Copyright
C Piepenbring.

Theology of the Old Testament online

. (page 18 of 26)
Online LibraryC PiepenbringTheology of the Old Testament → online text (page 18 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


himself unjustly and severely punished. The three

1 Prov. iii. 11 f. ; Deut. viii. 2-5 ; Lam. iii. 27-30.

2 Isa. liii. 3 Chaps, i. f.



SECOND PERIOD. — § 25. RETRIBUTION. 237

friends dispute this claim, and seek to convince Job
that he has deserved these misfortunes by which he is
smitten, thus maintaining the traditional opinion con-
cerning retribution. But he, sure of his innocence, de-
fends it tenaciously, and successfully repels all the
objections of his friends.^ Elihu, a fourth friend, who
has thus far remained silent, now takes up the discus-
sion. ^ He also declares that Job is not perfectly inno-
cent, and reproaches him with his doubts concerning
divine Providence, "who rendereth to man according
to his works, and causeth him to find according to his
ways."^ On this point he shares the traditional opinion
defended by the other three friends. But the ncAV feat-
ures in his discourse are his representation of afflictions
as a means of trying and correcting man,* and his con-
tention that God is much too great for a feeble mortal
to be able to comprehend his ways.^ This latter point
is taken up and developed more at length by God him-
self, who replies to Job from the midst of the tempest,
and calls his attention to the wonders of nature.^
Finally Job confesses that he does not at all understand
the Avorks of God, and admits that man must humbly
submit to the incomprehensible purposes of the Al-
mighty." In the epilogue^ God declares that the first
three friends have spoken less worthily of him than
Job, evidently because they have maintained the old
theory of retribution, opposed by the latter.

It is clear that the object of the book of Job is to
refute this theory. It shows that the righteous man

1 Chaps, iii.-xxxi. 2 Chaps, xxxii. ff. ^ xxxiv. 5 ff. ; xxxv. 1 ff.
* xxxiii. 14-30 ; xxxvi. 7-15. ^ xxxvi. 22-xxxvii. 24.

6 Chaps, xxxviii.-xli. "^ xlii, 1-6. ^ xlii. 7 ff.



238 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

may also be overtaken by great ills, since they are not
necessarily merited penalties, but may be simply a
means of testing his piety, as the prologue asserts of
the afflictions of Job. The book further means to assert
that it is rash in man to contend with God and wish to
understand his ways, that the highest human wisdom
consists in fearing God and fleeing evil.^ Finally,
according to the epilogue, the man who remains faith-
ful to God, even in the midst of trial, w411 again be
delivered and blessed with peculiar favor.^ The dis-
courses of Elihu, which, according to many critics,
originally formed no part of the book, add the idea that
afflictions are salutary for man, because they help to
rid him of his faults, and save him from the penalties
that these faults would bring upon him. Oehler says
of the book of Job that it presents at the same time all
the problems that ever engaged the minds of wise Isra-
elites, and all the solutions of them that they proposed.^
This is true at all events of problems of theodicy and
retribution. All the solutions that it proposes on this
subject are, in fact, found in other isolated passages
which have been cited.

Submission and resignation, even when one does not
comprehend the ways of God, — such is the last word
of Israelitish wisdom, respecting the important problem
under discussion. But to submit without hope, to
submit without the hope of ever comprehending, of one
day seeing fall the veil that hides the ways of divine
Providence, — this cannot satisfy the human mind and
heart. We feel the need of knowing the object of life
and of the world, the need of knowing that God does
everything for the best.

1 xxviii. 28. ^ xlii. 10-17. ^ § 247.



SECOND PERIOD. — § 25. KETKIBUTION. 239

The book of Job shows clearly that, on the prime
question of life, the view of Israelitish wisdom and
prophetism is unsatisfactory, and that it must be sup-
plemented by a loftier view, by the evangelical view,
which opens the prospect of an eternal life and retribu-
tion. The thought of the future life, and the consola-
tion that flows from it in misfortune, presented itself,
indeed, to the mind of our author. ^ But he did not
dare dwell on it. It appeared to him as a pious desire,
and not as a well grounded hope.

1 xiv. 14.



THIRD PERIOD.



