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LECTURE I NOTE G.—P. 16.

ORIGIN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT VIEW—RELATION TO CRITICAL THEORIES.

Many feel that from the peculiarity of Israel’s religion referred to in last note the need will arise sooner or later for recasting the whole critical view of the development. The more rich and wonderful the religious development of the age of the prophets is shown to be, the more will it be felt necessary to postulate something in the earlier stages to account for this development—the more natural and life-like will Israel’s own account of its history appear869869Cf. Robertson’s Early Religion of Israel (Baird Lectures). An able criticism of some of Professor R. Smith’s positions in The Religion of the Semites appeared in the Edinburgh Review, April 1892.—the more impossible will it be found to explain the presence of such a development of religion at all apart from the fact of supernatural Revelation.

As it is, there is a growing acknowledgment among the critics of the most advanced school, that, date the books when we may, the religion can only be explained by Revelation. I quote from three recent works.

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H. Schultz, in his new edition of his Alttestamentliche Theologie, 1889, thus writes: “The Old Testament religion is thus only to be explained out of Revelation; that is to say, out of the fact that God raised up to this people men, in whose original religious and moral endowment, developed through the leadings of their inner and outer life, the receptivity was given for an absolutely original comprehension of the self-communicating, redeeming will of God towards men, the religious truth which makes free—not as a result of human wisdom or intellectual effort, but as an irresistible, constraining power on the soul itself. Only he who explicitly recognises this can do historical justice to the Old Testament” (p. 50).

R. Kittel, in his recent valuable Geschichte der Hebräer, 1888–92, also based, though discriminatingly, on the results of the later criticism, thus sums up on the question: “Whence did Moses derive his knowledge of God?” “The historian stands here,” he says, “before a mystery, which is almost unique in history. A solution is only to be found if in that gap a factor is inserted, the legitimacy of which can no more be proved by strict historical methods. There are points in the life of humanity where history goes over into the philosophy of history, and speculation must illuminate with its retrospective and interpreting light the otherwise permanently dark course of the historical process. Such a case is here. Only an immediate contact of God Himself with man can produce the true knowledge of God, or bring man a real stage nearer to it. For in himself man finds only the world, and his own proper ego. Neither one nor the other yields more than heathenism: the former a lower, the latter a higher form of it. Does the thought flash on Moses that God is neither the world nor the idealised image of man, but that He is the Lord of Life, of moral commands, exalted above multiplicity and the world of sense, and the Creator, who does not crush man, but ennobles him; so has he this knowledge, not out of his time, and not out of himself—he has it out of an immediate Revelation of this God in his heart.”—Geschichte, i. pp. 227, 228.

Alex. Westphal, author of an able French work, Les Sources du Pentateuque, Etude de Critique et d’Histoire, 1888–92, is another writer who uncompromisingly accepts the results of the advanced critical school. But he earnestly repudiates, in the Preface to the above work, the idea that these results destroy, and do not rather confirm, faith in Revelation, and even builds on them an argument for the historic truthfulness of the early tradition. He separates himself in this respect from the unbelieving position. “Truth to tell,” he says, “the unanimity of scholars exists only in relation to one of the solutions demanded, that of the literary problem....The position which the scholar takes up towards the books which lie studies, and his personal views on the history and the religious development of Israel, always exercise, whether he wishes it or not a considerable influence on the results of his work. However, we may be permitted to affirm, and hope one day to be able to prove, that the reply to the historic question belongs to evangelical criticism, which, illuminated by the spirit of Revelation, alone possesses all the 380factors for the solution of this grave problem. . . . Far from being dismayed by the fact that the plurality of sources involves profound modifications in our traditional notion of the Pentateuch written by Moses, we should rather see in it a providential intervention, at the moment when it is most necessary, a decisive argument in favour of the primitive history.”—Les Sources, i. Preface, p. 28.


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