H. M. (Howard Melancthon) Hamill.

The Bible and its books online

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Superintendent of Training Work,
M. E. Church, South.








Two methods of Bible study are needed by the busy
people who teach in our Sunday schools, each the com-
plement of the other.

One method has in view a general knowledge of the
Book, in the unity of its divine truth. This is the lar-
ger, ' ' long-range ' ' vision, without which one can never
understand the great movements of sacred history,
prophecy, and doctrine.

The other method aims at a knowledge of the several
books composing the Bible, the content and intent of
each, as related to the others and to the unity of the
whole. One who thus studies the Bible and its books
will know and teach better any portion of it.

It has been the aim of the writer to combine some-
thing of both methods in this small volume, with the one
purpose of helping the student whose time and equip-
ment are limited. The reader will note that the writer
has followed reverently the traditional paths of the
Church in all mooted biblical questions. Whenever the
masters of the new school of criticism shall agree among
themselves, it will be time enough to consider the re-
casting of beliefs of many centuries.


Nashville, Tenn., April 1, 1903.
























n O Ar I U> COY N

&l H TAP e N K VfTIf




e N Tcu t e f ci> eY AO


Facsimile .rom Sinai MS., 4th century A.D. See page 25.
The text is Luke xxiv. 49-53.





Bible Testimony.

Mode of Inspiration.

Theories of Inspiration.

Definition. By "inspiration/' as applied to the
Bible, is meant a special and supernatural influ-
ence of God upon those who wrote the several parts
of the hook. In the passage (2 Tim. iii. 16), "All
scripture is given by inspiration of God," the
Greek word theopneustos means "God-breathed,"
the breath of God being used as a symbol of his
power. The following definition of inspiration is
given by a Bible scholar of eminence : "According
to the representations of the Scriptures themselves,
inspiration is an extraordinary agency upon teach-
ers while giving instruction, whether oral or writ-
ten, by which they are taught what and how they
should write or speak." While the fact of inspira-
tion is commonly held by all devout believers, the
method and measure have been matters of wide dif-


8 The Bible and Its Books.

ference. In recent years, the assumptions of the
so-called "higher criticism" have forced into re-
newed prominence and discussion all questions re-
lating to the subject. This discussion affects both
the fact and the method of inspiration, and is
therefore of vital interest to students and teachers
of the Bible.

Bible Testimony. The Bible gives direct and
conclusive evidence of its inspiration, both as to
the fact and the extent of it, by the testimony of-
those who wrote it.

1. The Hebrew prophets generally, upon begin-
ning their ministry, authenticate and confirm their
messages by "Thus saith the Lord," or "The Lord
spake by me, saying." The New Testament de-
clares of these prophets that "God spake by them."

2. Jesus Christ everywhere spoke of and quoted
from the Old Testament as the word of God. He
enforced the divine truth and authority of all parts
of it, and taught from it as a book of divinely in-
spired truth, whether of historic fact or religious
doctrine. Upon its foundation he placed himself
and his own doctrine.

3. The apostles were even more specific in as-
serting the inspiration not only of the Old Testa-
ment,, but of their own writings. Peter declared
(2 Pet. i. 21) that "holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost;" and Paul lays it

Inspiration of the Bible. 9

down as a characteristic of "all scripture" (2 Tim.
iii. 16) that it "is given by inspiration of God."
The recent attempt to turn this passage about, and
to render it "All divinely inspired scripture is
profitable," is in direct violation of a received rule
of Greek syntax, and is opposed by the common
usage of the fathers and by almost all the versions.
It would make the fallible human critic the final
arbiter of what is and is not inspired.

It should be noted also that the sacred writers
assert their inspiration, not only as to the matter
but as to the manner of inspiration, in such pas-
sages as, "This scripture must needs have been
fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of
David spake" (Acts i. 16), and "Which things
also we speak, not in the words which man's wis-
dom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth"
(1 Cor. ii. 13). It is a significant commentary
upon the doctrine of inspiration, in any age of the
Church, that the nearer one lives after the pattern
of the holy men who wrote the Bible, the more de-
voutly one clings to their view of Bible inspiration.

