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Title: The Christian View of the Old Testament
Author: Eiselen, Frederick Carl
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Professor in Garrett Biblical Institute



  Copyright, 1912

  Printed in the United States of America

  First Edition Printed September, 1912
  Second Printing, June, 1913
  Third Printing, May, 1916
  Fourth Printing, November, 1917
  Fifth Printing, September, 1921
  Sixth Printing, September, 1923
  Seventh Printing, October, 1925
  Eighth Printing, July, 1928



CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

       PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    7
  IV.  THE OLD TESTAMENT AND ARCHAEOLOGY . . . . . . . . .  110
       INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  264





During the past half century the attitude of many men toward the Bible
has undergone a decided change.  The old confidence seems to be gone; a
feeling of uncertainty and of unrest has taken its place.  This small
volume is intended to set forth the Christian view of the Old
Testament, and to furnish answers to some of the questions men are
asking concerning the Sacred Scriptures of the Hebrews, which the early
Christians included in the canon of Christian sacred writings.  The old
foundations are not shaken.  The Old Testament has stood the tests of
the past, which have been severe and often merciless; and there is
to-day stronger ground than ever for believing that in its pages "men
spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit."


Evanston, Illinois.




The Christian Church has always assigned to the Bible a unique place in
theology and life.  What is true of the Bible as a whole is equally
true of that part of the Bible which is known as the Old Testament.
Indeed, until the middle of the second century of the Christian era,
the only Scriptures accepted as authoritative were those of the Old
Testament.  Even then, only gradually and under the pressure of real
need, different groups of Christian writings were added and received an
authority equal to that of the older Scriptures.  And though in the
course of the centuries there have been some who denied to the Old
Testament a rightful place in Christian thought and life, the Church as
a whole has always upheld the judgment of the early Christians in
making the Old Testament a part of the canon of Christian sacred

It is worthy of note that the Old Testament played an important part in
the religious life of Jesus.  No one can study the records of his life
without seeing that he gathered much of his {10} spiritual nourishment
from its pages.  Even in the moments of severest temptation, greatest
distress, and bitterest agony the words of these ancient writings were
on his lips, and their consoling and inspiring messages in his heart
and mind.  This attitude of Jesus toward the ancient Hebrew Scriptures
in itself explains the high estimate placed upon them by his followers.
For, in the words of G. A. Smith, "That which was used by the Redeemer
himself for the sustenance of his own soul can never pass out of the
use of his redeemed.  That from which he proved the divinity of his
mission and the age-long preparation for his coming must always have a
principal place in his Church's argument for him."[1]

The attitude of Jesus is reflected in his disciples and those who have
given to us the New Testament books.  Nearly three hundred quotations
from the Old Testament are scattered throughout the Gospels and
Epistles, and in a number of passages is the value of Old Testament
study specifically emphasized.  Perhaps nowhere is this done more
clearly than in 2 Tim. 3. 15-17, in words written primarily of the Old
Testament: "The sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto
salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  Every scripture
inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for {11}
correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of
God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work."
Evidently the writer of these words considers the sacred writings of
the Hebrews able to inspire a personal saving faith in Jesus, the
Christ; to furnish a knowledge of the things of God; and to prepare for
efficient service.  And these are the elements which enter into the
life advocated and illustrated by the Founder of Christianity.

An attempt will be made in this chapter to determine the New Testament
view of the Old Testament for the purpose of discovering what is the
proper Christian view of that part of the Bible.  For, if the teaching,
spirit, and example of Jesus have a vital relation to Christian belief,
and if his immediate followers have preserved an essentially accurate
portrayal of him, then the modern Christian view of the Old Testament
should be a reflection of the view of Jesus and of those who, as a
result of their intimate fellowship with him, were in a position to
give a correct interpretation of him and his teaching.

We may inquire, in the first place, what is the New Testament view of
the purpose of the Old Testament Scriptures?  The answer to this
inquiry is furnished by the passage in the Second Epistle to Timothy
quoted above.  Neither this nor any other passage in the whole Bible
warrants {12} the belief that the Old Testament ever was meant to teach
physical science, or history, or philosophy, or psychology.  Everywhere
it is stated or clearly implied that the purpose of all biblical
teaching is to make man morally and spiritually perfect, and to furnish
him "unto every good work."  Therefore we may expect that where the Old
Testament writers touch upon questions of science and history they
develop them only in so far as they serve this higher religious and
ethical purpose.  This being the biblical view of the purpose of the
Scriptures, any theory of the Old Testament which makes no distinction
between scientific and historical statements on the one hand, and
religious and ethical statements on the other, is inadequate and
erroneous, because it is not in accord with the New Testament teaching
on that point.

The purpose of the Bible is intimately connected with its nature and
character.  The New Testament view of the nature and character of the
Old Testament is suggested in Heb. 1. 1, 2: "God, having of old time
spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in
divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in a Son."
Four great truths concerning the Old Testament dispensation are
definitely indicated in these words, with a fifth one implied: (1)
_God_ spoke; (2) God spoke in the prophets, {13} that is, in or through
_human agents_; (3) God spoke _in divers portions_; (4) God spoke _in
divers manners_; (5) the words imply that _the Old Testament
dispensation was incomplete_; it had to be supplemented and perfected
by a revelation in and through a Son.  The truths expressed here
constitute the essential elements which enter into the New Testament
view of the Old Testament.

The two expressions, "in divers portions" and "in divers manners,"
concern largely the external form of divine revelation.  The former
means that the revelations recorded in the Old Testament were not given
at one time, through one channel or by one man, but at many times,
through many channels, by many men, scattered over a period of many
centuries, in places hundreds of miles apart.  One result of this is
seen in the fact that the Old Testament contains many books written by
different authors in successive periods of Hebrew history.

The latter expression has to do with the different kinds of literature
in the Old Testament, but it goes deeper than mere literary form.  It
means that in giving revelations of himself during the Old Testament
period God used various methods and means, the different kinds of
literature being simply the outgrowth of the various modes of

It is a universal Christian belief that God {14} reveals himself to-day
in divers manners and modes.  Every Christian believes, for example,
that God reveals himself in the events of history, be it the history of
individuals or of nations.  Again, to many devout persons, God speaks
very distinctly through the outward acts and ceremonies of worship.  To
thousands of earnest and sincere Christians connected with churches
using an elaborate ritual, this ritual is no mere form; it is a means
of blessing and grace through which God reveals himself to their souls.
Moreover, God selects certain persons, especially well qualified to
hear his voice; these he commissions as ambassadors to declare him and
his will to the people.  The belief in this method of revelation is the
philosophical basis for the offices of the Christian preacher and the
Christian religious teacher.  Once more, in his attempt to reach the
human heart God may dispense with all external means; he may and does
reveal himself by working directly upon and in the mind and spirit of
the individual.  These are some of the "manners" in which God reveals
himself to his children to-day, and these are some of the means and
manners in which God made himself known during the Old Testament
dispensation.  Then, as he does now, he revealed himself in nature, in
the events of history, in the ritual, and by direct impressions; and at
times he selected certain individuals to whom he might {15} make
himself known in all these various ways and who could transmit the
various revelations to others.  The Old Testament contains records and
interpretations of these manifold revelations.  It is self-evident that
when attempts were made to record these various manifestations of God
different kinds of literature must be used in order to express most
vividly the truth or truths gathered from the divine revelations.  The
several kinds of literature, therefore, are the natural outgrowth of
the manifold modes of divine revelation.  In the Old Testament five
kinds of literature may be distinguished: the prophetic, the wisdom,
the devotional, the legal or priestly, and the historical.  In their
production four classes of religious workers who observed, interpreted,
and mediated the divine revelations, were active: the prophets, the
wise men, the priests (compare Jer. 18. 18), and the psalmists.

The prophetic literature owes its origin to prophetic activity.  The
prophets towered above their contemporaries in purity of character,
strength of intellect, sincerity of purpose, intimacy of communion with
God, and illumination by the divine Spirit.  As a result of these
qualifications they were able to understand truth hidden from the eyes
and minds of those who did not live in the same intimate fellowship
with Jehovah.  Their high conceptions of the character of God enabled
{16} them to appreciate the divine ideals of righteousness, and they
sought with flaming enthusiasm to impress the truths burning in their
hearts upon their less enlightened contemporaries.  In carrying out
this purpose they became statesmen, social reformers, and religious and
ethical teachers.  No records have been preserved of the utterances of
the earliest prophets.  But when, with the general advance in culture,
reading and writing became more common, the prophets, anxious to reach
a wider circle, and to preserve their messages for more willing ears,
put their utterances into writing, and to this new departure we owe the
sublime specimens of prophetic literature in the Old Testament.

In his direct appeal to heart and conscience the ancient prophet
resembles the modern preacher.  The wise man, like the prophet, sought
to make the divine will known to others, but in his method he
resembles, rather, the modern religious teacher.  His ultimate aim was
to influence conduct and life, but instead of appealing directly to the
conscience he addressed himself primarily to the mind through counsel
and argument, hoping that his appeal to the common sense of the
listener would make an impression, the effects of which might be seen
in transformed conduct.  The prophet would have said to the lazy man,
"Thus saith Jehovah, Go to work, thou indolent man." {17} Prov. 24.
30-34 may serve as an illustration of the method of the wise man:

  I went by the field of the sluggard,
  And by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
  And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns,
  The face thereof was covered with nettles,
  And the stone wall thereof was broken down
  Then I beheld, and considered well;
  I saw, and received instruction:
  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,
  A little folding of the hands to sleep;
  So shall thy poverty come as a robber,
  And thy want as an armed man.

Nothing escaped the observation of these men, and from beginning to end
they emphasized the important truth that religion and the daily life
are inseparable.  From giving simple practical precepts, the wise men
rose to speculation, and the books of Job and Ecclesiastes bear witness
that they busied themselves with no mean problems.

Of profound significance is also the devotional literature of the Old
Testament.  In a real sense the entire Old Testament is a book of
devotion.  It is the outgrowth of a spirit of intense devotion to
Jehovah, and it has helped in all ages to nurture the devotional spirit
of its readers.  Here, however, the term "devotional" is used in the
narrower sense of those poetic compositions which are primarily the
expressions of the religious experience or emotions of the authors,
generated {18} and fostered by their intimate fellowship with Jehovah.
The chief representative of this literature is the book of Psalms,
which is aptly described by Johannes Arnd in these words: "What the
heart is in man, that is the Psalter in the Bible."  The Psalms contain
in the form of sacred lyrics the outpourings of devout souls--prophets,
priests, kings, wise men, and peasants--who came into the very presence
of God, held communion with him, and were privileged to hear the sweet
sound of his voice.  No other literary compositions lift us into such
atmosphere of religious thought and emotion.  Because these lyrics
reflect personal experiences they may still be used to express emotions
of joy, sorrow, hope, fear, anticipation, etc., even by persons who
live on a higher spiritual plane than did the original authors.

The legal literature differs from the other kinds in that it does not
form separate books, but is embodied in other writings, principally in
the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  All the
representatives of Jehovah--prophets, priests, wise men, and even
psalmists--were thought competent to make known the law of Jehovah, but
the Old Testament makes it clear that at a comparatively early period
the giving of law came to be looked upon as the special duty of the
priests.  These priests constituted a {19} very important class of
religious workers among the ancient Hebrews.  During the greater part
of the national life their chief functions were the care of the
sanctuary and the performance of ceremonial rites.  But in addition to
these duties they continued to administer the law of Jehovah,
consisting not only of ceremonial regulations but also of moral and
judicial precepts and directions.  For centuries these laws may have
been transmitted by word of mouth, or were only partially committed to
writing, but when circumstances made it desirable to codify them and
put them in writing the priests would be called upon to take this
advance step.  Thus, while it is quite probable that other
representatives of Jehovah helped to formulate laws, the legal
literature embodied in the Old Testament reached its final form under
priestly influence.

The historical literature furnishes an interpretation of the movements
of God in the events of history.  It owes its origin in part to
prophetic, in part to priestly, activity.  The prophet was an
ambassador of Jehovah appointed to make known the divine will
concerning the past, the present, and the future.  Of the present he
spoke as a preacher; when his message concerned the future it took the
form of prediction; but the case might arise that the people failed to
understand the significance of events in their own history, and {20}
thus failed to appreciate the lessons which the events were intended to
teach.  If these lessons were not to be lost, some one must serve as an
interpreter, and who would be better qualified to furnish the right
interpretation than the prophet?  This demand made of him, in a sense,
an historian, not for the purpose of merely recording events but of
interpreting them at the same time, and these prophetic interpretations
are embodied in the historical literature originating with the prophets.

But not all Old Testament history comes from the prophets.  As already
indicated, the legal and ceremonial literature is due to priestly
activity.  Now, in connection with the recording of the laws, customs,
institutions, and ceremonial requirements, the origin of these laws and
customs became a matter of interest and importance.  This interest, and
the demand for information arising from it, led the priests also to
become historians.  And to these priestly writers we are indebted for
not a small part of sacred history.

The third truth taught by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews is
that God spoke unto the fathers in or by the prophets, which means,
that he used _human agents_ to mediate his revelations.  The Old
Testament may be more than a human production; nevertheless, it will be
{21} impossible to appreciate it adequately unless it is borne in mind
that it contains a human element.  In the first place may be noted the
differences in style between various writers.  These are frequently the
outgrowth of differences in temperament and early training.  Even the
English reader can notice such differences between Amos and Hosea, or
between Isaiah and Jeremiah.  Evidently, whatever divine coöperation
the biblical writers enjoyed, they retained enough of their human
faculties and powers to make use of their own peculiar styles.

Again, the hand of man may be seen in the manner of literary
composition.  Most Bible students are familiar with the opening words
of the Gospel of Luke: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up
a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among
us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were
eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also,
having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to
write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; that thou mightest
know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed."
Evidently, the evangelist carefully sifted the material at hand before
he wrote the Gospel, just as a modern writer would do.  In the Old
Testament even clearer evidence is found {22} that the authors of the
several books were guided in the process of composition by the same
principles as writers of extra-biblical productions.  The most
suggestive illustrations of this fact are found in the books of
Chronicles, in which reference is made again and again to the sources
from which the compiler gathered his material.  In 1 Chron. 29. 29, for
example, mention is made of the "words of Samuel the seer, ... the
words of Nathan the prophet, and ... the words of Gad the seer"; 2
Chron. 9. 29 refers to "words of Nathan the prophet, ... the prophecy
of Ahijah, ... the visions of Iddo the seer."  These are only a few of
the references scattered throughout Chronicles, but they are sufficient
to show that in their composition methods employed by secular writers
were used.  The same characteristic appears in the book of Proverbs.
According to its own testimony, it contains several separate
collections.  After the general title, "Proverbs of Solomon," in 1. 1,
the following additional headings are found: 10. 1, "Proverbs of
Solomon"; 22. 17, "The words of the wise"; 24. 23, "These also are the
sayings of the wise"; 25. 1, "These also are the proverbs of Solomon,
which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out"; 30. 1, "The
words of Agur"; 31. 1, "The words of King Lemuel"; 31. 10-31 is an
anonymous alphabetic acrostic.  Similar more or less clearly marked
phenomena may {23} be noted in other Old Testament books, all of them
bearing witness to the presence of a human element in these writings.

More significant are the historical inaccuracies found here and there
in the books.  They may not be serious; the substantial accuracy of the
writings may be established, but even the slightest inaccuracy
constitutes a blemish which one would not expect in a work coming
directly from an all-wise God.  For example, 2 Kings 18. 10 states that
Samaria was taken in the sixth year of Hezekiah, king of Judah; verse
13 contains the statement that in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah,
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came against Jerusalem.  Now, the date of
the capture of Samaria is definitely fixed by the Assyrian
inscriptions.  The city fell either in the closing days of B.C. 722, or
the beginning of B.C. 721.  Assuming that it was in 722, the fourteenth
year of Hezekiah would be B.C. 714.  But Sennacherib did not become
king of Assyria until B.C. 705, while his attack upon Judah and
Jerusalem was not undertaken until B.C. 701, hence there would seem to
be an inaccuracy somewhere.  Certainly, since the primary purpose of
the writings is not historical, but religious, these inaccuracies do
not affect the real value of the book.  Nevertheless, their presence
shows that the writings cannot be looked upon as coming in all their
parts directly from {24} God.  At some point man must have stepped in
and left marks of his limitations.

More serious perhaps may appear the incompleteness and imperfection of
the religious and ethical conceptions, especially in the older
portions.  Read, for example, the twenty-fourth chapter of Second
Samuel.  Jehovah is there represented as causing David to number the
people, and when he carried out the command Jehovah was angry and sent
a pestilence which destroyed, not David, but seventy thousand innocent
men.  Can any Christian believe that the God of love revealed by Jesus
ever acted in such arbitrary manner?  No!  The trouble lies with the
author of the passage, who, on account of his relatively low conception
of the character of Jehovah, gave an erroneous interpretation of the
events recorded.  A later writer, who had a truer conception of the God
of Israel, saw that a mistake had been made; therefore he introduced
Satan as the one who caused the numbering (1 Chron. 21. 1).  Or take
the twenty-second chapter of First Kings, especially verses 19 to 23.
Four hundred prophets of Jehovah urge Ahab to go up against
Ramoth-gilead.  On the advice of the king of Judah, Micaiah is called,
who announces, after some hesitation, that the expedition will end
disastrously.  He then explains how it happened that the other prophets
told a falsehood: {25} "Therefore hear thou the word of Jehovah: I saw
Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by
him on his right hand and on his left.  And Jehovah said, Who shall
entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?  And one said
on this manner; and another said on that manner.  And there came forth
a spirit, and stood before Jehovah, and said, I will entice him.  And
Jehovah said unto him, Wherewith?  And he said, I will go forth, and
will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.  And he said,
Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail also; go forth, and do so.
_Now therefore, behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of
all these thy prophets_; and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee."
Can any Christian believe that our God who is infinitely pure and holy
ever did persuade anyone to tell a lie?  God never changes; he has
always been pure and holy; but man was not able in the beginning to
comprehend him in his fullness.  The human conceptions of the divine
were imperfect and incomplete, and these imperfect conceptions are
embodied in some of the Old Testament writings.  True, as Bowne
suggests, "God might conceivably have made man over all at once by
fiat, but in that case it would have been a magical rather than a moral

Throughout the entire book these and other {26} indications of the
presence of a human element may be seen, which the reader cannot afford
to overlook if he would estimate rightly the Old Testament Scriptures.
But while they are there, they must not blind the eyes of the student
to the fourth great truth expressed by the writer of the Epistle to the
Hebrews, namely, that God spoke through these men; in other words, that
there is also a divine element in the Old Testament.  In the words of
S. I. Curtis: "While it seems to me that we find abundant evidences of
development in the Old Testament from very simple concrete
representations of God to those which are profoundly spiritual, I am
not able to account for this development on naturalistic principles.
In it I see God at all times and everywhere coworking with human
instruments until the fullness of time should come"[3].  The presence
of this divine element was recognized by Jesus and by all the New
Testament writers, and surely it is a significant fact that in the
first outburst of Christian enthusiasm, and under the living impression
of the unique personality of the Master, no doubt arose concerning the
inspiration and permanent value of the Old Testament.  With the
Christian the testimony of Jesus and his disciples carries great
weight.  But without appealing to his authority every unbiased reader
may convince himself of the nature and character {27} of the Book; it
is not necessary to depend upon the testimony of men who lived
centuries ago, though they were inspired men.  The Book is an open
book, ready for examination, and inviting the closest scrutiny on the
part of every reader.

Former generations found the principal arguments in favor of the belief
in a divine element in the Old Testament in the presence of miracles in
its records and in the fulfillment of prophecy.  The present generation
cannot depend upon these arguments exclusively.  The whole question of
miracles in the Old Testament has assumed a different aspect within
recent years.  In the first place, it is seen that in some places where
formerly a miracle was thought to have been wrought natural causes may
have played a prominent part, as, for example, in the crossing of the
Red Sea and the Jordan.  In other cases language which used to be
interpreted literally is now seen to be poetic and imaginative.  In
still other cases the absolute historical accuracy of certain
narratives has come to be questioned.  All this has resulted in a
weakening of the evidence relied upon by former generations.
Approaching the subject of miracles from another side, a better
acquaintance with the uniformity of nature and the laws of nature has
led some to question even the possibility of miracles, while the
greater emphasis upon the immanence of God has resulted {28} in altered
conceptions of the natural and supernatural, if not in an almost
complete obliteration of any distinction between the two.  Since
miracles are involved in so much uncertainty, they do not at present
constitute a very strong argument to prove the presence of a divine
element in the Old Testament to one who is at all skeptically inclined;
indeed, there are many sincere Christians who find miracles useless as
an aid to faith.

In a similar manner, one cannot appeal with the same assurance as
formerly to the fulfillment of prophecy.  It is undoubtedly true that
many prophetic utterances were fulfilled; it is equally true that some
were not fulfilled.  If, however, the apologist depends upon the
fulfillment of prophecy as a proof, the nonfulfillment of even a single
one weakens his position.  Moreover, it is recognized at present that
prophecy in the sense of prediction occupies a relatively insignificant
place in the Old Testament.  Besides, scientific methods of study have
shown that some passages interpreted formerly as predictions can no
longer be so interpreted, while in the case of others the
interpretation is more or less doubtful.  Here, again, the difficulties
connected with the use of the argument have become so perplexing that
many consider it wise not to use it at all.  If used with caution,
prophecy, especially Messianic {29} prophecy, possesses great
evidential value; but the argument from the fulfillment of prophecy as
used formerly has lost much of its worth as a proof of inspiration.
The arguments relied upon at the present time are simpler than those of
the past, and are of such a nature that any fair-minded student can
test them.

In the first place, attention may be called to the essential unity of
the book.  There are in the Old World great and magnificent cathedrals,
some of which have been centuries in building, yet in all of them may
be found unity and harmony.  How is this to be explained?  Although
generation after generation of workmen have labored on the enterprise,
back of all the efforts was a single plan, evolved in the mind of one
man, which mind controlled all the succeeding generations of workmen.
The result is unity and harmony.  The Bible has been likened to a
magnificent cathedral.  The phenomenon to which reference has been made
in connection with ancient cathedrals may be seen in the Bible as a
whole, as also in the Old Testament considered separately.  The latter
contains thirty-nine books, by how many authors no one knows, scattered
over a period of more than a thousand years, written, at least some of
them, independently of one another, in places hundreds of miles apart.
And yet there is one thought running through them all--the {30} gradual
unfolding of God's plan of redemption for the human race.  There must
be an explanation of this unity.  Is it not natural to find it in the
fact that one and the same divine spirit overshadowed the many men who
made contributions to the Book?

The proof of the presence of a divine element in the Old Testament
which is derived from the essential unity of the book, is confirmed by
the response of the soul to its message, and the effect which it
produces in the lives of those who yield themselves to its teachings.
Jesus and his disciples observed that its message rightly applied would
awaken a response in the human heart; sometimes, indeed, it produced a
sense of indignation, because it carried with it a sentence of
condemnation; at other times it led to loving obedience.  And they
themselves experienced the effects of its teaching upon life and
character: it was with truths proclaimed in the Old Testament that
Jesus overcame temptation, and the quotations used in the darkest hours
of his earthly life are an indication that at all times he found the
most refreshing soul food in its pages.  The same is true of the early
disciples of Jesus.  Undoubtedly, the statement in 2 Tim. 3. 15-17 is
the expression of a living experience; and ever since these words were
written millions of Christians have experienced the uplifting influence
of many portions of the {31} Old Testament Scriptures.  They may not
enjoin the finer graces of Christianity, but they insist most strongly
and persistently upon the fundamental virtues which go to make up a
sturdy, noble, righteous, uncompromising character.  A message which
produces such divine results bears witness to itself that it embodies
truth which in some sense proceeded from God.  This is aptly stated by
Coleridge in these words: "Need I say that I have met everywhere more
or less copious sources of truth and power and purifying impulses, that
I have found words for my inmost thoughts, songs for my joy, utterances
for my hidden griefs, and pleadings for my shame and feebleness?  In
short, whatever finds me, bears witness for itself that it has
proceeded from a Holy Spirit, even from the same Spirit which remaining
in itself, yet regenerateth all other powers, and in all ages entering
into holy souls, maketh them friends of God and prophets."[4]

As long as the Old Testament is able to awaken this response and
produce these effects men will believe that it contains a divine
element; and it will accomplish these things whenever men are willing
to study it intelligently and devoutly.  What the Old Testament calls
for is not a defense but earnest and devout study.  The words of
Richard Rothe concerning the Bible as a whole are applicable also to
the Old Testament Scriptures: {32} "Let the Bible go forth into
Christendom as it is in itself, as a book like other books, without
allowing any dogmatic theory to assign it to a reserved position in the
ranks of books, let it accomplish of itself entirely through its own
character and through that which each man can find in it for himself,
and it will accomplish great things."[5]  The words of Professor
Westphal are also worthy to be remembered: "The only thing for our more
enlightened religion to bear in mind is that the proof of revelation is
not necessarily to be found in the formula which claims to herald it,
but, above all, in the specific value of the thing revealed, in the
divine character of the inspired Word which forces our conscience to
recognize in it the expression of God's will itself."[6]

The value and significance of the above argument cannot be
overestimated.  But during the past century other proofs have become
available as a result of the careful, painstaking study of the Bible by
scholars in many lands and from various points of view.  These
investigations have shown the Old Testament to be a peculiarly unique
book when compared with other sacred literatures of antiquity.  This
uniqueness consists principally in the pure and lofty atmosphere which
permeates the whole from beginning to end.  One may read its stories of
prehistoric times, its records {33} of history, its law, its poetry,
its prophecy, and everywhere he will find a religious tone and spirit
which, if present at all, is much less marked in the similar
literatures of other nations.  The modern scientific student has
approached the Old Testament chiefly from four directions, and in the
pursuit of his work four distinct tests have been applied to the Old
Testament: the tests of science, of criticism, of archæology, and of
comparative religion.  These four tests and their bearing upon the New
Testament, or Christian, view of the Old Testament are considered in
the succeeding pages.

Before closing this chapter one important question remains to be
considered.  It may be formulated in this wise: If there are
limitations and imperfections in the Old Testament, or anywhere else in
the Bible, how may they be distinguished from the truth?  In the case
of historical or scientific errors the method of procedure may appear
clear to those who hold the New Testament view as to the purpose of the
Old Testament writers; but the situation seems more troublesome in the
case of religious and ethical imperfections, because religion and
ethics are the rightful sphere of the biblical writings.  If the Bible
is not the final authority, where can be found a criterion by which the
biblical, or Old Testament, statements may be judged?  Startling as the
suggestion {34} to judge scriptures may seem in theory, a moment's
thought will show that it is being done every day by practically every
Christian who seeks spiritual nourishment in the Sacred Book.  Who has
not passed through experiences such as are suggested in these words of
Marcus Dods?--"Who is at the reader's elbow as he peruses Exodus and
Leviticus to tell him what is of permanent authority and what is for
the Mosaic economy only?  Who whispers as we read Genesis and Kings,
'This is exemplary; this is not'?  Who sifts for us the speeches of
Job, and enables us to treasure up as divine truth what he utters in
one verse, while we reject the next as Satanic ravings?  Who gives the
preacher authority and accuracy of aim to pounce on a sound text in
Ecclesiastes, while wisdom and folly toss and roll over one another in
confusingly rapid and inextricable contortions?  What enables the
humblest Christian to come safely through the cursing Psalms and go
straight to forgive his enemy?  What tells us that we may eat things
strangled, though the whole college of apostles deliberately and
expressly prohibited such eating?  Who assures us that we need not
anoint the sick with oil, although in the New Testament we are
explicitly commanded to do so?  In a word, how is it that the simplest
reader can be trusted with the Bible and can be left to find his own
{35} spiritual nourishment in it, rejecting almost as much as he
receives?"[7]  These questions call attention to a common Christian
practice.  But, if the practice can be justified as Christian, the
principle underlying the practice may be Christian also; and so it is,
for it is recognized as legitimate in the New Testament.

A single sentence from a New Testament book suggests the answer to the
above questions: "He that is spiritual judgeth all things."[8]  The
Scriptures are included among the "all things."  But notice, Paul does
not say that anyone may set himself up as judge, but "he that is
spiritual"; that is, the man who is controlled by the spirit of the
Christ.  If Jesus has given to the world the highest revelation of God
and truth, then the expressions of all other revelations must be
measured by his revelation, either as an external standard, or as an
inner criterion by him who, in his own experience, has appropriated the
character, spirit, and life of Jesus.  He who has thus appropriated the
Christ in his fullness will be able to judge all things.  But until he
has reached that standard man's judgment will remain imperfect and more
or less unreliable, and though for his own guidance he is still
dependent upon it, he must guard against the error of setting up his
own imperfect Christian consciousness as the ultimate criterion for all.


Up to the present time no individual has reached the stage of
experience where he may be appealed to as final authority for all.
Perhaps the sum total of the general Christian consciousness would
prove a more reliable guide, or the Church in so far as it embodies
this consciousness.  But it also still falls short of its final glory.
It is in the process of development toward perfection, but it has not
yet reached that stage, and will not reach it until the consciousness
of every individual contributing to it reflects the consciousness of
Jesus himself.  Then, and then only, can it be appealed to as an
ultimate criterion in matters religious or Christian, including the
specific question under consideration: What in the Old Testament is
from God, and so, permanent, and what is due to the human limitations
of the authors, and so, temporary and local?

It seems, therefore, necessary to appeal at the present time to what
may be called, in a sense, an external standard: the spirit, the
teaching, and the life of Jesus as it may be determined objectively
from the gospel records.  The supreme position occupied by Jesus the
Christ in Christian thinking is well described by W. N. Clarke: "He
[Jesus Christ] has shown God as he is in his character and relations
with men.  He has represented life in its true meaning, and opened to
us the real way to genuine welfare and success in existence.  {37} What
he has made known commends and proves itself as true by the manner in
which it fits into the human scheme, meets human needs, and renders
thought rational and life successful.  God eternally is such a being as
Jesus represents him to be--this is the heart of Christianity, to be
apprehended, not first in thought but first in life and love, and this
is forever true.  And it is a revelation never to be superseded, but
forever to be better and better known."[9]  By this standard, called by
Clarke the Christian element in the Bible, the Old Testament teaching
must be measured; and by the application of this standard alone is it
possible to separate the human from the divine and to estimate rightly
the permanent value of Old or New Testament teaching.  Whatever in the
Scriptures endures this test may be received as of permanent religious
value, because it is divine in the deepest sense.


[1] Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament, p. 19.

[2] Studies in Christianity, p. 73.

[3] Primitive Semitic Religions To-day, p. 14.

[4] Letters on the Inspiration of the Scriptures, Letter I.

[5] Quoted in the Old Testament Student, Vol. VIII, p. 84.

[6] The Law and the Prophets, p. 16.

[7] The Bible, Its Origin and Nature, pp. 160, 161.

[8] 1 Cor. 2. 15.

[9] The Use of the Scriptures in Theology, pp. 51, 52.




For many centuries during the Christian era science was almost
completely dominated by theology.  Whenever, therefore, a scientific
investigator proposed views not in accord with the theological notions
of the age he was considered a heretic and condemned as such.  During
these same centuries theology was dominated by a view of the Bible
which valued the latter as an infallible authority in every realm of
human thought.  The view of the Bible held then was expressed as late
as 1861 in these words: "The Bible is none other than the voice of Him
that sitteth upon the throne.  Every book of it, every chapter of it,
every verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it (where are we
to stop?), every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most
High.  The Bible is none other than the word of God; not some part of
it more, some part of it less, but all alike, the utterance of Him who
sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme."[1]  A book
which came thus directly from the mind of God must be inerrant and
infallible; hence closely associated with this mechanical view of {39}
the divine origin of the Bible was the belief in its absolute inerrancy
and infallibility.  This is clearly recognized in the words of two
eminent American theologians: "The historical faith of the Church has
always been that the affirmations of the scriptures of all kinds,
whether of spiritual doctrine or duty, or of physical or historical
fact, or of psychological or philosophical principle, are without any
error, when the _ipsissima verba_ of the autographs are ascertained and
interpreted in their natural and intended sense."[2]

With such an estimate of the Bible it is only natural that theology
should bitterly resent any and all scientific conclusions which seemed
to be contrary to the statements of the Bible.  However, a study of the
history of Bible interpretation creates a serious perplexity.  The
principles upon which the interpretations rested were not the same in
all ages.  As a result, the "natural and intended sense" of biblical
statements was variously apprehended.  What was considered the clear
teaching of Scripture in one age might be condemned as unscriptural in
another.  Moreover, some of the methods of interpretation are not
calculated to inspire confidence in the results.  When, for example,
the poetic passage,

  Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon,
  And thou, moon, in the valley of Aijalon.
  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,[3]

{40} is considered sufficient to discredit the scientific claim that
the earth moves around the sun, rather than the sun around the earth,
one's confidence in the truth of the theological view is somewhat
shaken.  It may be insisted, then, that much of the so-called conflict
between science and the Bible was in reality a conflict between science
and a misinterpreted Bible.

This, even theology seems to have recognized, for again and again it
changed its interpretation of the Bible so as to bring it into accord
with the persistent claims of science.  "The history of most modern
sciences," says Farrar, "has been as follows: their discoverers have
been proscribed, anathematized, and, in every possible instance,
silenced or persecuted; yet before a generation has passed the
champions of a spurious orthodoxy have had to confess that their
interpretations were erroneous; and--for the most part without an
apology and without a blush--have complacently invented some new line
of exposition by which the phrases of Scripture can be squared into
semblable accordance with the now acknowledged fact."[4]

The so-called historical method of Bible study, which has gradually won
its way, at least in Protestant Christianity, has established Bible
interpretation upon a firmer foundation, so that at present much less
uncertainty exists as to the {41} meaning of the Bible than at any
preceding age.  In the same way scientific investigation has made
remarkable strides during the nineteenth century; Twentieth century
science is far different from that of the early years of the preceding
century.  And as scientists have had to surrender many of their
positions in the past it is very probable that, as the result of
further investigation, some views held at present will be superseded by
others.  Nevertheless, though science cannot as yet dispense with
working hypotheses which may or may not prove true, and though
modifications in certain widely accepted views may be expected, there
are many conclusions which may be considered firmly established.  This
being the case, if at the present time the conflict between science and
the Bible is discussed, it is a conflict between scientific conclusions
reached after prolonged, careful study and investigation and the
teaching of the Bible as determined by the scientific use of all
legitimate means of interpretation.

Does such conflict exist?  Many geologists, astronomers, biologists,
and other scientists have claimed for some time that they have reached
conclusions not in accord with certain statements of the Bible.  Take
as an illustration the biblical and scientific statements concerning
the age of the earth, or creation in general.[5]  The general
conclusion reached by an overwhelming majority {42} of the most
competent students of the Bible has been that according to the
information furnished by the Scriptures, the date of creation was, in
round numbers, four thousand years before the opening of the Christian
era.[6]  At that time, in the words of the Westminster Confession,[7]
"It pleased God ... to create or make of nothing the world and all
things therein whether visible or invisible in the space of six days
and all very good."  This was accepted as the plain teaching of the
first chapter of Genesis even after scientific methods had been
introduced in the study of the Bible.  Then came geology, pushing back
the "beginnings," adding millions of years to the age of the globe, and
insisting that there is abundant evidence to prove the existence of
life upon earth many millenniums before B.C. 4,000.  Other sciences
reached conclusions pointing in the same direction, until it became
perfectly evident that Bible students must reckon with what seemed a
real conflict between the conclusions of science and the teaching of
the Bible.

