "commentary" as
in the Revised Version. Such books as Tobit and
Judith are properly "Midrashim," that is, stories with
emphasis laid on the didactic or moral aspects of the
various incidents. It has been noted by critics that
the moral teaching is the motive of most of the stories
told in Chronicles. 1
Oral transmission played an important part in keep-
ing alive in the minds of the people the history of their
past, and many of the stories contained in the Bible
1 Examples may be found in II Chronicles 21:10, 24:24, 26:5, etc.
34 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
circulated among the peoples, not only of Israel and
Judah, but also of the surrounding nations. The Exodus
must have been a constant source of interest and the
fact that we have three accounts, in different styles, of
the plagues of Egypt is not without literary significance.
In Exodus 7-15, the account is epic, in Psalm 78, lyric,
and in the Wisdom of Solomon chs. II, 17, 18, is an-
other account which has been called the picturesque.
These are of different dates, but show what use was
made of the material. There were probably oral or
written stories and songs about the patriarchs and
Moses, and also about Samuel, Samson, David, Solo-
mon, Saul, and other heroes. Such a song is mentioned
in I Samuel 18:7. Ballads and folk-songs existed, all
of which, whether preserved orally, as was probably
the Song of the Well, Numbers 21:17, or m writing, as
was probably the story of Balaam, which we have in
Numbers chs. 22-24, m a form part prose and part
verse, were accessible to the Hebrew writers of the Old
From the evidence afforded by the text of the Old
Testament there were probably collections of writings,,
in different parts of Palestine, which contained local
versions of histories or laws, and which may have been
the varying sources of those portions, especially of the
Pentateuch, which scholars generally regard as parallel,
but distinct. The Pentateuch is ascribed to-day to four
main sources designated as J(ahvistic), because God is
called Jahveh in these passages, E(lohistic), because
God is called Elohim, D(euteronomy), and P(riestly),
the last so named because concerned especially with
religious regulations. To different sources are ascribed,
for example, the two accounts of creation, Genesis 1 :i-
2 13, and 2 14-25, and the versions of the Commandments,
THE BACKGROUND OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 35
Exodus 20:1-17, Exodus 34:1-27, Leviticus 19:1-37,
Not only from books now lost did the Old Testament
writers draw, but also from other books of the Old
Testament, unless indeed, as may be possible, the same
passage from a lost book was taken by more than one
author or editor. We cannot tell which really occurred,
because usually no acknowledgment of indebtedness
was made. Isaiah contains a long passage which occurs
in II Kings (cf. Isaiah chs. 36-39, with II Kings 18:13-
20:21), ch. 37 of Isaiah and ch. 19 of II Kings being
the same. I Chronicles 10:1-12, is evidently from I
Samuel 31 :iâ€” 13, II Chronicles ch. 10, is evidently from I
Kings 12:1-19. I n f act tne whole of I and II Chronicles
is based on the older books, I and II Samuel, and I and
II Kings, as well as on other books, specifically men-
tioned, and doubtless still others not mentioned.' The
closing verses of II Chronicles appear as the opening
verses of Ezra. In Micah 4:1-3, we have the same
passage as Isaiah 2:2-4, tne most familiar portion of it
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their
spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword
against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
A less familiar passage evidently related to the other,
occurs in Joel 3:9-10: â€”
"Prepare war; stir up the mighty men; let all the men of
war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares
into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears."
There are examples of the double use of the same
earlier material in the collections of religious poetry
36 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
which we have in the Psalms, which consists, as the
doxologies at the end of each book indicate, of five
divisions, 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; 107-150, each
of which was probably an independent collection.
Psalm 14 of the first book appears again in the second
book as Psalm 53. Psalm 70 is the same as Psalm 40:
13-17. Psalm 108 is composed of Psalms 57:7-11, and
60:5-12. The versions are slightly different in the
two appearances of the same Psalm and the duplica-
tions are always in different books. Similarly the poem
of David, which is Psalm 18, is put into its historical
setting in II Samuel 22, in a different version.
