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                General Introduction

                to the Old Testament:

                        The Canon

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

                     William Henry Green



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                    Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College, 2006

 

 

                                        originally published by:

                                        Charles Scribner's Sons

                                                       1898

 

 



 

          ANY ONE who addresses himself to the study of the

Old Testament will desire first to know something of

its character. It comes to us as a collection of books

which have been and still are esteemed peculiarly sa-

cred. How did they come to be so regarded? Is it

due simply to a veneration for antiquity? Is this a col-

lection of the literature of ancient Israel, which later

generations prized as a relic of early ages? Is it a

body of Hebrew literature to which sanctity was at-

tributed because of its being written in the sacred

tongue? Is it a collection of the books containing

the best thoughts of the most enlightened men of the

Israelitish nation, embodying their religious faith and

their conceptions of human duty? Or is it more than

all this? Is it the record of a divine revelation, made

through duly authorized and accredited messengers

sent of God for this purpose?

          The first topic which is considered in this volume

is accordingly that of the Canon of the Old Testament,

which is here treated not theologically but historically.

We meet at the outset two opposing views of the

growth of the canon: one contained in the statements

of the Old Testament itself, the other in the theories of

modern critics, based upon the conception that these

books gradually acquired a sacredness which did not

at first belong to them, and which did not enter into

 

                                       vii

 


viii                         PREFACE

 

the purpose for which they were written. This is

tested on the one hand by the claims which the various

writers make for themselves, and on the other by the

regard shown for these books by those to whom they

were originally given. The various arguments urged

by critics in defence of their position that the canon

was not completed nor the collection made until sev-

eral centuries after the time traditionally fixed and

currently believed are considered; and reasons are

given to show that it might have been and probably

was collected by Ezra and Nehemiah or in their time.

The question then arises as to the books of which

the Old Testament properly consists. Can the books

of which it was originally composed be certainly iden-

tified? And are they the same that are now in the

Old Testament as we possess it, and neither more nor

less? This is answered by tracing in succession the

Old Testament as it was accepted by the Jews, as it

was sanctioned by our Lord and the inspired writers

of the New Testament, and as it has been received in

the Christian Church from the beginning. The Apoc-

rypha though declared to be canonical by the Council

of Trent, and accepted as such by the Roman Catholic

Church, are excluded from the canon by its history

traced in the manner just suggested as well as by the

character of their contents, which is incompatible with

the idea of their authors being divinely inspired.

 

 

          PRINCETON, N. J.,

                    October 3, 1898.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                             TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                              PAGE

HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTA-

          MENT                                                                                          1

                Introduction, the term and the science modern; the early

          Christians, Origen, Augustin, Jerome, 1; Adrian, Eucherius,

          Cassiodorus; after the Reformation, Walther, Walton,

          Hobbes, Spinoza, Richard Simon, Carpzov, 2; Eichhorn,

          Jann, Herbst, Welte, DeWette, 3; Hengstenberg, Haver-

          nick, Horne; Keil, Kurtz, Nosgen, Bleek, Stahelin, 4; Reuss,

          Wellhausen, Kuenen; Strack, Konig; A. Zahn, Rupprecht,

          Hoedemaker, Stosch; S. Davidson, Robertson Smith, Driv-

          er; Douglas, Valpy French and his collaborators,                            5.

 

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTA-

          MENT                                                                                          7

               Introduction defined and limited; general and special;

          canon and text, 7, 8.

 

             THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

                                               I.

 

THE CANON                                                                                         9

          Derivation and meaning of the word canon, 9, 10.

 

                                               II.

TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE IN REGARD TO THE FORMATION

          OF THE CANON                                                                         11

                Directions by Moses respecting the law, 11; thenceforth

          divinely authoritative, 12, 13; addition by Joshua, 13;

          Samuel, 14; the law in the temple, other copies of the law,

          15, 16; books of the prophets also canonical, recapitulation,

          17, 18.

 

                                                 ix

 


                                           CONTENTS

                                               

                                                    III.                                                                                          

                                                                                                              PAGE

THE CRITICAL THEORY OF THE FORMATION OF THE CANON     19

                 Eichhorn admitted that the law was canonical from the

          time of Moses; this denied by more recent critics, 19; Deu-

          teronomy canonized under Josiah, the entire Pentateuch

          under Ezra as the first canon, 20; a second canon of the

          prophets much later, 21; the hagiographa, a third canon,

          later still, 22; argued, 1, from late origin of certain books;

          2, the threefold division of the canon, 23; 3, the Samari-

          tan canon; 4, the Synagogue lessons, 24; 5, the law, or the

          law and the prophets, used to denote the whole Old Testa-

          ment; 6, order of books in 2d and 3d divisions; 7, books

          disputed, 25.

 

                                                 IV. 

TILE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE IN THE FORMATION OF THE

          CANON                                                                                       26

                Prime error of the critics, Ewald, Dillmann, 26, 27;

          Eichhorn, early national literature, 28; Hitzig, Hebrew lit-

          erature, 29; religious character, Robertson Smith, 30, 31;

          claim made by the books of the Old Testament, 32; the law

          regarded from the first as a divine revelation, 33; so like-

          wise the books of the prophets, 34; this not a theological

          speculation, but a historical fact, 35, 36.

 

                                                      V.

THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                                                             37

                 Testimony of Josephus, 37; not merely his private opin-

          ion, 38; his mistake regarding the Persian kings, 39; he

          ascribes prophetic power to John Hyrcanus; critical allega-

          tions, presumption against them from the common belief

          of the Jewish nation, 40; Chronicles, no proof of late date

          from its genealogies, 41; Ezra and Nehemiah, the title

          King of Persia, 42-44; Jaddua, Darius the Persian, 45-48;

          the days of Nehemiah; Ezra iv. 6-23, 49, 50; Ezra vii.

          1-10, 51, 52; long periods passed over in silence, 52; Ec-

          clesiastes, governmental abuses, 53; its language and ideas,

          54, 55; Esther, 55, 56; Daniel, statement of Delitzsch, 56;

          historical objections, a, put in the hagiographa, 57; b, not

 

 


                                    CONTENTS                                                                  xi

                                                                                                              PAGE

          mentioned by the son of Sirach, 58; c, third year of Je-

          hoiakim, i. 1; d, Chaldeans, a caste of wise men, 59; e,

          Belshazzar, king and son of Nebuchadnezzar, 60-65; f,

          Darius the Mede, 66; g, the books, ix. 2; h, other indica-

          tions of late date, 67; language of the book, 68-70; pre-

          dictions of the remote future, 71, 72; specific predictions

          do not end with Antiochus Epiphanes, 73; blends with

          Messiah's reign as usual in prophecy, 74; the compromise

          attempted is futile, 75; genuine predictions admitted and

          traditional basis assumed, 76; Maccabean Psalms, 77; the

          statement of Josephus and the belief of the Jews not dis-

          proved, 78.

 

                                               VI. 

THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON                                    79

 

                The prologue to Ecclesiasticus, 79; fourfold division of

          the Septuagint; the Hebrew division based, not on the

          character of the books, nor various grades of inspiration,

          but the official status of the writers, 80, 81; Dillmann's

          objection; Moses Stuart, 82, 83; Ezra, Nehemiah, Chroni-

          cles, Daniel, 84-86; Lamentations, 87; Strack's objections,

          88; origin of the number 22, views of critics, 89, 90; con-

          clusion, 91, 92.

 

                                              VII. 

WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED          93

                Authority of the books not dependent on their collec-

          tion; Elias Levitt ascribed the collection to Ezra and the

          Great Synagogue, 93; the passage from Baba Bathra, 94,

          95; theory of modern critics, 96 ; its mistakes corrected, 97;

          critics urge, 1, Ezra only bound the people to obey the law,

          98; 2, Samaritans only acknowledge the Pentateuch, 99;

          3, Scriptures read in the Synagogue, 100; 4, usage of terms

          "the law" and "the law and the prophets," 101, 102; 5,

          arguments based on certain critical conclusions: (1) dis-

          crepancies between Chronicles and Samuel or Kings; (2)

          composite character of Isaiah, 103, 104 ; (3) Zech. ix.–xiv.;

          (4) Daniel, 105; (5) books of prophets not canonical until

          prophecy had ceased, 106; it is alleged (1) that none of the

          k’thubhim were admitted until the second division was

 


xii                                         CONTENTS

                                                                                                              PAGE

          closed, 107; (2) late date of some books; (3) Chronicles pre-

          ceded by Ezra and Nehemiah, 108; (4) additions to Esther

          and Daniel; canonization not to be confounded with col-

          lection, Bellarmin, 109, 110; prologue to Ecclesiasticus,

          111; attempts to weaken its force, 112; 2 Esdras xiv. 21

          ff., 113; 2 Mace. ii. 13, 114; 1, Ezra the scribe, 115; 2, needs

          of the period following the exile, 116; 3, private collections

          already existed ; 4, all the sacred books then written; 5, the

          cessation of prophecy, 117, 118.

 

                                                 VIII. 

THE EXTENT OF THE CANON-THE CANON OF THE JEWS              119

                Division of the subject; the Talmud, 119; Josephus,

          120-122; the canon of the Samaritans, 122; the Sadducees,

          123; Essenes, Therapeute, 124; Alexandrian Jews, 124-

          126; the Septuagint, 127, 128; the notion that there was no

          defined canon in Alexandria, 129; Movers argues for an en-

          larged canon in Palestine, 130; disputations in the Talmud,

          131-136; Baruch and Ecclesiasticus have no sanction in the

          Talmud, 137; critical perplexity respecting the admission

          of Daniel and rejection of Ecclesiasticus, 138; passages

          from the Talmud, 138-140.

 

                                                 IX. 

THE CANON OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES                                   141

                They sanction the Jewish canon negatively; and positive-

          ly, 1, by express statements, 141; 2, general references, 142;

          3, direct citation, 143; this the highest possible proof of its

          correctness, 144; use of Septuagint, 1, not sanction its in-

          accuracies; 2, not liable to be misunderstood; 3, not quote

          the Apocrypha, 145; alleged traces of acquaintance with

          the Apocrypha, 146, 147; Jude vs. 14, 15 from Book of

          Enoch; Jude ver. 9, 148; James iv. 6; 1 Cor. ii. 9, 149;

          Eph. v. 14; John vii. 38, 150; Luke xi. 49; 2 Tim. iii. 8,

          151; Mat. xxvii. 9; Wildeboer's extravagant conclusion,

          152; sacred books of the Jews distinguished from all others,

          153; allegation that some books were still disputed, 154; at-

          titude of the New Testament to the Old, 155, 156.

 


                               CONTENTS                                                                      xiii

                                                                                                              PAGE

THE CANON OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH                                      157

 

              


Question between Roman Catholics and Protestants, 157;

          decision of Christ the supreme authority; meaning of ca-

          nonical, 158; and apocryphal, 159, 160; catalogue of Melito,

          160, 161; Justin Martyr, Syriac version, 162; Origen, Ter-

          tullian, 163; Council of Laodicea, 164; fourth century

          catalogues, 165, 166; Augustin, Councils of Hippo and

          Carthage, 167-174; testimony of the first four centuries,

          175; the Greek Church; the Western Church, 176; Cardi-

          nals Ximenes and Cajetan, 177; Innocent L, Gelasius,

          178; Council at Florence; Council of Trent, 179; Apoc-

          rypha in popular usage, 180; included in early versions,

          181, 182; read in the churches, 183-185; quoted by the

          fathers, 185, 186; under the same titles as the canonical

          books, 187-189; attributed to prophets or inspired men, 189,

          190 ; proto-canonical, and deutero-canonical; doctrine of

          the Roman Catholic. Church; the Greek Church, 191; Prot-

          estant Churches, 192; the apocryphal controversy, 193, 194.

         

                                                XI.

THE APOCRYPHA CONDEMNED BY INTERNAL EVIDENCE           195

                Value of internal evidence; Tobit, Judith, 195,196; Wis-

          dom, Ecclesiasticus, 197, 198; Maccabees, 199; Additions

          to Esther and Daniel, 200.

 

                                                XII.

ORDER AND NUMBER OF THE CANONICAL BOOKS                     201

                Inferences from Eccles. xii. 12-14; Matt. xxiii. 35, 201;

          and Luke xxiv. 44, 202; Talmudic order of the prophets,

          202-205; of the hagiographa; greater and lesser k'thubhim,

          206; Massoretic arrangement; German manuscripts; Je-

          rome, 207; the Septuagint; varied enumeration, 208, 209.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 TREATISES CONSULTED ON THE

                                          CANON

 

          THESE treatises are arranged in the order of their

publication, that their position in the discussion may be

seen at a glance.

 

BISHOP Costri: A. Scholastical History of the Canon, 1672.

J. D. MICHAELIS: Review of Oeder's Freye Untersuchung uber

          einige Bucher des Alten Testaments, in the Orientalische und

          Exegetische Bibliothek, No. 2, 1772.

J. D. MICHAELIS: Review of Semler's Abhandlung von freyer Unter-

          suchung des Canon, in the same, No. 3, 1772.

J. D. MICHAELIS: Review of Hornemann's Observationes ad illus-

          trationem doctrines de Canone Veteris Testamenti ex Philone, in

          the same, No. 9, 1775.

J. G. EICHHORN: Historische Untersuchung uber den Kanon des

          Alten Testaments, in the Repertorium fur Biblische und Morgen-

          landische Litteratur, No. 5, 1779.

J. G. EICHHORN: Review of Corrodi's Versuch einer Beleuchtung

          der Geschichte des Jfidischen und Christlichen Bibel-Kanons, in

          the Allgemeine Bibliothek der Biblischen Litteratur, Vol. 4,

          1792.

J. G. EICHHORN: Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 3d Ed., 1803;

          4th Ed., 1823.

G. L. BAUER: Einleitung in die Schriften des Alten Testaments, 3d

          Ed., 1806.

L. BERTHOLDT: Einleitung in das Alte und Neue Testament, 1812.

E. W. HENGSTENBERG: Die Authentie des Daniel, 1831.

H. A. C. HAVERNICK: Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 1836.

J. G. HERBST: Einleitung in das Alte Testament, edited by B.

          Welte, 1840.

F. C. MOVERS: Loci quidam Historix Canonis Veteris Testamenti

          illustrati, 1842.

MOSES STUART: Critical History and Defence of the Old Testament

          Canon, 1845.

 

                                                  xv


xvi            TREATISES CONSULTED ON THE CANON

 

W. M. L. DE WETTE: Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 6th Ed.,

          1845; 8th Ed. by E. Schrader, 1869.

L. HERZFELD: Geschichte des Volkes Israel, Vol. I., 1847 ; Vol. III.,

          1863.

A. MCCLELLAND: Canon and Interpretation of the Holy Scriptures,

          1850.

A. ALEXANDER: The Canon of the Old and New Testaments, 1851.

P. F. KEERL: Die Apokryphen des Alten Testaments, 1852.

K. F. KEIL: Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 1853; 2d Ed. trans-

          lated into English by G. C. M. Douglas, 1869.

H. EWALD: Ueber das suchen und finden sogenannter Makka-

          baischer Psalmen, in the Jahrbucher der Biblischen Wissen-

          schaf t, 1854.

H. EWALD: Ueber die Heiligkeit der Bibel, in the same, 1855.

B. WELTE: Bemerkungen uber die Entstehung des alttest. Canons,

          in the Theologische Quartalschrift, 1855.

P. DE JONG: Disquisitio de Psalmis Maccabaicis, 1857.

G. F. OEHLER: Kanon des Alten Testaments, in Herzog's Real-

          Encyklopadie, Vol. VII., 1857.

A. DILLMANN: Ueber die Bildung der Sammlung heiliger Schriften

          Alten Testaments, in the Jahrbucher fur Deutsche Theologie,

          Vol. III., 1858.

F. BLEEK: Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 1860; 4th Ed. by J.

          Wellhausen, 1878.

B. F. WESTCOTT: The Canon of Scripture, in Smith's Dictionary of

          the Bible, 1860.

B. F. WESTCOTT: The Bible in the Church, 1866.

J. FURST: Der Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Ueberliefer-

          ungen in Talmud und Midrasch, 1868.

L. DIESTEL: Geschichte des Alten Testamentes in der Christlichen

          Kirche, 1869.

C. EHRT: Abfassungszeit und Abschluss des Psalters, 1869.

J. DERENBOURG: L'Histoire et la Geographic de la Palestine d'aprês

          les Thalmuds et les autres Sources Rabbiniques, 1869.

H. STEINER: Kanon des Alten Testaments, in Schenkel's Bibel-

          Lexicon, 1871.

I. S. BLOCH: Geschichte der Sammlung der Althebraischen Litera-

          tur, 1876.

W. L. ALEXANDER: Canon, in Kitto's Cyclopaedia of Biblical

          Literature, 1876.

L. STRACK: Kanon des Alten Testaments, in Herzog-Plitt's Real-

          Encyklopadie, Vol. VII., 1880.

S. DAVIDSON: The Canon of the Bible, 1880.

 


                 TREATISES CONSULTED ON THE CANON                            xvii

 

W. ROBERTSON SMITH: The Old Testament in the Jewish Church,

          1st Ed., 1881; 2d Ed., 1892.

G. A. MARX (DALMAN): Traditio Rabbinorum Veterrima de Li-

          brorum Veteris Testamenti Ordine atque Origine, 1884.

F. BUHL: Kanon and Text des Alten Testaments, 1891.

S. R. DRIVER: An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testa-

          ment, 1st Ed., 1891; 6th Ed., 1897.

H. E. RYLE: The Canon of the Old Testament, 1892.

E. KONIG:  Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 1893.

G. WILDEBOER: The Origin of the Canon of the Old Testament.

          Translated by B. W. Bacon, edited by G. F. Moore, 1895.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD

                                 TESTAMENT1

 

          INTRODUCTION, as a technical term, is of comparatively

modern date, and borrowed from the German. It was

introduced as a generic designation of those studies,

which are commonly regarded as preliminary to the

interpretation of the Scriptures. As a science or a

branch of systematic learning, Introduction is of mod-

ern growth. The early Christian writers were either

not sufficiently aware of its importance, or imperfectly

provided with the means of satisfactorily treating it.

Their attention was directed chiefly to the doctrinal

contents of Scripture, and it was only when the genu-

ineness or divine authority of some part or the whole

was called in question, that they seem to have con-

sidered these preliminary subjects as at all impor-

tant; as for instance, when the attack upon the Penta-

teuch by Celsus, and on Daniel by Porphyry, excited

Origen and others to defend them, an effect extending

only to the Evidences of Revealed Religion and the

Canon of Scripture. The most ancient writings that

can be described as general treatises upon this subject

are by the two most eminent Fathers of the fourth

century, Augustin and Jerome. The four books of the

 

          1 This brief sketch is extracted from an unpublished lecture of my

former friend, preceptor, and colleague, Dr. Joseph Addison Alex-

ander, for many years the ornament and pride of Princeton Theologi-

cal Seminary. It was written in 1843, and is here inserted as a

memento of a brilliant scholar and in humble acknowledgment of

indebtedness to his instructions.

 


2             HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION

 

former de Doctrina Christiana contain, according to his

own description, praecepta tractandarum Scripturarum,

and belong therefore chiefly to Hermeneutics. He was

ignorant of Hebrew, but his strength of intellect and in-

genuity enabled him to furnish many valuable maxims

of interpretation. Jerome's book was called "Libellus

de optimo interpretandi genere." It is chiefly contro-

versial and of much less value than Augustin's.

          The first work which appeared under the name of

Introduction was in Greek, the Ei]sagwgh> ei]j ta>j qei<aj

grafa<j of Adrian. Its date is doubtful, and its contents

restricted to the style and diction of the sacred writers.

An imperfect attempt to methodize the subject was

made by Eucherius, Bishop of Lyons, in the fifth cen-

tury; but the first important advance was made in the

sixth century by Cassiodorus, a Benedictine monk, in

his work "De Institutione Divinarum Scripturarum,"

which treats especially the subject of the Canon and of

Hermeneutics, and was the standard work in this de-

partment through the Middle Ages.

          The philological branches of the subject were first

treated in detail after the Reformation. The earliest

important works of this kind were the "Officina Biblica

of Walther" in 1636, and Bishop Walton's "Prolego-

mena to the London Polyglott" in 1657, which is par-

ticularly rich in reference to Biblical Philology and

Criticism. The insidious attacks on the divine author-

ity of Scripture by Hobbes and Spinoza, in the latter

part of the seventeenth century, called forth as its pro-

fessed defender Richard Simon, a Romish priest of

great ingenuity and considerable learning, but of un-

sound principles. His Critical Histories of the Old and

New Testaments provoked much censure, and gave oc-

casion to the first systematic Introduction to the Old

Testament, that of Carpzov, which appeared in 1721,

 


               HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION                                  3

 

and is chiefly occupied with the evidences of revealed

religion and with hermeneutics.

          In the eighteenth century, Introduction rose to great

importance, and the writers on it exercised great influ-

ence. The principles which Simon had obscurely rec-

ommended, were avowed and carried out by Semler

and his followers, who introduced a general scepticism

as to the canonical authority of some books and the in-

spiration of the whole. The Bible now began to be

studied and expounded as a classic, with reference

merely to the laws of taste. Upon this principle the

great work of Eichhorn was constructed, the first com-

plete Introduction to the books of the Old Testament,

the influence of which has been incalculably great in

giving an infidel character to modern German exegesis.

The counteracting influence of Jahn, a learned Roman

Catholic professor at Vienna, has been lessened by his

great inferiority to Eichhorn, both in taste and genius,

and his equal want of judgment as to some important

points. Another valuable work on Introduction from a

Roman Catholic source is that of Herbst, Professor in

Tubingen, edited after the author's death by his col-

league Welte in 1840, and greatly improved by his sound

conservative additions. Eichhorn's work, which first ap-

peared in 1780, and in a fourth edition more than forty

years after, is in several volumes; but the same general

principles of unbelief are taught in a compendious form

with great skill and talent by De Wette, one of the

most eminent of living German theologians.1  His In-

troduction to the Old Testament, filling a moderate

octavo, is convenient as presenting a compendious view

of the whole subject, with minute and ample references

to the best authorities. His views, however, as to in-

 

          1 De Wette died 1849.

 


4          HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION

 

spiration are completely Hengstenberg, Profes-

sor at Berlin, a leading writer of the Christian or be-

lieving school, began a conservative reaction on the

Protestant side by publishing at intervals a series of

works upon detached parts of the subject; and one of

his pupils, Havernick of Rostock, with the same prin-

ciples as Hengstenberg, but less clear and judicious,

has just finished a systematic work upon the whole of it.

It may be proper to add that most of the works which

have been described or mentioned comprehend only a

part of Introduction in its widest sense, the application

of the name being different as to extent in different sys-

tems. Almost all the systematic works on Introduction

exclude Antiquities or Archaeology, as so extensive and

so unconnected with the others as to be treated more

conveniently apart. This is not the case, however, with

the only comprehensive work in English on the general

subject, that of Horne—a work which cannot be too highly

recommended for the soundness of its principles, its

Christian spirit, its methodical arrangement, and the

vast amount of valuable information which it certainly

contains. Its faults are that it is a compilation, and as

such contains opinions inconsistent with each other,

and in some cases even contradictory, and also that the

style is heavy, and the plan too formal and mechanically

systematic.

         

          Little need be added to this sketch, written more than

fifty years ago. The reaction begun by Hengstenberg,

was vigorously continued by Keil and Kurtz, and after

them by Noesgen. Bleek and Stahelin, who still be-

longed to the elder school of critics, were disposed to

take a moderate position, and to recede from some of the

more advanced conclusions of their predecessors. This

tendency was suddenly checked, however, by the rise

 


                       HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION                        5

 

of the extreme school of Reuss, Wellhausen, and Kue-

nen, which is now in the ascendant; so that even evan-

gelical scholars, like Strack and Konig, largely accept

their conclusions, and seek to reconcile them with faith

in the inspiration of the Scriptures. An able and de-

termined revolt against these destructive opinions has of

late been initiated by prominent university-bred pastors,

such as Adolph Zahn of Stuttgart, Edouard Rupprecht

of Bavaria, Hoedemaker of Amsterdam, and Stosch of

Berlin, who stand on thoroughly conservative ground.

