« AnteriorContinuar »
that there is no reason to suppose that similar records were not kept, in some families at least before the flood. Dr. Gleig further conceives that the art of writing was communicated, among others, to Noah and his sons by their antediluvian ancestors, and that it has never since been wholly lost; and that, if this were the case, there probably were in the family of Abraham books of Jasher, or annals commencing from the beginning of the world; and if so, Moses might have found in them an account of the events which constitute the subject of the book of Genesis.
Ön the continent this hypothesis was adopted by M. Astruc,1 who fancied that he discovered traces of twelve different antient documents, from which the earlier chapters of Exodus, as well as the entire book of Genesis, are compiled. These, however, were reduced by Eichhorn to two in number, which he affirms may be distinguished by the appellations of Elohim and Jehovah given to the Almighty. The hypothesis of Eichhorn is adopted by Rosenmüller, (from whom it was borrowed by the late Dr. Geddes1) and is partially acceded to by Jahn. To this hypothesis there is but one objection, and we apprehend that it is a fatal one; namely, the total silence of Moses as to any documents consulted by him. He has, it is true, referred in Numbers xxi. 14. to the "Book of the Wars of the Lord;" but if he had copied from any previously existing memoirs into the book of Genesis, is it likely that such an historian, every page of whose writings is stamped with every possible mark of authenticity and integrity, would have omitted to specify the sources whence he derived his history? Should the reader, however, be disposed to adopt the hypothesis of Vitringa and Calmet without the refinements of Eichhorn and his followers, this will not in the smallest degree detract from the genuineness of the book of Genesis. It was undoubtedly composed by Moses, and it has been received as his by his countrymen in all ages. But it is not necessary to suppose that he received by inspiration an account of facts, which he might easily have obtained by natural means. All that is necessary to believe is, that the Spirit of God directed him in the choice of the facts recorded in his work; enabled him to represent them without partiality; and preserved him from being led into mistakes by any inaccuracy that might have found its way into the annals which he consulted. "If this be admitted, it is of no consequence whether Moses compiled the book of Genesis from annals preserved in the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or wrote the whole of it by immediate inspiration: for, on either supposition, it is a narrative of divine authority, and contains an authentic account of facts, which constitute the foundation of the Jewish and Christian religions; or, to
1 Conjectures sur les Mémoires Originaux dont il paroit que Moyse s'est servi pour composer le livre de la Genese. 8vo. Bruxelles, 1753.
2 Einleitung in das Alte Testament (Introduction to the Old Testament), part i. § 416. p. 245.
3 Rosenmüller, Scholia in Vet. Test. tom. i. pp. 7-12. Lipsim, 1795.
4 In his translation of the Bible, vol. i. and his critical remarks.
use more accurate language, the one great but progressive scheme of revealed religion."
In addition to the native testimony of the Jews, which has been already stated, respecting the genuineness and authenticity of the Pentateuch, we have the undisputed testimony of the most distinguished writers of pagan antiquity; which will have the greater weight, as they were generally prejudiced against the whole nation of the Jews.
Thus, Manetho, Eupolemus, Artapanus, Tacitus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Justin the abbreviator of Trogus, and Juvenal, besides many other antient writers, ALL testify that Moses was the leader of the Jews and the founder of their laws. The Egyptians, as Josephus asserts, esteemed him to be a wonderful and divine man: and were willing to have him thought a priest of their own, which certainly was a proof of their high opinion of him, though mixed with other fabulous relations. The great critic, Longinus, extolling those who represent the Deity as he really is, pure, great, and unmixed,* testifies that thus did the legislator of the Jews; who (says he) was no ordinary man, and, as he conceived, so he spoke worthily of the power of God. Numenius, the Pythagorean philosopher, of Apamea in Syria, called Moses a man most powerful in prayer to God, and said, "What is Plato but Moses speaking in the Attic dialect;" which sentiment, whether just or not, is yet a proof of this philosopher's high opinion of Moses.
