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XII.—BIBLICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS
The Thirty-third Report of the British Association for the Advancement
of Science. Bath and London, 1864. What is the good of Scientific Associations ? A strange paper in the Christian Obscrver for November, on the late meeting at Bath, puts forth the selling of microscopes as the “final cause of, at any rate, the soirée for the display of apparatus which, de rigueur, forms a part of the programme. We hope this is only the malice of some disappointed instrument maker, whose goods were not bought at the said soirée; but seriously, what does come of all these congresses, gatherings of dilettante philosophers, grand discussions about social science, and the like. This “ British Association” is very fashionable just
No fear of the Times falling foul of it, and laughing (as it used to do thirty years ago) at the “ peripatetics. The Association has a right to exist by virtue of its success ; but has it any other title to public esteem ? It has done well for itself ; has it done anything of any value for the community ? When we ask the question: "What has this British Association to show, besides its yearly Reports, and its pleasant gatherings, with their talk, sometimes terribly go-ahead, sometimes twaddling ?” we are told : “Oh, this Association gives a great deal of money every year to the Royal Observatory at Kew, in order to help pay the expense of testing all the chronometers used in our merchant ships.". That is all it can point to, beyond, of course, a great amount of printing and incidental expenses. But the doubt which we cannot shake off as to the usefulness of such a budy is not due to its way of employing its funds. Many societies (more than one, alas ! of our religious ones) get rid of a great deal of money without much result. We want to know whether this way of learning the ologies is a good way. It can do very little good to really scientific men. They know, each in his own special walk, all that they hear at the “lectures” before they come near the place. The gathering is not a gathering of savans. If it were, there would be not a word to say against it. Neither does it give a chance to poor intelligent men to bring forward inventions, and hear whether their discoveries bave been anticipated. The subscription and other arrangements pretty well exclude them. Whatever it may have been at the outset, the Association now simply affords well-to-do gentlemen and ladies with a desire to know how to talk “geology,” or “ethnology,” or the like, an opportunity of listening to a great deal of more or less “disjointed chat” on such subjects, and (what they value much more) of seeing with their own eyes some of the great lights in the scientific world. It has become a sort of “Royal Institution Lectures,” moved down into the country for the benefit of those who could not attend the course in town. Even this sort of thing has its value. It does real good to many a small squire, or yeoman, or thriving tradesman, who never hardly goes to London, except on business," to see Dr. Livingstone, and to smile at the never-failing good humour of the veteran Sir R. Murchison. But does it do such men good, does it do their wives and daughters good (and ladies formed more than half in most, more than two-thirds the audience in some sections) to hear crude theories about Anthropology and the Geological Epochs rashly put forth by men like Mr. John Craufurd and Professor Pengelly?
Biblical and Miscellaneous Literature.
We decidedly object to remarks like that of Sir C. Lyell, who said, in his inaugural lecture, we are niggards in our grants of time to the geologists. “Just as the statesman who bad raised himself from the ranks, when taunted with the smallness of his subscriptions to certain good objects, said he could never get the chill of poverty out of his bones ; so we have been so long enthralled by effete systems of chronology, that we are afraid to launch out—we can never quite get the chill of poverty out of our bones." This remark was cheered to the echo, we cannot well understand why; for surely geologists have had it all their own way of late ; they have pretty well taken all they wanted without asking us. If you venture to speak of Genesis, and to hint that such claims for unlimited periods overthrow Moses, to say nothing of Dr. Hales and Archbishop Usher, straightway your mouth is stopped with a flint out of the drift, which may have been wrought by man, or may not, but which (anyhow) is not a pleasant thing to be left sticking between your teeth. “Swallow that, and digest it if you can,” says M. Porthes ; "and hold your tongue about Moses till you've done so.” What good can it do to ladies, young or old, whose Christian teaching is, perhaps, none of the clearest, to skip from one lecture-room to another ; first hearing Mr. Craufurd, in the “Geographical Section,” speak as if it were an understood and admitted fact that men are not "all of one blood,” but sprung from different Adams ; and then just coming in for Mr. Pengelly's assertion, as to men in Cornwall having, undoubtedly, existed before the extinct animals. Your chance-hearer has no leisure for judging, for weighing evidence. If of the fair sex, she runs off with feminine impulsiveness, and pushes the words which she has caught up much further than the speaker meant. It is a bad sign, that so few of those who speak, speak with the reserve which the greatness of the subject demands. Positivist is a very good name for a certain class of arguers ; they hold fast by the fact which they have observed, the bone which they have discovered, never remembering the many considerations which may invalidate their deductions. We shall have a good deal to say before long about the anthropological portion of these gentry-the most offensively dogmatic of them all. Meanwhile we wish to register our opinion that it can do no good, and must do some harm, for simple folk to listen to stuff like this: “If we will hold to the theory of a universal deluge, we must either alter the date or hold that several distinct types were created and preserved ; for in the Egyptian monuments, raised very soon after we suppose Noah's flood to have taken place, we recognize the