No wonder Bible lovers were troubled when scientists in ever-increasing
numbers advanced claims that appeared to involve a charge of scientific
inaccuracy against the Sacred Scriptures.  Many were convinced that
this could not be, for they feared that if the Bible contained
inaccuracies of any sort, its value would be {43} completely destroyed,
and with the Bible Christianity must fall into ruins.  In Brother
Anthony, intended to picture the perplexed soul of a monk in the days
of Galileo, Mark Guy Pearse gives a vivid portrayal of the doubts and
perplexities of many devout Bible students in the nineteenth century:

  But on my fevered heart there falls no balm;
  The garden of my soul, where happy birds
  Sang in the fullness of their joy, and bloomed
  The flowers bright, finds only winter now;
  And bleak winds moan about the leafless trees,
  And chill rains beat to earth the rotting stalks.
  Hope, Faith, and God, alike are gone, all gone--
  If it be so, as this Galileo saith.
  "_The earth is round and moves about the sun;
  The sun,_" he saith, "_is still, the axle fixed
  Of nature's wheel, center of all the worlds_."
  Galileo is an honest soul, God knows--
  No end has he to serve but only truth,
  By that which he declares, daring to risk
  Position, liberty, and even life itself.  He knows.
  And yet the ages have believed it not.
  Have they not meditated, watched, and prayed--
  Great souls with vision purged and purified?
  Had God no messenger until arose
  Galileo!  Long years the Church has prayed,
  Seeking His grace who guided into truth,
  And weary eyes have watched the sun and stars,
  And heard the many voices that proclaim
  God's hidden ways--did they believe a lie?
  The Church's holy fathers, were they wrong?
  Yet speaks Galileo as one who knows.

  Shrinks all my soul from breathing any word
  That dares to question God's most holy Book,


  As men beneath an avalanche pass dumb
  For fear a sound should bring destruction down.
  If but a jot or tittle of the Word
  Do pass away, then is all lost.  And yet
  If what Galileo maintains be true!--
  "_The sun itself moves not_."  The Scripture tells
  At Joshua's command the sun stood still.
  Doth scripture lie?  The blessed Lord himself,
  Spake he not of the sun that rose and set!
  So cracks and cleaves the ground beneath my feet.

  The sun that fills and floods the world with light
  My darkness and confusion hath become!
  O God, as here about the old gray walls
  The ivy clings and twines its arms, and finds
  A strength by which it rises from the earth
  And mounts toward heaven, then gladly flings
  Its grateful crown of greenery round the height,
  So by thy Word my all uncertain soul
  Hath mounted toward thy heaven, and brought
  Its love, its all, wherewith to crown my Lord.
  Alas, the wall is fallen.  Beneath it crushed
  The clinging ivy lies; its stronghold once
  Is now the prison house, the cruel grave.[8]

Since the scientific position seemed to many devout believers to
undermine the Christian faith, it is not altogether strange that they
should set themselves against these claims with all their might, though
it may be difficult to justify the bitterness displayed by many
Christian ministers in the denunciation of even devout Christian
scientists, as "infidels," "impugners of the sacred records,"
"assailants of the Word of God," etc.  It is hardly credible that
during the enlightened {45} nineteenth century geology should be
denounced as "not a subject of lawful inquiry," "a dark art,"
"dangerous and disreputable," "a forbidden province," "infernal
artillery," "an awful evasion of the testimony of revelation."

But the progress of science could not be blocked by denunciation, and
gradually the claims of geology, astronomy, and other sciences
respecting the great age of the earth came to be accepted as well
established.  Is, then, the scientific teaching of the Bible false?  By
no means, said many defenders of the faith; on the contrary, there is
perfect agreement between science and the Bible, provided the latter is
rightly interpreted.  The first problem was to extend what was commonly
taken to be the biblical teaching respecting the age of the earth so as
to meet the demands of geology.  This was readily done by interpreting
"day" figuratively as meaning an indefinite period.  It could easily be
shown that in some passages "day" did not mean a day of twenty-four
hours.  Hence, why not interpret the word metaphorically in Gen. 1?  It
is safe to say that, had it not been for a desire to harmonize the
biblical account with the conclusions of science, no Bible student
would ever have thought of this interpretation in connection with the
acts of creation, for a natural interpretation of the writer's language
makes it evident that when the author of Gen. 1 speaks {46} of the
successive events of creation he is thinking of days of twenty-four
hours, each consisting of day and night.[9]  Marcus Dods is right when
he says, "If the word 'day' in these chapters does not mean a period of
twenty-four hours, the interpretation of scripture is hopeless."[10]
No permanent good can come from doing violence to plain statements of
the Bible by the use of methods of interpretation that would be
considered illegitimate in the study of other literary productions.  In
all the harmonizing efforts this caution has been overlooked.  The
believer in revelation, thinking that the agreement between science and
the Bible must be minute, has yielded to the temptation to twist the
biblical record into a new meaning with every fresh discovery of
science.  Many scientists were repelled by this arbitrary method, and
when they saw that agreement could not be had by legitimate methods,
and knew of no other way out of the difficulty, they too frequently
assumed a hostile attitude toward revelation.  A method leading to such
disastrous results cannot be considered altogether satisfactory.

Granting, however, for the sake of argument, the possibility of
interpreting "day" metaphorically, the troubles are by no means ended,
for it is impossible to discover clearly defined periods in the
geological records such as are presupposed in the biblical record.  But
there is a more serious {47} difficulty.  The order in which the
different living beings and the heavenly bodies are said in Genesis to
have been created does not seem to be the same as that suggested by
geology and astronomy.  For example, according to Genesis, fishes and
birds appeared together on the fifth day, preceding all land animals,
which are said to have been created on the sixth day.  According to
geology, fish and numerous species of land animals, especially reptiles
living on land, preceded birds.[11]  Moreover, according to Genesis,
the sun, moon, and stars were created after the earth, a view which is
altogether inconsistent with the modern scientific view of the
universe, and of the part the sun plays in plant and animal life upon
earth.  True, this last difficulty is avoided by some by giving to
certain Hebrew words a meaning which they do not ordinarily have.  For
example, it is said, "Let there be" (verse 14) means "Let there
appear"; "God made" (verse 16) means "God made to appear," or "God
appointed," to a specific office.  With this interpretation, it is
stated, Genesis says nothing about the formation or creation of the
luminaries.  They may have existed for a long time, only on the fourth
day they were made to appear--the vapor around the earth having
previously hidden them--and were appointed to the offices mentioned in
verses 14 to 18.  No one will claim that this is a natural {48}
interpretation of the biblical language.  If the writer meant "Let
there appear," he could have found a suitable word in Hebrew, as also
to express the idea "appoint."  The language of Driver is not too
strong: "Verses fourteen to eighteen cannot be legitimately interpreted
except as implying that in the conception of the writer luminaries had
not previously existed, and that they were made and set in their places
in the heavens after the separation of sea and land and the appearance
of vegetation upon the earth."[12]

Various attempts have been made to escape the difficulty caused by the
conclusions of geology as to the order in which different forms of life
have appeared upon earth.  These conclusions are based chiefly upon the
presence of fossil remains imbedded in the different strata of the
earth's surface.  Passing by the earlier explanations--for example,
that these fossil remains were placed there by a direct act of God on
one of the creative days for some mysterious purpose, perhaps for the
trial of human faith, or that they were due to the ravages of the
Deluge--reference may be made to two or three of the more recent
"scientific" attempts to harmonize the facts of science with the
statements of Genesis.  There is, first of all, the _restitution_
theory advocated by J. H. Kurtz and Thomas Chalmers.[13]  Admitting
that the fossil remains are important for the determination {49} of the
age of the earth and the order in which different forms of life
appeared upon the globe, Kurtz writes: "The animal and vegetable world
which lies buried in the stratified formations was not that which,
according to the Bible, was created respectively on the third, fifth,
and sixth days.  Its origin must belong to an earlier period."[14]  In
other words, his view is that "the main description in Genesis does not
relate to the geological periods at all; that room is left for these
periods between verse one and verse two; that the life which then
flourished upon the earth was brought to an end by a catastrophe, the
results of which are alluded to in verse two; and that what follows
(verses 3ff.) is the description of a second creation immediately
preceding the appearance of man."  That this view is due to a desire to
harmonize the biblical account with science is clearly implied in the
words of Kurtz intended to meet the charge of Delitzsch that his view
is "pure delusion."  "It is," says Kurtz, "merely a delusion to attempt
identifying the creation of the primeval fossil flora and fauna with
those of the third, fifth, and sixth days, _and at the same time to
endeavor harmonizing geology and the Bible_."  Not to speak of the
astronomical difficulty referred to above, which remains, science has
nothing whatever to offer in support of this theory, while, on the
other {50} hand, the tenor of the Genesis narrative implies such close
connection between verse one and verse two that there is no room for
the alleged catastrophe.  It is not strange, therefore, that modern
apologists have discarded the restitution hypothesis.

The _vision_ theory has been presented most forcefully by Hugh
Miller.[15]  According to this view "the narrative was not meant to
describe the actual succession of events, but was the description of a
series of visions presented prophetically to the narrator's mental eye,
and representing, not the first appearance of each species of life upon
the globe, but its maximum development.  The 'drama of creation,' it is
said, is not described as it was enacted historically, but _optically_,
as it would present itself to a spectator in a series of pictures or
tableaux embodying the most characteristic and conspicuous feature of
each period, and, as it were, summarizing in miniature its results."

Though this view was presented with much eloquence and skill, it has
been unable to maintain its position, simply because it is based upon
an unnatural interpretation of the biblical record.  No one approaching
Genesis without a theory to defend would think for a moment that he is
reading the description of a vision.  The only natural interpretation
is that the author means to record what he considers actual fact.
Moreover, {51} where in Scripture could there be found an analogy to
this mode of procedure?  The revelation of an unknown past to a
historian or prophet seems not in accord with the ordinary method of
God's revelations to men.  But, admitting the possibility of this
method of divine communication, why should the picture thus presented
to the mind of the author differ so widely from the facts uncovered by

Similar attempts to harmonize Genesis with geology have been made by
other geologists, among them Professor Alexander Winchell,[16] Sir J.
W. Dawson,[17] and Professor J. D. Dana.[18]  The results are perfectly
satisfactory to these writers, but they fail to see that in order to
accomplish their purpose they must have recourse to unnatural
interpretations of the Genesis account, which in itself is sufficient
evidence to show the hopelessness of the task.  A similar judgment must
be passed on the more recent attempt by F. H. Capron[19] to bring the
biblical account into harmony with the modern theory of evolution.
Capron is fully convinced that "the most rudimentary knowledge of
geology is sufficient to satisfy any candid critic that the Genesis
narrative as interpreted by any one of them[20] cannot be brought into
harmony with the admitted facts of science."  He, therefore, attempts a
new harmony by trying to show that the first chapter of Genesis {52}
gives only the order in which the creative words were uttered, not the
order in which the resulting effects were produced.  Unfortunately, in
accomplishing this purpose, he, like his predecessors, reveals an
almost complete disregard for the obvious meaning of the Genesis

After a close study of the Genesis narrative and the numerous attempts
of harmonizing it with science, the present writer has become
thoroughly convinced that it is impossible to establish a complete,
detailed harmony between the Genesis account of creation and the
established facts of science without doing violence to the Bible or to
science or to both.  The only harmony possible is what has been called
an "ideal harmony," that is, a harmony not extending to details, but
limited to salient features.  But this gives away the very position for
which the "harmonists" have contended.  As Driver says, "If the
relative priority of plants and animals, or the period at which the sun
and moon were formed, are amongst the details on which harmony cannot
be established, what other statement (in the account of creation) can
claim acceptance on the ground that it forms part of the narrative of

Admitting now the presence of discrepancies between science and the Old
Testament, what becomes of the Old Testament?[22]  Must it be {53}
discarded as no longer "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction which is in righteousness"?  Some there are
who seem to fear such fate for the book they dearly love.  On the other
hand, there are multitudes who calmly admit the claims of science, and
at the same time continue to read and study the pages of the Old
Testament, assured that it can still furnish nourishment to their
spiritual natures.  This attitude of confidence has been made possible,
on the one hand, by a broader and truer conception of divine
revelation, and, on the other, by a more adequate interpretation of the
purpose of the Bible and of the biblical writers.

Believers in God have come to realize as never before that God has
spoken and still speaks in a variety of ways.  Manifestations of God
may be seen on every hand:

  The heavens declare the glory of God;
  And the firmament showeth his handiwork.
  Day unto day uttereth speech,
  And night unto night showeth knowledge.[23]

What is the universe but a manifestation of God?  The whole realm of
nature is in a real sense a record of divine revelations, which science
seeks to interpret.  "Now," says A. H. McNeile,[24] "If God created all
things and carries the universe along by the utterance of his power, it
is clear that every fresh item of knowledge gained by {54} scientific
investigation is a fresh glimpse into the will of God.  Strictly
speaking, there is no such thing as secular knowledge.  A man only
makes his studies secular for himself as he divorces them from the
thought of God, so that all the scientific experiments in the world
form part of the study of one aspect of God's Word."

On the other hand the purpose of scripture has come to be more
adequately apprehended.  The New Testament makes it perfectly clear
that the aim of the Old Testament Scriptures is to bring man into
harmony with God, to make him morally and spiritually perfect, and to
point to the consummation of the redemptive purpose of God in and
through the Christ.[25]  There is no warrant anywhere for the belief
that the Old Testament writers meant to teach science of any kind.
This is admitted even by some who insist upon the accuracy of the
scientific teaching of the Bible.  "It is true that the Scriptures were
not designed to teach philosophy, science, or ethnology, or human
history as such, and therefore they are not to be studied primarily as
sources of information on these subjects."[26]  Evidently, then,
wherever the Old Testament touches upon questions of science it treats
them only in so far as they serve a higher ethical or spiritual
purpose.  Is it necessary to have absolute scientific accuracy in every
detail in order to do this {55} effectively?  A moment's thought will
show that it is not.  The writer heard not long ago a powerful appeal
on behalf of the boys in a certain community, in which the speaker
referred to the "Gracchi, the most renowned citizens of Athens."  The
historical inaccuracy in no wise affected the moral force of the
appeal.  No one would be foolish enough to assume that the spiritual
and ethical value of sermons preached by the early Church fathers is
invalidated by the fanciful science mixed with their gospel message.
Who has not heard sermons that created a profound spiritual impression,
though their science and history were not altogether faultless?  It
would seem, then, that in estimating extra-biblical utterances the
principle is recognized that "ignorance of some departments of truth
does not disqualify a man for knowing and imparting truth about God;
that in order to be a medium of revelation a man does not need to be in
advance of his age in secular learning; that intimate communion with
God, a spirit trained to discern spiritual things, a perfect
understanding of and zeal for God's purpose are qualities quite
independent of a knowledge of the discoveries of science."[27]

Is it right to raise a different standard for the Scriptures?
"Certainly," say many, "because the Bible is inspired; it is the Word
of God, and God cannot inspire an untruth of any kind." {56} Now, it
may be readily admitted that God cannot inspire an untruth; but have we
any right to argue as if we knew exactly how God ought to convey a
revelation to man?  Without entering upon a discussion of the entire
subject of inspiration, the question may be raised whether or not
inspiration covers purely scientific information.  The claim has been
put forth by some who believe that the Bible and science are in perfect
agreement that this agreement "proves that the scientific element of
scripture as well as the doctrinal was within the scope of
inspiration."[28]  Consistency might seem to require the admission that
disagreement would prove that the scientific element does not fall
within the scope of inspiration.  At any rate, it is of enormous
importance to remember, what should be a perfectly obvious principle,
that the facts presented in the Bible must determine the answer to the
inquiry.  In other words, "We can learn what the Bible is only from
what the Bible itself says."[29]

One thing is quite certain, namely, that the Bible makes not the
slightest claim of being a scientific treatise complete and
up-to-date.[30]  It is equally true that it does not deny being such a
treatise, hence the inquirer is thrown back upon a study of the facts
presented in the Bible; and upon the basis of these he must determine
whether or not there is reason for believing that scientific {57}
knowledge comes within the scope of inspiration.  Now, the abstract
possibility of God communicating to man a knowledge of exact scientific
facts in a prescientific age need not be denied.  It is, however, a
question whether God could have communicated such facts to man three
thousand years ago without robbing him of his personality and changing
him into a mechanism.  So far as the ways of God are known from
experience, observation, history, and other sources, he has always
treated with respect and consideration the powers and faculties of his
chief creature.  "Had inspired men," says Dods,[31] "introduced into
their writings information which anticipated the discoveries of
science, their state of mind would be inconceivable, and revelation
would be a source of confusion.  God's methods are harmonious with one
another, and as he has given men natural faculties to acquire
scientific knowledge and historical information, he did not stultify
this gift by imparting such knowledge in a miraculous and
unintelligible manner."  The same truth is expressed by H. E. Ryle in
these words: "We do not expect instruction upon matters of physical
inquiry from revelation in the written Word.  God's other gifts to men,
of learning, perseverance, calculation, and the like, have been and are
a true source of revelation.  But scripture supplies no short cut for
the intellect.  Where {58} man's intellectual powers may hope to attain
to the truth, be it in the region of historical, scientific, and
critical study, we have no warrant to expect an anticipation of results
through the interposition of supernatural instruction in the letter of
scripture....  Scripture is divinely inspired, not to release men from
the toil of mental inquiry, but to lead and instruct their souls in
things of eternal salvation."[32]  This is not an arbitrary limitation
of the scope of inspiration; it is a conclusion based upon a careful
consideration of the facts of science and of the Bible, which seem to
furnish sufficient evidence that the biblical writers were not in any
marked degree in advance of their age in the knowledge of physical
facts or laws.  In other words, the Bible is primarily a book of
religion, hence religion, and not science, is to be looked for in its
pages.  Altogether too much time has been spent in an effort to find in
it scientific truth in a scientific form.  Such attempts clearly
disregard the purpose of the biblical writers as interpreted in the New

And could a Divine Providence have chosen a different method?  Even now
discoveries follow one another so fast in the realm of science that no
book remains a standard work for more than a few years.  It seems
obvious, therefore, that a book written thousands of years ago could
not remain a standard scientific work for all times.  {59} But assuming
for the sake of argument that God had communicated the knowledge of
scientific facts to these writers--evidence for which is entirely
lacking--what would have been the result?  Later occurrences suggest
what might have happened.  The great mass of people would have looked
upon teachers of strange science as heretics and madmen, and would have
rejected not only their scientific teaching but their religious
teaching as well.  What a loss that would have been to mankind!  No
serious loss would come to men if they were left a while longer in
ignorance concerning scientific matters, but very serious loss would
come to them by continuing in their lower religious and ethical beliefs
and practices.  The only way to make the higher religious truth
understood was to present it in a form easily apprehended by the
people.  To do this is the chief purpose of the primitive,
_prescientific science_ of the Old Testament Scriptures.

The peculiar element in scripture is the spirit and religious
atmosphere which permeate all its parts and give to the Bible a unique
place among the literatures of the world.  This is the divine element
due to inspiration.  It is this element which establishes a gulf
between the Hebrew account of creation and the cosmologies of other
nations.  Though the biblical writers had very much the same idea about
the form and general {60} arrangement of the visible world as we find
among other peoples--ideas that have satisfied at all times the
majority of men even among nations with a pretense to culture, namely,
the cosmology of appearances--these ideas were all connected with their
sublime faith in Jehovah: to his omnipotence they referred the
existence of the world, and they made all its changes depend entirely
on his will.  In their monotheistic religion they secured the
foundation of a clear and simple cosmology different from the grotesque
cosmologies of other nations and yet not beyond the demands of men of a
primitive type and of simple mind, who were full of a lively
imagination, but not much accustomed to analyze phenomena or their

In this connection it may prove helpful to remember what, according to
the biblical viewpoint and in the light of history, was the
contribution of Israel to the development of the human race.  "Israel,"
says G. W. Jordan,[33] "is comparatively young, politically it is
provincial, socially it is not brilliant, in the realm of science it is
narrow and dependent; yet when we lay stress on these limitations we
only cause the peculiar glory of this nation's life to stand out more
clearly; it has its own individuality; its real leaders are men of
genius, their ambition is to speak in the name of the eternal king;
they {61} hear the divine message and claim for it the supreme
significance."  This is the judgment of a Bible student.  The same
truth is expressed in the words of one who approaches the Bible from
the viewpoint of the scientist, namely, the eminent Italian astronomer,
Schiaparelli[34]: "Their [the Hebrews] natural gifts, as well as the
course of events, carried them to a different mission [from that of
Greece and Rome] of no smaller importance--that of purifying the
religious sentiment and of preparing the way for monotheism.  Of this
way they mark the first clear traces.  In the laborious accomplishment
of this great task Israel lived, suffered, and completely exhausted
itself.  Israel's history, legislation, and literature were essentially
coördinated toward this end; science and art were for Israel of
secondary importance.  No wonder, therefore, that the steps of the
Jews' advance in the field of scientific conceptions and speculations
were small and feeble; no wonder that in such respects they were easily
vanquished by their neighbors on the Nile and the Euphrates."

In conclusion: Permanent harmony between science and the Bible will be
secured when each is assigned to its legitimate sphere.  Science has a
right to ask that, if men are seeking purely scientific information,
they should turn to recent text-books in geology, astronomy, or the
other {62} sciences.  But in the sphere to which Jesus and the New
Testament writers assigned the Old Testament science cannot deny or
seriously question its inspiration or permanent value.  Unprejudiced
science has never done this.  It is perfectly ready to recognize the
inestimable religious and ethical value of even those Old Testament
narratives which refer to scientific facts, not because of their
scientific teaching, but because of the presence of eternal truth in
the crude form of primitive science.  Fair-minded scientists readily
admit that if anyone wishes to know what connection the world has with
God, if he seeks to trace back all that now is to the very fountain
head of life, if he desires to discover some unifying principle, some
illuminating purpose in the history of the world, he may still turn to
the early chapters of Genesis as a safe guide.

What, then, is the bearing of the conclusions of modern science upon
the permanent value of the Old Testament?  Science has compelled the
Bible student to withdraw the attention from the nonessential and
secondary, and to concentrate it upon the heart and substance.  In
doing this it has established upon a much firmer basis the conviction
that, whatever the scientific value of scripture may be or may not be,
the apostle was right when he wrote that "the sacred writings ... are
able to make wise unto salvation through {63} faith which is in Christ
Jesus.  Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for
teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in
righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished
completely unto every good work."[35]


[1] Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, p. 89.

[2] Presbyterian Review, 1881, p. 238.

[3] Josh. 10. 12.

[4] The Bible--Its Meaning and Supremacy, p. 160.

[5] In a brief treatment it seems preferable to confine the discussion
to a specific concrete case; therefore this chapter deals almost
exclusively with questions centering around the subject of cosmogony.

[6] The margin of the Authorized Version still gives the chronology of
Archbishop Ussher to that effect.

[7] Chapter IV, 1.

[8] The Expositor, 1902, pp. 159, 160.

[9] It requires but a reading of the "proofs" of the opposite view to
understand their weakness.  Compare Expositor, 1886, pp. 287-289.

[10] The book of Genesis, p. 4.

[11] Another difficulty has been found in the statement of Genesis that
"vegetation" was complete two days before animal life appeared, but the
disagreement is more apparent than real.  The geological record, it is
true, shows many more animal than plant remains in the very ancient
rocks.  It was not until Devonian and Carboniferous times that the
plants became very abundant, as far as the geological records go.
Indeed, in the oldest rocks in which animal remains occur, no plant
remains have been discovered.  However, this is not to be {64} taken as
proving that animals existed before plants, because low forms of the
latter, having no hard parts, would be preserved with difficulty.
Moreover, in some of the primitive forms, it is not easy to distinguish
plants from animals.  But, apart from the records in the rocks, both
biologists and geologists believe that plants existed as early as
animals, if not earlier, for the latter needed the former to live upon.
An eminent geologist, Professor U. S. Grant, of Northwestern
University, has expressed his opinion to the writer in these words: "It
seems to me that, viewed in an abstract way, the Genesis statement of
vegetation appearing before animal life is not far from correct."

[12] The Book of Genesis, p. 25.

[13] Natural Theology, Vol. I, pp. 229, 230.

[14] History of the Old Covenant, Vol. I, p. cxxix.

[15] The Testimony of the Rocks, Lecture IV.

[16] Reconciliation of Science and Religion, pp. 356ff.; compare also
Pre-Adamites, _passim_.

[17] Origin of the World According to Revelation and Science, _passim_.

[18] Bibliotheca Sacra, 1885, pp. 201ff.

[19] The Conflict of Truth, pp. 162ff.

[20] Kurtz, Miller, Dawson, Dana, and the rest.

[21] Expositor, 1886, p. 38.

[22] The writer wants it clearly understood that an "ideal," harmony,
as described above, can be established.  He is equally certain,
however, that the harmony cannot be carried into details.

[23] Psa. 19. 1, 2.

[24] Expository Times, October, 1907, p. 20.

[25] See above, Chapter I, p. 12.

[26] Presbyterian Review, 1881, p. 239.

[27] Marcus Dods, The Book of Genesis, pp. 4, 5.

[28] Presbyterian Review, 1881, p. 239.

[29] Expository Times, October, 1907, p. 20.


[30] Surely, there is not the slightest claim in Scripture that Moses
or any other biblical writer received divine information concerning the
beginnings of the universe; nor is there anything to support the
assumption that the account of creation was supernaturally revealed to
Adam, and that from him it was transmitted word for word through the
families of the pious antediluvians, of Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, etc., until it was finally received and committed to writing by

[31] The Book of Genesis, p. 5.

[32] H. E. Ryle, The Early Narratives of Genesis, pp. 5, 6.

[33] Biblical Criticism and Modern Thought, p. 90.

[34] Astronomy in the Old Testament, p. 1.

[35] 2 Tim. 3. 15-17; on the permanent value and significance of the
Genesis narratives; see also below, pp. 234ff.




No careful observer can doubt that modern criticism has exerted a
marked influence upon the attitude of many Christian people toward the
Bible.  Both those in sympathy with new ideas and those opposed to them
frequently speak of the crisis which this criticism has brought about.
"It does seem," says John E. McFadyen, a believer in the methods and
results of modern criticism, "that the Church to-day in all her
branches is face to face with a crisis of the most serious kind."[1]
On the other hand, John Smith, a determined opponent of criticism,
writes concerning the conclusions of the latter: "They conflict with
the profoundest certitudes of the faith, must inevitably alter the
foundation on which from the beginning our holy religion has stood
before the world, and, consequently, so far as a theory can, must
obstruct her mission and abridge her influence."[2]  Whether the crisis
is as acute as is here implied or not, there seems to be much concern
among devout believers in the Bible about the bearing of modern
criticism upon the value of the book they dearly love.  In the nature
{67} of the case, limitation of space forbids an exhaustive discussion
of this interesting subject here.  There are, however, three questions
which are worthy of serious consideration: (1) What is modern
criticism?  (2) What are the more important conclusions of criticism
that have secured wide recognition?  (3) What is the bearing of these
conclusions, if true, upon the Christian view of the Old Testament?

What, then, is biblical criticism?  It is defined by Nash as "the free
study of all the facts,"[3] which definition McFadyen expands so as to
read, "the free and reverent study of all the biblical facts."[4]
Criticism is _study_, which means careful investigation rather than
superficial reading followed by hasty or unfounded conclusions.  The
investigation is _free_ in the sense that though it is not
disrespectful to traditional beliefs, it is not prevented by them from
marking out new paths if the facts so demand.  It is _reverent_ because
it deals with a book that has played a unique part in the religious
life and thought of many centuries, and has been received as a book in
which the voice of God may be heard.  It is primarily a study of the
_facts_ presented by the book, not of theories or speculations, though
in the study of these facts much may be learned from the theories of
the past, and the study may give rise to new theories.  In order to be
{68} thoroughly scientific, it must have due regard for all the facts
in the case.  For convenience sake it has become customary to
distinguish four phases of Old Testament, or biblical, criticism: (1)
Textual Criticism; (2) Linguistic Criticism; (3) Literary Criticism;
and (4) Historical Criticism.

Close students of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament have been
compelled to admit that even the oldest Hebrew manuscripts now known
are not free from errors and blemishes, and it is the office of textual
criticism to remove such errors by the use of all legitimate methods
and means and to restore the _ipsissima verba_ of the author.  The
presence of corruptions in the text is established by facts like these:
(1) There are passages in which the text as it stands cannot be
translated without violence to the laws of grammar, or, which are
irreconcilable with the context or with other passages.  For example,
in 1 Sam. 3. 1 the Authorized Version reads, "Saul reigned one year,
and when he had reigned two years over Israel."  This translation does
violence to the laws of Hebrew grammar.  The Hebrew reads, literally,
"The son of a year was Saul in his reigning," which may be rendered,
"Saul was a year old when he began to reign."  The narratives
concerning events in the life of Saul before he became king make it
clear that this statement is not correct.  Perhaps the scribe, in
writing the {69} formula, which is the usual formula for stating a
king's age at his accession, left a space for the numeral to be filled
in later, and forgot the omission; or the numeral has accidentally
dropped out.  In this case, it is the duty of textual criticism to
supply, if possible, the age of Saul when he was made king.  In the
absence of all external evidence the textual critic must fall back upon
conjecture.  This the translators of the Revised Version did, for in
the English Revised Version we find in brackets the word "thirty," in
the American Revised Version "forty."  In this special case the assured
results of textual criticism are purely negative, in that they have
established the fact that the present text cannot be correct.  The
attempt to restore the original text rests upon conjecture.  (2)
Parallel passages differ in such a manner as to make it certain that
the variations are largely due to textual corruption.  A good
illustration is seen in Psa. 18, when compared with 2 Sam. 22.  These
two passages were undoubtedly identical in the beginning; but even the
oldest existing manuscripts show more than seventy variants between the
two chapters.  (3) Some of the ancient versions contain readings which
often bear a strong stamp of probability and remove or lessen the
difficulties of the Hebrew text.  For example, in Josh. 9. 4, where the
Hebrew reads, "And they {70} went and made as if they had been
ambassadors," the Septuagint reads, "And they went and provisioned
themselves."  The latter reading is supported by nearly all the ancient
versions, and seems more probable than that of the Hebrew text.
Another illustration of a similar character is found in Psa. 22. 16c,
which is translated by both the Authorized and the Revised Version,
"They pierced my hands and my feet."  This, however, is not a
translation of the Hebrew at all, for it reads, "Like a lion, my hands
and my feet."  In this case the New Testament, as well as the Latin and
Syriac translations, supports the reading of the Septuagint.  Passages
like these, in which the text has evidently suffered in the course of
transmission, might be multiplied a hundredfold, and it is generally
considered a legitimate ambition to attempt the restoration of the
Hebrew text to its original form.

Linguistic criticism deals with difficult and obscure passages.
Sometimes the meaning of single words or phrases is uncertain, as, for
example, in Isa. 53. 1, which reads, in the Authorized Version, "Who
hath believed our report?"  The margin gives as alternatives for
"report" the words "doctrine" and "hearing."  The Revised Version
reads, "Who hath believed our message?" with a marginal note, "Or,
_that which we have heard_."  In form the word translated "message"
{71} is a passive participle, meaning, literally, "that which has been
heard."  Surely, no one would consider "report," "doctrine," "hearing,"
"message," etc., synonymous.  It is the duty of linguistic criticism to
determine the exact meaning of the word.  Sometimes grammatical
constructions are ambiguous.  Very familiar are the words in Isa. 6. 3,
"Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his
glory."  The margin suggests as an alternative for the last clause,
"the fullness of the whole earth is his glory," which might mean
something entirely different from the ordinary rendering.  There are
other passages, some among the sublimest prophetic utterances, in which
it is by no means clear whether the reference is to the past or to the
present or to the future.  There is, indeed, plenty of room for the
most painstaking work of the linguistic critic.

The literary criticism concerns itself with the literary history of Old
Testament books.  The Bible may be more than a human production, but in
outward form it has the appearance of an ordinary work of literature;
and, so far as its history as a collection of literary productions is
concerned, it has not escaped the fortunes or misfortunes of other
ancient literary works.  It is a well-known fact that extra-biblical
books, religious and secular, have come down from the {72} distant past
bearing the names of men who cannot have been their authors; for
example, the Gospel of Peter, or the Ascension of Isaiah.  Some ancient
books have been interpolated and added to from time to time; for
example, the Sibylline Oracles, the religious books of the Hindus.
Some ancient books are compilations rather than original productions;
for example, the Diatessaron of Tatian, or the religious books of the
Babylonians, which give abundant evidence of compilation.  The
discoveries of these phenomena in extra-biblical books naturally raised
the question whether similar phenomena might not be found in the books
of the Old Testament.  It is the duty of literary criticism to throw
light on these questions; to decide whether all the Old Testament books
are rightly ascribed to the men whose names they bear, whether they are
original productions or compilations from earlier material, and whether
any of the books have received additions or interpolations in the
course of their literary history.

Hand in hand with literary criticism goes historical criticism.  The
student of Old Testament history seeks to trace the development of the
history of Israel by combining in a scientific manner the historical
material scattered throughout the Old Testament.  In doing this he is
compelled to determine the value of the sources {73} from which he
gathers information.  To do this is the duty of historical criticism.
It inquires, for example, whether the records are approximately
contemporaneous with the events they record; if so, whether the writers
were qualified to observe the events accurately, or to record and
interpret them correctly; and, if the accounts were written a
considerable time subsequent to the events recorded, whether they were
colored in any way by the beliefs and practices of the time in which
they were written or compiled.  This line of investigation is almost
thrust upon the Bible student by a comparison of the books of Kings
with the books of Chronicles, which in many portions cover the same
ground; and yet, there are marked differences between the descriptions
of the two.

These are the different phases of criticism.  Ordinarily, however, only
two kinds are distinguished: the lower, or textual criticism, and the
higher criticism.  The aims of textual criticism are described above.
The higher criticism combines the functions of literary and historical
criticism, while linguistic criticism is considered a part of exegesis
or interpretation, not a separate branch of Bible study.  The
legitimacy of textual criticism is universally recognized.  Its
importance in a comprehensive study of the Bible is clearly implied in
these words of W. H. Green, a {74} generation ago the best known
defender of the traditional view of the Old Testament: "Its function is
to determine, by a careful examination of all the evidence bearing upon
the case, the condition of the sacred text, the measure of its
correspondence with, or divergence from, the exact language of the
inspired penman, and by means of all available helps to remove the
errors which may have gained admission to it from whatever cause, and
to restore the text to its pristine purity as it came from the hands of
the original writers....  It is not an arbitrary but a judicial
process, based on fixed and intelligible principles and conducted in a
determinate manner, in which all the evidence is diligently collected,
thoroughly sifted, and accurately weighed, and the decision given in
accordance with the ascertained facts."[5]

No exception is taken to linguistic criticism as a legitimate part of
exegesis, but at the mention of higher criticism many good men and
women become greatly disturbed, for they seem to look upon it as a
handmaid of Satan.  A few expressions will illustrate the feeling with
which some regard this kind of study: One writer says, "Neither hard
times nor higher criticism nor infidelity ... has any effect upon the
sale of the Divine Scriptures."  He evidently places higher criticism
on a par with infidelity.  Again: "The so-called higher critics, it is
well known, are constantly {75} trying to shake the faith of the
Christian by telling him that the books of the Bible were not written
by the men whose names are usually given as the human authors."
Another writer declares that the higher critics allege that the Bible
is "the off-spring of incompetence and fraud."  One more quotation may
suffice: "Higher criticism tends invariably ... to absolute rationalism
and the discrediting of inspiration."  Now, if higher criticism is on a
par with infidelity, if it declares the Bible to be the "offspring of
incompetence and fraud," if it constantly tries to shake the faith of
Christians, if it tends invariably to absolute rationalism and
discredits inspiration--if it does these things, then the Christian
Church may well look upon it with dread and alarm.  Whether or not
higher criticism is guilty of the things charged against it will
probably appear in the further discussion, for from now on chief
emphasis will be placed upon the bearing of the higher criticism on the
Christian view of the Old Testament.

