Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

(c) An English translation of this work has also gone through several editions. Tr. ]

(d) It has also been translated into English, and published under the title of Dupin on the Canon, London, 1699, folio. Tr.]

(e) Michaelis and Eichhorn, in the works mentioned by Jahn, first began to give the reins to that spirit of hypercriticism which has since so greatly affected the biblical criticism of Germany. SEMLER in his Apparatus ad liberalem Veteris Testamenti interpretationem, Halæ, 1773, and his Abhandlung von freier Untersuchung des Kanon. 4. Th. Halle, 1771–1775, had prepared the way for the doubts and conjectures of Michaelis and Eichhorn and their followers. BAUER in his Entwurf einer Einleitung in die Schriften des Alten Testaments, Nurimberg & Altorf, 1794, and in his Critica Sacra and Hermeneutica Sacra, Leipzig, 1795, 1797, ably followed up their principles. AUGUsTi, Grundrisz einer Historisch-kritische Einleitung ins Alt. Test. Leipz. 1806, and De WETTE, Beyträgen zur Einleitung in A. T. 2 Th. Halle, 1806-7, and Lehrbuch der Hist. krit. Einleitung in die kanonischen und apokryphischen Bücher des A. T., Berlin, 1817 (2d ed. 1822) are the principal late writers of a similar character. The advances to scepticism have been considerably retarded by the productions of Jahn, (Einleitung in die Göttlichen Bücher des alten Bundes, 2. Th. Wein, 1802, 2te. aufl., and Introductio in libros sacros Veteris Føderis in compendium redacta, Viennae, 1805, ed. 2ua. 1815,) and in some respects by the work of BERTHOLDT, who is far from going to the lengths of Augusti, Vater, De Wette, Gesenius, and some other modern German critics. - To use the expression of De Wette, 'the English also have at last done something in this way,' in the learned and voluminous work of the Rev. T. H. HORNE, entitled • An Introduction to the critical Study and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures' published in 3 vols. 8vo. London, 1821. and much enlarged in three subsequent editions in 4 vols. 8vo. the last of which is dated 1823. It has also been republished in 4 vols. 8vo. at Philadelphia, 1825. An abridgment published in 12mo. 1826, has already appeare l in a second and improved edition at London, and proposals have been issued for a second edition in this country.

For full lists of the various introductions to the Old Testament and of their principal editions, see Jahns Einleit. Th. I. S. 21—29, and DE WETTES Lehrbuch der historisch-kritisches Einleitung, $ 6. S. 4—7. For historical notices of this branch of criticism, see ROSENMUELLERI Historia Interpretationis, 5 tom. 12mo. Lips. 1795–1814, passim, and Ammon's Preface to his edition of ERNESTI Institutio Interpretis Nov. Test.--Tr.]

[ocr errors]

PART I.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE SACRED BOOKS OF

THE OLD TESTAMENT.

CHAPTER I.

THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ARE GENUINE, INCORRUPT, AND

WORTHY OF CREDIT.

$ 6. The question, whether the books of the Old Testament are genu

ine or spurious, is of the greatest importance. If the books of the Old Testament were not written by those authors to whom they are attributed, or nearly in those ages to which they are supposed to belong [a] but on the contrary, were composed by other persons at a much more recent period—in one word, if they were spurious, the history contained in them would be much less worthy of belief; that plan which so completely pervades all the books might have been foisted into the history at a later period ; the ancient miracles recorded, might have been invented in a recent age, or made up by an alteration of natural events; the prophecies might have been forged after the occurrence of the events which they seem to predict ; and in fine, Jesus and his apostles would have approved of the works of impostors. Hence it appears of how great moment is the question, whether these books are genuine, i. e. whether they were written by the authors whose productions they profess to be, and (which is particularly important when the author of any book is unknown) at those times to which they are attributed.

[ocr errors]

(a) Although the determination of the age of a book is always important in the investigation of its genuineness, whether the author be known or not, yet to do this accurately is not always possible. Often, even when the author of a book is known, the numerous difficulties in chronology, and the disagreement of chronologers, render it impossible to fix its date with certainty. But when the author of a work is unknown, or when he gives no determinate indications of the time in which he lived, and there is no other credible testimony on this point, the evidence which can be collected from the contents of his work very seldom suffices to designate with accuracy the time in which the book itself was written. In examining the genuineness of the sacred books, therefore, we must be content, as is the case with respect to profane authors, when we can nearly ascertain the time of their composition. For instance, if the author of the Pentateuch is found to be the same Moses, whom he professes to be, the leader of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land, it matters not whether the events in which he was concerned took place two or three hundred years earlier or later. Consequently, the work itself may have been written two or three centuries earlier or later and yet be equally genuine; just as the poems of Homer and Hesiod are equally genuine, whether, with some chronologers, we place those wri. ters in the 10th century before Christ, or with others in the 9th, or even in the 8th. But if the author of the Mosaic books were found to be a Moses different from the leader and lawgiver of the Hebrews, and to have lived some time after the conquest of Canaan, and to have published these writings of his own in the name of the more ancient Moses, then these books would be spurious; just as the history of Herodotus, who flourished at the commencement of the Peloponnesian war (444 B. C.) would be spurious, if it had been written (as Jacob Gautier has supposed) by another Herodotus, who did not live before the time of Constantine the Great.]

