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2. The books, thus transmitted from one generation to another, (especially in that very remote age when the first books of the Old Testament were written), could not but remain, both more easily, as well as more certainly, uncorrupted, and be propagated with fidelity, because at that time there were but few books, and also because the tradition relative to their origin was most easily recollected. And as this tradition (which was not communicated in the schools to their pupils by learned men, whose various conjectures sometimes obscure truth, but in private houses by fathers to their children') was approved, many of the authors therefore did not subscribe to their works, either their names, or the age in which they lived; but, where any of them did annex their names to their writings, nothing further was requisite than faithfully to transcribe such notification, - a task which could be performed with the utmost facility.
3. In fact there was no motive to induce the Hebrews to corrupt this very simple tradition : on the contrary, as these books were held in the highest reverence and estimation by much the greater part of that people, they had the most powerful motives for transmitting the origin of these documents truly to their posterity. If, indeed, the Hebrew nation had been disposed to betray the trust confided to them, a motive would not have been wanting to them for propagating falsehoods respecting their books, because these contain such repeated, we may almost add - such incessant, reproofs and censures of them, as an unteachable, inflexible, and headstrong people, as place their character in an unfavourable point of view. But, notwithstanding, if that people testify that these books are genuine, they are witnesses against themselves, and their testimony consequently becomes unexceptionable.
In illustration of this remark, we may observe that the character of the Jews is a strong proof that they have not forged the Old Testament. Were a person brought before a court of justice on a suspicion of forgery, and yet no presumptive or positive evidence of his guilt could be produced, it would be allowed by all that he ought to be acquitted. But, if the forgery alleged were inconsistent with the character of the accused; if it tended to expose to disgrace his general principles and conduct; or, if we were assured that he considered forgery as an impious and abominable crime, it would require very strong testimony to establish his guilt. This case corresponds exactly with the situation of the Jews. If a Jew had forged any book of the Old Testament, he must have been impelled to so bold and dangerous an enterprise by some very powerful motive. It could not be national pride, for there is scarcely one of these books which does not severely censure the national manners. It could not be the love of fame, for that passion would have taught him to flatter and extol the national character; and the punishment, if detected, would have been infamy and death. The love of wealth could not produce such a forgery, for no wealth was to be gained by it.?
1 Compare Deut. xxxii. 7, 8. and Psal. Ixxviii. 3—7. 2 Ency. Brit. vol. xvii. p. 107. art. Scripture, 3rd edit.
. 4. The true knowledge of the origin of these books could not be easily corrupted or lost, because a particular tribe among the Hebrews were set apart from the rest, and consecrated, among other things, for the express purpose of watching over the preservation of these historical documents; and further, there were never wanting men, belonging to the other tribes, both at that time and also during the Babylonian captivity, -(for instance, those who in more antient times were the governors of the Hebrew republic, and were called, first, judges, and afterwards prophets,) -- by whom these books were held in the highest reverence, because they were themselves descended from that very age, and from these very authors. Although the names of some of these authors, and also the age in which they lived, are lost in oblivion, yet as the Jews confess their ignorance, such confession is an evidence that they would not have testified it, if they had not received it as certain from their ancestors. In the meantime, the age at least of these anonymous books has not so entirely been neglected, but that we have the clearest evidence that none of them was written later than the fifth century before the Christian æra.
5. The Old Testament, according to our Bibles, comprises thirtypine books, viz. the Pentateuch or five books of Moses, called Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, with his Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. But, among the antient Jews, they formed only twenty-two books, according to the letters of their alphabet, which were twenty-two in number; reckoning Judges and Ruth, Ezra and Nehemiah, Jeremiah and his Lamentations, and the twelve minor prophets, (so called from the comparative brevity of their compositions,) respectively as one book. It is not necessary here to enter into a minute inquiry concerning the authors of these books : but we may state generally, that the Pentateuch consists of the writings of Moses, collected by Samuel, with a very few additions ; that the books of Joshua and Judges, together with that of Ruth and the first part of the book of Samuel, were collected by the same prophet ; that the latter part of the first book of Samuel, and the whole of the second book, were written by the prophets who succeeded Samuel, probably Nathan and Gad; that the books of Kings and Chronicles are extracts from the records of succeeding prophets concerning their own times, and also from the public genealogical tables made by Ezra ; that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are collections of similar records, some written by Ezra and Nehemiah, and some by their predecessors; that the book of
1 Josephus, contr. Apion. lib. i. 08. Origen's Philocalia, cited in Eusebius's Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 25.
