Edwin Williams.

The sacred books of the Old Testament both human and divine : a study in higher criticism .. online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryEdwin WilliamsThe sacred books of the Old Testament both human and divine : a study in higher criticism .. → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


JIfnmt tJ|r Sitbrarg of

Spqu0atl|0i bg l|tm to

tljp ICtbrarg nf

Prtttrrton (SItrfllDgtral S>rmtnarQ

'i«v:.\ ■■''.'■ "V4 - ^


"^ (^\u Oabira li?fturr of isn$ «









D. O'Brien Owen.


[all rights reserved.]

All Orders to be sent to —

Rev. D. O'Brien Owen,

Carnarvon, N.W.



Thomas Davies, of Bootle, near Liverpool, being deeply interested
in the success and prosperity of the religious denomination
known as

The Welsh Calvinistic Methodists,

and being actuated by a desire to perpetuate the memory of his
late father,

David Davies,

who was for many years a faithful and consistent member of the
said denomination, lately resolved to found and endow a Lecture-
ship, to be called

The Davies Lecture

in connection with the said denomination ; and for that purpose,
in June, 1893, paid to Trustees, appointed by the General As-
sembly, the sum of /2000, to produce annually the sum of ^50.

The Lecturer shall be a fully ordained Minister of the Welsh Cal-
vinistic Methodists.

The subject of the Lecture shall be Religion.

The Lecturer shall be allowed considerable latitude in the treatment
of his subject. While special attention should be given to the
Christian Religicn, it is not intended to exclude the subject of
other religions.

Such topics as the following may be taken up by the successive
Lecturers : —

The Definition of Religion.

The Origin, Growth, and Development, together with the Universality

of Religion.
The Philosophy of Religion.
The Science of Comparative Religion.


The Jewish Religion in its various Stages.

The Christian Religion in its Developments and Corruptions, in its

Doctrines and Practices.
The Relation of Science to Religion.
The Relation of Morality to Religion.
All topics fairly connected with Religion in any of its aspects, whether

Theological, Philosophical, or Historical.

The Lecture shall be delivered in each year during the sittings of the
General Assembly of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, at one
of their chapels in the place or town where such sittings shall be
held, and on some evening before the day devoted by the said
Assembly to preaching ; and the Moderator of the Assembly, or,
in his absence, the Acting Moderator, shall preside at the
meeting at which the Lecture shall be delivered.

Each Lecturer must, within twelve calendar months after delivering
his Lecture, publish at his own expense, in crown Svo, the
Lecture to take not less than 150 pages ; and to be preceded by
e.Ktracts from this Deed, explaining the foundation and purpose
of the Lecture.



The present volume— an enlargement of the Lecture
delivered at the General Assembly held at Newport,
Mon., in 1898— is entitled "A Study in Higher
Criticism." This indicates at once its purpose and its
limitations. It does not profess to discuss fully this
great subject, but to deal with only a portion of a field
rich in many studies. Conscious that vague and in-
correct ideas prevail concerning this important question,
it was felt that an opportunity offered itself to present
some broad outlines of its real character, and to indicate
some salient points both for and against the newer
methods. It is a study of methods rather than of results.
Hence the discussion affects principles and does not
enter into minute details. It is intended to stimulate
study and to find in research the remedy for both panic
and indifference. All the positions, or indeed the most
important, have not yet been established, but still await
further discussion. Uncertainty on important questions
seems to form part of the discipline of our age, and to
afford an opportunity for the exercise of patience, both
in personal investigation and in attitude towards the
conclusions of others. Precipitate judgment has never
furthered the cause of Truth, nor has exercise of
authority been able to stifle the pursuit of it. The
recent declaration of the learned Prof. Harnack exhibits


the reactionary conservative tendency of present New
Testament Criticism. This is the result of unwearied
and untrammeled research. The Lord reie^neth, and
His Truth must prevail. Undue fear for the safety of
His Word may prove want of true reverence and faith.

Reverent and diligent study will assuredly prove the
best for the present and for all crises. No conviction can
be more necessary now, and at all times, than to realize
that God is and ever has been with men. The lessons
of the Divine Word are for the day, and have a message
ever applicable.

