« AnteriorContinuar »
not a fair or altogether disingenuous piece of work. Without going to the length of imputing wrong motives to the translators, it is certainly true that they have not dealt fairly with some passages that, rightly given, would have perhaps made a difference with some minds in dealing with these subjects.
The contention of which Professor Hommel's book is an elaboration is mainly this: He shows, and with a large degree of probability, that during the time of Abraham there was a large Arabian element in the Tigris Euphrates Valley, and that there was probably an Arabian dynasty upon the throne also. That is to say, that there were Arabic elements mixed up with the ruling family. This is worked out by a very careful and thoroughly plausible comparison of the Babylonian and South Arabian names and a somewhat extended study of the private names of the Khammurabi dynasty. There seems to be no good reason for doubting the validity of this argument, though occasionally the reasoning is obscure. The importance of all this is that it seems to establish the date of the Hebrew migration as emanating from Babylonia, and also that it leads to a comparison of names between those of this period and those of the Priestly document, with the result, that Hommel forces the conclusion that the origin of the priestly document is somewhere in the vicinity of the time when these names were current. This brings that document and others back to a time before the conquest of Canaan. Of course, as a necessary corollary, the language we now know as Hebrew was not the language which the Hebrews spoke before they entered Canaan, but was adopted from the conquered people. The language spoken prior to that time Hommel thinks was Arabic. On the whole, the evidences adduced in support of this proposition are appealing, and not without a certain plausibility. One cannot feel certain about it, and certainly cannot get up, on reading Hommel's book, any spirit of dogmatism on the subject.
Moreover, this brings up the question of monotheism, which Hommel holds was thus derived through the Arabic influences. His argument on this point is very carefully wrought out. It seems to be fairly established that the divine element in the old names of South Arabia is pretty clearly shown, and that the documents which contain these names must in some way be accounted for most reasonably by a theory which assigns the documents themselves to a much older period than is usually given to them. This of course is of great importance as affecting the priestly document, and, if allowed, gives that document a date much older,—one which revolutionizes altogether the generally accepted views on the subject.
It must be admitted that Professor Hommei makes the most of the extremities of the higher critics in dealing with Abraham. His passage which shows the striking contrast between the theory of post-exilic forgery and that of historicity established by the monuments and the names
found in the book of Genesis is almost unanswerable, and is proof of what follies are, or rather have been, committed in the name of biblical criticism. At all events, he is sound in his conclusion that to attempt to cloud up everything back of the time of David in a mist of legend and myth is a crazy, absurd proceeding, which only the exigencies of sustaining a scholastic theory would drive any one into making. The facts and the reasoning here, as indeed through this whole chapter on “Abraham and Khammurabi," are suggestive and sound to the unprejudiced reader. The chapter on the "Time of Moses" is likewise a strongly written chapter which contains indeed little that is new, other than the extension of the general idea which we have given above and the fitting of it to the Mosaic period and documents. It is reasonably worked out, and strengthens the view of the case which Hommel presents. The same must be admitted of the chapter "From Joshua to David," and the case may, on the whole, be said to be as well made out as at this stage of our knowledge it could be made out. The establishment, upon a reasonable basis, of early monotheism and the proving of the greater antiquity of the Priestly document are enough to revolutionize prevailing views. It is certain that the Divine Names in the Bible and in the inscriptions will from this time out have more careful scrutiny than they have ever had before; attention to them, however, has not been wanting heretofore, since they have always been a part of the discussion, even from the first examination of the subject by Nöldecke in 1869, while even before his time extensive interest had been manifested in them. But, in the absence of such data as are now abundant, no elaborate argument such as Hommel has worked out could be framed.
It is a pity that there could not have been a somewhat different spirit manifest in this undertaking. For valid though much of this work is, both as research and scholarly reasoning, it will arouse antagonisms which must be dispelled before they can possibly have the force they ought to have with the men to whom the book is addressed. But it is a valuable and a thoroughly useful book, although it has unhappily adopted the tone and style which have made the higher criticism odious to many who have been thoroughly hospitable to all the light it could possibly afford. A. A. BERLE.
