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"Inque brevi spatio mutantur saecla animantum
VOL. V., No. 17, JANUARY, 1884.
1. THROUGH THE PROPHETS TO THE LAW.
3. IS NOT ALL TRUE THEOLOGY SCIENTIFIC ?
By R. D. DARBISHIRE.
5. PROTESTANTISM IN GENEVA.
BY PROFESSOR BOUVIER.
A TRANSITION PERIOD IN FEMALE EDUCATION.
6. OUTLINES AND EPISODES OF BRAHMIC HISTORY.
7. THE NAMES OF THE FIRST THREE KINGS OF ISRAEL. BY PROFESSOR SAYCE.
8. NOTICES OF BOOKS.
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THE MODERN REVIEW.
THROUGH THE PROPHETS TO THE LAW.
HE Hebrew prophets, as has been already shown in the
last number of this Review,* stood before their people as the interpreters of Yahveh's demands for national righteousness. They expounded the destinies of Israel as the chosen people, the depository of the only saving truths of religion: they confronted the realities of its misconduct with the requirements of its ideal function: they unfolded the secret of its sufferings; they promised its final triumph when purified by pain. They were the critics of the present; they were the heralds of the future: had they no word to say about the past?
It is with a true instinct that the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament reckons among "the prophets" the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. These books tell the story of Israel's life in Canaan. The conquest, the settlement, the slow evolution of a new social order, the rise of the monarchy, the birth of prophetism, the glories of David and Solomon, the disruption, the fortunes of the two kingdoms till both were overthrown, -these are their themes. The materials are drawn from various sources; but (with the exception of certain sections
* Modern Review, October, 1883. "The Prophets of the Old Testament," by J. Frederick Smith.
in Joshua which relate the conquest from the Levitical point of view) they are all fused together in the light of great prophetic ideas. Time after time the writers show us that they are not only narrating events, but also weaving them into a chain of cause and effect. The principles of judgment which they adopt for this purpose, are those of the higher Yahvism revealed to us at the close of the monarchy in the writings of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The standard thus attained is carried back through the earlier periods of the history, and the result is a frequent distortion. of their true meaning. The lofty monotheism of the prophets is attributed to Joshua, and for a brief season the people are faithful to their divine Lord. Then follow seasons of apostasy with occasional paroxysms of repentance. The reign of David had stamped itself too strongly in the popular heart not to be regarded as a time of national piety; the erection of the temple was a pledge of the devout intentions of the youthful Solomon; and here and there along the line of kings gleamed out some flash of loyalty under a Hezekiah or a Josiah. But on the whole the historians adopt that view of their nation's past which is indicated, for example, in the Jeremiah:
following words of
I spake not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people, and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt, I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them, yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck, they did worse than their fathers (Jer. vii., 22-26; cp. Ezek. xxiii.).
The prophetic books of the history, therefore, contain one long indictment: their story is a story of religious decline which the noblest of national leaders were unable to arrest they offer, in their record of the popular unfaithfulness, the vindication of Yahveh's awful righteous
ness in the ruin of his people. But they never forget that they are dealing with a nation. Nationality and religion are blended, but the idea of nationality is never lost. The monarchy is divided, but the national name Israel belongs to the Northern state: Israel has its prophets, its religious revolutions, as well as Judah: it is, indeed, loaded at the outset with the fatal burden of the "sin of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin," but it is not out of the pale of Yahvism: the same opportunities are open to the one kingdom as to the other: the same doom alights on both, for the same crimes have been committed by both.
There is, however, another version of the history of the monarchy, which presents it under a quite different aspect. The books of Chronicles are not reckoned among the prophetical books: they are placed in the third division of the Hebrew canon, entitled the "Writings," and they are well known to be of much later origin than the books of Kings. A glance at these books reveals at once a very different order of conceptions. The same method of interpreting history is indeed pursued. A religious test is adopted, and every calamity is the direct consequence of guilt. But what is the test? It is one that is nowhere applied throughout the earlier narratives. They were founded on the prophetic monotheism. The standard of the Chronicles, on the other hand, is the Levitical Law. Their representation of the history is not national, it is ecclesiastical. The true Israel is a Church, and not a State. Hence, the historical Israel, the northern kingdom, is founded in schism; its origin lies not so much in political rebellion as in religious apostasy; and it must, consequently, be thrust out of view. For already under David the splendours of the Levitical organisation shone forth in full glory, and with the erection of the Temple under Solomon, its institutions were permanently established. But of all this the books of Kings say nothing.* The elaborate arrangements
The analysis of 1 Kings viii. 1—4, and comparison with the Septuagint, reveal how the text has been manipulated under later Levitical influences: cp. Bleek-Wellhausen, Einleitung in das Alte Testament. § 122.