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from the beginning, and to point out in each and in every part of each its simplest design and scope. It may not be unwelcome to you to have a few thoughts of mine on this subject, so far as they may be comprised in a letter. They confirm my first position, that the Bible must be read as a human work : and it seems to me, that the great diversity of the contents of the scriptures leads us directly to such a position. Twenty-two or twentyfour books,* embracing a history of 3500 years, the authors of which stand a thousand years apart from each other, and those authors sometimes wholly unknown, and sometimes assumed to be almost as many as there are books ;--such a harvest of times, writings, subjects and authors, cannot be bound together with a wisp of straw :-and it is but dreaming in the dark to read through such a book in one breath and as one lesson.

I begin with no animating appeal. I shall be animated sufficiently by my love for you; and may your regard for me turn these pages into a muse, who will stand by you as a friend during your still reading of the oldest and most venerable wri. tings in the world, and wbisper something of confidential instruction.

We have received this rich collection of books from the Hebrews; and I think they should be followed in the division of them. Not that we are here concerning ourselves about degrees and differences of inspiration ; but their division into the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, furnishes us with hints how and when these books were written, and how they were estimated by the people who were entrusted with them.t


According to Josephus (Contra Apion. 1. $ 8,) the sacred books of the Hebrews were twenty-two in number. There seems to have been no better foundation for this division, than that such was the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. At least so we are told by Origen and other Christian fathers. The Talmud reckons twenty-four books as canovical : this was after the Rabbins, who were always trifling with their letters and scriptures, had added a double to the doubled o.

† This seeems to be overrating very much the value of the Jewish division of the Old Testament. That division, though extremely ancient, was really a very inconvenient one; and has given rise to various classifications of the Hebrew Scriptures. The arrangement of Josephus is this: 1. The law : five books of Moses. 2. The prophets : thirteen books. 3. The holy writings, or Hagiograpba; (as they have been called since the days of Epiphanius, before whose time they do not appear to have had any appropriated appellation,) four books. He does not tell us how the several books should fall under their respective heads; and the subject has been the occasion of much dispute. Origen, (born A. D. 185, died A. D. 253,) has undertaken to inform us: but it is wholly uncertain from what sources he drew his opinion. According to bim, the books under the second class are: 1. Joshua, 2. Judges and Rutb, 3. two books of

The Law of Moses was the root of their legislation and religion ; this and the most ancient history of the nation were contained in his books. The earlier prophets (the books from Joshua to Kings) are a continuation of this history, and are so called because it was believed, and doubtless on good grounds, that prophets collected this history, and added it to that of Moses. The later prophets are those, which we call simply the prophets, Daniel alone excepted. These were prized as the interpreters of the divine will; as they who were to apply the Mosaic law to particular exigences of the state, to seasons and situations. Certainly in this sense, which does not demand what is properly called prophesying, Daniel claims no place among them; but in the meaning, which we commonly affix to the word prophet, he takes a high rank, being wholly conversant with the things of futurity.* Those prophets stood up under the law of Moses; they were its mouth, for the time and occasion before them; they were to be tried according to its directions; and were, more or less, popular leaders in the state, with the fortunes of which they were closely connected. In short, they were the breathing, eloquent spirit of the history that preceded them. All the books which did not fall under these two classes, they that were short, or later known, or later written, were added as an appendix, and in part as a proof and continuation of the foregoing accounts, under the name of holy writings ; and we may discover in this a solicitude to let nothing be lost. From this point of view we must proceed, in treating of the diversity of the books, or their arrangement according to time and place.

Samuel, 4. two books of Kings, 5. two books of Chronicles, 6. Ezra and Nehemiah, 7. Esther, 8. Isaiah, 9. Jeremiah and Lamentations, 10. Ezékiel, 11. Daniel, 12, the twelve minor prophets, 13. Job. Those under the third class, are 1. Psalms, 2. Proverbs, 3. Ecclesiastes, 4. Solomon's Song.

