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History of Old Testament criticism online

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NOV 30 1910 *j




Astronomy, by Prof. George Forbes, F.R.S.
Chemistry, 2 volumes, by Sir Edward Thorpf,,
C.B., D Sc, F.R.S., etc. (Director of Govern-
ment Laboratories)
Old Testament Criticism, by Prof. Archibald Duff
(Prof, of Hebrew and Old Testament Theology in
the United College, Bradford)
In Active Preparation —

New Testament Criticism, by F. C. Conybeare,
M.A. (Late Fellow and Prselector of Univ. Coll.,

Geology, by H. B. Woodward, F.R.S., F.G.S.
(Assistant Director of Geological Survey)

Geography, by Dr. Scott Keltie, F.R.G.S., F.S.A.

New York London

Paul de Lagarde.

Dr. Phil. et. Theol., Professor of Semitic Philology, Gottingen.


^y .^.^^-%








Cbc IRnichcvbocl^er |prc66


Copyright iqio



This series is published in London by
The Rationalist PriiSS Association, Limited

Xibe 'Rnicfterbocfter press, mew lorft






The History of Chemistry: Vol. I. circa 2000 B.C.
to 1850 A.D. Vol. II. 1850 A.D. to date.

By Sir Edward Thorpe, C.B., LL.D., F.R.S.,

Director of the Government Laboratories,
London; Professor-elect and Director of
the Chemical Laboratories of the Imperial
College of Science and Technology; author
of A Dictionary of Applied Chemistry.

To he followed by:

The History of Geography.

By Dr. John Scott Keltie, F.R.G.S., F.S.S.,
F.S.A., Hon. Mem. Geographical Societies
of Paris, Berlin, Rome, Brussels, Amster-
dam, Geneva, etc.; author of Report on
Geographical Education, Applied GeograpJiy.

The History of Geology.

By Horace B. Woodward, F.R.S., F.G.S.,

Assistant-Director of Geological Survey of
England and Wales; author of The Geology
of England and Wales, etc.

The History of Anthropology.

By A. C. Haddon, M.A., Sc.D., F.R.S., Lec-
turer in Ethnology, Cambridge and Lon-
don; author of Study of Man, Magic and
Fetishism, etc.

The History of Old Testament Criticism.

By Archibald Duff, Professor of Hebrew
and Old Testament Theology in the United

College, Bradford; author of Theology and
Ethics of the Hebrews, Modern Old Testament
Theology, etc.

The History of New Testament Criticism.

By F. C. CoNYBEARE, M.A., late Fellow and
Praelector of Univ. Coll., Oxford; Fellow
of the British Academy; Doctor of Theol-
ogy, honoris causa, of Giessen; Officer d'
Academic; author of Old Armenian Texts oj
Revelation, etc.

Further volumes are in plan on the following

Mathematics and Mechanics.

Molecular Physics, Heat, Life, and Electricity.

Human Physiology, Embryology, and Heredity.

Acoustics, Harmonics, and the Physiology of
Hearing, together with Optics Chromatics, and
Physiology of Seeing.

Psychology, Analytic, Comparative, and Ex-

Sociology and Economics.


Comparative Philology.

Criticism, Historical Research, and Legends.

Comparative Mythology and the Science of

The Criticism of Ecclesiastical Institutions,

Culture, Moral and Intellectual, as Reflected in
Imaginative Literature and in the Fine Arts.





1AM asked to tell to a large body of thoughtful
readers what has been the story of the criti-
cal cr literary handling of the Old Testament
throughout the ages, as scientific study of that
literature is at present showing what the story
has been. I am told, with admirable frankness,
that the only condition laid upon me is that my
tale be the true one ; I am kindly given to under-
stand that the Directorate of the publication have
full confidence in my spirit and method, as these
have been shown in my various works. For this
confidence I am bound to utter my heartfelt and
deep gratitude, in the belief that such a trust
will inspire me to leave no jot or tittle of due
exposition unrecorded.

Under a sense of spiritual compulsion upon me
to set forth the beautiful record to every ear
that will hear, I set out on the task, feeling most
deeply my feebleness, but knowing also that
strength is always sufficient as one goes forward
in the course of duty.

I have elsewhere shown why I do not confine
the History to the Christian era , and I feel that

X ^ Preface

the proper method which I have tried to follow
will help to lift away the benumbing and entirely
mistaken fancy concerning Scriptures as sacred
in the sense of unalterable.