different types thoroughly marked.” Or this, “We must hope the time will soon come when we shall deal with the Bible as with Herodotus, and suffer no d priori difficulties to stop us in our investigations." Worse even than this we heard received with rapturous cheers. Indeed, it seems an understood thing that a layman might say anything. A clergyman is bound to be orthodox, because he is paid for it, and subscribes to certain Articles ; and therefore Bishop Colenso was received in the theatre with a storm of hisses, which even the strenuous cheers of his supporters could not keep down. But this distinction between priest and people, in matters of faith, is surely unprotestant. It savours of a system which would set the priesthood as a caste apart. We have all one creed ; and those who are our servants for Christ's sake,” are not to be called on to believe one whit more than their flocks, or rather their flocks have no right to be one iota more lax than the shepherd. English faimess led people to hiss the Zulus' Bishop as being a traitor to his Church ; but had the hissers acted consistently, they would have marked with their disapprobation the crude assertions of halfa-dozen ethnologists and geologists Professor Phillips himself in
cluded. The only instance in which a stand was made for the truth occurred in a very remarkable manner, in the Geographical Section. A missionary had been detailing the successful work in New Zealand, and the extent to which the natives had been really improved in every way. Now Mr. Craufurd had just spoken of the Maories as a set of obstructive savages, who must give ground before us : “ We've taken possession of the island in the Queen's name; and in the Queen's name we'll keep it (he added); and woe betide any native who stands in our way." So, the old prophet of the Ethnological Society, annoyed at the missionary for venturing to speak of the improvability of the natives, thought he would get some fun out of him. (Mr. C. is the privileged joker and sayer of smart personalities at these societies.) So he asked, “ Pray, who sent you to the island ? in whose name did you go?”—(muttering something about meddling missionaries always making the natives discontented). “We went” (was the calm reply)“ in the name of the King of kings; and He owned and blessed His work among us.” That was enough for Mr. Craufurd, for that time at any rate.
We wish this gratuitously “sceptical” element could be eliminated out of these gatherings, for, with this one exception, they are harmless, and in more ways than one useful. Because we have written as we have done, we would not be thought to discourage such assemblies. All we would stipulate for is, that crude, ill-considered hypotheses be not brought forward before mixed audiences. Let them be taught the established truths of science, and not the vague guesses of scientific theorists.
The Life of our Lord Jesus Christ : a Complete Critical Examination of
the Origin, Contents, and Connexion of the Gospels. Translated from the German of J. P. LANGE, D.D., Professor of Divinity in the University of Bonn. Edited, with Additional Notes, by 'the Rev. MARCUS Dops, A.M. In Six Volumes. Edinburgh : T. and T. Clark. 1864.
Two extremes have been adopted in this country with regard to the theological literature of Germany. Some have denounced it as altogether bad, and have congratulated themselves on being innocent of the least acquaintance with it. Others, again, bave rushed into an excess of admiration, and have shown themselves ready to swallow everything, however crude or monstrous, that came to them bearing the impress of German scholarship. But, as usual, the truth lies between these two extreines. Only ignorance or prejudice of the most hopeless character will deny that much which is permanently valuable bas issued from the ever-labouring theological press of Germany. On the other hand, it is equally certain that a vast amount of learned rubbish has proceeded from the same source. In fact, the proportion of the vile to the precious is here exceedingly great. There is a large number of German theological writers whose works yield but the smallest per-centage of what is solid, valuable, and true, and whose laborious tomes might, with no great disadvantage to the world, at once be consigned to the depths of the sea. And there is hardly one even of the best of them but mixes up some proportion of what is useless or
mischievous with what is good and instructive. Mystical, speculative, capricious, prolix, and such like epithets, are largely applicable to many of their best writers, while such terms as daring, unscriptural, absurd, and even impious, may too justly be adopted as descriptive of others.
We think it of some importance that an accurate estimate of German theological literature should now begin to be diffused among us. Of the learning and research which it in general displays there can be but one opinion. But too often these qualities are unaccompanied either by soundness of judgment or soundness in the faith. We venture to say that from no department of literature could a larger amount of puerility and absurdity be gathered than from the writings of erudite German theologians. Yet there has prevailed among us for many year an almost superstitious reverence for all that came to us from this quarter. The silliest books have met with translators, and the most baseless and spurious have obtained currency and reputation, simply because they issued from the mint of some extravagant German divine. There has been such a flow of translations from the Continent, that native original scholarship has been all but swamped. And our German friends themselves appear to bave suffered from the idolatry which has thus been shown them. They seem very rarely to look beyond their own ranks, or to deem any theological literature which our country has produced worthy of the least consideration. “Mehr Geld als Wissenschaft” are the somewhat contemptuous terms in which the youth of Germany are accustomed to refer to England ; and by the * voluntary humility” which we ourselves display, much is done to foster this spirit of contempt for the learning and labours of English theologians, which has in a degree altogether unmerited taken root in the minds of our Continental cousins.