§ 26. HOLY SOKIPTUEE.

We have seen that, in the first period, traditional
ideas and usages exercised a preponderating influence,
and that in the second, prophetism sought to obtain such
an influence by opposing the idolatrous or superstitious
errors and usages of the past; in the third period we
see formed a collection of sacred books, which hence-
forward constitutes the supreme authority in matters of
faith, the fundamental basis of the religious, moral,
and even national life of the Jews^ as the remnants of
the ancient people Israel are called after the Exile.

The first reference to sacred writings is in document
A, which tells us of two tables of stone containing the
decalogue,^ and a book of the covenant containing the
words, the statutes, of Jehovah, written by Moses. ^ But
these references have not a well established historical
character, and we find no certain traces of a part played
and an influence exerted by these documents. The
prophets, who always preach in the name of Jehovah,
never appeal to a written law even when they employ
the term torah^ which is ordinarily translated law^
but which denotes rather prophetic or other oral teach-

1 Ex. xxiv. 12 ; xxxi. 18 ; xxxii. 15 f. ; xxxiv. 1, 4, 28.

2 Ex. xxiv. 4, 7.

241



242 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

ing.^ A single passage, Hos. viii. 12, where there is
probably an allusion to the passages cited from docu-
ment A, mentions the statutes of the law of Jehovah
written by himself.

We find no historical trace of a second book until
toward the Exile. We learn from 2 Kings xxii. f. that,
in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, there was
discovered in the temple, where it was the practice to
deposit writings of an official character, ^ a book of the
law and the covenant, which was certainly the legal and
more important part of Deuteronomy. As soon as the
king had made himself acquainted with the contents
of this book he caused it to be read to all the people.
We see from the account that has been preserved to us
that no such thing had ever before been done, that it
was new to every one. It is this book to which refer-
ence is made, 1 Kings ii. 3 ; 2 Kings xiv. 6 and xxi.
8. It is not probable that from this time forth the law
was regularly read before the people, for if it had been
we could not comprehend the profound ignorance of it,
and the flagrant transgressions against it that show
themselves in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, among
all the Jews, even the chief of them.^

Ezra probably contributed most to the formation of
the Pentateuch, which in the Hebrew Bible bears ^he
title Laio^ and he seems to have given the first impulse
to a regular reading of this portion of Scripture. He is
represented to us as a scribe versed in the law, diligent
in studying it, in putting it into practice, and in teach-

1 Keuss, Gesch., § 261 ; [W. R. Smith, Old Test., pp. 292 ff.].

2 1 Sam. X. 25 ; Deut. xxxi. 26.

5 Ezra ix. 1 f . ; x. 18 ; Neli. v. 1-5 ; viii. 13 ; xiii. 4-31.



THIRD PERIOD. — § 26. HOLY SCRIPTURE. 243

ing it to the people.^ He trained other teachers of the
law that they miglit be able to explain it.^ He caused
the priests, the Levites, and the leaders of the people
to solemnly swear that the law should be observed. ^
He made them sign a written covenant, based on this
promise, after having read and explained to them the
contents of the law.* According to this we may sup-
pose that Ezra was the promoter of public and regular
readings of the law ; ^ it was, moreover, the only means
of making it known to all, in accordance with certain
directions of Deuteronomy,^ and an injunction of the
last prophet, a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah.^
At that time it was not possible for the great majority
of private individuals to own a copy of the law. We
find here, further, the starting point for the worship of
the synagogues, which consisted chiefly in the reading
and explanation of the law. In the apostolic age a syn-
agogue existed wherever there was a Jewish community
of any size, and the practice of reading Moses every
Sabbath was very ancient.^

From the time of Ezra onward, i.e. after the middle
of the fifth century before our era, the law of Moses, ^
or the law of Jehovah, ^^ which henceforth or soon after-
wards we find identified with the Pentateuch, was the
supreme authority in matters of faith : it is styled holy
and reverend ; ^^ an infinite value is attributed to it, for it
is regarded as the source of life ; ^^ it is called the incor-

1 Ezravii. 6, 10 f., 21. 2 Xeh. viii. 13, 7-9. ^ Ezra x. 3-5.

* Neh. viii. -x. ^ Neh. xiii. 1.

