« PredošláPokračovať »
archy; and finally, the circumstance that just in Asia Minor the rapid growth of heresy, and the pressure of danger from without, urged towards the consideration of a fixed uniform government for the Church,-it must be confessed certainly, that there is much in favour of the hypothesis so learnedly and acutely put forth by Dr. Rothe, according to which the commencement of episcopacy dates from the close of the first century and the sphere, in particular, of the later labours of St. John. Since, however, all the data for the rise of this monarchical system of government lie on the outside of the New Testament, the examination of them belongs not properly to a view of the apostolical Church government—which was the only object of this article—but to the history of the following period.
ART. V.--THE PATRIARCHAL AGE.
The Patriarchal Age: or, the History and Religion of Mankind from the Creation
to the Death of Isaac; deduced from the Writings of Moses and other inspired Authors, and illustrated by copious References to the ancient Records, Traditions, and Mythology, of the Heathen World. By GEORGE SMITH, F. S. A. 8vo., pp. 522. New-York: Lane & Scott. 1848.
THE origin and early history of mankind have been subjects of anxious inquiry and investigation, in all ages and among all nations. Scientific men among the Egyptians, Hindoos, Greeks, and Romans, laboured with untiring industry to solve the great problem of man’s. origin and the events of his early history. Insuperable difficulties, , however, prevented them from obtaining anything like accurate knowledge, since the field lay beyond the reach of authentic history; and tradition, corrupted by poetic fiction and philosophical speculation, afforded no certain clue to these mysteries. Hence, the absurdities of their cosmogonies, and of the theological systems built upon them.
The Jews and Christians, in possession of the clear and steady light of divine revelation, see through the clouds that enveloped the pagan world, and which still exist where that light has not yet shone. Nevertheless, the history of man after his creation and fall is so briefly related by Moses, who probably designed it as merely an introduction to his laws, that many difficulties and obscurities arise, in the removal of which the skill and ingenuity of the learned have been for ages greatly exercised.
But notwithstanding the labours of Josephus and Eusebius among the ancients, and Faber, Stillingileet
, Shuckford, and others among FOURTH SERIES, VOL. III.-38
the moderns, a consecutive history, combining chronology, biography, &c., illustrated and confirmed by the researches of modern science, was still a desideratum. The want has been supplied, to a certain extent, by the writer of the work before us, who has brought to bear upon the subject considerable learning, a spirit of acute investigation, and a deep reverence for the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures. With these important qualifications are united a spirit of candour and a love of truth, which lead him to discuss every subject with fairness and due respect for the opinions of others; though, as might be expected, he has not arrived in every instance at what we conceive to be the truth.
The first point which our author investigates is the chronology of the Bible. Every one, in the least degree acquainted with Biblical criticism, knows that the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint differ, as to the age of the world, by one thousand five hundred years; the former reckoning about four thousand years from the creation to the birth of Christ, and the latter five thousand five hundred. As both of these chronological systems cannot be true, the question is, Which is entitled to our confidence ? Our author decides in favour of the Septuagint on the following grounds, viz. :-1. That we have the testimony of the ancient Jews to the faithfulness of the Greek translation, consequently to its agreement with the original in chronology. 2. That from the time this version was made, which was about two hundred and eighty years before Christ, until the beginning of the second century, the chronology given us by the Jewish writers corresponds with that of the Septuagint. 3. That the following passage in the New Testament agrees with it, but not with the Hebrew : “He gave unto them judges, about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet,” (Acts xiii, 20.) 4. That the inference is, that the Jews corrupted the chronology of the Hebrew after the beginning of the second century; for it was exclusively in their hands for a century or more, and they had a sufficient motive to do it, as there was a tradition in the east that the Messiah should come into the world in the sixth chiliad. And as Christ did actually come in this period, they saw in this another argument in favour of Christianity, and their aversion to it led them to corrupt the text. And that the Septuagint could not be the corrupt copy, is evident from the fact that it was in the hands of both Jews and Christians. Besides these considerations, ancient authentic history agrees with the Septuagint, but is at variance with the Hebrew. Nor is Mr. Smith singular in thus preferring and defending this chronology. Dr. Kennicott had before done the same, in his dissertation prefixed to his Hebrew Bible, and his views have been adopted by some dis
tinguished scholars, among whom is Richard Watson. This dissertation of our author is invaluable, and, in our judgment, is worth the price of the whole book.