Associated with the Old Testament, but not regarded
by the Jews as part of their Scriptures, are the books
of the Apocrypha, which found their way into the Bible,
of the early Church, and which, with the exception of
the Prayer of Manasses and I and II Esdras, are
in the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, because in
the Vulgate. Protestant versions place the Apocryphal
books in a group between the Old and the New Tes-
From the references to lost books, and from the use of
materials in our Old Testament we see that there
existed earlier, and also contemporaneously, a con-
siderable literature, of which we have in the Bible only
such examples as have been preserved for us by the
reverent care of men who made it their business
to see that the best thought of the best minds should
be to the race a perpetual possession, and that the
records of the Jews should be preserved. To this lit-
erature of the ancient world the archaeologists have
added considerable stores of the writings from the
extensive literatures of Egypt and Babylonia con-
temporary with, or earlier than the records of the Jews.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 37
Of various dates, some doubtless fairly early, and
others much later than any parts of the Old Testament,
are a number of books containing material concerning
much of the contents of the Old Testament, and
purporting to give information about the prophets,
patriarchs and others, supplementing what we learn
from the Bible. These books in many cases show
the thought of the time concerning matters to which
the Bible refers as of general knowledge, but about
which it has little to say, for example, Satan and the
sons of God, and the councils in Heaven, spoken of
in Job 1 and 2; I Kings 22:19; Zechariah 3:1; the func-
tions of Satan as mentioned in I Chronicles 21:1, which
refers to the same event as II Samuel 24:1; the war in
heaven and the fall of the bad angels, referred to as
well-known stories in II Peter 2:4, and Jude v. 6; the
vision of judgment, Jude vs. 14, 15, quoted from the
book of Enoch; the quarrel between Michael and the
devil, Jude v. 9, a story which Origen said was from the
Assumption of Moses; the contest between Moses, and
Jannes and Jambres, II Timothy 3 :8, who are not named
elsewhere in the Bible. 1 There are many things spoken
of in the Old Testament which were evidently a part
of the literature or thought of the time, or of earlier
Dr. R. H. Charles, 2 refers to the following beliefs
which find expression in the Bible or in early Christian
writings, as being either partially or wholly elucidated
by the Secrets of Enoch, written about the beginning of
the Christian era, and preserved to us, so far as is yet
known, only in Slavonic: 1. Death was caused by
1 They were the sorcerers of Exodus 7:11, Jewish tradition states.
2 The Book of the Secrets of Enoch y translated from Slavonic by W. R.
Morfill. Edited with Introduction and notes by R. H. Charles, Oxford, 1896.
A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
sin; 2. The millennium; 3. Of the creation of man with
free will and knowledge of good and evil; 4. The Ser-
aphim; 5. The intercession of saints; 6. The seven
heavens, an early Jewish and Christian belief. 1
How extensive the extant literature on these and
other Biblical topics is, may easily be. ascertained by
examining the contents of The Apocrypha and Pseu-
depigrapha as given by Dr. Charles in his work of
that title. In volume II will be found the following,
classified by the nature of the books : â€”
Law â€” The Book of Jubilees.
The Letter of Aristeas.
The Books of Adam and Eve.
The Martyrdom of Isaiah.
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.
The Sibylline Oracles.
The Assumption of Moses.
II Enoch, or Secrets of Enoch.
II Baruch or Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch.
III Baruch or Greek Apocalypse of Baruch.
Psalms â€” Psalms of Solomon.
Pirke Aboth, or Sayings of the Fathers.
The Story of Ahikar.
History â€” Fragments of a Zadokite Work.
Many of these books, while not themselves very an-
1 Cf. such expressions as "the third heaven," II Corinthians 12:2, and
the heaven of heavens" Deuteronomy 10:14; I Kings 8:27, Psalm 148:4.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE OLD TESTAMENT- 39
cient, yet contain ancient stories some of which under-
lie the Bible books. 1
1 As do also such books as were published in a volume bearing the title
The Uncanonical Writings of the Old Testament, found in the Armenian
Manuscripts of the Library of St. Lazarus, translated into English by the
Rev. Jacques Issaverdens, Venice, 1901. In this book are found the follow-
The Book of Adam.
