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the canon of the Old Testament is to be traced. The subject is too large and complex to be satisfactorily treated here, but a good compendium is readily accessible in Kitto's Biblical Cyclopædia, under the article Canon.
In the assumed absence of all external evidence, our author forms a theory of the Old Testament Scriptures not very closely in harmony, we think, with the internal evidence. The last sentence in the book thus presents it to us :
• In one word, the Old Testament Scriptures (roundly speaking) would appear to me to be a literature, unique and irrecoverable in its character; to have been exclusively begotten of, and peculiar to, one transient phase of our humanity, and that phase to have passed in the “latter days” of Rome imperial. And in this regard, perhaps, no where to be paralleled save of the dramatic writings of the Elizabethan age. Let but the same vicissitudes and lapse of time sweep o'er that too, no less gorgeous and inspired age, and, think you, will not the day come also, when will be seen, side by side with our immortal Shakspere, Beaumont, Fletcher, Jonson, the apocryphal Rowes, Lees, Southerns; and Otway, as Malachi, accounted the last of the prophets?'--P. 466.
This compact expression of the author's biblical theory contains several particulars not unworthy of more distinct notice.
First, the Old Testament Scriptures are "a literature;' secondly, they are a dramatic' literature ; thirdly, they have been exclusively
6 begotten of, and peculiar to, one transient phase of our humanity; fourthly, they belong to the latter days of Rome imperial;' fifthly, they may be paralleled with the dramatic writings of the Elizabethan age;' and sixthly, they are in no other sense inspired than are the writings of Shakspere, Beaumont, Fletcher, and Jonson.'
And does the author really believe all this? Yes, gentle reader, this is his creed, at least, the creed which he professes. The true inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures he, of course, utterly denies; he denies also their historical character. They are merely a literature, and a dramatic literature; they are also a comparatively modern dramatic literature. Thus, he says,
I think that it were very, very difficult to establish that any portions of the Old Testament Scriptures are older than, if so old as, the first or second century of the Christian era ; or that the mass of these writings had, in their integrity, any relation whatsoever, direct or indirect, to the Hebrew polity or race. As a whole, they may safely be pronounced to be the least Eastern, and the most nervous and Saion literature now extant. They would appear to me to be pre-eminently of Latin, or, rather, of Latin-Greek descent; and one moment's consideration will satisfy any impartial man that the burden of these writings is perpetually rolling upon those two terrible judgments, which were for ever dangling over the latter days” of ancient Rome-democracy and the Northmen.'—P. 457.
And in order to set forth these two “terrible judgments,' Adam and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon, cum multis aliis, are made the subjects of allegorical tales, as personifications of humanity.' We must give our readers a few specimens of these.
On the trial of our first parents in the garden of Eden he thus writes :
• The allegory, or rather the allegorical fragment, which we are here considering (for some two or three would appear to have been confounded together) is figurative of the assumption of the use of Reason ; of which the dawning evidence was an attempt to distinguish between “good” and “evil.” From which epoch is dated what is commonly called, The Fall of Man : that is to say, the time when Man became “Man” in the sublimest sense of the term, Humanity; ceasing to inherit the kingdom of eternal life, tenanted, to this hour, of the Bedouin and the brute: eternal life simply meaning the natural state of unreclaimed mortality, which alone is eternal, or invariable in its character and transmission.'--P. 450.
And thus on the history of Jacob :
* The history of Jacob would appear to embrace one whole cycle of humanity, or, the life of the "plain man.” Civilization is traced from its first struggles in the womb, through the elder alarms, duplicities, and wanderings of the days of our pilgrimage, to our reconciliation and compromise with Esau in the “latter days," and our re-entry to the land in which our fathers were a stranger.'--P. 451.
On that passage in the sixth chapter of Genesis, where, announcing the deluge, the Lord says, “I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth,' we have the following annotation :
• In a sublimer sense, Man would here seem to be employed as the personification of all animated nature, and in the sense of “all flesh.” This passage, with another which will presently be encountered, “all fleshi, wherein is the breath of life,” would tend somewhat to abate the more extravagant pretensions of our species, not only as regards particularity of origin, but exclusiveness of accountability. Man is far from being the only animal which has wandered, or apostatized from the original simplicity or savageness of his condition. And to the extent to which these animals, as the horse, the dog, the cow, may be said to have lent themselves to the pressure from without, so far may they safely be conceived alike to be answerable, for such, their apostasy:-P. 451.