§ 7. The nature of the arguments used to prove the genuineness of

books.

At what time, and by what author, any book may have been written, is a question of fact which can only be decided by historical proofs. Historical proofs consist of the testimony of witnesses against whom no exception can be taken, competent to know and willing to declare the truth and of tokens observable in the contents, language, style, and character of the book in question, which shop it to be the production of a certain author, or at least of a ce ain. age. The former is called external evidence ; the latter internal evi

dence. The two united are abundantly sufficient to prove the genuineness of any ancient profane writing and by parity of reason nothing more can be required in the present question.

.

§ 8. Testimony to the genuineness of the book of the Old Testament.

I. Those who were coeval with each Hebrew writer, and copied the book received from his own hands, and afterwards furnished their copies to others for transcription, certainly knew by what author and at what time the book was published ; and these persons by handing down this book with definite marks of its author and age to their successors, and they again by transmitting it to their posterity, and so on from one to another through all subsequent ages, gave their testimony that it really belonged to the author and age to which it made pretensions.

II. This tradition would be the more easily propagated with fidelity, especially in the remote ages in which the first books of the Old Testament were written, on account of the scarcity of books, which rendered it less difficult to retain the memory of their origin. Besides, it was not communicated by learned men, who obscure the truth by the multiplicity of their conjectures, to their disciples, but by fathers, faithfully recounting the same narration a multitude of times, to their children ; it possesses, therefore, the utmost degree of certainty, and is on that account commended in Deut. xxxii. 7. s. Ps. lxxviii. 3—7. Hence it happened, that many authors did not subscribe to their works either their name or the age in which they lived. In those books to which the author had added his name, nothing more was necessary than a faithful transcription of this notice, which could be made with the greatest ease.

III. There was no motive to induce the Hebrews to corrupt or alter this simple tradition.

IV. On the contrary, as at least the greater part of the nation set great value on these books, reason required that the account of their origin should be faithfully transmitted to their posterity.

V. If, however, the nation had been disposed to betray its trust, reasons were not wanting to induce it to have feigned these books to be spurious. They contain many things which must have been disagreeable, particularly the continual rebukes and upbraidings be

[merged small][ocr errors]

stowed upon it, as a people indocile, intractable, and obstinate. If, therefore, notwithstanding the unpleasant nature of part of the contents of these books the nation continued to bear testimony to their genuineness it was a witness against itself, and on that account free from all objections. This argument also tends to exclude the hypothesis that the histories have been inserted in a later age.

VI. It could not easily happen that the knowledge of the origin of these books should be corrupted since a whole tribe had been consecrated for the purpose of keeping the sacred records, as well as on other accounts. Among the other tribes there always existed, even during the Babylonish captivity, men such as the judges in the earlier times and afterwards the prophets, who highly esteemed these books for the very reason that they had descended from the age, and from the authors assigned to them.-If the names of some of the authors, and even the times in which they lived have been forgotten, yet the nation acknowledges its ignorance concerning them ; which is a proof of its unwillingness to testify to any thing which it has not received as certain from its ancestors. Even of these anonymous books the date was not so far neglected, as not to leave it certain that no one book was written later than the fifth century before Christ. This is confirmed by the fact that so early as the third century before Christ these books were, as ancient and genuine productions, translated into Greek. It is plain, therefore, that the books we have at the present day, are the very same with those, to the genuineness of which the most ancient Hebrews bore testimony.

VII. The evidence that we allege in favour of these books is not that of the modern, but of the most ancient Hebrews, as will

appear from the fact that some of these books mention others of greater antiquity as well known and cite them every where by name. This proves that the authors who were themselves ancient, had learned from their ancestors, that the more ancient books were the genuine productions of the authors and times to which they are ascribed. [a]

(a) Jahn, Einleit. S. 40. ff., shows at some length, and with much ability, the rashness and unreasonableness of setting aside the testimony of the Jewish nation to the genuineness of the sacred books, a step which is more or less decisively taken by many of the modern German

« AnteriorContinuar »