First of all, it may be well to define, if possible, the term "higher
criticism."  It is too often assumed by those who should know better,
that the adjective "higher" exhibits the arrogance of those using it,
who claim thereby an unwarranted precedence for their methods.  This
assumption is erroneous, for the adjective is used {76} simply to
distinguish this kind of criticism from the lower or textual criticism,
which, since its purpose is to fix the exact text of a book,
necessarily precedes the application of the processes of the higher
criticism.  The designation may be unfortunate, but thus far no clearer
or less objectionable substitute has been found.  But what is higher
criticism?  Higher criticism may be defined as a process of scientific
investigation for the purpose of determining the origin, original form,
and intended value of literary productions.  It cannot be emphasized
too strongly that higher criticism is nothing more than a process of
study or investigation.  It is not a set of conclusions respecting the
books of the Bible; it is not a philosophical principle underlying the
investigation; it is not a certain attitude of mind toward the Bible;
it is not a theory of inspiration nor a denial of inspiration.  Higher
criticism is none of these things.  It is simply a process of study to
determine certain truths concerning literary productions.

Again, higher criticism, as a process of study, is not confined to the
study of the Bible.  It was applied to extra-biblical books long before
there was any thought of applying it to the Old or New Testament.
Eichhorn, who first applied the term to Old Testament study, has this
to say: "I have been obliged to bestow the greatest {77} amount of
labor on a hitherto entirely unworked field: the investigation of the
inner constitution of the separate books of the Old Testament by the
aid of the higher criticism, _a new name to no humanist_."[6]

Once more: the higher criticism as such is not opposed to traditional
views.  In the words of Professor Zenos: "Its relation to the old and
the new views respectively is one of indifference.  It may result in
the confirmation of the old, or in the substitution of the new for the
old....  It is no respecter of antiquity or novelty; its aim is to
discover and verify the truth, to bring facts to light whether these
validate or invalidate previously held opinions."[7]  It is a grave
mistake, therefore, to attribute to higher criticism an essentially
destructive purpose.  In reality, it has confirmed traditional views at
least as often as it has shown them to be untenable.  It does not
approach its investigations even with a suspicion of the correctness of
tradition; it starts out with the tradition, it accepts it as correct
until the process of investigation has brought to light facts and
indications which cannot be harmonized with tradition.  In such a case
criticism believes itself bound to supply a satisfactory explanation of
the facts, though such explanation may be contrary to the claims of
tradition.  Any student Who approaches the inquiry in a spirit {78}
different from that here indicated introduces into his investigation
elements that are not a part of higher criticism as such, and the
latter cannot and should not be held accountable for them.

That it is desirable to answer questions concerning the origin, form,
and value of biblical books no one will dispute.  C. M. Mead,
exceedingly cautious and conservative, says: "I regard the higher
criticism as not only legitimate but as useful, and indiscriminate
condemnation of it as foolish.  Genuine criticism is nothing but the
search after truth, and of this there cannot be too much."[8]  No
literary production in the Bible or outside of the Bible can be fully
understood unless the interpreter has a full knowledge of its origin,
its author, and its first readers.  When, where, by whom, to whom,
under what circumstances, for what purpose?--an answer to these and
similar questions will wonderfully illuminate the message of a book.  A
knowledge of the form of the writing is also essential to a proper
understanding of the same.  Is it history or poetry? is it narrative or
prediction? or any one of the various kinds of literature?  In a
similar manner it is important, though not always easy, to know the
value a given literary work was intended to have.  Is it to be
understood as literal history?  Is its essential purpose didactic,
without special regard for historic accuracy in {79} every detail?  Are
the religious and ethical truths taught intended to be final, or do
they mark a stage in the development toward perfection and finality?
These and other important questions of a similar nature the higher
criticism seeks to answer.

Some one may say, "Scholars in all ages have sought to answer these
questions; why is it, then, that modern higher criticism reaches
conclusions concerning the origin, form, and value of Old Testament
writings not dreamed of a few centuries ago?"  This is a legitimate
question, but the answer is not far to seek.  It may best be answered
by asking another question: Men in all ages have studied the earth, the
sun, the stars, and other phenomena of nature; how is it that modern
scientists have reached conclusions unknown and undreamed of a few
centuries ago?  The modern higher criticism, like all modern science,
is the outgrowth of the awakening during the Middle Ages which
revolutionized the whole world of science, literature, and religion.
The Renaissance aroused men's interest in literature and science, the
Reformation aroused men's interest in religion as a personal
experience.  In the Renaissance men began to think for themselves in
matters of science and literature; in the Reformation they began to
think for themselves in matters of religion.  It was inevitable that
{80} the awakening of thought and the substitution of reason for
authority in science, secular literature, and secular history should
ultimately affect sacred history and sacred literature as well.[9]

Chronologically, it is true, the work of higher criticism began even
before the time of the Renaissance among Spanish Jews.  But this Jewish
criticism did not at the time exert any influence in the Christian
Church.  Only after criticism had secured a foothold among Christian
scholars were the results of Jewish investigation made use of.  In the
same way the purely negative conclusions of some of the early Christian
heretics, based upon dogmatic considerations rather than historical
investigations, have no organic connection with the investigations and
results of modern criticism.  It is perfectly correct, therefore, to
state that the modern higher criticism had its birth in the great
awakening of the Renaissance and the Reformation.  They gave to it a
life and an impetus which from that day to this have not abated in the
least.  Some of the reformers themselves and their coworkers advanced
views which later investigation has confirmed and expanded.  Carlstadt,
for example, the friend and coworker of Luther, published in 1520 an
essay in which he argued, on the ground that the style of narration in
the account of Moses's death which, he believed, was not written by
Moses, was {81} the same as in the preceding chapters, that it might be
held that Moses did not write the entire Pentateuch.  The freedom with
which Luther criticized both the Old and the New Testament books is
well known.  Concerning the Old Testament, he admitted that the books
of Kings were more credible than Chronicles.  "What would it matter,"
he asks, "if Moses did not write the Pentateuch?"  He thinks it
probable that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ecclesiastes received their
final form at the hands of redactors.  The testimony of the psalm
titles he does not regard as conclusive.  He admits chronological
difficulties and contradictions in the statements of historical facts.
He concedes that we do not always hear God himself speaking in the Old
Testament.  Esther might well have been left out of the canon, and
First Maccabees might have been included.  If this is not criticism,
what is?

The case of Luther has been mentioned simply to show the absurdity of
the claim that modern higher criticism is the outgrowth of German
rationalism or English deism or infidelity; or that a man who pursues
Old Testament study on the line of the higher criticism is necessarily
an infidel, a rationalist, or a fool.  True, there have been and are
those out of sympathy with Christianity or the Bible who have employed
critical methods in carrying on their anti-Christian warfare; but {82}
such misuse of critical methods no more proves the illegitimacy of this
process of investigation than the employment of a surgical instrument,
which, in the hands of a skillful surgeon, may be the means of saving a
diseased organism, by a murderer to carry out his destructive aim,
would prove that the use of all surgical instruments is unscientific or
criminal.  The vast majority of the so-called higher critics do not
deserve the denunciations heaped upon them by some who consider
themselves sole defenders of the faith.  Most of them are Christian men
whose loyalty to Christ, whose devotion to the truth, and whose
sincerity of motive no one has reason or right to question or doubt.
It is exceedingly unfortunate that many writers have failed to
recognize this fact.  No one acquainted with the history of biblical
criticism can accept the following as a true characterization of
serious critics: "I mean by professional critic, one who spends his
time and strength in trying to find some error or discrepancy in the
Bible; and, if he thinks he does, rejoiceth as 'one who findeth great
spoil'; who hopes, while he works, that he may succeed, thinking
thereby to obtain a name and notoriety for himself."[10]  In a similar
spirit Sir Robert Anderson speaks of "the foreign infidel type of
scholar ... as ignorant of man and his needs as a monk, and as ignorant
of God and his ways as a monkey."[11] {83} Such abuse is unchristian,
and no good can be accomplished by it.  The truth of the matter is more
adequately expressed by James Orr when he says: "There are, one must
own, few outstanding scholars at the present day on the Continent or in
Britain--in America it is somewhat different--who do not in greater or
less degree accept conclusions regarding the Old Testament of the kind
ordinarily denominated critical.  Yet among the foremost are many whom
no one who understands their work would dream as classing as other than
believing, and defenders of revealed religion."[12]  Then, after
mentioning a number of scholars, he describes them as "all more or less
critics, but all convinced upholders of supernatural revelation."  But
even among these Christian, evangelical, higher critics a distinction
must be made between two classes.  The one may be called, for want of a
better name, traditional, because its adherents insist that their
investigations on the line of the higher criticism have confirmed in
all essentials the positions held during many centuries.  It should be
noted, however, that many scholars who are sometimes quoted as
upholders of the traditional view are ready to make many concessions to
those who believe that the traditional views are no longer tenable.[13]
On the other hand is a class of critics which may be called
nontraditional, critics who claim that {84} their investigations, while
confirming the truth of many traditional positions, compel them in
other cases to set aside the traditional views in favor of some more in
accord with the facts in the case.  It may be difficult to state all
the causes responsible for the differences in the conclusions of these
two classes of critics.  However, the writings of some scholars in the
former class seem to show that the authors are influenced, to some
extent at least, by the fear that further concessions would affect the
Christian theory of inspiration.  Another cause may be found in the
fact that the present generation of Old Testament scholars received its
training largely at the hands of those accustomed to the traditional
viewpoint; the influence of this early training manifests itself to
some extent in the present attitude.  A more important cause, however,
is supplied by the nature of the evidence upon the basis of which these
critical questions must be settled.  Mathematical demonstration is
impossible in very many cases.  The critic must be qualified to
estimate probabilities, and various degrees of probability, depending
upon the nature of the grounds on which it rests.  In the nature of the
case, the personal element enters into the estimate of the degree of
probability.  What to some may appear a high degree of probability, or
amount to practical certainty, may to another investigator, perhaps
less familiar with {85} the facts in the case, appear of less value and
lead him to reject the conclusion entirely.  As long as this condition
of affairs continues--and there is no reason to suppose that it ever
will be otherwise--perfect agreement among critical investigators need
not be expected; but a fair and thorough examination of the facts by
all must be insisted upon.

It is not necessary to enlarge upon the views of the traditional class
of critics, for theirs are the views with which most Christians now
living have been familiar since their childhood.  In order to
understand, however, the bearing of the nontraditional criticism upon
the Christian view of the Old Testament it is necessary to consider the
most important conclusions of the nontraditional class of evangelical
criticism; and to these conclusions we may now turn our attention.

1.  Modern criticism has placed into clearer light the progressive
character of Old Testament revelation.  God is the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever, but man has taken many advance steps; and as he
advanced his spiritual capacities and powers of apprehension increased.
This growth enabled him to secure, from generation to generation and
from century to century, during the Old Testament dispensation, an
ever-broadening and deepening conception of the nature and character of
God and of his will.  The Old {86} Testament books, says Kent, are "the
harmonious and many-sided record of ten centuries of strenuous human
endeavor to know and to do the will of God, and of his full and
gracious response to that effort."[14]

2.  Formerly the beginning of the Old Testament canon was traced to
Moses.  He was thought not only to have written the books of the
Pentateuch but to have given to them official sanction as canonical
books.  To these books were gradually added the other sacred writings
of the Old Testament on the authority of the divinely chosen successors
of Moses, like Joshua, Samuel, and the prophets.  The close of the
canon was ascribed to Ezra, who, according to later views, had to share
the honor with the men of the Great Synagogue.  Modern criticism
assigns new dates to some of the Old Testament books; it believes that
the exile was a period of great spiritual and intellectual activity,
and a number of books are placed subsequent to Ezra and Nehemiah, which
in itself would imply a denial of the view that the canon was finally
closed in the days of Ezra.  The modern critical view is that the Old
Testament books were canonized--whatever the dates of their
writing--gradually and at a comparatively late period.  The
canonization of the Law is placed at about B.C. 400, that of the
Prophets between B.C. 250 and B.C. 180, while the third {87} division
of the Jewish canon, the Writings, is believed to have acquired
canonical authority during the second and first centuries B.C.

3.  Formerly the order of the Old Testament books determined largely
the view of the development of Hebrew religion.  Just as in the New
Testament the Gospels occupy first place, the Epistles being
expositions of the principles laid down in the Gospels, so it was
thought that the Law of the Pentateuch, coming from the hands of Moses,
served as the basis of the religious development of the Hebrews during
subsequent centuries.  The prophets were looked upon chiefly as
expounders and interpreters of this Law.  Modern criticism has
introduced a change of viewpoint.  It does not deny the pre-exilic
existence of all law, or of sacrifice, or of a ceremonial, or of other
priestly elements, but it believes that in the religious development of
Israel, the pre-exilic period was preëminently the period of the
prophets, while the religious life during the post-exilic period was
dominated by the priests, the priestly type of religion finding
literary expression in the ceremonial system embodied in the Pentateuch.

4.  According to modern criticism, compilation had a prominent place in
the production of Old Testament books.  The composite character of the
Pentateuch is touched upon in the next paragraph, but, in addition, it
is believed that {88} there is sufficient evidence to establish the
composite character of practically all the other historical books.
McFadyen accurately represents the modern viewpoint when he says, "In
the light of all these facts the general possibility, if not the
practical certainty, of the compositeness of the historical books may
be conceded."[15]  Evidences of compilation are seen also in several of
the prophetic books.  The assignment of Isaiah and Zechariah to more
than one author each furnishes perhaps the best known examples, but
other prophetic books are similarly divided.

5.  The Pentateuch is no longer assigned in its entirety to Moses; it
is thought, rather, to contain material selected from four different
sources, which the compiler had before him in writing.[16]  These
documents did not reach their final form until some time subsequent to
Moses, but all of them contained ancient material, much of it going
back to the time of Moses, some of it even to pre-Mosaic days.  Among
the contents of the Pentateuch special attention is called to three
legal codes--the Book of the Covenant, the Deuteronomic Code, and the
Priestly Code--belonging to different periods in Hebrew history, and
reflecting different stages in the religious and social development of
the nation.  The Deuteronomic Code, in some form, is believed to have
been the basis of the reforms instituted by Josiah {89} and to have
been written most probably during the early part of the seventh
century.  On these general questions respecting the Pentateuch there
seems to be general agreement among critical scholars; on the other
hand, there is wide divergence of opinion concerning points of detail,
such as the chronological order in which the several documents reached
their final form, their exact dates, the manner and time of their
compilation, the detailed distribution of the material among the
several sources, etc.  The differences of opinion on these points are
due to the fact that the data upon the basis of which the problems must
be solved are not sufficiently numerous or decisive.

6.  Doubt is thrown upon the authorship of a number of Old Testament
books, or parts of books, which have been assigned to certain authors
by both Jewish and Christian tradition.  As already stated, the Mosaic
authorship of the Pentateuch is denied; the book of Lamentation is
taken away from Jeremiah; parts of Isaiah and Zechariah and the whole
of Daniel are assigned to persons other than the prophets bearing these
names.  The accuracy of the psalm titles is questioned; few of the
psalms, if any, are assigned to David or his age; and most of the
psalms--by some scholars all--are placed in the post-exilic period.  A
conservative scholar, like W. T. Davison, is not willing to say more
than "that {90} from ten to twenty psalms--including 3, 4, 7, 8, 15,
18, 23, 24, 32, and perhaps 101 and 110--may have come down to us from
David's pen, but that the number can hardly be greater, and may be
still less."[17]  The same uncertainty is believed to exist respecting
the authorship of Proverbs and of Ecclesiastes, which is considered one
of the latest books in the Old Testament canon.  Other books, like Job,
which in the absence of external testimony were formerly assigned to an
early date, are now placed in the later period of Hebrew history.

In addition to these results touching upon matters practically
unrecognized before, the higher criticism has emphasized some truths
which, though known, exerted little, if any, influence upon the
conception or study of the Old Testament.  Of these perhaps the most
important are, first, that the Old Testament is not so much a single
book as a library consisting of many books of different dates and
authorship, though all these books may be held together by one common
spirit and purpose;[18] and, second, that in these books are
represented practically all the various forms and kinds of literary
composition that can be found in the literatures of other nations.

These are perhaps the most important conclusions reached by the
nontraditional higher critics.  Some may not be willing to admit that
{91} these conclusions are well founded, and, indeed, the cautious
among the critics very candidly state that in most cases scientific
demonstration is impossible, that probability of varying degrees is an
important element in the conclusions; but unless one has followed those
who have reached the conclusions into every detail of their
investigation, he is hardly competent to pass a valid judgment.  And it
is well to remember what seems to be an indisputable fact, that with
very few exceptions Old Testament experts everywhere agree essentially
on these results, and that an ever-increasing number of serious Old
Testament students whose competency and sincerity cannot be doubted
feel compelled to accept these conclusions, convinced that the
traditional views cannot be maintained without numerous modifications.
This fact may not establish the truth of these conclusions;
nevertheless, it may serve as a sufficient reason for the consideration
of another question: Should the truth of the conclusions enumerated be
established beyond a possibility of doubt, what would be the effect
upon the Christian conception of the Old Testament?  What would become
of its inspiration or authority, of the supernatural in its history, of
the work and character of Moses, Isaiah, or David; and, perhaps most
important of all, what effect would this have upon the authority of
Jesus Christ himself?


The most important and vital of these questions may be considered
first.  How do the conclusions of the nontraditional higher criticism
affect the authority of Jesus Christ?  This question arises chiefly in
connection with investigations into the authorship of Old Testament
books, especially of the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and Isaiah.  It is
asserted that since Christ quotes and refers to passages from the books
bearing the names of Moses, David, and Isaiah, apparently as if they
had been written by these men, any claim that these passages were not
written by the authors mentioned is an indication of unbelief, an
insult to Christ, and a denial of his authority.  "If Moses did not
write the Pentateuch," says L. W. Munhall, "or any portion of it, and
the highest critics (Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) declare he did,
it would be a lie.  It would be none the less a lie, even though the
Jews held traditionally that Moses was the author of these books.  The
testimony of the _Highest Critics_ is absolutely unerringly and
eternally true, and he who hesitates to receive it as against all other
testimonies is disloyal to the truth."[19]  Clearly, this statement is
based upon the assumption that Jesus gave deliberate decisions on
questions of authorship, which assumption cannot be substantiated.  In
the first place, it is well to note that in less than one fifth of the
New Testament {93} quotations from the Old Testament is a personal name
connected with the quotation; Jesus himself, in quoting from the
Pentateuch and other Old Testament books, frequently omits all
reference to the alleged author, which shows that he considered the
question of authorship of no special significance in comparison with
the truth taught.  Moreover, in some cases at least, the exact form of
quotation is doubtful.  Compare, for example, Matt. 15. 4, "God said,"
with Mark 7. 10, "Moses said"; and Luke 20. 37, "Moses showed, in the
place concerning the Bush," with Mark 12. 26, "Have ye not read in the
book of Moses, in the place concerning the Bush how God spake unto
him," with Matt. 22. 31, which, referring to the same statement,
introduces it by, "Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by
God?"  Which one of the evangelists has preserved the actual words of

But even admitting that Jesus used in these and other passages a
personal name, does this imply a decision respecting authorship?  In
extra-biblical literature no one would raise serious objection to the
use of the name of a man to designate a book without implying that the
man named was the author of the entire book.  This is done also in the
New Testament.  In the sermon of Peter, "Samuel" evidently is used in
the sense of "book of Samuel," for the reference {94} is not to an
utterance of Samuel but of Nathan,[20] and it cannot imply authorship,
for some of the events recorded in First Samuel and those in Second
Samuel occurred after Samuel's death.  In the Epistle to the
Hebrews,[21] a psalm is referred to as "David," which is not even by
the title assigned to the great king of Israel.[22]  Might it not be,
therefore, that "Moses" was used as a designation of a book, without a
thought of authorship.  This seems to be the case in 2 Cor. 3. 15:
"Whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart."[23]  All
these facts suggest that while Jesus frequently quotes the Pentateuch,
and in some cases connects the name of Moses with it, _he never does so
to prove that Moses wrote it_.  W. T. Davison describes the situation
correctly when he writes, "A study of the whole use of the Old
Testament made by Christ in his teaching shows that the questions of
date and authorship with which criticism is chiefly concerned were not
before the mind of our Lord as he spoke, nor was it his object to
pronounce upon them."[24]

But even admitting that the references of Jesus imply in some cases a
recognition of authorship, the question still remains whether the few
passages quoted carry with them the authorship of the entire book from
which the quotations are made.  There are even some conservative
scholars who {95} answer this question in the negative.  After
enumerating some of the passages referred to by Jesus as coming from
Moses, C. H. H. Wright continues: "All, however, that can be fairly
deduced from such statements is, the Pentateuch contains portions
written by Moses.  It does not follow that the five books as a whole
were written by that lawgiver."[25]  Though this explanation seems
satisfactory to some, others consider it somewhat forced and unnatural,
and they are inclined to give different interpretations of the words of

Many hold that in his references to Old Testament books Jesus
accommodated himself to the usage of the Jews without indorsing their
views or giving expression to his own, even though he knew that the
commonly held opinions as to the authorship of certain Old Testament
books were erroneous.  Those who advocate this view believe that their
attitude in no wise dishonors the Master.  Indeed, they say, one cannot
easily see what other course he could have taken.  Jesus had come to
reveal the Father, to bring a fallen race into harmony with a holy God.
Surely, the task was great, and there was but little time in which to
accomplish it.  If he had turned aside from his chief purpose to settle
scientific and literary questions which were not under discussion among
the people, he would have aroused popular {96} opposition and thus have
hindered his chief work.  In no case do his references imply that he
desired to pronounce an authoritative critical judgment, and in no case
does the value of the quotation depend upon its authorship.  Looking at
the matter, therefore, from a pedagogical standpoint, it would seem
that, in view of his important mission in the world, he was compelled
to accommodate himself to the views of the people in all matters not
essential to his work.

This view seems entirely satisfactory to many sincere Christian
believers.  There are, however, those who maintain that it would not
have been legitimate for Jesus thus to accommodate himself to the usage
of the people if he had known that their views were not in accord with
the facts; nevertheless, they insist that his utterances do not settle
purely literary questions.  They believe that Jesus shared the views of
the people, that he actually thought that Moses wrote the entire
Pentateuch, and Isaiah, the whole of the book bearing his name; but
that this was a limitation of knowledge on his part.  And they further
insist that this attitude toward Jesus in no wise affects the supreme
and final authority of the Christ over the lives of men.  The entire
life of the Master, they say, shows that he regarded his mission as
spiritual; he did not come to correct all errors, but merely those
touching religion and {97} ethics; and even here he did not give
detailed specific rules.  In many cases he simply laid down great
principles, which in time might be worked out and applied to the
details of human activity.  He did not abolish slavery, he made no
efforts to correct errors in science; why should he correct erroneous
views respecting literary and critical questions?  These were outside
of his immediate sphere of interest.  His knowledge or ignorance in
these secondary matters does not necessarily involve his knowledge or
authority in essentials.[26]  Again, while Christ was God, he was also
truly man.  This union of the divine with the human, if real, must have
brought some limitations.  And the New Testament clearly teaches that
in some respects the powers of Christ were limited.  His omnipotence
was limited, else he could not have felt hunger, weariness, pain, etc.
As strength was needed, it was supplied.  It may have been there
potentially, but not actually.  Might it not have been the same with
omniscience?  In one case, at least, Jesus admits that his knowledge
was limited: "But of that day or hour knoweth no one, not even the
angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."[27]  And, surely,
that which, according to this admission, was hidden from Jesus was, as
compared with a question of the authorship of a biblical book, of
infinitely greater importance.  It would seem, therefore, {98} that B.
P. Raymond is right when he says: "To affirm that he had knowledge of
the critical questions which agitate Christian scholars to-day is to
deny that he was made like unto his brethren.  It is to compromise the
reality of his humanity and to start on the road that leads to
docetism.  Fairbairn's conclusions are just; 'The humanity of the
Saviour must be absolutely real.'"[28]

There are, then, three explanations of the references of Christ to the
authorship of Old Testament books, each one of which seems perfectly
fair, natural, and, above all, scriptural; and each one shows that his
utterances do not finally settle purely literary questions.  This
conclusion, since it is in perfect accord with the New Testament, can
in no wise be construed as an insult to the Christ, nor does it affect
in the least the authority of Jesus in matters religious and ethical.
What is said here of the words of Jesus is equally true, with some
slight modifications, of similar New Testament references coming, not
from Jesus directly, but from the authors of the New Testament books.

From the consideration of this question of vital interest we may turn
to another, also of great importance, namely, what is the effect of
critical conclusions upon the belief in the inspiration of the Old
Testament, in the supernatural in its history, and in its authority?
All these questions {99} center in one, for inspiration implies the
presence of a supernatural element, and the authority of the Old
Testament depends upon the reality of its inspiration.  Hence the real
question is, Have the conclusions of the higher criticism disproved, or
in any serious way affected, the reality of the inspiration of the Old
Testament writers?  This inquiry must be answered with an emphatic
"No."  Inspiration does not depend upon the fact that a certain
definite individual is responsible for a writing.  A book is inspired
because God is back of it and in it, and not because a certain man
wrote it.  Nor does belief in inspiration depend upon the knowledge of
the human author, else how could Christians believe in the inspiration
of the men who wrote books like the Epistle to the Hebrews, the book of
Job, the books of Samuel, and other biblical books whose authors are
not named?  Moreover, an inspired book does not lose its inspiration
because it is discovered that the human agent inspired is one different
from the man to whom tradition has been accustomed to assign the book.
Would the laws of the Pentateuch be any less divine if it should be
proved that they were the product of the experience of the chosen
people from the time of Moses to the exile?  Would the Psalms cease to
lift us into the presence of God, if it should be demonstrated that
most of them came {100} from a period later than David?  Is the book of
Job less majestic and sublime because we know not the time or place of
its birth?  Are the Proverbs less instructive because criticism claims
that they do not all come from the son of David?[29]

Once more: inspiration is not confined to any form of literature; a
parable may be as truly inspired as history; and the inspiration of a
book does not vanish when it is assigned to one form of literature
rather than to another.  The conclusions of the legitimate higher
criticism in no wise tend toward a denial of the inspiration of the Old
Testament.  Inspiration, the special divine providence over Israel,
God's interference in the history of the chosen people, would stand out
as prominently as ever if every claim of the higher criticism should be
proved true.  Most critical scholars are ready to indorse the words of
Professor Sanday: "My experience is that criticism leads straight up to
the supernatural, and not away from it."[30]  But if this be true, how
can any authority which rightly belongs to the Old Testament be
affected by criticism?  This authority belongs to it by virtue of its
inspiration, and the voice of God is not silenced by the conclusions of
modern criticism.

"But," some one will say, "if this is true how is it that criticism has
been and still is condemned unsparingly by many men whose sincerity
{101} and love for the truth cannot be called into question?"  There
are several reasons for this.  In the first place even some very
intelligent men seem to misunderstand both the purpose and the claims
of the higher criticism.  Another reason is that there are even among
the evangelical critics those who lack judgment, and who permit
themselves to draw inferences unwarranted by the facts in the case.  As
a consequence, ill-informed persons have concluded that all the results
of criticism are unwarranted by the facts.  A third reason is that some
critics are arrogant and obnoxious in the presentation of their views,
and, therefore, bring the entire process into disrepute.  A fourth, and
perhaps the most important, reason is that in addition to the
legitimate higher criticism discussed in the preceding pages there is
an illegitimate criticism which very frequently, though erroneously, is
thought to be the only kind of criticism practiced.  This criticism
also studies the facts, but--and this is its distinguishing
feature--its investigations are colored by certain presuppositions,
such as the belief in a materialistic or deistic evolution, in the
presence of which there is no room for inspiration, or for the
supernatural, or for miracles, in the Christian sense of these terms.
This kind of criticism is not legitimate, because it is not scientific,
proceeding as it does on the basis of an unestablished, {102}
unchristian, and impossible view of the universe.  But higher critics
belonging to this class are few in number, and fairness and Christian
courtesy demand that in any discussion of the subject clear
distinctions should be made between this criticism and that process of
investigation which is not only legitimate, but indispensable.  It is
also well to bear in mind that the conclusions of the illegitimate
criticism will never be disproved by denunciation, but, rather, by the
careful and painstaking labors of those critics who approach their
studies without these unwarranted assumptions.

One more question remains to be considered, namely, What becomes of the
men from whom criticism takes away at least part of the writings
traditionally connected with their names?  Preëminent among these are
Moses, Isaiah, and David.  Moses is not, as is sometimes erroneously
asserted, removed to the realm of myths.[31]  To prove this assertion
it is only necessary to quote the words of one who accepts the results
of the higher criticism as set forth above: "Moses was the man who
under divine direction 'hewed Israel from the rock.'  Subsequent
prophets and circumstances chiseled the rough bowlder into symmetrical
form, but the glory of the creative act is rightly attributed to the
first great Hebrew prophet.  As a leader he not only created a nation
but guided them through infinite {103} vicissitudes to a land where
they might have a settled abode and develop into a stable power; in so
doing he left upon his race the imprint of his own mighty personality.
As a judge he set in motion forces which ultimately led to the
incorporation of the principles of right in objective laws.  As a
priest he first gave definite form to the worship of Jehovah.  As a
prophet he gathered together all that was best in the faith of his age
and race, and, fusing them, gave to his people a living religion.
Under his enlightened guidance Israel became truly and forever the
people of Jehovah.  Through him the Divine revealed himself to Israel
as their Deliverer, Leader, and Counselor--not afar off, but present; a
God powerful and willing to succor his people, and, therefore, one to
be trusted and loved as well as feared.  As the acorn contains the
sturdy oak in embryo, so the revelation through Moses was the germ
which developed into the message of Israel to humanity."[32]

Isaiah, though losing some of the sublimest passages in the book, is
still the king among the prophets.  In the words of Ewald, a pronounced
advocate of the conclusions of modern criticism: "Of the other prophets
all the more celebrated ones were distinguished by some special
excellence and peculiar power, whether of speech or of deed; in Isaiah
all the powers and all the beauties {104} of prophetic speech and deed
combine to form a symmetrical whole; he is distinguished less by any
special excellence than by the symmetry and perfection of all his
parts.  There are rarely combined in one individual the profoundest
prophetic emotion and purest feeling, the most unwearied, successful,
and consistent activity amid all the confusions and changes of life;
and, lastly, true poetic genius and beauty of style, combined with
force and irresistible power; yet this triad of powers we find realized
in Isaiah as in no other prophet."[33]

David, indeed, loses some of his halo, if many of the most beautiful
psalms are taken from him, yet he remains the man after God's own
heart.  "According to his light, he served the Jehovah whom he knew
with marvelous fidelity and constancy....  He ruled over the united
Hebrew tribes as Jehovah's representative.  In his name he fought the
battles against Israel's foes, whom he regarded as Jehovah's also....
From the spoils which he won in his wars he provided the means
wherewith to build a fitting dwelling place for the God of his nation.
The priests found in him a generous patron, and prophets like Nathan
were among his most trusted counselors.  To do the will of Jehovah as
it was revealed to him was the dominating principle of his life.  More
cannot be said of any one."[34]


A splendid summary of the bearing of modern evangelical criticism upon
the Christian view of the Old Testament is given by Canon Driver: "It
is not the case that critical conclusions are in conflict either with
the Christian creeds or with the articles of the Christian faith.
Those conclusions affect not the _fact_ of revelation but only its
_form_.  They help to determine the stages through which it passed, the
different phases which it assumed, and the process by which the record
of it was built up.  They do not touch either the authority or the
inspiration of the Scriptures of the Old Testament.  They imply no
change in respect to the divine attributes revealed in the Old
Testament, no change in the lessons of human duty to be derived from
it, no change as to the general position (apart from the interpretation
of particular passages) that the Old Testament points forward
prophetically to Christ.  That both the religion of Israel itself and
the record of its history embodied in the Old Testament are the work of
men whose hearts have been touched and minds illuminated, in different
degrees, by the Spirit of God is manifest."[35]

But not only has criticism not taken away anything essential from the
Bible; on the contrary, it has resulted in some distinct gains.  The
textual criticism has furnished the modern {106} student with a much
more accurate text of the biblical books, while the linguistic
criticism has established the interpretation of this text upon a firmer
basis.  The higher criticism also has made invaluable contributions
toward a more adequate understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.
It has made impossible the arbitrary and, sometimes, unreasonable
interpretations of scripture which in former ages have proved a serious
detriment to religion and theology.  It has restored to religious use
some of the biblical books almost forgotten before, and endowed them
with flesh and blood by throwing bright light upon the circumstances
connected with their origin.  It has made it possible to secure a
"reasonable, probable, and even thrilling" view of the history and
religion of Israel and of the steps by which the records of these grew
up.  Many of the moral, religious, and historical difficulties which
served as effective weapons to skeptics in all ages have disappeared,
and the weapons have been snatched from the enemies of the Bible.  Many
of the confusions and apparent discrepancies, which according to former
theories presented insurmountable difficulties, have found a
satisfactory explanation.  "Higher criticism," says R. F. Horton, "so
much dreaded by pious souls, is furnishing a conclusive answer to the
untiring opponents of revelation."[36]  Everyone knows {107} that the
Bible has been bitterly attacked in the past, and that such attacks
have not altogether ceased even now; but it is sometimes overlooked
that in the majority of cases these attacks are made by men who are, or
seem to be, lamentably ignorant of the attitude and results of modern
critical study.  Their arguments become "absolutely powerless against
the modern historical interpretation of the Bible; and the more that
interpretation underlies the teaching of the young, the more certain
are those attacks to die a natural death."[37]

There are, indeed, few Old Testament scholars who would not indorse the
testimony of Professor A. S. Peake, given in a paper on "Permanent
Results of Biblical Criticism," read before the Fourth Methodist
Ecumenical Conference: "Speaking for myself, I may truthfully say that
my sense of the value of Scripture, my interest in it, my attachment to
it, have been almost indefinitely enhanced by the new attitude and new
mode of study which criticism has brought to us."


[1] Old Testament Criticism and the Christian Church, p. 1.

[2] The Integrity of Scripture, p. 1.

[3] The History of the Higher Criticism of the New Testament, p. 85.

[4] Old Testament Criticism and the Christian Church, p. 47.


[5] General Introduction to the Old Testament: The Text, pp. 162, 163.

[6] J. G. Eichhorn, Einleitung in das Alte Testament, Preface to Second

[7] The Elements of the Higher Criticism, pp. 12, 13.

[8] Christ and Criticism, Preface.

[9] J. P. Peters, The Old Testament and the New Scholarship, p. 87.

[10] L. W. Munhall, Anti-Higher Criticism, p. 9.  For a discriminating
study of the theological and philosophical bias of the more
representative Old Testament critics, see Bibliotheca Sacra, January,
1912, pp. 1ff.

[11] The Bible and Modern Criticism, p. 19.

[12] The Problem of the Old Testament, pp. 7, 8.