The History of Assaneth.
The History of Moses.
Concerning the Deaths of the Prophets â€” Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah,
Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah,
Malachi, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.
Concerning King Solomon.
A Short History of the Prophet Elias.
Concerning the Prophet Jeremiah.
The Vision of Enoch the Just.
The Seventh Vision of Daniel.
The Testaments of the XII Patriarchs.
The Third Book of Esdras.
Inquiries made by the Prophet Esdras.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Back of the New Testament is the Old Testament,
and not only this, but an extensive literature that came
into existence after the latest events of which the Old
Testament treats. The Old Testament Scriptures are
concerned, except for the opening chapters of Genesis,
with the personages and events of about seventeen
hundred years, from Abraham to Nehemiah; the New
Testament, except perhaps the book of Revelation,
with the personages and events of probably less than
one hundred years. The Old Testament, while con-
taining many biographies, falls much of it in the domain
of national history, political as well as religious, though
chiefly the latter. The New Testament, some of which
falls in the domain of history, belongs rather to biog-
raphy, containing as it does, except Revelation, ac-
counts of the birth, life, teachings, death and resurrec-
tion of Jesus Christ, the efforts to promulgate and inter-
pret those teachings, and to organize a Church founded
upon them. The Revelation, a type of literature rep-
resented in the Old Testament in Daniel, and in the
Apocrypha in II Esdras, sets forth the events of the
future as visions; there are to be a new heaven and a
new earth, in which God shall dwell with man, " and
death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain, any more." Revelation 21 14.
To the period between the Old Testament and the
New belong some of the books of the Apocrypha. The
THE BACKGROUND OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 41
books of the Maccabees give us the history of the re-
action against Greek power and influences. The Per-
sian gave way to the Greek who was succeeded by the
Roman. These changes from the conditions in the
time of Ezra bring us to the Palestine of Jesus and his
disciples. The four centuries immediately preceding
the Christian era saw not only changes in the political
conditions, but also the development of certain ideas
which are later more clearly set forth in the New Tes-
tament. It is in the Wisdom of Solomon that we find ex-
pressed such thoughts as these.on personal immortality : â€”
"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
And no torment shall touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died;
And their departure was accounted to be their hurt,
And their journeying away from us to be their ruin:
But they are in peace.
For even if in the sight of men they be punished,
Their hope is full of immortality;
And having borne a little chastening, they shall receive
Because God made trial of them, and found them worthy
As gold in the furnace he proved them,
And as a whole burnt offering he accepted them.
And in the time of their visitation they shall shine forth,
And as sparks among stubble they shall run to and fro,
They shall judge nations, and have dominion over peoples;
And the Lord shall reign over them for evermore." The
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-8.
In Daniel we read: â€”
"They that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the
firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as
the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3.
42 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
Not as new ideas then came these words in the New
Testament : â€”
"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the
kingdom of their Father." Matthew 13:43.
"When the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve
tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:28.
"Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?"
I Corinthians 6:2.
The immortality of the soul is set forth in the Old
Testament in a number of passages, 1 such as the fol-
lowing : â€”
" For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.
Thou wilt show me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
In thy right-hand there are pleasures for evermore."
Psalm 16:10, 11.
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol;
For he will receive me." Psalm 49:15.
"As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake, with beholding thy
form." Psalm 17:15.
"But as for me I know that my Redeemer [Heb. goel,
And at last he will stand up upon the earth:
And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed,
Then without my flesh shall I see God;
Whom I, even I, shall see, on my side,
And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger."
1 Critics express doubts as to wnether such passages do not refer rather
to national deliverance, or to individual escape from danger or sickness.
There is danger of attributing to Old Testament writers views, derived from
the New Testament, which the Old Testament writers may never have held.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 43
The doctrine of the resurrection of the body is a clear