Mode of Inspiration. As to the manner or proc-
esses through which holy men were moved upon
to speak or to write, the Bible discloses a variety
of ways. Whatever the mode of God's operation,
he made it plain to his servants that the truth to
be spoken or written was from himself. Inspira-

10 The Bible and Its Booikg.

tion included not only the subject-matter to be
written, but gave direction to the very form of the
writings. Future events, new doctrines, things not
known to the writers by natural means, were di-
rectly revealed. The pen of the historian was
guided immediately by the Holy Ghost through the
mass of tradition and contemporaneous history, so
that the truth only would be written. The Holy
Spirit restrained from error in fact and doctrine,
and the writers wrote just so much and in such a
manner as God saw to be best. How far the mind
of the writer was active or passive under the guid-
ance of the Holy Spirit, we cannot know. That
memory and judgment were divinely aided is plain
from the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit
should "bring to remembrance" and "guide into all
truth." To object that each writer has a "style"
of his own, and that therefore inspiration did not
extend to the forms of language, is to ignore the
fact that God gave to each writer by nature his
"style," and could employ these varied styles as
his media of revelation. To further object that the
various admitted discrepancies and disagreements
of the sacred writers preclude the application of
inspiration to the language of the writers is to ig-
nore the fact that inspiration is claimed for the
original documents only, and is not to be charged
with errors that have come through transcription,

Inspiration of the Bible. 11

translation, and revision, the work of uninspired
custodians of the Bible.

Theories of Inspiration. These have varied ac-
cording to the measure of one's faith in the super-
naturalism of the Bible. The "scientific method"
of Bible study is responsible for not a little of the
confusion over the questions of inspiration, inas-
much as its assumption is that nothing is to be as-
sumed for the Bible above other books, but that
miracles, inspiration, faith itself, are to be sub-
jected to purely scientific tests. It is to be regret-
ted that even preachers and teachers of the Bible
have been caught by this bait of German rational-
ism, although Prof. Christlieb, among the
greatest of Germany's scholars, pertinently asked :
"Why do Americans gather from the gutter so
much of the theological rubbish we Germans throw
away ?"

Briefly stated, the current theories of Bible in-
spiration are as follows :

1. The "orthodox" theory, sometimes called the
"dynamic," which considers the Bible to be in-
spired in such a sense as to make it infallibly cer-
tain when taken in its legitimate sense, and of ab-
solute authority in all matters of faith and con-
science. This theory recognizes the inspiration of
the writer, but does not extend it to the form of

12 The Bible and Its BooTcs.

the writing, or free the writer from possibility of
errors in matters not of religion.

2. The "plenary" theory, which holds that in-
spiration had respect to the language, and that the
entire Bible was so authenticated or dictated by
the Holy Spirit that it became truth without mix-
ture of error, expressed in such terms as the Holy
Spirit ruled or suggested. In so far as this theory
is applied to the original documents of the Bible,
it has been successfully maintained by some of the
most eminent scholars of the Church, and is the
only theory which measures lip to the claims which
the writers of the Bible made for themselves.

3. The "limited" theory, which limits the in-
spiration of the Bible to strictly religious truth,
and holds that the value of the religious element
in the Bible is not lessened by errors in the scien-
tific and miscellaneous matters which accompany
it. This is the working theory of conservative
"higher criticism," the fatal defect of which is
that it gives to truth of infinite value a setting of
error, though from the same writer, and puts the
Bible under the odium of being "part truth and
part falsehood." To be able to draw a line be-
tween what is and is not religious truth, is more
than the sacred writers themselves professed ability
to do.

