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be made. Even Rosenmüller maintains the impossibility of pointing out any certain distinction between the several documents of which the book of Genesis is composed. This assertion he maintains at some length, examining the different criteria, showing their want of certainty, and proving the futility of all attempts to discover, after a lapse of 3,000 years, the precise nature and extent of the records used by Moses in the preparation of his work.
Before the authorship of the book of Genesis became a subject of discussion, numerous interpolations were supposed to be found in it; and this opinion was maintained by some writers of distinction, both Jewish and Christian. Afterwards the hypothesis of documents was advanced ; and some of its advocates, not content with admitting the fact that Moses did really employ such written sources of historical truth, undertook to ascertain their number, to determine their commencing and terminating points, to settle their character, and to pass judgment on their style, demonstrating that Moses, the learned and gifted Hebrew legislator, could not so have written. The theory of documents prepared the way for that of fragments.* Phenomena on which that theory was supposed to be founded, appeared, it was thought, in many smaller sections, even of the supposed documents, and the book of Genesis was subdivided into a multitude of portions, the larger were reduced to smaller, connected parts to disjointed fragments. It would be useless to mention, and very idle to examine, all the alleged reasons for such a procedure. But the principal allegations, on the ground of which the book of Genesis has been said to consist of independent documents and disconnected fragments,
* The fragmentary character of the book of Genesis, and particularly of the former part of it, is maintained even by HERDER in his third letter on the study of Theology, Briefe das Studium der Theologie betreffend; Collected Works, Stutgard and Tübingen, vol. xiii. p. 41, 42.
must not be passed over without some notice. If the reader wishes any fuller discussion than what the following brief remarks afford, he will find a very able examination of the alleged difficulties in the work of Ewald, before referred to. Hâvernick, in his Introduction, Part I. § 112, has made use of this acute and learned writer's labours.
1. The inscriptions are thought to indicate different documents or fragments.
But one writer may well be supposed to prefix suitable inscriptions to the respective narratives, as they are related by him. Indeed, the use of 917591, occurring principally in Genesis, and, derived from this source perhaps, appear-, ing in a few other books, rather agrees with the opinion of one author than several. I mean that the balance of probabilities is in favour of this view, rather than of the contrary. Certainty, in such matters, is not indeed to be expected; but any one who considers how natural it would be for an author to bring forward the subdivisions of his work with introductions suited to the particular topics of such subdivisions, will hardly find in these inscriptions much evidence of different documents. To show the usage of the orientals on this subject of inscriptions, I refer the reader to Ewald's work, p. 133, ss.
2. The isolated character of the parts is appealed to in support of the same theory. These are said to want connexion, and that harmony in the manner of representation which characterizes a single author.
If by this nothing more is meant than that several of the narrations which the book contains are introduced somewhat abruptly, and without much effort to prepare the reader's mind, it may be granted. And this accords with the ordinary manner of eastern writing, and harmonizes with the usual narrative style of Scripture ; and it might be expected to characterize a work of so high antiquity as the
book of Genesis. Introductions of historical events by remarks of a somewhat general nature, which gradually lead the reader's mind from preceding to subsequent accounts by observations founded on a philosophical view of things, belonged neither to the age nor the country, and therefore it would be unreasonable to expect them.
3. The repetitions with which it is said the book abounds, is thought to prove its fragmentary character.
As repetitions in language are frequent in ancient, oriental, and Hebrew writings, so also are repetitions of subject. The speaker pours out the theme, with which his soul is full, in repeated bursts of feeling or exhibitions of fact. And not only the speaker, the principal agent, the magna pars in the transaction, but the author also who relates the facts, participates in the same emotions, and stamps them on his work. Thus it becomes the impress both of the author's and the agent's mind, and its repetitions only show its admirable conformity to nature. This characteristic of Hebrew history is by no means inconsistent with its well-known brevity. In general, its statements are short and compressed. The author directs his eye to his ultimate object, frequently passing over the intermediate portions, which he afterwards illustrates and amplifies. Thus, as might be expected, repetitions would arise, the natural result of an endeavour to fill up and complete the representation.
Repetitions occur, when the author, having thrown into the general narrative an account of some particular circumstance, wishes to mark its prominency above the rest, and therefore introduces a brief notice of this point, to which he attaches especial importance. The reader cannot fail to observe several such places in Genesis, as also in other books of the Old Testament. But such repetitions might be expected from one and the same author writing a continuous account, and are certainly no indications of a fragmentary character of his work. So also in passing over from one circumstance to another, it is not uncommon to repeat the conclusion of the preceding account. Thus the antecedent narrative is connected with the subsequent. Sometimes indeed a considerable part of what has already been related is again introduced,—it may be in language somewhat different,-in order to prepare the way for some new and perhaps striking circumstance, to the connexion of which with the account repeated, the author would particularly direct the attention of his reader. Or the repetition may be intended to recall to the reader's mind what had been before stated, the thread of the narrative having been broken off by certain intervening accounts.
For these and other causes, which will probably suggest themselves, repetitions, sometimes verbal and sometimes merely in substance, appear in the book of Genesis. But, as Ewald has shown by a full induction of particulars, they appear also in an equal degree in other historical books of the Old Testament, and not unfrequently in other oriental histories. Verbal repetitions occur also in the works of Homer. The inference therefore which has been so hastily and confidently drawn, that the book consists of various independent fragments or documents, is entirely unsupported by the facts.
4. It is said that different accounts of one and the same fact are found in the work. A publication, which, without unity of plan, is made up of fragments of several authors not contemporaneous, might be expected to contain narrations, which, in particular circumstances, or in the disposition or design of the whole, are contradictory. Such phenomena are alleged to occur in the book of Genesis. But this assertion has never been supported by sufficient evidence. That different etymological meanings of the same name are suggested, as in the cases of Noah, Esau, Reuben, Zebulon, Joseph, and others, cannot be proved. The idea that such phenomena indicate various writers is a mere fiction. The plain sciution is this: the one author employs the paronomasia, so favorite a figure with the Hebrews; he uses a term which corresponds in sound with that already employed, and which conveys an idea in harmony with its meaning, or with the circumstances of the occasion. Neither has it been proved that different narratives of the same fact are to be found in the book. The relation in the second chapter is not, as has often been said, an account independent of that contained in the first. New matter is introduced, preparatory to which a portion of what had been stated in the first is repeated in different language. Abraham's twofold denial of his wife, and the similar narrative of Isaac, may indeed excite our surprise; but they afford no proof of a repetition of the same identical fact. In this, as in most, if not all of the other alleged points of evidence, the identity of the accounts has been taken for granted, and of course the theory to be proved has been assumed. This may be produced as one among many illustrations of the logical character of that species of criticism for which our own age is distinguished. It is easier to appeal to some internal feeling beyond the understanding, than to establish plain declarations on palpable evidence.
The unity of the book of Genesis, and of its author, is shown from the uniform and steady progress of the narrative, from the beginning to the end, each part of the history following very naturally that which immediately precedes. They follow either as parts of the history absolutely necessary to its perfection, or else as collateral accounts, interesting to those for whom the book was originally intended, and illustrative of its more prominent portions. If the book be one connected history, and not disjointed fragments, it cannot have been merely arranged in chronological order from