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Exegetisches Handbuch ") and Kranichfeld, Berlin, 1868;
"Speaker's Commentary;" Lenormant, "La Divination chez
les Chaldeens ; " articles in Herzog, Schenkel, Encyclopaedia
Britannica; Noyes.

2. On the Sibyl: editions of Friedlieb and Alexandre.

3. On Enoch: English translations, Lawrence, Oxford, 1833,
and Schodde, "The Book of Enoch," Andover, 1882; German
translation, Dillmann, Leipzig, 1853; Frencli translation, Migne,
" Dictionnaire des Apocryphes."

4. On Fourth Ezra and the other Apocalyj^tic books: Hilgen-
feld, " Jlidische Apokalyptik."

5. On Ezekiel, and other poets: Delitzsch, " Geschichte der
Jiidischen Poesie."

6. On Baruch, Maccabees, Third Ezra, Tobit, Judith: Grimm
and Fritzsche on the Apocrypha (" Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches
Handbuch") and Lange. *

QUESTIONS.

To what species of literature do we now comeV How did the prophets
speak of the future ? What was the groundwork of their predictions ?
From what were tlieir promises inferences? In these grievous times did the
prophetic inspiration still exist? What Psalm speaks of this? What did
the people ask? In what did some pious men take refuge? What did others
seek to do? How did they represent the history of the world? To whom
were the visions represented as appearing? When are they precise, and
when are they vague? What four books are here mentioned? ,

1. In the year 164 B.C., what did an unknown writer undertake to do?
What did he suppose? How many kingdoms does Daniel see? What are
they ? How are these destroyed ? Can you point out the visions in the



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 113

Riblc? Wliat ifi the tone of the book? Does it show a dogma or teaching
that earlier books have not? What does it say of angels? What of tlie
resurrection? Whence did the Jews probably get this doctrine?

2. What does Sibyl mean? What book of this sort have we? By whom
written? When was the Jewish part composed? What does it describe?
What do we lind in it? Of what had the prophets spoken? Of what does
I);iiiiel speak? What representation does the Sibyl give? Was the idea of
a Blessiah in existence among the Jews when Jesus of Nazareth came? To
what did he point Israel?

3. When was the book of Enoch written? What does it represent Enoch
as having had? Of what does it speak more distinctly tiian Daniel? When
was it much valued? Where is it quoted? Can you read the i)assage? By
whom were additions made to itV

4. When was Eourth Ezra written or completed? By whom? What do
the visions predict? What story does the book contain?

5 What spirit did the Jews catch in Alexandria? Have parts of their
poetry and philosophy been preserved? Did these attempts of theirs have
much success? Why not? What is the book of Baruch ? What three his-
torical books do we iind? Of what is First Maccabees a history? Is it
generally reliable? Is Second Maccabees equally trustworthy? What is
its design? What beautifid story does it contain? Have you ever read the
story? What ground does Third Ezra cover? Why is it so called? What
is the Greek form of the name Ezra? Why is the book sometimes called
First Esdras? What is the d( si j,n of the books of Tobit and Judith? What
does Tobit describe? What does Judith tell?



LESSON XXIII.

THE CANON.

1. Definition of Canon. — The word Canon is taken from
the Greek, and means first a " reed," and then a " rule " by
wliich tliinc^s are measured. Thus it came to signify those
writings wliich were conformed to the rule or measure of in-
spiration; it is equivalent to " a collection of sacred books," —
books believed to have been given by divine inspiration. When
a book is declared by the proper authority among a people to
belong to the sacred collection, it is said to be " canonized," and
is called a " canonical " book. Not a few of the Asiatic nations
had such sacred collections ; they were those nations in whom



114 THE HISTORY OF THE

the consciousness of the divine power and government was
strong. Among them were the Assyrians, the Hindus, and the
Persians; in later times the Arabs had (and still have) their
Koran. But no ancient people had so precise a notion of a
canon as the Jews, because to no other people was God so deep
a reality. The Jewish Canon is the Old Testament ; we must
now ask how its books were collected. The New Testament is
the Christian Canon. The word " testament " is an incorrect
translation of a Greek word which properly means " covenant."
The "Old Covenant" is God's covenantor agreement with
Israel, whereby he promises them his favor; the " New Cove-
nant " is his pledge of favor through Jesus Christ.

2. The Time before Ezra. — We have already seen that a
large part of our Old U'estament was written before Ezra's time
(B.C. 450). All the prophetic writings, the books of Samuel,
Judges, and Kings, Deuteronomy, a good many of the Psalms
and Proverbs, and perhaps other works, came into existence dur-
ing this period. But the Israelites then had no idea of a body
of sacred writings. These books were no doubt circulated and
read to some extent, particularly by the priests and prophets,
and were valued as w^ords of Yahwe, or as helpful to religious
life. But there was no attempt to make a separation among
the various books that were written, and to declare some to be
sacred and authoritative. We know that other books, besides
those in our Old Testament, were then composed and are now
lost. Time sifted these works, and only the more important
were preserved. Gradually, as the ideas of religion among the
Israelites became distincter, and as their hopes of political suc-
cess became dimmer, their attention was fixed on the books that
related to religion, and they began to study them more. The
old prophetic spontaneousness died out soon after the return
from exile, and the people lived more and more in the past, and
therefore in the books which rested the present on the authority
of the past.

