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of Jehovah as one who worked only on behalf of His own elect people, yet the prophets and those who were imbued with their spirit recognized the divine hand in universal history. They teach that the sovereignty of Jehovah is co-extensive with human life and society, and that His moral purpose embraces all the nations of the world. They magnify His power to initiate, to impel, to control, to overrule1. Is anything too hard for the Lord? they ask 2. Ah Lord God! cries Jeremiah, behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men 3. That the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men is, in short, a primary axiom of the highest Hebrew faith, and any expressions, however anthropomorphic, which serve to convey an idea of the living personality of God are employed by the sacred writers without any fear of misconception.



It is scarcely necessary to point out that this idea of deity pervades the narratives of Genesis. living God Himself is ever at work controlling and judging the deeds of men. On the other hand, the book teaches in the most striking and emphatic way the necessity and significance of man's response to the revealed will and electing love of God. It is noticeable that Kuenen who questions the historical existence of the patriarchs, explicitly rejects the idea of a divine election to which their faith was a response. 'Is,' he asks, 'the belief in Israel's selection still tenable in our days? That the first Christians-who knew but a small portion of the inhabited world, and could hope that within a comparatively short time the true religion would have reached that world's uttermost bounds

1 Amos ix. 7; Deut. ii. 12, 22; Isa. v. 26 foll., vii. 20, viii. 7, ix. II, x. 5 foll., xxiii. 9, xlv. 1; 2 Kings v. I.

Gen. xviii. 14.

4 Dan. iv. 17.

3 Jer. xxxii. 17 foll.

should have acquiesced in this view is most natural. But we? Is this belief in harmony with the experience which we have now accumulated for centuries together, and with our present knowledge of lands and nations? We do not hesitate to reply in the negative. . . . We now perceive that the means of which God was formerly thought to have made use are altogether disproportioned to the end which in reality was to be attained. So long as we yet knew but little of "the heathen," and formed but an indistinct idea of their number, their characteristics, and their development, we could reasonably believe that God had suffered them to walk in their own ways in order, with a view to them and their future, to manifest Himself first of all to one nation. Now this idea seems to us a childish fancy. Israel is no more the pivot on which the development of the whole world turns than the planet which we inhabit is the centre of the universe. In short, we have outgrown the belief of our ancestors 1.'

Now the Old Testament, it need scarcely be said, assumes precisely the contrary state of things to be the fact. The principle of election is obviously conceived to be a primary element in the divine method, and accordingly the whole story of Genesis describes the response made to God's action by successive individuals-men in whom had been awakened a certain susceptibility to the divine self-revelation. There were holy prophets-that is, men of spiritual genius-since the world began. The religion which was to embrace mankind could only find an entrance through some solitary soul, quick to apprehend and to welcome the promises of God. This is tantamount to saying that the progress of the race in religion, as in other things, has depended upon individuals; and even if it could be shown that the name of Abraham is merely a mythical abstraction, or a tribal personification, it would yet be reasonable and indeed necessary to assume that

1 Religion of Israel, vol. i. pp. 8, 9.

at a certain point in history an individual man appeared, capable of so entering into communion with God as to be the true father of the faithful. In point of fact, does not the whole history of religion show that there are critical moments when everything turns on the fidelity, the simplicity, the courage, with which some individual soul surrenders itself to obey the will of God? The only adequate explanation. of the rise and growth of Hebrew religion is the supposition that God actually made known His will to some individual human spirit, and manifested Himself to him singly and alone. Abraham's history, says Dean Church, is marked as the history of a man, a soul by itself in relation to Almighty God; not as one of a company, a favoured brotherhood, or chosen body, but in all his doings single and alone, alone with the Alone, one with One, with his Maker as he was born and as he dies, alone: the individual soul, standing all by itself, in the presence of its Author and Sustainer, called by Him and answering to His call, choosing, acting, obeying, from the last depths and secrets of its being1. Belief in God, belief that what He promises He is able to perform, faith-this is the second essential factor in the religion of the Old Testament. It is easier to believe that this faith was born in the heart of an individual than that it was the simultaneous impulse of a tribe; but even this latter supposition would not necessarily conflict with the principle of election, nor with the great prominence assigned to faith by the Old Testament as a vital element in the spiritual history of mankind. I say then confidently that the early narratives do faithfully present the conditions and factors which alone account for the rise and onward movement of Israel's religion. Thus there seems to be no just reason for doubting the main incidents of Abraham's traditional career. The rite of circumcision may well have been selected