STUDIES IN HEBREW PROPER NAMES. By G. BUCHANAN GRAY, M.A., Lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament Theology in Mansfield College. Pp. xiii, 338. London: Adam and Charles Black. 1896. The study of the proper names of the Hebrew language is important philologically and theologically, but is beset by many difficulties. Gray has avoided one large class of these by studying the names in groups and in the main limiting his conclusions to what is evident from the group. Even thus he finds it necessary to exercise extreme caution in his inferences. And well he may; for there is much in Old Testament
conditions that necessitates it. He does not forget the possibility of text corruption, and he aims carefully to distinguish the age of the named person from that of the document in which it is contained. Indeed he puts his investigations to immediate use in making the chronicler's proper names throw light upon his trustworthiness. He is confident that in certain lists he is following old and reliable authorities and in others none, or late ones. He is also persuaded that the facts tell, though perhaps at first sight not decisively, against the genuine antiquity of P's names. The groups which he studies are, compounds in 28, 78, Dy, 77, ja, na,
שדי and אליה and those in אדן בעלמלך animal names, compounds in
Although many points are involved that lie beyond the scope of the discussion, there are some results that may be drawn at once.
Names in 28 were freely formed in Israel down to the time of David; but the formation must have been obsolete long before the exile, though old names continued to be used to some extent. Names in П follow the same course. Names in Dy were formed in ancient times but ceased to be spontaneously formed or used as early as the eighth century. The meaning of Dy in compounds similar in form to those in 8 and П is, not often "people" and not the god "Am," but "kindred."
The evidence to be drawn from a study of animal names leads to the following formulation: "Before the amalgamation of the Hebrew tribes into a nation, totem worship and totem organization existed among some of the peoples of Canaan and some of the Hebrew tribes, especially those dwelling in the south. Among the Hebrews, at any rate, this manner of worship and organization was on the wane before the Davidic period, but left behind it certain superstitious ideas and practices which at times asserted themselves in the subsequent centuries."
In the names denoting dominion, by is used as an appellative, not as the name of the god Baal. As an appellative it refers naturally to Jahveh. The evidence from the names opposes Delitzsch's theory that and are not connected; appears in use among the people,
prophets and priests. It would seem to us that in view of the small number of instances, and the liability of errors and assimilations in text transmission, inferences of such minuteness as this are scarcely warranted. Gray himself admits the possibility of uncertainty, in acknowledging the absence of typical lists of the common people between David and Ezra. In compounds of and he notes a tendency in early times to combine them with nouns, placing the divine name first, while in later times the other element was oftener a verb, and the divine name came last. This development goes on parallel with the growth of monotheism. The decreasing emphasis upon the divine name is due to the increasingly strong assumption that it is Jahveh who is spoken of.
The last forty pages of the book contain the elaborate tables upon which the discussions are based. The book is welcome, because it occupies so satisfactorily a new field of investigation. OWEN H. GATES.
ISAIAH: A STUDY OF CHAPTERS I.-XII. By H. G. MITCHELL, Professor in Boston University. Pp. 264. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. $2.00.
This volume is a noteworthy illustration of what a certain class of modern critics are doing for the books of the Old Testament. With no reverence for tradition, or even for the opinions of the writers and speakers of the New Testament, they are reconstructing the history of Israel according to their own inadequate theoretical preconceptions. With the best of motives some of them, among whom our author is one, are endeavoring to preserve respect for certain lofty spiritual conceptions of the sacred writers, while adulterating their views with an indefinite amount of degrading moral ideas.