3. The Pentateuch. — Naturally, the first thing to which
attention was directed was the Law. During the Exile the



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 115

leaders of the people came to feel that it was this that most
separated Israel from the other nations, and constituted its true
life. The Babylonian Jews had devoted much time to collect-
ing and completing the regulations concerning public worship
and civil life. At that time no distinction was made between
civil and religious law, for did not Yahwe, the God of Israel,
order the whole conduct of his people, whether in their duty to
him or to one another ? The lawyers were also the theologians.
Along with the law the traditions concerning the Hebrew ances-
tors and the first ages of the world were collected. By succes-
sive editors all this material was at last brought together and
shaped into one book, our Pentateuch. When and by whom
the present division of this work into five books was made, we
do not know. It had already been done when the Greek trans-
lation was made, about B.C. 275. Sometimes the book of Joshua
was added, and then the whole was called the Hexateuch (that
is, the sixfold book). About Ezra's time the most of the Pen-
tateuch had been formed into a book. He was deeply convinced
that this book should be made the nation's rule of life. He
came from Babylon to Jerusalem to press this fact on the people.
His efforts, seconded by those of Nehemiah, were successful.
He began the work, and after a while the whole people felt that
the book of the Law was that which God had given them to be
the guide of their life. So the Pentateuch, which contained
the Tvra or Law, became a canonical book.

4. The Prophetical Books. — For some time the Penta-
teuch constituted the whole Canon. Then, as the people
continued to study their past history, the words of the prophets,
who spoke to them of Yahwe's threatenings and promises,
seemed to them more and more important. These also, they
said, are words of God to Israel. And as the historical books
described Yahwe's dealing with his people, and were written by
prophetic men, these also were included in the same category.
Thus a second canon was formed, the prophetical. The books
of Judges, Samuel, and Kings were called the Former Prophets,
and the prophetic books proper the Latter Prophets. The works
of the prophets were edited or collected, not always carefully.



116 THE HISTORY OF THE

Anonymous writings were put into the same manuscript with
some known prophet, and after a while came to be regarded as
his. Thus the prophecy, Is. xl.-lxvi., is included in the same
book with the Isaiah of Hezekiah's time, though it was written
during the Exile; and Zech. ix.-xi. and xii.-xiv. are appended to
Zechariah's writings, though they do not belong to him. The
Prophets thus became canonical, but were not thought so author-
itative as the Pentateuch.

5. The Hagiographa. — The Law and the Prophets for a
long time formed the Canon. Down to New Testament times
the expression " the law and the prophets " was even used for
the whole Old Testament; see Matt. v. 17, Luke xxiv. 27, Rom.
iii. 21. But other religious books were written after the pro-
phetic canon was formed. There were the Psalms, Job, Ezra,
and the other books, which you can find for yourselves in the
Old Testament. After a while, towards the close of the second
century before Christ, these were gathered into a third partial
canon. They were called by the Palestinian Jews simply
Writings (ketubim), and by the Greek-speaking Jews Sacred
Writings (hagiographa). But there was not perfect agreement
among tJie learned Jews as to all of them. The canonical
authority of Ezekiel, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs was
still in dispute after the death of the Apostle Paul ; but they
were finally accepted by the Sanhedrin. The third class of
writings was not valued so highly as the other two. The He-
brew Bible arranges the books by the three canons or collec-
tions: the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Writings. The Greek
and Latin versions changed the order, and our Bible follows
them.

6. The Alexandrian Canon. — What we have been saying
refers to the Palestinian Jews. The Jews who lived in Egypt
admitted into .their Canon a number of other books ; it is they
that are called the Apocrypha; you will find them printed in
some copies of the Bible. They are First and Second Ezra,
Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesi-
asticus, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Additions to Daniel, Prayer



RELIGION OF ISRAEL. 117

of Manasseh, First and. Second Maccabees. On these see the
preceding Lesson. All of these are instructive and worthy of
study. They were never received as canonical by the Palestinian
Jews, because they were not believed to be written by authorita-
tive men. Catholics now accept them as canonical, and most
Protestants reject them. Each of them must be judged on its
own merits.

7. The Samaritan Canon. — The Samaritans had adopted
the Israelitish worship, but tliey withdrew from religious fellow-
ship with the Jews soon after the Pentateuch was made canoni-
cal, and before the prophetical and other writings had been
included in the Canon. They therefore held to the Pentateuch
alone as sacred.

LITERATURE.

On the Canon: articles in Herzog, Schenkel, Encyclopgedia
Britannica; books of Introduction; Julius Fuerst, " Der Kanon
des Alten Testaments," &c., Leipzig, 1868; Samuel Davidson,
" The Canon of the Bible," London, 1877.

QUESTIONS.

1. What does the word canon mean? What did it come to signify? To
what is it equivalent? When is a book, said to be canonized, and called can-
onical? What ancient nations besides the Jews had canons? What sacred
book have the Arabs and other Mohammedans now? Why did the Jews
have a preciser notion of a canon than other ancient jjeoples? What is the
Jewish Canon ? What is the Christian Canon ? Whence comes the word
Testament? What is the Old Covenant ? — the New Covenant ?

2. Were many books of the Old Testament written before the time of
Ezra? Which? Had the Israelites at that time the idea of a body of
sacred writings ? Were these books circulated and read ? By whom ?
What was not attempted ? Were other books then composed, besides those
that we have? What became of them ? In what proportion was the atten-
tion of the Jews fixed on their religious books ? When did the prophetic
spontaneousness die out ? In what did the people then live more and more ?

.3. What was the first thing to which attention was directed? What did
the leaders of the people come to feel during the Exile? To what did the
Babylonian Jews devote much time? Was a distinction then made between
civil an


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Online LibraryCrawford Howell ToyThe history of the religion of Israel : an Old Testament primer .. → online text (page 12 of 15)