4. The "rationalistic" theory, which concedes to

Inspiration of the Bible. 13

the Bible a high order of poetic or religious fervor ;
but challenges its miracles, visions, and supernat-
uralisms as myths and "allegories." Such is a
theory held in common by materialists, skeptics,
and not a few of the destructive '^higher critics"
who are preachers and teachers of the Christian


Growth of the Bible.
Canon of Scripture.
Old Testament Canon: New Testament Canon:

1. Three Divisions.

2. Ezra's Revision.

3. N. T. Evidence.

1. Order and Time.

2. Disputed Books.

3. Church and Council.

Growth of the Bible. The Bible grew slowly, as
a book of inspired literature. Even its present title
was not given it until the fourth century. Hebrews
i. 1-2 is a summary of its growth: "God, who at
sundry times and in divers manners spake in time
past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these
last days spoken unto us by his Son/' The
"Scriptures/' as termed by ancient Jew and early
Christian, spread out over many centuries. Begin-
ning with the writings of Moses, about 1500 B.C.,
and closing with the prophecy of Malachi, the Old
Testament was more than a thousand years in the
process of formation. The thirty-nine books com-
posing it were not given in an unbroken series.
Thirty or more writers of the Old Testament, and
eight of the New, very few of whom were contem-
poraries, wrote at "sundry times," as they were
"moved by the Holy Ghost/' The twenty-seven
books of the New Testament were written within

'Story of the Bible. 15

the last sixty years of the first Christian century.
The Bible therefore was a growth of about sixteen
centuries, at the hands of about forty writers.
Portions of it came by direct audible revelation
from God, as in case of Moses; part as messages
through angels, as to Mary; part as visions, as to
Daniel and John. To the prophets came by the
Holy Ghost communications, which in the Old
Testament are termed "burdens," sometimes not
understood by the prophet himself. Some of the
books of the Old Testament were compiled from
the sacred annals of the Jewish nation ; all, in both
Old and New Testaments, received final revision,
doubtless under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
To the New Testament writers came special divine
illumination, prompting and directing their writ-
ings. The Old Testament grew up about the his-
toric and religious life of God's chosen nation, as
out of it should come his Son, and upon it should
be superimposed the Christian Church and its
Scriptures. The New Testament, in its record of
the ministry of Christ and his apostles, fulfilled
and perfected the Old.

The Canon af Scripture. The final determina-
tion of what books should compose the sacred
canon was made by the Jewish and Christian
Churches, respectively, always under a superin-
tending Providence. The Jewish Church, four

16 The Bible and Its Books.

centuries B.C., had fixed the Old Testament
"canon/* or authoritative list of its inspired books.
The Christian Church, first by the testimony of
Christ and his apostles, a little later by the con-
sensus of the Church of the first three centuries
A.D., authenticated the books of the Old Testa-
ment, and added to the canon, as of like inspiration
and authority, the books of the New Testament.
Thus the formation of the canon began with the
placing of the five books of Moses in the side of the
ark (Deut. xxxi. 26), and extended to the third
or fourth century of the Christian era.

The evidences or tests upon which the final de-
termination of the books of the Bible was made is
worthy of special consideration. Nothing could
have exceeded the watchfulness of either Jewish
or Christian Church in making the final selection.
Upon every book of the Bible was imposed at least
three rigorous test's: (1) Is the book inspired of
God ? This was determined by the claims of divine
inspiration in the book itself, and by the concur-
rent voice of the body of devout believers. ^2)
Is the book genuine? Is it the actual book iti;is
claimed to be, without essential defect, corruption,
or interpolation ? This was determined by a chain
of documents outnumbering and outweighing those
in evidence of any other ancient books. (3) Is the
book authentic? Is it the work of the author to

Story of the Bible. 17

whom it is accredited? This was determined as
to most of the books by a mass" of history taken
from the times when the books appeared. Through
and over all this testing process by the Church,
every devout Christian will easily believe there was
the directing influence of the Holy Spirit, the In-
spirer and Custodian of God's revelation to manl