Our author proceeds, in the next place, to inquire into the learning of the early ages, and rejects the absurd and infidel theory, that mankind were then in a state of barbarism and ignorance, but little elevated above the beasts of the field, and adopts the more pious and philosophic view that language and writing were communicated to Adam by his Creator. That Adam was possessed of speech, is clear from the sacred record; and the existence of books before the deluge is rendered highly probable. The author thinks it also evident that the antediluvians had a knowledge of astronomy. After having brought forward various arguments in proof of this, he remarks :
“We are, then, in respect of this science, also conducted back to the period of the first separation of families after the deluge, or even beyond that, to the time when the postdiluvian race made but one people. The proofs of this are not found in one nation merely, but furnished by the Chinese, Persians, Egyptians, Jews, Chaldeans, and Indians; and all these concurring streams of evidence unite to establish the fact that astronomy must have been cultivated previously to the deluge, or it could not have exhibited such marks of its existence and power so soon after that calamitous event.”—P. 78.
After these preliminary discussions, our author takes up the creation, and discusses the work of each day in order, quoting extensively, in illustration and confirmation of the subject, from pagan sources, especially in reference to the chaotic mass, which was the first state of the earth after its creation. But the most important part of the subject is that relating to geology. Numerous controversies, it is well known, have been carried on between geologists and those who contend for the literal interpretation of the six days' work of creation. And as Lord Bacon charges Aristotle with mutilating nature to make it fall in with his categories, so we may charge our geologists with mutilating Moses to make him fall in with their geological theories. Our author understands the days literally, and gives us an able defence of this view, though he seems to suppose that the matter of which the earth is composed was created long before the first day, as will be seen from the following passage :
666 And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.? The few first words of Genesis' are appealed to by geologists, as containing a brief statement of the creation of the material elements, at a time distinctly preceding the operations of the first day: because it is nowhere affirmed that God created the heaven and the earth in the first day, but in the beginning; and it is contended, therefore, that this beginning may have been an epoch at an unmeasured distance, followed by periods of undefined duration, during which all the physical operations of geology were going on.-Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise, vol. i, p. 21.
“ If putting this sense on the narrative be sufficient to satisfy the demands of geology, there cannot be the slightest reason for presuming that the science is directly opposed to the teaching of revelation. For the brief account of Moses certainly does not say that this creation took place on the first day; and, therefore, if it is really necessary, we do not see why this concession may not be made, without at all impugning the verity of holy writ. Yet we are by no means satisfied, either that the discoveries of geology at present establish a system of facts which necessarily demand this interpretation, or that it is the natural sense of the words. The terms, the beginning,' are thus in their application thrown back into eternity; their connection with the subject of the Mosaic narrative, if not cut off, is made distant and indirect; and, therefore, at present, we will not presume to dogmatize on the subject, but take the language as distinctly teaching the creation of the matter of which our earth is composed, without at all determining the chronology of this great event.”—P. 100.
The next subject taken up is the primeval condition of man, his fall, the promised Redeemer, the location of paradise, &c. Our author's views on these points are about the same as those generally held by orthodox Christians. He brings in heathen tradition to confirm these great events, not of one nation only, but of many of the most distinguished. How far tradition should be considered confirmatory of Scripture history, has been a subject of dispute among the learned. One class imagine they see in almost every part of the heathen mythology an allusion to Scripture events, while others discover in them no historical foundation-nothing but the result of imagination and accident. We believe truth lies between the two extremes. It would be singular indeed if, out of the great mass of heathen tradition, in many respects contradictory, nothing could be obtained to favour the sacred history. Yet, at the same time, when we see independent and separate nations concurring in any historical event, it gives a strong presumption of its truth. Of such a nature are some of the traditions relating to Scripture events. Our author's tendency appears to be towards the views of the former class.
