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was commenced by Vater, who did not indeed set himself in decided and uniform opposition to the historical character of the accounts of the Pentateuch, and yet satisfied himself generally with a simple perhaps' in favor of a historic basis for them, and, by always carefully insisting that nothing certain could be determined on the matter, maintained a position entirely skeptical. But the opposite doctrine was fully developed by De Wette, who asserted (See the results, Kritik, s. 397. ff.) that the Pentateuch had no historical character at all-it contained not one fixed historical point-all was mythical-and nothing but the want of metre had denied it the character of poetry which really belonged to it. De Wette is followed in this by Baur, von Bohlen, Vatke* and others."
That this latter hypothesis has, over the other, the advantage of consistency, that one who takes the mythical ground can avoid it only by determining arbitrarily what is, and what is not history, is so plain that it needs no proof. But that the former one could nevertheless arise, that it can maintain itself after the other has been formed, and after glaring proof of its own arbitrary character, that it continually finds favor anew, and is adopted in particular cases even by those who strictly and entirely reject it in principle-all shows how deeply the Pentateuch is stamped with the impress of an historical character, and so serves as evidence against the mythical interpretations of it in general. This cause of the origin and long duration of an hypothesis which thus stops on half-way ground, is given by Meyer himself one of its advocates (1. c. p. 16:) "These
* How far this last writer goes, is shown by assertions like the following: The book of Genesis affords so little historical material, that it does not even determine the native laud of the Patriarchs, (l. c. 184); the relation of Aaron to Moses is to be rejected as unhistorical (s. 227); the Mosaic state has not a historical character (s. 204 ff.); Moses did not establish a connected system of religious worship, and consecrated no race of priests for it (s. 218); it is doubtful whether the Levites were originally a tribe in the same sense as the other tribes (s. 221); doubtful whether the original names of the tribes have come down to us (s. 223). Of holy seasons, he allows only the sabbath and perhaps the new moon to have been ancient; the three great feasts originated in a later age, and still later was the reference given them to the ancient history of the people, etc. etc. The author has only to take one step more, viz. with Voltaire (questions s. l'encyclopedie § 127), to call upon his opponents to prove that such a man as Moses ever existed.
mythical commentators had yet an obscure feeling, which was produced as well by the whole individual character of some of these ancient traditions, as their definite references to time and place, and their close connection with some later and better established facts, which feeling forbade them to regard every thing as mere fable which they were compelled to explain as mythical." The completion and the carrying out of the thoroughly mythical hypothesis, is then to be regarded as a gratifying advance, for the very reason that it stands in such glaring contradiction with all sound historical feeling;-for it is a general truth that every error must be fully carried out and driven to its extreme before there will be a reaction towards truth. We may rejoice so much more unreservedly at this advance, since that which the half-mythical hypothesis had suffered to remain, was not the sacred but the common history; so that in a religious point of view, nothing is lost or gained by it. But the thoroughly mythical hypothesis might, and indeed with some justice, take the credit of restoring to religion her violated rights, inasmuch as she placed a sacred poesy in the stead of common history. See for instance De Wette's remark (s. 67) in reference to Eichhorn's opinion that circumcision was intended to remove Abraham's unfruitfulness: "What would our pious old theologians say at this! Truly they were theologians, we are not." And (s. 116) in reference to Isaac's getting his wife: "A Hebrew read this narrative as poetry, as connected with his religion and the theocracy, and with a mythical faith-shall we read it otherwise? Shall we destroy and strip off the delicate poetical flowers by a fruitless, tasteless historical handling?" Were this effort to substitute a sacred poesy in the place of common history really an earnest one, this thorough-going mythical hypothesis must be regarded as a forerunner of the truth in still another way. If the spirit of the book, so long mistaken and denied, is again restored to its rights, the history must also gain something. If the history regarded as poetry, excites religious feeling, touches, edifies, men will no longer be so estranged from it, and the way is open to the adoption of the history as history. For human nature cannot be satisfied simply with ideas or what is ideal; but has an innate irrepressible desire to see them realized in history -for only when the ideal becomes real history, can it be an assurance to us that God is not far off, that he kindly condescends and reveals himself to man, and that a holy life is possi
ble in this world of sin. But although the principal champion of the mythical interpretation (De Wette) does sometimes do a little towards fulfilling his promise [in the last quotation above] as e. g. in his remarks on the offering up of Isaac (s. 103) and in his discussion against the crude deduction of the doctrine of angels (s. 108,) yet in the general, in direct contradiction to his promise, his effort is only to change common history into common poetry. The good taste which one obtains by reading the classic poets must be brought with him to the reading of the Hebrew writers (s. 82). The mythos concerning the cursing of Canaan is very awkwardly conceived, a production of the national hatred of the Hebrews for the people they had conquered (s. 76).-Abraham's intercession for Sodom does no great honor to the taste of the narrator (s. 92).—The account of Lot's daughters is a pure fiction, of a very tasteless and invidious character (s. 94.).-He speaks also in Th. 1. s. 259, of 'sacred legends' and moral tirades.'
