Page images

is a certain want of ingenuousness among inany literary and scientific men with regard to the historical books of the Hebrew Scriptures which is reprehensible, and for which I have little respect. They studiously avoid all mention of these documents, when if they had been discovered in the valley of the Euphrates or the Nile they would receive great attention. I do not recollect that the 'Antiquity of Man' ever recognizes that the book of Genesis is in existence, and yet every one is perfectly conscious that the author has it in mind, and is writing at it all the time.” * The testimony of the book no less than that of the rocks requires careful study in order to be understood, and the Church, therefore, ought to put forth as inuch effort to concentrate thought upon the Bible as the world does to keep the discoveries of physical science ever before the mind. At a time like this, when skepticism is endeavoring to turn the current of thought away from revelation, the publication of an exhaustive “Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures” is not only a valuable contribution to sacred literature, but also a priceless boon to all sincere inquirers after the truth.

Henry M. Harman, D.D., Professor of Ancient Languages and Literature in Dickinson College, is the first American scholar who has undertaken this stupendous work. Indeed, we had almost come to think that the time and patience required in the production of such a book were too great for the push and hurry of the American character, and that they could only be matched by the bull-dog perseverance of the English, or the tireless sitting capacity of the Gerinan character.

Dr. Nast gave us an admirable“ Introduction to the Gospels” a few years since, but that was only a part of the great work that was needed, and, after all, its author was not a native of America, having had his birth in the Fatherland. The appearance, therefore, of Dr. Harman's “Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures" within the last year is matter both of Christian gratitude and national pride.

The vast and varied erudition which he brings to this task makes him master of the situation, while his indomitable patience and perseverance never tire in exposing error and in tracking truth to its source. He seems equally at home in all the languages of the East, both ancient and modern. Greek, Hebrew, Egyptian and Assyrian archæology are all at his fingers' ends. The discoveries of science and the testimony of travelers furnish a fund of knowledge on which he draws at will, and his thorough acquaintance with all that has been written by those who have preceded him in this particular department of study makes him quick to profit by the admissions of enemies and to take waruing from the errors of friends. Indeed, his stores of antique and curious learning fit him for a task like this almost beyond a rival.

* Preface to “The Recent Origin of Man," p. 10.

At the very outset of his Introduction he parts company with atheists and with the Tübingen school of critics, demanding in his readers belief in the existence of a God, and in the possibility of a supernatural revelation. He thus states the plan and scope of his work :

It is our purpose, in the present volume, to examine the Genuineness, Credibility, Integrity, Language. Contents, and most important Ancient Versions of the Canonical Books of the Bible: An inquiry of such a nature travels over a long period of human history. We are to consider books extending through a period of more than fifteen hundred years, the earliest of which appeared at the dawn of history, and the last were composed when the Roman Empire and Pagan Civilization were at their zenith of power. In the treatment of such a subject much depends upon the frame of mind with which it is approached. If our speculative system excludes from the universe an ever-living, free, supreme Intelligence, the Creator and Preserver of all that is, and acknowledges nothing but unintelligent physical forces, upon whose play all things depend, we are wholly unfit to deal fairly with the Sacred C:non. For in such a case Revelation, Miracles, and Prophecies are pal. pable absurdities. But Atheism can never be a positive affirmation; and if the natural phenomena of the world furnished no proof of a personal God, we could yet philosophically admit the evidence which the facts of the Bible give of his existence. No real Theist can consistently deny the possibility of revelation, with its accompanying proofs-miracles and prophecies--and hence he is ever ready to listen to the evidence of the genuineness of documents that establish them. Nor will he take offense at a written reve. lation, when he reflects that it is by means of books, in the order of Providence, that mankind are instructed in the various affairs of the world.-P. 17.

Granted the existence of God and the possibility of a written revelation, our author sets out to determine what claim our Scriptures have to be regarded as such written revelation froin God. In deciding a question like this the stream of inquiry

divides, as we follow it up, into three branches, .namely, external, internal, and collateral evidence. These branches, however, flow so close together that, follow which one you will, the other two will always be in sight.

Dr. Iarman does not attempt to complete the consideration of either one of these branches of evidence to the exclusion of the other two, but seems to delight in keeping them all constantly before the mind, so that their united force may be felt. He cannot, of course, avoid pursuing separately lines of inquiry which belong to one or the other of these classes of evidence, and for the time being must close his ears to all other voices, but it will not be long before he returns to bring up the other lines abreast with this. His mode of treatment reminds one of a skillful lawyer presenting his evidence to a jury. He does not divide it up into sections and bring all the witnesses who are to testify to any fact upon the stand in immediate Buccession, but so arranges the order of his witnesses that the testimony of each will serve to explain and confirm that of all the others. He may first bring a witness to identify a document; then he will read the instrument and put it in evidence; next he may call a witness to swear to the signature; then he will prove that the party admitted upon a certain occasion that he had executed such an instrument; then he will show in whose custody it has been kept froin the time it was executed; next he will return to the document, and will establish from its orthography and grammar a correspondence with other papers executed by this party; and, finally, he may prove the fact that the party was in the place named at the time the instrument purports to have been executed, and that it was generally reputed to be his act, without any denial on his part.