The Old Testament Canon. I. The Old Testa-
ment appeared in three successive divisions: the
"Pentateuch," or ''book of the law," which for cen-
turies constituted the sole canon; "the Prophets,"
composed of such books as were written or com-
piled by the official Hebrew prophets, in order from
Moses to Malachi, and consisting of the historic
and prophetic books of t&e Old Testament; "the
Psalms" (so termed by the Jews and by our Lord),
or simply the "writings," consisting of the five
poetical books, also Euth, Lamentations, and
Esther, together with the postexilian books of his-
tory, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles. Students
of the Bible are divided in opinion as to why some
of these books were placed in this division out of
their seemingly proper order of time and relation.
The second division gradually took rank with the
"book of the law," as being divinely inspired, and
its successive books were received, deposited in the
temple, and copied by the Jewish Church as a part
of the canon. The third division, which was the

18 The Bible and Its Books.

growth, of one thousand years, took similar course,
most of its books constituting the ritual of the
Jewish Church.

2. The final collection, compilation, and revi-
sion of the Old Testament canon was the work of
Ezra and the "Great Synagogue," in the fifth cen-
tury B.C., after the return from Babylon, the re-
building of city and temple, and at the closing of
prophecy under Malachi. The canon thus fixed
by Ezra, and accepted and authenticated by our
Lord and the apostles, and by the early Christian
Church, has continued undisturbed to the pres-
ent day. Josephus, the Jewish historian, writing
near to the time of Christ, names the books as in
the canon of Ezra, and affirms that since his day
"no one had dared to add to, or take from, or
alter anything in the sacred books."

3. As has been remarked, our Lord and the
apostles freely authenticated and quoted from most
of the books of the canon as established by Ezra,
and by recognizing the three divisions of the
canon, as above described, thereby authenticated
each book of the entire canon. By direct quota-
tion or allusion, indeed, it might be shown that
every book of the Old Testament bears the express
sanction of our Lord and the apostles.

The New Testament Canon. 1. The time, or-
der, and authorship of the books of the New Testa-

/Story of the Bible. 19

merit are known more clearly than those of the
Old. Matthew's Gospel (written probably A.D.
38), followed by Mark's and Luke's, was the be-
ginning of the canon, and the three were at once
received as canonical among the Christian Church-
es. The book of Acts and the earlier Epistles of
Paul appeared about this time, followed closely by
the later Epistles of Paul and others, and closing
with the writings of John, near to 100 A.D.

2. The Gospels and most of the Epistles at once
took unchallenged place in the New Testament
canon; but for a time, and for reasons not fully
known, the books of James and Jude, Second
Peter, Second and Third John, and Eevelation,
though received as canonical by a majority of the
Churches, were held to be "disputed" books.

3. Finally, after a period of severe testing and
lessening doubts on the part of the various
Churches and their leaders, the New Testament
canon, as we now have it, was adopted. Successive
councils of the Church ascertained the mind of the
Church, and the complete canon was ratified by the
Council of Carthage, A.D. 397.


Bible Material.

Method of Study.

Manuscripts :


Versions :








Bible Material. So far as known, there is in
existence no original or autographic copy of any
book of the Bible, though in the light of modern
archaeological investigation such a discovery may
yet be made. But no other book from the ancient
world at all compares with our Bible in the num-
ber and reliability of translations and manu-
script copies containing the original text. Of
Herodotus, for instance, most ancient and impor-
tant of the classic historians, whose Greek is part
of all our college curricula, there are only about fif-
teen manuscript copies, the oldest, in the Cam-
bridge library, dating back to the ninth century
A.D. Of Plato's original, there are even fewer and
no older copies. On the contrary, there are now in
the libraries of the world, accessible to scholars,
and for many years past the subject of most crit-
ical study, more than one thousand five hundred

'Ancient Manuscripts and Versions. 21

ancient manuscript copies of the Bible, in part or
whole, ranging back in date to the fourth century
A.D. A few of these contain the entire Bible; by
the others all parts of the Bible are repeatedly
paralleled. So abundant are these manuscriptjs,
and so thoroughly has textual criticism investi-
gated them, that when English and American
scholarship, after using the "Authorized Version"
of King James (1611 A.D.) for nearly three hun-
dred years, gave to the world the recent "Kevised
Version," it was found that surprisingly few
changes were needed, though the later translators
had the advantage of using the three oldest and
greatest of the ancient manuscripts. Of the
changes made, many were to conform to the
changes in our own English language since the
days of King James.