          In Great Britain a tenth edition of Horne's Introduc-

tion was prepared by Dr. Samuel Davidson, and largely

rewritten by him with a large infusion of German learn-

ing and critical ideas, though still maintaining conser-

vative positions. Subsequently he published an Intro-

duction of his own, in which his former conservative

conclusions were completely reversed. It was, however,

the brilliant and eloquent Robertson Smith, Professor

at Aberdeen and then at Cambridge, who was chiefly

instrumental in introducing advanced critical opinions

among English readers. Dr. Driver's Introduction to

the Literature of the Old Testament has contributed

still further to spread these views, and give them that

measure of popularity to which they have attained. Yet

conservative views have not lacked stanch defenders, as

in "Isaiah One and his Book One," by Principal Douglas

of Glasgow, and "Lex Mosaica," edited by Dr. Valpy

French, with nearly a score of able collaborators.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

           GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE

                          OLD TESTAMENT

 

          INTRODUCTION to the Old Testament in the widest

sense of the term would include whatever is preliminary

or auxiliary to the exegetical study and correct under-

standing of this portion of the sacred volume. But the

subjects which would thus be embraced within it are

too numerous and of too heterogeneous a character to

be profitably pursued together, or to be classed under a

single name. It is accordingly in ordinary usage re-

stricted to a definite range of subjects, viz.: those which

concern the literary history and criticism of the Old

Testament. Other branches important to the interpre-

ter, such as Biblical Geography, Antiquities, and Nat-

ural History, Apologetics, and Hermeneutics can best

be treated separately.

          Introduction, in the limited and technical sense already

explained, is divided into General and Special. General

Introduction has to do with those topics which concern

the entire volume considered as a whole; Special Intro-

duction with those which relate to its several parts, or

to the individual books of which it consists, such as

the questions of date, authorship, integrity or freedom

from adulteration, the character of the composition,

etc.

          General Introduction to the Old Testament, which is

the subject of the present volume, is an inquiry into

          I. The Collection and Extent of the Canon.

          II. The History and Criticism of the Text.

          The history of the text must be traced both in respect

       

                                               7

 


8                    GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

to its external form and its internal substance. In

studying the former it is necessary to consider

          1. The original form of the text, or the Languages in

which it was written.

          2. The mode of its transmission, viz., by Manuscripts.

          3. The additional forms in which it exists, viz.,

Ancient Versions.

          This must be followed by an examination into

          4. The internal history of the substance of the text

and its present condition.

          The way is now prepared for

          5. The Criticism of the text, or a consideration of

the means available for the detection and correction of

any errors which may have crept into it, the proper

mode of their application and the result accomplished

by them.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

 

                                              I

 

                                    THE CANON

 

          THE Old Testament consists of a number of separate

books or treatises, which were written by different

authors at various periods of time. The questions nat-

urally arise, Why have they all been united thus in one

volume? When and how did this take place? Are all

that it contains rightfully included in it? Does it con-

tain all the books that properly belong to it?

          This collection of books is naturally called the Canon

of the Old Testament. This term is derived from the

Greek word kanw<n, which originally denoted "any

straight rod," whence it was applied to a rod used in

measuring, as a carpenter's rule; and thence metaphori-

cally to any rule whatever, "anything that serves to reg-

ulate or determine other things," as the rules or canons

of grammar or of rhetoric; and the best Greek writers

were by the Alexandrian grammarians called "canons,"

as being models or standards of literary excellence.1  It

occurs in two passages in the New Testament (Gal. vi.

16; 2 Cor. x. 13-16), in the sense of rule or measure. In

the writings of the Christian Fathers the expressions

"the canon of the church," "the canon of the truth,"

"the canon of the faith," are used to denote the body of

 

          1 Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon, s.v.

 

                                      9

 


10                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

Christian doctrine as forming the recognized rule of

belief. In like manner "the canon of Scripture," or "the

canonical Scriptures," became the accepted designation

of that body of writings which constitutes the inspired

rule of faith and practice.1  The assertion of Semler,

Eichhorn, and others, that "canon" simply means list

in this connection, and that canonical or canonized books

denotes the list of books sanctioned by the Church to

be read in public worship, overlooks the primary and

proper signification of the term.

 

          1 The history and usage of this word is very carefully traced by K

A. Credner. Zur Geschichte des Kanons, pp. 1-68.

 


 

 

 

 

 

                                       II

 

TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE IN REGARD TO THE

               FORMATION OF THE CANON

 

 

          WHILE the Bible does not profess to give a complete

history of the formation of the Canon, it contains impor-

tant statements concerning it, which must have their

place in any reliable account of the matter; otherwise

all will be left to vague conjecture and arbitrary theoriz-

ing. Express provision is said to have been made both

for the careful custody of the first completed portion of

the sacred canon, and for making the people acquainted

with its contents.  "And it came to pass, when Moses

had made an end of writing the words of this law in a

book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded

the Levites, who bare the ark of the covenant of Jeho-

vah, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it by the

side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God,

that it may be there for a witness against thee" (Deut.

xxxi. 24-26). It was thus placed in the charge of the

priests to be kept by them along side of the most sacred

vessel of the sanctuary, and in its innermost and holiest

apartment. This was in accordance with the usage of

the principal nations of antiquity. The Romans, Greeks,

Phoenicians, Babylonians, and Egyptians had their

sacred writings, which were jealously preserved in

their temples, and entrusted to the care of officials spe-

cially designated for the purpose. Moses also com-

manded the priests and elders of the people "At the

end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of

 

                                         11

 


12              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is

come to appear before Jehovah thy God in the place

which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all

Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, the men

and the women and the little ones, and thy stranger that

is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they

may learn, and fear Jehovah your God, and observe to

do all the words of this law; and that their children,

which have not known, may hear, and learn to fear Jeho-

vah your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye

go over Jordan to possess it" (Deut. xxxi. 10-13). And

it was still further enjoined that the future king should

"write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that

which is before the priests the Levites; and it shall be

with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his

life; that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God, to keep

all the words of this law and these statutes to do them"

(Deut. xvii. 18, 19). And the following direction was

given to Joshua, the immediate successor of Moses in

the leadership of the people:  "This book of the law shall

not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate

therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do

according to all that is written therein" (Josh. i. 8).

          According to the uniform testimony of all the sacred

historians, the law of Moses, thus carefully guarded and

made obligatory upon the people and their rulers, was

ever after regarded as canonical and divinely authorita-

tive, and that even in the most degenerate times. The

punctilious obedience rendered to it by Joshua is re-

peatedly noticed in the course of his life (e.g., Josh. xi.

15). Canaanites were left in the land to prove Israel

"whether they would hearken unto the commandments

of Jehovah, which he commanded their fathers by the

hand of Moses" (Judg. iii. 4). Saul forfeited his king-

dom by failing to comply with a requirement of the law,

 


                  TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE                                13

 

which Samuel had charged him to execute (1 Sam. xv.).

David charged Solomon to obey the law of Moses (1

Kin. ii. 3). David is repeatedly commended for keep-

ing the law (1 Kin. iii. 14, ix. 4, xi. 34, 38). Solomon's

compliance with the law of Moses in the worship insti-

tuted in the temple is noted (2 Chron. viii. 13); and he

impressed upon the people their obligation to obey it

(1 Kin. viii. 56-58, 61). The prophet Ahijah denounced

Jeroboam for his disobedience to the commandments of

Jehovah (1 Kin. xiv. 7-16). King Asa commanded the

people to keep the law (2 Chron. xiv. 4). Jehoshaphat

sent a deputation throughout all the cities of Judah to

teach the people the book of the law (2 Chron. xvii. 9).

The law of Moses was observed under Joash (2 Chron.

xxiii. 18, xxiv. 6). Amaziah is said to have acted in ac-

cordance with the law of Moses (2 Kin. xiv. 6; 2 Chron.

xxv. 4). Hezekiah kept the commandments which Je-

hovah commanded Moses (2 Kin. xviii. 6; 2 Chron. xxx.

16). Manasseh's gross transgressions of the law of

Moses were denounced by the prophets (2 Kin. xxi. 2-

16). Josiah bound the people in solemn covenant to

obey the law of Moses (2 Kin. xxiii. 3, 24, 25; 2 Chron.

xxxi v. 14, 30-32). The exile of both Israel and Judah

is attributed to their infractions of the law of Moses (2

Kin. xvii. 7-23, xviii. 12; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 8; Dan. ix. 11,

13; Neh. i. 7-9, ix. 14-30). The first colony of returned

exiles recognized the authority of the law of Moses

(Ezra iii. 2, vi. 16-48). The book of the law was read

and expounded to the people by Ezra and the Levites

(Neh. viii. 1-8), and all solemnly pledged themselves to

obey it (Neh. x. 28, 29, xiii. 1-3).

          We read of an addition being made to the book of

the law in Josh. xxiv. 26:  "And Joshua wrote these

words in the book of the law of God." The reference

is to the covenant transaction at Shechem, in which

 


14              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

the people are reminded of what Jehovah had done for

their fathers and for themselves, and they in turn

pledged to him their faithful service. It was an ap-

propriate appendix to the law, recording God's gracious

leadings and the fulfilment of his promises, and the

engagement of the people to obey his requirements.

It would thus, like the law itself, be a witness against

the people in all time to come, if they forsook the

LORD.

          No mention is made of any subsequent addition to

the book of the law, but a fact is stated in 1 Sam. x.

25, which is of some consequence in this connection.

It is there said that upon the selection of Saul to

be king, "Samuel told the people the manner of the

kingdom," i.e., he expounded to them the regulations

belonging to this new form of government, the rights

and duties of both the king and his subjects, "and wrote

it in a book and laid it up before Jehovah." This im-

portant paper relating to the constitution of the mon-

archy in Israel was deposited for safe-keeping in the

sacred tabernacle. It is an act analogous to that of

Moses in making a similar disposition of the funda-

mental constitution of Israel as the people of God, and

so far confirmatory of it. It has sometimes been in-

ferred that what was thus done with a paper of national

importance, must a fortiori have been also done with

each fresh addition to the volume of God's revelation;

and as a complete canon of Scripture was preserved in

the second temple,1 so the pre-exilic sanctuary must have

contained a standard copy, not merely of the law of

Moses, but of the whole word of God, as far as it was

written. There is, however, no historical confirmation

of this conjecture.

 

          1 Josephus, Ant., iii. 1, 7, v. 1, 17; Jewish War, vii. 5, 5; Life of

Josephus, § 75.

 


                  TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE                                   15

 

          When the temple of Solomon was built, the copy of

the law previously kept in the tabernacle was without

doubt transferred to it. The direction which placed it

in the custody of the priests was still in force, and the

change of the sanctuary made no alteration in the sacred-

ness of what had before been deposited in it. This is

not disproved, as has been alleged,1 by 1 Kin. viii. 9

and the parallel passage 2 Chron. v. 10, where it is

declared that "there was nothing in the ark" when it

was removed to the temple "save the two tables of stone,

which Moses put there at Horeb." The book of the

law was put (dc.ami) "by the side of the ark," not within

it. Whether it was still put by the side of the ark, af-

ter this was deposited in the temple and was no longer

liable to be transported from place to place, cannot be

certainly known. But that it was kept somewhere in

the temple appears from the express mention of it in

2 Kin. xxii. 8. It is there stated that the book of the

law, explicitly identified with the law of Moses (xxiii.

24, 25), which had been neglected and lost sight of dur-

ing the ungodly reigns of Manasseh and Amon, was

found again in the temple in the reign of Josiah. This

was but a short time before the destruction of the city

and temple by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonish

captivity.

          In all probability the book of the law belonging to

the temple perished when the temple was burned (2

Kin. xxv. 9), but this did not involve the destruction of

the law itself, numerous copies of which must have

been in existence. Every king was required to have

one for his own use (Deut. xvii. 18). The kings of

Judah, who are commended for observing the law, must

have possessed it. And it is explicitly stated that in

the coronation of king Joash Jehoiada, the high priest,

 

          1 De Wette's Einleitung (6th edition), § 14, note f.

 


16                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

gave him "the crown and the testimony." The testi-

mony can only mean here as elsewhere the law as an

authoritative declaration of the will of God (Ps. xix. 7,

lxxviii. 5; 1 Kin. 3; 2 Kin. xxiii. 3). The transaction

described was the formal presentation to a monarch,

upon his accession to the throne, of a copy of the law

to be the guide of his reign. The judges appointed by

Jehoshaphat were to decide questions arising under

the law (2 Chron. xix. 10), and must have been able to

make themselves familiar with its contents.  The com-

mission sent by him to visit the cities of Judah took a

copy of the law with them (2 Chron. xvii. 8, 9). Solo-

mon's urgent admonition to the people to walk in the

statutes of Jehovah and to keep his commandments as-

sumes their knowledge of what they were expected to

obey (1 Kin. viii. 61). The numerous allusions to the

law in all the subsequent books of the Old Testament1

indicate familiarity with it on the part of the sacred

writers. Ps. i. 42 describes the pious by saying "his

delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he doth

meditate day and night." The admiration and affection

for the law expressed in such passages as Ps. xix. 7-11,

xl. 7, 8,3 and the exhortations and rebukes of the proph-

ets based upon the requirements of the law imply an

acquaintance with it such as could only be produced by

its diffusion among the people. In the persecution of

Antiochus Epiphanes various persons were found to be

in possession of the sacred books;4 the same was

doubtless the case in the period now under review.

The returning exiles governed themselves by the direc-

 

          1 See my Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch, pp. 52-58.

          2 This Psalm is certainly older than Jeremiah, who makes use of

ver. 3 in xvii. 8.

          3 These Psalms are ascribed to David in their titles, the correctness

of which there is no good reason for discrediting.

          4 1 Macc. i. 56, 57. Josephus, Ant., iii. 5, 4.

 


                     TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE                               17

 

lions of the law of Moses (Ezra iii. 2, vi. 18); and Ezra

came up from captivity with the law of God in his

hand (vii. 14), facts which sufficiently prove that the law

had neither perished nor lost its authority.

          But the law of Moses was not the only book that was

invested with divine authority. It will be sufficient

here to note the fact that the prophets were acknowl-

edged messengers of Jehovah, who spoke in his name

and at his bidding. What they uttered was the word

of Jehovah and the law of God (Isa. i. 10). The ca-

lamities which befel Israel and Judah are attributed to

their disobeying the law, both that which was com-

manded their fathers and that which was sent to them

by the prophets (2 Kin. xvii. 13; Neh. ix. 29, 30; Dan.

ix. 5, 6; Zech. vii. 12). The word of Jehovah by the

prophets had, of course, the same binding authority

when written as when orally delivered. Reference is

made (Isa. xxxiv. 16) to "the book of Jehovah," in

which the antecedent prophecy could be found and its

exact fulfilment noted. Daniel ix. 2 speaks of "the

books" in which a prophecy of Jeremiah, then on the

eve of fulfilment, was contained. The books of the

prophets from the time that they were first written

formed a component part of the revealed will of God,

and belonged of necessity to the canonical Scriptures.

          To this extent, then, the statements of the Bible are

explicit in regard to the formation of the canon. The

law written by Moses was by his direction deposited

in the sanctuary as the divinely obligatory standard of

duty for Israel. To this was added by Joshua a solemn

engagement on the part of the people to obey it.

Though this law was grossly transgressed at times by

the people and their rulers, its supreme authority found

repeated and emphatic recognition, and was attended

by divine sanctions culminating in the overthrow of

 


18                  GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The book of

the law, which was kept in the temple, probably per-

ished when the latter was burned. But other copies

escaped, and the law was still in the hands of the people

at the close of the exile. No intimation is given that

the books of the prophets were as yet united with the

law in the same volume, but they are classed with it as

emanating from the same divine source, being equally

the word and law of God, with a like claim to unfalter-

ing obedience.

 


 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

 

                                          III

 

THE CRITICAL THEORY OF THE FORMATION OF

                                 THE CANON

 

 

          EICHHOIRN,1 who has been called the Father of Higher

Criticism, did not hesitate to admit that the laws of

Moses were deposited by his direction in the sanctuary

by the side of the ark, as a divinely given and authori-

tative code agreeably to the statement in Dent. xxxi. 25,

26. But as the Pentateuch was more and more discred-

ited, and belief in its Mosaic authorship was abandoned,

later critics changed their attitude accordingly. The

present critical position in this matter is well repre-

sented by Dillmann,2 and may be briefly stated as fol-

lows: If Moses had written the Pentateuch or any book

of laws it would, as a matter of course, have been thence-

forward, in the proper and fullest sense of the word,

canonical. His work, however, was not writing, but

acting, establishing institutions, and enkindling a new

spiritual life. After his death, attempts were made,

from time to time, to reduce his statutes and ordinances

to writing for public or private use without producing a

body of laws universally accepted as authoritative, for

these collections were liable to be superseded by others

more complete or more perspicuous. The book of the

law found in the temple in the reign of Josiah (2 Kin.

xxii. 8) was the culmination of all attempts in this di-

rection, embodying both what was gained from the

 

          1 Einleitung, 4th edition, p. 20.

          2 Jahrbucher fur Deutsche Theologie, III., p. 432 ff.

 

                                         19

 


20                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

experience of the past and the instructions of the proph-

ets with special adaptation to the needs of the present.

This was at once accepted by both king and people, who

solemnly bound themselves to obey its requirements.

This book was Deuteronomy,1 and was the first written

law having canonical authority. During the exile the

Pentateuch was completed in its present form by the

addition of the priestly laws and other constituents.

This was brought to Jerusalem by Ezra when he came

up from the captivity, and, as is related in Neh. viii.–x.,

was read before the assembled people, who thereupon

pledged themselves to observe all that it commanded.

By this transaction the Pentateuch, which was thence-

forth denominated the law, or the law of Moses, was

made canonical, and was ever after accepted as su-

premely authoritative. This is not only the first divi-

sion of the canon, but the critics insist that it constituted

the first canon, and that it is all that was regarded as

canonical and authoritative in the time of Ezra. He

was a scribe of the law (Ezra vii. 6, 12, 21); he prepared

his heart to seek the law and do it and teach it to Is-

rael (ver. 10); he went to Jerusalem with the law of God

in his hand (ver. 14); he bound the people by a writ-

ten engagement (Neh. ix. 38) and a solemn oath (x. 29)

to obey the law in every particular. This alone, it is

urged, constituted at that time the publicly sanctioned

and authoritative divine canon.

          The books of the prophets, which stand next in the

 

          1 In 1858, when the article was written from which the preceding

statement has been condensed, Dillmann still held what was at that

time the common critical opinion, that the book of the law found in

the temple was the entire Pentateuch, which had recently been com-

pleted by the addition of Deuteronomy. The critical revolution intro-

duced by Graf and Wellhausen led to a sudden reversal of opinions in

this respect, and it is now claimed that the completion of the Penta-

teuch was the work of priests in or after the Babylonish exile.

 


                      THE CRITICAL THEORY                                     21

 

order of the Hebrew Bible, are, in the opinion of the

critics, not only a second division of the canon, but,

historically speaking, were a second canon additional

to the first, and incorporated with it at a later time.

These books, it is said, were privately circulated at first,

and were highly esteemed by the pious who possessed

them. But they had no public official authority until

they were formally united with the canon. This second

collection included what are called the former and the

latter prophets. The former prophets are the four his-

torical books according to the original enumeration,

Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, which trace the

history of the chosen people and of God's dealings with

them in a direct line from the death of Moses to the

Babylonish captivity. These follow immediately after

the Pentateuch, as they continue the history from the

point at which it closes. They are called the former

prophets because in the order of the canon they precede

the strictly prophetical books, which are accordingly

termed the latter prophets. Of these there are like-

wise four in the original enumeration, viz.: three major

prophets, so named because of their superior size, Isai-

ah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and twelve minor prophets,

whose writings, on account of their inferior size, are

classed together as one book. A considerable time after

the formation of the first canon by Ezra this second

canon of the books of the prophets was added to it, so

that the canon, as thus constituted, consisted of the law

and the prophets; and for a length of time these are all

that were reckoned canonical.

          At a still later period, however, a third canon was

formed of other books which were thought worthy of

being associated with the preceding collections. As

these were of a somewhat miscellaneous character and

incapable of being included under any more descriptive

 


22           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

designation, they were simply called by the general

name K’thubhim 1 (MybiUtK;) writings, or by the Greek

equivalent, Hagiographa (a[gio<grafa), sacred writings.

These include the three large poetical books, Psalms

(Myl.hiT;), Proverbs (ylew;mi), and Job (bOy.xi), from whose

initials have been formed the memorial word tmx

truth; then the five small books called Megilloth, rolls,

because they were written on separate rolls for syna-

gogue use, viz.: the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamenta-

tions, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and, finally, the three books,

as originally numbered, Daniel, Ezra (including Nehe-

miah), and Chronicles. Thus, by successive steps in

the course of time, the canon reached its final form, em-

bracing the Law, the Prophets, and the K'thubhim,2 or

Hagiographa.

          The critics acknowledge that there is no historical

testimony to the existence of the successive stages,

which they profess to find, in the formation of the

canon.3 All the testimony in the case is, infact, directly

 

          1 Pronounced kethuvim.

          2 Bertholdt, Einleitung, p. 81, gives to this term the purely fanciful

definition, "books lately inserted in the canon," on the false assump-

tion that the root btaKA to write, has the sense "to inscribe in the

canon."  K'thubhim, as the technical name of the third division of the

canon, is not to be derived, as some have claimed, from bUtKA, it is

written, the common formula of citation from the Scriptures, nor

from btAK; in the sense of Scripture, as indicating that it is a part of

the sacred volume. It is properly the passive participle of btaKA, to

write, used as a noun, and meaning "Writings," not in a depreciating

sense, as Dillmann alleges (Jahrb. f. D. Theol., III., p. 430), "in con-

trast with the law and the prophets they were nothing but 'writings,'

to which no such distinguishing quality as Mosaic or prophetic be-

longs." Their association with the law and the prophets in the canon

sufficiently shows that they were equally regarded as the inspired word

and vested with divine authority. They are "writings" by way of

eminence, ranking above mere ordinary human productions. Com-

pare the Greek grafai< and the English "Bible."

 

          3 Wildeboer, The Origin of the Canon, p. 114: "We have not at

 

 


                       THE CRITICAL THEORY                                    23

 

opposed to it. It is claimed, however, that there are

other proofs sufficient to establish it.

          1. It is alleged that there are several books in the

canon which were not yet in existence when the law was

made canonical by Ezra, nor at any time during his life.

Ezra, Chronicles, and Ecclesiastes are referred by crit-

ics to a time shortly before or after the downfall of the

Persian Empire, Esther to that of the Greek domina-

tion, and Daniel and several of the Psalms to the period

of the Maccabees, nearly three centuries after the can-

onization of the law.

          2. It is argued that the three-fold division of the

canon of itself affords a clue to the mode of its forma-

tion; it is of such a nature that it can only represent

three successive stages in the work of collection. There

is no consistent principle of classification such as we

would naturally expect to find if the canon had been

arranged at any one time by any man or body of men.

There are books in the third division which are homo-

geneous with those in the second, and which, if prop-

erly classed, would have been put in the second divi-

sion. And the only explanation of their standing where

they do is that the second division was already closed

when these books were added, so that there was no re-

source but to put them in the third and last division,

which must, accordingly, have been formed after the

second division was complete. Thus, while the prin-

cipal books containing the post-Mosaic history of the

chosen people are in the second division of the canon,

viz.: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, there are

 

our command for the history of the canonization of the second divi-

sion of the Old Testament books, any such historical testimony as we

have for those of the law." Page 136: Direct historical statements

about the third collection of the Old Testament Scriptures are want-

ing, as in the case of the second."

 


24                 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

other books continuing this same history and of like

character in the third division, such as Ezra and Nehe-

miah, and particularly Chronicles, which is parallel to

the history in Samuel and Kings, covering, to a con-

siderable extent, the same period, extracted in part

from the same sources, and in numerous sections or

paragraphs identical in language. Further, the book of

Daniel, instead of standing in the second division with

the rest of the books of the prophets, is put in the third

division along with books of quite a different descrip-

tion. It is claimed that the only satisfactory solution

of these facts is that these books only found admission

to the canon after the second division, with which they  

had affinity, was already regarded as complete and in-

capable of being reopened. They were, accordingly,

put at the end of the third, which was the only division

then remaining open.

          3. The Samaritans recognize the canonicity of the

Pentateuch, but of no other part of the Old Testament.

From this it is inferred that their reception of the Pen-

tateuch dates from a time when the law of Moses was all

that was canonical with the Jews; and that the subse-

quent hostility between them and the Samaritans has

prevented the latter from accepting the additions after-

ward made to the canon.

          4. The synagogue lessons were, in the first instance,

taken exclusively from the law; afterward, lessons from

the prophets were read in conjunction with it. The

K'thubhim are used only on special occasions, and not

in the regular sabbath reading of the Scriptures. This

is best explained by assuming that the law alone was

canonical at first, that the prophets were next added,

and the K'thubhim last of all.

          5. The term law is sometimes used, both in Jewish

writings and in the New Testament in a comprehensive

 


                 THE CRITICAL THEORY                                 25

 

sense, embracing the entire Old Testament. At other

times the law and the prophets are spoken of either as

the principal parts of the Old Testament or as compre-

hending the whole. This is again regarded as a remi-

niscence of the time when first the law, and afterward

the law and the prophets, constituted the entire canon,

so that it became natural to use these names to signify

the whole revealed word of God.

          6. There are said to be indications in the order of

the books in both the second and third divisions of the

canon that these were formed gradually in the course

of time and not by a single act.

          7. The canonicity of certain books, particularly the

Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, was long

disputed among the Jews, and the question was not fi-

nally decided in their favor until the council at Jamnia,

about A.D. 90, or, as some have maintained, even later.