[13] Some of these concessions are enumerated in J. E. McFadyen, Old
Testament Criticism and the Christian Church, pp. 15ff.  The Problem of
the Old Testament, by James Orr, is often quoted as overthrowing
entirely the positions of modern criticism regarding the authorship of
the Pentateuch.  If, however, one reads Orr's summary of the chief
results of his own critical investigation (pp. 371ff.), the question
may well be asked, Why should he be considered less of a higher critic
than, for example, Wellhausen?

[14] The Origin and Permanent Value of the Old Testament, p. 30.

[15] Old Testament Criticism and the Christian Church, p. 143.

[16] Even those who question the existence of four independent
documents assume the activity of at least four different hands.

[17] James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. IV, p. 151.

[18] See above, pp. 30ff.

[19] The Highest Critics vs. The Higher Critics, pp. 7, 8.


[20] Acts 3. 24.  The passage in the mind of the apostle seems to be 2
Sam. 7. 11-16.

[21] Heb. 4. 7.

[22] Psa. 95.

[23] The origin of the designations Moses = Pentateuch, Samuel = books
of Samuel, David = book of Psalms, must be explained, and can be
explained; but as the mention of Samuel and David shows, it cannot
always rest upon the fact of authorship, whatever the popular idea may
have been.

[24] James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. IV, p. 151.

[25] Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 76.

[26] See above, p. 55.

[27] Mark 13. 32.

[28] M. S. Terry, Moses and the Prophets, p. 194.

[29] C. A. Briggs, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture,
p. 26.

[30] Quoted in J. E. McFadyen, Old Testament Criticism and the
Christian Church, p. 253.

[31] Moses has, indeed, been removed by some investigators to the realm
of myth, but not upon the basis of conclusions reached by the
legitimate modern criticism.

[32] C. F. Kent, A History of the Hebrew People, Vol. I, pp. 44, 45.

[33] Prophets, English translation, Vol. II, p. 1.

[34] C. F. Kent, A History of the Hebrew People, Vol. I, p. 167.

[35] Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, pp. viii, ix.

[36] Revelation and the Bible, p. 61.

[37] J. E. McFadyen, Old Testament Criticism and the Christian Church,
p. 136.




A century ago the student of the world's history found it exceedingly
difficult, if not impossible, to paint for himself a clear picture of
events antedating B.C. 400.  Concerning earlier periods, he was, aside
from the Old Testament, practically without records that could claim
contemporaneousness with the events recorded.  But, one hundred years
ago, men had commenced to test every statement, be it historical, or
scientific, or theological, by severe canons of criticism, and if it
could not stand the test, it was speedily rejected.  One result of this
tendency was to reject historical statements of the Bible when they
could not be corroborated by reliable extra-biblical records.  The
nineteenth century has wrought a marvelous change.  The Old Testament
is no longer the "lone Old Testament," at the mercy of the scientific
investigator.  The historian and the Bible student now have at their
command literary treasures almost without number, partly
contemporaneous with the Old Testament, partly older by many centuries.
These rich treasures have been brought to light by the {111}
perseverance and painstaking toil of archæologists, whose discoveries
have shed light on human history during a period of more than four
thousand years before the opening of the Christian era.

The historical movements recorded in the Old Testament, in which the
Hebrews had a vital interest, were confined chiefly to the territory
between the four seas of western Asia: the Mediterranean Sea, the Black
Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf.  In the East the territory
might be extended to include Persia; in the West, to include Asia
Minor; and in the South or Southwest, to include Egypt, in North
Africa.  All these districts, which may be designated Bible lands, have
been more or less thoroughly explored, and in most of them excavations
have been carried on.  The countries in which the most valuable finds,
so far as Bible study is concerned, have been made are Palestine,
Babylonia-Assyria, Egypt, Northern Syria, Phoenicia, Moab, and Asia

Even before excavations were undertaken travelers had visited these
different countries and had reported their observations, but the
information thus gained was more or less vague, and in many cases of no
practical scientific value.[1]  They saw many strange mounds and ruins,
and noticed and occasionally picked up fragments of inscriptions and
monuments; but no one could {112} decipher the inscriptions; hence the
finds were preserved simply as mementoes and relics of an unknown age,
from which nothing could be learned concerning the history and
civilization of the people that once occupied these lands.  The mounds
and heaps of ruins which contained the real treasures were left
undisturbed until the nineteenth century.

The pioneer in the work of excavation in the territory of Babylonia and
Assyria was Claudius James Rich, who, while resident of the British
East India Company in Bagdad, in 1811, visited and studied the ruins of
Babylon, and a little later made similar investigations in the mounds
marking the site of the ancient city of Nineveh.  In the gullies cut by
centuries of rain he gathered numerous little clay tablets, covered on
every side with the same wedge-shaped characters as those seen on the
fragments found by earlier travelers.  These he saved carefully, and in
time presented them to the British Museum.

No systematic excavations were carried on until 1842, when P. C. Botta
was sent by the French government as vice-consul to Mosul on the upper
Tigris.  He noticed across the river from Mosul extensive artificial
mounds which were supposed to mark the site of the city of Nineveh.
These so aroused his curiosity that he began digging in the two most
prominent mounds.  Failing to make {113} any discoveries, he
transferred, the following year, at the suggestion of a peasant, his
activities to Korsabad, a few miles to the northeast, where the digging
produced, almost immediately, startling results.  In the course of his
excavations he laid bare a complex of buildings which proved to be the
palace of Sargon, king of Assyria from B.C. 722 to B.C. 705, a palace
covering an area of about twenty-five acres.  The walls of the various
buildings were all wainscotted with alabaster slabs, upon which were
representations of battles, sieges, triumphal processions, and similar
events in the life of ancient Assyria.  He also found, in the course of
the excavations, scores of strange figures and colossi, and numerous
other remains of a long lost civilization.  Botta's discoveries filled
the whole archæological world with enthusiasm.

Even before Botta reached Mosul, a young Englishman, Austin Henry
Layard, visited the territory of ancient Assyria, and was so impressed
by its mounds and ruins that he resolved to examine them thoroughly
whenever it might be in his power to do so.  This resolution was taken
in April, 1840, but more than five years elapsed before he began
operations.  It would be interesting to follow Layard's work as
described by him in a most fascinating manner in Nineveh and Its
Remains, and other writings, which give {114} complete records of the
wonderful successes he achieved wherever he went.

Never again did the labors entirely cease, though there were periods of
decline.  Layard's operations were continued under the direction of
Rassam, Taylor, Loftus, and Henry C. Rawlinson; the French operations
were in charge of such men as Place, Thomas, Fresnell, and Oppert.
However, it was not until 1873 that other startling discoveries were
made, chiefly under the direction of George Smith, who was sent by the
Daily Telegraph, of London, to visit the site of Nineveh for the
purpose of finding, if possible, fragments of the Babylonian account of
the Deluge, parts of which he had previously discovered on tablets that
had been shipped to the British Museum.  In 1877 France sent Ernest de
Sarzec as consul to Bosra in Lower Babylonia.  His interest in
archæology led him to investigate some of the mounds in the
neighborhood, and he soon began work at one called Telloh.  In the
course of several campaigns, which continued until 1894, he unearthed a
great variety of material illustrative of primitive ages, among his
treasures being palaces, statues, vases, thousands of tablets, and
various other articles of interest.

The first steps toward sending out an American expedition for
excavation were taken at a meeting of the American Oriental Society in
the spring of {115} 1884.  In the fall of the same year a preliminary
expedition of exploration was sent out, which completed its labors
during the winter and spring, returning in June, 1885.  But the means
for excavation were not forthcoming until 1888, when a well-equipped
expedition was sent out under the auspices of the University of
Pennsylvania.  Four successive campaigns were carried on upon the great
mounds of Nuffar, the site of Nippur, a center of early Babylonian
life.  Each expedition brought to light architectural and artistic
remains and many thousands of tablets, throwing light upon all sides of
the ancient life and civilization, over which hitherto there had lain
almost complete darkness.  In 1899 Germany sent its first expedition to
Babylon and, during successive seasons, extensive excavations have been
carried on, which have resulted in the discovery of many interesting
finds.  At a later date excavations were begun and, like those of
Babylon, are still continued, on the mound covering the site of the
ancient capital city of Assyria, Asshur, where inscriptions of great
value have been uncovered.  At the present time the Germans are perhaps
the most active excavators in Assyria-Babylonia, and by their
painstaking care to record every new discovery they are bound to
increase the knowledge of the early history and civilization of these
ancient empires.[2]


Reference may be made also to the later excavations of the French at
Susa, the scene of the book of Esther, where they have uncovered much
valuable material.  The most important find, made in the winter of
1901-1902, is the monument upon which is inscribed the legal code of
Hammurabi, king of Babylon, generally identified with the Amraphel of
Gen. 14. 1.  For a short time the University of Chicago carried on
excavations at Bismiyah, in southern Babylonia, which have brought to
light many objects of interest, if not of great historical importance.
The Turkish government, under whose rule the territory of Babylonia and
Assyria now is, stimulated by the example of other nations, is taking
an active interest in these excavations, granting the privilege of
excavating to an ever-increasing number of scholars, and giving them
protection while engaged in their work.  The Sultan has erected in
Constantinople a magnificent museum, where the valuable antiquities are
accessible to the scholarship of the world.

The credit of having first turned the attention of the West toward the
monuments of Egypt, and of having brought them within the reach of
science, belongs to the military expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte,
undertaken in the summer of 1798.[3]  In August, 1799, a French
artillery officer, Boussard, unearthed at the Fort Saint Julien, near
{117} Rosetta, in the Nile Delta, a stone of black granite, three feet
five inches in height, two feet four and one half inches in width, and
eleven inches in thickness.  It is thought to have been at least twelve
inches higher and to have had a rounded top.  On the upper portion of
this block could be seen parts of fourteen lines of characters,
resembling those seen everywhere on the obelisks and ruined temples of
the land; adjoining these below are thirty-two lines of another species
of script, while at the bottom are fifty-four lines, twenty-eight of
them complete, in Greek uncial letters.  The Greek was easily read, and
told the story of the stone: It was set up in B.C. 195, by the priests
of Egypt, in honor of Ptolemy Epiphanes, because he had canceled
arrearages of certain taxes due from the sacerdotal body.  The grateful
priests ordered the memorial decree to be inscribed in the sacred
characters of Egypt, in the vernacular, and in Greek.  The Greek
portion having been read, it was conjectured that the two inscriptions
above the Greek told the same story.  Such being the case, the value of
the document for the decipherment of the Egyptian inscriptions was at
once perceived, and scholars immediately set to work on the task of
deciphering the unknown script.  The honor of having solved the mystery
belongs to François Champollion, who by 1822 had succeeded in fixing
the value of a considerable {118} portion of the ancient Egyptian
signs, and at the time of his death, ten years later, left behind in
manuscript a complete Egyptian grammar and vocabulary.

Through the discovery of Champollion the interest in ancient Egypt grew
in all learned circles, and from his day until now efforts at bringing
to light the remains of the Egyptian civilization have never ceased.
The French have been especially active; but other nations also have
been in the field and have greatly added to our knowledge of ancient
Egypt.  Since 1883 the Egyptian Exploration Fund has been at work in
various parts of the Nile valley; private subscriptions have enabled
the investigation of certain places of special interest; and now every
year new finds are made, which constantly enrich our knowledge of the
history, art, and civilization of the land of the Pharaohs.

"Palestine," says Dr. Benzinger, "became the object of most general
interest earlier than any other Oriental country....  Nevertheless,
Palestine research is but a child of the century just closed, the
systematic exploration of the land, in all its aspects, beginning
properly speaking with the foundation of the English Palestine
Exploration Fund in 1865."[4]  The reason for this delay is not far to
seek.  From the time that Christians first began to visit Palestine to
a comparatively {119} recent date all pilgrimages were prompted by
religious, not by scientific motives.  The interest of the pilgrims was
excited only by those places which were pointed out to them as the
scenes of sacred events, and the knowledge they brought home consisted
chiefly of descriptions of the places held in special veneration.  In
1841 there appeared in three volumes a work entitled Biblical
Researches, in which Professor Edward Robinson recorded the results of
his travels in Palestine during the year 1838.  In 1852 Robinson made a
second journey.  During these two trips he and his companions worked
with ceaseless industry, always accurately measuring the distances, and
describing the route, even to the smallest detail.  This painstaking
care made the accounts so valuable that his books marked a turning
point in the whole matter of Palestinian research, and could serve as a
foundation upon which all future researches might rest.

Among other travelers who have made valuable contributions to our
knowledge of Palestine, the most important are Titus Tobler, H. V.
Guerin, E. Renan, and G. A. Smith.  But the better the land came to be
known, the more fully was it realized that the complete systematic
exploration of the land was beyond the power of individual travelers.
Hence in 1865 a number of men interested in Palestinian research met in
London {120} and organized a society known as the Palestine Exploration
Fund.  Its object was the complete, systematic, and scientific
exploration of the Holy Land, especially for the purpose of elucidating
the Scriptures.  The idea was taken up with great enthusiasm, and from
the beginning until now the society has been actively engaged in
illuminating Palestine past and present.  During the early history of
the Fund few excavations were carried on, and these were confined to
the city of Jerusalem; but since 1890 several mounds in southern
Palestine have been excavated, the most important being Tel-el-Hesy,
the probable site of ancient Lachish, and the site of the important
city of Gezer.  At present (1912) the site of ancient Beth-Shemesh is
being excavated.

The German Palestine Society was organized in 1877 for a similar
purpose.  When the English surveyors were prevented by the Turkish
government from completing the survey of eastern Palestine the German
society took up the work, and its results are embodied in a map now in
process of publication.  The principal excavations of the German
society were carried on between 1903 and 1907 at Tel-el Mutasellim, the
ancient Megiddo, under the direction of Dr. Benzinger and Dr.
Schumacher.  Dr. Sellin carried on excavations at the neighboring
Taanach for the Austrian government between 1902 and 1904.  {121} Two
other sites have been excavated--Jericho by the Germans and Samaria by
Harvard University, and though no epoch-making finds have come to light
in these two places, the results illuminate the early history of

Phoenicia has yielded some of its treasures.  The first of importance,
found in 1855 in the Necropolis of Sidon, was the sarcophagus of
Eshmunazar, king of Sidon.  Since then various other sites have been
examined, and much material has been unearthed, throwing light on the
history, religion, art, and civilization of these ancient neighbors of
Israel.  In the year 1868 a German missionary, the Rev. F. Klein,
discovered at Diban, the site of an ancient royal city of Moab, a large
stone, with an inscription of Mesha, a king of Moab in the ninth
century B.C. Between 1888 and 1891 investigations were conducted, for
the Royal Museum in Berlin, at the mound of Zenjirli, once a city in
the land Shamal, near the northern limits of Syria, south of the Issus,
about forty miles inland.  The old citadel was uncovered, and various
sculptures, showing Hittite influence, a magnificent statue of
Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, a huge statue of the god Hadad, and
several Aramaic inscriptions of great value, as illustrating early
Syrian civilization, were found.  More recently, in 1906 and 1907,
Professor Winckler visited Boghaz-koei, in Asia Minor, a center of
{122} early Hittite civilization, where he uncovered thousands of
tablets which throw new light upon the history of western Asia in
ancient times.  Thus, generation after generation, amid dangers and
hardships, a body of enthusiastic, self-sacrificing men have toiled
almost day and night in order to restore to life a civilization buried
for many centuries beneath the sands of the desert and the ruins of
ancient cities, and we are only at the beginning.  What revelations the
next fifty years may have in store!

The results of these expeditions have been enthusiastically welcomed by
all who are interested in antiquity: the students of history, art,
science, anthropology, early civilization, and many others.  They are,
however, of special interest to the Bible student; and it is well to
remember that, whatever additional motives may be responsible for
excavations at the present time, from the beginning until now the
desire to find illustrations, or confirmations of scriptural
statements, has played a prominent part.  "To what end," says Professor
Delitzsch,[5] "this toil and trouble in distant, inhospitable and
danger-ridden lands?  Why all this expense in ransacking to their
utmost depths the rubbish heaps of forgotten centuries, where we know
neither treasures of gold nor of silver exist?  Why this zealous
emulation on the part of the nations to secure the greatest possible
{123} number of mounds for excavation?  And whence, too, that
constantly increasing interest, that burning enthusiasm, born of
generous sacrifice, now being bestowed on both sides of the Atlantic
upon the excavations in Babylonia and Assyria?  One answer echoes to
all these questions, one answer which, if not absolutely adequate, is
yet largely the reason and consummation of it all--the _Bible_."

Our purpose is to discuss the bearing of recent researches in Bible
lands upon the Christian view of the Old Testament, that is, the view
which looks upon the Old Testament as containing records of divine
revelations granted in divers portions and in divers manners to the
people of Israel.  Concerning this bearing, two distinct and opposing
claims are made: on the one hand, it is said that archæological
research only confirms the familiar view of the Bible as a trustworthy
and unique record of religion and history; on the other hand, it is
claimed that archæological research has shown the Old Testament to be
untrustworthy as to history, and as to religion, what has hitherto been
regarded as original with the Hebrews is claimed to have been borrowed
almost bodily from the surrounding nations.

What is the true situation?  The archæological material which has more
or less direct bearing upon our inquiry may be roughly arranged under
{124} two heads: (1) The Historico-Geographical; (2) The
Religio-Ethical.  The present chapter deals with the bearing of the
historico-geographical material upon the Old Testament historical
records, the other class being reserved for the succeeding chapter.
The next step in the discussion will be to enumerate at least the more
important finds having a more or less direct relation to the Old
Testament.  Many archæological objects have been brought to light,
which, though they have but indirect bearing upon the Old Testament,
have wonderfully illuminated the life of the ancient East, and thus
have made more distinct the general historical background upon which
the scenes recorded in the Old Testament were enacted.  But a more
important source of information are the inscriptions which have been
discovered by the thousands and tens of thousands.  These inscriptions
were written on all kinds of material--granite, alabaster, wood, clay,
papyrus, etc.; shaped in a variety of forms--tablets, cylinders, rolls,
statues, walls, etc.; and they have been dug out of mounds, tombs,
pyramids, and many other places.  What, then, are the most important
finds?  The first thing to bear in mind is that the inscriptions have
very little to say about the earlier period of Hebrew history.  Says
Driver,[6] "With the exception of the statement on the stele of
Merneptah, that 'Israel is desolated,' the first {125} event connected
with Israel and its ancestors which the inscriptions mention or attest,
is Shishak's invasion of Judah in the reign of Rehoboam; and the first
Israelites whom they specify by name are Omri and his son Ahab."
Before considering the statement on the stele of Merneptah, attention
may be given to certain inscriptions which throw considerable light on
conditions in Palestine before the Hebrew conquest, namely, the
so-called Tel-el-Amarna tablets.[7]  These tablets were discovered by
accident in the winter of 1887-1888 at Tel-el-Amarna, the site of the
ancient capital of Amenophis IV of Egypt, about midway between Memphis
and Thebes.  On examination they proved to be a part of the official
archives of Amenophis III (1411-1375) and Amenophis IV (1375-1358),
consisting almost entirely of letters and reports addressed to these
two Pharaohs by their officials in western Asia, and by rulers who
sustained close relations to the Egyptian court.  The royal letters,
about forty in number, are chiefly from kings of the Hittites, of the
Mitanni, of Assyria, and of Babylonia.  The rest of the correspondence,
about two hundred and fifty letters, is of much greater historical
interest; it consists of letters from Egyptian governors in various
cities of Palestine, Phoenicia, and Syria.

These inscriptions show that about B.C. 1400, {126} about two hundred
years before the Hebrew conquest, Palestine and the neighboring
countries formed an Egyptian province under the rule of Egyptian
governors stationed in all principal towns.  At the time the Egyptians
had considerable difficulty in maintaining their authority.  Their
power was threatened by the Hittites and other powerful neighbors, by
the dissatisfied native population, by the Habiri, who seem to have
been invaders from the desert, and by the intrigues and rivalries of
the Egyptian governors themselves.  Practically all the principal
cities of the land are mentioned in these letters.  From the standpoint
of Old Testament study, six letters written by Abdi-hiba, Governor of
Jerusalem, are of special interest.  He, like many of the other
governors, is in difficulty.  The Habiri are pressing him hard; the
neighboring cities of Gezer, Lachish, and Askelon are aiding the enemy;
he has been slandered before the king and accused of disloyalty.  In
the letters he emphatically protests his innocence.  One of them reads:
"To the king my lord, say also thus: It is Abdi-hiba, thy servant; at
the feet of my lord the king twice seven times, and twice seven times I
fall.  What have I done against the king my lord?  They backbite, they
slander me before the king my lord, saying: Abdi-hiba has fallen away
from the king his lord.  Behold, as for me, neither my father nor my
{127} mother set me in this place; the arm of the mighty king caused me
to enter into the house of my father.  Why should I commit a sin
against the king my lord?"

Perhaps the most surprising fact about these letters is that the
Palestinian governors used, in the correspondence with their superiors
in Egypt, not the Egyptian or native Canaanite, but the Babylonian
language, which seems conclusive evidence that for some time previously
Western Asia had been under Babylonian influence.  Without doubt this
influence was primarily political, but naturally it would bring with it
elements of civilization, art, science, and religion.  Now and then
words in the Canaanite language occur, either independently, or for the
purpose of explaining a Babylonian expression in the more familiar
dialect of the scribe.  These Canaanite words are hardly
distinguishable from the Hebrew of the Old Testament.  It is evident,
therefore, that the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine were closely
akin to the Hebrews, and spoke substantially the same language.  The
inscriptions of later Egyptian kings, during the thirteenth and the
early part of the twelfth century, throw little additional light on
conditions in Palestine, except that it becomes increasingly clear that
Egypt cannot maintain its hold on the land.  Subsequent to Rameses III
(1198-1167) Palestine was entirely {128} lost to Egypt for several
centuries, which explains why the Hebrews were not disturbed by the
empire on the Nile in their attempts to establish themselves in

The first direct reference to Israel in the inscriptions apparently
takes us near the time of the exodus.  Archaeology has nothing to say
directly about the exodus; but in the enumeration of his victories,
Merneptah II, thought to be the Pharaoh during whose reign the exodus
took place, uses these words: "Israel is lost, his seed is not."  The
discovery of this inscription in 1896 was hailed with great rejoicing,
for at last the name "Israel" was found in an Egyptian inscription
coming, approximately at least, from the time of the exodus; but,
unfortunately, the reference is so indefinite that its exact
significance and bearing upon the date of the exodus is still under
discussion.  It is to be noted that, whereas the other places or
peoples named in the inscription have the determinative for "country,"
"Israel" has the determinative for "men"; perhaps an evidence that the
reference is not to the land of Israel, or to Israel permanently
settled, but to a tribe or people at the time without a settled abode.
But where was Israel at the time?  To this a variety of answers have
been given.  D. R. Fotheringham suggests that the reference is to the
destruction of the crops of Israel in Goshen.  {129} Israel, he thinks,
had just left, with the crops unharvested.  These Merneptah claims to
have destroyed.[8]  Others believe that the Israelites had already
entered Canaan when they suffered the defeat mentioned by Merneptah.
Petrie thinks that the Israelites defeated were in Palestine, but that
they had no connection with the tribes that had a part in the biblical
exodus; he believes that the latter were still in Goshen at the time of
this defeat.[9]  Still others believe that the Israelites were, at the
time of the defeat, in the wilderness south of Palestine, and that the
claim of Merneptah is simply an attempt to account for their
disappearance from Egypt.  And now comes Eerdmans, of Leiden, with the
suggestion that the Israelites defeated by Merneptah were the
Israelites before they went down to Egypt.[10]  It is seen, therefore,
that the reference on the stele of Merneptah, while of much interest,
because it is the first mention of Israel in an Egyptian inscription,
after all throws little light upon the date and the events of the

The next monument of importance contains an account of the invasion of
Palestine by Shishak, five years after the death of Solomon.  On the
southern wall of the court of the great temple of Amen at Karnak the
king has left a pictorial representation of his campaign.  A giant
figure is represented as holding in his left hand the ends of ropes
which {130} bind long rows of captives neck to neck.  Their hands are
tied behind them, and the victor's right hand holds a rod with which he
threatens them.  The names of the conquered cities are inscribed on
shields that cover the lower part of the body of each prisoner.  Some
of the most familiar names in this list are Gaza, Abel, Adullam,
Bethhoron, Aijalon, Gibeon, and Shunem.[11]

From about the middle of the ninth century on inscriptions containing
references to kings of Israel, or to events in which the Hebrews played
important parts, become more numerous.  To the reign of Omri (889-875)
and his immediate successors refers the inscription of Mesha on the
so-called Moabite Stone.[12]  This notable specimen of antiquity is a
stone of a bluish-black color, about two feet wide, nearly four feet
high, and fourteen and one-half inches thick; rounded at the top, and,
according to the testimony of the discoverer, the Rev. F. Klein, also
at the bottom, which, however, is doubtful.  The value of the stone
lies not only in the fact that it preserves one of the most ancient
styles of Hebrew writing, but more especially in the historical,
topographical, and religious information it furnishes.  In 2 Kings 3 we
read of the relations between Moab and Omri and his successors.  Omri
had subdued Moab and had collected from her a yearly tribute.  Ahab had
enjoyed the same revenue, amounting during {131} Mesha's reign to the
wool of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams.  At the
close of Ahab's reign Mesha refused to continue the payment of the
tribute.  The allied kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom marched with
their armies against the Moabites, who fled for refuge within the
strong fortress of Kir-hareseth, where Mesha offered up his own son as
a burnt-offering to Chemosh, his god; whereupon "there was great wrath
against Israel, and they departed from them and returned to their own

The Moabite Stone was set up by King Mesha to his god Chemosh in
commemoration of this deliverance.  The opening lines read: "I am
Mesha, son of Chemosh-ken, king of Moab, the Daibonite.  My father
reigned over Moab for thirty years, and I reigned after my father.  And
I made this high place for Chemosh in Korhah, a high place of
salvation, because he had saved me from all the assailants, and because
he had let me see my desire upon all them that hated me.  Omri, king of
Israel, afflicted Moab for many days, because Chemosh was angry with
his land; and his son succeeded him; and he also said, I will afflict
Moab.  In my days said he thus.  But I saw my desire upon him and his
house, and Israel perished with an everlasting destruction."  As a
supplement to the Old Testament narrative, this account is very
instructive.  The mention of {132} Yahweh, the God of Israel, is of
interest, as also the fact that in Moab, as in Israel, national
disaster was attributed to the anger of the national deity.  The idiom
in which the inscription is written differs only dialectically from the
Hebrew of the Old Testament.  Small idiomatic differences are
observable, but, on the other hand, it shares with it several
distinctive features, so that, on the whole, it resembles Hebrew far
more closely than any other Semitic language now known.  In point of
style the inscription reads almost like a page from one of the earlier
historical books of the Old Testament.

From the time of Omri on Israel came into frequent contact with
Assyria; indeed, the fortunes of Israel were closely bound up with the
fortunes of this great Eastern world-power.[13]  In 885, at about the
time when Omri had finally succeeded in overcoming his rivals,
Ashurnasirpal ascended the throne of Assyria.  He determined to restore
the former glory of his nation, which had become eclipsed under his
incompetent predecessors; and with him began a period of conquest which
ultimately brought the whole eastern shore of the Mediterranean under
Assyrian sway.  In 860 Shalmaneser III[14] succeeded his father upon
the throne of Assyria, and in the following year he renewed the attack
upon the West.  In 854 he felt prepared for a supreme effort, and it is
in the {133} account of this campaign that we read for the first time
the name of an Israelite king in the Assyrian inscription.  Shalmaneser
advanced with great speed and success until he reached Karkar, near the
Orontes, a little north of Hamath.  In the account of the campaign he
mentions, among the allies who fought against him, Ahab of Israel, who,
he says, furnished two thousand chariots and ten thousand men.  The
campaign is recorded in several inscriptions, in all of which
Shalmaneser claims a complete victory.

The most famous inscription of this king is the one on the so-called
Black Obelisk, an alabaster monolith found at Nimrud in 1846.  This
monument is inscribed on all four sides with an account, in one hundred
and ninety lines, of the expeditions undertaken during thirty-one years
of the king's reign.  In the text of the inscription reference is made
to campaigns against the west land (Syria and Palestine) in 859, 854,
850, 849, 846, 842, and 839.  In addition to the inscription the
monument contains, on the upper portion, five series of four reliefs
each, each series representing the tribute brought to the Assyrian king
by kings whom he had conquered or who sought his favor.  In the
inscription itself, no mention is made of Israel or the king of Israel,
but the second tier of reliefs is of much interest.  It depicts a
prince or deputy prostrating himself before Shalmaneser, {134} and
behind the prostrated figure are attendants bearing gifts of various
kinds.  The superscription reads: "The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri,
silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden ladle, golden goblets, golden
pitchers, lead, a staff for the hand of the king, shafts of spears, I
received of him."  In 842 Shalmaneser undertook an expedition against
Hazael of Damascus, and in the account of this expedition he says, "At
that time I received the tribute of the Tyrians and Sidonians, and of
Jehu, the son of Omri."

About half a century after the occurrence of Jehu's name in the
inscription of Shalmaneser III Israel is mentioned again as tributary
to Assyria.  Adad-nirari IV (812-783), after enumerating other
countries subjugated by him, writes: "From the Euphrates to the land of
the Hatti, the west country in its entire compass, Tyre, Sidon, the
land of Omri, Edom, Philistia, as far as the great sea of the setting
of the sun (Mediterranean Sea), I subjected to my yoke; payment of
tribute I imposed upon them."

Adad-nirari was succeeded by a series of weak kings, during whose reign
the power of Assyria declined, but in 745 the great Tiglath-pileser IV,
mentioned in the Old Testament also under the name Pul, ascended the
throne.  He succeeded in reorganizing the resources of the empire and
in rekindling its ambitions for conquest.  This {135} energetic king
has left several inscriptions of much interest to the student of Old
Testament history.  In one of these, narrating an expedition against
northern Syria about B.C. 738, he mentions a king, "Azriau of the land
of Yaudi."  It has been customary to identify this king with Azariah
(Uzziah) of Judah.  The contents speak against this identification, and
since the inscriptions found in Zenjirli have established the existence
in northern Syria of a state called Yaudi, perhaps the king mentioned
in Tiglath-pileser's inscription was a ruler of this northern kingdom.
In the annals which tell of his victory over Azriau of Yaudi he
mentions Menahem of Samaria as one of the kings whose tribute he
received.  The same inscription, referring to events in 734 or 733,
speaks of a victory over the House of Omri, and the assassination of
the king Pekah, but the inscription is so fragmentary that the details
are obscure.  Fortunately, the same events are recorded in another
inscription, which is in a better state of preservation, though it also
has several gaps.  After enumerating several cities which he captured
in Palestine, among them Gaza, he continues: "The land of the dynasty
of Omri ... the whole of its inhabitants, their possessions to Assyria
I deported.  Pekah, their king, they slew, Hoshea to rule over them
appointed.  Ten talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, I
received {136} as tribute."  Ahaz of Judah is also mentioned in an
inscription of Tiglath-pileser, as paying tribute, but it is not clear
to what year this refers.

Tiglath-pileser died in 727, and was succeeded by Shalmaneser V, who in
turn gave place in 722 to Sargon II.  Shalmaneser is mentioned as the
king who attacked the northern kingdom, and the Old Testament narrative
leaves the impression that he was the king who finally captured the
city of Samaria.  The inscriptions show that it was Sargon who overcame
the city soon after the beginning of his reign.  In one of his
inscriptions he calls himself, "the brave hero ... who overthrew the
House of Omri."  In another he says: "Samaria I besieged, I took.
27,290 of its inhabitants I carried away; 50 chariots I gathered from
them; the rest of them I permitted to retain their possessions.  Over
them I appointed my governor, and upon them I imposed the tribute of
the former king."  The annals of Sargon, which give an account of the
events during his reign in chronological order, give the date of the
capture of Samaria.  After the introduction, he continues: "In the
beginning of my reign and in the first year of my reign, ... Samaria I
besieged and took....  27,290 inhabitants I carried away; 50 chariots
as my royal portion I collected there....  I restored and made as it
was before....  People from all countries, my captives, I settled
there.  My {137} official I appointed as governor over them.  Tribute
and taxes like the Assyrian I imposed upon them."  After the
destruction of the northern kingdom the life of the Hebrews became
centered in Judah and Jerusalem.  The fall of Samaria made an
impression on the South that was remembered for some time.
Nevertheless, the states along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean
Sea bore impatiently the Assyrian yoke, and in most cities there arose
a party which, relying on the promised help of Egypt, was eager to free
itself from Assyria.  That this party gained a foothold also in
Jerusalem is seen from the prophecy in Isa. 20, in which the prophet
warns the people against trusting in Egypt and rebelling against
Assyria.  In the same direction points an inscription of Sargon
describing an expedition against Ashdod: "The people of Philistia,
_Judah_, Edom, and Moab, dwelling beside the sea, bringing tribute and
presents to Ashur my lord, were speaking treason.  The people and their
evil chiefs, to fight against me, to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, a prince
who could not save them, their presents carried and besought his
alliance."  In all probability, Judah did not become involved seriously
at this time.  But the death of Sargon in 705 seems to have been a
signal for revolt in many parts of the Assyrian empire.  His son and
successor, Sennacherib, gave these rebellions his immediate attention;
until 702 {138} he was kept busy in the East, but in that year he
turned westward, and by 701 was ready to attack Judah.  The campaign
and the remarkable deliverance of Jerusalem on that occasion are
recorded at length in 2 Kings 18, 19, and Isa. 36, 37.  The account of
the same campaign by the Assyrian king is, from the standpoint of Old
Testament history, perhaps the most interesting historical inscription
left by an Assyrian ruler.  It is found in the so-called Taylor
Cylinder,[15] column 2, line 34, to column 3, line 41.  The most
interesting portion reads:

  To the city of Ekron I went; the governors
  [and] princes, who had committed a transgression, I killed and
  bound their corpses on poles around the city.
  The inhabitants of the city, who had committed sin and evil,
  I counted as spoil; to the rest of them
  who had committed no sin and wrong, who had
  no guilt, I spoke peace.  Padi
  their king, I brought forth from the
  city of Jerusalem; upon the throne of lordship over them
  I placed him.  The tribute of my lordship
  I laid upon him.  But Hezekiah
  of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke,
  I besieged 46 of his strong cities, fortresses, and small cities
  of their environs, without number, [and]
  by the battering of rams and the assault of engines,
  by the attack of foot soldiers, mines, breaches, and axes,
  I besieged, I took them; 200,150 men, young [and] old, male
      and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen
  and sheep without number I brought out from them,
  I counted them as spoil.  [Hezekiah] himself I shut up like
      a caged bird in Jerusalem


  his royal city; the walls I fortified
  against him [and] whosoever came out of the gates of the
      city, I turned
  back.  His cities, which I had plundered, I separated from
      his land
  and gave them to Mitinti, king of Ashdod,
  to Padi, king of Ekron, and to Sil-Bel,
  king of Gaza, and [thus] diminished his territory.
  To the former tribute, paid yearly,
  I added the tribute and presents of my lordship and
  laid that upon him.  Hezekiah himself
  was overwhelmed by the fear of the brightness of my lordship;
  the Arabians and his other faithful warriors
  whom, as a defense for Jerusalem his royal city
  he had brought in, fell into fear.
  With 30 talents of gold [and] 800 talents of silver, precious
  _gukhli daggassi_ (?), large lapis lazuli,
  couches of ivory, thrones of ivory,
  ivory, _usu_ wood, box wood (?), of every kind, a heavy
  and his daughters, his women of the palace,
  the young men and young women, to Nineveh, the city of
      my lordship,
  I caused to be brought after me, and he sent his ambassadors,
  to give tribute and to pay homage.