This mass of ancient manuscripts, if it could be
gathered from all parts of the world into one place,
would be an object of wonder and reverence to the
Bible student. Written most painstakingly and
often beautifully, upon vellum and parchment,
there is great variety in appearance. Some of the
manuscripts are worn by time and use, until no
longer legible in portions : others are as clear and
fresh as though only a century old. The smaller
number are severely plain in their construction,
and these are usually the most ancient. Many are

22 The Bible and Its Boobs.

"illuminated" by fanciful initial letters and orna-
mentations. What are called the "Uncials"
about one hundred in number are written in
large capital letters, in closely crowded lines, with-
out space between words or even sentences. This
uncial writing marks the oldest and most valu-
able manuscripts. A specimen page from the
famous "Sinaitic" manuscript, probably the old-
est of all, is given at the beginning of this book.
The greater number by f ;r of the manuscripts are
the "Cursives," written in a free running hand,
with more decoration and embellishment than the
homely "Uncials." These "Cursives" are several
centuries later in age, and usually less accurate in
their texts. Their number is about 1,500.

Method of Study. In the formation and revi-
sion of our English Bible from the texts of these
ancient manuscripts, the translators needed to fol-
low three lines of investigation :

1. A study and comparison of the manuscripts,
allowing usually the greater value to those known
to be most ancient, for the reason that the nearer
in time the copy is to the original, the fewer, as a
rule, will be its inaccuracies. The relative age of
the manuscript was determined by the lettering,
uncial or cursive, by the initial letters, by the style
of the writing, by the language, and by the form
and condition of the parchment or vellum.

Ancient Manuscripts and Versions. 23

2. By a study of the several versions, or trans-
lations from Hebrew or Greek originals to other
languages, and by comparing the text of these
among themselves and with the manuscripts.

3. By careful examination of the writings of the
Christian fathers of the first three centuries A.D.,
in which appear such a mass of quotations, espe-
cially from the New Testament, that it is claimed
that all of it, except twelve verses, could be collated.

It is a matter of profound gratitude and won-
der that, notwithstanding this mass of manuscripts,
ranging through many centuries, such is their sin-
gular agreement upon all vital matters of revela-
tion that no important fact or doctrine of the
Bible has been put in peril, although the keenest
scrutiny of both devout and skeptical scholarship
has been vigorously applied to them.

Manuscripts and Versions. This Bible material
will be better understood when classified as fol-
lows: The Old Testament, written originally in
Hebrew, was used at the time of our Lord in any
one of three forms the Hebrew MSS., either the
originals or copies; the "Targums," in Chaldaic,
which began under Ezra, after the exile, and were
for the use of the people, who had generally sub-
stituted the Chaldaic language acquired in exile
for their mother Hebrew; the Old Testament
"versions" or translations, chief of which was the

24 The Bible and Its Books.

"Septuagint," in Greek, which had become the
almost universal medium of speech and writing
throughout the Eoman Empire.

The New Testament, written in the Greek, was
also in three forms : the Greek MSS., of which we
now have, as already stated, more than 1,500, dat-
ing from the fourth century A.D. ; hack of the ear-
liest of these MSS., and filling the first three cen-
turies, the "versions" of the New Testament, the
earliest and most important of which were the
"Syriac" or "Peshito," the "Italic/' "Armenian,"
"Coptic," and others of the second century and
later; back of these versions, or contemporaneous
with them, were the writings of the Christian fa-
thers, with their corroborative quotations from the
New Testament.

Of these Old and New Testament MSS. and
versions now existing, the more distinguished are
as follows :

1. The "Hillel" Hebrew MS. of the Old Tes-
tament of the seventh century A.D. Since Je-
rome's popular translation of the Old Testament

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Online LibraryH. M. (Howard Melancthon) HamillThe Bible and its books → online text (page 1 of 7)