? This subject is discussed infra, Vol. IV, in the eritical prefaces to cach book.
Esther was written by some eminent Jew, who lived in or near the times of the transactions therein recorded, most probably by Ezra, though some think Mordecai to have been its author ; the book of Job, by a Jew, most probably Moses; the Psalms, of David, Asaph, and other pious persons; the books of Proverbs, the Canticles and Ecclesiastes, by Solomon ; and the prophetical books, by the prophets whose names they bear.
Let us now consider the evidence of testimony for the authenticity of the books of the Old Testament. As the Jews were a more antient people than the Greeks or Romans, and were for many ages totally unconnected with them, it is not to be expected that we should derive much evidence from the historians of those nations : it is to the Jews principally that we must look for information. The uniforin belief, indeed, of all Christians, from the very commencement of Christianity to the present time, has considered the books above enumerated to have constituted the whole of the Old Testament: and the catalogues of them, which were formed by the author of the synopsis attributed to Athanasius," by Epiphanius," and Jerome, (10wards the close of the fourth century,) by Origen," (in the middle of the third century,) and Melito Bishop of Sardis, (towards the close of the second century,) all agree with the above enumeration. To these we may add the testimonies of the Greek translators of the Old Testament, Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, who lived towards the close of the second century, and that of the Peschito or old Syriac version, executed very early in the second, if not at the close of the first century of the Christian æra. Here the Jewish testimonies join us. Not to enter into any minute details concerning the several Targums or Chaldee paraphrases on various parts of the Old Testament, which were compiled between the third and ninth centuries of the Christian æra, nor the Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmuds or Commentaries
the Misna or Traditions of the Jews : — Philo, an Egyptian Jew, (who lived in the first century of the Christian æra) ascribed canonical authority to no other books than those which are
1 Athanasii Opera, tom. ii. pp. 126—204. Dr. Lardner has given the most material extracts from this synopsis, respecting the canon of Scripture. Works, 8vo. vol, iv. pp. 290, 291 ; 4to. vol. ii.
404. 2 Hæres. xxix. Op. tom. i. p. 122, et seq. 3 In his Prologus Galeotus and Epist. ad Paulinum. 4 Op. tom. ii. p. 529, and in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 25. 5 Apud Eusebium Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 26. 6 The Targums here alluded to are those called the Jerusalem Targum, and the Targum of the Pseudo-Jonathan, on the Pentateuch : that on the Cetubim, or Holy writings (comprising the books of Psalıns, Proverbs, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), the Targuin on the Megilloth (comprising the five last inentioned books), three on the book of Esther, and one on the books of Chronicles. See an account of these Targuns, infra, Vol. II. Part I. Chap. V. Sect. I.
7 De Vita Mosis, lib. ii. The passage of Philo here referred to, and also the other testimonies above cited, are given at full length (with some additional evidences from Christian writers) by Schmidius, in his elaborate Historia Antiqua et Vindicatio Canonis Sacri Veteris et Novi Testamenti, pp. 129–189. 8vo. Lipsir, 1773.
contained in the Hebrew Bible, and which alone were acknowledged by the Jews of Palestine.
We now proceed to a testimony which is more important than any of the preceding : the testimony of Josephus, who was himself a Jewish priest, and also contemporary with the apostles. Following the enumeration above accounted for, he says, in his treatise against Apion,” “ We have not thousands of books, discordant, and contradicting each other ; but we have only twenty-two, which comprehend the history of all former ages, and are justly regarded as divine. Five of them proceed from Moses ; they include as well the Laws, as an account of the creation of man, extending to the time of his (Moses's) death. This period comprehends nearly three thousand years. From the death of Moses to that of Artaxerxes, who was king of Persia after Xerxes, the Prophets, who succeeded Moses, committed to writing, in thirteen books, what was done in their days. The remaining four books contain Hymns to God (the Psalms) and instructions of life for man."