6 vi. 6 f . ; xi. 18-20 ; xxxi. 9-13. "^ Mai. iv. 4.

8 Acts XV. 21 ; comp. 2 Cor. iii. 15.

9 Ezra iii. 2 ; vi. 18 ; Neh. viii. 1. ^^ Ezra vii. 10.
11 2 Mace. vi. 23, 28. 12 Bar. iv. 1 ; Tob. i. 6.



244 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

ruptible light ; ^ it is believed to be able to communicate
supreme wisdom;^ its regulations are observed in the
most scrupulous manner ; ^ death is preferred to trans-
gression against it;* private individuals even possess
copies of it;^ great attachment to it is displayed, the
idea being that this is the most sacred duty that can be
performed.^ The greatest favor that the conquerors
of Palestine can grant the Jews is permission to live
according to the regulations of the law ; ^ and it is the
prohibition of the observance of the law, and the decree
that it be transgressed, which rouse the Jews against
their oppressors in the days of the Maccabees. Later,
in the midst of Judaism, it is all regarded as a direct
revelation from God. It is declared that he who claims
that it did not come from heaven, will have no part in
the world to come ; that he who says that Moses added
a single word of his own knowledge, denies and despises
the word of God.^

To this first and oldest collection of the Hebrew
Bible, the Law, was afterward attached a second, the
Prophets^ which was divided into the former and the
latter prophets. The former include the historical
books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; the latter,
the prophetical books properly so called., i.e. all the
books that we call prophetical, excepting Daniel.

1 Wis. xviii. 4. 2 gir. xxiv. 23-29 ; xxxix. 1 ff. ; Bar. iii. 12.

3 Ezra iii. 2 ; vii. 10, 23 ; x. 3 ; Neh. viii. U ff. ; x. 29 ; xii. 44 ;
xiii. 3 ; 1 Mace. iii. 56 ; iv. 47 ; 2 Mace. iii. 1 ; vi. 23.

^ 1 Mace. i. 56 ff. ; ii. 29 ff. ; 2 Mace. vii. s 1 Mace. i. 57.

6 1 Mace. ii. 19-22, 26-28, 46-48 ; iii. 21 ; iv. 42 ; vi. 59 ; xiii. 3 ;
xiv. 29 ; 2 Mccc. xiii. 10 f. ; Ps. exix. "' 1 Mace. vi. 59 ; x. 37.

8 Sehiirer, The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christy Div. II.
Vol. I. p. 307.



THIRD PERIOD. — §26. EOLY SCRIPTURE. 245

The latest prophets begin to allude to the preaching
of the earliest. 1 When in still later times prophets
ceased to arise among the Jews, to the great grief of
the people, 2 there was felt the need of collecting the
extant prophetical writings, that it might be possible to
consult the teaching contained in them, and to possess
the complete word of God, which was early divided in
law and prophets.^ According to 2 Mace. ii. 13, the
formation of a collection of prophetical books dates from
Nehemiah, and it seems to follow, from Sir. xliv. -xlix.,
that when this book was written, at the beginning of
the second century before our era, the first two, and the
principal, parts of the Hebrew Bible, above mentioned,
already existed. The collection of the prophets, it is
true, did not at once enjoy the same authority, and
never played the same part among the Jews as the law.
Yet as early as about 130 before our era, the translator
of Sirach, in his preface, places the law and the proph-
ets upon the same level, and shows that the author, his
grandfather, was acquainted with other books of the
fathers besides these two collections.

These last also doubtless had a sacred character, and
probably at its formation became parts of the third
collection of the Hebrew Bible, which bears the title
Scriptures^ a word which among the church fathers is
rendered Hagiographa^ i.e. sacred Scriptures. We need
not dwell longer on this third collection, which,
even in the apostolic age, does not seem to have become
part of the canon, at least in its whole extent. In the

1 Ezek. xxxviii. 17 ; Zech. i. 4 ; vii. 7, 12.

2 1 Mace. iv. 46 ; ix. 27 ; xiv. 41 ; Ps. Ixxiv. 9.