The pressure of other and varied duties has inter-
fered much with the preparation of this Lecture, and the
writer is fully conscious that many defects mar his work.
One fault, however, he hopes may be found entirely
wanting, viz., unfairness and misrepresentation. Should
this volume contribute in any degree to a better acquaint-
ance and keener appreciation of the Divine Word, and
lead to deeper sympathy with all efforts in pursuit of the
Truth, he will have reaped abundant reward.

" Thy Word is Truth."






Davidson, A. B.


Driver, S. R. .
Illingworth, J. R.




Rawlinson, George



Smith, G. A.
Smith, W. R.

Wellhausen, Julius

The Documents of the Hexateuch. 2 vols.

Dictionary of the Bible, by Dr. Hastings.
Vols. i. and ii.

(i) Foundei'S of Criticism ; (2) Hallowing of
Criticism {H. C.) ; (3) Jeremiah; (4) Jewish
Religious Life after the Exile (J. R. L.).

Ezekiel, and Expositor Articles.



(i) Deuteronomy ; (2) Introduction to the Liter-
ature of the Old Test. ; (3) Sermons on th^
Old Test.

Personality Human and Divine (Bampt. Lect.,

History of the Hehreivs. 2 vols.

(i) The Religion of Israel. 3 vols. : {2) Hibbert
Lectures on Religions ; (3) Hexateuch.

Ruling Ideas in Early Ages.

Theology of the Old Testament. 2 vols.

Aspects of the Old Testd)nent (Bampt. Lect.,

Ancient Egypt.

(i) Inspiration (Bampt. Lect., 1893) ; (2) Or-
acles of God.

Higher Critcism and The Momanents.

Old Testament Theology. 2 vols.

(i) Isaiah. 2 vols ; (2) The Twelve Prophets.
2 vols.

(i) Old Testament in the Jeivish Church
(O.T.J. C.); (2) Prophets of Israel; (3)
Preface to Wellhausen.

Prolegomena to the History of Israel (1885), with
Preface by W. Robertson Smith (We.).





The Exodus from Egypt.


Israel enter Canaan.


Song of Deborah.

1000 (

') Rise of Monarchy in Israel.


Disruption of the Kingdom

under Rehoboam.




Ahab. Revolt of Mesha Elijah.


Jeroboam II. Amos.




Jotham. Isaiah.

743-736, several successive Rulers






First deportation of Israel.





Hezekiah. ,, Micah.


Fall of Samaria.








Jeremiah's Call.


Deuteronomy discovered in

the Temple.


Captivity. Ezekiel.


First Return of Jews unde

' Zerubbabel.


Second Return under Ezra




Extracts from Trust Deed . . . . . . . . . . v.

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii.

Works Referred To . . . . . . . . . . . . ix.

Chronological Table . . . . . . . . . . . . x.

Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . xi.

Introductory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i

History and Sketch of Old Testament Criticism . . 27

A Study in Critical Methods 77

Prophets and Prophetism .. .. .. .. .. 119

Judges; or, The Transformation of Israel .. .. 173

Moses and Mosaism .. 186

The Patriarchal and Primeval Ages . . . . . . 209

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . • . . . . 223

Notes .. .. .. .. •• .. .. .. 225


■^' We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth."


" The way of truth is one. But into it, as into a perennial
river, streams flow from all sides."

Clement of Alexandrl\.

" When God speaks and acts, we call it revelation. If there is
an actual revelation, it must be, according to the true idea of it,
supernatural, miraculous."


" If now Livy and Dionysius and Polybius and Tacitus are
treated so frankly and nobly by us that we do not put them to the
rack for every syllable, why not also Matthew and Mark and Luke
.and John ? "