1 Church, Discipline of the Christian Character, p. 20.

as a fitting sign of the higher relationship with God to which Abraham and his tribe felt themselves called 1.

3. It will be convenient here to touch upon a delicate and difficult point suggested by the special characteristics of the Pentateuchal narrative, a point to which some reference has already been made. I allude to the fact that the Pentateuch unquestionably exhibits an element of what may be called idealization. The character of the ancient patriarchs and their manner of worship, the story of the Egyptian plagues, the experiences of the Israelites in the wilderness, their movements to and fro, their conflicts, their tribal arrangements, their internal polity and order, above all, their sanctuary with its ordinances of sacrificeall these not only must be supposed, but can actually, as I believe, be shown, to have been to a considerable extent idealized by the pious reflection of a later age. It has been pointed out that a special tone and tendency characterizes each of the principal documents which appear, so far as our present knowledge extends, to form the substance of the Pentateuch. The Elohist writer, for example, seems to narrate the history of Israel's origins from a prophetical standpoint; he interprets in a religious spirit what he records, and aims at bringing out the didactic significance of events 2. The Jehovist, on the other hand, displays an inclination towards profound theological reflection. He is penetrated by the thought of Jehovah's mercifulness, longsuffering, and covenant-faithfulness. He delights to trace the successive stages in the development of faith. It is he who tells how Abraham believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness; how a heavenly benediction ever crowns the response of human faith to the electing grace of God3. The Jehovist appears in fact to survey the field of history

1 See the section in Riehm, ATI. Theologie, on 'The Religion of the Patriarchs,' § 9.

2 See e. g. Gen. 1. 20.

3 Gen. xv. 6. Cp. Exod. xiv. 31, xix. 9; Num. xiv. II.

with the eye of mature spiritual experience; in the lowly beginnings of Hebrew history he discerns the divinely intended consummation-the ultimate purpose which from the first filled the incidents of ordinary life with solemn significance 1. Once more, the author of the priestly document evidently purposes to give a systematic and circumstantial sketch of the sacred institutions of the theocracy, and from this standpoint he regards the entire career of the nation. In effect he presents us with an ideal picture of the Mosaic age. 'His representation as a whole,' says Dr. Driver, seems to be the result of a systematizing process working upon the [ancient] materials, and perhaps also seeking to give sensible expression to certain ideas or truths 2.' Of this ideal sketch there is beyond reasonable doubt an historical basis, but the facts and institutions described are so conceived as to exemplify ideal theocratic principles. It is no part of my plan to enter at length into the well-known characteristics of the priestly code. By way of illustration it will suffice to refer to one point. It would appear that the dominant thought of the priestly writer is that of Jehovah's abiding presence in the midst of His people. That sublime prophetic idea was, as it were, visibly realized in the local position and organized cultus of the second temple. But the writer seems to project back into the Mosaic age an ideal system which was only realized in fact at a period several centuries later than the exodus. He accordingly describes the tabernacle as occupying a central position in the camp of the Israelites, whereas the earlier composite narrative (JE) regularly represents the tent of meeting' as outside the camp. Moreover, the writer's usual conception of the collective people is as a 'congregation,' a term that does not occur in the non-priestly portions of the Hexateuch.


1 Gen. ix. 22 foll.; xvi. 12; xix. 31 foll.; xxv. 25 foll.; xlix. 9 foll. 2 Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, p. 120. generally Wellhausen, Prolegomena, ch. viii; Robertson Smith, O. T. in J. C. lect. xiii.



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