3 Zech. vii. 12 ; Neh. ix. 26.



246 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

New Testament, Scripture is simply called " the law and
the prophets," or "Moses and the prophets."^ Once
only mention is made of the Psalms along with the law
of Moses and the prophets. ^

The letter of Scripture then, among the Jews, was the
su^^reme authority in matters of faith, the source and
norm of religious teaching, and even of civil law, which
among them as among the early Israelites had an essen-
tially religious and theocratic character. We find
traces of the use that was made of Scripture for the
instruction and edification of the faithful even in a
number of psalms ;2 we find them especially in the
Apocrypha.* Appeal was made to sacred texts as to a
divine authority ; ^ recourse was had to them as to the
best source of consolation.^

The Jews, as we perceive, became "the men of one
book." In the place of prophets they had scribes and
doctors of the law, interpreters of the sacred code;
biblical texts and exegesis, therefore, took the place of
vital inspiration.

1 Matt. V. 17 ; vii. 12 ; xi. 13 ; xxii. 40 ; Luke xvi. 16, 29, 31 ; xxiv.
27; John i. 46 ; Acts xxiv. 14 ; xxviii. 23 ; Rom. iii. 21.

2 Luke xxiv. 44.

* Ixxviii. ; Ixxxix. ; xcv. ; cv. ; cvi. ; cxiv. ; cxxxii. ; cxxxvi.

♦ Sir. xvi. 7 ff. ; xvii. 1 ff. ; xxxviii. 5; xl. 10; xliv. -xlix. ; Wis.
X. -xii. ; xvi.-xix. ; 1 Mace. ii. 52 ff. ; iv. 9, 30 ; vii. 41 ; 2 Mace. vii.
G ; viii. 19 ; xii. 15 ; xv. 9, 22 ; Judith v. 6 ff.

5 2 Chron. xvii. 9 ; xxiii. 18 ; xxv. 4 ; Ezra i. 1 ; iii. 2 ff. ; vi. 18 ;
Neh. viii. 1 ; Dan. ix. 2, 11 ; Bar. ii. 2, 20-24, 28 f. ; Tob. i. 6 ; ii. 5 f . ;
viii. 5 f . ; xiv. 4 f . ; 1 Mace. vii. 16 ft.

6 1 Mace. xii. 9.



THIRD PERIOD. — § 27. THE DOCTRINE OF GOD. 247

§ 27. THE DOOTEINE OF GOD.

The idea of God is in many respects the same among
the Jews as among the Israelites, and the literature of
the third period contains, with regard to it as with re-
gard to so many other things, views that we have
encountered in the oldest literature. It is doubtless
useless for us to dwell on them a second time. It will
suffice to notice anything new, characteristic, that this
period has to offer.

First of all we must remark the decisive triumph of
monotheism. Down to the Exile, idolatry was often
practised by the people and even by their leaders ; after
the Exile, it completely and forever disappears from
the midst of the Jewish nation. This is easy of com-
prehension. The Babylonian captivity was regarded
as a just punishment for past unfaithfulnesses, and
particularly of the greatest of all, idolatry. It was,
moreover, the most zealous among the Jews, those most
attached to the worship of Jehovah, who returned from
the Exile, and in the beginning formed a little nucleus,
clustered about Jerusalem, and having at its head a
large proportion of priests. Many of the reforms that
had previously been attempted in vain, under these cir-
cumstances and from this moment became possible. Now
the fundamental reform was the decisive triumph, over
all idolatry, of faith in the only true God, creator of
heaven and earth, supreme ruler and preserver of the
entire world.

A second point to emphasize, with respect to the
Jews, is their speculative tendency. In the writings
of the prophets, especially the older, all is spontaneous ;



248 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

the pure expression of life, of an intense and profound
religious faith. It is feeling and imagination that
dominate in their discussions. It is the richness of
religious and moral life that gives them their value.
Among the Jewish people, on the contrary, and espe-
cially among their spiritual leaders, life and feeling are
eclipsed by reflection, prophetism gives place to rabbin-
ism, ins]3iration to speculation. The doctors who suc-
ceed the prophets strive much more after the possession
and dissemination of correct conceptions of God than
the cultivation of life in God ; they undertake to elabo-
rate a genuine doctrine of God, a complete system of
theolog}^ which the prophets never tried to do.