The canon, in its present form and compass, could not,

it is said, have been definitely fixed until then.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                         IV

 

THE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE IN THE FORMATION

                              OF THE CANON

 

          THE critical theory of the formation of the canon

rests upon a false notion regarding the real character

of the canon and the determining principle in its col-

lection. The fundamental error which underlies all the

arguments of the critics on this subject, and vitiates

their conclusion, is the assumption that the books of

the Old Testament were not written with the design of

being held sacred and divinely authoritative; but in the

course of time they came to be treated with a venera-

tion, which was not at first accorded to them. This is

explicitly avowed by Ewald:1  "It lies in the original

nature of all sacred writings that they become sacred

without intending it, and without in human fashion being

planned to become so. . . . When the first active

life ceases, and men have to look back upon it as the

model, conform their lives to its regulations and pre-

scriptions, repeat its songs, and carefully consider its

whole history, then they look about eagerly for the best

writings which can be serviceable in this respect; and

for the most part these have already imperceptibly by

their own merit separated themselves from the less suit-

able, have already been gathered piecemeal, and it only

requires some superior oversight to combine them in an

enduring manner, and consecrate them more definitely

for their present purpose. In respect to a few of the

 

          1 Jahrbucher der Biblischen Wissenschaft, VII., pp. 77, 78.

 

                                           26

 


            THE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE                                   27

 

less necessary there may for a time be uncertainty and

strife; but the need of the time and their own intrinsic

value will long since have decided in respect to the

principal books. And so what was not itself intended

to be sacred, nevertheless becomes sacred as the vehicle

of sacred truths and spiritual forces."

          To the same purport Dillmann:1  "For a certain class

of theologians the several books of the Old Testament

were from the first written with the view of being re-

vered and used by the church and handed down to

future generations as sacred; the canon was being

formed and enlarged by each new book that was added

in the course of centuries; so soon as the last book of

this sort had appeared, the canon was completed, and it

was now only necessary to collect these books which

had appeared one after another, combine them into one

whole, and bring them into the fine order in which they

now lie before us. This office was performed by some

public person or authority qualified for the same by

a special divine illumination. This conception of the

course of the matter is, to be sure, very simple, and in-

ferred with great logical exactness from certain precon-

ceived dogmatical ideas, but it is unhistorical and there-

fore untrue. How the canon was formed can only be

ascertained in a historical way. And history knows

nothing of the individual books having been designed

to be sacred from their origin; it also knows nothing of

an authority by which, or of a point of time at which,

all the writings of the Old Testament were at once united

and published as a collection of sacred writings forever

closed. On the contrary, all that has hitherto been as-

certained and laboriously enough investigated respect-

ing the origin of the books and the transmission of their

text forbids us to believe that these writings were from

 

          1 Jahrb. D. Theol., III., p. 420.

 


28              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

the first regarded sacred and inviolable, as they were in

the opinion of later generations. A historical survey

of these relations shows that these books bore indeed in

themselves from the first those characteristics, on ac-

count of which they were subsequently admitted into

the sacred collection, but yet always had first to pass

through a shorter or longer period of verification, and

make trial of the divine power resident within them

upon the hearts of the church before they were out-

wardly and formally acknowledged by it as divine

books."

          If now in the opinion of the critics the books of the

Old Testament were written with no intention of their

being held sacred, and they were not in actual fact so

regarded at first, what is the source of the sacredness

which was afterward attached to them? How did they

come to be regarded with that veneration which dis-

tinguished them from all other books, and led to their

being formed into a sacred canon? In other words,

what was the guiding principle in the formation of the

canon? To this question different answers have been

given.

          Some have held with Eichhorn1 that the canon was

simply a collection of the early national literature. All

books written before a certain date were highly prized

because of their antiquity, and regarded with a venera-

tion which was not felt for more recent productions.

And as the gathering up of ancient writings would be a

 

          1 Einleitung, § 5:  "Soon after the end of the Babylonish exile

. . . and in order to give to the newly built second temple all the

advantages of the first, a library of its own was founded in it of the

remains of Hebrew literature, which we commonly call the Old Testa-

ment." Allgem. Bibliothek d. bibl. Litteratur, IV., p. 254: "Evi-

dently everything was collected, which they possessed from the times

before Artaxerxes, or which it was believed must be referred to so

high an antiquity."

 


                THE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE                     29

 

slow and laborious process, and a prolonged search

would be necessary and considerable time must elapse

before it could be certified that the collection was com-

plete, and no more books remained to be discovered, it

is contended that the canon could not have been gath-

ered at once, but must have been the work of time. All

this is, however, palpably at variance with the fact that

the books of Chronicles make mention of several writ-

ings then extant, to which readers are referred for

further information, and which must, therefore, have

been of earlier date than Chronicles; yet this latter was

admitted to the canon, while the former were not.

          Others have maintained with Hitzig1 that the de-

termining feature was the language in which the books

were written. Those in the sacred Hebrew tongue were

accounted sacred, those in Greek were not. But this is

disproved by the same argument as the preceding. The

books referred to in Chronicles as historical authorities

were of course in Hebrew, yet were not admitted to the

canon. And some of the apocryphal books, which never

had a place in the canon, were written in Hebrew. This

was the case with Ecclesiasticus, the prologue to which

speaks of its having been translated out of Hebrew into

Greek, and so far from the Hebrew original having been

lost at the time of the collection of the canon, a frag-

ment of it is still in existence. Tobit also and 1 Mac-

cabees, according to Jerome, were written in Hebrew, and

 

          1 Die Psalmen, 1836, II., p. 118: "All Hebrew books originating in

the time before Christ are canonical, all canonical books are Hebrew,

while all written in Greek are reckoned as belonging to the apocrypha.

. . . Greek books were excluded from the collection of national

writings; no matter whether they had never existed in a Hebrew

original, or this was no longer extant." Thus he insists that the He-

brew originals of Ecclesiasticus and Baruch had already been lost

when the canon was collected, and they were then only extant in a

Greek translation.

 


30                   GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

he says that he had seen the Hebrew originals. As

Dillmann1 truly says, "Wherever and however the al-

leged point of time may be fixed from the days of Ezra

down to those of Josephus, we always find, besides those

which became canonical, other books written in the

sacred tongue still extant, which did not come into the

canon, and which were not then lost, but subsequently

came to be lost after the final and complete close of the

canon, and for the reason that they had not been ad-

mitted to it."

          But their religious character is so prominent a feature

of these writings, and enters so essentially into the ex-

alted position assigned to them and the profound ven-

eration which has been felt for them, that the great

majority of critics have confessed that this must be

taken into the account in estimating the Old Testament;

and that it can neither be regarded as a mere collection

of ancient literature nor of writings in the sacred He-

brew tongue. The measure of influence assigned to

this pervading characteristic of the sacred writings va-

ries with the spirit of the individual critic all the way

from the shallow suggestion of Corrodi2 that they con-

 

          1 Ubi supra, p. 422.

          2 The author of the Versuch einer Beleuchtung der Geschichte des

Judischen and Christlichen Bibelkanons, published anonymously in

1792. G. L. Bauer, Einleitung, 3d edition, page 33, claims that

there is no real difference in the various conceptions of the canon.

"The common opinion is: All the religious writings inspired of God.

Eichhorn says: All the fragments of Hebrew literature. Corrodi:

Only such writings as concerned national religion or history, and the

criterion of divinity and inspiration was introduced later from the

time of Sirach onward. In our opinion, all these views may be united.

All the fragments of the ancient Hebrew literature were collected, for

almost all had a religious form or concerned sacred history. And that

these books were written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit the old

world, according to their notions, had little doubt, since they even al-

lowed that a goldsmith and embroiderer was filled with the Spirit

 


                THE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE                              31

 

cern the national religion to the far more reverent atti-

tude of Ewald and Dillmann in the extracts before

quoted, who appeal to their normative character as pre-

senting the loftiest models and setting forth in their

purity the requirements of the religion of Israel, and

their spiritual power to nurture and elevate the religious

life; to which Robertson Smith adds that all the books

of the canon were in full accord with the law of Moses.

But even when this view is presented in its highest and

best form, it is seriously defective, and completely in-

verts the order of cause and effect. It is true, as the

apostle declares (2 Tim. iii. 16), that every Scripture is

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; but it is because it is inspired of God. It

is not the religious profit derived from these books

which led to their admission into the canon, but it is

their being inspired of God to guide the faith and

practice of the church—in other words, their canonic-

ity—which makes them profitable to the religious

life. They were included in the canon because they

were written by men inspired of God for this very

purpose.

          In order to ascertain the true import of the canoniza-

 

of God." To the same purport De Wette, Einleitung, 6th edition,

section 16:  "The two assumptions that the Old Testament was in-

tended to constitute a collection of national writings and that it was a

collection of sacred writings, are really one in view of the contents of

most of the Old Testament hooks and the theocratic spirit of Jewish

antiquity; for the truly national was also religious. In either case

the authors were regarded as inspired, and their writings as the fruit of

sacred inspiration."

          1 The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, 2d edition, page 181:

"The ultimate criterion by which every book was subjected lay in the

supreme standard of the law. Nothing was holy which did not agree

with the teaching of the Pentateuch."

 


32                    GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

tion of the Old Testament, we must examine (1) the

claims which its several books make for themselves, and

(2) the esteem in which they were held by the people.

In Ex. xx. 2, 3, Jehovah announces himself to Israel

as their God, who brought them out of the land of

Egypt, and bids them have no other god besides himself.

And the people solemnly engage to obey all his com-

mands (xix. 8), and enter into formal covenant with him

as his people (xxiv. 7, 8). At every subsequent period

of their history the people are reminded of their obli-

gation to Jehovah for delivering them from the bond-

age of Egypt, and their engagement to be his people

and to serve him as their God (Josh. xxiv. 16-18; Judg.

vi. 8-10; 1 Sam. xii. 6, 7; 2 Sam. vii. 23, 24; Hos. xii.

9, 4; Am. ii. 10, iii. 2). Nothing is plainer on the

very surface of the Old Testament from first to last than

the recognized fact that Jehovah was the God of Israel

and that Israel was his people. Now the law of Moses

claims in all its parts to be the law of Jehovah given

through Moses. The entire legislation of the Penta-

teuch asserts this for itself in the most positive way and

in the most unambiguous terms. The prophets through-

out claim to speak in the name of Jehovah and by his

authority, and to declare his will. What they utter is

affirmed to be the word of Jehovah; their standing for-

mula is, Thus saith Jehovah. To yield to their require-

ments is to obey Jehovah; to refuse submission to

them is to offend against Jehovah. Jehovah is further

the recognized king of Israel. He guides their history,

rewards their obedience, punishes their transgression.

The historical books reveal his hand in every turn of

their affairs; they authoritatively declare his will and

purposes, as they are manifested in his providential

dealings with them. The law, the prophetical books

and the historical books thus alike profess to give an

 


                 THE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE                       33

 

authoritative declaration of the will of Jehovah, the sov-

ereign God of Israel.

          The reception of these books into the canon was not

merely the acknowledgment of their superior excellence

and their uplifting spiritual power, but a recognition

of the rightfulness of their claim to be a revelation of

the will of God. We have already seen (p. 12) that

according to the uniform testimony of all the sacred

historians, the law of Moses was regarded as divinely

obligatory upon Israel at every period of their history.

Whatever extent of meaning be given to the expression,

"the law of Moses," it is manifest that there was a

body of law attributed to him, and believed to be from

a divine source which the people and their rulers were

bound to obey, and upon the faithful observance of

which the prosperity of the nation and its continued

existence were dependent. When Josiah and all the

people of Judah of all ranks and classes bound them-

selves by covenant to a steadfast adherence to the book

of the law found in the temple in all its requirements,

this was not the first sanction given to a law which had

never been considered obligatory before, but the recog-

nition of a law of long standing, that was not only bind-

ing upon them, but had been equally so upon their

fathers, who had incurred serious guilt by transgressing

it (2 Kin. xxii. 13), in fact the very law of Moses (xxiii.

25), which their duty to Jehovah required them to keep.

This was not the first step toward the formation of a

canon, but bowing to an authority coeval with the origin

of the nation itself.

          And the law which Ezra read to the assembled

people, and which by a written and sealed engagement,

ratified by an oath they promised to observe, was not,

in the intent of Ezra or of the people according to the

only record that we have of the transaction, a new book

 


34                   GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

of the law then for the first time accepted as sacred and

made canonical. It was (Neh. viii. 1) the book of the

law of Moses which Jehovah had commanded to Israel

(ix. 14, x. 29), God's law which was given by Moses the

servant of God, the trangression of which by former

generations had been the cause of all the calamities

which had befallen them (ix. 26, 29, 32-34).

          The prophets were recognized expounders of the will

of Jehovah, who were commissioned by him to deliv-

er his messages to the people. And, as we have seen

(p. 17), the prophets are in numerous passages associat-

ed with the law, as together constituting the divine stand-

ard obligatory upon the people, the disregard of which

brought upon them accumulated evils. Later prophets

also bear abundant testimony to the divine commission

of their predecessors by general statements, as Hos. vi.

5, Jer. vii. 25, by the repetition and enforcement of their

predictions, by citations of their language, or by evident

allusions to them. Thus Ewald:1  "Even such old

prophets as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, like to build

upon the words and writings of older true prophets,

borrow many a passage from them, and many a striking

clause, and refer back to them without mentioning them

by name. Yet in Jeremiah's time appeal was made by

name to the book of Micah, a hundred years before (Jer.

xxvi. 17, 18)." Wildeboer2 quotes from von Orelli with

approval:  "To judge from the citations of older proph-

ets, in younger authors, the writings of an Amos, an

Isaiah, etc., were regarded in a certain sense as holy

scriptures, as the word of God"; and adds,  "Of course

as the spoken words of the prophets were the word of

God; they were equally so when committed to writing."

It is evident that the writings of the prophets, as soon

 

          1 Jahrb. d. Bibl. Wiss., VII., p. 74.

          2 Canon of the Old Testament, p. 123.

 


               THE DETERMINING PRINCIPLE                            35

 

as they were issued, would have precisely the same

authority as their discourses orally delivered, and would

be accepted as in precisely the same sense the word of

God. No formal declaration of their canonicity was

needed to give them sanction. They were from the first

not only "eagerly read by the devout," but believed to

be divinely obligatory; and this without waiting until

there were no more living prophets, and a complete col-

lection could be made of all their writings. Each indi-

vidual book of an acknowledged prophet of Jehovah, or

of anyone accredited as inspired by him to make known

his will, was accepted as the word of God immediately

upon its appearance. It had its own independent author-

ity, derived from the source from which it came, irre-

spective of its being united in a collection with the

other books of the same character. And thus the canon

gradually grew, as such books were produced from time

to time, until the last was written, when consequently

the canon was complete.

          This view of the formation of the canon is not, as Dill-

mann supposed, a theological speculation, but a neces-

sary historical deduction. The question with which we

are at present concerned is not as to the reality of the

inspiration of the sacred writers, but as to the faith of

Israel on this subject. Those books, and those only,

were accepted as the divine standards of their faith

and regulative of their conduct which were written for

this definite purpose1 by those whom they believed to

 

          1 Books written by inspired men with a different design, or only for

some temporary purpose, and with no claim to divine authority or

permanent obligation, could not, of course, be placed on a par with

their professed divine communications. Expressions in which prophets

simply utter their own thoughts are clearly distinguished from what

they say in the name of God (1 Sam. xvi. 6, 7; 2 Sam. vii. 3, 4, 17).

No record has been preserved of what Solomon spake on subjects of

natural history (1 Kin. iv. 33). Annals of the kingdom, if written by

 


36                 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

be inspired of God. It was this which made them

canonical. The spiritual profit found in them corre-

sponded with and confirmed the belief in their heavenly

origin. And the public official action, which further

attested, though it did not initiate, their canonicity, fol-

lowed in the wake of the popular recognition of their

divine authority.1

 

prophets, would have their historical value, even though they might

not be in any sense the product of divine inspiration. The same may

probably be said of the historical sources referred to in the books of

Chronicles (1 Chron. xxix. 29, 30; 2 Chron. ix. 29, xii. 15), which are

no longer extant for the reason, doubtless, that they were not intended

to form part of the permanent rule of faith. See Alexander on the

Canon, pp. 84-93.

          1 "When the Jewish doctors first concerned themselves with the prep-

aration of an authoritative list of sacred books, most of the Old Testa-

ment books had already established themselves in the hearts of the

faithful with an authority that could neither be shaken nor confirmed

by the decision of the schools." Robertson Smith in the Old Testa-

ment in the Jewish Church, p. 163.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           V

 

                THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON

 

          WE have explicit testimony respecting the time of

completing the canon from the Jewish historian Jo-

sephus, who was born at Jerusalem, A.D. 37, of priestly

descent. In his treatise against Apion, an Alexandrian

grammarian, hostile to the Jews, I., 8, he speaks in the

following manner of the sacred books:  "We have not

tens of thousands of books, discordant and conflicting,

but only twenty-two, containing the record of all time,

which have been justly believed [to be divine1]. And

of these, five are the books of Moses, which embrace the

laws and the tradition from the creation of man until

his [Moses'] death. This period is a little short of

three thousand years. From the death of Moses to the

reign of Artaxerxes, the successor of Xerxes, king of

Persia, the prophets who succeeded Moses wrote what

was done in thirteen books. The remaining four books

embrace hymns to God and counsels for men for the

conduct of life. From Artaxerxes until our time every-

thing has been recorded, but has not been deemed

worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the

exact succession of the prophets ceased. But what faith

we have placed in our own writings is evident by our

conduct; for though so long a time has now passed, no

 

          1 Eichhorn (Repertorium f. Bib. u. Morg. Litt., V., p. 254) remarks,

"The word ' divine' was not in the old editions of Josephus; it has in

recent times been inserted from Eusebius." Later editors are inclined

to expunge it.

 

                                            37

 


38                 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

one has dared either to add anything to them, or to

take anything from them, or to alter anything in them.

But it is instinctive in all Jews at once from their very

birth to regard them as commands of God, and to abide

by them, and, if need be, willingly to die for them."

          According to Josephus, therefore, the period in which

the books esteemed sacred by the Jews were written,

extended from the time of Moses to the reign of Artax-

erxes I. of Persia; after which no additions of any sort

were made to the canon. Artaxerxes Longimanus, the

monarch here referred to, reigned forty years, from B.C.

465 to B.C. 425. In the seventh year of his reign Ezra

came up to Jerusalem from the captivity (Ezra vii. 1, 8);

and in the twentieth year of the same Nehemiah followed

him (Neh. ii. 1, 5, 6).

          Strenuous efforts have been made to discredit this

statement of Josephus, but without good reason. It has

been said that it is not based on reliable historical in-

formation, nor the general belief of his time, but is

merely a private opinion of his own. It is obvious,

however, that this cannot be the case. Josephus was a

man of considerable learning, and had every facility for

acquainting himself with the history of his own nation,

upon which he had written largely in his "Antiquities."

His priestly origin afforded him special opportunities

for becoming familiar with the religious opinions of his

countrymen. He is here arguing with a scholar of no

mean pretensions, which would naturally make him

cautious in his statements; and he gives no intimation

that what he here says is simply his own opinion. It is

stated as a certain and acknowledged fact. And we

have, besides, additional evidence that this was the cur-

rent belief of his contemporaries. Ryle gives utterance

to the common sentiment of scholars, when he says:1

 

          1 The Canon of the Old Testament, pp. 162-164.

 


            THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                       39

 

"We must remember that Josephus writes as the spokes-

man of his people, in order to defend the accuracy and

sufficiency of their Scriptures, as compared with the

recent and contradictory histories by Greek writers. In

this controversy he defends the judgment of his people.

He does not merely express a personal opinion, he

claims to represent his countrymen. . . . In the

first century A.D. the impression prevailed that the books

of the canon were all ancient, that none were more

recent than Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes), and that all had

long been regarded as canonical."

          It is further urged that Josephus makes the mistake

of identifying the Artaxerxes of Ezra and Nehemiah

with Xerxes ("Antiq.," xi. 5, 1, 6), and the Ahasuerus of

Esther with Artaxerxes ("Antiq.," xi. 6, 1), whereas the

real fact is the reverse of this. The events related in the

book of Esther took place in the reign of Xerxes, and

Ezra and Nehemiah lived in the reign of Artaxerxes.

It is hence inferred that he regarded Esther as the latest

book of the Old Testament, and for this reason makes

the reign of Artaxerxes the limit of the canon in the

passage quoted above. But it is evident that this error

on the part of Josephus does not affect the correctness

of his general statement. Whether Esther was prior

to Ezra and Nehemiah, or they were prior to Esther,

one or the other lived under Artaxerxes, and after his

time no book was added to the canon. It is by no means

certain, however, that this was in his mind. As the

saying was common among the Jews that Malachi was

the latest prophet,1 it is more probable that the time of

closing the canon was fixed by the date of his ministry,

particularly as the reason given by Josephus himself is

 

          1 Strack, in Herzog-Plitt Encycl., vii., p. 428, note, quotes from

the Talmudic treatise Sanhedrin, "After the latter prophets Haggai,

Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel."

 


40                  GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

because then the exact succession of the prophets ceased.

As the continuous line of the prophets terminated then,

no inspired book could be written afterward.

          It does not invalidate Josephus' testimony that he

finds sporadic instances of prophetic power at a later

time, such as he attributes to John Hyrcanus,1 who be-

came high priest, B.C. 135, for he has no idea of placing

him on a par with the continuous line of prophets who

were the authors of the sacred books. He evidently

regards him as standing on a much lower plane.

          The most serious objection to the truth of Josephus'

statement, however, if it could be substantiated, is the

allegation that there are books in the Old Testament

which were not written until long after the time of Ar-

taxerxes. If this be so, of course it must be acknowl-

edged that Josephus was mistaken. This allegation

rests upon critical conclusions which are deduced en-

tirely from certain supposed criteria in the books them-

selves, but have no external historical support, and are

at variance with what has been the generally reputed

origin of the books in question. The testimony of Jo-

sephus and the common belief of the age in which he

lived create a strong presumption against these critical

positions, unless some very clear and decisive evidence

can be adduced in their favor. As Welte2 truly says,

"The rise of the opinion that with Malachi the Holy

Spirit departed from Israel seems incomprehensible, if

books acknowledged to be inspired and universally re-

garded as sacred, which proceeded from a later time, are

found in the sacred collection."

 

          l Antiq., 161 10, 7, "He was esteemed by God worthy of the three

greatest privileges, the government of his nation, the dignity of the

high priesthood, and prophecy, for God was with him, and enabled

him to know futurities."

          2 Theologische Quartalschrift, 1855, p. 83.

 

 

 

 


                THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                              41

 

          It will not be possible here to enter upon a full dis-

cussion of the date of the books of Chronicles, Ezra,

Nehemiah, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Daniel, which the

critics contend were not written until after the time of

Artaxerxes. It will be sufficient for our present pur-

pose to examine briefly the grounds upon which this

contention rests, as they are stated by Dr. Driver in his

"Literature of the Old Testament."

          Of Chronicles he says, p. 518: "The only positive

clue which the book contains as to the date at which it

was composed is the genealogy in 1 Chron. iii. 17-24,

which (if ver. 21 be rightly interpreted) is carried down

to the sixth generation after Zerubbabel. This would

imply a date not earlier than cir. 350 B.C.; iii. 21, is,

however, obscurely expressed; and it is doubtful if the

text is correct." And he adds in a note that if the ren-

dering of the LXX., Pesh., Vulg. be adopted, it will

bring down the genealogy to the eleventh generation

after Zerubbabel.

          The actual fact is that Zerubbabel's descendants are

traced in iii. 19-21a for two generations only, viz.: Zer-

ubbabel, Hananiah, Pelatiah. There are then added,

in a disconnected manner, four separate families, whose

origin and relation to the preceding are not stated, and

one of these families is traced through four generations;

but there is no intimation whatever that this family or

either of the others belonged in the line of descent

from Zerubbabel. They were, doubtless, families known

at the time who belonged, in a general way, among the

descendants of David, which is the subject of the entire

chapter. But their particular line of descent is not

indicated. That by gratuitously assuming them to be

sprung from Zerubbabel six generations can be counted,

or eleven by a conjectural alteration of the text in the

manner of the ancient versions, is no secure basis for

 


42                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

the conclusion that the book belongs to a later date

than has always hitherto been believed.

          Dr. Driver tells us that "more conclusive evidence is

afforded by the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which cer-

tainly belong to the same age, and are commonly as-

sumed to be the work of the same compiler." As we

are not concerned at present about the internal consti-

tution of these books, but simply with the question

whether they are posterior in date to the reign of Ar-

taxerxes, we pass over the alleged "indications of their

compilatory character," and proceed to consider the

"marks of their having been compiled in an age long

subsequent to that of Ezra and Nehemiah," p. 545.