A. D.
April, igio.




Of the Ideal and the Plan i


How THE Hebrews Criticised Their Own

Literature 14

I. — Criticism in the Earliest Narratives 14

2. — Early Criticism of Ethical Writings 26

3. — Early Criticism of Prophet's Oracles 34

4, — Hebrew Criticism in the Exile in Babylon 41


Of Criticism among the Jews 48

I. — Under Persian Rule, 500 to 300 b.c 48

2, — Criticism of the Jewish Commentators under

Greek Influence 64

3. — Under the New Kingdom, 150 B.C. to a.d. i 73


Early Christian's Treatment of the Old

Testament 83

I. — From Jesus to the Fixture of the Canon.. 83

2. — Criticism of Origen and his Comrades 92

3. — Jerome's Orthodox Canonic Text 99


xii Contents



Criticism by the Jewish Rabbis io6

I. — Outline from A.D. i to the Reformation io6

2. — Jewish Use of the Old Testament in Their

Synagogal Expositions io8

3. — The Criticism of Baruch Spinoza 129


From Spinoza to Astruc 137


Modern Criticism from Astruc until the

Present 148

I. — Aids and Hindrances , 148

2. — Discovery of the Foundation Document 157

3. — Unravelling of the Two Earliest Sources. . . 160

4. — Concerning the Law Codes 163

5. — The Determination of the Dates 167

6. — The Reconstruction of the History 175

7. — Criticism of the non-Pentateuchal Books. . 180

Bibliography 189

Index 195



Paul de Lagarde, Dr. Phil, et Theol., Professor of
Semitic Philology, Gottingen Frontispiece

Julius Wellhausen, Dr. Theol., Professor of Old

Testament Theology, Gottingen 33

The Rev. Canon T. K. Cheyne, D. Litt., D.D., Pro-
fessor of Old Testament Interpretation, Oxford. 35

Benjamin Wisner Bacon, D.D., Professor of New
Testament Theology, Yale University, New-
haven, U.S. A 51

Bernhard Duhm, Dr. Theol., Professor of Old

Testament Theology, Basel 67

Benedictus de Spinoza 109

Jean Astruc, Dr. Med., Royal Physician and Pro-
fessor of Medicine, Paris 147

Johann Karl Wilhelm Vatke, Dr. Theol., Pro-
fessor of Old Testament Theology, Berlin 150

Bernhard Stade, Dr. Theol. et Phil., Professor of

Old Testament Theology, Giessen 152

The Right Rev. John William Colenso, D.D.,

Anglican Bishop of Natal 155

Hermann Hupfeld, Dr. Theol., Professor of Old

Testament Theology, Halle-a-S 162

Wilhelm Martin Leberecht De Wette, Dr.
Theol., Professor of Old Testament Theology,
Berlin 164

Abraham Kuenen, Dr. Theol., Professor of The-
ology, University of Leyden 169

Karl David Ilgen, Dr. Theol., Professor of The-
ology, Jena University 171

Karl Budde, Dr. Theol., Professor of Theology,

Marburg University 181

Heinrich Ewald, Dr. Theol., Professor of Old

Testament Theology, Gottingen 185



Chapter I

Of Our Ideal, and Our Plan
I. The Ideal

WHERE shall we begin with this History?
At what date ? Commonly the Teachers
of various sorts concerning the matter before
us start at the year a.d. i. But why?

I. vSuch questions arise at once most natur-
ally when we set out to study the history of any
subject. But the query alters itself speedily,
for a thoughtful mind, into the moral question,
"Where ought we to begin?" In this day of
scientific thinking, in this age whose students
seek to find just the facts and then to systematise
these, calling the result Science, it is quite clear
that, to get all of the facts, we must trace the
stream of phenomena right up to the first

2 Old Testament Criticism

fountain-head. Where, then, shall we begin to
observe the process and the course or history of
the criticism of a literature? Undoubtedly we
ought to run right back to the very beginning
of the process, and of the course and history of
the literature itself. Can any good reason be
given why we should not? Surely, then, if we
can trace Hebrew literary monuments back to
900 B.C., we are bound to ask how the Hebrew
men of that time, nine centuries before our era,
thought about their literature. Their think-
ing about it was, surely, always their having
some opinion about it, and this thinking was
a judging concerning it; in scientific phrase,
it was a criticism. Therefore, our History of
Criticism must vSet out, at least, at 900 B.C. —
else it will be a headless body, and virtually