The work of Dr. Lange on the Life of Christ is undoubtedly a very favourable specimen of German criticism and research. Sound in all essential points of doctrine, its breadth of scholarship is also very imposing, and its discussions of most of the difficulties connected with the Gospels satisfactory and complete. But in the six volumes, and nearly 3,000 pages, of which, in its English dress, the work consists, there is a sad waste of words. The result is small compared with the process; and the reader has often reason to complain of the long chase which the author leads him in pursuit of what at last proves of little value. There is much in these volumes which is totally beside the mark, and which no one but a German divine would bave thought it worth while to write. Great must have been the trial to both translators and editor, in faithfully reproducing the frequently long-winded and all but resultless dissertations of the original. We think they have been needlessly punctilious in this respect, and that a well-executed condensation of the work would have been of more practical utility than the thousands of pages which they have given us.
The plan of Dr. Lange's work is of a very comprehensive kind, and is carried out with great minuteness of detail. In the words of the author, it treats of the root, the stem, and the branches ” of the Evangelical history. The first book is devoted to multifarious preliminary matter, and is the least satisfactory portion of the whole. It may, in fact, with little loss, be skipped entirely by the reader. With a great deal of mingled criticism, metaphysics, and theology, it throws no new light whatever on the vital questions with which it ought chiefly to have dealt, as to the historical rise and literary origin of the Gospels, nor furnishes any solid grounds on which to maintain their authenticity. The author appears to much greater advantage in his second book, which is devoted to a consideration of the substance of the Gospel history. This is the principal part of the work, and is highly
VOL. XIV.—NO. LI.
creditable to the industry, perseverance, and learning of the writer. Many of the difficulties connected with the Gospels are here handled in a thoroughly satisfactory way, and the objections of assailants are well rebutted. Thus the perplexing problem as to the family relations of Jesus is very fully, and on the whole satisfactorily discussed. (I., pp. 421-427). Dr. Lange decides in favour of only two Jameses, in opposition to most of the German critics, and to Dean Alford in this country. Again, in regard to the raising of Lazarus from the dead, a miracle which has on several grounds been strongly assailed by Rationalistic critics, and which has, of late, been set in so strange a light by M. Rénan, the following are the remarks of our author, and we give them as a specimen both of his style, and of the fairness and success with which he deals with acknowledged difficulties :
“ The strongest objection against this being a narration of actual facts is found by criticism in the circumstance that the synoptic Evangelists know nothing of the raising of Lazarus (see V. Baur, pp. 128 ff.). This circumstance certainly has something enigmatical about it, since according to John the Twelve must have been present on the occasion. Indeed, this phenomenon is not to be explained by saying that the selection of miracles to be related, which we have in the three first Gospels, was in part an accidental one ; nor again by saying that the authors of the first Gospels confined themselves to Galilean accounts, and therefore passed over this occurrence.
In res. pect to the first solution, the selection appears to correspond to the organic character of the several Gospels ; in this respect, however, we might miss the narrative, especially in Mark. In reference to the latter, the synoptic Gospels record a miracle of less significance than this, and which took place about the same time, but which was wrought on Jewish ground, the healing of the blind man near Jericho. This, to be sure, occurred in presence of the train of Galilean pilgrims. In this inquiry, a point which stands foremost for consideration is, whether the three other Evangelists appear to know anything which stands in close connexion with the raising of Lazarus or not. If we really found that they knew nothing of a family in Bethany on terms of friendship with Jesus, this would certainly be a significant fact of serious importance. But we find that they do. They communicate features relative to the family of Lazarus, which raise in our minds a presumption in favour of the narrative of John. Luke knows (chap. x. v. 38) of the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and of Jesus's friendship with their family ; Matthew and Mark tell in the main the same story of the anointing with which Mary honoured her Lord shortly before His death, which John relates in close connexion with what he bas recorded respecting the raising of Lazarus (Matthew xxvi. 6; Mark xiv. 3; John xii. 1). And how much those particulars bespeak, which the three first Evangelists record of Lazarus's family! Mary and Martha appear in Luke with precisely the same characteristics which they betray in the narrative of the raising of Lazarus. That box of precious ointment, again, with which the woman in Bethany anoints the Lord, may almost be regarded as a token of the tending and anointing of some corpse, which had been suddenly interrupted (see Mark xiv. 8), like as the precious ointment with which she who had been a great sinner dressed the Lord, gave witness of a sinfully luxurious life of self-adornment and vanity which had been suddenly interrupted. At the anointing in Bethany, we feel that here something must have occurred behind the scenes of no small importance. This person, also, must have been engaged to regard our Lord with gratitude by some most especial kindness. But why does Luke not tell the name of the town in which the sisters lived, thus giving our "critics'