These are thus stated:

          a. "The phrase King of Persia" (Ezra i. 1, 2, 8, iii. 7,

iv. 2, 3, 7, 24, vii. 1); the addition would, during the

period of the Persian supremacy, be at once unneces-

sary and contrary to contemporary usage; the expres-

sion used by Ezra and Nehemiah, when speaking in

their own person (Ezra vii. 27 f., viii. 1, 22, 25, 36; Neh.

i. 11, ii. 1 ff., 18 f., v. 4, 14, vi. 7, xiii. 6), or in passages

extracted from sources written under the Persian rule

(Ezra iv. 8, 11, 17, 23, v. 6 f., 13 f., 17, vi. 1, 3, 13, 15,

vii. 7, 11, 21; Neh. xi. 23, 24) is simply the king.'"  In

a note on the next page it is added, "Persia was absorbed

and lost in the wider empire of which by Cyrus' con-

quest of Babylon the Achamenid became the heirs;

hence after that date their standing official title is not

‘King of Persia,’ but ‘King of Babylon,’ or more com-

monly the King, the great King, King of kings, King of

the lands, etc."

          But (1) the assumption that the Persian monarchs are

in the book of Ezra simply called "the King" by con-

temporaries, and that the phrase "King of Persia" in-

dicates a late compiler, will not account for the facts of


            THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                   43

 

the case. For both designations occur together in con-

texts incapable of division; thus "Cyrus the king," i. 7,

but "King of Persia," vs. 1, 2, 8, "Artaxerxes the king,"

vii. 7, but " King of Persia," ver. 1.1

          (2) If i. 2 has preserved the language of Cyrus' edict,

he calls himself "King of Persia," as he is likewise en-

titled in the inscription of Nabuna'id, the last king of

Babylon. It is argued that its "Jewish phraseology

and Jewish point of view" disprove its "literal exact-

ness." But it is no more surprising that Cyrus should

ascribe his victories to Jehovah and promise to aid in

building his temple in a proclamation freeing the Jews,

than that he should seek to ingratiate himself with the

people upon his entry into Babylon by attributing his

successes and his universal empire to Merodach, the

patron-god of that city, and declaring himself his wor-

shipper, and inscribing his name on bricks as "builder

of Esakkil and Ezida," the temples of Merodach and

Nebo. It is true that of the few inscriptions of Cyrus

thus far discovered there is no one in which he styles

himself "King of Persia"; but this casts no suspicion

upon the accuracy of this record in Ezra. Darius twice

entitles himself "King of Persia," in his Behistun in-

scription, though this title has not yet been found upon

any other of his inscriptions. Why may not Cyrus have

done the same thing in this one instance? and for the

reason that while the title "King of Babylon" was in

the experience of the Jews associated only with oppres-

sion and injury, they were prepared to hail as their de-

liverer the "King of Persia," by whom their enemy was

overthrown.

         

          1 If vi. 13-15 is copied from a document written before the arrival

of Ezra, Dr. Driver is right in his contention that "Artaxerxes king

of Persia" is a subsequent addition; otherwise this is another ex-

ample of the combination of both phrases.


44                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

(3) In the letters to Artaxerxes (iv. 8-23) and to and

from Darius (v. 6-vi. 13), these monarchs are simply

called "the king." Artaxerxes is called "the king" in

the Book of Nehemiah, and in that of Ezra after vii. 1.

But in the narrative prior to the coming of Ezra the

title "King of Persia" is repeatedly applied to Cyrus,

Darius, and Artaxerxes. Now it is said that after the

conquest of Babylon, Cyrus and his successors assumed

the title "King of Babylon," which is given them (Ezra

v. 13; Neh. xiii. 6; cf. Ezra vi. 22 "King of Assyria");

but the title "King of Persia" implies a writer subse-

quent to "the period of the Persian supremacy." This

seems to be a sweeping conclusion from very slender

premises. If Darius could call himself "King of Persia,"

as he does in his Behistun inscription, and Cyrus give

himself the same title, as is attested (Ezra i. 2), and there

is no good reason for discrediting, why might they not

be so called by others? It is said that after the fall of

the Persian empire its monarchs were called "kings of

Persia" in distinction from the Greek kings who suc-

ceeded them. A precisely similar reason applies to the

Jewish exiles on their first return to Jerusalem. It

was natural for them to speak of the "kings of Persia"

who had freed them from exile in distinction from the

kings of Babylon who had carried them into exile (Ezra

ii. 1); in distinction likewise from their own native

princes the kings of Israel (iii. 10). They were no

longer under kings reigning in Jerusalem, as their

fathers had been, but under foreign domination (Neh. ix.

36, 37), which was a distressing situation, even though

they were ruled by a friendly power, "the kings of Per-

sia," as Ezra himself calls them (ix. 9, see ver. 5), which

is of itself a sufficient refutation of the critical conten-

tion.

          b. "Neh. xii. 11, 22 Jaddua, three generations later


            THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                  45

 

than Eliashib, the contemporary of Nehemiah, high

priest B.C. 351-331, is mentioned."

          c. "Neh. xii. 22 ‘Darius the Persian’ must (from the

context) be Darius Codomannus, the last king of Persia,

B.C. 336-332; and the title ‘the Persian’ could only

have become a distinctive one after the Persian period

was past."

          As Jaddua was high priest at the time of the invasion

of Asia by Alexander the Great,1 and his victory over

Darius Codomannus, it would appear as though these

verses indicate a date nearly or quite a century after

Artaxerxes Longimanus. From this the critics infer

that the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah must

all be referred to a compiler living at this late period.

But (1) this conclusion is much too broad for the

premise on which it is built. The Book of Nehemiah is

preceded (i. 1) by a title of its own referring it to him as

its author. And, as Keil remarks, its being counted

with Ezra as together forming one book in early lists

of the canon no more establishes unity of authorship

than the fact that the twelve Minor Prophets were reck-

oned one book in the same lists proves that they had a

common author. A conclusion with regard to the date

of Nehemiah, if well founded, would have no bearing

upon the determination of the age of the books of Ezra

and Chronicles.

          (2) It is further to be observed that the list of priests

and Levites in xii. 1-26 is a section complete in itself,

and with no very close connection either with what pre-

cedes or follows.2 The utmost that the critical argu-

ment of date could prove, if its validity were confessed,

 

          1 Josephus, Ant., xi. 8, 4.

          2 It is not wholly unconnected, for the introduction of this list at this

place appears to be due to the prominent part taken by priests and Le-

vites in the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, vs. 27-43.


46                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

would be that this section could not have been a pre-ex-

isting document, which Nehemiah inserted in the body

of his narrative, as he did the similar list in vii. 5b ff.

If xii. 1-26 really contained internal evidence of be-

longing to a century after the time of Nehemiah, this

would not invalidate his authorship of the rest of the

book, in which no indication of late date is to be found.

It would merely show that this section did not belong

to the book as originally written, but was a subsequent

interpolation.1

          (3) If, however, xii. 1-26 be examined more closely, it

will be found that the condemnation of even this pas-

sage is more than the critical argument will justify.

The section begins (vs. 1-9) with "the priests and the

Levites that went up with Zerubbabel and Jeshua." It

proceeds (vs. 12-21) with the priests "in the days of

Joiakim" the son of Jeshua. Then follow (vs. 24, 25)

"the chiefs of the Levites," concluding with the words

(ver. 26), "these were in the days of Joiakim, the son of

Jeshua, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and

Ezra the priest the scribe." This is accordingly a

tabular statement of the priests and Levites, including

both those who came up with the first colony of exiles

under Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and those of a subse-

quent generation, who lived during the high priesthood

of Joiakim, the son of Jeshua, and were contemporaries

of Ezra and Nehemiah. This being the declared design

of this section, one of two things must follow, either vs.

10,11, and vs. 22,23 do not have the meaning attributed

to them by the critics, or else they are out of harmony

with the section in which they are found, and so are no

proper part of it. Each of these alternatives has had its

advocates.

 

          1 This is maintained among others by Bertholdt, Einleitung, III., p.

1031, and Prideaux, The Old and New Testament Connected, i., p. 252.


              THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                  47

 

          (1.) Havernick 1 endeavors to show without much suc-

cess that Nehemiah might have lived until Jaddua be-

came High Priest. Keil relieves the matter by remark-

ing that ver. 11 merely traces the line of descent to

Jaddua, without attributing to him any official position;

and even ver. 22, "Levites in the days of Eliashib,

Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua," need not be intended to

embrace four distinct bodies of Levites, living severally

under one or other of four different high priests, but a

single body of men with whom these four generations

of sacerdotal rank were contemporaries, Eliashib in ad-

vanced age, his great-grandson Jaddua in early youth.

According to xiii. 28, Nehemiah expelled a grandson of

Eliashib, who had married a daughter of Sanballat. It

is, therefore, quite supposable that he lived to see Jad-

dua, the great-grandchild of Eliashib. The adjustment

of this hypothesis to other known facts only requires

that Nehemiah, who came to Jerusalem B.C. 444, when

perhaps twenty years of age, and Jaddua, who lived

until the visit of Alexander, B.C. 332, could have been

contemporaries for say eighteen years. If each of them

attained the age of seventy-five, which is surely no vio-

lent supposition, the period is covered.2

 

          1 Einleitung, II., i., pp. 320-322.

          2 There is much uncertainty in regard to the terms of office of the

high priests after the return from exile in consequence of the conflict-

ing statements of authorities. See Herzfeld, Geschichte, II., Excursus

xi., p. 368. Keil needlessly infers from Neh. xiii. 4, 7, that Eliashib

died between Nehemiah's return to the king in the thirty-second year of

Artaxerxes, B.C. 433, and his second visit to Jerusalem. Then suppos-

ing Jaddua to be ten years old at the time of his great-grandfather's

death, he would have been one hundred and ten when Alexander came

to Jerusalem, to which he compares Jehoiada, high priest under king

Joash, living to the age of one hundred and thirty (2 Chron. xxiv. 15).

But if with Prideaux, p. 321, the death of Eliashib is put twenty

years later, B.C. 413, Jaddua would on the same supposition have been

ninety when he met Alexander.


48                   GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

          The inference "from the context" that the Darius

of Neh. xii. 22b is Darius Codomannus, is based on

the assumption that in ver. 22a Jaddua is spoken of

as high priest. If, on the other hand, his boyhood

is intended, Darius Nothus, B.C. 424-405, would be

meant. The assertion that "the title 'the Persian'

could only have become a distinctive one after the Per-

sian period was past," is contradicted by the Nakshi-

Rustan inscription of Darius Hystaspes, which in re-

cording his foreign possessions calls him "a Persian,

son of a Persian," and speaks of him as the "Persian

man who fought battles far from his land Persia." The

significance of the title lies in his bearing rule over non-

Persian lands, not in distinguishing him from a non-

Persian successor.

          (2.) If, however, in vs. 10, 11, 22, 23, Jaddua is re-

garded as high priest, and Darius Codomannus is in-

tended, these verses cannot properly belong in a list,

which limits itself to "the priests and Levites that went

up with Zerubbabel and Jeshua," and those who were

“in the days of Joiakim, Nehemiah, and Ezra.” They

must have been added at a later time to extend the list

beyond its original dimensions. Eichhorn1 truly says:

"That these are a foreign addition by a later hand can

not only be made probable, but as rigidly proved as can

ever be expected in regard to books so ancient and with

critical aids so recent. The contents of these verses

destroys the unity of the entire chapter, and presents

something that the author did not mean to give. They

give a genealogy of the high priests from Jeshua on-

ward; and no other passage in this chapter is genea-

logical." Dr. Driver refers in a footnote to this ready

reply to the alleged indication of late date, but adds

even supposing this to have been the case, the other

 

          1 Einleitung, 4th edition. III.. p. 631,


          THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                    49

 

marks of late composition which the books contain

would still remain." We shall see whether there is any

more force in "the other marks" than in this which he

seems willing to surrender.

          d. "Neh. xii. 26, 47, the 'days of Nehemiah' are

spoken of in terms clearly implying that the writer

looked back upon them as past."

          "The days of Nehemiah" is manifestly an expression

that could be used indifferently by a contemporary of

Nehemiah, or by one who lived subsequent to his time.

There is nothing in the expression itself or in the con-

nection in which it stands to give the preference to the

latter alternative. The famous men and the remarkable

events that have added lustre to the reign of Queen

Victoria can be spoken of without implying that her

beneficent reign is ended.

          e. "Other indications of the same fact will appear

below; e.g., the position of Ezra iv. 6-23 (which refer-

ring, as it does, to what happened under Xerxes and

Artaxerxes, could not possibly have been placed where

it now stands by Ezra, a contemporary of the latter), the

contents and character of vii. 1-10," etc.

          First as to iv. 6-23. Ch. iv. 1-5 opens with an ac-

count of the vexatious conduct of the Samaritans, who,

when their proffered aid was declined in building the

temple, obstructed the work in every possible way dur-

ing the entire reign of Cyrus, and until the reign of Da-

rius Hystaspes, who held their hostility in check for a

time. Before explaining the action of Darius in this

matter the author proceeds to tell how this hostility

broke out afresh in the beginning of the very next reign,

that of Ahasuerus (=Xerxes, ver. 6), and in the following

reign succeeded in obtaining from Artaxerxes an edict

forbidding the construction of the city walls (vs. 7-23).

The writer then reverts to the first stage of this hostility


50                  GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

(ver. 5), the stoppage of the work upon the temple, and

relates in detail how the favor of Darius was secured,

and how effectually he thwarted the designs of the

Samaritans (iv. 24–vi. 15), an intimation being given (vi.

14) of an edict of Artaxerxes of a different tenor from

that first issued, without explaining how it was brought

about. The way is now prepared for the mission of

Ezra and his reformatory labors (Ezra vii.–x.) and for

that of Nehemiah, to whom it was left to explain how

the favor of Artaxerxes was obtained, and how he was

induced to give orders for the rebuilding of the walls

(Neh.  ii.).

          Opinions may differ as to the wisdom of the plan

which the writer has seen fit to adopt. I agree with

those who think it carefully considered and well carried

out. Dr. Driver and others are utterly dissatisfied with

it. They complain that "the notice of the letter to

Ahasuerus and the correspondence with Artaxerxes re-

late to a different and subsequent period, and is out of

place, as they relate to the interruptions to the project

of rebuilding, not the temple, but the city walls, occur-

rences some eighty years later than the period he was

describing." The writer might, indeed, if he had so

chosen, upon the mention of the interruptions to the

rebuilding of the temple, have proceeded at once to say

how these were overcome and when the temple was

completed, and have reserved the obstruction to the re-

building of the walls to a later point in his narrative.

But it was equally consistent with good style to group

together the successive acts of hostility which the Jews

experienced from their neighbors, and let the progress

of the history show how the temple and the walls of

Jerusalem were finally built in spite of all that their

enemies could do to prevent it. In this there is no

overleaping a period of "eighty years." The trouble is


            THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                51

 

traced through each successive reign: in ver. 5, Cyrus

to Darius; then ver. 6, Xerxes; then ver. 7, Artaxerxes

There is no good reason for the charge that this is a

method which could only mislead and confuse the

reader." And the mistake attributed to the writer of

referring "to troubles connected with the restoration

of the temple what related in fact to the restoration of

the city walls" really belongs to those interpreters who,

disregarding the plain sense of the language used, en-

deavored to force it into correspondence with precon-

ceived notions of their own.

          Secondly, as to vii. 1-10. It is claimed on very trivial

grounds that this "is certainly not Ezra's work," but

none of the objections which are raised have the sem-

blance of implying a later date than the time of Ezra.

Notice is taken of "the omission of Ezra's immediate

ancestors (for Seraiah was contemporary with Zedekiah,

2 Kin. xxv. 18-21), one hundred and thirty years pre-

viously to Ezra's time." The only inference which can

be drawn from this is that Ezra preferred to link himself

with his distinguished ancestors before the exile rather

than with those since of less note. He was sprung

from the line of high priests extending from Aaron to

Seraiah, but not including Jehozadak, Seraiah's succes-

sor (1 Chron. vi. 14, 15), the probability being that he

was descended from a younger son of Seraiah, so that

the family was thenceforward of lower rank.

          "Vs. 7-9 anticipate cli. viii." In introducing him-

self to his readers Ezra first gives his pedigree (vs. 1-5),

then states very briefly and in general terms the fact,

the purpose, and the time of his coming to Jerusalem

with a fresh colony of exiles (vs. 6-10), as preliminary

to a detailed account of his commission from the king

(vs. 11-28), the persons who accompanied him (viii.

1-14), and the particulars of the expedition (vs. 15-31)


52            GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

and its arrival (vs. 32-36). It is difficult to see why

the same person might not write all this continu-

ously.

          "The expressions of the compiler in ver. 10," the

evidence of which is found in their correspondence

with expressions in the Books of Chronicles. But what

if the compiler was Ezra himself, who has very gener-

ally been supposed to be the author of Chronicles?

And Dr. Driver admits that he uses one of Ezra's ex-

pressions at the end of vs. 6, 9. Whether, however,

Ezra wrote the book which bears his name, or it was

compiled by another, is of little moment so far as our

present inquiry is concerned, unless it can be shown

that the compilation was made after Ezra's own

time.

          Thirdly. One more argument remains:  "There are

long periods on which the narrative is silent; in one

case especially (Ezra vi. 22-vii. 1), an interval of sixty

years, immediately before Ezra's own time, being passed

over by the words  'After these things' in a manner

not creditable if the writer were Ezra himself, but per-

fectly natural if the writer lived in an age to which the

period, B.C. 516-458, was visible only in a distant per-

spective." It should be remembered, however, that the

book does not profess to be an annalistic record of all

that took place. It deals with the early condition and

prospects of the infant colony and the progress made

in re-establishing the worship of God, and in freeing the

people from heathenish contamination; and periods in

which there was nothing to record which was germane

to the purpose of the writer are, of course, passed over

slightly.  "After these things" (vii. 1) refers not only

to the dedication of the temple fifty-eight years before,

as described in the immediately preceding verses, but

to all that had been previously recorded, including (iv.


          THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                   53

 

6-23) the embarrassments which had arisen in the reign

of Xerxes and Artaxerxes almost at the very time of

Ezra's coming.

          The arguments adduced to prove that the books of

Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah belong to "a date

shortly after B.C. 333," when the Persian empire was

overthrown by Alexander the Great, have now been ex-

amined, and it is fair to say that so far from establish-

ing the date alleged, they point to nothing later than

the age of Ezra and Nehemiah, or the close of the reign

of Artaxerxes, B.C. 425.

          The only data for ascertaining the age of the Book of

Ecclesiastes are its reflections upon governmental abuses

and the character of its language; and these are of too

vague and general a nature to lead to a determinate re-

sult. Dr. Driver says ("Lit. 0. T.," p. 471):  "Its pages

reflect the depression produced by the corruption of an

Oriental despotism, with its injustice (iii. 16, iv. 1, v. 8,

viii. 9), its capriciousness (x. 5f.), its revolutions (x. 7),

its system of spies (x. 20), its hopelessness of reform.

Its author must have lived when the Jews had lost their

national independence and formed but a province of

the Persian empire, perhaps even later when they had

passed under the rule of the Greeks (3d cent. B.C.)."

And (p. 475f.)  "The precise date of Ecclesiastes cannot

be determined, our knowledge of the history not enab-

ling us to interpret with any confidence the allusions to

concrete events which it seems to contain. But the

general political condition which it presupposes, and

the language, make it decidedly probable that it is not

earlier than the latter years of the Persian rule, which

ended B.C. 333, and it is quite possible that it is later."

How inconclusive this argument is in Dr. Driver's own

esteem is apparent from the use made of "perhaps,"

"probable," and "possible" in the course of it. Doubt-


54              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

less any Oriental despotism, Babylonish, Persian, or

Grecian, at any period of its history, would afford abun-

dant materials for just such reflections as are to be

found in Ecclesiastes. And for all that appears they

could be indulged in the first century of the Persian

domination, B.C. 536-436, as well as afterward.

          Dr. Driver further says (p. 473):  "Linguistically,

Ecclesiastes stands by itself in the Old Testament. The

Hebrew in which it is written has numerous features in

common with the latest parts of the Old Testament,

Ezra and Nehemiah, Chronicles, Esther, but it has in

addition many not met with in these books, but found

first in the Mishnah (which includes, no doubt, older

elements, but received its present form cir. 200 A.D.).

The characteristic of the Hebrew in which these latest

parts of the Old Testament are written is that while

many of the old classical words and expressions still

continue in use, and, in fact, still preponderate, the syn-

tax is deteriorated, the structure of sentences is cum-

brous and inelegant, and there is a very decided admix-

ture of words and idioms not found before, having

usually affinities with the Aramaic, or being such as are

in constant and regular use in the Hebrew of post-

Christian times (the Mishnah, etc.). And this latter

element is decidedly larger and more prominent in

Ecclesiastes than in either Esther or Ezra, Nehemiah,

Chronicles." And (p. 476) some "place it cir. 200 B.C.

on the ground of language, which favors, even though

our knowledge is not sufficient to enable us to say that

it requires, a date later than" the latter years of the Per-

sian rule.

          But in the chaotic condition of the Hebrew language

after the exile, and its rapid deterioration from constant

contact with the Aramean, from which it had already re-

ceived a large infusion, and which was in familiar use


         THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                  55

 

along with it, as is shown by the Aramean sections of

the Book of Ezra, the measure of its degeneracy in any

particular writing cannot afford a certain criterion of its

relative date. The critics certainly do not feel them-

selves bound by any such rule. The purity of Joel's

style does not prevent them from attempting to prove

him postexilic. They do not hesitate to place Isaiah

xl.—lxvi., notwithstanding its classic elegance, later than

Ezekiel with his abundant Aramaisms and anomalous

forms. The Hebrew original of the Book of Sirach or

Ecclesiasticus is, in the judgment of Dr. Driver (p. 474

note), predominantly classical, "and in syntax and

general style stands upon a much higher level than Ec-

clesiastes or Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles," all of

which he places a century or more before it. In our

ignorance of the extent to which the popular language

had been corrupted by Aramaisms in the first century

after the exile, or how far the language of certain books

written at that time may have been affected by the imi-

tation of earlier models, it cannot with any show of rea-

son be affirmed that such a book as Ecclesiastes could

not have been produced then.

          The attempt to establish a late date for the book by

the supposed detection of Sadducean sentiments or of

the influence of certain forms of Greek philosophy has

still less to recommend it.

          In regard to Esther, Dr. Driver says (p. 484):  "Ma-

terials do not exist for fixing otherwise than approxi-

mately the date at which the Book of Esther was com-

posed. Xerxes is described (i. 1 f.) in terms which im-

ply that his reign lay in a somewhat distant past when

the author wrote. By the majority of critics the book

is assigned either to the early years of the Greek period

(which began B.C. 332), or to the third century B.C.

With such a date the diction would well agree, which,


56              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

though superior to that of the Chronicler, and more ac-

commodated to the model of the earlier historical books,

contains many late words and idioms, and exhibits much

deterioration in syntax."

          No protracted period after the reign of Xerxes is re-

quired to account for the manner in which he is spoken

of (i. 1 f.). The language used would be entirely appro-

priate under his immediate successor Artaxerxes Longi-

manus. And the character of the Hebrew of the Book

of Esther finds an adequate explanation then as well as

at a later time. The critical opinion, which would place

it one or two centuries later, is due to a disposition

to discredit the history, which accords admirably with

what is known from other sources of the life and char-

acter of Xerxes, and of Persian customs, and is con-

firmed by the feast of Purim, established in commemo-

ration of the deliverance here recorded, and which,

according to Josephus,1 the Jews have observed ever

since.

          Of all the revolutionary conclusions of the critics there

is no one that is affirmed with greater positiveness or

with an air of more assured confidence than that the

Book of Daniel is a product of the Maccabean period.

And yet Delitzsch,2 before lie had himself yielded to

the prevailing current, correctly describes it as a book,

"which has been of the most commanding and most

effective influence on the New Testament writings, which

belongs to the most essential presuppositions of the

Apocalypse of John, and to the predictions of which The

who is the way, the truth, and the life for science also,

attaches an emphatic Nota Bene (let him that readeth

understand Mat. xxiv. 15); a book, the genuineness of

which had no other opposer for almost two thousand

years than the heathen scoffer Porphyry in his Words

 

          1 Ant., xi. 6, 12.     

          2 Herzog's Encyklopaedie, III., p. 271.


             THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                     57

 

against Christians,' but whose spuriousness has in

Germany, since Semler and Eichhorn, become step by

step a more and more indubitable fact to the Biblical

Criticism which proceeds from rationalistic presuppo-

sitions. . . . The principal ground of modern Crit-

icism against its genuineness, as it makes no conceal-

ment whatever itself, lies in the miracles and predictions

of the book." With almost unbroken uniformity the

critics unhesitatingly determine the date of the book by

what they consider the limit of its professed predictions,

which in their esteem are merely history in the garb of

prophecy.

