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unnecessary heat, how much he abhors the higher critics and all their works. But why the unfair insinuation conveyed by the phrase "the self-styled “higher' criticism” (p. 473) ? Surely Dr. Robertson forgets that he is himself a “higher critic,” as is every student who seeks to determine the authorship and date of an Old Testament book on the evidence of the book itself; and he knows full well that “higher” is here a purely technical term, absolutely guiltless of any pharisaic suggestion.
Remarks such as these are blots on a scholarly and scientific treatise like the work before us. For however Dr. Robertson's readers may differ from him on many points of his argument, no one can deny the skill and learning with which it is conducted from beginning to end. Every student of the Old Testament, of whatever critical school, to whom truth is dearer than party, will welcome these lectures as the most brilliant contribution to the controversy which has as yet appeared from the conservative side. And Scotland, in particular, will be proud that such a contribution has come from one of her ancient universities.
ARCHIBALD R. S. KENNEDY, B.D.
THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT : AN ESSAY ON THE GRADUAL
GROWTH AND FORMATION OF THE HEBREW CANON OF SCRIPTURE. By HERBERT EDWARD RYLE, B.D., Hulsean Professor of Divinity, &c., Cambridge.
Macmillan & Co., 1892. The almost simultaneous appearance in England of three works on the contents of the Old Testament, such as Driver's Introduction to the Literature of the old Testament, Kirkpatrick's Divine Library of the Old Testament, and Ryle's Canon of the Old Testament, is certainly very remarkable. It is not the common subjectmatter that attracts attention. Questions respecting the oldest books in the Bible have for some years past been among the foremost in theological literature, and therefore the genesis of treatises dealing with these questions is no more than an illustration of the law of demand and supply. It is the academical position common to all three writers, and their common attitude towards the questions which they discuss, that is so remarkable, because twenty or thirty years ago it would have been utterly unexpected, and consequently startling. All three of the writers are Professors of Divinity at one or other of the old Universities–Dr. Driver at Oxford, Dr. Kirkpa ck and Mr. Ryle at Cambridge; and not so very long ago Oxford and Cambridge were the proverbial homes of ultra-conservatism in theology and politics; while in the Universities themselves none were supposed to be less likely to abandon traditional views than Professors of Divinity. And yet in these three almost simul. taneous volumes we have instances of Divinity Professors at the old Universities coming forward to lead the way in a reconstruction of traditional views respecting the contents of the Old Testament which amounts to nothing short of a revolution. The contrast between the present and the past is strongest in the case of Canon Driver; for in his case it is inevitable that a comparison should be made between him and his immediate predecessor, Dr. Pusey. To compare Dr. Pusey's work on the Book of Daniel with the section on the same subject in Dr. Driver's book is highly instructive; and it would probably be easy to find, in works by earlier predecessors of the two Cambridge Professors, passages which would be singularly out of harmony with the volumes that they have just produced.
All those who can remember what used to be taught in England in the first half of the present century respecting the formation of the Old Testament can appreciate the change which is represented by these books. Then we were confidently assured that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that Joshua and Samuel continued the narrative
each to his own death, that David wrote nearly all the Psalms, Solomon some Psalms (with Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs), that the Prophets one after another recorded the prophecies which they had uttered, and that, as soon as Malachi had committed his utterances to writing, the sacred volume was closed-possibly by the express command of Jehovah. It was believed that all this was known, and had always been known. So that it occurred to but few to ask what evidence there was on the subject; and the raising of such questions was supposed to savour of irreverence, or even of unbelief.
Books like the three that have been mentioned show us that it is possible to discuss these questions, and arrive at answers very different indeed from the traditional assumptions of half a century ago, without sacrificing anything that a loyal Christian need scruple to surrender. They teach us to distinguish between the Divine and the human elements in Revelation, between what is eternal and what progresses in time, between what is perfect and what is liable to blemishes of various kinds. And thus, although for some time longer we must be prepared for lamentations over scepticism in high places and denunciations of those who undermine the beliefs of the young, yet the general result will be a quieting of doubts and perplexities, and a recognition of the fact that a revelation may be none the less Divine because it has been made in ways very different from those which we have been accustomed to consider necessary, and by instruments which we should have considered unworthy, or even impossible.