On the contrary, Jerome (A. D. 422.) The Talmud, and the later Jews, reckon but eight prophets and nine Hagiographa. Jerome's list is as follows: 1-5. Pentateuch, 6. Joshua, 7. Judges and Ruth, 8. two books of Samuel, 9. two books of Kings, 10, Isaiah, 11. Jeremiah's prophecies and Lainentations, 12. Ezekiel, 13. the twelve minor prophets. Then come the Hagiographa, 14. Job, 15. Psalms, 16. Proverbs, 17. Ecclesiastes, 18, Solomon's Song, 19. Daniel, 20. two books of Chronicles, 21. Ezra and Nehemiah, 22. Esther. In the Talmud (Cent. 2—4) we have the same books under the saine heads; but they stand in a little different order, and are spread into twenty-four. The earlier prophets, (who, unfortunately for this method of division, are no prophets at all) are Joshua, Judges, the books of Samuel, and the books of Kings : the later prophets are Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve. The Hagiographa are Ruth, Psalıns, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah, Chronicles. The Masoretic division, or that of our present Hebrew bibles, is in all important respects the same, differing about as mucb from the Talmudists, as they from Jerome. There is a diversity in the order of the Hagiographa, and of the larger prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah aod Ezekiel.

* The singular circumstance, that Daniel has been put down among the miscellaneous books of the canon, instead of taking bis place in the voble company of the prophets, excited long ago a great deal of speculation. The later Jews tell us, it was because he did not utter his prophecies in the holy land : as if the Spirit of God was confined within geographical lim. its, and men were out of the reach of its influences when they wandered from Palestine ; as Jopah expected by taking ship for Tarshish to flee from the presence of Jehovah! The opinion of the great Grotius seems hardly more worthy of regard, that Daniel lost bis place in the canop on account of his coart life ; and that as a Persian satrap he was set by the side of David and bis royal son. Herder, though he does not distinctly express an opinion upon it, appears to imply that Daniel does not stand among his brethren because he was not like them a popular leader. but this is fanciful, and has no better ground to rest upoo than the other suppositions. Vossius insists that the cause of this fact was the hostility of the Jews towards a prophet, who pointed so distinctly to Jesus as the Messiah. But this idea is altogether erroneous : for we find but one opinion among the Jews, as to the inspiration of Daniel, and the canonical authority of the book that is called by his name. A very different account of this matter, and one that certainly has a great deal in its favour, may be seen in Eichhorn's “ Einleitung in das alte Testament," 3ter Band, 616.

The Books of Moses begin with ancient narratives, of which the contents and tone, the colouring of description, the occasional abruptness, the alternate use of different names of the Deity,--in short the whole fragmentary connexion show, that Moses did not invent them, or receive them at the hands of Gabriel out of the clouds; but that he gathered them from old traditions or documents, and arranged them together with an exactness, which well becomes the inost ancient historian of human affairs. The eleven first chapters are evidently distinct pieces, partly fragments ; differing from each other in style as well as in matter; using different names of God; and each having the hue of its own incidents and time. After this (chap. xii.) the history of the fathers seems to grow more connected : still however the jointing and insertions are plain enough to be seen; as is evident from chapters 14. 25. 36. 38, and especially in Jacob's blessing. * Why is this so different from the blessing of Moses on the twelve tribes, when it was clearly before the eyes of that lawgiver when he spoke? Because it was a sacred national piece traditionally handed down, which in the mouth of Moses must necessarily be altered to suit that period and situation of Israel; which time had not made superfluous, but rather confirmed.

* The fragmentary composition of the book of Genesis is fully established. It is a fact, in which all the learned agree, and indeed must be obvions to every careful, though unlearned reader. Who can fail to see the jointing and insertions,' of which Herder speaks ? Who can read the history of the creation or of the flood, without perceiving that each is made up of two different accounts? One of the evidences of this fact, however, which he

alludes to,--the use of different names of the Deity,-- it may be necessary to explain. I will give as distinct an account as I am able of this singular discovery, and of the use to wbich it bas been applied.---A book was published at Brussels in 1753, with the title “ Conjectures sur les Memoires Originaux, dont il paroit que Moise s'est servi pour composer Ja Genèse." It was written by John Astruc, a celebrated physician of Languedoc, though his name did not appear in the title-page. He perceived that there was a remarkable variation in the names that were used to designate the Deity. Often for a long space the word Elohim, God, was exclusively employed; and then, through as considerable a portion, the word Jehovah obtained; generally alone, though sometimes joined with Elohim. He observed, too, ihat this change of the name marked, in a great many instances, distinct subjects and pieces : a new document was evidently introduced with the alternation of this important phrase. He concluded, therefore, that Moses compiled the book of Genesis from two ancient, written documents. He went still further, and attempted a divi. sion of the book into two parts on the principle of his hypothesis.- He was followed by Eichhorn, who, adopting his theory, proposed a different arrangement of the materials. Ilgen, upon the same plan, offered another and more artificial disposition of the supposed originals ; differing from his predecessors especially in this, that he assumed the existence of two documents distinguished by the name Elohim.