In respect to the location of Paradise, after speaking of the four rivers mentioned by Moses, he says :
“Now it is evident that the names here used were given subsequently to the flood: Moses does not present us with antediluvian landmarks. Havilah, Cush, and Assyria, are names of postdiluvian origin, and must have been used for the purpose of defining the district spoken of. Euphrates, then, is one river; it has not changed its name since the time of Moses. Hiddekel is by all our best writers supposed, if not proved, to be the same with the Tigris. We are then conducted to the district where these rivers have their origin. There is more difficulty in defining the river Pison; but it has with great probability been supposed to be the same with the Absarus, which has its rise in the mountains of Armenia, not far from the origin of the Euphrates and Tigris, and which falls into the Black Sea in the territory of the ancient Colchians, famed in all antiquity for its gold. The fourth river, Gihon, appears to be the Gyndes, rising in the same district as the others, and ranging through Chusistan. We need scarcely add that this points out Armenia as the site of Paradise. (See this subject stated at length in Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. i, pp. 300-306).”—Pp. 141,
The cherubim mentioned in Genesis are considered at length, and Mr. Smith supposes they were figures similar to those in the Jewish tabernacle, and that God dwelt between them as he did between those of the Jews:
66.So he drave out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a fiaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.' Gen. iii, 24. On this passage an excellent author observes : The word translated "placed” is literally to dwell as in a tabernacle, to inhabit.” The word " cherubim” has, in the original, the definite article "the" before it. 6 Sword” is introduced, while no such weapon as a sword had yet been known: the phrase is, “ the fire of wrath.” A sword, being the instrument of wrath, had afterward the name of " wrath” applied to it; but in this place the primary idea of the word should be used, because the object to which it was secondarily applied was then unknown. Besides, here, if the word meant "sword,” the phrase would literally be, “the fire of sword," which is absurd. “ Turning every way,” is the same word which the translators render in Ezekiel, chapter i, infolding itself;" and " keep," although properly translated, does not, in the original, mean here " to guard,” but to keep in the sense of “observe;" in the same sense in which it is used in the phrase, “ to keep the commandments of the Lord.” Had the translators of the English Bible, then, not been misled by some idea about a guard around the tree, they would have rendered the verse thus: “ So he drave out the man. And he inhabited” (or " dwelt between”) “ the cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and the fire of wrath” (a fierce fire) “infolding itself to preserve inviolate the way of the tree of life." --Morison's Relig. Hist. of Man, p. 97.”— P. 147.
And the conclusion at which he arrives is, that
“The cherubim, the fire, and the divine presence, were manifested in Eden as they were afterward in the temple, to show God's anger against sin; to teach, through the mediation of the promised Saviour, a way of life; and to afford sinful man a way of access unto God.”--P. 148.
With this translation of the passage in Genesis, and the exposition founded upon it, we can by no means agree. It is true that the Hebrew word 72 or in Kal conjugation means to inhabit, to dwell ; but the conjugation used in the text is Hiphil, which is causative, and consequently means to cause to dwell, i. e., to place. And he caused cherubim to dwell, or be placed,” &c. The difference between these two conjugations is so great, and the distinction so obvious, that it appears to us strange that it could have been overlooked. For example: the word min in Kal means to come, but in Hiphil, ham, to cause to come, to bring ; so in the above passage, the Hiphil of 150, 7?????
, to cause to dwell, of which the future an is here used with vav (1) prefixed, which is the historical tense of the Hebrew. This rule is uniform in the language. The word so, which our translators render "sword," as far as we can see, never means
wrath." Gesenius gives it to mean: 1, a sword; 2, a knife, razor, or some other cutting instrument; 3, dryness, drought, and that only in Deuteronomy xxviii,