As Professor Ryle says in his preface, " There are, no doubt, some who still include all Biblical critics under the same sweeping charge of repudiating Revelation and denying the Inspiration of Scripture. But they thus show so plainly either their want of acquaintance with the literature of Christian criticism, or their disinclination to distinguish between the work of Christian scholars and that of avowed antagonists to religion, that the complete misapprehension under which they labour is not likely to be widely shared, and only calls for the sincere expression of a charitable regret” (p. viii.).
Professor Ryle regards the common tripartite division of the Hebrew Scriptures into “the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings" (Torah, Nebiim, Kethubim), which appears first in the Prologue to the Greek translation of Ecclesiasticus (about B.c. 130), as strong evidence of the three stages through which the Canon of the Old Testament passed. At first, the only books which were regarded as of Divine authority were those included in “the Law," i.e., the Pentateuch. This stage had already been reached when the Samaritan schism began, for the additions subsequently made were not accepted by the Samaritans, whose Canon has always consisted of the Pentateuch only. The familiar phrase, “the Law and the Prophets,” possibly points to the second stage of development, when the group of books known as “the Prophets" was added to the Canon, because such books were sometimes read as lessons in the synagogues side by side with “ the Law." About the admission of “the Writings” there was probably less unanimity than about the earlier books, especially with regard to Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Esther, and Chronicles. But the process was probably completed before 1.c. 100, although there does not seem to have been any official declaration on the subject until about A.D. 100. The list of books which Josephus gives us in the Contra Apionem probably represents the Canon as estab. lished by general usage for many years before his day; but there is no evidence that there had been any authoritative decision on the subject. As in the case of the books of the New Testament, the Canon was determined by the general consent of believers before Councils put forth any official statement. In both cases ecclesiastical authority ratified conclusions which had been independently reached.
NO. 1.-VOL. 1.-THE THINKER,
Mr. Ryle considers that “we have no reason to impugn the accuracy or the sincerity of the historian, who describes an incident of which he was possibly a witness [the finding of the Book of the Law in the Temple by Hilkiah, the high priest, B.C. 621]. An unprejudiced perusal of his narrative leaves the impression that he has no shadow of a suspicion of the discovery having been anything but a fortunate accident, and that, in the opinion of those living at the time, the book was supposed to have existed long ago, and to have been lost” (pp. 54, 55). It will be seen from this that the Hulsean Professor is not disposed to follow the rash conjectures of less cautious scholars. The whole volume is moderate and reverent in tone.
A second edition will no doubt be called for before very long, and then a few small blemishes may be removed. The last sentence but one on p. 122, and lines 6 and 7 on p. 153 need revision. On p. 124 “ Scriptures" is made into two words connected by a hyphen. Throughout the volume “ Canon " has a capital letter, but "canonical" and "canonicity" vary greatly as to the initial letter. Both“ reflection " and the more scholarlike “reflexion” occur, and there is great confusion respecting words ending in -ize. “ Realize" and " realise” are both of thein common, and there are dozens of examples of both “recognize” and “recognise.” On the whole " recognize" prevails, but never for long without a break, and in the latter half of the book “recognise” sometimes has a good innings, as if a different compositor were at work. On pp. 2 and 54 the two spellings occur within a few lines of one another. But these are very small defects in a book which supplies, and with great success, a real want in English literature.