He will so interweave external, internal, and collateral evidence that each will be supported by the other, and that the case will be sustained by the combined force of the testimony.

In the case of the holy Scriptures the first question which demands an answer is, Whence came the books which make the Bible? They did not fall from the moon, they were not bronght to earth by an angel, they were not revealed by some supernatural light in a cave of the mountain. We hold them to be the word of God; but how came we in possession of thein ? To answer this question our anthor proceeds to follow the


stream of revelation up to the several springs whose waters swell the great current. And, just here, I cannot refrain from expressing my gratification that in almost every instance he has gone to original sources for his information, and has given us the original text, either in the body of the book or in copious foot-notes. Nothing new could be said upon this head, for the facts are patent to all; but the disposition and arrangement of the facts, so as to give them their greatest force, is very skillfully made.

Confining his inquiries in the first part of the book to the Old Testament, it becomes of the ntinost importance to determine the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. It were manifestly a waste of time and labor to investigate books which never attained to the dignity of sacred writings among the Jews themselves; and so the sacred writings which have come down to us need sifting before we examine their claim to be the word of God. For this purpose our anthor travels throngh every ancient catalogue of the Old Testament-from that of Melito to that of St. Jerome. As the last mentioned catalogue is the one on which he bases the canon of the Old Testament, it may not be regarded as out of place to insert it here:

Of all the fathers of the early Church Jerome was the greatest Hebrew scholar, and the best versed in the literature of the Jews. His testimony as to the canon of the Old Testament is, therefore, very valuable. In the preface to his translation of the two Books of Samuel and of the two Books of Kings he furnishes a catalogue of books of the Old Testament as arranged in the Ilebrew Bible, giving both the Hebrew and the Greek or Latin name of e:ch. He gives, first, the five books of Moses, which he says are called TORAR-Law. The second division, he says, is that of the PROPHETS, and he begins with Joshua the son of Nun. Next comes the Book of Judges, with that of Ruth in the same volume. The third book is that of Samuel, called First and Second Kings with us. The fourth book is that of Kings, contained in the third and fourth volume of Kings; fifth, Isaiah; sixth, Jeremiah; seventh, Ezekiel. Then come the Twelve (Minor) Prophets. The third division, says he, contains the 'Ayióypada, HAGIOGRAPHA, (Holy Writings.). The first book is Job; next, Psalms of David, in one volume; three books of Solomon, namely, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs; First and Second Chronicles; Ezra; and the ninth, Esther. “ Thus the books of the ancient law, says he, “are twenty-two: tive of Moses, cight of the Prophets, and nine of the Hagiographa; although some often insert Ruth and the Lamentations in the Hagiograph:1, ... and thus the books of the ancient law would be twenty-four.” In this catalogue are all the books that we have in our present canon of the Old Testament, and no others; Nehemiah' is included in Ezra, and the Lamentatious are included in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Jerome remarks on this catalogue: “Whatever is outside of these must be placed among the Apocrypha. Therefore Wisdom, which is commonly inscribed the · Wisdom of Solomon,' and the Book of Jesus the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, are not in the canon. . The First Book of Maccabees I have found in Hebrew. The Second Book is in Greek.” He observes, in his preface to Jeremiah, that “The Book of Baruch has no existence among the Hebrews, and the spurious Epistle of Jeremiah I have determined should be by no means commented upon.”—P. 30.

From these Christian authorities he turns to Jewish testi. mony for confirmatory evidence of the Old Testament canon., It so happens that the writings of Josephus and Philo have preserved for us catalogues more or less perfect of the books held as sacred by the Jews in their day. Another is found incorporated in the prologue of the Greek translation of the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, while the Talmuds furnish a fourth. These are all forced to bear their testimony to the canonicity of the books of our Qld Testament.

Alongside these Jewish and early Christian catalogues he next marshals the ancient manuscripts of the Jewish Scriptures; and after them the many ancient versions—the Septuagint, the Targums, the Peshito, the Itala, the Vulgate, the Egyptian, the Ethiopic, the Armenian, the Georgian, the Gothic, the Slavonian, and the Arabic—together with the Samaritan Pentateuch. and its versions. Early Christian literature is ransacked for information upon this subject, and every passage found bearing upon the canon of the Scriptures is made to take its place in this book. We are compelled to wade knee-deep among old Hebrew MSS., and through tomes of musty translations in all the languages of the Babel East. The conflict between these early authorities soon eliminates the Apocrypha, and leaves us the Old Testament canon in its integrity as we now have it.

Having thus determined the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures as a whole, our author next resolves the Old Testament into its several components, and regards each book as a separate docuinent for the purpose of making each succeeding author bear testimony to the writings of his predecessor, so as to fix ap

« PreviousContinue »