In the translation of the Seventy, and in the Targums
or commentaries for which we are indebted to the old
Jewish doctors, the sense of passages is often warped,
for the sake of removing whatever was too offensive in
the theophanies and anthropomorphisms of the Old Tes-
tament.^ This tendency is particularly prominent in
Philo and other Jewish thinkers of Alexandria, who
were influenced by Greek philosophy.^ But it is of
much older date. We find the first traces of it in bib-
lical literature. There also is seen a disposition to
exalt God infinitely above all that is earthly, human,
and imperfect, even above all human conception. ^
This extraordinary exaltation of the Deity is ex-
pressed by calling him God of the heavens,^ or simply

1 Nicolas, Doctrines relig. des Jidfs, pp. 147 ff. ; Stapfer, Les idees
relifj. en Palestine, 2d ed., pp. 31 ff. ; [Toy, Judaism and Christianity,
p. 87]. 2 Nicolas, pp. 161 ff.

3 Eccl. iii. 14 ; v. 2 ; vii. 13 ; xi. 5 ; Sir. xlii. 21 ; xliii. 27 ff.

4 Jon. i. 9 ; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 23 ; Ezra i. 2 ; v. 11 f. ; vi. 10 ; vii. 12,
21, 23 ; Neh. i. 4 f . ; ii. 4, 20 ; Eccl. v. 2 ; Dan. ii. 18 f., 37, 44 ; iv. 37 ;
V. 23 ; Ps. cxxxvi. 26 ; etc.



THIRD PERIOD. — § 27. THE DOCTRINE OF GOD. 249

Heaven,^ or the Supreme, the Most-High, a name that
occurs on every page of Sirach, but which we also
frequently find elsewhere. ^

From the idea that God is absolutely incomprehen-
sible and infinitely exalted flows the other that man can-
not enter into direct relations with him, that he can
neither know nor tell what he is, that consequently he
neither can nor ought to pronounce his name. Lev.
xxiv. 16 says : " He who blasphemeth the name of Jeho-
vah shall be punished with death." The Seventy, on
the contrary, translate : " He who pron ounce th the name
of the Lord shall be punished with death." In accord-
ance with this principle in the Hebrew Bible the vowel
points of the divine name Adhonay Lord and, in cer-
tain cases those of the divine name Mohim, are given to
the word Yhwh in order that the proper name of God
may not be pronounced or profaned. Even in a number
of canonical documents later than the Exile, like
Chronicles, when they do not follow an older source,
and in certain of the psalms, we find the abstract name
Eloliim preferred where, in the older documents, the
name Yahweh is generally found. ^ In the first book
of the Psalms,^ which contains the oldest of these relig-
ious songs, the name Elohim appears only fifteen times
and Yahweh 272 times ; while in the second book ^ the
name Yahweh occurs only thirty times and Elohim 164
times. Ecclesiastes uses only this latter name. The

1 Dan. iv. 26 ; 1 Mace. iii. 60 ; iv. 10 ; Mark xi. 30 ; Luke xv. 18, 21.

2 Eccl. V. 7 ; Dan. iv. 17, 24 f., 32, 34 ; v. 18, 21 ; vii. 18, 22, 25,
27 ; etc.

3 1 Chron. iv. 10 ; v. 20, 25 ; vi. 49 ; xii. 22 ; xiii. 12 ; xiv. 10, 14,
16 ; xv. 15 ; xvi. 1 ; etc. ; comp. especially Ps. xiv. 2, 4 with liii. 2, 4,
and xl. 13, 16 with Ixx. 1, 4. * Ps. i, -xli. ^ pg. xlii. -Ixxiii.



250 THEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

later book of Daniel, except in the ninth chapter, also
carefully avoids the use of the name YahweJi.

This idea that God is infinitely exalted above the
world, and without direct relations with it, necessarily
led to the recognition of intermediate beings through
whom relations might be made possible. Thus arose
the doctrine of the logos, the word which played so
important a part first in Jewish and afterward in
Christian theology. It took shape under the influence
of Greek philosophy, which Philo and other Alexan-
drian Jews sought to reconcile with the biblical teach-
ing.^ But its roots reach into the Old Testament.