There is also a difference among those who embrace the thorough-going mythical interpretation of the Pentateuch, inasmuch as some, like De Wette, satisfy themselves with pulling down, and actively protest against all building up again; others will also build up, as for instance Baur and Vatke. (For Baur see his article ueber d. Passahfest u. ueber d. Beschneidung, Tueb. Zeitsch. f. Theol. 1832, Heft 1. s. 40 ff). A spirit of rare boldness is necessary in order to do this; such as could scarcely be found in the department of profane history. There every one sees that without stone, nothing but castles in the air can be built. But there are also there none but common historians. The philosophical historian has the principles in accordance with which history must develop itself. But necessity includes and proves reality. Why then should special testimonies be still needed to prove what has really taken place? They are in fact only a hindrance, and we must be glad when we have none of them. For where we have, they do not in the general agree with those principles, and we then have the trouble of modifying, transforming, adapting, and setting them aside. For that the principles may not be modified so as to suit the facts, is clear enough. Every such contradiction, that is based only on testimonies as to facts, is, for science,' and these its priests, of no sort of importance. (See Vatke, s. VII.) Common criticism can only kill; philosophical criticism can also make
alive. It has all within itself, and proclaims aloud, 'I am, and there is none besides me."
The opponents of the genuineness of the Pentateuch are divided still further in this, that some of them ascribe a very considerable agency in the formation of the Pentateuch, and its introduction as a sacred book, to design and deception; others endeavor to avoid this supposition as much as possible. As this supposition of deception is unavoidable on the ground of the antagonists of the Pentateuch, as is hereafter to be shown, it is a testimony in favor of the Pentateuch, that the most endeavor to escape it, or at least (a proof of a bad conscience) try as much as possible to conceal it. See for example De Wette, Bd. 1. s. 178 ff. Bd. 2. s. 405 ff. Vatke also, however he may generally seek to avoid the supposition of a fraudulent forgery, sometimes admits it. See for example s. 220, where he says Jeremiah charged the priests with it. Only Gramberg (Geschichte d. Religionsideen Th. 1. s. 63,) and v. Bohlen adopt with shameless openness the supposition of deception.
Finally, the views of the opposers of the genuineness of the Pentateuch, on the relation of the different books to each other, on the time when each book was written, and the time when the whole was collected together and received as the work of Moses, offer to us a whole host of varieties. (The opinion defended by De Wette, viz. that Deuteronomy was the latest of all the books, and is the mythical key-stone of the mythical whole, an opinion which appeared to have gained universal assent, is now beginning to give place to just the opposite one, that Deuteronomy is the very oldest of the whole. See e. g. George, 1. c. p. 7 ff.) The great principle of subjectivity,' here celebrates its triumph. No two of the more important critics agree in their mode of solving the most important problems. It is a war of every man against every man. We had intended to present to the view of our readers the laughable spectacle of these contests, in order that from the confusion and contradiction of the positive results of the later criticism, which is consistent with itself no further than its champions are united by a common doctrinal interest, they might form some conclusion about the boasted certainty of their negative results. But we feel an unconquerable disgust at the business, and we cannot bring ourselves to enter upon the field of arbitrary speculation, and collect together the masses of fancies that lie scattered there. Every one can easily supply this lack by taking in hand a few VOL. XII. No. 32.
of the works on this subject, and comparing them together. The impression made by such a labor would be apt to resemble that which one gets on visiting a Jews' school.
The Prospect for the Future.
The result of the history of opposition to the Pentateuch just given, is by no means cheering to its defenders. If that opposition has its deep and fixed root in the spirit of the age, if they who do homage to that spirit, must and will continue their opposition, even after all their arguments, which are not based simply on their doctrinal views, have been refuted, and after the genuineness of the Pentateuch has been most plainly proved, then may a man well say, after having laboriously and in the sweat of his brow accomplished the work, I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for nought. But, if on one side the prospect is dark, on the other it is clear and bright. Not all have sold themselves unconditionally to the service of the spirit of the day. Many are not disinclined to let the doctrinal principles of the two parties be for the present more or less undecided, and first to inquire which of them conquers on the field of historical criticism. It is these homines bonae voluntatis from whom the
true laborer may expect his reward. And there is at the present time another encouraging circumstance. Originally the attacks on the Old and the New Testaments went hand in hand. Both opposers and defenders had no other idea but that both must stand or fall together. The Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist for example looked upon the whole sacred history as a closely formed phalanx; and acted on the supposition that with the passage through the Red Sea, he would annul the resurrection of Christ, and with the resurrection also the passage through the Red Sea. Bauer wrote a Mythology of the Old and New Testaments. De Wette declared openly that the Mythical principles which he had applied to the Pentateuch must also be applied to the New Testament. And how could it be otherwise? The connection between the Old and New Testaments is so intimate and so manifest that every child sees it. The New continually refers back to the Old. How can the fortyyears' temptation of the children of Israel in the wilderness be mythical, and the forty-days temptation of Christ which answers to it, be historical? the appearances of angels in the Old Testament mythical, and those in the Gospels historical, when the an