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ed also."* This zeal of the Jews for the books of their religion forms a guarantee for their safe custody, and gives a confidence in their received catalogue of genuine and authentic scriptures which we should not have felt, had the people been indifferent to the possession or the preservation of them. With such a national character as theirs, there lies immense evidence for the canonicity of the Old Testament, in the one circumstance alone, that its books were generally received and acknowledged by the Jews as their scriptures, or the books of their religion, to the exclusion of all others. The state of their Bible in the days of our Saviour carries an evidence in itself, for its being indeed the true and the right state of it; nor can we imagine how that evidence could be made stronger, than by the disruption which took place between the Jews and the Christians—and yet the common recognition which both continued to make of the same Old Testament. Even could no express written testimonies have been adduced, in favour of the books which compose the Hebrew scriptures, there is a firm monumental evidence for them, in the general use and esteem of their own people—and more especially as authenticated by the actual agreement between these two hostile bodies of witnesses, the Christians and Jews, who, though in the fiercest controversy against each other on the most vital questions, nevertheless unite in the homage which they render to our present Old Testament. This is an evidence patent to all eyes, and perhaps
« Joseph. Antiq. Book XII. c. v. § 4. VOL. IV. K
undervalued on that account—though, in our estimation, of ten-fold greater weight than all the array of those testimonies which can be produced by the learned from Jewish authors, and also from the earlier of the Christian fathers. It is well, however, that such an array can be exhibited. It is well that we are told by Josephus—" We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from, and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only twenty-two * books which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine. And of them five belong to Moses which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time: and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by that we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one hath been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws and the records which contain them; whereas there are none at all among the Greeks who would undergo the least harm on that account, no nor in case all the writings that are among them were to be destroyed; for they take them to be such discourses as are framed agreeably to the inclinations of those that write them; and they have justly the same opinion of the ancient writers, since they see some of the present generation bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present, nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them; examples of which may be had in this late war of ours, where some persons have written histories, and published them, without having been in the places concerned, or having been near them when the actions were done; but these men put a few things together by hearsay, and insolently abuse the world, and call these writings by the name of Histories."*—It is further well that on this subject, we have such a galaxy of evidence, in the authors whom Josephus refers to in the foregoing passage—who wrote the Jewish history since the days of Artaxerxes; and who, though not esteemed of like authority with the canonical writers, might nevertheless (at least some of them) be confided in as faithful historians. Josephus intimates, as the reason why they were not so esteemed, that the nation was not so privileged as formerly with the visits of prophetical men. In other words, these authors did not rank with the sacred writers, and yet might rank very high as authentic narrators of the state and affairs of the Jewish people. The truth is, that most of them have incurred an undue discredit in consequence of the extravagant pretensions which have been made in their behalf, to an equal place with the writers of the Old Testament. But for this, they would have been more generally appealed to; for the Apocrypha too contain a great amount of exscriptural evidence in favour of the Jewish scriptures—such evidence as is exhibited in favour of the Christian scriptures, by Lardner, in his Credibility; where he makes a collection of citations and references to the New Testament from the works of the Christian fathers, who stood in the same relation to the New that the Apocryphal writers did to the Old Testament. It were well, if from these Apocrypha, along with the works of the earliest Jewish authors not canonical,* there could be presented to the world such a digest or enumeration of testimonies in favour of the Hebrew scriptures, as Lardner has made for the Christian scriptures from the writings of the fathers as well as of the Jews and Heathens. The common reader will find it a confirmatory and profitable exercise, to read those Apocrypha which are well provided with marginal references—whence he will be able to collect a body of evidence both for the books of the Old Testament and for the his
* We now number thirty-nine books in the Old Testament; but these are all comprised in the twenty-four or twenty-two books, their estimated number in earlier times. Ezra and his Jewish colleagues are understood to have made out an enumeration of twenty-four books, comprehending however, all the present books of our received Old Testament, and including none other. Their enumeration stood thus. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel (our two present books in one), Kings (a similar reduction), Chronicles (again two in one), Ezra (which included Nehemiah), Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, and lastly the twelve prophets (being the minor prophets.Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,Nahum,Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)inonebook—making in all twenty-four books of our present thirty-nine. The later Jews reduced this number to twenty-two, so as to correspond with the Hebrew alphabet—not, however by abstracting from the canon any of its parts, but by combining in two instances, two books into one, appending Ruth to the book of Judges, and the Lamentations to Jeremiah. This method of classifying the books of the Old Testament variously, has somewhat obscured the distinctness of the testimonies in their favour. In the general divisions too there was a want of uniformity. Josephus, it will be seen, enumerates five Mosaical or Legal books, thirteen Prophetical, and four Poetical or Preceptive. Whereas with many of the Hebrew doctors, perhaps the most general reckoning amongst them was that of five legal, eight prophetical books, and eleven books termed by them holy writings, or Hagiographa. Still later the whole number of books was estimated at twenty-seven —not by the addition or abstraction of any of the parts from the whole, but by a variation in the reckoning of the parts. See Buxstorf's Tiberias for further information on this subject.
* Joseph, against Apion, Book I. § 8. Had Josephus not chanced to hequeath this passage to posterity, ought the evidence for the Hebrew scriptures to have been sensibly weaker in consequence? Should not the faith of the whole nation of the Jews, accredited by the like faith of the whole body of Christians as t" the books deemed sacred, and more especially when accompanied by such a mass and amount of evidence as can be educed from the scriptures themselves—should not this have compensated for the want of the exscriptural testimony of Josephus?