A STUDY in higher criticism requires no apology in
■^^ the present day, and especially so in a Lecture,
which, according to the terms of the Trust, may deal with
" the Jewish religion in its various stages." The literature
of that religion has influenced the world as no other has
ever done, pervading not only the moral and spiritual, but
also the literary and intellectual atmospheres. Conse-
quently the Bible offers a study of many-sided interest.
One of the chief characteristics of the present age is its
awakened interest in the study of the Old Testament,
and its readiness to avail itself of the singular advantages
for the prosecution of such a study. Possibly its greatest
peril is the want of recognizing the manifold character of
the Hebrew Scriptures, issuing in a onesided and prejudiced
treatment of a manysided book. It cannot be concealed,
however, that this revived interest is associated with the
dissemination of certain views concerning the structure of
the Old Testament books, which are subversive of theories
hitherto prevailing. It is equally evident also, that these
views are no longer confined to the specialist, or the
theological student, but have been popularized by various
means so as to win widespread acceptance. A remarkable
feature is the silent permeation of society by these
modern theories, and the rjuiet, almost unconscious hold


they have taken, in a more or less modified form, of the
present generation. This constitutes one point of difference
between the New Testament controversy of the earlier
part of this century and the Old Testament discussions of
the latter part — the widespread tacit acceptance of the
critical results in the latter. W. R. S. maintains that ''it
is the growing conviction of an overwhelming weight of
the most earnest and sober scholarship." This very
acceptance makes it imperative to insist on the necessity
of a critical attitude towards criticism. The new theory
has submitted the older to rigorous investigation, and
proclaimed it, when weighed in the balances, to be found
wanting. A docile admission of such a verdict, without
careful examination, is certainly most reprehensible.

Where acceptance has not been accorded, these newer
theories are regarded with grave alarm. Imagining that
the foundations of the citadel of the faith are being
undermined, when the traditional views are rudely dis-
turbed by the modern spirit, such minds are overwhelmed
with anxiety and distress. The lance of criticism seems
to pierce the heart of the Bible, and that has been flung,
not by the hand of a foe, but of those professing reverence,
love, and obligation.

To a third class, however, these modern methods are of
singular interest. This is not possessed by the iVthenian
spirit, having " leisure for nothing else, but either to
tell, or to hear some new thing;" nor is it, on the other
hand, timid and fearful of the new simply as such. Con-
sciously or unconsciously, they have felt the influence of
the spirit of the age. That great mental activity which
marks our day, investigating the secrets of nature, and


tracing the operations of the great laws, which prevail in
creation and also in human history, has caught them in
its sweep, and issued in a widening of their views. The
history of possibly the majority of BibHcal students
has been an imperceptible gliding from old moorings.
Especially may this be recognized in the manifest effort to
give greater prominence to the liiiman element in the
Divine word, and to estimate how far the one has affected
the other. It is not any objection to the supernatural,
but simply the recognition that, in revealing Himself to
man, God comes to him on human lines, and manifests in
revelation the same methods as in nature and in history.
To such the present crisis is of supreme interest.

Such conditions are necessarily disturbing. Each age
is called upon to grapple with difficulties peculiar to itself —
problems born of its own spirit, and by dint of struggle
and endurance alone can it appropriate its own charac-
teristic inheritance of Divine truth. " Gain through
apparent loss ; victory through momentary defeat ; the
energy of a new life through pangs of travail ; such has
ever been the law of spiritual progress" (Westcott).
The recognition of that law, so described by that acute
and penetrating mind, may tend to arrest the steps of
unnecessary panic in the present juncture. Upon
England, already deeply agitated by the issue of the
Essays and Revieivs in i860, the publication of the earlier
portions of Colenso's Pentateuch in 1862, fell as a thunder-
bolt, creating widespread dismay. Prof. Tholuck, of
Halle, is said, though differing widely from the bishop, to
have declared his conviction, that that work would prove
itself of real blessing to England. Nothing less startling


would suffice to stir up the religious public of England to
the importance of thorough Biblical research. In 1835,
Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, had longed for " some beginnings
of Biblical criticism, which, as far as relates to the
Old Testament, is in England almost non-existent "
(Letter xc). In 1862 appeared the Intvodaction to the Old
Testament of Dr. Samuel Davidson, the lectures of Dean
Stanley on the Jewish Church, and Dr. W. Smith's
Dictionary of the Bible. The article of Prof. W. R.
Smith in the Encyclopcedia Bvitannica (vol. iii., 1875,), on
the Bible brought the results of criticism into greater
prominence, and dated an epoch in England. No longer
does the complaint of Dr. Arnold hold good, as witnesses
the issue of seven editions of Dr. Driver's Introduction to
the Literature of the Old Testament (189 1-8) ; whereas the
circulation of fourteen editions of Lux Mundi (1889-95),
together with a multiplicity of varied literature on the
Hebrew Scriptures, renders it impossible to-day to use
the words of Dr. Dale in 1890 — "that there is some-
thing very remarkable in the indifference, with which, at
the present time, the majority of Christian people regard
the whole critical controversy concerning the Old
Testament." The origin and progress of higher criticism
are the fruit of the spirit of the age — the necessary result
of the advance of science ; and on the age devolves the
duty of facing with courage and fairness the difficulties
falling to its lot.