A. PLUMMER, D.D.
THE CAMBRIDGE BIBLE FOR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES. The Book of
Ezekiel, edited by the Rev. A. B. DAVIDSON, D.D., LL.D. Cambridge: at the
University Press. Any work produced by the accomplished veteran scholar, Prof. Davidson, will receive a respectful welcome from all Biblical students—respectful, because we are assured beforehand that every statement contained in the book has been carefully sifted and weighed. Indeed, the conscientious toil bestowed by the author is apparent on every page of the work that lies before us. Of diffuseness in exposition, or of looseness in statement, there is no trace anywhere. The fault rather lies in the direction of severity and compression, occasionally at the expense of lucidity-a word, a clause, or sentence being required to give adequate rounded completeness to the expression. A signal merit of the writer is that he never betrays himself into premature acceptance of any hypothesis, however attractive and probable it may appear, at first sight, as an explanation of the phenomena. Of this habit of critical caution we see a good example in his attitude towards the work of Cornill upon Ezekiel. This brilliant and gifted scholar essayed with youthful ardour the gigantic task of restoring or, in other words, reconstructing the text of Ezekiel. In a masterly preface of 175 pages, Cornill dealt with all the materials which form the basis of the complex problem. He passes all the ancient versions and their MSS. in review, and deals pre-eminently with the complicated question which engaged the attention of the deceased and everillustrious Paul de Lagarde-viz., the recovery of a purer“ Alexandrine-Greek" text of the LXX. This Cornill attempts to reach not only through the MSS. of the text itself, but, through the medium of “Tochter-Uebersetzungen" (especially Ethiopic and Arabic), he seeks to get behind the imperfect textual tradition of the LXX. to a more primitive and purer text. Obviously such endeavours can only be partially successful. Lagarde himself attempted mainly to recover the original text of Lucian's Septuagint, one of the three recognized official recensions of the Greek text employed
by the Church in the fourth century. This, however, was a great step, but it is one step only of a great pioneering enterprise. Hence, with all Cornill's learning and skill, he can hardly be said to bring us within sight of the desired haven, and a restored text of Ezekiel seems as far off as ever. We are not surprised, therefore, to find so experienced and careful a scholar as Dr. Davidson declining to accept the drastic textual reconstructions and omissions of Prof. Cornill's learned and suggestive book (see, for example, p. 35 on Ezek. iv. 16, and also on chap. X., p. 69).
It is interesting to observe how consistently Prof. Davidson maintains his judicial temper and critical reserve in every line of this admirable and instructive commentary. For not only do we see the facts concisely stated-facts gathered from a storehouse richly provided out of the deep delving and wide research of many years, but we also see the evidence carefully balanced in the judicial scales. Unfortunately, it is just at this point that the writer appears to me to exhibit a certain characteristic infirmity-viz., that of caution carried to the verge of inconclusiveness and hesitancy. In stating the elements of a problem, we see him at his best; in tracing the definite resultant issue, we see him at his worst; and the hand becomes unsteady. This weakness, in our opinion, occasionally mars the value of work that one might otherwise without exaggeration call τετράγωνον άνευ ψόγου τετυγμένον. This defect in exposition may perhaps have been fostered by the habit of threading the labyrinthine maze of clauses in the ordinary, utterly unreadable German commentary. Any one who has taken in hand one of the volumes of the Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch series, or one of Meyer's New Testament commentaries, will know what this painful collocation of appended qualifying clauses involves, and the agonized endeavour to disentangle from the varied component mass of opinions any definite resultant impression. There is nothing of this helpless clumsiness in the book before us. Yet it is true, nevertheless, that a certain element of hesitancy sometimes blurs the writer's exposition. And this is all the more to be regretted in a book designed for less advanced Biblical students and youthful tyros. As an illustration, take the following passage (p. 14) from the valuable and suggestive discussion of the Vision of the Four Living Creatures and the Four Wheels :
“ Ezekiel may have been familiar with the mixed animal forms seen in the Assyrian temples, though it is scarcely necessary to suppose him influenced by these. The multiplication of details in his symbols is so characteristic of him that he may be credited with the creation of the four faces himself, just as of the four hands and four wings of the cherub. Comp. Isa. vi. 2. The derivation and meaning of the word cherub is uncertain. It has been supposed that the word has been found in Assyrian, but this is not quite certain.”