These are, perhaps, the most important historical inscriptions
illustrating specific events in the history of Israel and Judah.  There
are, however, many more that make important, though more or less
indirect, contributions toward a better understanding of Old Testament
history.  Just to mention a few: Tirhaka of Egypt, who, temporarily at
least, interfered with the plans of the Assyrians, {140} appears
several times in the inscriptions; the real significance of the events
recorded in 2 Kings 20. 12ff., and Isa. 39, can be understood only in
the light of the inscriptions; an interesting sidelight is thrown by
the inscriptions on the biblical account of Sennacherib's death.  In
one of the inscriptions of Esarhaddon, the son and successor of
Sennacherib, we are told that among the twenty-two kings of the land of
the Hittites who assisted him in his building enterprises was Manasseh,
king of Judah.  Ashurbanipal, the successor of Esarhaddon, includes
Manasseh in a similar list.  Though this king is not mentioned in the
Old Testament under his Assyrian name, it is very probable that he is
the king referred to in Ezra 4. 10, where it is said that the "great
and noble Osnappar" brought Babylonians, Susanians, Elamites, and men
of other nationalities to Samaria.  The inscriptions do not throw much
light upon the closing years of Judah's history, but we can understand
the events in which Judah played a part better because the inscriptions
set into clearer light the general history of Western Asia.  The
advance of the Scythians, the revival of Egypt in the seventh century,
the fall of Nineveh, the rise of the Chaldean empire, which reached its
highest glory under Nebuchadrezzar, the conqueror of Judah--all these
are described in the inscriptions, or, at least, illuminated by them.
{141} In a similar way the inscriptions, though not mentioning the
Jewish exiles in Babylonia, illuminate the biblical records in many
respects.  Fortunately, also, the inscriptions furnish a good idea of
the events leading to the downfall of Babylon, which resulted in the
restoration of many exiles to Judah; and the restoration itself assumes
a new significance in the light of the inscriptions; for the permission
to return granted by Cyrus to the Jews is seen to be in accord with the
general policy of the conqueror to secure the good-will of the peoples
deported by the Babylonians by restoring them to their own homes.  The
historical situation of the age may suggest another reason for the
kindly treatment of the Jews.  It was inevitable that sooner or later
Cyrus, or his successors, should come into conflict with Egypt.  At
such time it would be of immense value to him to have near the border
of Egypt a nation upon whose fidelity and gratitude he could rely.
Archaeology has not thrown any direct light on the condition of the
Jews in Palestine under the Persian rule.  On the other hand, we know a
great deal about conditions in Babylonia during that period, and within
the past decade several important documents written on papyrus have
been found in Egypt which furnish indisputable evidence that the island
of Elephantine, opposite Assuan, a short distance north of the first
cataract {142} of the Nile, was the seat of a Jewish colony at least as
early as the reign of Cambyses, king of Persia (B.C. 529-521).[16]

This concludes the survey of the archæological material of a historical
nature.  It is seen that during the period from the division of the
kingdom subsequent to the death of Solomon to the reëstablishment of
the Jews in Palestine after the exile the inscriptions furnish most
interesting and instructive illustrations of events mentioned or
alluded to in the Old Testament.  As a result the history and also the
prophecy of the Old Testament have been removed from the isolated
position in which they previously seemed to stand.  They are now seen
to be connected by many links with the great movements taking place in
the world without.

The question as to the bearing of the archæological historical records
on the historical records of the Old Testament remains to be
considered.  This question was asked as soon as the contents of the
inscriptions became known.  The answers have varied greatly.  On the
one hand, it has been claimed that the Old Testament records are
confirmed in every detail; on the other, those have not been wanting
who claimed that the inscriptions discredit the Old Testament.  Here,
as in other investigations, the true conclusion can be reached only
after a careful examination of all {143} the facts in the case.  In the
study of the question there are several considerations and cautions
which must not be lost sight of if we would reach a true estimate.
Some of these cautions are suggested by the nature of the inscriptions.

In the first place, it must be remembered that most of the
archæological material has come from lands outside of Palestine, and
that the testimony is that of people not friendly to the Hebrews.  We
may expect, therefore, that at times personal bias may have colored the
portrayal and caused the Hebrews to appear in a less favorable light
than the facts would warrant, or that the events in which the Hebrews
took part were described in a manner to make them favor the interests
of the writers.

Again, not every period of Hebrew history is illuminated by the
inscriptions.  True, the earliest monuments found in Egypt and
Babylonia antedate the birth of Jesus perhaps more than four thousand
years; but it is not until the time of Ahab, king of Israel, that the
important historical material begins.  The references to Israel
preceding the time of the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, c. B.C. 850,
are few and more or less obscure.  There is the monument of Shishak in
the tenth century; but some are inclined to believe that the list of
the cities alleged to have been conquered by Shishak was simply taken
over by him from {144} an earlier document, and that, therefore, it is
of little or no historical value.  Israel is mentioned in the
inscription of Merneptah, but, as has been seen, the significance of
the brief reference is obscure; there is nothing concerning the stay in
Egypt, nothing concerning the patriarchs, and nothing concerning the
earlier period that can in any way be connected with the historical
records of the Old Testament.

Furthermore, to get at the true value of the evidence from the
monuments we must distinguish between facts and inferences from the
facts.  This distinction, obvious as it seems, has not always been
maintained even by eminent archæologists.  For example, Professor
Sayce, who is in just repute among Assyriologists, made a few years ago
the statement: "The vindication of the reality of Menes [one of the
early kings of Egypt] means the vindication also of the historical
character of the Hebrew patriarchs."  Surely, common sense says that
facts proving the historicity of an early king of Egypt do not
necessarily prove the historicity of men living many centuries later.
Many similar illustrations might be given.  Because bricks made without
straw were found it has been claimed that every detail of the Old
Testament narrative concerning the stay of Israel in Egypt was
corroborated by archæology.  The finding of the walls of royal palaces
in Babylon furnished {145} the claim that the story of the handwriting
on the wall was established beyond doubt.  The finding of images of
deities has been interpreted as showing beyond a possibility of
question the historicity of the narrative in Daniel concerning the
image erected by Nebuchadrezzar, etc.  There can easily be too much
blind dependence on authority; an assumption of fact, upon the mere
dictum of some presumably honest and competent scholar.  About a
generation ago a well-known investigator said, "Assyriology has its
guesses and it has its accurate knowledge."[17]  These words might be
expanded to include the whole field of archæology.  Archaeology has its
facts, and it has its inferences.  The two must not be confused.

Moreover, the possibility of inscribing lies upon clay tablets must not
be overlooked.  Sometimes it has been claimed, and that most absurdly,
that because an inscription has been engraved upon imperishable stone
or clay it has a superior value.  But the mere fact of a record being
inscribed on a tablet of clay, perishable or imperishable, gives it no
superiority over one written on papyrus or parchment or paper.  Clay
tablets were to the civilization of the Euphrates valley what print
paper is to us.  We all know that paper is patient, else the daily
papers would be of smaller size and many books would remain unwritten.
The same is true of clay tablets.  Clay tablets are {146} patient.  It
was recognized long ago by Assyriologists that the so-called historical
inscriptions are not all unbiased statements of objective facts.  In
many cases the chief purpose seems to have been the glorification of
the king; victories are recorded with the greatest care, but no mention
is made of defeats.  For example: in one of the earliest inscriptions
mentioning a king of Israel, Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria, claims a
great victory over the Western allies in the battle of Karkar in 854;
but, strange to say, the victory resulted in a rather hasty retreat of
the Assyrian army.  Another evidence of the "absolute reliability" of
the historical tablets is offered by the inscriptions of the same king.
In connection with the battle of Karkar, one inscription declares that
the allies killed numbered 14,000; another, 20,500; while a third
claims 25,000.  We have, indeed, reason to say that "the evident
uncertainty in the figures makes us doubt somewhat the clearness of the
entire result.  The claim of a great victory is almost certainly

Once more: the translation of the inscriptions is not in every case
beyond question.  For example, in lines 7-9 of the Moabite Stone we
read, according to the common translation, "Now Omri annexed all the
land of Medeba, and Israel occupied it his days and half the days of
his son, forty years."  This rendering would imply that the {147}
period from the conquest under Omri to the end of the first half of
Ahab's reign was forty years.  The chronology of Kings gives as the
total of the full reigns of the two kings only thirty-four years, while
the above translation of the inscription would require about sixty--a
serious discrepancy.  Now, it is generally conceded that the chronology
of the Bible cannot be accepted as final in all its details, and that
it must be checked by the chronology of the inscriptions wherever that
is possible.  Yet before we can make use of the monumental testimony we
should be sure of its exact meaning.  In cases such as the one
mentioned this certainty is absent, and we should move very slowly.
Another translation of the passage has been proposed: "Omri conquered
the whole land of Medeba and held it in possession as long as he
reigned and during half of my reign his son, in all forty years; but
yet in my reign Chemosh recovered it."[19]  This translation would
bring the total of the two reigns to about forty years, and thus the
chronological difficulty apparently offered by 2 Kings 3 would be

The five considerations to which attention has been called must be
observed if we would understand rightly the bearing of the monuments on
the Old Testament, when viewed from the standpoint of the inscriptions.
Attention must now be called to certain considerations touching {148}
primarily the Old Testament that must be regarded in forming an
estimate of the value of its historical records.

We must remember, for example, that the purpose of the Old Testament is
essentially and predominatingly religious.  This is recognized by the
Jews, for they do not call any of the so-called historical books by
that name.  The five books of the Pentateuch they designate as Law,
because in these books practically all Hebrew legislation is embodied.
Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, they include in the list of prophetic
books, because they recognize the essentially prophetic purpose of the
authors.  The other books belong to the third division of the Jewish
canon, called the Writings.  Concerning the books of Kings, which are
the principal historical books of the Old Testament, it has been truly
said: "Kings, by virtue of its contents, belongs as much to the
prophetical books as to the historical.  It is not a continuous
chronicle; it is a book of prophetic teaching in which sometimes
history, sometimes story, is employed as the vehicle of teaching.  It
enforces the principle that God is the controlling power and sin the
disturbing force in the entire history of men and nations.[20]  In a
similar manner the religious purpose predominates in the other Old
Testament historical books.  They do not pretend to give a complete
history even of {149} the Hebrew people.  The writers embodied only
such historical material as was thought to illustrate the
self-revelation of God in the history of individuals and of the nation,
or to bear in some marked way upon the coming of the kingdom of God.  A
modern secular historian is disappointed at many omissions which would
be unpardonable in a strictly historical production.  Now, it is
readily seen that the religious purpose may be served, and the didactic
value of the narrative may remain, even though historical inaccuracies
in details should be discovered.

Another fact to be remembered is the possible difference in the
viewpoint of several narrators of one and the same event.  In sacred,
as in secular history, the viewpoint of the author determines to a
considerable extent the character of the narrative.  For example: the
delineation of the events of the Civil War will not be the same in
official documents, in a secular history, in a church history, or in a
work containing personal memoirs.  Still other differences might be
seen in narratives confined to special incidents.  Such differences in
viewpoint may be noticed also among the writers of the Old Testament
historical books.  Broadly speaking, part of the historical literature
of the Old Testament is due to prophetic activity, part to priestly
activity.  In writing history the prophets, with their broad interest
in all the {150} affairs of the nation, resemble the modern secular
historian.  They portray events more objectively than the priests,
hence they are more reliable.  The priestly writers resemble the modern
ecclesiastical historian, who judges everyone and everything according
to their attitude toward the peculiar religious conceptions he
represents.  The Old Testament contains also some personal memoirs (in
Ezra and Nehemiah) and some narratives of special incidents (Ruth,
Esther), while the historical books in their present form embody also
what may have been official documents.

Moreover, in estimating the reliability of the Old Testament historical
books we must not overlook certain unconscious references and
indications which show that the authors exercised considerable care in
producing the books.  In the first place, historical statements appear
to have been preserved with considerable care, at least so far as the
substance is concerned.  This may be seen from the retention of
parallel narratives of the same events, without attempts at harmonizing
minor disagreements.  In the second place, history was written with
some discrimination.  This is evident especially in Kings, where the
several degrees in which certain of the kings departed from the
legitimate religion of Israel are carefully indicated.  A clear
distinction is made between the relatively pious kings, who simply did
not {151} remove the high places (1 Kings 15. 14; 2 Kings 12. 3) and
those who, in defiance of a fundamental principle (Exod. 20. 4, 5),
desired to represent the spiritual God of Israel in images that would
appeal to the senses (1 Kings 12. 28, 29; 14. 16, etc.), and those who,
in defiance of the first requirement of the Decalogue (Exod. 20. 3),
served other gods (1 Kings 16. 31-33; 18. 22, etc.).  Once more: in the
Old Testament records we find evidence of the historical consciousness
of ancient Israel resting upon a very sure foundation.  The Mosaic age
was regarded as the supreme crisis in the national history.  Moses was
the great hero; yet his grandeur was not able to extinguish the
consciousness of the glory of the pre-Mosaic period.  Throughout the
entire literature Abraham and Jacob and Joseph are also connected with
the beginnings of the Hebrew nation and with the beginning of the
religious mission of the people.  The memory of the pre-Mosaic period
seems indeed to have been securely founded.

What, then, are the results of this comparative study?  The Old
Testament world has become a new world.  Dark regions were Egypt,
Assyria, Elam, and other countries mentioned in the Old Testament
before the explorers and excavators entered these lands.  Now it is
comparatively easy to trace with considerable accuracy the boundaries
of empires that existed in the first {152} and second millenniums B.C.
In addition, we can fix with certainty the sites of some Old Testament
cities whose location was previously unknown and, in some cases, whose
very existence had been doubted.  The topography of cities like
Nineveh, Nippur, and Babylon has become quite definitely fixed.

The historical gains are even more remarkable.  Whole nations have been
resurrected.  What did we know a century ago of Elam?  Nothing but the
name.  What of Assyria?  Only a few traditions, sometimes
untrustworthy, preserved by classical writers, and the statements of
the Bible, some of which were unintelligible because of their
fragmentary character.  Now these and other nations pass one after the
other in review, great and powerful in all their ancient glory.  And,
almost every day, new light is thrown on these early centuries.  Only a
few years ago it was thought that Assyrian history, as distinct from
that of Babylon, began about B.C. 1800; now we know the names of many
rulers who lived generations and centuries before that date.

The chronological gains are especially important.  It is generally
admitted that Hebrew chronology is not always reliable, and various
expedients have been resorted to to remove the difficulties.  It was
very gratifying, therefore, to discover that the chronological system
of the Assyrians was {153} more precise.  Among the inscriptions are
especially three classes of public records in which the occurrences are
carefully dated: (1) Records of the reigns of certain kings in which
their activities are carefully arranged in chronological order; (2)
business tablets in which transactions are definitely dated; and (3)
the so-called eponym lists.  According to Assyrian custom, each year
was named after a prominent official.  Lists of these were carefully
made and kept, and, fortunately, large fragments of them have been
preserved.  Two recensions of these eponym lists have come down.  In
one only the names of the years are given; in the other references to
important events are added to the names.  If, now, any one of these
events can be dated, it becomes possible to trace the dates designated
by the names on either side of the one whose date is first determined.
By means of these lists and the other records the Assyrian chronology
can be definitely fixed from about B.C. 900 on.  This, in turn, enables
us to bring order into the chaos of Hebrew chronology during the most
important period of the nation's existence.

When we think of these and other gains, not the least of which is the
discovery of the contemporaneous documents, the absence of which was at
one time made the basis for the rejection of many statements found
exclusively in the Old {154} Testament, we may gratefully receive this
new light and rejoice in the advance in Bible knowledge made possible
through the excavations.  What, now, is the general bearing of these
discoveries on the trustworthiness of the Old Testament?

In the first place, it is well to remember that for many periods of
Hebrew history we are still entirely dependent on the Old Testament for
direct information.  For example, Professor Clay's claim concerning the
patriarchal age, that "the increase of knowledge gained through the
inscriptions of this period has in every instance dissolved conclusions
arrived at by those critics who maintain that the patriarchs are not to
be regarded as historical,"[21] is not justified by the facts.  In
reality, no incident in the patriarchal story is referred to in any of
the inscriptions read thus far.  On the other hand, the age of the
patriarchs has been wonderfully illuminated.  "Formerly the world in
which the patriarchs moved seemed to be almost empty; now we see it
filled with embassies, armies, busy cities, and long lines of traders
passing to and fro between one center of civilization and another; but
amid all that crowded life we peer in vain for any trace of the fathers
of the Hebrews; we listen in vain for any mention of their names; this
is the whole change archæology has wrought: it has given us an
atmosphere and a background for the stories of Genesis; it is {155}
unable to recall or certify their heroes."[22]  All that can be said in
this, as in other cases, is, that archæology, by furnishing a broad
historical background, has established the possibility of the principal
events recorded in the biblical narratives being correct.  It is silent
concerning the events themselves, and, therefore, neither confirms nor
discredits them.

A few cases there are, especially in connection with questions of
chronology, where archæology has modified and corrected biblical
statements.  According to the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser, for
example, Menahem of Israel paid tribute to the Assyrian king in B.C.
738, and there is reason for believing that this tribute was paid near
the beginning of Menahem's reign for the purpose of securing the good
will of Assyria.  In 734 or 733 Pekah is said to have been slain and to
have been succeeded by Hoshea.  Now, according to the Old Testament,
Menahem reigned ten years; his son, Pekahiah, two years, and Pekah
twenty years, a total of thirty-two years.  Even if we assume that the
tribute was paid by Menahem during his last year--which is not at all
likely--there would remain twenty-two years to be provided for between
738 and 734 or 733.  Evidently, the Old Testament figures are too high.
A similar case is found in connection with events that took place only
a few years later.  In 2 Kings {156} 18. 10 the statement is found that
Samaria was taken in the sixth year of Hezekiah, king of Judah.  Then,
verse 13 states that in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, Sennacherib,
king of Assyria, came against Jerusalem.  The date of the capture of
Samaria is definitely fixed by the Assyrian inscriptions.  The city
fell either in the closing days of B.C. 722 or the opening days of B.C.
721.  Assuming that it was 722, the fourteenth year of Hezekiah would
be 714.  But Sennacherib did not become king until 705, and the attack
upon Jerusalem was not made until 701.  Here, again, the biblical
account seems to be inaccurate.

In many other cases, however, remarkable confirmations are seen.  There
are many persons and events mentioned in the Old Testament which are
referred to also in the inscriptions.  Think of the long list of
Babylonian and Assyrian kings named in the Old Testament; Amraphel,
king of Shinar, at one time considered a mythical figure, is shown to
have been one of the greatest generals, wisest administrators, and
fairest lawgivers among the early kings of Babylon.  Sargon, whose very
existence was once doubted, has in defiance risen from the dust.  In
these and numerous other cases, especially from the ninth century
onward--as may be seen from a comparison of the inscriptions quoted
above with the corresponding portions of {157} the Old Testament--the
archæological records furnish striking confirmations of the Old
Testament narratives.  To sum up this entire inquiry: It must be
apparent to every unbiased student that the monuments, when read
intelligently, neither set aside nor discredit the Old Testament
documents.  On the contrary, they prove their substantial accuracy.
They may at times modify them, especially in questions of chronology;
but they more frequently corroborate than impugn; thus they offer their
services not as a substitute but as a supplement, by the aid of which
we may study from without the history of the Hebrew people.


[1] An excellent account of the explorations and excavations in
Babylonia and Assyria, and of the decipherment of the inscriptions is
found in R. W. Rogers, A History of Babylonia and Assyria, Vol. I,
Chapters I-VIII; compare also H. V. Hilprecht, Explorations in Bible
Lands during the Nineteenth Century, Part I.

[2] Preliminary reports of the results of the German excavations are
given from time to time in the Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient

[3] G. Steindorff, Excavations in Egypt, in H. V. Hilprecht,
Explorations in Bible Lands, pp. 623-690.

[4] Opening words of I. Benzinger, Researches in Palestine, in
Hilprecht, Explorations, pp. 579-622.  A very complete discussion of
explorations and excavations in Palestine may be found in F. Jones
Bliss, Development of Palestine Exploration.  The {158} progress of the
excavations is reported in the Quarterly Statement of the Palestine
Exploration Fund.

[5] Opening words of the first lecture on "Babel and Bible."

[6] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. xlviii.

[7] A. T. Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, Chapter XI.

[8] The Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 97.

[9] Egypt and Israel, p. 35.  Breasted also seems to think that the
Israelites defeated by Merneptah had no direct connection with those
who suffered in Egypt, A History of Egypt, p. 466; compare p. 410.

[10] The Expositor, 1908, p. 199.

[11] J. C. Ball, Light from the East, pp. 131, 132.

[12] W. H. Bennett, The Moabite Stone; Hastings, Dictionary of the
Bible, art., "Moab, Moabites."

[13] Most of the inscriptions from this period on are found in D. G.
Hogarth, Authority and Archaeology, Part I--Hebrew Authority, by S. R.
Driver.  See also T. G. Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the
Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia; A. T. Clay,
Light on the Old Testament from Babel; A. Jeremias, The Old Testament
in the Light of the Ancient Orient; R. F. Harper, Assyrian and
Babylonian Literature; S. R. Driver, Modern Research as Illustrating
the Bible.  The most recent and most complete collection of cuneiform
inscriptions throwing light on Old Testament religion and history is
contained in R. W. Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament,
which appeared after this book had gone to press.

[14] Formerly called Shalmaneser II; see Expository Times, February,
1912, p. 238.

[15] A translation of the entire inscription by R. W. Rogers is found
in Records of the Past, New Series, Vol. VI, pp. 80ff.  These Records
of the Past contain translations of the more important ancient


[16] The most important of these papyri is translated in the Biblical
World, June, 1908, pp. 448ff.

[17] Francis Brown, Assyriology--Its Use and Abuse in Old Testament
Study, p. 3.

[18] R. W. Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria, Vol. II, p. 80.

[19] Encyclopedia Biblica, Vol. I, col. 792, Note.

[20] E. W. Barnes, The First Book of Kings, p. xxxiii.

[21] A. T. Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, p. 143.

[22] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. liii, quoted in part from G.
A. Smith, Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament, p.




The present is an era of comparative study.  We no longer study
subjects by themselves, but compare them with correlated experiences
and phenomena.  "In the sphere of language study we have the science of
comparative philology.  Language is compared with language.  By means
of this comparison we have found that there are groups of languages
closely related to one another; and, comparing these groups with one
another, we have discovered certain universal laws of language.
Comparing further the languages within each group, we ascertain the
laws common to that group.  By such comparison a flood of light has
been thrown on language.  We know Greek and Latin and Hebrew to-day as
our predecessors did not know them."[1]  The same principle of
comparison is now applied to the study of history, of literature, of
philosophy, of ethics, and of religion, including the literature and
religion of the Hebrews.  Men are laying to-day the entire Hebrew
literature, history, and religion alongside of the literatures,
histories, and religions of other {161} nations, testing them by the
same methods and applying to them the same rules.

What should be the attitude of the Christian toward this method of
study?  When the science of comparative philology first asserted itself
many good Christians set themselves against it, because one of its
claims was that Hebrew is not the original language given by God to
men.  Comparative philology has won its way, and Bible students are
truly grateful for the light it has shed upon sacred scripture.  When
the comparative study of the Scriptures was first advocated there were
many timid souls who felt that this method of study was an attack upon
the Bible, which could only issue in such an overturning of belief that
the Church would remain helpless with a worthless Bible.  Hence they
set themselves with all their might against the new study as an enemy
of Christianity.  Is this the proper attitude?  In the first place, it
is well to remember that the Bible has withstood all attacks for
thousands of years.  Its great river of truth has flowed serenely on,
watering the whole earth with its life-giving streams, and refusing to
be dammed up by any foe.  Surely, history teaches that there need be no
fear that any new method of study will bring about an end of the
Bible's reign.  On the other hand, history teaches the folly of
resisting the progress of science along any line of investigation.
{162} True science will win its way just as surely as the teaching of
the Bible will win its way into the hearts of men.  Hence it would seem
the part of wisdom to encourage rather than to discourage the efforts
of the comparative student of the Old Testament.

As a matter of fact, we cannot do anything else unless we would
stultify ourselves.  We have said to the adherents of every other
religion: "You say your sacred books are divine, prove it; lay your
books open before the jury of the world, let the critics scrutinize
them, analyze them, criticize them, according to the canons of modern
criticism by which they criticize all books."  And can we refuse to
open our Bible before the jury of the world and bid it scrutinize,
analyze, and criticize it according to the same canons which it applies
to the Veda, the Koran, and other so-called holy books?  Would such an
attitude be fair?  If we believe that the Bible is different from the
sacred books of other nations, that it stands on a far higher plane,
unique, needing no concealment and no bolstering up with traditions and
doctrines--if that is our faith, then let us lay it down open before
the world and challenge men to read it, study it, and compare it with
all the sacred literatures of the world.  The man who really believes
in the inspiration of the Bible ought not to be afraid of such a test.
He may rest assured {163} that the comparative study of biblical
literature and biblical religion will prove one of the things that work
together for good to all those who have a living faith in God.

An exhaustive discussion of the subject of this chapter would involve a
study of all the great historical religions, known better to-day than
ever before, and a comparison of them with the religion of the Old
Testament.  This, however, could not be done satisfactorily within the
limits of a single chapter.  It seems, therefore, advisable to confine
the investigation to the religious beliefs, practices, and institutions
of the nations with whom the Hebrews came into more or less close
contact, such as the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egyptians.  Political
contact, which was common between these nations and the Hebrews, might
furnish occasions for exerting influence in the realms of religion,
law, and other elements of civilization.  "When alien races and diverse
faiths confronted each other it might not always be the cause of war,
but it was always the occasion of psychical conflict."[2]  Since the
knowledge of the religions of the nations named has been supplied very
largely through archæological labors, this inquiry is simply one phase
of the broader question as to the bearing of archæology upon the Old
Testament; more especially, the bearing of the archæological material
of a religious and ethical nature {164} upon the uniqueness and
permanent significance of the Old Testament religion.

The importance of this study is suggested in the following quotation
from a prominent Assyriologist, Hugo Winckler: "We come in the end to
this, that we can distinguish only two views of the world which the
human race has known in its historical development: the old Babylonian,
and the modern empirical naturalistic, which is still in process of
development and is yet struggling with the old one in many departments
of life."[3]  To avoid misunderstanding respecting the extent of the
Babylonian influence, he adds, "The view of the world and religion are
one for the ancient Oriental."[3]  In this statement Winckler robs the
Old Testament religion of all originality; he considers it simply a
natural development of the Babylonian religion.  Friedrich Delitzsch,
in his lectures on "Babel and Bible,"[4] expresses the same idea in a
slightly modified form and attempts to show the predominance of
Babylonian thought in the Hebrew conception of the origin of the world,
the Fall, the Flood, life after death, angels, demons, the devil, the
Sabbath, a large part of the sacrificial cult, the directions
concerning the priesthood, the name and worship of Jehovah, and even in
the monotheistic conception of Deity.  How much truth is there in these
claims?  Or, to put the question in another form, If the religious
{165} ideas expressed in the Old Testament have parallels among nations
commonly called heathen, and if these extra-biblical ideas cannot be
explained as dependent on the Bible, does it follow that the ideas of
the Bible are appropriated from these nations, and if so, what becomes
of the uniqueness, the sacredness, the inspiration of the Old
Testament?  In order to answer the question adequately it is necessary
to consider in detail the most important phases of the religious ideas
of the Hebrews on the one hand, and of the nations with whom the
Hebrews came in contact on the other.

Fundamental to all religious thinking is the conception of Deity.  The
origin of the Babylonian conception of Deity, which shows more striking
similarities to the ideas of the Old Testament than do the conceptions
of the other nations above mentioned, belongs to a period of which
little or nothing is known.  But there are indications that a
fundamental aspect of the earliest religion of the country was animism,
that is, the belief that every object was possessed and animated by a
spirit.  "Life was the only force known to man which explained motion,
and, conversely, motion was the sign and manifestation of life.  The
arrow which sped through the air, or the rock which fell from the
cliff, did so in virtue of their possessing life, or because the motive
force of {166} life lay in some way or other behind them.  The stars,
which slowly moved through the sky, and the sun, which rose and set day
by day, were living beings.  It was life which gave them the power of
movement as it gave the power of movement to man himself, and the
animals by whom he was surrounded."[5]  Besides this belief in animism,
the Babylonian religion shows evidences of a belief in ghosts that were
related to the world of the dead.  These ghosts were thought to
exercise an evil influence upon men and could be cast out only by the
use of incantations.

But, while these elements belonged to the early religion, Babylonian
religion as it actually meets us even in the earliest inscriptions has
reached a higher stage of development.  There appear many local
deities; every center of human habitation had its special patron deity;
for example, Babylon was the city of Marduk; Nippur, of Enlil; Ur, of
Sin; Sippara, of Shamash; Cuthah, of Nergal; Asshur, of Ashur; etc.
These deities are usually associated with natural phenomena; foremost
among them stand the sun and the moon; but by the side of these many
other natural objects or forces were personified and deified.

It is probable that in the beginning, as the result of limited
observation and speculation, the number of gods in the Babylonian
pantheon was relatively small.  However, in the course of time, {167}
they became greatly multiplied as the result of a wider observation of
the phenomena of nature, political changes, and theological
speculation.  Over against this tendency to multiply deities there
shows itself, in the course of the centuries, a tendency to diminish
the number of gods, and in the end comparatively few remain, until in
the late Babylonian period the worship seems to have been confined
chiefly to Marduk, Nabu, Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar.  Some of the great
thinkers of Babylonia seem to have gone even so far as to consider the
various deities manifestation of the one god Marduk.  There is in
existence a tablet of the Neo-Babylonian period which states that
Marduk is called Ninib as the possessor of power, Nergal as lord of
battle, Bel as possessor of dominion, Nabu as lord of business, Sin as
the illuminator of the night, Shamash as the lord of right, Addu as the
lord of rain, etc.[6]  It is seen, then, that monotheistic tendencies
are not absent from the Babylonian religion.  But they never go beyond
the realm of speculation.  "The Babylonians, with all their wonderful
gifts, were never able to conceive of one god, of one god alone, of one
god whose very existence makes logically impossible the existence of
any other deity.  Monotheism transcends the spiritual grasp of the
Babylonian mind."[7]  In the words of Delitzsch, "Notwithstanding all
this, however, and despite {168} the fact that many liberal and
enlightened minds openly advocated the doctrine that Nergal and Nebo,
that the moon-god and the sun-god, the god of thunder, Ramman, and all
the rest of the Babylonian pantheon, were one in Marduk, the god of
light, still polytheism, gross polytheism, remained for three thousand
years the Babylonian state religion--a sad and significant warning
against the indolence of men and races in matters of religion, and
against the colossal power which may be acquired by a strongly
organized priesthood based upon it."[8]

Even the most spiritual expressions of the Babylonian religion, the
so-called penitential psalms, bear witness to the fact that the writers
continued to worship many deities.  In one of the most spiritual of
these psalms, the psalmist prays:

  That the heart anger of my lord be appeased,
  A god unknown to me be appeased,
  A goddess unknown to me be appeased,
  A known and unknown god be appeased,
  A known and unknown goddess be appeased,
  That the heart of my god be appeased,
  The heart of my goddess be appeased,
  God and goddess, known and unknown, be appeased.[9]

Some of the hymns and prayers addressed to certain deities read almost
as if the authors were monotheists.  But this is due simply to the fact
that just at the time they are interested in the power or {169}
splendor or favor of a specific deity.  Again and again the fact that
they believe in the existence of other deities, and in their duty to
pay homage to different deities, crops out.  At no period of the
religious history of Babylonia is there any indication of a clear and
well-defined monotheism.

In Egypt also a tendency toward monotheism manifested itself,
especially during the reign of Amenophis IV, soon after B.C. 1400,[10]
that is, during the period when the Hebrews were in Egypt.  He tried to
do away with the worship of many deities and to establish as the one
supreme deity the orb of the sun; but after the death of Amenophis, who
was considered a heretic, the new cult disappeared without exerting any
noticeable influence on Egyptian religion.  There certainly is no
evidence that either the Babylonian or the Egyptian monotheistic
tendencies influenced in any direct way the development of Israel's

Turning now to the religion of the Old Testament, we soon discover that
Hebrew religion, including the conception of Deity, passed through
various stages of development, the earliest of these belonging to the
period before Moses.  The first thing to be noted about this period is
that, in spite of the close relation of the ancient Hebrews with
Babylon, the early Hebrew conception of Deity does not seem to have
been influenced in any marked manner by that of Babylonia; nor {170} is
there any indication of Egyptian influence.  On the other hand, the
oldest Hebrew conceptions show marked similarities with the religion of
their nomadic neighbors, as reflected, for example, in the oldest
traditions of the Arab tribes.  This does not mean that an indirect
influence may not have been exerted by Babylon; indeed, the absence of
such influence would be very strange in view of the fact that,
according to Hebrew tradition, the truth of which cannot be doubted,
the ancestors of the Hebrews came from Babylonia, from the city of Ur,
the principal center of the worship of the Babylonian moon-god, Sin.

The results of modern investigations into the nature of early Hebrew
religion may be briefly stated as follows: Like the early Babylonian
religion, the religion of Israel passed through a stage of animism.  In
one form this is the belief in the activity of the spirits of recently
deceased relatives.  But this becomes a religion only when it leads to
the worship of the departed, that is, ancestor worship, of which there
is no definite indication in the biblical material at our command.  But
there is a form of animism of which there are traces in Israel as in
Babylonia, namely, the worship of spirits that were believed to be the
inhabitants and possessors of certain objects and places, like trees,
stones, springs, which thereby assumed a sacred character.  To this
form of {171} religion the name "polydemonism," which means the worship
of many demons, is ordinarily given.  Demon, however, is to be
understood here, not in the sense of evil spirit, but simply a divine
being of an inferior order.  As illustrations of this belief, attention
may be called to the sacred stone, Bethel, which gave the locality its
name, "House of God" (Gen. 28. 19), or to the sacred oracular tree at
Shechem (Gen. 12. 6; Deut. 11. 30), or to the sacred wells at Kadesh
(Gen. 14. 7) and Beersheba (Gen. 21. 28-33).  In general, it may be
said that during the pre-Mosaic period the religion of Israel, whatever
may have been true of isolated individuals, was not essentially
different from the religious conceptions of the people with which we
have become better acquainted through modern exploration and

Another and very different conception appears from the time of the
exodus on.  The most striking feature of this new conception is that
the Israelites now worship one God, whom they consider their own
peculiar Deity, while they look upon themselves as his own peculiar
people.  True, the earlier conceptions did not disappear entirely or
immediately; but for the religious leaders there was but one God who
had a right to demand Israel's loyalty.  Jehovah, or Yahweh, was the
name of this God, and the religious watchword was, "Jehovah, the God of
Israel; Israel the people {172} of Jehovah."  Now archeology has shown
the name "Yahweh" to have been used as a divine name long before the
time of the exodus; but archæology has also shown that the conception
of the nature and character of Yahweh held by the religious leaders of
the Hebrews from the time of Moses on is peculiar to them.  Says R. W.
Rogers, "There can, therefore, be no escape from the conclusion that
the divine name 'Yahweh' is not a peculiar possession of the
Hebrews."[12]  Then he continues: "At first sight this may seem like a
startling robbery of Israel, this taking away from her the divine name
'Yahweh' as an exclusive possession, but it is not so.  Yahweh himself
is not taken away: he remains the priceless possession, the chief glory
of Israel.  It is only the name that is shown to be widespread.  And
the name matters little.  The great question is, What does this name
convey?  What is its theological content?  The name came to Israel from
the outside; but into that vessel a long line of prophets from Moses
onward poured such a flood of attributes as never a priest in all
western Asia from Babylonia to the sea ever dreamed of in his highest
moments of spiritual insight.  In this name and through Israel's
history God chose to reveal himself to Israel, and by Israel to the
world.  Therein lies the supreme and lonesome superiority of Israel
over Babylonia."[13]


Archaeology has revealed the pantheon of Babylonia and Assyria; the
inscriptions have also set in a clear light the nature and character of
the gods as conceived by their worshipers.  For example, the gods are
looked upon as a part of the process of creation, as may be seen from
the opening lines of the story of Creation:[14]

  When no one of the gods had been called into being,
  And none bore a name, and no destinies were fixed.
  Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven.