The threefold division of the Old Testament into the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, mentioned by Josephus, was expressly recognised before his time by Jesus Christ, as well as by the subsequent writers of the New Testament. We have therefore sufficient evidence that the Old Testament existed at that time; and if it be only allowed that Jesus Christ was a person of a virtuous and irreproachable character, it must be acknowledged that we draw a fair conclusion, when we assert that the Scriptures were not corrupted in his time : for, when he accused the Pharisees of making the law of no effect by their traditions, and when he enjoined his hearers to search the Scriptures, he could not have failed to mention the corruptions or forgeries of Scripture, if any had existed in that age. About fifty years before the time of Christ were written the Targums of Onkelos on the Pentateuch, and of Jonathan Ben-Uzziel on the Prophets (according to the Jewish classification of the books of the Old Testament) : which are evidence of the genuineness of those books at that time.
We have, however, unquestionable testimony of the genuineness of the Old Testament, in the fact that its canon was fixed some centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus the son of Sirach, author of the book of Ecclesiasticus, makes evident references to the pro
1 Of these Talmuds, as well as of the writings and character of Josephus, a parti. cular account will be found infra, Vol. II. Part I. Chap. VII. “ Josephius was born about the year 37 of the Christian æra ; and, therefore, though much younger than the apostles, must still have been contemporary with many of them, especially with St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. John.” Bp. Marsh's Comparative View of the Churches of England and Rome, p. 107.
2 Lib. i. Ø 8. tom. ii. p. 441, ed. Havercamp. 3 Among very many passages that might he adduced, see Matt. xi. 13. and xxii. 40. Luke xvi. 16. xx. 42. xxiv. 25. 44. Acts i. 20. iii. 22. vii. 35-37. xxvi. 22. and xxviii. 23. Rom. x. 5. 2 Cor. ii. 7-15. 2 Tim. jü. 14–17. Heb. vii. 14. and x. 28. On the canon of Jewish Scripture as referred to by Jesus Christ and in the testimonies of Phil. and Josephus, see further, Bp. Marsh's Lectures in Divinity, Part VII. Lectures xxxiii. and xxxiv. pp. 17--50.
phecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and mentions these prophets by name : he speaks also of the twelve minor prophets. It likewise appears from the prologue to that book, that the law and the prophets, and other antient books, were extant at the same period. The book of Ecclesiasticus, according to the best chronologers, was written in the Syro-Chaldaic dialect, about A. M. 3772, that is, two hundred and thirty-two years before the Christian æra, and was translated by the grandson of Jesus into Greek, for the use of the Alexandrian Jews. The prologue was added by the translator, but this circumstance does not diminish the evidence for the antiquity of the Old Testament: for he informs us, that the Law and the Prophets, and the other books of their fathers, were studied by his grandfather ; a sufficient proof that they were extant in his time.
Fifty years, indeed, before the age of the author of Ecclesiasticus, or two hundred and eighty-two years before the Christian æra, the Greek version of the Old Testament, usually called the Septuagint, was executed at Alexandria, the books of which are the same as in our Bibles ; whence it is evident that we still have those identical books, which the most antient Jews attested to be genuine, a benefit this which has not happened to any antient profane books whatever. Indeed, as no authentic books of a more antient date, except those of the Old Testament, are extant, it is impossible to ascend higher in search of testimony. The evidence, indeed, which we have adduced, is not merely that of the more modern Jews. It is also that of the most antient, as is manifest from this circumstance, that the later of these books always recognise others as known to be more antient, and almost every where cite them by name : whence it is evident that those antient authors long since received testimony from their ancestors, that those more antient books were the genuine works of the authors whose names they bear. III. Strong - we may add indisputable -- as this external evi
— dence of the genuineness of the Old Testament unquestionably is, the internal evidence, arising from the consideration of the language, style, manner of writing, and also from the circumstantiality of the narratives, contained in the Books of the Old Testament, is an equally decisive and incontestable argument for their genuineness, and also to show that they were not and could not be invented by one impostor, or by several contemporary impostors, or by several successive impostors.
1. The language, style, and manner of writing, used in the books of the Old Testament, are internal arguments of their genuineness ; and prove not only that they must have been written by different persons, but also enable us with precision to ascertain a time, at or before which they must have been composed.
1 For this view of the internal evidence of the genuineness of the Old Testament, the author is chiefly indebted to the observations of the profound and ingenious philosopher David Hartley (on Man, vol. ii. pp. 97–104.), and of the learned and accurate professor Jahn (Introductio in Libros-Sacros Veteris Fæderis, pp. 18