Further, Porphyry, one of the most acute and learned enemies of Christianity, admitted the genuineness of the Pentateuch, and acknowledged that Moses was prior to the Phoenician historian Sanchoniathon, who lived before the Trojan war. He even contended
for the truth of Sanchoniathon's account of the Jews, from its coincidence with the Mosaic history. Nor was the genuineness of the Pentateuch denied by any of the numerous writers against the Gospel during the first four centuries of the Christian æra, although the fathers constantly appealed to the history and prophecies of the Old Testament in support of the divine origin of the doctrines which they taught. The power of historical truth compelled the emperor Julian, whose favour to the Jews appears to have proceeded solely from his hostility to the Christians, to acknowledge that persons instructed by the Spirit of God once lived among the Israelites; and to confess that the books which bore the name of Moses were genuine, and that the facts they contained were worthy of credit. Even Mohammed maintained the inspiration of Moses, and revered the sanctity of the Jewish laws. Manetho, Berosus, and many others, give accounts
1 Bp. Gleig's edition of Stackhouse, vol. i. p. xxi.
2 Bishop Newton has collected all the leading testimonies above noticed, concerning Moses, at length, in his Dissertation on Moses and his Writings. Works, vol. i. pp. 32-40.
3 Josephus contra Apion. lib. i. § 31.
4 Longinus de Sublimitate, § 9. p. 50. ed. 2da. Pearce.
Numenius apud Clem. Alexandr. Stromata, lib. i. § 22. p. 41. edit. Potter. Ensebius, Præp. Evang. lib. ix. § 6 et 8.
confirming and according with the Mosaic history. The Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman authors, concur in relating the tradition respecting the creation, the fall of man, the deluge, and the dispersion of mankind: and the lately acquired knowledge of the Sanscrit language, by opening the treasures of the eastern world, has confirmed all these traditions as concurring with the narrative in the sacred history. Yet, notwithstanding all these testimonies to the genuineness of the Pentateuch, and consequently to the character of Moses, his very existence has been denied, and the account of him pronounced to be perfectly mythological.
"To the preceding demonstration perhaps the following objection will be made; We will admit the force of your arguments, and grant that Moses actually wrote a work called the Book of the Law: but how can we be certain that it was the very work which is now current under his name? And unless you can show this to be at least probable, your whole evidence is of no value.' To illustrate the force or weakness of this objection, let us apply it to some antient Greek author, and see whether a classical scholar would allow it to be of weight. It is true that the Greek writers speak of Homer as an antient and celebrated poet; it is true also that they have quoted from the works, which they ascribe to him, various passages that we find at present in the Iliad and Odyssey: yet still there is a possibility that the poems which were written by Homer, and those which we call the Iliad and Odyssey, were totally distinct productions.' Now an advocate for Greek literature would reply to this objection, not with a serious answer, but with a smile of contempt; and he would think it beneath his dignity to silence an opponent who appeared to be deaf to the clearest conviction. But still more may be said in defence of Moses than in defence of Homer; for the writings of the latter were not deposited in any temple, or sacred archive, in order to secure them from the devastations of time, whereas the copy of the book of the law, as written by Moses, was intrusted to the priests and the elders, preserved in the ark of the covenant, and read to the people every seventh year.3 Suffi
1 The topics here briefly glanced at, are considered more fully, infra, Chapter III. Sect. I.
2 The Discourses of Sir William Jones, delivered to the Asiatic Society at Calcutta, and printed in the three first volumes of their Researches, the Indian Antiquities, and History of India, by Mr. Maurice, may be referred to, as containing incontestable evidence of the antiquity and genuineness of the Mosaic records. Mr. Carwithen has very ably condensed all the information to be derived from these voluminous works, in his Bampton Lectures for the year 1809, particularly in the first five discourses.
3 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the years of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of
cient care therefore was taken, not only for the preservation of the original record, but that no spurious production should be substituted in its stead. And that no spurious production ever has been substituted in the stead of the original composition of Moses, appears from the evidence both of the Greek Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. For as these agree with the Hebrew, except in some trifling variations, to which every work is exposed by length of time, it is absolutely certain that the five books, which we now ascribe to Moses, are one and the same work with that which was translated into Greek in the time of the Ptolemies, and, what is of still greater importance, with that which existed in the time of Solomon. And as the Jews could have had no motive whatsoever, during the period which elapsed between the age of Joshua and that of Solomon, for substituting a spurious production instead of the original as written by Moses; and even had they been inclined to attempt the imposture, would have been prevented by the care which had been taken by their lawgiver, we must conclude that our present Pentateuch is the identical work that was delivered by Moses.