An idea of the character of these deities may be gathered from the
description of a heavenly banquet scene in the same poem:

  They made ready the feast, at the banquet [they sat],
  They ate bread, they mingled the wine.
  The sweet drink made them drunken ...
  By drinking they were drunken, their bodies were filled.
  They shouted aloud, their heart was exalted,
  Then for Marduk, their avenger, did they decree destiny.

Certainly, not all the religious thinkers of Babylonia held these low
conceptions.  In some of their prayers and hymns they rise to lofty
spiritual and ethical conceptions which compare quite favorably with
expressions found in the Old Testament.  In a hymn addressed to
Shamash, the sun-god, are found these lines:

  Who plans evil--his horn thou dost destroy,
  Whoever in fixing boundaries annuls rights.
  The unjust judge thou restrainest with force.


  Whoever accepts a bribe, who does not judge justly--on him
      thou imposest sin.
  But he who does not accept a bribe, who has a care for the
  To him Shamash is gracious, his life he prolongs.
  The judge who renders a just decision
  Shall end in a palace, the place of princes shall be his dwelling.
      *      *      *      *      *
  The seed of those who act unjustly shall not flourish.
  What their mouth declares in thy presence
  Thou shalt burn it up, what they purpose wilt thou annul.
  Thou knowest their transgressions; the declaration of the
      wicked thou dost cast aside.
  Every one wherever he may be is in thy care.
  Thou directest their judgments, the imprisoned dost thou
  Thou hearest, O Shamash, petition, prayer, and appeal,
  Humility, prostration, petitioning, and reverence.
  With loud voice the unfortunate one cries to thee.
  The weak, the exhausted, the oppressed, the lowly,
  Mother, wife, maid appeal to thee,
  He who is removed from his family, he that dwelleth far from
      his city.[15]

Far be it from the writer to rob the religion of Babylonia of any of
its glory.  Nevertheless, he ventures to assert without any fear of
contradiction that we may search the pantheon of Babylon, from one end
to the other, and we shall not find one god who in nature and character
can compare with the Jehovah of Israel as proclaimed by the great
prophets and glorified by the sweet singers of the nation, a God
"merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness
and truth."  We may well speak of a "great gulf, {175} which is fixed
between primitive Semitic conceptions of God and the noble spiritual
views of him set forth under divine illumination by Isaiah."[16]  It is
due to this fundamental difference in the conception of the nature and
character of Deity that the religion of Israel became "a living and
ethical power, growing and increasing until Jesus, greatest of the
prophets, completed the message of his predecessors," and Christianity
was born.

From the conception of Deity we may pass to a brief consideration of
religious institutions and beliefs.  One of the most important results
of recent archæological discoveries has been to show that many of the
religious rites, customs, and institutions of Babylonia and Assyria, as
also of Egypt, resemble closely those assigned in the Old Testament to
the Hebrews.  This cannot appear strange when we remember that Israel
was a branch of the great Semitic race, which was, at the time of its
separation from the common stock, in possession of many of the common
Semitic notions and practices.  It would have been impossible to rid
the Israelite consciousness of all of these; therefore the religious
leaders of the Hebrews took the better way of retaining the familiar
forms and pouring into them a new, higher, and more spiritual

One of the earliest religious institutions recognized in the Old
Testament is the Sabbath.  The {176} very fact that it is mentioned in
the story of creation shows that, whatever the reason for its
observance among the Hebrews, it was recognized as a very ancient
institution.  Has archæology thrown any light on the origin of the
Sabbath day?[17]  In his first lecture on "Babel and Bible," Delitzsch
answers the question in these words: "There can therefore be scarcely
the shadow of a doubt that in the last resort we are indebted to this
ancient nation on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris for the
plenitude of blessings that flows from our day of Sabbath, or Sunday,
rest."[18]  This statement was soon criticized, because it seemed to
give too much credit to the Babylonians, and Delitzsch later modified
the statement and claimed, simply, that the Hebrew Sabbath ultimately
is rooted in a Babylonian institution.[19]  No exception can be taken
to this putting of the claim.

What are the facts in the case?  (1) The Babylonians observed in a
peculiar way the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth
days of the month, that is, the days on which the moon entered a new
phase.  They also observed the nineteenth day of the month, which was
the forty-ninth day from the beginning of the preceding month.  These
days were considered unlucky days, on which certain actions had to be
avoided, at least by important personages, like the king, {177} priest,
and physician.  The prohibition reads: "The shepherd (king) of the
great nations shall not eat roasted nor smoked meat, not change his
garment, not put on white raiment, not offer sacrifice; the king shall
not mount his chariot, as ruler not pronounce judgment; the priest
shall not give oracles in the secret place; the physician shall not lay
his hand on the sick, the day being inauspicious for any affair
whatever."  The Babylonians evidently observed these days by at least
partial cessation of work, because nothing would prosper anyway on
those days.  In contrast, it may be well to notice that in the Sabbath
observance among the early Hebrews the humanitarian element played a
prominent part.  (2) The name _Sha-bat-tu_ has been found in the
inscriptions as an interpretation of the phrase, _um nuh libbi_, which
means, a day for appeasing the heart (of the deity).  It would seem,
therefore, that the Babylonian Sabbath was intended to be a day of
atonement or supplication, which might imply cessation of ordinary
labor, especially since the word _Sha-bat-tu_ may be identical in
meaning with _gamaru_, to complete or finish, which leads naturally to
the idea of rest, because the work is completed.  (3) There is no
definite evidence that the five days mentioned were called
_Sha-bat-tu_; the name is given rather to the fifteenth day of the
month, which is the day of the full moon.


In the light of these facts it is not improbable that there is some
connection between the Hebrew Sabbath and certain special days among
the Babylonians; but, as in other cases, the Hebrews have given to the
adopted institution a new significance.  Some of the changes introduced
by the Hebrews are: (a) The Hebrews observed every seventh day without
regard for the month or the year.  The Babylonians observed the
seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days of each
month, (b) The motive underlying the observance among the two people
differs.  The earliest Hebrew legislation (Exod. 23. 12) would seem to
indicate that humanitarian considerations are responsible for Sabbath
observance, not religious superstition, (c) The Sabbath law of the
Hebrews was binding on all.  According to our present knowledge, among
the Babylonians only the leaders appear to have been affected.

The Babylonians, Egyptians, and other ancient peoples had in addition
to the Sabbath numerous other festivals, and it is not improbable that
some of the Hebrew festivals are connected with these, though the exact
relation is not yet determined.

Archaeology has thrown much light on the complicated ceremonial system
of the Old Testament, though it is an exaggeration to say that, "if we
want to trace the origin of the late Jewish ceremonial of the Priest
Code, we must look for {179} it in the cuneiform ritual texts of the
Babylonians."[20]  Attention may be called here to a few of the more
marked similarities between the Hebrew and Babylonian systems.[21]  (1)
The Babylonian temple closely resembled the temple of Solomon.  Both
had two courts, chambers for the priests, the sanctuary, and the Holy
of holies.  Externally, both were mere rectangular boxes, without much
architectural beauty or variety of design.  It was only in the
possession of a tower that the Babylonian temple differed from the
Hebrew, a difference due to a difference in the conception of Deity.
The temples agreed even in the details of their furniture: the two
altars of the Babylonian sanctuary are found again in the temple of
Jerusalem; so also the mercy seat and the table of showbread.  The
bronze sea of Solomon was modeled after a Babylonian original.  The
twin pillars, which Solomon erected in the porch of the temple, have
their counterparts in Babylonian sanctuaries.  Even the sacred ark
seems to have had a Babylonian origin, though some would trace it to
Egypt.  (2) Every great sanctuary had its chief priest.  Under him was
a large number of subordinate priests and temple ministers, such as
sacrificers, pourers of libations, anointers with oil, bakers,
chanters, wailers, etc.  Connected with the sanctuaries were also the
prophets, augurs, soothsayers, necromancers, etc.  {180} Though not all
these classes of religious workers are found in connection with the
Jewish sanctuaries, the chief priest and his subordinates are found
there as well as in Babylon.  (3) Similarities in the details of the
sacrificial system may be noted.  Libations were poured out before the
deities, consisting originally, probably, of pure water, to which was
subsequently added wine, made either from the palm or the vine.  All
the first-fruits of the cultivated land were offered to the god; milk
and butter and oil, dates and vegetables were given in abundance.  So
too were spices and incense, brought from the southern coast of Arabia,
the corn that was grown in the fields, garlic and other herbs from the
garden, and honey from the hive.  Annual sacrifices were not forgotten.
Oxen and calves, sheep and lambs, goats and kids, fish and certain
kinds of birds, were slain upon the altar.  There are traces of human
sacrifice, but, as among the Hebrews, the practice disappeared at an
early date.  "Babylonia," says Sayce, "was the inventor of the
tithe,"[22] which was paid by all classes, even the king.  One of the
last acts recorded of the crown prince, Belshazzar, is the payment of a
tithe, forty-seven shekels in amount, due from his sister to the temple
of the sun-god at Sippara.  The daily sacrifice was a fixed custom.
Several of the technical terms of the Old Testament are {181} found
also in Assyrian.  For example: _torah_, law, has its counterpart in
the Assyrian _tertu_; the biblical _kipper_, atonement, is the Assyrian
_kuppuru_; _korban_, gift or offering, is the Assyrian _kurbannu_.  The
names for animal sacrifice, _zibu_, for meal offering, _manitu_, and
for freewill offering, _nidbu_, all are found in their Hebrew forms in
the Old Testament.  As in the Hebrew legislation, a distinction is made
between the offerings of the rich and the poor, and the sacrificial
animal was to be without blemish.  The Babylonian priest retained
certain parts for himself, which was also the custom among the Hebrews
(Deut. 18. 3), though the parts retained are not the same in the two
cases.  A ritual tablet shows that Babylonians sprinkled the blood of
the lamb that was killed at the gate of the palace on the lintels, on
the figures flanking the entrances, and on the doorposts to the right
and the left, which has its parallel in the Hebrew passover ceremony.

These illustrations, which by no means exhaust the list, reveal close
similarities between the Hebrew ceremonial and that of the inhabitants
of the Euphrates-Tigris valley, and the more we know of the Babylonian
ritual, the more extensive and striking these resemblances become.
They both start from the same principles and agree in many of their
details.  Between them, however, lies that deep gulf which separates
the religion of {182} Israel from that of Babylonia as a whole.  The
one is monotheistic, the other polytheistic.  Upon the basis of this
fundamental difference the religious leaders of Israel gave to the
similar forms adopted from other nations a new and deeper meaning and

Like the Hebrew religion, the religion of Babylonia has its guardian
angels.[23]  The Babylonian rulers stood in need of hosts of messengers
to bear their behests into all quarters of their dominions.  In a
similar manner, it was thought, the gods needed their heavenly hosts to
carry out their commissions.  These angels are represented under
various forms, but all of them are equipped with wings, so as to be
able to carry upon the winds of heaven the commands of the gods to the
children of men.  Sometimes they are represented with eagles' heads,
perhaps to indicate that they possess the keenness of vision and the
rapidity of flight of an eagle; sometimes they have human countenances
to denote their human intelligence.  Frequently they appear as hybrid
figures, with the body of a lion or bull, the wings of an eagle, and
the head of a man, symbolizing strength, swiftness, and intelligence.

The duties of these angels are manifold.  Those placed at the entrances
of palaces or temples are to guard those entrances.  The peculiar
relations of angels to men are suggested, for example, by {183} a
letter of a Babylonian officer to the queen mother.  He writes: "Mother
of the king, my lady, be comforted.  Bel's and Nabu's angel of mercy
attends on the king of the land, my lord."  A letter addressed to
Esarhaddon contains these words: "May the great gods send a guardian of
salvation and life to stand by the king my lord."  And Nabopolassar,
the founder of the Chaldean empire, and father of Nebuchadrezzar,
writes: "To lordship over land and people, Marduk called me.  He sent a
cherub of mercy to attend on me, and everything I undertook he aided."

Alongside of these guardian angels there appear evil spirits and
demons.  "These demons were everywhere: they lurked in every corner,
watching for their prey.  The city streets knew their malevolent
presence, the rivers, the seas, the tops of the mountains.  They
appeared sometimes as serpents gliding noiselessly upon their victims;
as birds, horrid of mien, flying resistlessly to destroy or afflict; as
beings in human form, grotesque, malformed, awe-inspiring through their
hideousness.  To these demons all sorts of misfortunes were ascribed:
toothache, headache, broken bones, raging fever, outbursts of anger, of
jealousy.  Did a man lie wasting of disease and torn of pain, a demon
was thought to be within him, the disease being but a manifestation of
his malevolence.  There could be no return of the precious boon of
{184} good health until the demon was exorcised, and it was to the
exorcising of demons that so large, so disproportionate a part of the
religious literature of Babylon and Nineveh was devoted."[24]
Sometimes demons are referred to in a manner which shows that the
conception in Job 1. 6ff., Zech. 3. 1ff., of the Adversary, or the
Satan, is closely related to the Babylonian conception of a demon as
accuser, persecutor, or oppressor.

The vision of the Old Testament is largely confined to this world.
There is little hope for a man after he passes away from this earth.
Indeed, there are some passages which would seem to imply the thought
that with death existence came entirely to an end.  Compare, for
example, Psa. 39.13:

  Oh, spare me, that I may recover strength
  Before I go hence, and be no more;

or Job 14. 7-12:

  For there is hope of a tree,
  If it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
  And that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
  Though the root thereof wax old in the earth,
  And the stock thereof die in the ground;
  Yet through the scent of water it will bud,
  And put forth boughs like a plant.
  But man dieth, and is laid low;
  Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
  As the waters fail from the sea,
  And the river wasteth and drieth up;
  So man lieth down and riseth not:
  Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake,
  Nor be roused out of their sleep.

{185} These are expressions of deepest despondency and despair over a
life soon ended, never to be lived again here upon earth.

However, by far the greatest number of Old Testament passages dealing
with the subject express a belief in a continuous existence after death
in Sheol.  Sheol is the place of departed personalities; the
generations of one's forefathers are there: he who dies is gathered
unto his fathers; the tribal divisions of one's race are there: the
dead is gathered unto his people; and if his descendants have died
before him, they are there, and he goes down to them, as Jacob to his
son (Gen. 37. 35: "For I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning"),
and David to his child (2 Sam. 12. 23: "I shall go to him, and he shall
not return to me").

There are only a few passages which go beyond this, expressing a hope
of immortality or a resurrection.  There is, for example, the hope
expressed in Psa. 16. 8-11:

  I have set Jehovah always before me:
  Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
  My flesh also shall dwell in safety.
  For thou will not leave my soul to Sheol;
  Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.
  Thou wilt show me the path of life:
  In thy presence is fullness of joy;
  In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

The hope expressed here is not a hope of a resurrection, but, rather, a
hope that the psalmist will {186} be delivered from death and live in
fellowship with God forevermore.  There are other passages which
recognize the impossibility of escaping death, but express a hope that
there will be a resurrection from death.  The most definite Old
Testament teaching of a resurrection is in Dan. 12. 2, "And many of
them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

These lofty hopes are peculiar to Israel.  But Israel's conception of
Sheol shows very striking resemblances with the Babylonian conception.
The descriptions found in Job, in the Psalms, in Isaiah, in Ezekiel and
elsewhere, are hardly to be distinguished from those found in
Babylonian literature.  The opening lines of Ishtar's descent into
Sheol read:

  To the land from which there is no return, the home of darkness,
  Ishtar, the daughter of Sin, turned her mind,
  Yea, the daughter of Sin set her mind to go;
  To the house of gloom, the dwelling of Irkalla,
  To the house from which those who enter depart not,
  The road from whose path there is no return;
  To the house where they who enter are deprived of light;
  A place where dust is their nourishment, clay their food;
  The light they behold not, in thick darkness they dwell;
  They are clad like bats in a garb of wings;
  On door and bolt the dust is laid.

Compare with this Job 10. 21, 22:

  Before I go, whence I shall not return,
  To the land of darkness, yea deepest darkness,


  The land dark as midnight,
  Of deepest darkness without any order,
  And where the light is as midnight;

or Job 7. 9, 10:

  He that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more,
  He shall return no more to his house,
  Neither shall his place know him any more.

Other similarities may be noted: the Hebrew Sheol, like the Babylonian,
was deep down in the earth; it is pictured as a cavern; silence reigns
supreme, etc.  There is but one explanation for these similarities:
When the ancestors of the Hebrews left their homes in the Euphrates
valley they carried with them the traditions, beliefs, and customs
current in that district.  Under new surroundings, and especially under
the influence of their higher religion, new features were added and old
conceptions were transformed.  But these changes were not able to
obscure entirely the character impressed upon the older beliefs by
contact with Babylon.

Striking similarities are found also between the legal systems of
Babylonia and Israel.  In the light of recent discoveries the study of
ancient law begins to-day, not with the legal systems of Rome, or of
Greece, or of Israel, but with the laws of early Babylonia.  Of the
beginning of the Babylonian legal system we know nothing except a few
popular traditions, which trace it back to some deity.  It is clear,
however, that long {188} centuries before the time of Moses or Minos or
Romulus the people living in the lower Euphrates-Tigris valley
developed legal codes of a high and complex order.  In the legal phrase
books of the later scribes there have been preserved seven so-called
Sumerian family laws, written in the language of the people occupying
the southern part of the Euphrates-Tigris valley before it came under
the sway of the Semites.  These laws, in theme and literary form
resembling later Babylonian and early Hebrew laws, were probably in
existence in the fourth millennium B.C.; some of them may go even
farther back.

By far the most important Babylonian legal code now known is the
so-called Code of Hammurabi.[25]  Hammurabi was known to Assyriologists
long before the finding of his legal code.  He reigned in Babylon about
B.C. 2000, was the sixth king of the first Babylonian dynasty, and the
first permanently to unite the numerous small city states under one
ruler.  He may, therefore, be called the founder of the Babylonian
empire.  From his numerous letters and inscriptions, as also from other
documents coming from the same period, he was known as a great
conqueror and statesman, interested in the highest welfare of his
people, and persistently laboring for the improvement of their
conditions.  The Bible student has a special interest in Hammurabi,
however, because in all {189} probability he is no other than the
Amraphel of Gen. 14. 1.

The monument on which the code is engraved was found during the winter
1901-1902 by a French excavator in the acropolis of Susa, the scene of
the book of Esther.  It is a block of black diorite, about eight feet
in height.  When found it was in three pieces, which, however, were
easily joined.  On the obverse is a bas relief representing the king as
receiving the ruler's staff and ring from the sun-god Shamash, "the
judge of heaven and earth."  Then follow on the obverse sixteen columns
of writing, containing 1,114 lines.  There were five more columns on
this side, but they were erased and the stone repolished, probably by
the Elamite conqueror who carried the monument to Susa.  On the reverse
are twenty-eight columns with more than 2,500 lines of inscription.
The English Assyriologist, C. H. W. Johns, estimates that originally
the inscription contained forty-nine columns, 4,000 lines, and about
8,000 words.  About 800 lines are taken up by the prologue and
epilogue, setting forth the king's titles, his glory, the extent of his
rule, his care for his subjects, and devotion to his gods.  The
inscription opens with a statement of his call by the gods to be the
ruler of Babylon: "When the lofty Anu, king of the Anunaki, and Bel,
lord of heaven and earth, he who determines the destiny {190} of the
land, committed the rule of all mankind to Marduk, the chief son of Ea;
when they made him great among the Igigi; when they pronounced the
lofty name of Babylon, when they made it famous among the quarters of
the world, and in its midst established an everlasting kingdom, whose
foundations were firm as heaven and earth--at that time, Ami and Bel
called me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, the worshiper of the gods, to
cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the
evil, to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, to go forth like
the sun over the blackhead race, to enlighten the land and to further
the welfare of the people."

According to the closing statement of the prologue he faithfully
executed this commission: "When Marduk sent me to rule the people and
to bring help to the country, I established law and justice in the land
and promoted the welfare of the people" (V. 14-21).  To better care for
the welfare of the people he set up the code of laws.  In column XLI, a
part of the epilogue, he says: "Let any oppressed man, who has a cause,
come before my image as king of righteousness!  Let him read the
inscription on my monument!  Let him give heed to my weighty words!
And may my monument enlighten him as to his cause and may he understand
his case!  May he set his heart at ease!" (1-19.)  He recognizes the
value {191} of his law code and advises his successors on the throne to
make good use of it: "In the days that are yet to come, for all future
time, may the king who is in the land observe the words of
righteousness which I have written upon my monument!  May he not alter
the judgments of the land which I have pronounced, or the decisions of
the country which I have rendered!  May he not efface my statues!  If
that man have wisdom, if he wish to give his land good government, let
him give attention to the words which I have written upon my monument!
And may this monument enlighten him as to procedure and administration,
the judgments which I have pronounced, and the judgments which I have
rendered for the land!  And let him rightly rule his blackhead people;
let him pronounce judgments for them and render for them decisions!
Let him root out the wicked and evildoer from the land!  Let him
promote the welfare of his people!" (59-94.)

The epilogue closes with a blessing upon the king who will observe the
laws, and curses upon him who will disregard or alter them (XLII-XLIV).
The pronouncement of blessings is very brief; the curses are reiterated
in various forms, and numerous gods and goddesses are appealed to by
name to destroy the evildoer and his reign.  The section begins (XLII,
2-49): "If that man pay attention to my words which I have written
{192} upon my monument, do not efface my judgments, do not overrule my
words, and do not alter my statues, then will Shamash prolong that
man's reign, as he has mine, who am king of righteousness, that he may
rule his people in righteousness."  It continues: "If that man do not
pay attention to my words which I have written upon my monument; if he
forget my curses and do not fear the curse of god; if he abolish the
judgments which I have formulated, overrule my words, alter my statues,
efface my name written thereon and write his own name; on account of
these curses commission another to do so--as for that man, be he king
or lord, or priestking or commoner, whoever he may be, may the great
god, the father of the gods, who has ordained my reign, take from him
the glory of his sovereignty, may he break his scepter and curse his

Between the prologue and the epilogue is the law code proper.
Originally there appear to have been 282 separate enactments (this is
the estimate of the French Assyriologist, Father Scheil, who first
edited the code, and is commonly accepted as correct); of these 66-99
are now missing as a result of the erasure to which reference has been
made.  The code covers a variety of topics.  Laws dealing with the same
subject are ordinarily grouped together; sometimes the principle of
arrangement is the class or profession concerned.  {193} A brief
outline will give at least a general notion of its contents: 1, 2,
False accusation of a crime; 3, 4, False witness and bribery; 5,
Alteration of judgment by a judge; 6-8, Theft; 9-13, Concealing of
stolen property; 14, Kidnapping; 15-20, Assisting in the escape of
slaves; 21-25, Burglary and brigandage; 26-41, Rights and duties of
officers, constables, and taxgatherers; 42-52, Renting of fields for
cultivation; 53-56, Care of dykes and canals; 57, 58, Shepherds
allowing their sheep to pasture on the fields of another; 59, Unlawful
cutting down of trees; 60-65, Duties of gardeners; 66-99, (lost);
100-107, Relation of merchants to their agents; 108-111, Regulations
concerning wine-sellers, always women.  It may be interesting to note
that with them the law was very severe.  Of the three crimes
condemned--minor crimes at that--one is to be punished by throwing the
wine-seller into the water, the second by putting her to death, the
third by burning her.  112, Loss of goods intrusted for transportation;
113-119, Securing settlement for debts; 120-126, Liability for
deposits; 127, Slander; 128, Marriage contract; 129-132, Adultery,
rape, and suspected unchastity; 133-143, Separation and divorce;
144-149, Concubines; 150-152, Marriage dowry; 153, Murder of husband
for the sake of another; 154-158, Illegitimate sexual intercourse;
159-161, Breach of promise; 162-164, Disposition of dowry after the
{194} death of the wife; 165-177, Inheritance of sons in polygamous
relations; 178-182, Inheritance of priestesses; 183, 184, Inheritance
of daughters of concubines; 185-194, Treatment of adopted children;
195-214, Offenses against limb and life; 215-225, Operations by doctors
and veterinary surgeons.  For example, "If a physician cause a man a
severe wound with a bronze lancet and cause the man's death, or, in
opening an abscess of a man with a bronze lancet, destroy the man's
eye, they shall cut off his fingers" (218).  226, 227, Unlawful
branding of slaves; 228-233, Liability of negligent builders.  For
example, "If a builder build a house for a man, and do not make its
construction firm, and the house which he has built collapse and cause
the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to
death" (229).  234-252, Hired animals--the injuries they cause or
suffer; 253-277, Rights and duties of workmen; 278-282, Selling and
treatment of slaves.  In addition to this very complete code there is a
vast amount of information from both early and late periods concerning
legal practices, to be gathered from the thousands of tablets recording
business and legal transactions of various sorts: Marriage and dowry
contracts, partnership agreements, records of debts and promissory
notes, leases of land, houses, or slaves; records of sales of all kinds
of property, mortgages, documents {195} granting the power of attorney;
concerning adoption, divorce, bankruptcy, inheritance--in short, almost
every imaginable kind of contract.

Over against this complex legal system of Babylonia we may place the
legal literature of the Hebrews.[26]  Anyone who approaches the study
of Hebrew laws is met by two difficulties.  In the first place, the
legal portions do not form separate books, but are embodied in writings
belonging to other kinds of literature; in the second place, there is a
lack of system in the arrangement of the laws.  The abrupt transitions
from one subject to another are almost as marked as they are in the
book of Proverbs.  "Civil and ceremonial, criminal and humane, secular
and religious, ancient and late laws and precedents are all mingled
together, with little trace of systematic arrangement."

The legal literature is found mainly in the books of Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers, and Deuteronomy; outside the Pentateuch the most important
piece of legislation is Ezek. 40-48.  This legal material may be
separated from its surroundings and arranged by itself.  Indeed, this
has been done, and modern scholars are quite generally agreed that the
Pentateuch contains several distinct legal codes belonging to different
periods in the history of Israel and reflecting different stages of
political, social, and religious development: (1) The Decalogue; (2)
the Book of the Covenant; (3) the {196} Deuteronomic Code; (4) the Code
of Holiness; (5) the Priestly Code.  Of these five codes the last two
are almost entirely religious and ceremonial, and as the similarities
between the Babylonian and Hebrew ceremonial have already been pointed
out, they need not be considered in this connection.  The other three
contain much legislation concerning social, civil, and criminal
relations, just like the Babylonian legal provisions, and therefore may
be considered somewhat more in detail.  In connection with the
Deuteronomic Code, however, it may be noted that three fourths of the
laws in the earlier codes are reproduced in some form in Deuteronomy;
so that for purposes of comparison, the Deuteronomic Code does not
furnish many new elements.  It is seen, therefore, that for a
comparative study, the Code of Hammurabi on the one hand, and the
Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant on the other, furnish the most
important material; and since the Code of Hammurabi contains no
religious and ceremonial provisions, the material of that nature in the
Hebrew codes may be omitted in this connection.

That there exist similarities between the legislations of the two
nations even a superficial reading will show.  One is immediately
struck, for example, by the similarity in the application of the _lex
talionis_: Ham. 196, "If a man destroy the eye of another man, they
shall destroy his eye"; 197, "If one {197} break a man's bone, they
shall break his bone"; 200, "If a man knock out the tooth of a man of
his own rank, they shall knock out his tooth." With this compare Exod.
21. 23-25, "Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for
tooth, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe"; or
Deut. 19. 21, "Thine eyes shall not pity; life shall go for life, eye
for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."  Compare also
Lev. 24. 19, 20, "If a man cause a blemish in his neighbor; as he hath
done, so shall it be done to him: breach for breach; eye for eye, tooth
for tooth; as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be
rendered to him."  This principle is applied very extensively in both
codes in providing restitution for damage done.

The use of "the oath of innocence" is also enjoined in both codes: Ham.
249, "If a man hire an ox and a god strike it and it die, the man who
hired the ox shall swear before god and shall go free."  With this may
be compared Exod. 22. 10, 11, "If a man deliver unto his neighbor an
ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast to keep, and it die, or be
hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it, the oath of Jehovah shall be
between them both, whether he hath not put his hand unto his neighbor's
goods, and the owner thereof shall accept it, and he shall not make
restitution."  The illustrations might be multiplied manifold.  {198}
Jeremias points out twenty-four similarities between the Code of
Hammurabi and the Book of the Covenant alone;[27] which number is
greatly increased if the comparison is extended so as to include the
entire Pentateuch.

The spirit permeating the two systems is one of humaneness and
kindness.  Hammurabi describes himself as a shepherd chosen by the gods
to care for his people, to lead them into safe pastures and to make
them dwell in peace and security.  He compiled the code, "that the
great should not oppress the weak; to counsel the widow and orphan, to
render judgment and to decide the decisions of the land, and to succor
the injured."  This is the same spirit that permeates the Pentateuchal

The picture at the head of the code, representing Hammurabi standing
before the sun-god Shamash, "the supreme judge of heaven and earth," is
very suggestive, for it reminds one of the narrative in Exodus which
represents Moses as receiving the Hebrew laws directly from Jehovah.

Certainly, there are also differences between the two systems; and this
is only what we should expect, since the civilization of Babylon was
far in advance of and much more complex than that of the Israelites,
even during the period of the latter's highest development.  Besides,
the lower religious conceptions would inevitably influence the


Attention may be called also to some similarities between the Decalogue
and certain requirements in Babylonia, the existence of which is
implied in an incantation[28] in which these questions are asked: Has
he broken into the house of his neighbor?  Has he approached the wife
of his neighbor?  Has he spilled the blood of his neighbor?  Has he
grasped the garment of his neighbor?  These questions would seem to
imply the existence of laws like these: Thou shalt not break into the
house of thy neighbor; Thou shalt not approach the wife of thy
neighbor; Thou shalt not spill the blood of thy neighbor; Thou shalt
not grasp the garment of thy neighbor.

In view of all these similarities, the question naturally arises
whether the Babylonian legal system exerted any influence upon the
lawmakers of the Hebrews, for the resemblances are too close to be
explained entirely on the basis of coincidence.  Those who admit some
relation between the two legislations are not in agreement as to the
nature of the connection.  Some hold that there is direct dependence;
that the author or authors of the laws of the Pentateuch was or were
acquainted with the laws of Hammurabi, and made these laws the basis of
the Hebrew legislative system.  The possibility of such dependence
cannot be denied.  Surely, an acquaintance with the Code of Hammurabi
in the Arabian {200} desert or in Palestine at the time of the exodus
or later cannot appear strange in view of the evidence of the
Tel-el-Amarna tablets, showing that some time before the exodus
intercourse between Babylon and the West was frequent; that religious,
political, and literary influence was widespread, and that the language
of Babylon was the _lingua franca_ throughout Canaan.  On the other
hand, there are those who believe that the parallels and analogies
between the two codes are due to the common Semitic origin of the two
systems.  The Babylonians and the Hebrews were Semites, originally
dwelling in a common home.  When they left this home they carried with
them their common traditions, laws, customs, and practices.  In their
new homes they developed them and impressed upon them their own
individuality.  The result among the Hebrews, determined in a large
measure by their peculiar religion, is seen in the legislation of the
Pentateuch, while the outcome in Babylon is best represented by the
Code of Hammurabi.

Which of these two explanations is correct it may be impossible to say
with absolute certainty.  To me it seems that both contain elements of
truth.  Sometimes the one, sometimes the other may be correct, while in
other cases the similarities may be due to coincidence.  In any case,
the value of the Pentateuchal legislation remains {201} unaffected, for
it depends, not upon its origin or process of growth, but, rather, upon
its inherent spirit and character.

Attention may further be called to the existence in Babylonia of
stories showing almost startling resemblances to the accounts of the
creation of the world, of the origin of man and of sin, of a Deluge,
and other narratives contained in the first eleven chapters of the book
of Genesis.  Several distinct creation stories, originating in
different religious centers, have been handed down.  The most
remarkable of these, called _Enuma elish_ (when above), from its
opening words, has been deciphered from tablets found in the library of
Ashurbanipal in the ruins of Nineveh.  These tablets represent a copy
made in the seventh century B.C.  The time of the composition, or
compilation of the story, is not known.  However, pictorial
representations of some of the scenes in the epic, and allusions in
other literary productions whose dates can be fixed, make it certain
that the story, or at least the most important component elements of
the story, existed before B.C. 2000.  In its present form it belongs to
a period later than the elevation of Babylon to be the national center,
which took place under Hammurabi, about B.C. 2000, for the chief place
is assigned to Marduk, the god of Babylon.[29]

Echoes of this story are found in several Old {202} Testament passages,
especially in the poetic and prophetic writings.  In these Jehovah is
represented as having contended with a great primeval monster, called
in some passages Rahab, in others Leviathan, or Dragon.  This being
seems to symbolize chaos, or to personify the primeval ocean, which
existed when the process of creation began.  In the conflict between
Jehovah and this monster the hostile creature and its helpers were
overthrown, after which the heavens and the earth were created.  A few
of these passages may be quoted:

  O Jehovah God of hosts,
  Who is a mighty one, like unto thee, O Jehovah?
  And thy faithfulness is round about thee.
  Thou rulest the pride of the sea:
  When the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.
  _Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain;_
  _Thou hast scattered thine enemies with the arm of thy strength._
  The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine:
  The world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them,
  The north and the south, thou hast created them (Psa. 89. 8-12).

Rahab is a reflection of the Babylonian Tiamat; Jehovah takes the place
of the Babylonian god, Marduk, the conqueror of Tiamat; the _enemies_
are the _helpers_ of Tiamat mentioned in the Babylonian poem.  The
order of events is the same in the two accounts: first the conflict,
then creation.

  He stirreth up the sea with his power,
  And by his understanding _he smiteth through Rahab._


  By his Spirit the heavens are garnished;
  _His hand hath pierced the swift serpent_ (Job 26. 12, 13).

  God will not withdraw his anger;
  _The helpers of Rahab do stoop under him_ (Job 9. 13).

  Yet God is my King of old,
  Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
  Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength:
  _Thou brakest the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters._
  _Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces;_
  Thou gavest him to be food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
  Thou didst cleave fountain and flood:
  Thou driedst up mighty rivers.
  The day is thine, the night also is thine:
  Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
  Thou hast set all the borders of the earth:
  Thou hast made summer and winter (Psa. 74. 12-17).

