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Introduction to the Old Testament Hardcover – Import, 1952
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He wrote in the Foreword to this 1941 book, “The need for a new Introduction in English to the Old Testament has been felt for years by students and professors… My original plan had comprised a discussion of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. But as the volume grew in size it became clear that I faced the choice of giving merely a brief sketch of these books or of writing another book about them… Accordingly, the present volume is a study of the Hebrew Bible---the Old Testament of the Protestant Church… Throughout the book I imagined myself speaking to a class including college undergraduates, divinity and graduate students, ministers, and even interested laymen. I have endeavored to convey something of the historical background, style, purpose, thought, and faith of the Biblical writers to an imaginary group unfamiliar with Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and other ancient languages… being thorough and accurate, without being technical and pedantic…”
In Chapter II, he explains, “Although no direct evidence for a purely literary enjoyment of the Biblical writings before their canonization has survived, the preservation of some parts of these writings leaves no doubt about the matter. The survival of J and E after their amalgamation into JE, of JE after the publication of Deuteronomy, of JED after P became the fundamental law of the Jews; the addition of Judges 5; 9; 17-21 and 2 Samuel 9-20 to the Deuteronomistic editions of Judges and Samuel, which had been published about 550 B.C. without these superb pages; the survival and canonization of books having literary rather than religious value---this and other indirect evidence proves conclusively that the early readers of the Old Testament generally had a real appreciation of belles-lettres, irrespective of their devotional appeal.” (Pg. 11)
In Chapter III, he states, “The Chronicler himself may be regarded as a Biblical scholar. He not only rewrote the books of Samuel and Kings, but he was the first writer known to have expressed opinions in regard to the authorship of Biblical books, attributing the Pentateuch to Moses (2 Chron 23:18; 30:16; 35:12) and the books of Samuel to Samuel, Nathan, and Gad (1 Chron 29:29). (Pg. 41)
He says of the spelling of the divine name YHWH, “the consonants … were vocalized ‘YeHoWaH’ (with the vowels of ‘adonay’). From this hybrid spelling … same the divine name ‘Jehovah,’ current in English and other modern languages. This erroneous Hebrew pronunciation Jehovah’ was introduced by Christians at least as early as the fourteenth century and became current since the sixteenth. Whatever may be said of its dubious pedigree, ‘Jehovah’ is and should remain the proper English rendering of Yahweh… The original pronunciation of this name, which is not Hebrew but belongs to an otherwise unknown Semitic dialect, was unquestionably ‘Yahwe.’ We do not know when this pronunciation ceased to be current among the Jews, but we may surmise that … it was felt more and more that it was incongruous to refer to him by a personal name.” (Pg. 94)
He argues, “The Pentateuch is only an enlarged edition of the Deuteronomic Code. The later was called… ‘the law of Moses’ (1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 23:25…) or ‘the book of the Law of Moses’ (Josh 8:31; 23:6; 2 Kings 14:6) or simply ‘the book of the Law’ (22:8, Josh 8:34). It was therefore perfectly natural to use the same titles for the whole Pentateuch… In the Pentateuch itself, Moses is considered the author of particular sections. In J and E, he is mad responsible only for a decalogue. Later, he is called the author of the denunciation of Amalek (Ex. 17:14), or the Covenant Code (24:4), or the itinerary from Ramses to the plains of Moab (Num 33:2), and of the Deuteronomic Code, consisting of the bulk of Deut 5-30 (Deut 31:9-13, 24-26)… No one doubted that Moses wrote the Pentateuch: this is expressly stated, after the Chronicler…” (Pg. 134)
He suggests, “If the account of Josiah’s reform is substantially historical, and the book found in the Temple has been preserved in the Pentateuch, parts of Deut5; 12; 16-18; 23 were included in that book; the consternation of Josiah, after hearing it read … seems to indicate that at least some of the curses of Deut 28 were part of it. The canonical book of Deuteronomy represents the last stage of the long process of editing and supplementing the book of Josiah, and it attained its present form about 400 B.C., more than two centuries after D was found in the Temple. Modern research can hope to determine only approximately the original contents of D.” (Pg. 182)
He summarizes, “the Pentateuch is the final result of the amalgamation of five narrative sources (J, S, E, D, P) besides a number of poems and legal codes. The editorial work by which these diverse elements were combined in a single book with each unit previously subjected to revision and addition, began about 650 B.C., if not earlier, and ended about 400 B.C., when the Pentateuch was issued to the Jews in their widely scattered settlements as a definitive edition of the Law of Moses. This editorial process is so complicated that it can be identified only along the main lines. Any attempt to reconstruct it is perforce a simplification of countless individual changes. Moreover, some critics seem to forget that the legal portions of the Pentateuch went through an editorial process which had no connection with the amalgamation of JEDPS or with the insertion therein of poem quoted from other sources.: (Pg. 282)