Thus mueb for the fact and the conclusions drawn from it. Of the fact the reader may easily satisty himself by turning to his bible : for our transJators invariably render the Hebrew Jehovah LORD; and Elohim, when applied to the Deity, God.---But what is the utmost that cao with certainty he inferred from it? Not, one would think, that there were just two sets of accounts employed in the composition of Genesis ; for why might not many writers have used either of these peculiarities of phrase ? All that can be confidently said of it is, that it confirms, what the learned had long supposed before, the fragmentary character of the book; and its compilation from written materials. It furnishes one of tbe means, of which every one would avail bimself, who should attempt to resolve the whole into its separate parts; but has no right to be the only principle of such a separation. But after all, who can ever hope to accomplish such a division? or who can think it of importance that it ever should be accomplished ? It is certainly a most dariog undertaking with writings of such antiquity, having shewn that they are made up of distinct pieces, to point out how many of these pieces there are, and even to which of them every word belongs. The inost that we can hope to do is here and there to see where a fragment ends and another begins ; and occasionally to extract an entire piece; and to detect in some instances, as in the description of the flood, a mixture of two different accounts. We have only to exainine and compare with each other the three systems alrea tioned, to be convinced that nothing further can be reasonably expected. The results are different, and the methods of proceeding are dif


Do not ask me from whom came each of these primitive pieces, or how long, or in what manner, they have been transmitted. These inquiries, if they could lift themselves higher than mere conjecture, could hardly be contained in a letter; and it will be enough for you to the right understanding and feeling of those accounts to regard them as what they are, the voice of the fathers of the remotest ages : something like them all ancient nations possess; but no one that we yet know of has any thing to compare with these, short and echo-like as they are, in point of simplicity, exactness, and historical truth. The description of the creation begins ; (chap. 1 to 2. 3) and corresponds so well to the infancy of our race, to its first awaking in the world of God, to its needs respecting the disposal and division of time, labour and rest, and the noblest and simplest ideas and duties of its earthly condition ;-it is so well ordered and indivisible a whole, that I can conceive of nothing to surpass in originality and simplicity this

“ Achilles' shield, of living nature full." That it is a song, my ear does not tell me, and that it is no scientific cosmogony, but a natural first glance at the universe, men will probably believe now, on the word of the eloquent and venerable author* of “Considerations on the principal truths of re

ferent, Eichhorn resorts to very frequent interpolations : Tigen devises the idea of a first and secoud Elobist: Astruc, at a loss how to trace all to his two great sources, supposes no less than ten “ memoirs" beside them: and after all is done, the same passages will sometimes be classed by one under the Elohim, and by another under the Jehovah memoir. This seems to indicate pretty strongly the futility of the whole attempt. But what is more positive ou this subject is, that there are other diversities observable in the different parts of Genesis, and those not of style merely but of fact, with which the theory now under examipation does not coincide. Parts, which could scarcely be produced by the same writer, are arranged upder the same head by each of the learned men just mentioned. To select but one out of several instances : who can suppose that chap. 26. 34 and 36, 2, 3, are from the same author ? And yet they belong to the same Elohim docnment, according to the classification of Astruc and Eichhorn; and are placed by Ilgen in his first Elobist. The truth appears to be, that there are various indications, in the first book of Moses of a change of authors, beside the one which has been raised into such exclusive importance : and what entitles that to such an importance ? Many of the psalms address Elohim throughout ; and many address Jehovah with equal exclusiveness Yet has any one ever imagined from thence, that all the first are from one hand; and that all the othe lil vise are from one and at a different hand! Certainly not.

Why, then, should we apply such a supposition to the fragments of Genesis ?

* Jerusalein's " Betrachtungen, &c."

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