2. But such a beginning has been commonly
and singularly neglected; indeed, this neglect
has been one of the notable features m the
history of the matter. If we examine Diestel's
work on The History of the Old Testament in
the Christian Church,^ the handy, if now some-
what old, text-book on such study, we find the
very title begging the whole question. A few
words are devoted by Diestel to the real owners
of the noble old literature, but they are doubly

^ For full statements of titles, etc., of books quoted
see our Bibliography.

Of Our Ideal, and Our Plan 3

curious. All that is said runs thus (p. 7 f .) :
"Christianity appeared at a time when Judaism
was passing through a process of fermentation.
This fermentation was certain either to burst
its national limits or to degrade itself into a
lifeless form. For while the Old Testament was
then the supreme avithority in every sense, yet
the application of this authority had long lacked
that inmiediateness which marks the fresh
vitality of a real spiritual power." Now, with-
out lingering to point out some startling and
groundless assumptions here made, we may
simply say that Diestel gives himself away,
and vitiates his v/ork entirely, by implying that
there had indeed been, once upon a time, a day
of "real spiritual power" and of "fresh vitality, "
and of "immediateness." If there had been
these, why does he fail entirely to include the
story of such great things in his History ? Surely
an exposition of them was essential for a clear
comprehension of the "Christian" use of this
great old literature. If Diestel had not been
bound in chains and iron, as we shall have
occasion to show, he could have told of the days
of "fresh vitality" all along the line of the ten
centuries B.C.; and especially he could have
illustrated that most vigorous "immediateness"
and "spiritual power" which burst out in the
wonderful "Priestly" literature of Nehemiah's
time — 450 B.C. and thereafter. Our hope, in

4 Old Testament Criticism

these pages, is to do some small justice to those
and other similar matters which are so sorely
and so often neglected, even by not a few liberal-
ly-minded teachers and preachers in all circles
about us.

3. But what caused the neglect on the part
of Diestel and by the body of theologians whom
he well represents? The plain fact is that, with
the development of Christianity, there arose
a sharp antithesis in the ranks of those who
should have joined hands for all good work —
viz., between the Christians and the Jews; and
in that antithesis the Christian thinker, on the
one hand, threw away the singularly free liter-
ary spirit which his Jewish ancestors had
possessed, and which had very largely made
Christianity and enabled it to emerge; while,
on the other hand, the Jewish scholars stiffened
themselves back from the rich legacy of critical
freedom which their fathers had left to them,
and put on many of the very bonds which their
opponents in Christian circles accused them
untruly of always wearing.

Other evils have resulted which are still
more to be regretted; for the common neglect
to realise the literary freedom of the forma-
tive days of Hebrew literature has created the
dream among ordinary persons in general that
the whole Old Testament was written on one
plan, and on one literary, moral, and theological

Of Our Ideal, and Our Plan 5

level. The astounding wortlilessness of such a
fancy is not the worst of it. Two classes of
readers have suffered sadly in consequence. On
one side, the would-be friends and devoted users
of the Bible as a book of devotion have been
puzzled and pained by an apparent cruelty
encouraged by God in Old Testament times,
although a study of the criticism that had gone
on throughout the ages would have taught them
that the encouragement was merely apparent.
On the other side, there have been sometimes
in the past centuries of our era men at enmity
for various reasons with Christian institutions;
and these have laid to the charge of the God
represented by Jesus those cruelties that we
have just mentioned, unaware all the time how
a study of criticism would have shown them
their historical mistake. It is very trvie that
the neglect of study of criticism and of its
history has caused much dishonour to the
venerable Hebrew literature — a literature quite
as noble as any other: the lovers of the Bible
have been brought into sore straits by that
neglect, and the Bible has been mistakenly
blamed for huge real evils that were wrought bv
entirely different influences. Therefore, let us
avoid a plan that has been fruitful of such mis-
takes, and let us set out in our examination of
the whole course of Old Testament Criticism,
not from the year a.d. i, but from the earliest

6 Old Testament Criticism

known date of the literature itself. We can
promise the reader a rich and happy result.