He says of the book of Joshua, “According to the traditional view… Joshua was the author of this book, but to modern critics this is just as untenable as the ascription of the Pentateuch to the pen of Moses. The book itself contains no reference to Joshua as its author, although it speaks of … Joshua’s redaction of a ‘Book of the Law of God’ (24:26), and a ‘copy of the Law of Moses’ on stones (8:32). The Book of Joshua, as we have it, was written a considerable period after the time of Joshua. Not only does it contain an account of the death of Joshua and of subsequent events, but the expression ‘unto this day’ (4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 7:26; 8:29 ff; 9:27; 10:27; 13:13; 14;14; 15:61; 16:10) could only have been written long after the incidents narrated.” (Pg. 294)
He asserts, “More space than they deserve has been devoted to 1 Sam 2:27-36 and 2 Sam 7 in order to illustrate, through the two most elaborate instances, the character of the midrashic additions to Sanual, and the literary and historical worthlessness of these oracles, frequently quoted as authorities on the religion of pre-exilic Israel… Much of this midrash is merely exegetical but fails to contribute anything of value to an understanding of the ancient parts of the book. As firsthand evidence of dogmatic or stupid exegesis---deliberate or foolish misunderstanding of Biblical words---these earliest instances of the misinterpretations which have persisted through the centuries to our own day are not only historically instructive but should spur modern interpreters to ‘go and sin no more.’” (Pg. 373)
He says of “Second Isaiah,” “Critics are now agreed, with rare exceptions, that Isaiah 40-66 was not written by Isaiah the son of Amoz… but their opinions on the date, unity, and authorship of these chapters differ radically. Written anonymously, composed more or less disjointedly in brief sections, containing few clear allusions to datable historical events, Isaiah 40-66 lacks the decisive evidence which enables us to reach definite conclusions in regard to the authorship and date of the genuine writings of the prophets from Amos to Jeremiah… All that can be reasonably inferred with some assurance is that the historical situation, the theological thought, and the peculiarities of style and diction manifestly place the composition of these chapters … in the period after 586 [i.e., the Babylonian exile]… But beyond this point the evidence is contradictory and critical opinion is still sharply divided.” (Pg. 452)
He says of the Book of Daniel, “That the author of [chapters] 3 and 6 had in mind Antiochus [Epiphanes] is shown by two further considerations. In these stories Daniel and his companions … prefer a martyr’s death to a violation of the Law of their God… More convincing still is the fact that before the edicts of Antiochus in 168 no nation had ever been forced by law to forsake its god and adopt another one. In no other apocalypse of the Old Testament is there the vaguest allusion to a religious persecution of the Jews. It is inconceivable that a Jew writing before 168 should have even imagined that a king could proscribe Judaism and much should have written two stories which could have suggested to plan to a tyrannical ruler… In conclusion, there is no compelling reason to ascribe the two parts of the book to different authors. On the contrary, all its parts… have the purpose of encouraging the faithful to remain steadfast during the tribulations of the years 168-165, and to trust in the invincible power of their God.” (Pg. 764)
He points out, “Without the slightest notion of real warfare the Chronicler writes glibly of colossal military forces: 400,000 and 800,000 men, with 500,000 of the latter killed in battle (2 Chron 13:3, 7); one million Ethiopians wiped out to the last man before the 580,000 men of Asa (2 Chron 14:8-13); Jehoshaphat’s 1,160,000 men in Jerusalem, besides those in outlying fortification (17:14-19); Uzziah’s 307,500 men and his catapults (26:13-15). But aside from embellishing the stories, these fantastic armies really serve no purpose whatsoever. When the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunim march against Judah, Jehoshaphat forgets that he has an army of more than a million under arms, and cries out, ‘We have no might against this great multitude…’ (2 Chron 20:12)” (Pg. 788)
He notes, “Whenever possible … the Chronicler reproduced his sources intact… In other instances, the Chronicler finds it necessary to rewrite the narratives of Samuel and Kings entirely, retaining little of the original wording, in order to make the stories conform with his views. When extensive stories in the earlier books could be neither reproduced in full not entirely omitted, he summarized them briefly with considerable differences in detail (2 Chron 22:7-9, cf. 2 Kings 9:1-28… 34:4-7, cf. 2 Kings 23:4-20). Occasionally the Chronicler expanded a brief notice in the earlier books into a detailed story, as in the case of Josiah’s death (2 Chron 35:20-26; cf. 2 Kings 23:29, f).” (Pg. 802)
Although more than 75 years old, this Introduction still has considerable utility for anyone seriously studying the history and development of Old Testament criticism.
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