The question of the composition of the Old Testament
is of the first magnitude — the greatest possibly which has
faced the church. And singularly enough not only the
Christian, but also the Jewish Church is deeply engaged


in the discussion. This means far more to the Jew than
to the Christian. The latter has also his New Testament ;
but to the Jew the Old is his sole Scripture, his inheritance
from the past, and the support of his religious Hfe. The
Tubingen criticism, which in the first half of this century
so violently agitated the Christian Church, imperilling its
gospels, did not at all affect the Jew. This however
touches Judaism deeply, and concerns its foundations and
very existence. Yet such is the cogency of the critical
studies to some of the learned Jews, that the fullest results
of modern inquiry are accepted without hesitation.
(Note I.)

To the Christian also the discussion concerns matters
of supreme importance. The relation between the two
Testaments is too close and intimate for the one to stand
unimperilled, if the other be overthrown. The Christian
religion sprang out from the bosom of the Old Testament
Church, which ever looked forward to it as its crown and
consummation. For the exposition of the New Testament
a knowledge of the Old is a necessity, and its value is every-
where admitted in the New. The voice of the same God
speaks in both and also in continuity. " God, having of
old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers
portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these
days spoken unto us in liis Son " (Heb. i. 1,2, R.V.).
" It is not simply that the author of the earUer revelation
is affirmed to have been also the author of the later, but
the earl er revelation is treated as the preparation for the
foundation of the latter" (Westcott). The Hebrew
Scriptures formed the Bible of the church of the apostolic
age, and on them the spiritual life even of our gracious


Lord Himself was nourished (cf. 2 Tim. iii. 15). Its
ideas and words moulded the thought and language of the
church to such a degree, that the closest relations of
interdependence exist between the two Testaments.
Hence the Christian Church has throughout the centuries
recognized its value for the edification of its members.

Moreover these studies have engaged not only the
Jewish Church, or the Protestant section of the Christian
Church, but even the Roman, for from that communion
have arisen some of the pioneers of the new criticism.
To ignore the results of criticism is clearly therefore
impossible, both because of its widespread acceptance
and of the weighty interests at stake. Further, its claims
to offer solution of inconsistencies and contradictions,
which are said to beset the older view, demand attention
and scrutiny (Note H.) To ignore it would be fatal,
because calculated to create distrust. Cheyne says
correctly that " it is equally wrong to despise criticism,
and to fear it." Fear is derogatory to Divine truth ;
contempt is unworthy and dangerous. A scientific age
claims the right to use its scholarship for the elucidation
of the Scriptures. Such, in brief, is the higher criticism.
Its own attitude therefore to physical science in the past
should, by the lessons of its mistakes and failures, guide
the church to saner and more efficient methods in the
present juncture. Safety as well as duty lies in intelligent
appreciation of the momentous questions at issue. Not
by dogmatism or persecution, not by sarcasm or innuendo,
must the problem be faced, but by honest effort to fairly
apprehend the methods and to estimate the results.
Kesistance with other weapons than those of truth is


doomed to certain failure. And never verily in the
history of the church has there been devolved upon its
leaders a more solemn responsibility, charged with such
far-reaching results, than at present. " The loyalty to
revelation, which animates our prejudice, does not justify
it " — said the late Canon Liddon once of his own
attitude to the new critical methods — adding that " The
great Alexandrians, who baptised the Platonic philosophy,
would have bidden us of to-day welcome, and christen
the critical and scientific spirit." To condemn the modern
study of the Hebrew Scriptures on a priori grounds cannot
be of any real advantage. Driver complains that the
opposition to that study " appears to rely upon rhetorical
depreciation and invective ; " and adds, that *' It is
difficult to understand what force such weapons can be
supposed to possess. No serious issue has ever yet been
decided by their aid ; and the present one, it is certain,
will form no exception to the rule " (Introd. xvii. p. note).
That the advocates of the older views however possess no
monopoly of the use of such ambiguous weapons may be
clearly seen from the application by Wellhausen of
Isaiah xli. 6f. to his opponents !