4. But now another important question
presses in upon us — namely, Can we really and
honestly use the term "criticism" to describe
at all accurately the treatment of their literature
by those far-away Hebrews of 900 B.C. and
onwards ? The reply is doubly in the afhrmative.

What is it, let us ask in the first place, that we
propose to study under the term "criticism"?
That word of Greek parentage is the same as
the term "judgment," its synonym of Latin
descent. Therefore, if we find the so-called
"lahwistic" writers of 900 B.C. using their
judgment in culling from earlier sources what-
soever they would use for their newer purposes,
who shall say that they were not exercising
criticism? Again, two hundred years later,
about 700 B.C., amid a great movement both
material and mental, another set of Narrators
known to us as "Elohists" deliberately set
aside the older narrative and substituted in
its place matter that was essentially different
both in its account of events, and in its ideas of
duty, and in its conception of the nature of the
national Deity. Surely we may again say that
this was a very serious case of exercise of critic-
ism. But we need not anticipate here any
further what is to be described in the following
pages. We are going to see how some literary

Of Our Ideal, and Our Plan 7

men among the Hebrews in those far-away
days examined, judged, criticised, rejected, and
altered this or that in the writings that lay
before them as inheritances from the past.
They laid aside what the}^ did not approve of;
they replaced the rejected material by what
seemed to them to be better; they made large
additions; and they wrote entirely new works,
all of which breathed opinions entirely different
from those of their predecessors on all sorts of
topics. Now, such criticism must be examined
carefully by the historian.

Does the question still arise whether this was
akin to what we practise to-day as "criticism"?
Here, then, comes our second claim, in that we
say we do use the term justifiably; we say that
it was as truly criticism as were all the clearly
unscientific procedures that went on during the
early Christian ages, during the medieval times,
and even during the times of the Reformation,
and for many a day after it. It was criticism
like that which went on until a century ago — nay,
which continues until this day in many places.

Even the rise of exact method in all science
and history — material, mental, and literary —
has not precluded the existence of a very primi-
tive style of criticism: the scholar rather en-
courages the novice, knowing that practice
will make the simple man perfect.

But let us look back for an illustration. The

8 Old Testament Criticism

Elohists of, say, 700 B.C. rejected the lahwistic
narrative of 900 B.C., its teachings concerning
morals and reHgion ; they did so for what we may
call subjective reasons. Here was a religious
bias at work, and it would vitiate the new
Elohistic ("E") record. Quite true; and was
it not from an exactly similar bias that many
an early Christian student, many a medieval
writer, many a reformer, set down his critical
views? We have learned now not to let sub-
jective preference influence our decisions; but
this method is of comparatively recent date,
and is not universal even yet.

Another word must be said. What was the
imdercurrent that moved those old Elohists
of 700 B.C. to reject this and to accept that in
the writings of 900 B.C. — what save their deep
sense that their action was right and was best?
But go farther and ask: Is it anything more than
a sense of strict duty that holds the hand and
guides the judgment of the scientific critic
of to-day? Indeed, we must agree that the
sense of duty is always the highest control that
any man feels and knows. This has always been
so ; in the voice of his conscience the workman
of any sort hears really his Deity's command.
So it has been in all the past, in the far-away
ages, and in the nearer; and so it is to-day.
Here is an essential oneness between the early
Hebrew literary men and the faulty critics of

Of Our Ideal, and Our Plan 9

the pre-scicntific centuries of ovir era and the
properly scientific criticism of to-day.

We may add that we are thus reaching the
kernel of things which any history has to exhibit
— namely, the undercurrent of plan; or, it may
be, of course, the want of plan — that runs all
through the long ages of man's existence. On
the presumed basis of such plan all the business
of men in the world is done. All busy and
thoughtful men have confidence that there is
such a protective management of all affairs,
public and private. This trust that all work-a-
day persons have is, of course, a "faith"; and
all men do act on this "faith" in that which
rules the universe. In another well-known
phrase, "they trust God."