The similarities between the Babylonian story called _Enuma elish_ and
the narrative of creation in Gen. 1 are especially pronounced: (1) Both
accounts recognize a time when all was chaos.  In the Babylonian
conception this chaos is personified in Tiamat; in Gen. 1. 2 occurs the
word _tehom_, translated "deep," which is the same as Tiamat, changed
but slightly in passing from one language to the other.  (2) In Genesis
light dispels darkness and order follows; in the Babylonian account,
Marduk, the god of light, overcomes the demon of chaos and darkness.
(3) The second act of creation is the making of the firmament, which
"divided the waters which were under the {204} firmament from the
waters which were above the firmament" (Gen. 1. 6-8); in the Babylonian
poem the body of Tiamat is divided and one half becomes the firmament
to keep the heavenly waters in place.  (4) The third and fourth acts of
creation in the Hebrew story are the creation of earth and the
beginning of vegetation (Gen. 1. 9-13); the corresponding Babylonian
story has been lost, but it seems quite probable that these acts were
described in the same order on the fifth tablet.  Berosus, in his
summary of the Babylonian account, says that Bel formed the earth out
of one half of Omorka's body--Omorka is probably a corruption of
_Ummu-Khubur_, a title of Tiamat--and as in every instance where the
narrative of Berosus has been tested it has proved to be correct, we
may assume that in this also he gives a correct reproduction of the
Babylonian tradition.  Moreover, at the beginning of the seventh tablet
Marduk is hailed as "bestower of fruitfulness," "founder of
agriculture," "creator of grain and plants," he "who caused the green
herb to spring up."  (5) The fifth act of creation is the making of the
heavenly bodies (Gen. 1. 14-19).  With this the Babylonian parallel
shows close similarities, for it states that Marduk

  Made the stations for the great gods,
  The stars, their images, as the constellations he fixed,
  He ordained the year, marked off its divisions.[30]


(6) The sixth and seventh acts of creation were the creation of fishes
and birds and of land animals (Gen. 1. 20-25): the Babylonian parallels
in _Enuma elish_ are wanting at present; but Berosus hints that they
were created at the same time as man, so that it is probable that the
account of these acts of creation appeared somewhere in the lost
portions of the fifth or sixth tablet.  From allusions in other
writings we learn that Marduk was looked upon as the creator of the
animals and other living creatures of the field.  (7) The eighth act of
creation, that of man (Gen. 1. 26-31), finds its parallel upon the
sixth tablet:

  When Marduk heard the word of the gods
  His heart moved him and he devised a cunning plan.
  He opened his mouth and unto Ea he spoke,
  That which he had conceived in his heart he made known unto him.
  "My blood will I take and bone will I fashion,
  I shall make man that man may ...
  I shall create man, who shall inhabit the earth,
  That the service of the gods may be established and that
      their shrines may be built."[31]

In order to estimate rightly the relations between the Babylonian and
Hebrew accounts the differences between the two must also be noted.  To
begin with, the order of the separate acts of creation is not quite the
same.  For example, in the Babylonian account, the creation of the
heavenly bodies follows immediately upon the {206} making of the
firmament, while in the Hebrew story it follows the making of the earth
and the springing up of vegetation.  Certainly, this difference is of
no special significance, and the change may easily be explained as due
to the desire of the Hebrew writer to crowd the creative acts into the
six working days of the week.  The real difference is more fundamental
and appears especially in the conception of the nature and character of
Deity.  The Babylonian story opens with these words:

  When above the heaven was not named
  And beneath the earth bore no name,
  And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
  And Mummu-Tiamat, the mother of them all--
  Their waters were mingled together,
  And no reed was formed, no marsh seen,
  _When no one of the gods had been called into being,_
  [And] none bore a name, and no destinies [were fixed],
  _Then were created the gods in the midst of_ [_heaven_].

Compare with this the simple, yet majestic, conception, "In the
beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  In one case many
gods, in the other one God almighty; in one case the gods are a part of
the process of creation, in the other the uncreated God is in the
beginning.  Genesis presents God as almighty, but also as kind,
beneficent, loving; Marduk, the Babylonian creator, is represented as a
great hero, but exceedingly selfish.  He undertakes the mighty task of
{207} overcoming Tiamat only after making arrangements for a suitable
reward.  The description of the heavenly banquet scene, to which
reference has been made earlier in the chapter, implies a conception of
the character of the gods which is separated by an impassable gulf from
the Old Testament ideal.

No one can read with an unbiased mind the two accounts without
realizing the great differences between the mythological, polytheistic
account of the Babylonians and the simple, solemn, sublime,
monotheistic picture in Genesis.  The soberness, the dignity, the
simplicity of the Hebrew account lift it far above its Babylonian
counterpart.  From it the crude nature myths have all been stripped
away.  No drunken gods hold revels in its solemn lines.  Above and
behind and in all is one righteous and beneficent God.  In this sublime
ethical monotheism the Hebrew story rises infinitely above the story
that originated in the Euphrates-Tigris valley.

Another Babylonian tradition, the close relation of which to the
biblical account has long been recognized, is the story of the Deluge.
In its cuneiform text it was first discovered on fragments of tablets
brought from the library of Ashurbanipal.  But that the Babylonians
possessed a story of the Flood was known before from an outline
preserved by Berosus.  The tradition brought to {208} light by
archæology forms an episode in an epic which narrates the exploits of
Gilgamesh and occupies the eleventh of the twelve parts into which the
epic is divided.  Gilgamesh sprang from a city, Shurippak, which
afterward completely disappeared.  He became king of Erech, where he
ruled as a tyrant until the gods created Ea-bani to destroy him.  The
two, however, became bosom friends.  Together they delivered Erech from
the Elamite oppressor, Khumbaba.  Ishtar, the goddess of love, then
offered her hand to Gilgamesh in marriage, which he spurned with scorn.
Out of revenge, she sent a scorpion, whose sting proved fatal to
Ea-bani.  Gilgamesh himself she smote with an incurable disease.  To
find relief, the latter set out for the dwelling place of his
great-grandfather, Ut-napishtim, far away on the isles of the blessed.
When he finally reaches him the latter tells him all about the great
Flood from which he escaped to enjoy eternal life.[32]

The most striking resemblances between the Babylonian and Hebrew
stories of the Flood may now be noted: (1) Compare the instruction
given by God to Noah (Gen. 6. 13-22) with the words addressed by the
god Ea to Ut-napishtim:

  O man of Shurippak, son of Ubaratutu,
  Pull down thy house, build a ship,
  Leave thy possessions, take thought for thy life,


  Thy property abandon, save thy life,
  Bring living seed of every kind into the ship.
  The ship that thou shalt build,
  So shall be the measure of its dimensions,
  Thus shall correspond its breadth and height,
  Into the ocean let it fare.[33]

(2) In both accounts the destruction is due to sin.  This is definitely
stated in Gen. 6. 5-7.  For the Babylonian story it is implied in the
rebuke given to Bel by Ea:

  On the sinner lay his sin,
  On the transgressor lay his transgression.
  Forbear, let not all be destroyed.[34]

(3) In both accounts, only a seed of life sufficient to replenish the
earth is saved.  Compare Gen. 6. 19, 20 with the command, "Bring living
seed of every kind into the ship," or with the statement:

  I brought into the ship my family and household;
  The cattle of the field, the beasts of the field, craftsmen, all
      of them I brought in.[35]

(4) Both stories tell of a great storm and deluge of water.  Gen. 7. 11
reads, "The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows
of heaven were opened.  And the rain was upon the earth forty days and
forty nights."  Compare with this:

  The dawning of that day I feared,
  I feared to behold that day.
  I entered the ship and closed the door.
  When the first flush of dawn appeared
  There came up from the horizon a black cloud.


  Adad thundered within it,
  While Nabu and Marduk went before.
  They go as messengers over mountain and valley.
  Nergal bore away the anchor.
  Ninib advances, the storm he makes to descend.
  The Anunaki lifted up their torches,
  With their brightness they light up the land.
  Adad's storm reached unto heaven,
  All light was turned into darkness,
  It [flooded] the land like ...
  ........ the storm
  Raged high, [the water climbed over] the mountains,
  Like a besom of destruction they brought it upon men.[36]

(5) In both instances the structure rests upon a mountain in the north.
Gen. 8. 4 reads, "And the ark rested ... upon the mountains of Ararat,"
that is, Armenia.  The Babylonian story reads:

  To the land of Nisir the ship made its way,
  The mount of Nisir held it fast that it moved not.[37]

Mount Nisir is east of the upper Tigris. (6) In both cases birds are
sent out to ascertain the condition of the land.  Compare Gen. 8. 6-12
with these lines:

  When the seventh day approached
  I sent forth a dove and let her go.
  The dove flew to and fro,
  But there was no resting place and she returned.
  I sent forth a swallow and let her go;
  The swallow flew to and fro,
  But there was no resting place, and she returned.
  I sent forth a raven and let her go;
  The raven flew away, she saw the abatement of the waters,


  She drew near, she waded (?), she croaked, and came not back.
  Then I sent everything forth to the four quarters of heaven.[38]

(7) Sacrifice is offered by Noah and Ut-napishtim, acceptable to the
God of Noah and to the gods of the Babylonian hero, in both cases
resulting in a promise not to repeat the Flood.  Compare Gen. 8. 20-22

        I offered sacrifice,
  I made a libation upon the mountain's peak.
  By sevens I set out the sacrificial vessels,
  Beneath them I heaped up reed and cedar wood and myrtle.
  The gods smelt the savor,
  The gods smelt the sweet savor,
  The gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer.[39]

Other similarities might be noted, such as the use of bitumen, the
arrangement of the ship in stories, and, what seems more striking, the
fact that the hero of the Babylonian story is the tenth antediluvian
king, while Noah is the tenth antediluvian patriarch.

As in the stories of creation, marked differences may also be noted
between the two representations of the Flood; and these differences
appear where they are most significant, namely, in the spirit and
purity of conception permeating the entire Hebrew account.  For
example, the book of Genesis introduces the divine displeasure with
sin, the ethical element, as a fundamental note; then, {212} when the
divine mercy is aroused, the Flood ceases; according to the Babylonian
story, the Flood is caused by the capricious anger of Bel, the idea of
punishment for sin cropping out only as an incident in the conversation
between Ea and Bel at the end of the story.  The Flood ceases because
the other gods are terrified, and Ishtar intercedes for her own
creation.  Moreover, the whole Hebrew conception of the Divine differs
from the Babylonian.  In the Hebrew account we find ourselves in an
atmosphere of ethical monotheism that is unknown apart from the chosen
people.  Disappeared have all the gods who war with one another, who
rejoice in successful intrigues, who do not hesitate to tell untruths
or instruct their favorites to do so; the gods unstable in all their
ways, now seeking to destroy, now flattering their creatures; the gods
who, terrified by the storm, "cower like dogs" at the edge of heaven,
and who "gathered like flies" around the sacrifice of the saved hero.
All these characteristic features of the Babylonian account are absent
from the Bible.  Surely, there is no connection between these deities
and the one sublime and gracious God of Genesis.

Lack of space will not permit us to institute detailed comparisons
between other narratives in the early chapters of Genesis and
Babylonian literature.  It may be sufficient to say that the {213}
resemblances are not confined to the stories of creation and of the
Flood.  True, no complete Babylonian story of paradise and of the fall
is at present known; nevertheless, there are certain features in the
biblical narrative which strongly point to Babylonia, and in the light
of the known fact that elements in the two important narratives of
creation and of the Flood are derived from Babylonia, it may be safe to
infer that in this case also echoes of Babylonian beliefs supplied, at
least in part, the framework of the Hebrew representation.  The
antediluvian patriarchs also seem to have their counterparts in
Babylonian tradition, and the story of the Tower of Babel, though it
does not seem to be of Babylonian origin, presupposes a knowledge of
Babylonia, and it is not impossible that some Babylonian legend served
as the basis of it.

In closing this discussion, attention may be called to a few general
considerations that must be borne in mind in any attempt to answer the
question whether the religious and ethical ideas of the Hebrews which
show similarities with the ideas of other nations were borrowed bodily
from these nations, or, after all, contain elements that were original
with the Hebrews.

In the first place, it must be remembered that similarities between the
customs or beliefs of two peoples do not necessarily imply the
dependence {214} of one upon the other; much less do they indicate
which is the original.  Where similarities are found at least four
possibilities should be recognized: A may depend upon B; B may depend
upon A; both A and B may have been derived from a common original; or A
and B may have developed independently, the similarities being merely
coincidence.  Which interpretation is the right one in a given case
does not lie on the surface; it is only by careful, patient, unbiased
study that one may arrive at a proper understanding.  Take as an
illustration the Decalogue.  The Buddhists have "ten prohibitory laws,"
sometimes called the "Buddhist Decalogue."  The first five read, "Thou
shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not lie; Thou shalt
not commit adultery; Thou shalt not get drunk."  Three of these
correspond exactly to three of the demands in the Jewish Decalogue.
Does it necessarily follow that the Decalogue was borrowed from Buddha?
The Egyptians also had a sacred law.  The law itself has not yet come
to light, but the Book of the Dead indicates its existence.  In the one
hundred and twenty-fifth chapter of this book we read the
justifications offered by the dead: "I have not acted with deceit or
done evil to men; I have not oppressed the poor; I have not judged
unjustly," etc.  These negations seem to imply the existence of a law,
either oral or written, {215} forbidding these things.  From the
negations, "I have not acted with deceit; I have not committed murder;
I have not been unchaste," etc., one may infer that the Egyptians had
precepts corresponding substantially to some of the requirements in the
Decalogue.  Does logic demand, therefore, the conclusion that the
Decalogue owes its existence to the sacred law of the Egyptians?  Among
the Babylonians also we find evidence of the existence of, at least,
some of the requirements of the Hebrew Decalogue: "Thou shalt not break
into the house of thy neighbor; Thou shalt not approach the wife of thy
neighbor; Thou shalt not spill the blood of thy neighbor; Thou shalt
not grasp the garment of thy neighbor."  Do these similarities prove
beyond question the dependence of the one upon the other?

There are, then, marked resemblances between the Hebrew Decalogue,
certain requirements among the Babylonians, among the Egyptians, and
among the Buddhists.  I know of no one who claims that the Decalogue
was borrowed from Buddha; some, however, seem to think, that in part at
least, it was dependent upon Babylon; others, that Moses is indebted
for it to Egypt.  True, in the minds of most scholars the dependence is
not direct; there would be room, according to their theory, for the
work of the Spirit in the selection of these fundamental, ethical
conceptions {216} from the great mass of requirements, the majority of
which are far inferior to the Decalogue.  Such dependence, even if it
could be proved, would not rob the Decalogue of inspiration or
permanent value; but it seems to me that the similarities do not
warrant the claim of even such dependence.  Is it not more likely that
these similarities are due to the instinct implanted in man by the
Creator, which recognizes the sanctity of life, of family relations,
and of property rights?  But this instinct does not account for the
obvious differences between the Hebrew Decalogue as a whole and the
legislations of other peoples.  These must be traced to the special
activity of a Spirit who produced among the Hebrews a collection of
commandments such as natural instinct, if left to itself, could not
have produced.

It is different, perhaps, when we consider the relation of the more
comprehensive civil legislation of the Pentateuch to the Code of
Hammurabi.  There the resemblances are numerous and striking enough to
justify the inference that there exists some relation of dependence,
and yet by no means that the legislation of the Pentateuch is borrowed
directly from the other, or even that there is a literary dependence.
How extensive this dependence is only careful examination can show;
but, however complete, it will not destroy the fact that the laws of
Israel are permeated by a Divine {217} Spirit.  The important question
is not, Where do we find the natural basis upon which the system is
built up by men under divine guidance? but, Does the spirit and
character of the system indicate such guidance?

In the second place, in seeking the truth about this relationship
assumption must not be confused with knowledge.  Modern archæologists
seem to be in peculiar danger of taking things for granted.  It is not
without reason that a prominent Old Testament scholar proposes to
change the title of the third edition of a book entitled The Cuneiform
Inscriptions and the Old Testament into The Cuneiform Scholar and the
Old Testament.  It is stated, for example, without qualification by
Delitzsch that the name "Yahweh" has been discovered on inscriptions
belonging to the period of Hammurabi.  No hint is given that the
reading is questioned by many Assyriologists.  There is, at least, a
possibility, no matter how small, of a different rendering, with, of
course, a vastly different conclusion.  But admitting, as I believe we
must do, that the name does occur, the inference drawn from this
occurrence by Delitzsch, and expressed in the following words, is an
assumption and misleading, unless it is materially modified: "Yahweh,
the abiding one, the permanent one, who, unlike man, is not to-morrow a
thing of the past, but one that endures forever, that {218} lives and
labors for all eternity above the broad, resplendent, law-bound canopy
of the stars--it was this Yahweh that constituted the primordial
patrimony of those Canaanite tribes from which centuries afterward the
twelve tribes of Israel sprang."[40]  The fact is that you may search
the Babylonian pantheon from one end to the other and you will not find
one god who in nature and character can compare with the Jehovah of
Israel, "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in
loving-kindness and truth."

Another instance of the same character is the story of the fall.  One
thing we know, namely, that a story of the fall of man, similar to that
in Genesis, has not as yet been found among the fragments of Babylonian
libraries.  Certainly, such story may have existed, and probably did
exist; it may even be, as has been asserted, that some connection
exists between the scriptural story of the fall and the picture on an
old Babylonian seal cylinder having in the center a tree with fruits
hanging down, on each side a figure, and behind the figure at the left
a mark which may represent a serpent.  But the interpretation is by no
means certain.  The fact that an assertion is made by an expert favors
the presumption, but does not prove, that the statement is true.

Some archæologists claim that the monotheism of Israel was derived from
outside of Israel, {219} either from Arabia[41] or from Babylonia[42].
Among the arguments in favor of this claim is the occurrence of proper
names which are alleged to imply the existence of monotheism; for
example, _Yasma-ilu_, which may be translated "God hears," implying the
existence of but one God.  However, it might mean also "_a_ god hears,"
or "god"--referring to one of many--"hears," the giver of the name
singling out the one for special consideration.  And as there are clear
indications of polytheism in southern Arabia, where the name is found,
the name, in all probability, means the latter, thus implying
polytheism.  The same may be said of the names found in Babylonia.
Whatever the primary meaning of _ilu_, these names do not in themselves
prove the existence of monotheism.  They may be translated in perfect
accord with logic and grammar as admitting the existence of more than
one god.  Indeed, the historical facts demand such interpretation.  If
we find, for example, "Sin-muballit" ("the moon-god brings to life") as
the name of the father of Hammurabi, and "Shamshu-iluna" (in all
probability, "the sun-god is our god") as that of his son, the facts
surely indicate that the monotheism of the period was not very
distinct.  The testimony of the Code of Hammurabi points in the same
direction, as also the most spiritual utterances of religion in the
Euphrates valley, the penitential psalms.


It is seen, then, that facts do not warrant the claim, made by some,
that that upon which rests the significance of the Bible in the world's
history, namely, monotheism, was taken over by the Hebrews from the
Babylonians.  Josh. 24. 2 remains uncontradicted: "Your fathers dwelt
of old time beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and
the father of Nahor; and _they served other gods_."  It is only in
Israel that we find a clearly developed monotheism.  Assumption and
facts are not quite the same.

Another important point, to which attention has already been called, is
the marked difference which obtains between the literature of the Old
Testament and that uncovered by archæology.  True, there are points of
contact; indeed, strange it would be if there were none; for, like the
Babylonians, the Hebrews were Semites.  Surely, it is not strange that
nations of the same race, originally in the same home, should possess
similar traditions, customs, beliefs, and practices.  When they left
their common home they carried with them their common traditions,
customs, and beliefs; in their new homes they developed them and
impressed upon them their own individualities.  We are nowhere informed
in the Old Testament, and it would seem contrary to reason to suppose,
that at the time of Abraham, Moses, or at any other period, God emptied
the Hebrew mind and {221} consciousness of all the things which had
been the possession of the Semitic race from the beginning.  Is it not
more likely that the inspired teachers and writers employed for their
loftier purposes the ancient traditions and beliefs familiar to their
contemporaries?  In doing so they took that which was, in some cases,
common and unclean, and, purifying it under the guidance of the Divine
Spirit, made it the medium by which to impart the sublimest truths ever
presented to man.  Obviously, the special religious value of the Old
Testament literature does not lie in what is common to it and Babylon,
but in the elements in which they differ.

The points of contact must not blind the eye to the points of contrast.
These points of contrast are in the spirit and atmosphere pervading the
Hebrew Scriptures, which are quite distinct, not simply from
Babylonian, but from all other literatures.  These essential
differences occur, as we have seen, throughout the entire religious and
ethical literature.  In many cases is agreement in form, but how far
superior the spirit and substance of the Hebrew!  Think of the
different conceptions of the nature and character of God, of God's
relation to man, of the divine government of the world, and many other
truths precious to Christians in all ages.  There is, indeed, in the
Hebrew record "an intensity of spiritual {222} conception, a sublimity
of spiritual tone, an insight into the unseen, a reliance upon an
invisible yet all-controlling Power, that create the gap between the
Hebrew and his brother Semite beyond the River."

How are we to account for these differences?  Professor Sayce has
suggested an answer in these words: "I can find only one explanation,
unfashionable and antiquated though it be.  In the language of a former
generation, it marks the dividing line between revelation and
unrevealed religion.  It is like that something hard to define which
separates man from the ape, even though on the physiological side the
ape may be the ancestor of man."[43]  Though the language of this
statement may be unfortunate, especially where it implies that there is
no revelation in the ancient religions outside of the Old Testament, it
does call attention to the secret of the fundamental difference between
the Old Testament sacred literature and that of the surrounding
nations.  There is in the former abundant evidence of the activity of a
Spirit whose presence is less manifest in the sacred literatures of
other ancient nations.

True, the monuments have not spoken their last word; but if we have the
right to draw inferences from the known, we may safely affirm that
though the monuments may swell into infinity, they will offer nothing
to equal, much less to supersede, in substance and spirit, our {223}
Old Testament.  We may receive gratefully every ray of light, but the
time has not yet come, nor ever will come, when we may lay aside the
Old Testament and accept as a substitute the legends and myths of
heathen lands to give to us the bread of life which the Saviour found
in the pages of the Old Book.  Let us welcome the light and knowledge
God has bestowed upon us; let us rejoice in them with perfect assurance
that they are for good and not for evil; let us learn to use them
wisely and honestly, and let us still be ever alert listening for other
words, uttered ages ago, but not yet audible to modern ears.  "It is
for us to catch these messages, and to understand them, that we may fit
them into the great fabric of apprehended truth to the enrichment of
ourselves, and to the glory of our common Lord."


[1] J. P. Peters, The Old Testament and the New Scholarship, p. 92.

[2] S. G. Smith, Religion in the Making, p. 20.

[3] Hugo Winckler, Himmels- und Weltenbild der Babylonier, p. 9.

[4] Professor Friedrich Delitzsch, of the University of Berlin,
delivered three lectures on the relation of Babylonian religion to the
religion of the Old Testament, under the title, "Babel und Bibel."

[5] A. H. Sayce, The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, pp. 276,

[6] A. Jeremias, The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient East, I,
p. 86.


[7] R. W. Rogers, The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 88.
Practically all the cuneiform inscriptions quoted or referred to in
this chapter are translated in R. W. Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the
Old Testament.

[8] Friedrich Delitzsch, Babel and Bible, Two Lectures, published by
Open Court Co., p. 65.

[9] A translation of the entire psalm is found in Sayce, The Religions
of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, pp. 419-421; also in Rogers, Religion
of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 182-184; R. F. Harper, Assyrian and
Babylonian Literature, pp. 436-439.

[10] Sayce, Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, pp. 35, 93, 195.
A translation of a hymn composed by this king to his supreme god is
found in J. H. Breasted, A History of Egypt, pp. 371ff.

[11] An excellent brief survey of the religious conceptions of the
pre-Mosaic period is given in the article on "Religion of Israel," by
E. Kautzsch, in James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, Extra Vol.,
pp. 613ff.

[12] The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 95.

[13] Ibid., p. 97.

[14] The most recent and most satisfactory edition and translation of
the entire Babylonian story of creation is by L. W. King, The Seven
Tablets of Creation.  The two quotations given are Tablet I, lines 7-9,
and Tablet III, lines 133-138.

[15] Additional portions of this hymn are found in R. W. Rogers,
Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 170ff.

[16] S. I. Curtiss, Primitive Semitic Religions To-day, p. 14.

[17] A. T. Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, p. 15; A. H.
Sayce, Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, pp. 476ff.; M.
Jastrow, in American Journal of Theology, 1898, pp. 315-352; A.
Jeremias, The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient East, I, pp.


[18] Babel and Bible, Two Lectures, p. 38.

[19] Ibid., p. 101.

[20] Paul Haupt, Babylonian Elements in the Levitical Ritual, Journal
of Biblical Literature, 1900, p. 61.

[21] The details of this question have been discussed very extensively.
Admirable discussions of the entire subject are found in Sayce,
Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, pp. 448-478; Jeremias, Old
Testament in the Light of the Ancient East, II, pp. 112ff.

[22] Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, p. 469.

[23] Delitzsch, Babel and Bible, Two Lectures, pp. 53ff.

[24] R. W. Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 145.

[25] R. F. Harper, The Code of Hammurabi; art. on the same subject in
Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, Extra Vol., pp. 584ff.; W. W.
Davies, The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses.

[26] The best and most complete recent treatment of the legal
literature of the Old Testament is found in C. F. Kent, Israel's Laws
and Legal Precedents, which is Vol. IV in The Student's Old Testament.

[27] Johannes Jeremias, Moses and Hammurabi, pp. 31ff.

[28] R. W. Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 158.

[29] L. W. King, The Seven Tablets of Creation, Two Vols.; a
translation is also found in R. F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian
Literature, pp. 282ff.  R. W. Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and
Assyria, pp. 107ff.

[30] Tablet V, lines 1-3.

[31] Lines 1-8.

[32] An English translation of the entire epic is found in R. F.
Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Literature, pp. 324ff.; the Deluge
story is given by R. W. Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, pp.


[33] Lines 23-31.

[34] Lines 184-186.

[35] Lines 27, 85, 86.

[36] Lines 92-111.

[37] Lines 141, 142.

[38] Lines 146-156.

[39] Lines 156-162.

[40] Babel and Bible, Two Lectures, p. 62.

[41] F. Hommel, The Ancient Hebrew Tradition, pp. 75ff.

[42] P. Delitzsch, Babel and Bible, pp. 58ff.

[43] Preface to Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia.




In the opening paragraphs of Chapter I, attention is called to the
unique place occupied by the Old Testament in the thought, life, and
theology of the early Church.  Throughout the Middle Ages, and in the
eyes of the Protestant reformers, the two great divisions of the Bible,
the Old and New Testaments, continued to command equal respect and
attention.  The legal principles of the Pentateuch have determined the
legal systems of all civilized nations; the bold and fiery sermons of
the prophets have been the chief inspiration on the fierce battles for
righteousness in all ages; and the sublime religious lyrics of the
Psalter have ushered millions into the very presence of God.  Indeed,
the Old Testament has exerted an incalculable influence on the
development of religion and civilization.

However, it must be admitted that during the latter part of the
nineteenth century a change of attitude toward the Old Testament seems
to have taken place.  True, from nearly the beginning of the Christian
era again and again voices have {228} been heard denying to the Old
Testament a place in Christian thought and life, but not until
comparatively recent times has this sentiment become widespread.  Says
a writer in a book published a few years ago: "The Bible was never more
studied nor less read than at the present day.  This paradox is true,
at least, of the Old Testament.  For two generations scores of patient
scholars have toiled on the text, scanning each letter with microscopic
care, and one result of their labors has been that to the majority of
educated men and women of whatever belief, or no belief, the Bible has
become a closed, yea, a sealed, book.  It is not what it used to be;
what it has become they do not know, and in scorn or sorrow or apathy
they have laid it aside."[1]  There may be some exaggeration in this
statement, but it cannot be doubted that there is considerable
justification for the complaint.  C. F. Kent makes the admission that
"with the exception of a very few books, like the Psalter, the Old
Testament, which was the arsenal of the old militant theology, has been
unconsciously, if not deliberately, shunned by the present
generation."[2]  And the words of Professor Cheyne are almost as
applicable to-day as they were when they were first written, more than
twenty years ago: "A theory is already propounded, both in private and
in a naïve simple way in sermons, that the {229} Old Testament is of no
particular moment, all that we need being the New Testament, which has
been defended by our valiant apologists and expounded by our admirable

If this represents in any sense the true state of affairs; if, on the
other hand, the words of the apostle are true, that "every scripture
inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction which is in righteousness, that the man of
God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work"; and if
these words are applicable to the Old Testament, as the writer intended
them to be--if, I say, these things are true, then Christians appear to
be in great peril of losing sight of one of the important means of
grace, on which were nourished Jesus and his disciples, and millions in
former generations, and for the restoration of which the reformers
risked their very lives.

The change of attitude toward the Old Testament may be traced to a
variety of causes, all of which affect very vitally modern religious
thought and life.  There are, for example, many who feel, and that with
some justice, that the New Testament is in a peculiar sense the sacred
book of Christianity.  Why, they ask, go to the Old Testament when we
have the New with its more complete and perfect revelation?  But this
attitude reflects only a half truth, which is often {230} more
deceptive than an out and out falsehood.  Certainly, Christians find
their loftiest inspiration in the study of the life, character, and
teaching of the Master and of his disciples; but the New Testament has
by no means displaced the Old.  The early Christians were right in
placing it beside the New, because the former is still of inestimable
value.  Indeed, it is impossible to understand the New Testament
properly unless one has an adequate knowledge of the Old.  Moreover,
there are many truths taken for granted in the New Testament for a
biblical statement of which we must turn to the Old.  Will the
revelation of the nature and character of God contained in the Old
Testament ever lose its doctrinal value?  And even in cases where both
Testaments cover the same field the Old retains a peculiar value.
True, the New Testament presents a more complete and perfect
revelation, but there are few New Testament truths which have not their
roots in the Old.  The former presents the full-grown revelation;
nevertheless, a vast number of people, who have not yet reached a state
of perfection, will understand even New Testament truths more readily
as they are presented in the Old Testament; for here they can see the
truths in more concrete form; they have flesh and blood; they are
struggling for victory over darkness and superstition.  Nearly all the
great and vital doctrines of the Church, {231} though founded
principally on the New Testament, are illustrated, are made more real
and human, become more impressive and forceful as we study their
development and growth under the Old Testament dispensation.

The neglect of the Old Testament is due, in the second place, to a
reaction against its misuse by former generations.[4]  Puritanism and
the theology of the past three centuries were largely rooted in the Old
Testament.  From it the stern Puritans drew their spirit of justice,
their zeal for righteousness, and their uncompromising condemnation of
everything that appeared wrong.  Their preachers nobly echoed the
thunders of Sinai and the denunciations of Elijah and Amos; but in
doing this they failed to recognize the divine love back of the
prophetic message, and by their narrow interpretation of the letter,
and their emphasis upon the more primitive and imperfect teaching of
the Old Testament, they were often led to extremes that were neither
biblical nor Christian.  Against intolerance and persecution the human
heart rebels, and with it comes a feeling of resentment against the
cause.  Thus it happened that the reaction against Puritanism brought
with it a disregard of the Old Testament, which was followed either by
the exaltation of the New Testament, whose spirit is more merciful and
tender, or by hostility against the entire {232} Bible and Christianity
as a whole.  This abuse of the Old Testament was due in large part to
the use of faulty, or erroneous, methods of interpretation.  And since
there seems to be even now a tendency in some places to defend these
methods, which are out of keeping with the spirit of scientific
investigation in this age, many intelligent men have come to look with
suspicion upon a book in the study of which unscientific methods
continue to be used.

Another important cause of the change of attitude toward the Old
Testament is to be found in the labors expended upon the Old Testament
by able scholars in the pursuit of a careful, critical study of the
ancient records.  As has been stated in another connection, these
studies are not the outgrowth, as is often erroneously assumed, of a
desire to discredit the Bible, to displace it from the heart and
confidence of the people, or to attack its teaching or inspiration.
"It would be a most hopeless thing," says W. G. Jordan, "to regard all
this toil as the outcome of skepticism and vanity, a huge specimen of
perverse ingenuity and misdirected effort."[5]  They are simply the
results of Protestantism and the Renaissance.[6]  But whatever the
spirit back of the study, and whatever the gains of this investigation,
one result is that many Christians feel perplexed with regard to the
true position of the Old Testament.  {233} What of its claims?  What of
its inspiration?  How far is it human in origin?  How far divine?
These and similar questions are asked by men everywhere.  Never was
there more interest, more inquiry, and, perhaps, more unrest and
disquietude among thoughtful people.

Surely, it is high time to realize that all this investigation has had
no harmful effect upon the substance of the divine revelations conveyed
in the Old Testament records.  In the words of Jordan, "To me, with my
faith that the whole universe is filled with the presence of the
living, self-revealing God, I cannot conceive ... that the most severe
criticism can ever banish the divine power from that great literature
which is one of the choicest organs of its manifestations."[7]  As has
been pointed out in the preceding chapters, some long-cherished notions
and interpretations have been overthrown; to some extent our ideas
concerning its literary forms have had to be modified, but its
substance has not been disturbed.  On the contrary, it has come to be
seen with a clearness unrecognized before that it bears the indelible
stamp of God.

This being the case, students of the Bible should return to a more just
appreciation of that part of Sacred Scripture which is so intimately
connected with the training of Jesus and his disciples.  If the Old
Testament contains records {234} and interpretations of divine
revelations, those who claim to be children of God should be willing,
yea, anxious, to put forth some efforts to familiarize themselves
adequately with these records.  But the sense of gratitude and
appreciation for these self-revelations of God is not the only reason
which should prompt the Christian to turn more frequently to the pages
of the Old Book.  A much more important consideration is the fact that
the lessons taught in the Old Testament are of profound significance
to-day, and that they cannot be neglected without serious consequences.
Again, attention may be called to the fact that the Founder of
Christianity and his disciples found nourishment in its pages, and that
they constantly exhorted their followers to do the same.  Now, Jesus is
recognized by all Christians as a model worthy of imitation in every
relation of life.  Would it not be well to imitate him in the use of
the Old Testament Scriptures?  If he found in the pages of the Old
Testament weapons with which to put to flight the Evil One, might not
we?  Aside from these general considerations, it is easily shown that
every part of the Old Testament is full of teaching which is of the
highest value even in the twentieth century of the Christian era.
Consider, for example, the first eleven chapters of Genesis, around
which much controversy has raged.  In former days these chapters were
{235} thought to give an absolutely accurate account of creation and
the early history of mankind.  However, various lines of investigation
have shown this view to be untenable.  "We are forced, therefore," says
a recent writer, "to the conclusion that, though the writers to whom we
owe the first eleven chapters of Genesis report faithfully what was
currently believed among the Hebrews respecting the early history of
mankind, yet there was much they did not know, and could not take
cognizance of.  These chapters, consequently, contain no account of the
real beginnings, either of the earth itself, or of man and human
civilization upon it."[8]  All this need create not the slightest
difficulty for one who holds the scriptural conception of the nature
and purpose of the biblical writings.  It is true of these chapters, as
of other parts of the record, that "the only care of the prophetic
tradition is to bring out clearly the religious origin of humanity.[9]
If anyone is in search of accurate information regarding the age of
this earth, or its relation to the sun, moon, or stars, or regarding
the exact order in which plants and animals have appeared upon it, he
should go to recent textbooks in astronomy, geology, and paleontology.
It is not the purpose of the writers of Scripture to impart physical
instruction, or to enlarge the bounds of scientific knowledge.  So far
as the {236} scientific or historical information imparted in these
chapters is concerned, it is of little more value than the similar
stories of other nations.  And yet the student of these chapters can
see a striking contrast between them and extra-biblical stories
describing the same unknown ages handed down from pre-scientific
centuries.  Here comes to view the uniqueness of the Bible.  The other
traditions are of interest only as relics of a by-gone past.  Not so
the biblical statements; they are and ever will be of inestimable
value, not because of their scientific teaching, but because of the
presence of sublime religious truth in the crude forms of primitive
science.  If anyone wishes to know what connection the world has with
God, if he seeks to trace back all that now is to the very
fountain-head of life, if he desires to discover some unifying
principle, some illuminating purpose in the history of the earth, he
may turn to these chapters as his safest and, indeed, only guide to the
information he seeks.