This doctrine, it is true, is not found wherever
the attempt has been made to find it. Traditional
theology, which claims that the doctrine of the trinity
is taught throughout the Bible, has maintained that
the spirit, the word, and the wisdom of God are, in
a number of passages of the Old Testament, repre-
sented as hypostases or persons. For the spirit of God
it finds its chief support in Gen. i. 2, where, at the
time of creation, the spirit of God is said to have moved
above the waters; then in Isa. xlviii. 16, where the
prophet declares that Jehovah and his spirit have sent
him; finally in Isa. Ixiii. 10, where it is asserted that
the rebellious Israelites grieved the holy spirit of God.
Respecting the word of God, the most decisive pas-
sages that it has brought forward are Isa. Iv. 11, which
represents the word of God as executing his will and
fulfilling his purposes; Ps. xxxiii. 6, which declares
that the heavens were made by the word of Jehovah ;
Ps. cxlvii. 15, which says that the word of God runs
1 Nicolas, pp. 178 ff. ; Stapfer, pp. 39 ff. ; [Toy, pp. 106 ff.].



THIRD PERIOD. — § 27. THE DOCTRINE OF GOD. 251

swiftly. As for the wisdom of God, two passages
have been preferred as citations: Job xxviii. 23 ff.,
where God seems to have met Avisdom at the creation,
and Prov. viii. 22 ff., where wisdom appears as the
lirst creature taking part in the creation of all the rest,
and giving joy to God.

It is evident that in these passages the spirit and the
word of God are personified, but that these personifi-
cations must be placed on the same level with others of
the same kind. Wisdom alone ajipears as a veritable
hypostasis, not in the trinitarian sense, for in the pas-
sage from Proverbs she is represented as a creature of
God, but more or less in the sense of the Jewish doc-
trine of the logos, which would harmonize better than
the Christian doctrine of the trinity with Israelitish
monotheism.

This doctrine, more developed, recurs in some apoc-
ryphal books. In the book of Baruch, and in that of
Sirach, the wisdom of God does not as yet appear very
clearly as an hypostasis ; but in Wisdom doubt is no lon-
ger possible. In imitation of Job xxviii. 12 ff., the book
of Baruch says that men generally have not known how
to find wisdom, 1 but that God knows her;^ that he has
given her to Israel, that she has appeared on earth, and
that she has remained among men ; ^ that she has exercised
her influence upon the law.* According to Sirach she
is eternally with God.^ She was created before all
things else.^ God created her, saw her, and shed her
upon all his works.''' After having left the mouth of
the Most-High, and having sought in the whole uni-

1 iii. 12-21. 2 i[i 32 ff. 3 iii. 35 f. 4 jy. 1.

5 i. 1. 6 i, 4. 7 i. 9 f.



252 THEOLOGY OB" THE OLD TESTAMENT.

verse a place of rest, a stable abode, a field of activity,
the creator of all things else, and also of wisdom,
assigned to her as a peculiar abode the people Israel,
among whom she rules, prospers, performs her work,
officiating in the sanctuary, imbuing the law, impart-
ing instruction as prophecy. ^ In other passages wis-
dom is personified in the same way as in the book of
Proverbs ; she is thought to direct the man who trusts
in her and listens to her, that she may lead him to life,
happiness, the best blessings. ^

The praise of wisdom is the favorite theme of the
book of Wisdom, in which it is constantly personified. ^
Chapter vii. is especially remarkable in this respect,
because wisdom there, more clearly than anywhere
else, appears as a hypostasis, as the universal artist en-
dowed with the spirit and the most varied divine per-
fections.* She is an emanation from the glory of the
Almighty, the splendor of eternal light, a stainless
mirror of his activity, the image of his goodness.^ She
is one, and she can do all things ; she remains the same,
and she renews all things.^ She stands in the closest
relation to God, who loves her.'' She sits at his side
on the throne,^ she is acquainted with all the works of
God; for she was present when God created the world,


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Online LibraryC PiepenbringTheology of the Old Testament → online text (page 18 of 26)