5. Now we can see why we need to study
this history of Old Testament criticism. Let
us note here, therefore, the rationale of the
present volume: it is that since the Christian
idea of the character of Jesus is strictly analo-
gous to this business-like faith on which all men
act in their callings, therefore very naturally
may we look into the literature that enswathes
the story of Jesus to see whether or not the
history of it, and of men's handling of it, does
or does not exhibit the same undercurrent of
causal management as trustworthy^ Our chief
question and interest must be this: "Does the
history of Old Testament criticism exhibit

lo Old Testament Criticism

always the character of God as just like Jesus?"
If it does, then our search will contribute to
calm strength in human hearts and lives and

2. The Plan of Our Work

The starting-point is now defined, in accord-
ance with the demands of facts. The method
of treating the successive stages of the story
must vary; and we may indicate here very
briefly the chief points.

1. It will be wise first to examine very care-
fully what sort of criticism was practised by
the real owners, writers, readers, and early
transmitters of the literature. And this can be
done best by systematic illustration of the
treatment that was accorded, in each generation
that was at all active, to the literature that
had been received from former generations.
For this reason we must give a good deal of
thought and of space to critical handlings —
rejections, editings, substitutions, and additions
— as they were carried on by the properly so-
called Hebrew literary men, both before and
after the Exile or Destruction of the Hebrew
nation; and we promise that this story will be
found to be more than important — it is startling !

2. At the entry of Greek and other foreign
influence, it will be enough to watch whether

Of Our Ideal, and Our Plan n

there came in any change of the attitude and
the mode of treatment hitherto f oho wed. And
here, too, we shall verily be startled: the usual
traditional fancies concerning unalterableness
of Scripture are so unreal that it is time they
were left for a vision of the beautiful facts.
But we shall not need to linger long over this
part of our task.

3. The study and estimate of the attitude
that was maintained by Jesus has by no means
been completed. But of recent years the de-
voted, and tender, and brilliant work of Philip
Schmiedel has let the whole world see the magni-
ficent outlines, deep and high, grand in breadth
and length, of the structure of the Life of Jesus
that is being built, tested, and approved fear-
lessly and absolutely by the finest and most
thorough criticism. The work done by Schmie-
del and the like shows that even already we
may venture to indicate the attitude of Jesus
towards the literature of earlier generations,
with much confidence that our exhibition is
fairly correct. Of necessity we shall at this
point seek to watch, and to describe also, the
methods of his first followers.

4. The earlier ecclesiastical tendency amid
Christians has some fine features. Indeed, the
work of such men as Origen and Lucian is on a
level with the finest in any age; but we can
speed rapidly over the first Christian ages, until

12 Old Testament Criticism

the tremendous awakening under Islamic touch
stirred the dry bones to a new quickening.

5. In the exhibition of the parallel practice
and mind of Jewish students down to the
Renaissance we may have to step along as
children ; yet we can hold the hands of admirable

6. The new thoughtfulness in the Renais-
sance cared less for literary criticism, and more
for certain other features of life — as, indeed,
it had to do; but, in the later stages of that
awakening which came with Luther, the story
of the Reformers' attitude towards the Old
Testament is again startling.

7. Then a mingling of Judaism with Christ-
ianity in vSpinoza made that noble soul the
pioneer of all that has been truly done ever since.
If these pages might turn the eyes of some to
Baruch Spinoza's great epoch-making Tract,
and might exalt that little essay into use as a
text-book for to-day, then a supremely good
result would have been obtained.

8. It is when we reach the middle of the
eighteenth century that the immense work of
scientific men upon the ancient literature begins ;
and then it rolls forward with tremendous force,
startling the dreams of dead souls, who clutched
the great Book, and withheld it from living men
and their needs. The Old Testament is free
from that clutching now — even more free than

Of Our Ideai, and Our Plan 13

is the New Testament; and yet the dreamers
are slow in stirring from their torpor. May
the tale of the marvellous discoveries, disclosing
old and long-lost treasiires, fomid during the
past thirt}^ years, help on the wonderful awak-
ening. To record the story of the last century's
study and criticism might well demand a volume
for itself.

Chapter II

How the Hebrews Criticised Their
Own Literature

I . Criticism in the First Narrative Litera-
ture, 900-800 B.C.

WE are about to consider now the separate
constituent sources from which our
present Pentateuch — or, rather, the Old Testa-
ment narrative books as a whole — have been
put together ; and here we shall watch the process
of criticism to which each earlier writer's work
was submitted by the next following. By-and-
bye we shall have to see, further, how all these
were set into the combined whole as it has been
in men's hands now for some 2000 years.

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Online LibraryArchibald DuffHistory of Old Testament criticism → online text (page 1 of 11)