The author commences his notes on the book of the Prophets' in the following manner :
* In the classification of llebrew prophecy, I found two courses open to adoption. It was practicable either to have followed a geographic or a specific distribution. For instance, all those predictions which relate to Tyre could have been classed under the head of “ Tyre;” similarly, those which relate to Egypt, Babylon, Zion, &c., could alike have been collected under their respective heads. Or, again, where the specific character of gratulation, or denunciation was, to all intents and purposes, the same, it were possible to collect all such predictions together; be the recipient Egypt, Babylon, Tyre, or any other state. This latter course has appeared to me to be the more judicious. In so doing, if these writings are to be literally and historically interpreted, I have erred: if, on the contrary, the names of these several states are but simply allegorical substitutions (as is the “ Babylon” of the Revelations for the empire of Imperial Rome), and to which the key is now in a great measure lost, then have I well done.'—P. 455.
And, accordingly, he tells us, that the very elaborate "burdens" of Egypt, Babylon, and Tyre, severally represent the genii of refinement, feudalism, and commerce, p. 455. Thus, 'the Bible is one gigantic romance, or rather a series of philosophical romances, more or less founded on fact.'
It would have been but reasonable, certainly, before such a sweeping and important conclusion was to be arrived at by the reader, to have
given him some view of the nature and force of the internal evidence by which it may be sustained. No such attempt, however, has the author made. He treats us with a portion merely, and seems to think what, we suspect, he will scarcely find true, that thinking men will take the ipse dixit of a writer who does not even avow his name, as a sufficient basis for one of the most baseless and improbable speculations ever broached to the world. Assuredly there is nothing on the face of the Old Testament Scriptures to warrant such a conception of them. They at least profess to be bond fide historical books; and it is infinitely more natural and easy to take them as what they seem, than wantonly to imagine so vast å system of artifice and fraud as must destroy even the moral character of the writers.
In one instance, indeed, the author stands evidently self-condemned. In speaking of the prophetic books, he says, “If these writings are to be literally and historically interpreted, I have erred.' Why, what does he himself do but "literally and historically interpret' them, when he says, the burden of these writings is perpetually rolling upon those two terrible judgments, which were for ever dangling over the • latter days' of ancient Rome-democracy and the Northmen?' We cannot see how this interpretation of Old Testament prophecy differs in principle from the application of it ' literally and historically made to Egypt, Babylon, and Tyre. By his own showing, therefore, it is plain that the author ‘has erred, and we cannot doubt that 'those who think’ (to use his own phrase) will make the proper use of
In one point, indeed, his conjectural ingenuity has been sufficiently fortunate, namely, in assigning the two terrible judgments of democracy and the Northmen? (we say nothing of the good taste of representing them as 'for ever dangling over the latter times of the Roman empire ') as objects of prophetical reference. It is the general belief that the irruptions of the northern nations on the Roman territory, and the French revolution of 1792, were contemplated by the Hebrew seers, although this is a very meagre and inadequate account of the scope of their visions. Sooth to say, however, our author scarcely seems to have made up his mind on this subject, for, in another passage, these two judgments are advanced to three :
* In the contemplation of the Hebrew Scriptures, three several cpochs should ever be present to the philosophic eye--1793; the early settlement of the New England States; and the incursions of the Northmen upon ancient Rome. There is scarcely a catastrophe, or combination of catastrophes, predicted in the sacred volume, which is not reducible to one or more of these three heads.'--P. 452.
In this passage we have not only the author's "scheme of prophecy' flagrantly violated by the addition of a third event to the two previously specified, but entirely broken up by the addition of an event entirely out of keeping with the others. Grave as we, in common with all other members of the critical profession, are, we can scarcely repress a smile at the mention of the early settlement of the New England States' in this connexion. Until now we did not know
either that this event was a terrible judgment,' or that it was ever dangling over the latter days of ancient Rome. Certainly history is very much indebted to the study of the internal evidence of the Old Testament Scriptures.
It is one of our author's favourite arguments for the modern character, and Latin origin, of the Old Testament writings, that they are not in keeping with Oriental manners. Here, for example, is one of his notes :
• As I do not remember, in the whole course of my life, to have ever read one single word of Persian literature or history, it would very ill become me to say that such a scene as the following could not have been enacted in an Eastern monarch's court. However, I may be permitted to observe, that such a supposition is utterly at variance with all popular impression of Eastern customs and
It is pre-eminently Gothic and German in its every tone and cast. llow strongly does it not recall the tenson of the troubadour, as it may have existed in its best days? Did ever subject address an Eastern potentate as one of these young men is represented to have done? Whoever saw him fondling with his mistress? When were women there almost deified as it seems they were at this time? How eminently feudal and chivalric is the whole scene from beginning to end. My own impression is, that the recovery of German literature and history, manners and customs, as they existed, say, from the 600th year of Rome to the second or third century of the Christian era, would be found to throw a greater light upon the sacred writings than all the literature of all the East together, perished or preserved. In the very justest proportions, they may be said to be impregnate of three most famous schools-the heroic, or Greek ; the classic, or Latin; and the romantic, or Saxon: none doth predominate; and nono doth want. That their authors had heard of such countries as Egypt, Babylon, Judea, Tyre, &c., is evident, but farther acquaintance it is hardly possible to concede to them.'-P. 466.