It is certainly one of the great difficulties, that the
questions at issue are of such a character, that the simple
discussion of them seems to some forbidden and to
occasion distress. That uneasiness may be found to be
largely due to either the vagueness, or the entire want,
of knowledge about the actual methods of the critical
school. Ellicott concedes that there are against the
traditional view (Note III.) " objections which cannot be
overlooked." The reality of the force of these objections,


emanating " from the critical investigations of some of
the most acute and disciplined minds in Europe," alone
explains the readiness of the reception accorded to the
critical views. And so fully does the learned Bishop
recognise the validity of certain results, that he abandons
the Traditional in favour of a " Rectified " theory, which
holds that Moses was the compiler, but not the author of
the whole of the Pentateuch. Modern criticism therefore
clearly demonstrates the necessity of modifying traditional
views, and consequently demands from every candid
student of the word of God the most careful consideration.
Hence it is of primary importance to recognise, that the
authority of the Scriptures, and their value to the
Christian, are not indissolubly bound up with the
traditional views, else the hand of scholarship may not
touch the sacred writings. This is either to vilify the
highest exercise of the powers of the human mind, or to
depreciate the intrinsic vitality of the Scriptures. Nothing
can so enrich the church as to estimate the methods and
results of modern criticism faithfully and fearlessly. In a
battle of scholarship, where criticism meets criticism,
testing and contesting point after point, the church will
find its reward in a clearer and firmer grasp of the truth of
God. It may be found, that it is not the Divine word as
such, but merely a long-established conception concerning
it, that is in peril. The familiar rhythm of the Authorized
Version may give place to the less elegant but more
accurate Revised without at all imperilling the Divine
word itself. Even so it may be discoverd, that some
conceptions, rendered precious by their very age, must be
removed in order that the church may better appreciate


its sacred inheritance. At all events to search diligently
has the distinct authorization of our Lord Himself; nor
has the church failed in any age to apply to the study of
Scripture the scholarship of its day. To duly and fairly
weigh the results of modern critical investigations by the
aid of enlightened scholarship is to-day the paramount
duty. Dean Church wrote to Dr. Asa Gray in 1861
concerning Essays and Revieu's : *' There has been a great
deal of unwise panic, and unjust and hasty abuse ; and
people, who have not an inkling of the difficulties which
beset the questions, are for settling them in a summary
way, which is perilous for every one. How^ever, I hope
the time of protest and condemnation is now passing
away ; and the time of examination and discussion in a
quieter tone beginning " (Life, p. 157). Such is ever the
true spirit which meets the difficulties face to face, duly
measuring their value and significance.

Moreover the time is suitable to appreciate the results
of analytical methods, in one department at least.
Though on one side an impartial criticism has not yet
arrived at a final decision touching the Pentateuch, on the
other a final issue has been reached. Litcvavy analysis
has completed its work, and herein we find unanimity
among the critics. Sayce maintains, on the other hand,
that " enough has been brought to light and interpreted
by the student of Oriental antiquity to enable us to test
and correct the conclusions of the critic, and to demon-
strate that his scepticism has been carried to an extreme.
The period of scepticism is over, the period of recon-
struction has begun " (p. 24).

Thus the dissecting knife of the analyst has completed


its task, while the OrientaUst claims that his revelations
can confound the conclusions of the other. The true
student of Holy Writ will accept neither without ample
proof. Not for the speciahst only is such an attitude
necessary, and the matter one of profound interest, but
for all endued with ordinary intelligence. Mr. Gladstone
claims that "the only specialism which can be of the

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryEdwin WilliamsThe sacred books of the Old Testament both human and divine : a study in higher criticism .. → online text (page 1 of 17)