          Dr. Driver indeed makes a show of separating the

literary from the dogmatic grounds on which it is

claimed that the book is not "the work of Daniel him-

self." According to Dr. Driver, "Internal evidence

shows, with a cogency that cannot be resisted, that it

must have been written not earlier than circ. 300 B.C.,

and in Palestine; and it is at least probable that it was

composed under the persecution of Antiochus Epipha-

nes, 168 or 167 B.C.

          "1. The following are facts of a historical nature,

which point more or less decisively to an author later

than Daniel himself:

          "a. The position of the book in the Jewish Canon,

not among the prophets, but in the miscellaneous col-

lection of writings called the Hagiographa, and among

the latest of these, in proximity to Esther. Though

little definite is known respecting the formation of the

Canon, the division known as the 'Prophets,' was doubt-

less formed prior to the Hagiographa; and had the

Book of Daniel existed at the time, it is reasonable to

suppose that it would have ranked as the work of a

prophet, and have been included among the former."

          The fact is that its being included in the Canon is a


58              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

serious obstacle to the critical hypothesis of its late

date. And as will be shown, when we come to consider

the threefold division of the Canon, it has its proper

place, and that not in conflict with but confirmatory of

the date which it claims for itself and which has until

recent times been uniformly attributed to it.

          "b. Jesus, the son of Sirach (writing circ. 200 B.C.),

in his enumeration of Israelitish worthies, ch. xliv.-1.,

though he mentions Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and (col-

lectively) the twelve Minor Prophets, is silent as to

Daniel."

          So, too, though he mentions Zerubbabel, Jeshua the

son of Jozadak, and Nehemiah, he is silent as to Ezra.

Are we, therefore, to infer that there was no such per-

son as Ezra, or that he was not associated with Nehe-

miah, or that he was of so little consequence that the

son of Sirach had never heard of him? And shall the

silence of the son of Sirach outweigh the express men-

tion of Daniel by his contemporary Ezekiel (xiv. 14,

20, xxviii. 3)?1

          "c. That Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and

 

          1 Dr. Driver says, p. 510 note:  "Whether he is alluded to in Ezek.

xiv. 14, 20, xxviii. 3 is uncertain: the terms in which Ezekiel speaks

in ch. xiv., seem to suggest a patriarch of antiquity, rather than a

younger contemporary of his own." The remark is gratuitous and

without the slightest foundation. "Noah, Daniel, and Job" are grouped

together, with no reference to the age in which they lived, as signal

instances of those who had delivered others by their righteousness;

Noah, whose family were saved with himself from the flood; Daniel,

who by his prevailing prayer rescued the wise men of Babylon from

being slain by the frenzied order of the king (Dan. ii. 18-24); and

Job, whose three friends were spared at his intercession (Job xlii.

7-9). If Grant, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great were mentioned

together as three famous generals, would the fact that one was mod-

ern and the others ancient make the identity of the first named un-

certain? The Daniel of the captivity precisely answers to Ezekiel's de-

scription, and there is no other that does.


         THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                          59

 

carried away some of the sacred vessels in the third

year of Jelioiakim' (Dan. i. 1 f.), though it cannot,

strictly speaking, be disproved, is highly improbable;

not only is the Book of Kings silent, but Jeremiah, in

the following year (ch. xxv., etc.; see ver. 1), speaks of

the Chaldeans in a manner which appears distinctly to

imply that their arms had not yet been seen in Judah."

          The solution of this imaginary difficulty is very

simple. It is only necessary to remember that a mili-

tary expedition is not always finished in the same year

in which it is undertaken. Nebuchadnezzar began his

march in the third year of Jehoiakim. His advance was

disputed by Pharaoh-neco; the decisive battle of Car-

chemish, which broke the power of Egypt, was fought

in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. xlvi. 1). The way

was now clear for Nebuchadnezzar to continue his

march and lay siege to Jerusalem. The Hebrew verb in

Dan. i. 1 does not require us to understand that Nebu-

chadnezzar arrived in Jerusalem in the third year of

Jehoiakim, much less that he finished his siege and

carried off his booty in that year. It is the same verb

that is used of the vessel, in which Jonah took passage

(Jon. i. 3), which was not then arriving in Tarshish,

but "going to Tarshish," i.e., setting out on its voyage

to that place.

          "d. The Chaldeans' are synonymous in Dan. i. 4,

ii. 2, etc., with the caste of wise men. This sense ‘is

unknown in the Ass.-Bab. language, has, wherever it

occurs, formed itself after the end of the Babylonian

empire, and is thus an indication of the post-exilic com-

position of the book’ (Schrader, Keilinschriften and d.

A. Test., Ed. 2, p. 429). It dates, namely, from a time

when practically the only Chaldeans’ known belonged

to the caste in question."

          One might naturally suppose from the positive man-


60              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

ner in which this assertion is made, that all the senses

which the word "Chaldeans" had or could have in

the language of Babylon were well known, and that it

was an ascertained fact that a meaning is attributed to

it in the Book of Daniel which was entirely foreign to

Babylonish usage. And yet Schrader himself says (p.

133 of the very volume from which the above assertion

is taken), "that the name Chaldeans has thus far only

been found in Assyrian monuments," and that "hither-

to we possess accounts about the Chaldeans only from

Assyrian sources"; so that, while it is conjectured that

the Babylonish pronunciation of the word has been pre-

served in the Hebrew, as the Assyrian has in the Greek,

even this is as yet without monumental verification. It

would appear, therefore, that he had no monumental

authority whatever for saying that the word" Chal-

deans" was not applied in Babylon, as it is in the Book

of Daniel, to one of the classes of wise men.

          "c. Belshazzar is represented as king of Babylon; and

Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of throughout ch. v. (vs. 2,

11, 13, 18, 22) as his father. In point of fact Nabonidus

(Nabunahid) was the last king of Babylon; he was a

usurper, not related to Nebuchadnezzar, and one Bel-

sharuzur is mentioned as his son."

          It is surprising that this notable proof of the writer's

familiarity with affairs in Babylon should be urged as

an objection to Daniel's authorship. No ancient writer,

native or foreign, has preserved the name of Belshazzar,

or given any hint of his existence, except the Book of

Daniel. Daniel's Belshazzar was accordingly a puzzle

to believers in the authenticity of the book, and a butt

of ridicule to unbelievers, like Isaiah's casual mention of

Sargon (xx. 1), who is similarly unknown to any other

ancient writer. But the first Assyrian mound excavated

by Botta proved to be the palace of Sargon, and Isaiah


           THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                      61

 

was vindicated. Nabuna'id's Sippara inscription solved

the mystery of Belshazzar, of whom he speaks as "his

eldest son, the offspring of his heart." "Belshazzar the

king's son" is likewise spoken of in several contract

tablets in connection with his household arrangements

and business transactions in which he was concerned.

From the annalistic inscription of Nabuna'id, which re-

cords his movements in each successive year of his reign,

it appears that Belshazzar was in command of the troops

in northern Babylonia, while Nabuna'id himself re-

mained in Tema, a suburb of Babylon, from his seventh

to his eleventh year. There is then an unfortunate

break in the inscription until Nabuna'id's last year, his

seventeenth, when he is stated to have been himself at

the head of the troops in northern Babylonia to resist

the advance of Cyrus, and was defeated by him. This

creates the presumption that Belshazzar may have been

on duty elsewhere, perhaps in charge of the capital,

which would be in accord with Dan. v.

          But Dr. Driver insists that "the inscriptions lend no

support to the hypothesis that Belsharuzur was his

father's viceroy, or was entitled to be spoken of as

'king'; he was called 'the king's son' to the day of

his death." According to the inscriptions Belshazzar

was the king's son, his first born, his dearly beloved

son, and in command of the army; what is there in this

to discredit the additional statement of the Book of

Daniel that he was addressed as "king"? or to forbid

the assumption that he may have been formally raised

to the dignity of participation with his father in the

kingdom, perhaps in those later years of his reign, the

record of which in the annalistic inscription has been

unfortunately obliterated? In the first edition of his

"Literature of the Old Testament " Dr. Driver says,

in a. footnote, "In respect of vii. 1, viii. 1, if they stood


62                 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

alone, association with his father on the throne would be

conceivable. But in T. 28, 30 he seems to be described

as sole king." The statement in the first sentence covers

the entire case. The affirmation in the second sentence

is a most extraordinary one, inasmuch as v. 29 makes it

evident that Belshazzar was not sole king. Why was

Daniel promoted to be the third ruler in the kingdom?

Why not second, as in the case of Joseph, who was ad-

vanced to be next to Pharaoh? This was never under-

stood until the position of Belshazzar was cleared up

by the monuments. Daniel was third because next to

Nabuna'id and Belshazzar. Dr. Driver's suggestion,

p. 490, that Daniel was "made one of the three chief

ministers in the kingdom," like the marginal rendering

of the English Revisers, "rule as one of three," is a

simple evasion and a departure from the plain meaning

of the original word.

          But how could Nebuchadnezzar be the father of Bel-

shazzar, when his real father was Nabuna'id, "a usurper,

not related to Nebuchadnezzar"? Here Dr. Driver

makes the reluctant admission:  "There remains the pos-

sibility that Nabu-nahid may have sought to strengthen

his position by marrying a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar,

in which case the latter might be spoken of as Belshaz-

zar's father (= grandfather, by Hebrew usage). The

terms of ch. v., however, produce certainly the impression

that, in the view of the writer, Belshazzar was actually

Neb.'s son." It might as well be said that when Jesus

is called "the son of David," the view of the writer

must have been that he was David's immediate descend-

ant. These words might be so interpreted by one who

did not know from other sources that this could not be

their meaning. We have, it is true, no positive infor-

mation that Nabuna'id was thus allied with the family

of Nebuchadnezzar; but there are corroborating cir-


             THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                      63

 

cumstances, which, to say the least, heighten the "pos-

sibility" into a very strong probability. This supposi-

tion is commended by its perfectly reconciling all the

statements in the case; such a marriage may have

inflamed his ambition and led to his usurpation after

the example of Neriglissar, the successful conspirator

against his brother-in-law Evil-merodach, the son of

Nebuchadnezzar; this, too, explains the fact, attested

by the Behistun inscription, that Nabuna'id had a son

Nebuchadnezzar, who was twice personated by impostors

in the reign of Darius Hystaspes. My colleague, Dr.

Davis, has called my attention to an unpublished coro-

nation inscription1 of Nabuna'id, in which he says: "Of

Nebuchadnezzar and Neriglissar the kings my prede-

cessors their mighty descendant I am he." This ex-

plicit claim on the part of Nabuna'id, however he may

have justified it, is direct monumental evidence that he,

and by consequence also his son Belshazzar, considered

themselves descendants of Nebuchadnezzar.

          One mutilated passage in the annalistic inscription,

which is understood by Sayce, Schrader, and Winckler to

record the death of "the king's wife," has more recently

been translated by Hagen, with the approval of Pinches

and Frederick Delitzsch, "On the night of the eleventh

of Marchesvan Gobryas attacked and killed the son (?)

of the king."  Upon which Dr. Driver remarks:  "When

the Persians (as the same inscription shows) had been

in peaceable possession of Babylon for four months, how

could Belshazzar, even supposing (what is not in itself

inconceivable) that he still held out in the palace, and

was slain afterward in attempting to defend it, promise

and dispense (v. 7, 16, 29) honors in his kingdom, and

what need could there be for the solemn announcement

 

          1 Translated in part by Boscawen, Biblical and Oriental Record,

September, 1896.


64               GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

(v. 25-28), as of something new and unexpected, that his

(or his father's) kingdom was to be given to the Medes

and Persians, when it must have been patent to every-

one that they were already in possession of it?"

          It is scarcely necessary to take any special pains to

defend the accuracy of the Book of Daniel against this

hypothetical rendering, of which Hagen himself says:

"It is greatly to be regretted that the words which give

account of the death which took place in the night of

the eleventh of Marchesvan, have come down to us so

mutilated and defaced. . . . Before a decisive ut-

terance can be made on a point so unusually important

historically, it is necessary to wait for a duplicate of the

text, which shall leave no doubt whatever as to the

characters in question." But supposing the case to be

precisely as Dr. Driver puts it, it will be observed that

the inscription so understood confirms the account of

Daniel in at least three important particulars, viz., that

Belshazzar met a violent death, in the night, and on the

final collapse of the Babylonish power. The difficulties

suggested by Dr. Driver will be dispelled, if Belshazzar

and his lords believed the palace impregnable, and cher-

ished the expectation that their armies might yet be

rallied and the intruder expelled. It has its parallels in

Jeremiah's purchase of a field in Anathoth at the very

time that Jerusalem was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar

and the captivity was imminent (Jer. xxxii. 8-12); and in

the public sale by Romans of the land on which Hanni-

bal was encamped, while he was thundering at the gates

of their city with every prospect of accomplishing its

overthrow.

          Dr. Driver sums up the whole situation, as he regards

it, in the words, "The historical presuppositions of

Dan. v. are inconsistent with the evidence of the con-

temporary monuments." On the contrary, a careful exam-


           THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                     65

 

ination of all that he has adduced justifies the assertion

that he has failed to point out a single inconsistency

between Dan. v. and the monuments. Now is it con-

ceivable that a nameless Jew of a later age, whom the

critics, in order to make out their case, are obliged to

charge with gross ignorance of some very conspicuous

facts of the intervening history, is the author of a narra-

tive detailing particulars respecting the last day of the

Babylonish empire, which have escaped the notice of

all ancient writers, but are signally confirmed by native

and contemporary inscriptions brought to light within

the last few years, in which he states that there was a Bel-

shazzar; that he was in Babylon and in high authority

at the time of its final surrender; that he was descended

from Nebuchadnezzar (in spite of the fact that his

father was a usurper and not of royal blood); that the

queen is distinguished (ver. 10) from the wives of Bel-

shazzar (ver. 3); that she was living at the fall of the

city (if Schrader reads correctly); that she was familiar

with facts in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, of which Bel-

shazzar appears to have been ignorant; that she was a

superior person, calculated to win universal respect, as

shown by her calm and dignified demeanor in the midst

of a terror-stricken assemblage. In the statement of

these minute circumstances, otherwise unknown, there

is abundant opportunity for anyone to trip who was

not perfectly familiar with the facts with which he was

dealing. And yet the writer of this book has threaded

his way through them all without being convicted of a

single blunder. And it may be added that the inscrip-

tion of Cyrus, which declares that his army entered

Babylon without opposition, has falsified the statements

of other historians on the subject, but Daniel remains

uncontradicted. He speaks of no siege and no strata-

gem to gain admission to the walls.  He simply says


66            GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

that Belshazzar was slain, and that the kingdom was

transferred to the Medes and Persians. Here is another

chance for a blunder. Nabuna'id survived the fall of

Babylon, but, if Hagen reads correctly, there is monu-

mental evidence that Belshazzar did not. Can we fail

to see in all this the hand of one present at the scene,

and who knows whereof he affirms?

          f. "Darius, son of Ahasuerus—elsewhere the Hebrew

form of Xerxes—a Mede, after the death of Belshazzar,

is 'made king over the realm of the Chaldeans' (v. 31,

vi. 1 ff., ix. 1, xi. 1). There seems to be no room for such

a ruler. According to all other authorities, Cyrus is the

immediate successor of Nabu-nahid, and the ruler of

the entire Persian empire."

          But Sargon and Belshazzar admonish us not to be too

hasty in imagining that the explicit statement of a sa-

cred writer is in every case outweighed by the silence

of other historians. Perhaps Darius the Mede may be

the Cyaxares1 of Xenophon, or he may be some noble

of Median birth, to whom Cyrus found it convenient to

commit the government of Babylon for a brief term.

We can afford, in this instance, to wait for further light.

The inscription of Cyrus records his entry into the city

and the submission of its inhabitants and of the sur-

rounding region, but beyond the appointment of some

subordinate officials says nothing of the arrangements

for its government. So far then from there being "no

room for such a ruler," the way is entirely open for any

ruler whom Cyrus might see fit to place in authority

over this conquered kingdom. Dr. Driver gratuitously

utters the groundless suspicion that the writer has here

confused distinct persons, and that Darius the Mede is

"a reflection into the past of Darius Hystaspes," though

in his first edition he acknowledged that "the circum-

 

          1 So Josephus, Ant., x. 11, 4.


       THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                67

 

stances are not, perhaps, such as to be absolutely in-

consistent with either the existence or the office of

Darius the Mede; and a cautious criticism will not

build too much on the silence of the inscriptions, where

many certainly remain yet to be brought to light."

          "In ix. 2 it is stated that Daniel ‘understood by

the books' the number of years for which, according to

Jeremiah, Jerusalem should lie waste. The expression

used implies that the prophecies of Jeremiah formed

part of a collection of sacred books which, nevertheless,

it may safely be affirmed, was not formed in 536 B. C."

          It is difficult to see with what propriety such an af-

firmation can be made, or what there was to prevent

Daniel from having in his possession the inspired books,

so far as they had then been written, and among them

the prophecies of Jeremiah.

          h. "Other indications adduced to show that the book

is not the work of a contemporary are such as the fol-

lowing:  The improbability that Daniel, a strict Jew,

should have suffered himself to be initiated into the

class of Chaldean ‘wise men,’ or should have been ad-

mitted by the wise men themselves (ch. i; cf. ii. 13);

Nebuchadnezzar's seven years' insanity (lycanthropy),

with his edict respecting it; the absolute terms in which

both he and Darius (iv. 1-3, 34-37, vi. 25-27), while

retaining, so far as appears, their idolatry, recognize the

supremacy of the God of Daniel, and command homage

to be done to Him."

          It is surely not worth while to waste time and space

in giving a serious answer to frivolous objections of

this nature, which might be multiplied to any extent.

It is sufficient to quote Dr. Driver's own words in re-

gard to them:  "The circumstances alleged will appear

improbable or not improbable, according as the critic,

upon independent grounds, has satisfied himself that


68             GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

the book is the work of a later author or written by

Daniel himself."

          In the opinion of Dr. Driver, the arguments above re-

cited "tend to show that this book reflects the tradi-

tions and historical impressions of an age considerably

later than that of Daniel himself." There seems to be

nothing to justify this conclusion. On the contrary,

the accuracy of its statements, even in minute particu-

lars, wherever it is possible to test them by comparison

with other trustworthy sources, its acquaintance with

facts mentioned by no other historian, but recently con-

firmed by contemporary monuments, and its general

correspondence with all that is known of the situation

assumed, show a familiarity on the part of the writer

with the scenes described such as could not be expected

in a Jew residing in Palestine two or more centuries

later, but which agrees exactly with the claim which it

makes for itself of being the work of Daniel, a high

official in the court of Babylon.

          In regard to the language of the Book of Daniel, Dr.

Driver says:  "The Persian words presuppose a period

after the Persian empire had been well established;

the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the

Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine

by Alexander the Great, B.C. 332."

          This is a sweeping conclusion from very slender and

precarious premises. Like Persian words occur in

Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Chronicles. Why might

they not be used also by Daniel, who was brought into

immediate contact with Persian monarchs and offi-

cers? And who can assure us that Arian words, which

can now be best explained from the Persian, had not

wandered into the popular speech of the great me-

tropolis of Babylon before its conquest by Cyrus, even

though they have not yet been found in the inscrip-


       THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON               69

 

Lions? The Greek words, of which earlier critics had

scraped together a formidable list, have now been re-

duced to three names of musical instruments. One of

these is a Homeric word, which, Dr. Driver admits,

might have travelled into the East. And though the

other two do not chance to appear in this sense in

Greek literature until a later time, this does not dis-

prove their existence in ordinary speech, nor the pos-

sibility of their being carried to Babylon. Delitzsch1

says on this subject, "Why should not three Greek in-

struments have been known in Babylon, the 'city of

merchants,' as Ezekiel calls it, in the pre-seleucid pe-

riod? A recent philologist2 says, without having the

Book of Daniel in mind, and, therefore, quite unbiassed

in his judgment: ‘The extended trade of the Greek

colonies must not seldom have brought Greek merchants

into Assyrian countries. They even penetrated beyond

the Volga far into the inhospitable steppes of Russia on

the Don. But the intercourse with the Assyrian prov-

inces of Asia Minor must have been most considerable.

That Greeks came as merchants even to Assyria itself

is and must remain only a supposition, but it is certain

that Greek soldiers accompanied Esarhaddon in his ex-

peditions through Asia, and that, generally speaking, the

West took part to a greater extent in the revolutions of

the East than one would believe is shown by the frag-

ment of a poetical letter of Almus to his brother An-

timenides, who had won glory and stipend under the

standard of Nebuchadnezzar.’ Accordingly, acquaint-

ance with three Greek instruments would not be sur-

prising nor inexplicable even in Nineveh, not to say in

Babylon under the later Chaldean dominion."

          Dr. Driver alleges that "the Aramaic of Daniel,

 

          1 Herzog Encyk., 1st edition, III., p. 274.

          2 John Brandis, Allgem. Monatsschrift, 1854, 2.


70           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

(which is all but identical with that of Ezra) is a West-

ern Aramaic dialect, of the type spoken in and about

Palestine." Delitzsch1 was of a different opinion:  "Af-

finity with the Palestine Aramaic is lacking entirely;

it is with the Aramaic of the Book of Ezra the oldest

East Aramaic monument preserved to us." And the

interchange of Hebrew and Aramean is precisely sim-

ilar to that in Ezra. The Hebrew of the book has fewer

anomalies than that of Ezekiel, and corresponds with

that of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. The critics

arbitrarily assign these books to the close of the Persian

or beginning of the Greek period, and undertake to sup-

port this position by the unwarranted assertion that the

common character of their language is indicative of

this late date; but this is a figment used to bolster up

a foregone critical conclusion. These books belong to

the period of Ezra and Nehemiah, and determine the

language of their time. And the agreement of Daniel

with them in this respect points to a period not far

removed from them. In the words of Delitzsch,2  "In

short, the total impression of the form of the language

corresponds to the time of composition claimed by the

Book of Daniel." And this is not discredited by the

fact that Zechariah adhered somewhat more closely to

the Hebrew of earlier books.

          As the historical and linguistic objections are insuffi-

cient to disprove Daniel's authorship, it remains to be

seen whether the dogmatic objections are any more de-

cisive. If the atheistic or pantheistic position is taken,

that miracles and predictive prophecy are impossible,

and that doctrinal development can be no other than a

purely natural growth, the question is settled; Daniel

cannot have been the author of the book. But to those

 

          1 Herzog-Plitt Encyk., III., p. 471.

          2 Herzog Encyk., III., p. 274.


          THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                  71

 

who are theists, and who believe that God has made a

revelation to men, authenticated by immediate mani-

festations of His presence and power, the advanced

teachings of this book, the miracles which it records,

and the clear prevision of the future here displayed,

cannot be accepted as proofs that it is not what it claims

to be, what it has traditionally been believed to be,

and what, according to our Lord's teaching, it is.

          Dr. Driver infers that this book belongs to "a later

age than that of the exile," because "the doctrines of

the Messiah, of angels, of the resurrection, and of a

judgment on the world, are taught with greater distinct-

ness, and in a more developed form, than elsewhere in

the Old Testament." But it is difficult to see why fresh

revelations on these subjects might not be made to

Daniel, as well as to one in the period of the Maccabees.

The inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews be-

lieved that there were those who, through faith, had

"stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the vio-

lence of fire"; why may we not believe it, too?

          But it is chiefly to the predictions that Dr. Driver

objects:

          1. "That the revelations respecting Antiochus Epi-

phanes should be given to Daniel, in Babylon, nearly

four centuries previously."

          2. "The minuteness of the predictions, embracing

even special events in the distant future."

          3. "While down to the period of Antiochus' persecu-

tion the actual events are described with surprising dis-

tinctness, after this point the distinctness ceases: the

prophecy either breaks off altogether, or merges in an

ideal representation of the Messianic future."

          But (1) the Bible contains numerous predictions of

the remote future, and these often relating to specific

events, which are exactly stated or more or less minutely


72          GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

described. It was revealed to Abraham that a great

nation should descend from him (Gen. xii. 2), which

should possess the land of Canaan (ver. 7), but should

first be in bondage in a foreign land four hundred years,

on which judgments should be inflicted, and then they

should come out with great substance (xv. 13, 14). To

Isaac, that Esau's descendants should serve Jacob, but

should ultimately throw off his yoke (xxvii. 40). To

Jacob, many particulars respecting the settlement of the

tribes in Canaan, including the sceptre in Judah (ch.

xlix.). To Balaam, the sceptre that should rise out of

Israel and smite surrounding lands, the triumphs of

Assyria, and its overthrow (Num. xxiv.). To Moses,

that Israel should suffer from distant invaders, and be

carried into exile (Deut. xxviii.). To Isaiah, at the very

outset of his ministry, the desolation and captivity of

Judah (v. 13, 26-30, vi. 11, 12); at the beginning of the

reign of Ahaz, the Assyrian invasion and its inglorious

issue (vii. 17 ff., viii. 7-10), which he continued to reiter-

ate until Sennacherib's disastrous overthrow; when

Hezekiah vaingloriously displayed his treasures to mes-

sengers from Babylon, that these should be carried

thither into captivity (xxxix. 6, 7), but that Babylon

itself should fall and be reduced to utter desolation

(chs. xiv.), and Judah's exiles be released by Cyrus

(xliv. 26, 28). To Micah, that Zion should be ploughed

as a field, and its people exiled to Babylon, and there

delivered (iii. 12, iv. 10). To Jeremiah, the precise du-

ration of the captivity (xxv. 11, 12), the utter desolation

of Edom (xlix. 17), and the fall of Babylon (chs. li., lii.).