This mode of statement, that takes back in the second clause what has been put forward in the first, is surely rather baffling to the young reader. Contrast the style of the above paragraph with the steady forward march of Canon Driver's ideas :
“ The main elements of the symbolism are suggested; no doubt, partly by the colossal cherubim in the temple at Jerusalem, partly by the composite winged figures which formed such an impressive picture in the palaces of Babylonia ; but the prophet's imagination-the faculty which, when the outer senses, as in an ecstasy, are dormant, is abnormally activecombines the materials with which, while in a waking state, observation or reflection had stored his mind, into a new form” (Literature of the Old Testament, p. 262). In spite of the relative clauses in the latter portion of this extract, we think itwould yield a sixth-form boy a more definite and vivid impression, though it was written for more advanced students. Other examples might be cited. Let the reader go through the first paragraph in chap. ii. (p. xvii.), beginning at line. 9 of
the chapter (“ It is not certain whether Ezekiel,” &c.) down to the close ("reflections of a later time,” p. xviii.). Then let him put himself in the position of the puzzled young student who, after perusing the carefully-balanced considerations on one side and on the other, asks himself the question : “Well, what am I after all to suppose ? Was Ezekiel middle-aged or young when he began to prophesy ? "
The Introduction to this Commentary comprises 46 pages, and will be found exceedingly useful and stimulating. Ezekiel is a tough subject for younger students ; and it is far from easy to make the illustrious priest-prophet of the earlier decades of the Exile attractive as well as intelligible to those who are unacquainted with the deeper life and historic problems of the Old Testament. Yet, on the whole, the difficulties of the task have been well surmounted. Take, as a fair sample, the following admirable and vivid characterization of Ezekiel's literary style (p. xxvi.) :
“There is a touch of pathos, rare in the prophet, when, in reference to the captive prince, he speaks of the young lion's voice being no more heard on the mountains of Israel (xix. 9). Of singular beauty also is the representation of the merchant city Tyre, rising out of the waters on her island-rock under the symbol of a gallant ship moored in the seas (xxvii.). Her mast is a cedar of Lebanon, her sail fine byssus of Egypt, her decks of teak inlaid with ivory. All the ships of Tarshish attend on her and pour into her the richest products of the nations to form her cargo. But she is broken in the east wind and founders in the heart of the seas, to the dismay and inconsolable grief of all seafaring men. If the author of the Apocalypse be a purer poet than Ezekiel, the prophet has given him his inspiration and furnished him with material for his most splendid creation.”
To the earnest student this book will be found all the more valuable because the learned author takes the reader into his confidence and discusses with him the underlying questions which must arise within every thoughtful mind. Thus, the problem as to how far the prophet's symbolical actions are ideal only, and how far actual, is admirably treated on p. xxvii. foll. (comp. also p. xxiv.); and the further question as to how far the literary form, in which his thought is reproduced, represents his actual personal ministry is handled with much insight and skill on p. xxii. foll. To those readers who have never entertained these questions these pages will come as an educative stimulus to quicken their interest in the study of the Old Testament; and they will prepare the reflective reader for the solution of problems which
have hitherto appeared to him insoluble. The theologoumena of the Prophet are discussed with considerable fulness in chap. iii. of the Introduction, and also in chap. iv. Even the most advanced students of the Old Testament will welcome such an exposition of Ezekiel's theologic conceptions. On p. xxxix. we are told respecting the Hebrew word for "holy": “ The word is an adjective derived from a neuter verb which probably expressed some physical idea, though the idea is not now recoverable.” But here I think Assyriology might furnish us with at least a possible clue, as I have already had occasion to point out (British Weekly, March, 1890). Prof. Robertson Smith (Religion of Semites, p. 371) remarks, “ The victim . . . . was naturally holy, not in virtue of its sacrificial destination, but because it was an animal of holy kind.” That the "physical idea " was that of “ withdrawal," as Gesenius' Lexicon (10th ed.) niaintains, has very little satisfactory proof to support it, though Dr. W. R. Smith thinks (Ibid., p. 140) that it has some probability. The idea of prohibition, which belongs to the roots chama and charama in Arabic, does not attach to the Hebrew kadash which appears, on the other hand, to connote something positive. The Assyrian kuddushu, meaning "bright,” “pure” (Zimmern, Busspsalmen, p. 37, footn. 2), if adequately established, seems to point to the possibility that the epithet became primarily referred to deities and then to all objects immediately connected with them. Of course, the ethical significance