No one, however familiar with the Old Testament, would find himself able to recollect a passage to which the earlier part of this note could be applied; and, accordingly, on looking to the portion on which the note itself is founded, the reader finds that it is not in the Old Testament at all, but in the Apocrypha, taken from the book of Esdras, chaps. iii., iv. Now, by the best critics, the apocryphal books • are regarded as originally not of an earlier date than the second century, with interpolations which belong to the fourth or fifth.'* With respect to the passage on which he animadverts, therefore, the author's strictures may be just enough, but this proves nothing respecting the canonical books. Does this confounding of the canonical and the uncanonical books betray ignorance, or artifice ? It seems to us that it must be ascribed to the one or the other; and, in either case, the author's claim to confidence is forfeited.
That the canonical writings of the Old Testament had their origin in the first or second century of the Christian era, is a conceit utterly at variance with historical evidence, and directly contradicted by it. Tried by all the critical rules by which other literary remains of antiquity are tested, they were in existence long before that period, as the author himself, had he condescended to study the historical evi
* Kitto's · Biblical Cyclopædia,' art. Apocrypha.
dence, could not have doubted. But even on the supposition that there was no evidence of this kind, what explanation can the author give of the utter silence which succeeding ages have maintained concerning so extraordinary a fact as the generation of such a literature in the second century of the Christian era, until he himself has extorted from internal evidence alone? Of the date which he ascribes to the Hebrew Scriptures, and of the immediately following centuries, many writings are extant, and writings containing frequent references to the Hebrew Scriptures; but in not a single one of these is the theory broached of either the recent origin, or the non-historical character, of the canonical books, although the writers lived at a time when such things, if they had been true, must have been far more easily known and demonstrated than now.
We have said enough, we think, to satisfy our readers of the character of the work before us; but, before closing our notice of it, we will give one more specimen of the manner in which the author proceeds :
* To demonstrate that to the aspect of but one period, or rather of one character of period only, were for ever directed the unvarying, the unwearied burden of the sacred, historic, and prophetic page, were hard indeed; it is a theory which can be but sustained suggestively, and it is one upon which the opinions of the learned must ever be divided. Addressing myself
, rather, to the curious, the piercing and dispassionate, than to the ponderous, alarmed, argumentative, and grave, I shall attempt to sketch the train of thought which conducted me to such a conclusion.
* Firstly, it was perceived, that " as in Adam all died, so in Christ all were to rise again.” From whence it was concluded that Adam, previous to his fall
, and types of the one age; as also, that Adam, after his full, and Christ, previous to his Christ, subsequently to his resurrection, were the one personification, and, as such, resurrection, were equally the one character of type. Adam, after his fall, pertained to the family of "sin" and of “death." Christ, till his death (as having taken on himself the sins of the world), was also of the family of “ sin” and of “ death.” He rose from Adam's fall; which mystery was finely penetrated of the apostle Paul. Again: “A prophet,” says Moses, “shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye serve.” Hence, if Moses were to resemble unto Christ so must he unto Adam. These considerations afforded me a precedent for presuming that such parallels might, even yet, be farther pushed. Aware that" from Adam to Christ death reigned in the world;" conceiving, again, the "kingdom" of the “Lord's Prayer" to be one with that from which our first fathers fell, or were expatriated; I then concluded that Christ had proposed to himself the re-establishment of the pre-Adamite world; that is, of a world before the "fall,” and that that world was no other than the one to which it was forbidden to Moses to conduct the chosen race; the time was not yet. If this be once conceded, then must it necessarily follow, Christ's kingdom being the kingdom of the “stone,” that the kingdom of the "stone” were pre- Adamite in its general character. Again: Solomon was the “son of David;" Christ was the "son of David;" hence were Solomon and Christ the one or parallel characters, for things which are equal to the same are cqual to one another. If the last days” were to be the days of Christ, and if those were to be as the "days of Noah," then must the “ days of Noah" have been as the days of Christ, as the days of Moses, as the days of Solomon. If the times of Christ were the times of which “all the prophets did write;" then, not only did all the prophets write of one time, but, further, may their writings, in their general character, be naturally presumed to portray the times of Moses, the times of Noah, the times of Solomon,