To Zechariah, the victory of Zion over the Grecian army

of Antiochus Epiphanes (ix. 13). If there is any truth

in the representations of Scripture on this subject, there

have been numberless predictions of specific events in

the distant future. Those who deny the possibility of


       THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                 73

 

predictive prophecy, act consistently in unsparingly ap-

plying the last resource of the critics, and sweeping

away every vestige of clear and remote predictions by

summarily setting aside their genuineness, if they can-

not rid themselves of them in any other way. But it is

surely very inconsistent in those who admit the reality

of a divinely inspired foresight of the future, to prescribe

in advance the limits and bounds within which alone

this may be exercised, and to refuse to acknowledge the

genuineness of any prophecy which exceeds the restric-

tions that they have arbitrarily imposed upon it.

          (2.) The specific predictions of Daniel do not termi-

nate with Antiochus Epiphanes. The four empires of

chs. ii. and vii. are the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek,

and Roman. The attempts to find four empires answer-

ing to these visions without including the Roman are

manifest evasions. The Medo-Persian cannot be divided

into two. The Medes and Persians were under one

sovereignty, and so are uniformly combined in the Book

of Daniel (v. 28, vi. 8, 12, 15, viii. 20), in Esther (i. 3,

14, 18, 19), and repeatedly in the Behistun inscription

of Darius Hystaspes. Besides, the Persian cannot be

the third of Daniel's empires, since it does not corre-

spond with the third beast of his vision, which had four

heads (vii. 6), indicating its fourfold division, which was

true of the Greek empire (viii. 8, 22), but not of the

Persian. Nor can the Greek empire be divided by

counting the empire of Alexander the third, and that of

his successors, and particularly the Syrian branch, from

which Antiochus Epiphanes sprang, the fourth. For

the third beast with its four heads must symbolize an

empire broken into four parts, and must, therefore, in-

clude the empire of Alexander's successors along with

that of Alexander himself. The fourth empire is repre-

sented as stronger and more terrible than any that had


74            GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

preceded it, but it is expressly said that the power of

Alexander's successors would not equal his own (viii. 22,

xi. 4). And no satisfactory account can be given of the

ten horns or ten kingdoms to arise out of the fourth

beast, if this be the empire of Alexander's successors.

The only plausible argument in favor of making the

fourth beast represent the Greek empire is the assumed

identity of the little horn in vii. 8, 24, 25, and that in

viii. 9-12, 23-25, which are described in somewhat sim-

ilar terms: That in ch. viii. is undoubtedly Antiochus

Epiphanes; but that in ch. vii. is his counterpart, who

was to arise at a much later time, the Antichrist of the

New Testament (2 Thes. ii. 3, 4, 8-10; 1 John, ii. 18;

Rev. xiii. 5-7).

          The prophecy of the seventy weeks (ix. 24-27) was ful-

filled in the ministry and vicarious death of Jesus Christ

at the predicted time, and in the destruction of Jerusa-

lem by the Romans (cf. Matt. xxiv. 15, 16). The at-

tempt to apply this to Antiochus Epiphanes both re-

quires a wresting of its terms, and assumes a strange

ignorance of chronology on the part of the supposed

Maccabean writer.

          (3.) It is quite in accordance with the analogy of

prophecy, when Daniel clearly predicts the struggle of

the Maccabees against Antiochus, and blends with the

deliverances of that period the blessings of Messiah's

reign. Messiah is ordinarily the background of every

prophetic picture. It is so with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and

the prophets generally. Zechariah predicts the contest

with the Syro-Macedonian empire, and then, precisely

as Daniel does, hurries away from it to the coming of

Christ (ix. 8, 9; cf. ver. 13). Nevertheless the predic-

tion that the Greek empire would be followed by the

Roman, shows that Daniel did not expect the resurrec-

tion and final judgment to follow immediately after the


         TIIE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                    75

 

deliverance from the persecutions of Antiochus, and thus

corrects the false inferences drawn from the transition

in xii. 1, 2. Moreover, if the Book of Daniel were a

spurious production, first written and published B.C.

165, and contained the extravagant and fanatical expec-

tations which have been imputed to it respecting the

miraculous death of Antiochus in Palestine, to be fol-

lowed at once by the coming of the Messiah and the res-

urrection — expectations which were falsified by the

event within two years—must it not have been discred-

ited at once? How could it ever have gained credit as

the genuine work of a true prophet of God, and even

have been attributed to one who lived nearly four cen-

turies before, though now heard of for the first time?

And especially how could it have gained such speedy and

acknowledged influence as to have been at once inserted

in the sacred canon, and that the Book of Maccabees, in

recording the history of these times, adopts its very lan-

guage and borrows its forms of expression? Not to add

that there is strong reason to believe that the Septua-

gint version of the Book of Daniel was in existence be-

fore the date assigned by the critics for its composition.

(4.) The attempts which have been made to compro-

mise by accepting the critical conclusions adverse to the

genuineness of the Book of Daniel, and at the same

time holding to its inspired character as a product of

divine revelation, are as futile here as in regard to other

books of the Old Testament which have been similarly

treated. They only, result in retaining all the difficulties

which have been thought to encumber the traditional

belief as to its authorship, and in introducing others of

a far more formidable character.

          Dr. Driver thinks that the author was "a prophet liv-

ing in the time of the trouble itself," who wrote "not

after the persecutions were ended, but at their begin-


76          GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

ning," and "thus uttered genuine predictions."  "Gen-

uine predictions," as distinguished from mere lucky

conjectures or shrewd calculations from existing causes,

which involve a real prevision of what lay beyond the

reach of the human faculties, are the essence of the dif-

ficulty to those who would explain everything from nat-

ural causes. This is not relieved by reducing their

number, or by shortening the time prior to their fulfil-

ment. And "the distinctness of the prophecy merging

in an ideal representation of the Messianic future," to

which Dr. Driver objects, remains equally upon his own

view of the case. But if the author of the book is a

true prophet, and utters "genuine prophecies," why

does he not come forward in his real character, and ut-

ter them in his own name as a messenger sent from

God, as every other prophet does, and as an honest man

must do, instead of falsely ascribing to a prophet of a

former age what he never uttered?

          Dr. Driver tells us, further, that "the book rests upon

a traditional basis. Daniel, it cannot be doubted, was

a historical person, one of the Jewish exiles in Baby-

lon who, with his three companions, was noted for his

stanch adherence to the principles of his religion, who

attained a position of influence at the court of Babylon,

who interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dreams, and foretold

as a seer something of the future fate of the Chaldean

and Persian empires. Perhaps written materials were

at the disposal of the author. . . . The nar-

ratives in chs. i.-vi. are thus adapted to supply motives

for the encouragement, and models for the imitation, of

those suffering under the persecution of Antiochus. In

chs. vii.-xii. definiteness and distinctness are given to

Daniel's visions of the future." We must confess that

our confidence in the truth of the facts above recited

rests upon the testimony of Daniel himself, rather than


         THE COMPLETION OF THE CANON                  77

 

the amiable assurance given by Dr. Driver, who has

found them "mingled with much that is unhistorical."

And, after all, he gives no hint whether the miraculous

interferences on behalf of God's servants in chs. i.–vi. are

facts or fictions. If the former, why might not Daniel

have recorded them ? If the latter, they would be falla-

cious grounds of "encouragement" or "imitation." And

so far as "definiteness and distinctness are given to

Daniel's visions of the future " in chs. vii.–xii. by the

author of the book in its present form, he has falsified

them. He has attributed to Daniel definite and distinct

predictions, which in fact he did not make. Such a de-

fence, involving moral obliquity, is more to be depre-

cated than open assault.

          The existence of Maccabean Psalms is a vexed ques-

tion, in regard to which there is the widest possible di-

versity of opinion among critics. Justus Olshausen,

von Lengerke, Reuss, and Cheyne find a large number,

scattered through every part of the Book of Psalms,

which they attribute to this period. According to Hit-

zig, Pss. i., ii., lxxiii.-cl. are Maccabeam. Others of more

moderate views, like Delitzsch and Perowne, are content

with referring Pss. xliv., lxxiv., lxxix. to that date. Rob-

ertson Smith, who had included these three Psalms

among those of Maccabean origin in the first edition of

his "Old Testament in the Jewish Church," no longer

regarded them as such in his second edition, but assigns

Pss. cxviii., cxlix., and a few others in the latter part of

the collection to the early years of Maccabee sovereignty.

On the other hand, such critics as Gesenius, Maurer, De

Wette, Bleek, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Havernick, Keil,

Dillmann, and many others deny that any Psalms belong

to the Maccabean period, and insist that those which

have been so referred with any plausibility find their

true explanation in the ravages of the Chaldeans when


78            GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, or the

troubles succeeding the return from the exile. The fact

is, as Dr. Driver says, p. 388, "The grounds upon which

specific dates can be assigned to individual Psalms are

often exceedingly slender." The criteria urged for the

reference of particular Psalms to the Maccabean period

are of that general and indefinite sort that will apply

equally well, and often much better, to other and earlier

times of oppression and trial.

          We have now examined with some care the reasons

adduced to show that Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ec-

clesiastes, Esther, and Daniel belong to a later date than

the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and have found

them unsatisfactory. The divergence among critics in

respect to Maccabean Psalms is such, and the grounds

urged in their favor are so vague and inconclusive, that

their existence must be considered very problematical.

The statement of the historian Josephus that no addition

was made to the canon after the reign of Artaxerxes

Longimanus, and the current belief of the nation of the

Jews that Malachi was the last of the prophets, and that

after him the Holy- Spirit departed from Israel, thus re-

main uncontradicted, except by critical theories which

rest on no solid foundation.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           VI

 

         THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON

 

          THE first notice that we have of the canon of the Old

Testament after its completion is in the prologue to the

Book of Ecclesiasticus. The writer, by whom this work

of his grandfather, Jesus the son of Sirach, was trans-

lated into Greek, speaks of the sacred books as "the

law, and the prophets, and the others that followed after

them"; then of his grandfather giving himself largely

to the reading of "the law and the prophets and the

other books of the fathers"; and still further, by way

of apology for the inferiority of his translation to the

original work, that this is the case even with "the law

and the prophets and the rest of the books," as rendered

from the Hebrew into another tongue. The proximate

date of this prologue, as appears from a statement con-

tained in it, is the thirty-eighth year of Ptolemy Euer-

getes, king of Egypt. As the first of that name did not

reign so long, this must be Ptolemy Euergetes II., com-

monly called Physcon, whose thirty-eighth year would

correspond with B.C. 130. Accordingly at that time, and

also in the time of the writer's grandfather, fifty or more

years earlier, the sacred books formed a definite and

well-known collection, arranged in three divisions, sev-

erally denominated "the law and the prophets and the

other books," or "the rest of the books." This is the

same division that existed ever afterward, and is now

found in the Hebrew Bible. It has been alleged that

the third division was then only in the process of forma-

 

                                        79


80                GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

tion, and did not yet contain all the books which subse-

quently belonged to it. But the terms in which it is

described are as definite and explicit as those applied to

the other two divisions. There is no more reason to re-

gard it as open to later additions than there is in the case

of the law and the prophets. That it does not receive an

equally descriptive designation is due to the somewhat

miscellaneous character of its contents. The designa-

tions here used correspond precisely to those of later

times—law, prophets, and k'thubhim (writings) or hagi-

ographa (sacred writings).

          This division differs in form and in its determining

principle from the fourfold division, adopted in all

modern versions from the Greek Septuagint, into the

law, the historical, the poetical, and the prophetical

books, based upon the distinctive character of these dif-

ferent classes of sacred writings.

          The threefold division of the Hebrew canon rests, not

upon the nature of the contents of the several books, but

upon the personality of the writers. And here the dis-

tinction lies not in the various grade of their inspiration,

as was maintained by Maimonides and the rabbins of

the Middle Ages, who held that the law stood first, be-

cause Moses, its author, spake with God face to face;

that the prophets, who came next, were inspired by the

Spirit of prophecy, while the writers of the k'thubhim

had a lower grade of inspiration, viz.: that of the Holy

Spirit. The real ground of the division is the official

status of the sacred writers. Moses, as the great legis-

lator and founder of the Old Testament dispensation,

occupied a unique position, and his books appropriately

stand by themselves in the first place.

          Then follow in the second place the prophets, a dis-

tinct order of men, universally recognized as such, the

immediate messengers of God to the people to declare


THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON                81

 

his will and purposes to them for their guidance, in-

struction, and admonition. Their writings are of two

kinds, historical and prophetical. In the former they

trace the hand of God in his past dealings; in the latter

they deliver the messages with which they have been

charged. Their historical writings are called the former

prophets, and their prophetical writings the latter

prophets, from the order in which they stand in the

canon.

          Finally, the third division comprises the writings of

inspired men, who were not prophets in the technical

and official sense. David was gifted with divine inspir-

ation, and the Psalms composed by him contain Mes-

sianic predictions; but he held the office of a king, not

of a prophet. So with Solomon. Asaph and the sons

of Korah were inspired singers, whose function was to

lead the devotional worship of the temple; they were

not officially prophets. Consequently the writings of

David, Solomon, Asaph and the sons of Korah properly

stand not among those of the prophets, but with the

k'thubhim.

          The principle upon which the classification is made

is thus a clear and obvious one; the three divisions con-

tain respectively the writings of Moses, of the prophets,

and of inspired men not prophets.

          Dillmann1 says "It is very easily understood why the

prophets are separated from the law, and again the

books of the poets from the prophets; also why the his-

torical books are put together with the books of the

prophets in one division. . . . From these are

rightly distinguished the books of the men of God, who

without having the official and public position of the

prophets are yet filled with the spirit of wisdom and

knowledge, and impelled by the forces of a divine life

 

          1 Jahrb. f. D. Theol., III., p. 425.


82          GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

within them, have left the Church written monuments of

their inner spiritual life. So far the division is quite

clear and transparent, and likewise of the kind that it

could without scruple be derived from one primal and

original collector of these three parts." If, then, the

three divisions of the canon had contained severally the

law, the prophets (including both the historical and the

prophetical books), and the books of the poets, they

might, according to Dillmann, have been referred to a

single collector, who arranged them thus at one time.

He is, however, disturbed by the fact that the third

division is not restricted to poetical books. Hence he

goes on to say, "But besides the books of the poets

there are also found in the third portion of the canon

some historical books, Chronicles with Ezra (including

Nehemiah) and Esther, and a prophetical book, Daniel;

books, therefore, which according to the above principle

of division one would expect to be in the second portion,

or in the canon of the prophets."

          Moses Stuart claims that as originally arranged the

third division of the canon merely contained the poetical

books.1 He appeals in proof to the son of Sirach, who

in his praise of famous men speaks of prophecies,

Ecclus. xliv. 3, poems, ver. 5, and the law of Moses

(xlv. 5); to Philo,2 who says of the Therapeutre that

"they receive only the laws, and the oracles uttered by

the prophets, and the hymns and other books by which

knowledge and piety are augmented and perfected," the

"other books" being immediately after described as

"the writings of ancient men, the leaders of their sect";

to Luke, xxiv. 44 "the law of Moses and the prophets

and the Psalms," Psalms being here supposed to

 

          1 Old Testament Canon, pp. 248 ff., 292.

          2 De Vita Contemplativa; this treatise is now believed not to be by

Philo, but of later date.


THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON           83

 

be used in a wide sense to embrace all the poetical

books; to Josephus, who after speaking of the first and

second divisions of the canon describes the third by say-

ing, "the other four books contain hymns to God and

maxims of life for men"; and to the catalogues of the

early Christian fathers, which in enumerating the books

of Scripture put all the poetical books together. Where-

upon he concludes "that the son of Sirach, Philo, the

New Testament, Josephus, and all the earlier Christian

writers down to the middle of the fourth century testify

in favor of an arrangement of the Hebrew Scriptures,

which classed four books together that are of like com-

position and matter in some important respects, and re-

gards only these as belonging to the Hagiographa. All

that differs from this is later."1

          But the Christian catalogues are more or less gov-

erned by the fourfold classification of the Septuagint,

and shed no light upon the triple division of the He-

brew canon. Josephus classifies the books for a pur-

pose of his own without designing to give the arrange-

ment in the canon. In Luke, xxiv. 44 "Psalms" simply

means the book so called, and is not intended to be

descriptive of a particular division of the canon. And

the passages cited from Ecclesiasticus and that relating

to the Therapeutfe simply speak of hymns and poems

among the sacred books without implying anything as

to the order of their arrangement in the collection.

          The real explanation of the whole matter is, as above

stated, that in constituting the Hebrew canon the books

were not classified by the nature of their contents, nor

as poetry and prose, but by the official status of their

writers. The books of Moses stand in the first division,

 

          1 The same position substantially was taken previously by Storr in

Paulus's Neues Repertorium, II , pp. 226 ff., as mentioned by Dill-

mann.


84               GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

those of prophets in the second, those of inspired men

not prophets in the third.

          The books of Ezra and Nehemiah contain histories of

an important period in the life of the chosen people, but

they were written by the eminent men whose names they

bear. Ezra was a scribe, Nehemiah was a governor, but

neither of them were prophets. Their books conse-

quently could not be classed with the other historical

books, which were written by prophets, but with the

books of inspired men who were not prophets. The

same is the case with Chronicles. Though the history

which it contains is closely related with that found in

Samuel and Kings, the authorship was different. Sam-

uel and Kings were, or were believed to be, the work of

prophets, and are, therefore, classed as books of proph-

ets. Chronicles, it is commonly believed, is from the

same pen as the Book of Ezra, by an inspired man,

but not by a prophet, and its proper place is accord-

ingly in the third division.

          The Book of Daniel appears at first sight to create

some difficulty, and to be at variance with the principle

of classification, which has determined the disposition

of books in the sacred canon. Daniel is distinctly

called a prophet in the New Testament (Matt. xxiv. 15;

Mark xiii. 14), prophetic visions were granted to him,

and his book contains some of the most remarkable

predictions in the Bible. Why then is not this book

classed with the books of the prophets in the second

division of the canon, instead of being ranked with

those of inspired men not prophets in the third and

last division?1  The reason is, because this is its

 

          1 Theodoret censures the Jews for having improperly removed Dan-

iel from among the prophets, Bloch, Studien, p. 11. Ryle, p. 212,

quotes Leusden, Philologus liebrus, and John Smith, Discourse of

Prophecy, as of the same mind in modern times.


THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON            85

 

proper place. This is not a departure from the prin-

ciple previously announced, but a rigorous carrying out

of that principle. A distinction must here be made be-

tween the donum propheticum or the prophetic gift and

the munus propheticum or the prophetic office. Daniel

had the prophetic gift in a most extraordinary degree,

but he did not hold the prophetic office.1  He did not

belong to the prophetic order like his fellow-captive and

contemporary Ezekiel, who dwelt among the exiles and

labored with them for their spiritual good. He had a

different office to perform on behalf of the people at the

court of Babylon, where he was ranked with the wise

men, and was advanced to a high political station.

Officially he was not a prophet, but occupied a lofty

position in the Babylonian and subsequently in the

Persian empire. He is called a prophet in the New

Testament in the same general sense in which that term

is applied to David (Acts ii. 29, 30).

          Ryle2 calls this explanation of the position of Daniel

in the canon "fanciful trifling" and "almost absurd in

its obvious inadequacy," without saying why he so re-

gards it. Wildeboer3 and Buhl4 allege that "Amos

(vii. 12 ff.) overthrows the whole theory; for according to

it his book ought to stand among the K'thubhim."

Amos there says that he was no prophet, nor the son

of a prophet; but Jehovah took him as he followed the

flock and said unto him, Go, prophesy unto my people

Israel. This call of Jehovah surely made him a prophet,

though he was not one before.

          Dillmann5 objects:  "Did Daniel then receive his rev-

 

          1 So Witsius, Hengstenberg, Havernick, Keil, Oehler, Delitzsch,

and others.

          2 Canon of the Old Testament, pp. 122, 211 note.

          3 Canon of 0. T., p. 18.                4 Kanon and Text d. A. T., p. 37.

          5 Jahrb. f. D. Th. III., p. 427.


86               GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

elations for himself alone, and not rather for the Church,

even though that of the future? Was not the duty and the

office of publication in writing likewise obligatory upon

him? And is then the office of publication in writing so

entirely different from that by oral delivery?  Is not this

rather a wholly external distinction, which does not touch

the essence of the matter?  "But this is entirely aside

from the question at issue. Whether it does or does not

agree with modern notions to make this distinction is of

small consequence. As Dillmann himself says in discuss-

ing another aspect of this question, "The Old Testament

canon was fixed by the Jewish Church . . . so that

the only thing of consequence is, what idea did the

Jewish Church connect with this division?  "Now it is

unquestionable that while the term "prophet" was fre-

quently used in a broad and general sense, and applied

to any who were divinely inspired, the Jews did recog-

nize a distinct body of men as prophets in the strict,

official sense, with prerogatives and functions peculiarly

their own. And it was the writings of this class of men,

as distinguished from all others, who, though truly in-

spired, were not intrusted with these functions, that

were placed in the second division of the canon. The

Book of Daniel makes revelations of great importance

to his own as well as future ages, but does not occupy

itself with rebukes of sin or inculcations of duty, as is

usual in the prophets, or as might be expected if he

were directly charged with laboring for their spiritual

welfare.

          Driver (p. 509) calls attention to this peculiarity of

the book:  "It is remarkable also," he says, "that Daniel

—so unlike the prophets generally—should display no

interest in the welfare or prospects of his contempora-

ries." From this he draws the erroneous conclusion that

the book does not belong to the period when it claims

 


THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON          87

 

to have been written. It did serve an important pur-

pose for that time in letting the people know that the

glories of the Messianic period were not to follow im-

mediately upon the return from the exile, and giving

them an intimation of what lay still before them prior

to its arrival. But the marked difference between this

book and those of the prophets generally is due to the

fact that the function assigned to Daniel differed from

that of the prophets.

          The Book of Lamentations is in the present arrange-

ment of the Hebrew Bible put in the Hagiographa, but

there is good reason to believe that it originally stood

in the second division of the canon. We learn from the

testimony of Origen, Jerome, and other early writers

that Ruth and Lamentations were sometimes reckoned

as separate books, and sometimes regarded simply as

appendices to other books, Ruth being attached to

Judges, and Lamentations to Jeremiah. The books

were so combined that when Ruth and Lamentations

were counted as separate books, the whole number

was made out to be twenty-four, the number of letters

in the Greek alphabet; and when they were left un-

counted, being regarded as included in other books, the

whole number was twenty-two, the number of letters in

the Hebrew alphabet.1 It is natural to suppose that

the latter mode of reckoning was the primitive one

 

          1 Cosin (Scholastical History of the Canon, p. 12, note i.) quotes from

Sixtus Senensis:  "As with the Hebrews there are 22 letters, in which

all that can be said and written are comprehended, so there are 22

books in which are contained all that can be known and uttered of di-

vine things." Jerome expresses himself similarly in his Prologue

Galeatus:  "As there are 22 elements by which we write in Hebrew

all that we speak, and in them the human voice is primarily embraced,

so there are reckoned 22 books in which as in letters and rudiments

the tender infancy of the just man is instructed iu the doctrine of

God."


88           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

among the Jews; and this is the common opinion of

scholars. And if this be so, the original place of the

Lamentations of Jeremiah is where we should expect to

find it, in the second division of the canon, among the

productions of the prophets.

          To this Strack1 objects (1) that Ruth and Lamenta-

tions are not contained in the Targum of Jonathan on

the Prophets, and consequently they could not have

been in the second division of the canon when it was

prepared; (2) that there is no trace in the tradition,

whether of Palestinian or Babylonish Jews, of Ruth

having ever been attached to Judges or Lamentations

to Jeremiah; (3) that according to the testimony of the

Talmud (a Baraitha2 in Berachoth) Psalms, Proverbs,

and Job were called the three greater K'thubhim, and

the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations

the three smaller K'thubhim; (4) that twenty-four as

the number of the sacred books is suggested by 4 Esdras

(E. V. 2 Esdras) xiv. 44-46, and is uniformly found in

all Jewish tradition, so far as it is not influenced by the

Alexandrians, there not being the slightest trace of the

number twenty-two in either the Talmud or any Midrash.