The purpose of the narratives being primarily religious, it is only
natural that their lessons should be religious lessons.  The one
supreme lesson taught throughout the entire section is "In the
beginning, God."  But each separate narrative teaches its own peculiar
lessons.  The more important of these are briefly summarized by Driver
as follows: "The narrative of creation {237} sets forth, in a series of
dignified and impressive pictures, the sovereignty of God; his priority
to and separation from all finite, material nature; his purpose to
constitute an ordered cosmos, and gradually to adapt the earth to
become the habitation of living beings; and his endowment of man with
the peculiar, unique possession of self-conscious reason, in virtue of
which he became capable of intellectual and moral life, and is even
able to know and hold communion with his Maker.  In chapters two and
three we read, though, again, not in a historical but in a pictorial
and symbolic form, how man was once innocent, how he became conscious
of a moral law, and how temptation fell upon him and he broke that law.
The fall of man, the great and terrible truth, which history not less
than individual experience only too vividly teaches each one of us, is
thus impressively set before us.  Man, however, though punished by God,
is not forsaken by him, nor left in his long conflict with evil without
hope of victory.  In chapter four the increasing power of sin, and the
fatal consequence to which, if unchecked, it may lead, is vividly
portrayed in the tragic figure of Cain.  The spirit of vindictiveness
and the brutal triumph in the power of the sword is personified in
Lamech.  In the narrative of the Flood God's wrath against sin and the
divine prerogative of mercy are alike exemplified: {238} Noah is a
standing illustration of the truth that 'righteousness delivereth from
death,' and God's dealings with him after the Flood form a striking
declaration of the purposes of grace and good will with which God
regards mankind.  The narrative of the Tower of Babel emphasizes
Jehovah's supremacy in the world, and teaches how the self-exaltation
of man is checked by God."[10]

These chapters are followed by the stories of the patriarchs.
Missionaries say--and experience at home has confirmed the claim--that
the patriarchal narratives are of inestimable value to impress lessons
of the reality and providence of God, and to encourage the exercise of
faith and confidence in him.  There is nothing that can be substituted
for them in religious instruction.  Lack of space will not permit to
point out in detail the educational value of these documents; however,
in passing, mention may be made of the fact that Professor W. W. White
enumerates twenty-one Christian virtues that are illustrated and
enforced in the life of Abraham.[11]  He was (1) steadfast, (2)
resolute, (3) prudent, (4) tactful, (5) candid, (6) kind, (7)
self-controlled, (8) obliging, (9) self-denying, (10) condescending,
(11) unselfish, (12) peaceable, (13) hospitable, (14) courteous, (15)
humble, (16) thankful, (17) reverent, (18) prayerful, (19) worshipful,
(20) faithful, {239} (21) obedient.  Not one iota of their value for
purposes of instruction in righteousness have these records lost
because doubt has been cast upon their absolute historical accuracy.
"Abraham is still the hero of righteousness and faith; Lot and Laban,
Sarah and Rebekah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, in their characters and
experiences, are still in different ways types of our own selves, and
still in one way or another exemplify the ways in which God deals with
the individual soul, and the manner in which the individual soul ought,
or ought not, to respond to his leadings."[12]  What if some of these
figures pass before us on the stage rather than in real life, do they
on that account lose their vividness, their truthfulness, their force?
"If," says J. E. McFadyen,[13] "it should be made highly probable that
the stories were not strictly historical, what should we then have to
say?  We should then have to say that their religious value was still
extremely high.  The religious truth to which they give vivid and
immortal expression would remain the same.  The story of Abraham would
still illustrate the trials and the rewards of faith.  The story of
Jacob would still illustrate the power of sin to haunt and determine a
man's career, and the power of God to humble, discipline, and purify a
self-confident nature.  The story of Joseph would still illustrate how
fidelity amid {240} temptation, wrong, and sorrow is crowned at last
with glory and honor.  The spiritual value of these and similar tales
is not lost, even when their historical value is reduced to a minimum,
for the truths which they illustrate are truths of universal
experience."  The present writer is convinced that even as historical
documents these narratives are of immense value.  Nevertheless, it may
be well to remind ourselves again that the apostle does not point his
readers to the Old Testament Scriptures for instruction in ancient
history, but he claims that they are profitable "for teaching, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness";
and these records, whatever their historical shortcomings may be, are
most assuredly profitable for all these purposes.

The historical books of the Old Testament are a continuous illustration
of the reality of a Divine Providence, by revealing on almost every
page the hand of God in human history.  Only as we trace the history of
the Hebrews can we understand the unfolding in the mind of man under
the influence of the Divine Spirit of the great religious ideas and
conceptions which have become the mainspring of human progress; the
ideas which may be seen in crystallized form in modern Judaism, in
perverted form in Mohammedanism, and in expanded and spiritualized form
in Christianity.  {241} Preëminent among these conceptions is the idea
of one personal holy and righteous God.  The Hebrews were also the
first to teach man that the supreme goal of life is righteousness, and
thus they became the ethical teachers of the human race.  They first
gave objective expression to pure and lofty ethics in law.  To-day the
principles of Hebrew legislation are still the bone and marrow of the
world's greatest legal systems.  Though the Romans may be, to a large
extent, responsible for the form which modern legal systems have
adopted, the substance must be traced back to Hebrew legislation.

Moreover, the Hebrews prepared the way for Christianity.  Jesus himself
recognized that the faith he proclaimed was not a new creation.  "Think
not," said he, "that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came
not to destroy, but to fulfill."[14]  He came to fill up, to
spiritualize and intensify the religious and ethical teaching of the
great leaders of the Hebrews.  Men needed the preliminary training of
the Old Testament dispensation before they were ready to appreciate the
fuller revelation in and through Jesus the Christ, and Christianity
could never have triumphed had it not been for the preparatory work of
the religious and ethical teachers of the Hebrews, whose activity was
very largely determined by the course of the nation's history.  Again,
{242} Jesus, according to the flesh, was a descendant of Abraham,
reared in a Jewish home, and under Jewish influences.  He studied
Jewish literature and Jewish ideals were held up before him.  All this
must have made some impression upon the mind and life of the Master.
He and his teaching can be understood only if he is studied in the
light of Jewish thought and Jewish religion reaching back to the very
beginning of Hebrew history.  All this shows how important is the study
of the historical books of the Old Testament to one who desires to
appreciate fully the Christian religion.

It is impossible to estimate too highly the eternal value of the
devotional literature of the Old Testament as illustrated, for example,
in the book of Psalms.  Well has it been said, "What the heart is in
man, that is the Psalter in the Bible."[15]  The Psalms touch the
heart, because they are the expressions of the deepest feelings of the
writers; and because these lyrics express personal experiences they may
be, and are, used even to-day to express the various emotions of joy,
sorrow, hope, fear, anticipation, etc., of persons who live even on a
higher plane than did their authors.  "What is there," says Richard
Hooker,[16] "necessary for man to know which the Psalms are not able to
teach?  Heroical magnanimity, exquisite justice, grave moderation,
{243} exact wisdom, repentance unfeigned, unwearied patience, the
mysteries of God, the sufferings of Christ, the terrors of wrath, the
comforts of grace, the works of Providence over this world, and the
promised joys of that world which is to come; all good, necessarily to
be either known or done, or had, this one celestial fountain yieldeth;
let there be any grief or disaster incident to the soul of man, any
wound or sickness named for which there is not in this treasure-house a
present comfortable remedy at all times ready to be found."

Manifold indeed are the contents of the Psalter; manifold the moods of
the authors; and manifold the experiences they express.  But there is
one bond which unites them all into one living unity, namely, a sublime
faith in Jehovah, the God of Israel.  This variety on the one hand, and
essential unity on the other, are the qualities which have given to the
book in all ages a unique place in the religious life of the individual
and of the Church of God.  With full justice says Perowne:[17] "No
single book of Scripture, not even the New Testament, has, perhaps,
ever taken such hold on the heart of Christendom.  None, if we dare
judge, unless it be the Gospels, has had so large an influence in
molding the affections, sustaining the hopes, purifying the faith of
believers.  With its words, rather than with their own, they have come
before God.  In these they have uttered {244} their desires, their
fears, their confessions, their aspirations, their sorrows, their joys,
their thanksgivings.  By these their devotion has been kindled and
their hearts comforted.  The Psalter has been in the truest sense the
prayer book of both Jews and Christians."

Equally profitable is the study of the Wisdom literature.  The wise men
accepted the great religious truths proclaimed by the prophets; it was
their business to apply them to the details of everyday life, and
instruct their contemporaries in that application.  They did an
important and necessary work; they pointed out constantly and
persistently that religion cannot be separated from the daily life.
But the wise men were dealing with persons who had hardly gone beyond
the childhood stage in things religious and ethical, hence they must
put the most profound truths in the simplest possible form.  They must
abstain, as far as possible, from all speculation, and confine
themselves to simple, practical precepts which would appeal to the
ordinary practical common sense of the hearer.  "The great desire of
the sages," says Marshall, "was to reduce the lofty theistic morality
which underlies Mosaism to brief, pithy sayings, easily remembered and
readily applicable to the everyday life of man."[18]  Certainly, in
time they would be compelled to rise above simple precepts and try to
solve some of {245} the more perplexing problems of life; on the other
hand, there would always be a demand for the more simple sayings of
these moral guides.  The Old Testament contains specimens of these
different productions of wisdom activity.  The book of Proverbs is a
collection of the more simple, practical precepts, while the books of
Job and Ecclesiastes illustrate speculative wisdom.

The charge has sometimes been made against the book of Proverbs that it
is not truly religious, that it moves on a lower plane, and
contemplates lower aims than the other books of the Old Testament; but
this is only a half truth.  That the book differs from other books is
undoubtedly true, but that is due to the purpose of its author.  He did
not mean to collect prophetic discourses or sublime religious lyrics,
but those simple precepts of life which, though simple, are ever needed
for the proper conduct of man.  There are two phases of religion: the
one internal, the religious experience; the other external, the
religious life.  The two go together, though at times the one, at times
the other, may be emphasized.  The authors of the Proverbs emphasized
chiefly the latter.  They teach the most difficult of all lessons: how
to practice religion; how to fulfill the duties and overcome the
temptations of everyday life.  But these wise men rested their
practical teaching upon a religious basis.  Their {246} religion may
not be on a New Testament level, but in this they resemble other Old
Testament writings; their conceptions of reward and punishment may be
crude, and at times materialistic, but this peculiarity they share with
all those saints of Israel whose vision is limited to this world.

Underneath all their teaching there is a firm belief in the existence
of a righteous God and the reality of his rule over the world, as also
in the other great religious verities taught by the prophets.  Far from
disregarding religion, the writers of the Proverbs sought to make it
the controlling motive of life and conduct.  A profound religious
spirit pervades the whole book; but in addition there are many passages
which give definite expression to the lofty religious conceptions of
the wise men.[19]  Nevertheless, as is natural in view of the purpose
of the wise men, greater stress is laid upon ethics, the practice of
religion.  Nothing and no relation of life seems to have escaped the
attention of the writers.  Precepts are given concerning ordinary
everyday conduct, the relations of men to their fellows, domestic
relations and happiness, national life and the proper attitude toward
the government, and other relations and interests of life.  The
permanent value of the book is suggested in these words of Davison:[20]
"For the writers of Proverbs religion {247} means good sense, religion
means mastery of affairs, religion means strength and manliness and
success, religion means a well-furnished intellect employing the best
means to accomplish the highest ends.  There is a healthy, vigorous
tone about this kind of teaching which is never out of date, but which,
human nature being what it is, is only too apt to disappear in the
actual presentation of religion in the Church on earth."

From simple practical precepts the wise men rose to speculation.  Their
speculative philosophy is theistic, for it starts from the conviction
that there is a personal God.  The best specimen of this type of Wisdom
literature is the book of Job, which deals with the perplexing problem
of evil and suffering.  The book recounts how Job, a man of exemplary
piety, was overtaken by an unprecedented series of calamities, and it
reports the debate between Job and other speakers to which the occasion
is supposed to have given rise.  The experiences of the perfect Job
raised the perplexing question, How can the suffering of a righteous
man be harmonized with the belief in a holy and just God?  The popular
view, reflected in the greater portion of the Old Testament, was that
suffering was always punishment for sin, prosperity reward for piety.
Such belief seemed in accord with the righteousness of Jehovah.
Undoubtedly, exceptions to the rule might be {248} noted, but as long
as the individual was looked upon simply as an atom in the national
unit, the apparent inequalities in the fortunes of individuals would
not constitute a pressing problem.  When, however, especially through
the teaching of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the individual received proper
recognition, an experience like that of Job was bound to create
difficulties, for the suffering of a righteous man would seem to point
to unfairness on the part of God.  That this perplexity was felt is
seen from allusions in the prophetic books.  At last the time came when
a wise man in Israel sought to solve the problem in the light of the
religious knowledge he possessed.  The problem, then, discussed by the
author of the book of Job is, How can the sufferings of a righteous man
be harmonized with belief in a holy and righteous God?  Various
solutions of this problem are suggested in different parts of the book:
(1) The solution of the prologue--Suffering is a test of character.
(2) The solution of the friends--Suffering is always punishment for
sin.  (3) The solution of Job--Job struggles long and persistently with
the problem; a few times he seems to have a glimpse of a possible
straightening-out of the present inequalities after death, but it is
only a glimpse; he always sinks back to a feeling of uncertainty and
perplexity.  His general attitude is that there must be {249} something
out of gear in the world, for the righteousness of God cannot be
discerned as things are going now.  (4) The solution of Elihu--Elihu
agrees with the friends that suffering is closely connected with sin;
but he emphasizes more than they the disciplinary purpose of suffering,
which, he points out, is the voice of God warning men to return to Him.
(5) The solution of Jehovah--The whole universe is an unfathomable
mystery, in which the evil is no more perplexing than the good.  In the
presence of all mysteries the proper attitude is one of humble
submission.  (6) The solution of the epilogue--Returns to the opinion
of the friends, for it teaches that righteousness will sooner or later
be rewarded with prosperity even in this world.

It is chiefly in the solution of this age-long problem suggested by the
author of the book of Job that the real value of the discussion lies.
The author nowhere states which of the above-mentioned conclusions he
accepts as true.  As a result, he has been charged with raising a
profound problem, discussing it with relentless logic, and then leaving
it unsolved.  This, however, is not quite fair to this ancient wise
man.  "With a touch too artistic to permit him to descend to a
homiletic attitude, the poet has shown that his solution of life's
problem is a religious one.  He had portrayed with great power the
inability of {250} man's mind to comprehend the universe or to
understand why man must suffer; but he makes Job, his hero, find in a
vision of God the secret of life.  Job's questions remain unanswered,
but now that he knows God, he is content to let them remain unanswered.
He cannot solve life's riddle, but is content to trust God, of whose
goodness he is convinced, and who, Job is sure, knows the answer.  The
poet has thus taught that it is in the realm of religion, and not in
that of the intellect, that the solution of life's mysteries is to be
found."[21]  Even Christianity has no other solution of the problem to
offer; it must still insist upon a solution of faith, with a lofty
conception of God, and a vision of life broad enough to include
eternity, when the apparent inequalities of this life may be adjusted
by a loving and righteous God.

The book of Ecclesiastes, dealing with the perplexities of life in
general, full of pessimism and skepticism, is not without its permanent
value.  The author of the book has passed through many disappointments,
and his spirit has grown somewhat skeptical and pessimistic.
Everything has proved vanity: riches, pleasure, honor, even the search
for wisdom; and he is not sure concerning his destiny after death.  But
over against his experiences in life there is a faith in God who
governs the world.  The book, which portrays {251} the struggle between
experience and faith, has aptly been called "a cry for light."  The
author does not see the light clearly, though here and there he may
have a glimpse of it.  The real perplexity is due to the fact that the
author's horizon is bounded by the grave.  In this life he sees no
hope, therefore he looks with longing for a possible reckoning in an
after life; but it remains a hope and cry, it never grows into a
conviction.  The more significant is the retention of his faith in God.
He is conscious of a moral order in the world, though its operation is
often frustrated; he is aware of cases in which the God-fearing man had
an advantage over others.  Hence, with all his uncertainty and doubt,
he holds that it is his duty, and the duty of everyone else, to fear
God and keep his commandments; God, somehow, will care for the
mysteries and perplexities of life.  Even the Song of Songs, or Song of
Solomon, often an object of ridicule, when rightly interpreted, is seen
to bring suggestive lessons to the present age.  The book owes its
place in the canon of Sacred Scripture to the allegorical
interpretation given to it from the earliest times.  The Jews
interpreted it as picturing the close relation existing between Jehovah
and Israel; the Christians, as picturing the intimate fellowship
between Christ and his bride, the Church.  At present it is quite
generally held that this interpretation {252} does not do justice to
the primary purpose of the book; but as to its original purpose two
different views are held.  According to both interpretations, the
subject of the book is love--human love; the differences of opinion are
with reference to the manner in which the subject is treated.  Some
think that the book is simply a collection of love or wedding songs,
all independent of one another.  Others feel that there are too many
evidences of real unity in it to permit this interpretation; they see
in the book a didactic drama or melodrama, the aim of the author being
the glorification of true human love.

The drama centers around three principal characters--Solomon, the
Shunammite maiden, and her shepherd lover.  The book relates how the
maiden, surprised by the king and his train, was brought to the palace
in Jerusalem, where the king hoped to win her affections and to induce
her to exchange her rustic home for the enjoyment and honor the court
life affords.  She has, however, already pledged her heart to a young
shepherd; and the admiration and blandishments which the king lavishes
upon her are powerless to make her forget him.  In the end she is
permitted to return to her mountain home, where at the close of the
poem the lovers appear hand in hand and express, in warm, glowing
words, the superiority of genuine spontaneous {253} affection.  The
real aim of the book, therefore, seems to be to glorify true love, and
more specifically, true betrothed love, which remains steadfast even in
the most dangerous and most seductive situations.

In this age, when the responsibility of the individual Christian and of
the Christian Church toward the practical, social, religious, and moral
problems and evils is recognized more than at any other previous time,
the prophetic literature is worthy of the most careful study on the
part of all Christians who recognize and who are willing to meet their
obligations to their day and generation.  The prophets of old met in
the strength of God, and at the divine impulse, the problems and evils
of their own age.  They had to face the problems of materialism and
commercialism; the evils resulting from the accumulation of wealth,
power, and resources in the hands of a few; very serious economic
problems; cruelty, oppression, arrogance on the part of the rich
proprietors; corruption in government and in the administration of
justice; they had to grapple with a cold, heartless formalism that
threatened to destroy pure, spiritual religion.  Against these evils
and wrongs the prophets of old raised their hands and voices.  "When
the old tribal customs and bonds were weakened by the growth of cities
and the cultivation of commerce they saw that {254} society must be set
upon a moral basis or suffer destruction.  When the nation itself was
about to be broken to pieces they saw in this a call for a deeper
spiritual life....  They were interested in politics, but not as a
profession in which to show their skill, or out of which they might
gain wealth or glory.  Politics for them meant simply the life of the
nation in its relation to God and to the great outside world.  They
were social reformers.  To the earlier prophets man was regarded always
as a member of society rather than as an independent individual....  In
opposition to a showy ritual, they set up their demands for justice
between man and man."[22]  Surely, it is a part of the Christian's duty
to do his share toward a Christian solution of the social and religious
problems of our day.  We can hardly claim to have reached the full
stature of Christian manhood or womanhood until we have acquired the
knowledge and power to cope with these difficulties in the spirit of
the Master and with the methods best adapted to the Christianizing of
modern society.  In these our efforts to lift humanity nearer to God,
or to bring God nearer to humanity, we may learn much from the prophets
of old.

To sum up the results of our study: As Christians we may find our
loftiest inspiration in the study of the life, the character, and the
teachings {255} of the Master, and of the words of his disciples.  But
the New Testament is little more than a quarter of the Bible.  In the
preceding pages the attempt has been made to emphasize the permanent
value of the larger division of the Sacred Book.  It has been carefully
scrutinized, tested in furnaces heated seven times, but out of the fire
it has come bearing the stamp of God, testifying more confidently than
ever before that God in olden times spake unto the fathers, and that in
its pages may be found records and interpretations of these
revelations.  The features of the Old Testament which assure to it a
permanent place in religious thought and life may be briefly indicated
as follows:

The Old Testament will always prove attractive as literature.  The more
we know of other literatures of antiquity, the more evident it becomes
that even from the literary viewpoint the Old Testament is far superior
to any other literary remains of ancient civilization.  "If the
inimitable freshness of life is preserved in Homer, it is not less
preserved in the epic stories of the Old Testament; while the still
more intangible simplicity of the idyl is found perfect in Ruth and
Tobit, the orations of Deuteronomy are as noble models as the orations
of Cicero.  Read by the side of the poetry of the Psalms, the lyrics of
Pindar seem almost provincial.  The imaginative poetry of {256} the
Greeks is perfect in its own sphere, but by the Hebrew prophets as bold
an imagination is carried into the mysteries of the spiritual world.
If the philosophy of Plato and his successors has a special interest as
the starting point for a progression of thought still going on as
modern science, yet the field of biblical wisdom offers an attraction
of a different kind, in a progression of thought which has run its full
round and has reached a position of rest....  And in the inner circle
of the world's masterpieces, in which all kinds of literary influences
meet, the Bible has placed Job, the Isaiahan Rhapsody, ... unsurpassed
and unsurpassable."[23]

From the standpoint of history the Old Testament still occupies, and
ever will occupy, a unique position.  Important as are the
contributions of archæology, the student of ancient history can by no
means spare the testimony of the Bible.  The Old Testament is still the
main source of information for the national history of the Hebrew
people, and it is and will remain a very important secondary source for
the history of the surrounding nations.  It also retains a unique place
in the history of religion, for without it the religious development of
the Jews could not be traced; and since the Jewish religion is the
foundation upon which Christianity was developed, ignorance of that
earlier religion [257] would prove a serious handicap to the student of

The Old Testament will always be of value because of its intimate
connection with the New.  From the purely linguistic standpoint a
knowledge of the former is essential for an understanding of the
latter.  New Testament modes of thought and expression are inexplicable
without a study of the Old.  There are many passages in the New
Testament taken from the Old and referring back to it which cannot be
properly understood unless we examine them in their original context.
But the connection is even more vital, for in a very real sense the new
dispensation has its roots in the old.  It is one kingdom of God that
is the subject of the history in both, and the Bible as a whole can
never be rightly understood until the two Testaments are comprehended
in their unity and harmony, for they are joined in inseparable unity in
Christ himself.

Most important of all, the Old Testament retains, and ever will retain,
a unique religious value.  It will ever be important in the field of
doctrine.  True, the New Testament is the primary source for the
doctrines of Christianity, but there are some things which the New
Testament takes for granted, and for which we must turn to the Old.
Will the revelation of the nature and character of God contained in the
Old Testament {258} ever lose its doctrinal value?--God, a spirit,
personal, with a clearly defined moral character, in his mercy
condescending to enter into covenant relations with his creatures,
loving man and desiring to be loved by him, his anger aroused by sin,
but gracious toward the repenting sinner?  Again, have those early
chapters of Genesis lost their doctrinal value?  Has anyone supplied a
substitute for the simple "In the beginning God created heaven and

The Old Testament is of permanent religious value because of its keen
insight into human nature.  The Bible has been called "the family album
of the Holy God"; we might compare it, rather, to a picture gallery.
What a variety!  Everywhere we see them flesh and blood!  Why is it
they impress us so?  Is it not because the pictures are so true to
human nature that in spite of the difference in time, place, and
circumstances they may serve even us as mirrors?

The Old Testament will always deserve study from the religious
standpoint, because of the ideal of character it sets before us.  "It
presents to our souls characters that are supremely worthy of our
reverence because consciously centered in God and full of his power.
It permits us to share the enthusiasm of the men who discovered the
fundamentals of our religion and the character of our God.  It is
indispensable to complete the {259} discipleship of Christ, because it
is the creator of the mold which his soul expanded."[24]  Its types of
character may lack the finer graces, yet they are types we may do well
to imitate.  Will the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Samuel, Elijah, David,
and many others ever lose their lessons?  What sublime ideals even the
Christian minister may find in the lives of the prophets!

Will we ever get beyond the moral duties which are, according to the
Old Testament, obligatory upon man?  Purity of thought, sincerity of
motive, singleness of purpose, truthfulness, honesty, justice,
generosity, love--these are some of the virtues which again and again
are in the strongest language insisted upon in the pages of the Old
Book.  Indeed, the Old Testament emphasizes the loftiest ideals of
human life and society, anticipating the time when in all the world the
universal Fatherhood of God and the common brotherhood of man would be
realized.  In an editorial in the Expository Times, commenting upon a
paper read before the First International Moral Education Congress, are
found these suggestive words: "It is when the teaching of the Old
Testament is simple, frank, and historical that it becomes the best
text-book of ethics in the world, for it possesses these two
incomparable advantages--it is full of humanity, and it is full of
variety.  The epics of Joseph and David, the {260} tragedies of Elijah
and Isaiah have an undying charm.  And the examples are varied as they
are interesting.  It offers examples of almost every stage of moral
development.  Whatever the pupil's moral attitude, there is some Jewish
hero that appeals to him.  That hero's actions can be traced to their
motives and followed to their consequences.  He can be treated with
sympathy in so far as he attains the standard of his times, and yet
criticized in so far as his motives are not those which we recognize as
absolute.  So the pupil may learn at once to appropriate those _media
axiamata_ which fit him, and yet realize that there is something beyond
and above them."[25]

The Old Testament is of permanent significance because of its
insistence on pure and spiritual religion, and its condemnation of all
cold and external formalism.  These words of the prophet Isaiah imply a
lofty conception of true religion: "What unto me is the multitude of
your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the
burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not
in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.  When ye come to
appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample my
courts?  Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto
me; new moon and sabbath, the calling of {261} assemblies--I cannot
away with iniquity and the solemn meeting.  Your new moons and your
appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary
of bearing them.  And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine
eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your
hands are full of blood.  Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil
of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do
well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead
for the widow."[26]  And the prophetic definition of religion, "He hath
showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of
thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with
thy God?"[27] is in no wise inferior to that given in the New
Testament: "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is
this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to
keep oneself unspotted from the world."[28]

Finally, how can we estimate highly enough the devotional value of the
Old Testament as illustrated, for example, in the book of Psalms?  Here
we have the outpourings of human souls in the closest fellowship with
their God, giving without restraint expression to the most various
emotions, hopes, desires, and aspirations.  What other literary
compositions lift us into such atmosphere of religious thought and
emotion?  {262} Surely, the sweet singers enjoy a preëminence from
which they can never be dethroned.

It is quite safe, therefore, to assert, that as long as human nature is
what it is now the Old Testament must remain an ever-flowing fountain
of living truth, able to invigorate and to restore, to purify and to
refine; to ennoble and to enrich the moral and spiritual being of man.
"No man," says A. W. Vernon,[29] "save Jesus, ever had the right to lay
the Book ... aside, and he made it immortal."


[1] J. C. Todd, Politics and Religion in "Ancient Israel, p. vii.

[2] The Origin and Permanent Value of the Old Testament, p. 7.

[3] Contemporary Review, August, 1889, p. 232.

[4] C. F. Kent, The Origin and Permanent Value of the Old Testament,
pp. 5ff.

[5] Biblical Criticism and Modern Thought, p. 6.

[6] See above, p. 79.

[7] Biblical Criticism and Modern Thought, p. 230.

[8] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. xlii.

[9] A. Westphal, The Law and the Prophets, p. 43.

[10] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. lxx.

[11] W. W. White, Studies in Old Testament Characters, p. 14.

[12] S. R. Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. lxviii.

[13] Old Testament Criticism and the Christian Church, p. 335.

[14] Matt. 5. 17.


[15] These words of Johannes Arnd are used by Franz Delitzsch as the
motto for his Commentary on the Psalms.

[16] Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, Chapter XXXVII, 2.

[17] The Book of Psalms, Vol. I, p. 18.

[18] J. T. Marshall, Job and His Comforters, p. 4.

[19] For example, 3. 5-7; 16. 3, 6, 9; 23. 17.

[20] W. T. Davison, The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, pp.
134, 135.

[21] G. A. Barton, The Book of Job, p. 12.

[22] W. G. Jordan, Biblical Criticism and Modern Thought, pp. 284, 285.

[23] Richard G. Moulton, The Modern Reader's Bible, One Vol. ed., p. x.

[24] A. W. Vernon, The Religious Value of the Old Testament, p. 80.

[25] Expository Times, November, 1908, pp. 54, 55.

[26] Isa. 1. 11-17.

[27] Mic. 6. 8.

[28] James 1. 27.

[29] The Religious Value of the Old Testament, p. 81.



Abraham, 238.

Adad-nirari IV, 134.

Ahab, 131 ff.

Angels, 182 f.

Animism, 165 f., 169 f.

Appeal to the soul, 30 ff.

Archaeological material, 123 f.

Archaeology, 110 ff.

Ashurbanipal, 140.

Assumption versus knowledge, 217 ff.

Authorship, of Pentateuch, 88 f.; other books, 89 f.

Babylon, fall of, 141.

Benefits of criticism, 105 ff.

Bible and Reason, 33 f.

Bible lands, 111.

Black Obelisk, 133 f.

Canon, 86 f.

Ceremonial system, 178 ff.

Character study, 238, 258 f.

Christian consciousness, 36.

Comparative religion, 160 ff.

Comparative study, 160 ff.; aim, 160; attitude toward, 161 f.;
importance, 164

Compilation, 87 f.

Composition, 21-23.

Confirmations, 156.

Conflict between science and Genesis, 41 ff.

Contrasts, 221 f.

Cosmology of appearances, 59 f.

Creation, 41 ff.; story of, 201 ff.; permanent value, 235 f.

Criticism, 66 ff.; benefits, 105 ff.; definition, 67 f.; Jesus and c.,
92 ff.; inspiration and c., 98 ff., 105.

Cyrus, 141.

David, 104.

Day of Creation, 45 f.

Decalogue, 199, 214 ff.

Deity, conception of, 165 ff., 206 f., 212; Babylonian, 165-169,
Egyptian, 169, Hebrew, 169-172; Character of D., 173 ff.

Demons, 183 f.

Devotional literature, 17 f., 242 f.

Divine element, 26 ff.

Doctrinal value, 257 f.

Ecclesiastes, 250 f.

Elephantine, 141.

Eponym lists, 153.

Esarhaddon, 140.

Excavations, 112 ff.; Assyrio-Babylonia, 112-116; Egypt, 116-118;
Palestine, 118-121; Phoenicia, 121; Moab, 121; Syria, 121; Asia Minor,
121 f.

Exile, 141.

Exodus, 128 f.

Facts versus inferences, 144 f.

Fall, 213.

Festivals, 178.

Flood, 207 ff.

Fulfillment of prophecy, 28 f.

Gains from excavations, 151 ff.; chronology, 152 f., 155; geography,
151 f.; history, 152.

Gilgamesh, 208.

Hammurabi, code of, 188 ff.

Harmonizing science with scripture, 45 ff.

Harmony between science and Genesis, 61 f.

Hezekiah, 138 f.

Higher criticism, 73 ff.; definition, 76; extra-biblical, 76 f.;
tradition and h. c., 77; importance, 78 f.; origin, 79 ff.; reformers
and h. c., 80 f.; loyalty to Christ and h. c., 82 f.; traditional, 83;
non-traditional, 83 ff.; conclusions, 85 ff.; illegitimate, 101 f.;
Jesus and h. c., 92 ff.; inspiration and h. c., 98 ff.; Moses and h.
c., 102 f.; Isaiah and h. c., 103 f.; David and h. c., 104.

Historical criticism, 72 f.

Historical literature, 19 f., 240 ff., 256 f.

Human element, 20 ff.

Ideal harmony, 52.

Illegitimate criticism, 101 f.

Imperfections, 24 f.

Inaccuracies, 23 f., 55 ff.

Infallibility, 38 f.

Inferences versus facts, 144 f.

Inspiration and criticism 98 ff., 105.

Interpretation, 39 f., 45 ff.

Isaiah, 103 f.

Jehu, 134.

Jesus, the supreme revealer, 35 ff.; limitation of knowledge, 97 f.;
criticism and J., 92 ff.; the Old Testament and Jesus, 9 f., 26, 36 f.,

Job, 247-250.

Knowledge versus assumption, 217 ff.

Legal literature, 18 f.

Legal system, Babylonian, 187 ff.; Hebrew, 195 f.; relation between the
two, 199 f.

Linguistic criticism, 70 f.

Literary criticism, 71 f.

Literature, kinds of, 15 ff., 90.

Merneptah, 128 f.

Miracles, 27 f.

Mission of Israel, 60 f.

Misuse, 231 f.

Moabite Stone, 130 ff.

Monotheism, 167 f., 218 f.

Monotheistic tendencies, 167-169.

Moral teaching, 259.

Moses, 102 f.

Nature of Old Testament, 12 f.

Nebuchadrezzar, 140 f.

Neglect, 227 f.; causes of, 229-233.

New Testament, superiority, 229 f., 254 f.; estimate of O. T., 10 f.

Old Testament, nature, 12 f.; reliability, 150 f.; as literature, 255
f.; in Christian church, 9; New Testament estimate of, 10 f.; Old
Testament and interpretation of New Testament, 257; Jesus and Old
Testament, 9 f., 26, 36 f., 234.

Omri, 130 f.

Opposition to criticism, 74 f., 82, 101.

Order of creation, 47 ff.

Patriarchal age, 154; narratives, 238 f.

Pekah, 135.

Penitential Psalms, 168.

Pentateuch, authorship of, 88 f.

Permanent value, 59 ff., 227 ff.

Polydemonism, 171.

Polytheism, 166 ff.

Priesthood, 179 f.

Prophecy, fulfilment of, 28 f.

Prophetic literature, 15 f., 253 f.

Proverbs, 245-247.

Psalms, 242-244, 261.

Purpose of Old Testament, 11 f., 53 ff., 148.

Reliability, of O. T. history, 150 f.

Religion, development of, 87.

Religious imperfections, 24 f.; r. institutions, 175 ff.

Restitution theory, 48 f.

Revelation, 53 ff.; methods of, 13 f.; progressive, 85 f.

Sabbath, 175 ff.

Sacrifice, 180 f.

Samaria, capture of, 136 f.

Sargon II, 136.

Science, 38 ff.

Sennacherib, 137 ff.

Shalmaneser III, 132 f.

Shalmaneser V, 136.

Sheol, 184 ff.

Shishak, 129 f.

Similarities, 220.

Song of Songs, 251-253.

Spiritual appeal, 29 ff.; judgment, 35 f.; unity, 29 f.

Style, 21.

Taylor Cylinder, 138 f.

Tel-el-Amarna tablets, 125 ff.

Temple, 179.

Textual criticism, 68 ff., 74.

Tiglath-pileser IV, 134 ff.

Tirhaka, 139 f.

Tithe, 180.

True religion, 260 f.

Uniqueness, 32 f.

Unity, 29 f.

Unrest, 42 ff., 232.

Use of archæological material, 143 ff.

Veracity of inscriptions, 145 f.

View point, 149 f.

Vision theory, 50 f.

Wisdom literature, 16 f., 244 ff.

Yahweh, 171 ff., 217.

Yaudi, 135.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Christian View of the Old Testament" ***

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