As a specimen of the incapacity of this class of critics to draw correct historical inferences, we note the following attempt to discredit the historical character of the books of Kings. It is stated on page 43, that one would naturally infer from 2 Kings xix. 35 ff. . . that he himself [Sennacherib] escaped only to be assassinated by two of his sons soon after his return to Nineveh." Such a sweeping assertion is not only without basis, but is in the face of a plain statement in the text: for the writer of Kings asserts, not only that Sennacherib returned after the disastrous campaign, but that he "dwelt " at Nineveh. No one ordinarily familiar with interpreting historical documents would think of seeing any discrepancy between such a statement and the fact, otherwise ascertained, that Sennacherib dwelt twenty years in Nineveh before his assassination. The author of the book of Kings was not writing a full history of Sennacherib, but an abridged history of Israel for a particular purpose. This is a fair specimen of the numerous unwarranted assertions upon which the critical theories of this school are based.
In the interpretation of Isa. vii. 14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son," Professor Mitchell begins by lightly brushing away the authority of Matt. i. 22, with the unproved assertion, that the writer of this Gospel "did not pretend to use the passages quoted [from the Old Testament] in their original sense" (p. 179), and then proceeds to eliminate the supernatural elements from the whole succeeding prophecy. The virgin is merely any young woman of Isaiah's time who may bear a child within a year; "Immanuel" is merely a general expression of the fact that God is with us. In Isa. ix. 6 the translation is reduced to "Wondrous-counsellor, Mighty-lord, Booty-taker, Prince-of-peace" (p. 75). Booty-taker, he confesses, however, is not in favor either with the majority of the exegetes, who translate the phrase, “Everlasting Father," or with the prophet Micah (v. 2). But that does not specially matter (p. 213), since Micah himself is very poor authority, and shows by his mistakes of interpretation, both here and elsewhere, that he was little to be trusted (p. 210). And thus, by this prosaic literalism and his iron-clad theory of prophetical limitations, there is denied to the Hebrew seer any
definite vision of Him towards whom all the law and the prophets pointed as their type, and we are asked to suppose that the vigorous religious life of Israel's remnant saw in Hezekiah's feeble reign the sole ground of their exultant hope that there should come forth a shoot out of the stalk of Jesse in whose reign the wolf should lie down with the lamb, and the earth should be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Another illustration of the omniscience of this class of critics is the author's positive assertion, obtained from an inspection of his own inner consciousness, that the last seven verses of the eleventh chapter were not written by Isaiah, but by some post-exilic redactor (p. 249).
But this is enough to reveal the character of the scholarship here represented. It is that which is in vogue largely in the state universities in Germany, and is accepted by a limited number of their active imitators and propagandists in England and America. They delude themselves and a portion of the public by the belief that their own fancies are facts, and that their own interpretations are more authoritative than those of the prophets and apostles. For the most part they are moving along in their personal experiences by virtue of the momentum imparted to them by the faith of the preceding generation. But when their destructive criticism has gone to seed it will produce the results which have so often been witnessed in the narrow circles of unbelief. No evangelical pulpit can long maintain its effectiveness under such a misinterpretation of Scripture and its consequent inadequate understanding of the economy of the divine revelation.
THE PROPHECIES OF JESUS CHRIST relating to his Death, Resurrection, and Second Coming, and their Fulfillment. By Dr. PAUL SCHWARTZKOPFF, Professor of Theology, Göttingen. Translated by Rev. NEIL BUCHANAN, Translator of Beyschlag's "New Testament Theology," etc. Pp. xi, 328. Imported by Charles Scribner's Sons. $1.75.
This volume is the "fourth part of a work, the full title of which will be 'The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ, its Content, Range, and Limits.'" The spirit of the author is reverential and his scholarship is ample; but his fundamental theory is erroneous, and leads him into conclusions which in many cases are more than questionable. His theory appears in the following quotation: "It follows from the true humanness of Jesus' mental life that his notions about the exegetical, physical, metaphysical, in short, about every aspect even of his religious beliefs that has no direct spiritual value, cannot be unreservedly accepted as authoritative. This is proved by his conception of the 10th Psalm, and by his belief in demons (p. 13). In accordance with his theory, the author maintains that Jesus, in the early part of his ministry had no definite foreknowledge of his tragic death, and that he was "unquestionably deceived with regard to the time of his second coming" (p. 291). The simple statement of this belief is sufficient to indicate the extreme