4. But, besides the external evidence which has been produced in favour of the books in question, equally convincing arguments may be drawn from their contents. The very mode of writing, in the four last books, discovers an author contemporary with the events which he relates; every description, both religious and political, is a proof that the writer was present at each respective scene; and the legislative and historical parts are so interwoven with each other, that neither of them could have been written by a man who lived in a later age. For instance, the frequent genealogies, which occur in the Pentateuch, form a strong proof that it was composed by a writer of a very early date, and from original materials. "The genealogies of the Jewish tribes were not mere arbitrary lists of names, in which the writer might insert as many fictitious ones as he pleased, retaining only some few more conspicuous names of existing families, to preserve an appearance of their being founded in reality but they were a complete enumeration of all the original stocks, from some one of which every family in the Jewish nation derived its origin, and in which no name was to be inserted, whose descendants or heirs did not exist in possession of the property, which the original family had possessed at the first division of the promised land. The distribution of property by tribes and families proves, that some such catalogues of families as we find in the Pentateuch must have existed at the very first division of the country; these must have been carefully preserved, because the property of every family was unalienable, since, if sold, it was to return to the original the covenant of the Lord your God. Deut. xxxi. 9—11, 24—26. There is a passage to the same purpose in Josephus : Δηλούται δια των ανακειμένων εν τω ιερω γράμ parov. Josephi Antiquitat. lib. v. c. i. § 17. tom. i. p. 185. ed. Hudson.
1 See the collation of the Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuch, in the sixth volume of the London Polyglott, p. 19. of the Animadversiones Samariticæ.
2 See Waltoni Prolegom. xi. § 11.
3 Vide Numb. ch. i. ii. & iii. and especially ch. xxvi. and xxxiv.
family at each year of jubilee. The genealogies of the Pentateuch, if they differed from this known and authentic register, would have been immediately rejected, and with them, the whole work. They therefore impart to the entire history all the authenticity of such a public register; for surely it is not in the slightest degree probable, that the Pentateuch should ever have been received as the original record of the settlement and division of Judea, if so important a part of it as the register of the genealogies had been known to exist long before its publication, and to have been merely copied into it from pre-existing documents.
"Again, we may make a similar observation on the geographical enumerations of places in the Pentateuch; the accounts constantly given, of their deriving their names from particular events and particular persons; and on the details of marches and encampments which occur, first in the progress of the direct narrative, when only some few stations distinguished by remarkable facts are noticed, and afterwards at its close, where a regular list is given of all the stations of the Jewish camp. All this looks like reality; whenever the Pentateuch was published, it would have been immediately rejected, except the account it gives of the origin of these names, and of the series of these marches, had been known to be true by the Jews in general; for the book states, that many of these names were adopted in consequence of these events, from the very time they took place; and it also states, that the entire nation was engaged in these marches. Now, the memory of such circumstances as these cannot long exist without writing. If the Pentateuch was not what it pretends to be, the original detail of these circumstances, it could not have been received; for, if it was published long after the events, and there was no pre-existing document of these details, which it delivers as things well known, how could it be received as true? If it was copied from a known pre-existing document, how could it be received as being itself the original? Besides, it is natural for the spectator of events to connect every circumstance with the place where it happened. An inventor of fiction would not venture upon this, as it would facilitate the detection of his falsehood; a compiler long subsequent would not trouble himself with it, except in some remarkable cases. The very natural and artless manner in which all circumstances of this nature are introduced in the Pentateuch, increases the probability of its being the work of an eyewitness, who could introduce them with ease, while to any body else it would be extremely difficult and therefore unnatural; since it would render his work much more laborious, without making it more instructive.
"All these things bespeak a writer present at the transactions, deeply interested in them, recording each object as it was suggested to his mind by facts, conscious he had such authority with the persons to whom he wrote, as to be secure of their attention, and utterly indifferent as to style or ornament, and those various arts which are
1 Vide Exod. xiv. 2. xv. 27. xvii. 7. And compare Numbers, ch. xx. xxi. and xxxiii. xxxiv. xxxv.; also Deut. i. ii. iii.