 

          1 Herzog-Plitt Encyk., VII., pp. 433 ff.

          2 Baraitha means outside; this term is applied to sections of the Tal-

mud, which were not admitted to the Mishnah, though attributed to the

Tannaim (i.e. Repeaters) or Jewish doctors from the time of the de-

struction of Jerusalem by Titus down to and including R. Judah the

Holy, who reduced the Mishnah (i.e. Repetition, viz., of the Oral

Law traditionally preserved) to writing in its present form about the

end of the second century A.D. The Baraithas are collectively called

hosaphtah, addition. These, with the Mishnah, constitute the text of

the Talmud, the comments upon which are called Gemara, supplement,

and make up the remainder of that storehouse of Jewish traditions.

The Gemara is in two forms, that of the Jerusalem Talmud, dating

from about A.D. 425, and that of the Babylonish Talmud, about A.D.

500, and is the work of the doctors after the closing of the Mish-

nah, who are called Amoraim Expounders.


THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON          89

 

Strack's attempt to explain how the number twenty-

two came into vogue in Alexandria does not seem to be

successful. He thinks that the books of the Hebrew

canon were there counted in the order in which they

appear in the Septuagint translation, Ruth being next

to Judges, and Lamentations to Jeremiah; these small

books were hence considered as parts of the larger ones,

and so the total was made twenty-two. But while in the

Hebrew, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are each regard-

ed as constituting one book, in the LXX. each of them

is reckoned as two books; and Ezra and Nehemiah form

together one book in Hebrew, but each is counted sepa-

rately in the LXX; so that the total would be spoiled.

Septuagint influence cannot, therefore, account for the

facts.

          It appears to be much simpler to trace the number

twenty-two to the current Jewish tradition attested by

the Talmud (a Baraitha in Baba Bathra), that Ruth was

written by the author of Judges, and Lamentations by

Jeremiah. They might thus be readily attached to the

books which were thought to have proceeded from the

same pen. That this was the case in Palestine as well

as Alexandria is evidenced by Josephus, Melito, and

Jerome on the one hand, and by Origen on the other.

          Furst1 gives the following account of the matter:

"Besides this division [i.e., into twenty-four books],

which was sanctioned in Talmudic Judaism, a division

into twenty-two books, parallel to the twenty-two letters

of the alphabet, was in use in Palestine and Alexandria.

. . . The division into twenty-four seems to have

arisen in Babylonia, and as in all matters of Judaism,

only that which was in use in the Babylonish schools

established itself among the Jews."

 

          1 Der Kanon des Alten Testaments nach der Ueberlieferungen in Tal-

mud and Midrasch, p. 4.


90           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

Bloch1 truly says:  "Without Ruth the historical part

of the canon of the prophets would be incomplete and

defective. It lacks the genealogy of the most powerful

race of kings, with whose fortunes also the changeful

past of the people and its glorious future, so eagerly

and surely expected, was intimately interwoven—that of

the house of Jesse. Ewald's assertion that such a

genealogy had been contained in the Book of Samuel,

and was only omitted in closing the canon of the proph-

ets on account of Ruth iv., is so devoid of any scien-

tific and tenable basis that we may properly decline

to enter more particularly upon it, and the more as

this assertion has as its presupposition the recep-

tion of Ruth into the canon of the prophets. . . .

Its transfer to the Hagiographa did not take place

until the Talmudic period, and then only for liturgical

reasons."

          Wildeboer (p. 141) holds that, in the first instance,

"Ruth was probably generally placed after Judges and

Lamentations after Jeremiah"; and that this arrange-

ment was perpetuated in many "copies of the Prophets,

which were more likely to be in the possession of private

individuals than copies of the Kethubhim." The "offi-

cial theory" of the scribes, however, was at variance

with this popular usage, and classed them with the

K'thubhim.

          Bleek2 states, perhaps in too positive a form, the

probable facts in the case:  "Ruth and Lamentations

had this position [i.e., after Judges and Jeremiah] even

in Hebrew manuscripts in early times, and the Hebrew

Jews subsequently, after the second century A.D., put

them among the books of the third class with the other

 

          1 Studien zur Geschichte der Sammlung der althebraischen Litera-

tur, p. 25.

          2 Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 1860, p. 35.

 

 

 


THE THREEFOLD DIVISION OF THE CANON 91

 

Megilloth with reference to their use in public wor-

ship."1

          The three divisions of the canon, accordingly, contain

no indication of their having been formed at widely

separated periods. There is no imperfection in the

classification which requires such an explanation.

There are no books in the third division which ought

properly to be in the second, and which must be as-

sumed to have been placed where they are, because the

second division was already closed, and could not be re-

opened for their reception. Such an assumption is too

precarious and improbable to build a theory upon in

any event. There is no very intelligible reason why

the collection of the prophets should at any time be

considered closed, except because there was no other

book entitled to be included in it. If at any time a

book should be discovered or produced, which right-

fully belonged in that collection, the collection is thus

shown to be incomplete without this book, and why

should it not be placed there? If, for instance, the

critical theory of the Book of Daniel were correct, and

this book, though actually produced in the time of the

Maccabees, was inserted in the canon because believed

to be the genuine production of Daniel, the contempo-

rary of Ezekiel, and the proper place for such a book

from such an author was among the prophets, why was

it not placed alongside of Ezekiel, as it is in the Sep-

tuagint, where the classification was upon a principle

which required it? It is just because the Hebrew canon

 

          1 In German Hebrew MSS. and in ordinary Hebrew Bibles the five

Megilloth follow each other in the order in which they are appointed

to be read in the service of the Synagogue, viz.: the Song of Solomon

at the Passover; Ruth at Pentecost; Lamentations at the fast of the

ninth of the month Ab; Ecclesiastes at the feast of Tabernacles;

Esther at Purim.


92             GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

was accurately classified upon a principle of its own

that the book stands where it does, in the K'thubhim

and not among the prophets. And the same is the case

with the other books, in which critics claim that this

principle has been violated. It cannot be shown to

have been departed from in a single instance. The

classification is such as bears the marks of a single

mind, and has been interfered with by no disturbing

cause.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                          VII

 

              WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED

 

          THE authority of the books constituting the canon

does not depend upon their being gathered together in

a single volume, or being arranged in a particular way.

Each book would have the same divine authority,

whether circulating separately or combined with others

of like character. It was of great importance, however,

in order to guard the sacred books from the danger of

being lost or overlooked, or from the intrusion of books

not entitled to be so regarded, that they should be visi-

bly sundered from all others by being brought together

in one collection, sanctioned by general acceptance at a

time when their claims could be properly scrutinized,

and thus certified to future ages as the duly attested

writings of men inspired of God, and prepared by them

for the benefit of his people in all time to come.

          When and by whom was this collection made? Ac-

cording to Elias Levita, a distinguished rabbi of the

time of the Reformation, this was the work of Ezra

and the Great Synagogue, a body of one hundred and

twenty men, assembled to assist him in the conduct of

public affairs.1 This was repeated after him by several

Lutheran and Reformed theologians, by whom it was

regarded as an incontrovertible fact, based on an ancient

and uniform tradition. The only passage, however, in

early Jewish literature, which connects Ezra and the

 

          1 Strack (p. 416) points out that substantially the same view was

previously held by David Kimchi.

 

                                       93


94              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

Great Synagogue in any way with the formation of

the canon is the following from the Talmudic treatise,

Baba Bathra:

          "Moses wrote his book, and the section about Balaam

and Job; Joshua wrote his book and eight verses in the

law; Samuel wrote his book and Judges and Ruth;

David wrote the Book of Psalms at the hands of the

ancients, Adam the first, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses,

Heman, Jeduthun, Asaph and the three sons of Korah;

Jeremiah wrote his book and the Book of Kings and

Lamentations; Hezekiah and his associates wrote Isaiah,

Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. The

men of the Great Synagogue wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve

[Minor Prophets], Daniel and the Book of Esther.

Ezra wrote his book and the genealogies of Chronicles

to his time."

          This singular passage has been variously interpreted

and variously estimated. The word "wrote" has been

understood to mean "composed" as an author, "tran-

scribed" what had been previously written, "reduced

to writing" what had been orally delivered, or "inserted

in the canon."  Havernick (p. 41) gives it throughout

the last of these senses, which was invented by

Bertholdt (pp. 81, 86), but is wholly supposititious.

Herzfeld1 finds the four different senses in different

clauses of this paragraph.

          The most satisfactory explanation of this passage is

given by Marx 2 (Dalman), who finds in it the views of

Jewish doctors of the second century A.D. respecting the

origin of the books of the Old Testament which are

mere fanciful conjectures and of no value whatever.

Jeremiah is the only one of the latter prophets to whom

writings are attributed, since he is repeatedly said to

 

          1 Geschichte, III., p. 94.

          2 Traditio Rabbinorum Veterrima, pp. 41 ff.


       WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED                95

 

have written his prophecies by divine direction (xxx. 2,

xxxvi. 2, 4, 28, 32, xlv. 1). As no similar statement is

made in the case of the other prophets, the Book of

Isaiah is ascribed to the associates of his contemporary

Hezekiah; the same who are said (Prov. xxv. 1) to have

completed the Book of Proverbs, to which the Song of

Solomon and Ecclesiastes are here added. Ezekiel, the

Twelve, and Daniel, together with Esther are similarly

attributed to the men of the Great Synagogue; the idea

probably being that these books were preserved orally,

until by the authority and under the direction of these

two bodies they were put in writing.

          Furst (p. 131) argues that the "associates of Heze-

kiah" or, as he denominates them, the "college of

Hezekiah," in order to do what is here attributed to

them, must have been a permanent body and continued

in existence for 280 years, from B.C. 724 to 444. But

the Jewish doctors had no such thought. They did not

entertain the modern critical notions of the composite

character of the Book of Isaiah, and Proverbs, Canticles

and Ecclesiastes were believed by them to be Solomon's.

It is no prolonged task, therefore, which is assigned to

them. Furst also maintains, what many others have

likewise held, that the Great Synagogue was an organi-

zation which lasted for two centuries and a half, from

B.C. 444 to 196. There is nothing in Jewish tradition

to favor this opinion except the fact that Simon

the Just is said to have been one of its members. But

according to Jewish ideas the Great Synagogue did

not last more than forty years, and did not extend be-

yond the time of Ezra. Their chronology makes

Simon the Just a contemporary of Alexander the Great,

and Alexander the immediate successor of Darius Hys-

taspes.

          It is quite supposable that Ezra might have had a


96           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

body of men to aid him in regulating the affairs of the

nation, but there seems to be no clear evidence that such

a body ever existed. Kuenenl maintains with great plaus-

ibility that the only historical basis for it is the assem-

bly of the people (Neh. viii.-x.), gathered to hear the

law and pledge themselves to obey it, and that this was

transformed by the Talmudic doctors into an authori-

tative council. Whether this is so or not, there is no

reason for attributing the collection of the canon to the

Men of the Great Synagogue.

          According to the theory of modern critics the process

of canonization began in a preliminary way, B.C. 621,

when Josiah bound the people to obey the book of the

law found in the temple (which they identify with

Deuteronomy exclusively), and more effectively when

Ezra, B.C. 444, engaged the returned exiles to yield com-

pliance to all the requirements of the entire Pentateuch

(Neh. viii.-x.). The Pentateuch, and that only, was

thenceforward canonical. After a long interval the

prophets were added to the canon, somewhere between

B.C. 300 and 200, as the limits are fixed by Ryle (pp.

108, 109). Later still a third division of the canon was

formed, containing the K'thubhim. Its commencement

is dated by Ryle (p. 173), in the beginning of the era of

the Maccabean ascendency, B.C. 160 to 140, and its final

ratification about A.D. 90, although "all the books in-

cluded in the third group of the canon had obtained

some measure of recognition, either complete and un-

disputed, or partial and disputed" before the death of

John Hyrcanus II., B.C. 105. Wildeboer (p. 146) brings

down the time of the final decision as to the contents of

the canon to A.D. 200.

          But it is an entirely false conception that Reuter-

 

          1 Gesammelte Abhandlungen, no. 4, Ueber die Manner der Grossen

Synagoge.


         WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED                   97

 

onomy was first made canonical by Josiah, and the Pen-

tateuch by Ezra. The transactions referred to were

simply the solemn and formal recognition of a divine

authority inherent in these books from their first publi-

cation. And the exclusive mention of the law in these

public transactions does not prove that canonical and

divine authority was vested in it alone. The contrary

is explicitly declared by Deuteronomy itself (xviii. 18,

19), which ascribes to the prophets an authority like that

of Moses. The law and the prophets are joined together

(2 Kin. xvii. 13 ff.), as alike binding upon Judah and

Israel, who were both exiled from their land because

they did not obey them. Ezra, in the very passage re-

cording the covenant engagement of the people to obey

the law, traces all the calamities that had befallen them

to their neglect of the law and their maltreatment of the

prophets (Neh. ix. 26 ff.). The Prophet Zechariah does

the same (i. 4, 6, vii. 7, 12). These passages leave no

doubt that the utterances of the prophets were believed

to have the same divine sanction as the statutes of the

law, and a like divine penalty followed the transgression

of the one as of the other.

          It is not sufficient, therefore, to say with Wildeboer

(p. 119) that "before the exile writings of the prophets

were eagerly read by the devout," as well as "in and

after the exile"; if at the same time it is maintained

that these books were not then possessed of canonical

authority. The reason why they were prized by pious

people was because they accepted them as the word of

God communicated through his servants the prophets.

Dillmann's statement (p. 441) is much nearer the truth:

"We can scarcely doubt that the higher reverence,

which is due to the word of God, would be paid also to

the written discourses of a prophet by the believers

among his contemporaries, at least from the time that

 


98                 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

he had by his work gained recognition as a prophet of

God, or his words had been divinely confirmed by the

issue. And here, if anywhere, it must come to pass that

the canonical validity of a writing would be coincident

with its first appearance."

          This is precisely what took place. The books of the

prophets were received as the word of God by those

who put faith in their divine messages orally delivered.

The suggestion that the number of believers was at

times very small and rarely included the mass of the

people, and that false prophets abounded in the later

years of the kingdom, in consequence of which the in-

fluence of the true prophets declined in the popular

estimation, does not alter the significance of the fact

already adverted to. It is to the true worshippers of

Jehovah that we are to look for the willing reception

and faithful transmission of his word. The books of the

prophets had, from the first, canonical authority among

them, which is not invalidated by the disregard of the

unbelieving multitude. And when the twofold sifting

of the exile and of the return from captivity had oc-

curred, and a people obedient to the word of the Lord

had replaced the degenerate race that perished in the

destruction of the city, there can be no question in

what esteem the books of the prophets were held, their

divine authority being confirmed, as it was, by the fulfil-

ment of their predictions alike of desolation and of re-

turning favor.

          1. Why then did Ezra only bind the people to obey

the law?1 Because the meeting was held, not to define

the full extent of their obligations, but for a particular

 

          1 It is the law which is exclusively spoken of by 1 Maccabees as ad-

hered to by the faithful and forsaken by the godless (i. 52, ii. 21, 26,

27, etc.). Yet no one imagines on this account that there were no

other books in the canon when 1 Maccabees was written.


          WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED               99

 

practical purpose, which was best met by directing

their attention to the specific requirements of the law.

The obligations assumed (Neh. x. 29 ff.) concern the

removal of certain evils which had made their appear-

ance in this infant community, viz., inter-marriage with

aliens, disregard of the sabbath and inadequate pro-

vision for the temple worship. There were definite

legal statutes bearing on these matters which covered

the whole case. The more general and spiritual in-

structions of the prophets would not so precisely have

answered the end in view.1

          2. As the Samaritans possess the Pentateuch, but no

other book of the Old Testament, it has been argued

that nothing but the Pentateuch could have been canon-

ical among the Jews at the time that it was obtained

by the Samaritans. It is commonly supposed to have

been taken to them by the renegade priest, who was

expelled by Nehemiah (Neh. xiii. 28), and eagerly ac-

cepted by them to substantiate their claim of being

kindred to the Jews (Ezra iv. 2); a claim, which would

have been strengthened by accepting all the books that

were then regarded as sacred. But the mutilated canon

of the Samaritans had a similar origin with those of

early heretical sects in the Christian Church. They ac-

cepted what suited their own peculiar views, and arbi-

trarily rejected all the rest. They had their temple on

Mount Gerizim, and altered the text of Deut. xxvii. 4 to

give it sanction, claiming that this was the place where

men ought to worship. No book which spoke approv-

ingly of worship at Shiloh or Jerusalem could be ac-

 

          1 This is recognized by Wildeboer (p. 119), though colored by a

wrong idea of the design of this solemn covenant, when he traces the

omission of the prophets in this sacred engagement "chiefly to the

fact that they have not the same immediate importance for the estab-

lishment of Ezra's theocracy as the priestly law."


100           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

cepted by them. They were thus necessarily limited to

the Pentateuch, irrespective of the extent of the Jewish

canon at the time.

          3. The Scripture lessons of the Synagogue were orig-

inally taken exclusively from the Pentateuch, which is

divided into sections that are read in course on succes-

sive sabbaths; at a later time selections from the proph-

ets were read along with the law (Luke iv. 16, 17, Acts

xiii. 15, 27); but a like use is not made of the K'thu-

bhim in the regular sabbath lessons. This has been urged

as confirmatory of the critical hypothesis that the three

divisions of the canon mark three successive stages in

its formation. It is alleged that the Scripture reading

was in the first instance confined to the law, because it

alone was canonical. Afterward, when the prophets

were admitted to the canon, lessons were taken from

them likewise; and the selection was limited to the

prophets, because the K'thubhim had not yet been made

canonical.

          This, however, is not the real explanation. Nor is it

to be sought in an imagined difference in the sacredness

and authority of the three portions of the canon. The

idea of three successive grades of inspiration, and

the comparison of the law to the holy of holies, of the

prophets to the holy place, and the K'thubhim to the

outer court, are figments of later times.1

          As Jehovah's covenant relation with Israel rested upon

the basis of the law, and was conditioned upon its faith-

ful observance, it is natural that from the very first in-

stitution of synagogue worship it should have a place in

the service. It would not be long, however, before the

 

          1"Their equal sanctity and dignity was expressly maintained with

great emphasis with particular reference to those heretics who did not

regard the Prophets and Hagiographa as Thora or canonical." Furst,

Kanon, pp. 51, 69.


          WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED                 101

 

need would be felt of enforcing the lessons of the law

by the teachings of the prophets. Their historical books

record the experience of the people in former ages, show-

ing the blessing that attended obedience and the penalty

that followed transgression. Their books of prophecy

insist upon adherence to the true worship of Jehovah, il-

lustrate and expound the spiritual intent of the law, and

hold up to view the final issue to which it tends. We

are imperfectly informed as to the use made of the

K'thubhim in the service of the Synagogue in early

times. Their employment, to some extent at least, for

this purpose, is suggested by the fact that a Targum on

Job is spoken of which was of equal age with that of

Jonathan on the prophets. In general, however, the

books of the K'thubhim were less adapted for Synagogue

use or were appropriated to special services. The psalms

were sung in the temple (Ps. xcii. according to its title

on the sabbath; and Pss. xxiv., xlviii., xciv., xciii. ac-

cording to the LXX. were appointed for different days of

the week). The five Megilloth were assigned to festival

days. Selections from the Hagiographa, from Job,

Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, Daniel, Proverbs, etc., were

read throughout the entire night before the day of

atonement,1 and in connection with the smaller Penta-

teuch sections on Mondays and Thursdays and at the

vesper service on the sabbath.2 The Synagogue lessons

are readily accounted for, therefore, without resorting

to the critical hypothesis.

          4. The terms "the law" (John x. 34, xii. 34, xv. 25;

1 Cor. xiv. 21), or "the law and the prophets" (2 Macc.

xv. 9; Matt. v. 17, vii. 12, xxii. 40; Luke xvi. 16, 29, 31;

Acts xxviii. 23; Rom. iii. 21), are sometimes used to de-

 

          1 Bloch, Studien, p. 10; Furst, Kanon, p. 52; Buhl, Kanon and

Text, p. 15.

          2 Furst, p. 82.


102           GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

note the entire Old Testament. It is claimed that this

is a reminiscence of the time when first "the law" and

afterward "the law and the prophets" comprised the

entire canon. But the simple reason of this usage is

that all the Scriptures may, with propriety, be called

"the law" since they constitute the revealed and author-

itative will of God. And "the law and the prophets"

may either be put for the entire Old Testament by syn-

ecdoche, a principal part standing for the whole, or the

prophets may be used in a wide sense for all the writ-

ings of inspired men, as in Mat. xiii. 35 a Psalm of

Asaph, Ps. lxxviii. 2, is quoted "as spoken by the

prophet."1 Cf. Heb. 1. Moses is also called a prophet

(Hos. xii. 13), and an enactment of the law is attributed

to the prophets (Ezra ix. 11, 12).

          Accordingly, Bloch (pp. 8, 15) modifies the critical

argument, and as the entire Scriptures may be called in-

differently "law" or "prophets" or "sacred writings," he

infers that these titles are not in themselves distinctive,

and could not have been employed as designations of

the three several portions of the canon, if this division

had been made at any one time. It was only because

"law" had acquired a technical sense by a long and ex-

clusive application to the books of Moses, that subse-

quent additions to the canon could be called "prophets";

and this term was long applied to a definite number of

books before it acquired its special sense, so that others

subsequently introduced could distinctively be called

"k'thubhim" or "sacred writings." But this form of the

argument is no more valid than the other. Although

these terms admit of a wider application, it is plain that

"law" and "prophets" in their strict sense are properly

 

          1 In Jewish writings the Hagiographa are frequently referred to

prophets in this wide sense, Herzfeld, Geschichte, III., pp. 98, 99;

Bloch, Studien, p. 12; Buhl, Kanon and Text, p. 37.


          WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED               103

 

descriptive of those portions of the canon to which they

are applied, while K'thubhim, as a distinct title, nat-

urally denotes those sacred writings which fall under

neither of the above categories.

          5. Some additional arguments in defence of the posi-

tion that the prophets were not admitted to the canon

until long after the public recognition of the law in the

time of Ezra, are built upon unsound critical conclu-

sions. Thus (1), it has been inferred from apparent dis-

crepancies between Samuel and Kings, on the one hand,

and Chronicles on the other, that the former could not

yet have been regarded as canonical circ. 300 B.C., when

it is alleged that Chronicles was written.1  But the in-

ference is futile for two reasons: Chronicles does not

discredit Samuel and Kings, as is here assumed, nor

does it belong to so late a date, as has been before

shown. The differences referred to arise from the differ-

ence in the aim and scope of these histories respectively.

Chronicles, which was probably written by Ezra, though

referred by critics without reason to a century or more

after his time, is largely occupied with matters con-

nected with the ritual service, which was then being re-

stored, but to which the earlier histories paid much less

attention. These additional facts are drawn from other

reliable authorities, and the seeming discrepancies can

be satisfactorily explained.

          (2.) The Book of Isaiah is, in the opinion of the

critics, a composite production. A considerable por-

tion of chs. i.–xxxv. is assigned to Isaiah, but interspersed

with several sections of varying length, which are at-

tributed to the later years of the Babylonish exile or

shortly after it. Then follow four historical chapters,

chs. xxxvi.–xxxix.; and finally, chs. xl.–lxvi., which are al-

 

          1 Ryle, Callon, p. 108; Konig, Einleitung, p. 448.


104          GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

leged to belong to near the close of the exile. Here

Ryle concludes (p. 104) that the compilation of chs.

i.–xxxix. took place a short time "before the period of

Nehemiah" ("Le. 444), but that xl.–lxvi., though not

of so late a date as some of the preceding chap-

ters, could only have been added a century and a

half later (see p. 113), "when the recollection of the

authorship of this section having been forgotten, it

could, not unnaturally, be appended to the writings of

Isaiah." So the critics first dissect Isaiah, and then

find it impossible to get the disjointed pieces together

again without putting the collection of the canon at a

date at variance with historical testimony and every re-

liable indication bearing on the subject. It is, indeed,

a puzzling question which the critics have to solve, and

to which no satisfactory answer can be given, how it

came to pass that this prince of prophets, living, as we

are told, near the end of the exile, whose predictions of

the coming deliverance and the rebuilding of Jerusalem

and the temple were so strikingly fulfilled, and who must

have stirred the souls of the exiles to an unwonted de-

gree with his own glowing enthusiasm, could be so utter-

ly unknown, and not only his name, but his very exist-

ence so entirely forgotten, that his prophecies were

attributed to another, who lived at a different period

of time, and under entirely different circumstances.

But if the exigencies of the critical hypothesis de-

mand a long interval to account for this complete

oblivion, does it follow that the recognition of the di-

vine authority of this magnificent prophecy was so

delayed?

          (3.) It has been claimed1 that Zech. ix.–xiv. was not

 

          1 Dillmann, p. 450 ; Ryle, p. 106, who nevertheless, p. 101, quotes

Zech. xiii. 3 as the language of Zechariah. Strack, Real-Encyk., vii.,

p. 422.


        WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED             105

 

written by Zechariah, but by some unknown prophet,

and was placed at the end of the Minor Prophets before

Malachi had been added to the collection. It would

thus stand immediately after Zechariah, and so came ul-

timately to be attached to that book. This is urged as

showing that the canon was formed by a gradual process.

But if all this were so, it would only prove that the

canon was formed and the collection of Minor Prophets

made before Malachi was written, to which, of course,

it was then immediately added; and it effectually dis-

poses of those critical conjectures which would put Joel,

Jonah or Zech. ix.-xiv. after the time of Malachi.

          (4.) The critics fix the final closing of the collection

of the prophets by their notion of the time when the

Book of Daniel was written. Thus Wildeboer (p. 116):

"At what time the division of the prophets was closed

we are not informed. But on account of Dan. ix. 2, whose

author, living about 165 B.C., seems to know 'the books'

as a collection with definite limits, and because the

Book of Daniel itself was unable to obtain a place in

the second section, we fix as a terminus ad quem about

200 B.C."1  But we have already seen that the Book of

Daniel has its rightful place in the third division of the

canon, uninfluenced by the question whether at the time

of its insertion the second division was open or closed;

and that the date, which the critics assign to the book,

is determined by presuppositions in regard to miracles

and prophecy, which we do not share; and that apart

from these presuppositions there is no valid reason for

discrediting the claim which it makes for itself, con-

firmed by the belief of all past ages and by the testi-

mony of our Lord, that its author was no other than

Daniel himself.

          (5.) Wildeboer tells us (p. 123):  "When the conscious-

 

          1 So Ryle, p. 112.


106          GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

ness had become general that no more prophets would

appear, the prophetic writings were collected and added

to the collection of the Nebiim [historical books of the

prophets], which had been in existence since the days of

Nehemiah. It is quite possible that the memory of the

interval between the canonization of the historical

books and of the prophetic writings proper is perpetu-

ated by the order of the two groups of books and by

the appellation based upon it, Former and Latter

Prophets." This idea that prophetic writings were not

regarded as canonical, until there were no longer any

prophets among the people, is as arbitrary and un-

founded as the opposite opinion, which figures so

largely in the reasonings of the critics that "the incor-

poration of recent or almost contemporary work iu the

same collection with the older prophets" would not

have been approved.1  The living prophet did not su-

persede his predecessor of a former age, nor did the

older prophets diminish the authority or destroy the

value of those of recent date. The question was one of

divine commission and authority, not of antiquity, nor

of the form of delivery, whether oral or written.

          We have now reviewed all the considerations of any

moment, that are urged by the critics in defence of their

position, that the books of the prophets were not ad-

mitted to the canon until long after the public recogni-

tion of the binding obligation of the law in the time of

Ezra. And we have found nothing to militate against

the belief that the writings of the prophets, delivered

to the people as a declaration of the divine will, pos-

sessed canonical authority from the moment of their

appearance. Thus the canon grew with each successive

issue, until the last was published, when the canon was

complete. The second division of the canon was ac-

 

          1 Ryle, Canon, p. 106.


          WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED           107

 

cordingly completed by Malachi, the last of the proph-

ets who was a contemporary of Nehemiah.

          How was it with the K'thubhim? It has been main-

tained (1) that no steps were taken toward the forma-

tion of a third division, and none of the books found in

it were admitted to the canon until the second division

had first been closed. And this, it is alleged, could not

have taken place until a considerable time after Malachi,

when the general conviction had been reached that

prophecy had altogether ceased, and no more prophets

were to be expected. This is argued on the ground that

Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles would have been put

in the same division with the other historical books

such as Samuel and Kings, and Daniel with Isaiah,

Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, if that division had not been al-

ready closed, when they were accepted as canonical.

But it has already been shown that in the Hebrew

canon the books are not classified according to the char-

acter of their contents, but by the official status of their

authors. Books written by prophets stand in the sec-

ond division; those written by inspired men, not belong-

 

          1 So Bertholdt, p. 81; DeWette, § 13; Robertson Smith, p. 179.

Dillmann, pp. 455, 469, distinguishes between the older K'thubhim, as

Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and the Song of Solomon, and the more recent,

as Chronicles with Ezra, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Daniel. The

former were, in his opinion, held in very high esteem from the early

period after the exile, but were not yet in the full sense of the word

canonical. Bleek (pp. 666-668) holds this same view with regard to the

Psalms, but is more doubtful about Proverbs, Job, and the Song of Solo-

mon, although he believes that they were then undoubtedly in existence.

Ryle (p. 121) thinks that some of the K'thubliim were "an informal

appendix to the canon of the law and the prophets" prior to their own

canonization. Wildeboer says (p. 138): "Probably most of the Ke-

thubhim were already in existence when the prophets were canonized,"

and "many of them were originally united with prophetic books.

When the earlier scribes secured canonical authority for the prophets,

‘the rest of the books’ remained as a group of indefinite extent."


108            GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

ing to the prophetic order in its strict and proper

sense, were assigned to the third division. There is no

need, therefore, for assuming that the prophets were

closed and could not be reopened, when these books

were introduced into the canon, in order to account for

the position which they occupy.

          (2.) It is asserted that several of the K'thubhim are of

much later date than the time of Ezra, and particularly

that the Book of Daniel was not written until B.C. 168

or 167.1 It has already been shown that this assertion

is unfounded. The time allowed for a book to gain

credence, which first made its appearance in the period

of the Maccabees, but claimed to be the work of the

Prophet Daniel, who lived three centuries and a half

before, is remarkably short. Mattathias, who died B.C.

167, encouraged his sons by examples drawn from this

book, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in the fiery fur-

nace and Daniel in the den of lions (1 Macc. ii. 59, 60).

There is also a plain reference to Dan. ix. 27, xii. 11

in 1 Macc. i. 54. And in B.C. 130, as attested by the

Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, all the books of the canon

had been translated into Greek, and Daniel, of course,

among them. And according to the uniform admission

of all the critics, this book would not have found ad-

mission to the canon if it had not been believed to be

the genuine work of the Prophet Daniel.

          (3.) In the order of books in the Hebrew Bible Chron-

icles2 stands last, and is preceded by Ezra and Nehe-

miah. As Ezra is supposed, not without reason, to

have been a continuation of Chronicles, it is argued that

Ezra must have been separated and admitted to the

 

          1 So Driver; Ryle, p. 112, and Wildeboer, pp. 27, 143, say B.C. 165.

          2 In the Massoretie arrangement Chronicles is the first book of the

K'thubbim.


     WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED              109

 

canon before Chronicles was received.1  But there is

no reason to suppose that the order of these books in-

dicates the order of their reception into the canon. If

that had been so, Daniel should have stood last accord-

ing to the critical hypothesis of its origin. In the

K'thubhim the three large books, Psalms, Proverbs, Job,

stand first, then the five Megilloth, then Daniel, Ezra,

Nehemiah in chronological order, and finally Chroni-

cles as a sort of historical appendix, reviewing the en-

tire period from the creation to the end of the exile.

          (4.) Dillmann (p. 483) argues that the additions to

Esther and Daniel in the Greek, and the recasting of

Chronicles and Ezra in the apocryphal Esdras show that

these books were not regarded as inviolable as the law

and the prophets. But the legends connected with the

law in the later Targums prove that its canonical author-

ity was no bar to imaginative additions suited to the

popular taste. And it is not strange that histories so

remarkable as those of Esther and Daniel should be

particularly alluring to those who were given to flights

of fancy.

          There is nothing in all this to support the contention

of the critics that the three divisions of the canon repre-

sent three distinct collections made at widely separated

periods; and nothing to weaken the evidence afforded

by the orderly distribution of books into classes, that

the arrangement was made at some one time and upon

a definite plan.

          It must be remembered that the canonization of books

is not to be confounded with their collection. Books

were not made canonical by the act of some public

authority, such as a decision rendered in their favor by

an assembly of scribes or doctors or a general council

 

          1 This notion is distinctly rejected by Buhl, Kanon and Text, p. 39.


110         GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

of the nation. This would be to attribute to the Jewish

Church in its organized capacity a power which even

Bellarmin,1 disposed as he was to magnify ecclesiastical

prerogatives to the utmost, did not venture to claim for

the Christian Church. The canon does not derive its

authority from the Church, whether Jewish or Christian;

the office of the Church is merely that of a custodian

and a witness. The collection of the canon is simply

bringing together into one volume those books whose

sacred character has already secured general acknowl-

edgment. And the universal acceptance of the collec-

tion at the time, and subsequently, shows that it truly

represents the current belief of the Jewish people,

formed when they were still under prophetic guidance.2

 

          1 "Ecclesiam nullo modo posse facere librum canonicum de non

canonico, nec contra, sed tantum declarare, quis sit habendus canoni-

cus, et hoc non temere, nec pro arbitratu, sed ex veterum testimoniis

et similitudine librorum, de quibus ambigitur, cum illis de quibus non

ambigitur, ac demun ex communi sensu et quasi gustu populi Chris-

tiani."—Bellarmin, De Verbo Dei, Lib. I., c. 10, n. 16.

          2 Wildeboer (p. 165) concludes his dissertation by what seems like a

claim of orthodox endorsement of the modern critical theory of the

canon:  "As long ago as the beginning of the eighteenth century, a

learned and pious German theologian, and a champion of orthodoxy

too, wrote these true words:  'Canon non uno, quod dicunt, actu ab

hominibus, sed paulatim a Deo, animorum temporumque rectore, pro-

ductus est.'"  This same passage had been before quoted by Strack,

and from him adopted by Driver, p. x, and by Ryle conspicuously

placed opposite the title-page as the motto of his volume. It is an ab-

solute perversion of Loescher's meaning to represent his words as in

any way sanctioning the critical theory that the books of the Old Testa-

ment only attained canonical authority by slow degrees centuries after

they were written, and that this was first given to them by some public

official act, successively performed for each of the divisions of the

canon. The entire passage, from which the words above cited are

taken, reads as follows (Neil's Introduction, 2d Ed., Eng. Trans., II.,

p. 152):  "There existed from the age of Moses canonical books, from

their internal light and dignity esteemed as divine from their first ap-

pearance, which were laid up in the former temple in the ark of the


            WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED                  111

 

          We have no positive information when or by whom

the sacred books were collected and arranged. The

canon was completed by Malachi, the last of the

prophets, probably about 425 B.C. The first authentic

statement on the subject after this time is found in the

Prologue to Ecclesiasticus, which was written about 132

B.C.1 It is there spoken of as a definite and well-known

 

covenant. To these others, recognized as divine from the time that they

were written and publicly read, were gradually added, not by the judg-

ment of Ezra or the Synagogue, or by decrees of Council or Synod

(Sanhedrim), but by the universal acceptance and usage of the whole

Church, until by the Book of Malachi the canon was closed. For

prophets ceased at that time, the use of the sacred tongue ceased, in

place of which the language of the Targums, the Greek, and the Rab-

binical were substituted. Hence the ancient Jewish Church acknowl-

edged none of the books written afterward as divine and belonging to

the Mikdash (Sanctuary); and so the canon itself was produced, not by

one act of men, so to speak, but gradually by God, who controls minds

and seasons."

          1 The date assigned to this Prologue and to the Book of Ecclesias-

ticus, to which it is prefixed, depends upon the statement in the Prologue

that the writer of it came into Egypt "in the thirty-eighth year in the reign

of Euergetes." There were two kings of this name in Egypt, Ptolemy

Euergetes I., who reigned twenty-five years, B.C. 246-221, and Ptol-

emy Physcon, who also gave himself the cognomen of Euergetes

II., and who reigned twenty-nine years, B.C. 145-116. A clew has also

been sought in what is said of "Simon, the high-priest, the son of

Onias " (Ecclus. 1). Singularly enough there were also two of this name

who filled the office of high-priest, Simon I., B.C. 300-287, and Simon

II., B. c. 226-198. Two different views have accordingly been taken of

the date of the Prologue. One, that Euergetes I. is intended, and the

thirty-eighth year of the writer's life, so that the Prologue must have

been written somewhere between B.C. 246 and 221, and the Book of

Ecclesiasticus about fifty years earlier. The other and more com-

monly received view is based on the fact that Euergetes II. was for a

time associated in the kingdom with his brother Ptolemy Philometor.

If his reign is reckoned from B.C. 170, the beginning of this joint

sovereignty, his thirty-eighth year will be B.C. 132. The form of ex-

pression employed to denote the thirty-eighth year of Euergetes,

though unusual, has analogies in Hag. i. 1; Zech. i. 7, vii. 1; 1 Macc.

xiv. 27.


112              GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

body of writings in three divisions, severally denomi-

nated "the law and the prophets and the rest of the

books."  When and by whom they were collected the

writer does not state, but it must have been before the

time of his grandfather, Jesus, the son of Sirach, circ.

B.C. 180, who was the author of the book, and of whom

he speaks as a diligent reader of "the law and the

prophets and the other books of the fathers."

          The critics are at great pains to weaken the force of

this testimony to the third division of the canon. Thus

Dillmann (p. 478):  "At that time a third series of highly

prized writings had already been formed, which about

corresponds with our third canon. But that this series

contained only and entirely the same books, which

stand in our third canon, can never be proved from these

expressions, and therefore the passage cannot avail as a

witness for a closed canon." Ryle (p. 143):  "The vague-

ness of the writer's words in designating the third di-

vision stands in sharp contrast to the precision with

which he describes the first two divisions by the very

names that have traditionally been attached to them."

Wildeboer (p. 33):  "He cannot have meant an indefinite

number. But though he may have been well aware

what books were included in it, he has not told us, and

so has left us in uncertainty." There is no more "vague-

ness" in the expression employed to denote the third

division than in the other two; and no more reason for

"uncertainty" as to the number of books contained in

it, than those contained in the law or the prophets. Ac-

cording to the testimony of Josephus, nothing had been

added to the sacred books or taken from them since the

reign of Artaxerxes. The uniform belief of the Jews

was that the Holy Spirit had departed from Israel after

Malachi. The statement in the Prologue is precisely in

accord with this. The language is just what might be


           WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED              113

 

expected if the canon had been definitely settled for

three centuries; and there is nothing to suggest the sus-

picion that the third division was still in the process of

formation. Of this there is no proof whatever. The

long interval between Malachi and the son of Sirach

affords the critics a chance for endless theorizing and

confident assertions, which are, after all, purely conject-

ural and destitute of any real foundation.

          Beyond the statements now considered we have noth-

ing but legends and uncertain traditions in relation to

the process by which, the time when, or the persons by

whom the sacred books were put together as we already

find them in the time of the son of Sirach. Whatever

interest may attach to this question, it is plain that it

does not in any measure affect the authority of the

sacred writings. This is in nowise dependent upon

their being gathered together. A book inspired of God

is just as authoritative in its separate state as it is when

united with other books of like character. And a book

not inspired of God has no more right to control our

faith, when mingled with books really inspired, than if

it stood alone.

          In 2 Esdras, an apocryphal book full of fables, and

dating probably from the close of the first century of

the Christian era, it is said (xiv. 21 ff.) that the law (by

which is meant the entire Scriptures) was burned at the

time that the temple was destroyed, but Ezra was enabled

by divine inspiration to restore it. In the course of forty

days he dictated ninety-four1 books; seventy of which

were to be delivered only to the wise, and the others

were to be published openly for all to read. As twenty-

four is the number of the canonical books, as commonly

reckoned by the Jews, it is evident that these are the

 

          1 So the Ethiopic Version, and this is probably the true reading; the

Vulgate has 204, and some copies 904.


114          GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

books to be given to the public. The same legend,

shorn of some of its particulars, is found in quite a num-

ber of the early Christian fathers, as Clemens Alexan-

drinus, Tertullian, Irenaeus1 and others, who relate that

the Scriptures perished in the destruction of Jerusalem

by Nebuchadnezzar, but Ezra was divinely inspired to

restore them perfectly, and did so without the slightest

loss or alteration. This fabulous story is, of course, en-

titled to no credence. It is not unlikely, however, that

it may be so far founded on fact as that Ezra took a

prominent part in the collection and arrangement of the

sacred books after the exile, and in multiplying copies

for general circulation.

          Another tradition relating to this subject is found in

2 Macc. ii. 13. Critics have been greatly divided in

opinion as to the degree of credit to be attached to this

passage. Some treat it as entirely trustworthy, others

as undeserving of attention. It is in a spurious letter

purporting to be written by Jews in Jerusalem and in

Judea to those in Egypt, and is professedly based on

"writings and memorabilia of Nehemiah," of which

nothing whatever is known. It says that "Nehemiah

founding a library, gathered together the books concern-

ing the kings and prophets, and those of David, and let-

ters of kings concerning consecrated gifts." No mention

is here made of the law, which had been spoken of in

ver. 2 as given by Jeremiah to those who were carried

into exile. To this Nehemiah added "the [books] con-

cerning the kings and the prophets," by which are

obviously meant the historical and prophetical books,

 

          1 Havernick, Einleitung, p. 44, and Keil, Einleitung, p. 544, claim

that the testimony of Irenmus adv. Haer., III., 21, is independent of 2

Esdras, and simply attributes to Ezra the collection of the canon;

but Oehler, p. 246, and Strack, p. 415, have shown, from a considera-

tion of the entire passage, that this is a mistake.


         WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED            115

 

here classed together as forming the second division

of the canon. Finally certain prominent parts of the

third and last division, which may or may not be put

for the whole, viz., "the [writings] of David," i.e., the

Psalms and "letters of kings concerning consecrated

gifts," which can only refer to the letters of the Persian

monarchs contained in the Book of Ezra.1

          In ver. 14 it is added, "In like manner also Judas"

Maccabeus, who is represented (i. 10) as uniting with

others in sending this letter, "gathered together all

those things that were lost by reason of the war." It is

known from other sources that Antiochus Epiphanes

made a desperate attempt to destroy the sacred books.2

These were carefully regathered by Judas in the same

manner as before. This letter further contains the

legend of the miraculous preservation of the sacred fire

(i. 18 ff.) and of the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of

incense (ii. 4 ff.). This curious compound of truth

and fable attributes to Nehemiah an agency in collect-

ing the sacred writings which, in itself considered, is

altogether credible.

          These intimations from legendary sources acquire

greater significance from the fact that they are corrobo-

rated by other and independent considerations. Thus:

          1. Ezra is repeatedly and with emphasis called "the

scribe" (Neh. viii. 1, 4, 9, 13, xii. 26, 36);  "a ready

scribe in the law of Moses" (Ezra vii. 6); "a scribe of the

words of the commandments of Jehovah, and of his stat-

 

          1 Wildeboer, p. 117, limits "the books concerning the kings and

prophets" to "the prophetico-historical" to the exclusion of the pro-

phetical books; Movers, p. 15, applies this expression to Chronicles.

Bertholdt, I., p. 76, understands "the books of David" to mean the

Books of Samuel. Wildeboer, p. 39, overlooks entirely the sacred

character of the collection, and says that Nehemiah "as a lover of

books founded a library."

          2 1 Macc. i. 56, 57; Josephus, Ant., xii. 5, 4.


116            GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

utes to Israel" (ver. 11); "a scribe of the law of the God

of heaven" (vs. 12, 22), a character in which he was

known, as appears from the passages last cited, before

he went up from the captivity. It hence appears that

his professional occupation was with the Scriptures, as

a student and interpreter, and engaged probably in the

preparation of copies for the use of the people and in

certifying their correctness. From Ezra dates the origin

of that race of scribes so distinguished subsequently,

and so frequently alluded to in the New Testament as

men learned in the law, the custodians and conservators

of the sacred text.

          2. The period immediately succeeding the exile was

devoted to the single task of restoring everything after

the model of former times. It is well known how ac-

tively and earnestly Ezra was engaged in the reinstitu-

tion of the temple service and in reviving the old ar-

rangements of the theocracy in accordance with the

prescriptions of Moses, David, and Solomon, and what

pains he took to have the people made acquainted with

the law of Moses and in general with all the ancient

regulations and statutes of divine authority. The

thoughts of all dwelt upon the glories of Israel in the

past, and their highest hope was to have them repro-

duced in their own experience. The history of God's

dealings with their fathers and the revelations made to

them were prominently before their minds, and formed

the burden of their supplications (Neh. ix.). It is just

what might be expected from the needs and longings of

the time, and. from the nature of the work to which Ezra

so energetically addressed himself, that the sacred writ-

ings would then be carefully gathered for the guidance

and instruction of the people, and for their own more

secure preservation and transmission.

          3. Private and partial collections of these writings had


            WHEN AND BY WHOM COLLECTED                  117

 

already been formed, and were in the possession of indi-

viduals. This is apparent from the frequent references

made by the prophets, such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel, to

the language of their predecessors or to the former his-

tory of the nation, from the explicit mention of a pre-

diction of Micah, delivered a century before, by the

elders in addressing the people (Jer. xxvi. 17-19), and

from "the books" of which Daniel (ix. 2) speaks at the

close of the captivity, and in which the prophecies of

Jeremiah must have been included. These would natu-

rally suggest the formation of a public and complete

collection, and would prepare the way for it.

          4. All the books of the Old Testament were already

written in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, so that there

was nothing to prevent their collection of them. The

last addition to the canon was made by Malachi, a con-

temporary of Nehemiah. That a large proportion of the

books of the canon were then in existence is universally

acknowledged. The law and the prophets and several

of the K'thubhim, it is generally admitted, were already

written. No one disputes this with regard to the great

majority of the Psalms; and there is no good reason

why all may not have been written by the end of the

first century after the exile. It has been plausibly ar-

gued from 1 Chron. xvi. 35, 36, where the doxology is

inserted, which marks the conclusion of the fourth Book

of the Psalter (Ps. cvi. 48), that the Psalms must have

been completed and arranged as at present before

Chronicles was written. Proverbs, as is expressly stated

(xxv. 1), was completed in the reign of Hezekiah. And

in regard to those books, which the critics assign to a

late postexilic date, it has already been shown that they

do so on insufficient grounds.

          5. The cessation of prophecy seems to be foreshad-

owed by Zechariah (xiii. 2-5), who speaks of the time as


118         GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

coming when the assumption of the office of a prophet

shall be evidence of deception. And perhaps by Mala-

chi (iv. 5), who only looks forward to the coming of Elijah

before the personal appearance of the Lord. That suc-

ceeding generations were fully aware that there was no

prophet among them is plain from 1 Macc. iv. 46, ix. 27,

xiv. 41, which speak of the perplexity arising from the

absence of a prophet, and the postponement of questions

for decision by one, if any should arise. This shows

how clearly the divine was discriminated from what was

purely human, and creates a presumption that the in-

spired writings were not only sundered from all unin-

spired productions, as they have been from the beginning,

but were regarded as a complete whole to which no fur-

ther addition could be made. Their collection could

scarcely have been delayed beyond the time when it was

felt that the line of prophets was coming to an end.

          These considerations, taken in connection with the

legends and traditions previously recited, whose exist-

ence is to be accounted for, and can thus be most satis-

factorily explained, make it highly probable that the

canon was collected by Ezra and Nehemiah, or in their

time.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                         VIII

 

THE EXTENT OF THE CANON--THE CANON OF THE

                                        JEWS

 

          WE have now considered the formation and collec-

tion of the Old Testament canon. Our next inquiry

concerns its compass or extent. What books belong to

this canon? And how can they be identified and dis-

tinguished from all others? This topic will be treated

under three heads, and in the following order:

          1. The canon of the Jews.

          2. The canon of Christ and his Apostles.

          3. The canon of the Christian Church.

          The Jews in all parts of the world accept the same

canon, which is found without variation in all copies of

the Hebrew Bible. This unanimity is found to exist as

far back as the constituents of the Old Testament can

be traced.

          The Talmudic tract Baba Bathra, which is attributed

to Judas Hakkadosh in the second century A.D., contains

a catalogue of the sacred books. They are there classed

in three divisions as in our modern Hebrew Bibles, viz.,

five books of the law, eight of the prophets, and eleven

of the K'thubhim, making a total of twenty-four. In

this enumeration the whole of Samuel is counted one

book, so is Kings, and so is Chronicles. The twelve

Minor Prophets are also reckoned one, and Nehemiah

is included under Ezra as forming with it one book.

Under the last two divisions the books are arranged in

 

                                         119


120               GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

the following order, which differs somewhat from that

which is customary in the Hebrew Bible:

The Prophets: 1, Joshua; 2, Judges; 3, Samuel;

4, Kings; 5, Jeremiah; 6, Ezekiel; 7, Isaiah; 8, The

Twelve.

          The K'thubhim: 1, Ruth; 2, Psalms; 3, Job; 4, Prov-

erbs; 5, Ecclesiastes; 6, Song of Songs; 7, Lamen-

tations; 8, Daniel; 9, Esther; 10, Ezra; 11, Chroni-

cles.

          Another native testimony, a century earlier, is found

in a passage already quoted (p. 37) from the histor-

ian Josephus, "Against Apion," i. 8. His statement

respecting the sacred books is not so explicit as that of

the Talmud, since he does not mention them by name;

but he gives their number, and describes them so that

it can without difficulty be determined which they were.

He gives both a different total and a different classifica-