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THE LITERATURE OF THE BIBLE
Extension of University Teaching
“The Modern Reader's Bible"
I WISH to explain that this volume is not an abridgement of my other work on The Literary Study of the Bible. There is necessarily much in common between two treatments of the same topic : but the purposes of the two are distinct. The larger work is intended for formal students; it is an illustration of literary morphology in the field of sacred Scripture. The present book is addressed to the general reader, whether more or less cultured; it avoids technicalities, and treats the matter of the Bible, approaching this from the literary side. In what sense I understand the word ' literary'. as distinguished from theological and critical - I have sufficiently explained in the opening section.
Many things have convinced me that we are entering upon a new era of popular interest in the sacred Scriptures. My duties as a lecturer have brought me in contact with many different types of audiences in different parts of England and America. No single thing has impressed me more than the commonness of the remark - coming usually from persons who were neither uneducated nor irreligious — that the Bible (except for a few passages) had long been a sealed book to them, but that they were taking to it again. We have done almost everything that is possible with these Hebrew and Greek writings. We have overlaid them, clause by clause, with exhaustive commentaries; we have translated them, revised the translations, and quarrelled over the revisions;
we have discussed authenticity and inspiration, and suggested textual history with coloured type; we have mechanically divided the whole into chapters and verses, and sought texts to memorise and quote ; we have epitomised into handbooks and extracted school lessons; we have recast from the feminine point of view, and even from the standpoint of the next century. There is yet one thing left to do with the Bible : simply to read it. To give an impetus to this last is the main purpose of the present book.
It may, however, be desired by some to use a work of this kind as an assistance in their studies. What help I have offered in this way has been reserved for an appendix. It is a sound principle that the sustained attention necessary for literary reading and appreciatio should be kept distinct from the attitude of examination and reference which is implied in every kind of study. Possibly those who merely turn over the pages of this appendix may think the reading lists over-elaborate and detailed. I would point out that this is so only in appearance; and the reason is that the numbering of chapters and verses in ordinary Bibles in no way agrees with the actual structure ; which necessitates a re-indexing of the divisions proper for literary study. One who uses an edition in which the proper structure is presented to the eye will hardly need the help of reading lists. In a second appendix I have endeavoured to meet the requests I am accustomed to receive for advice as to progressive study in biblical literature.
RICHARD G. MOULTON. CHICAGO, December, 1900.