« PrécédentContinuer »
The author is well known as a thoughtful and independent representative of the critical school. His larger work on "Old Testament Theology" had prepared him for the more difficult task of presenting a brief outline in popular language; and no reader will peruse his book without profit and pleasure. Nevertheless, it is not in every respect what one had a right to expect. The need of a lucid discussion of the character and worth of the religious and ethical ideas of the Hebrews is so great, and the ability of the author to place himself intelligently and sympathetically into the world of thought of the ancient Hebrews is so marked, that one cannot but regret that he has devoted only a small part of his work to the special purpose for which it was written. Any treatment of a historical subject, not based upon a critical study of the records, is always to be deplored. Professor Duff may certainly with propriety have assumed an acquaintance with the main results of criticism, and confined himself to a consideration of the ideas that appear in the different strata of the national literature. Many will indeed be grateful for the pains he has taken to set the stories of the early folk-books, the oracles of the prophets, and the injunctions of the law-codes in their historic setting, and particularly for the appended analysis of the Yahwistic, Elohistic, and Deuteronomistic documents occupying sixty-six pages at the end of the work. In fact, so good a service is this, that it would have been worth the while to add under each paragraph a reference to the passages summarized, in order to facilitate a reading of the entire sections in the Bible. But the question cannot quite be suppressed, whether this volume was really the place even for such a valuable exhibit. Besides, Professor Duff's strength does not lie in historical research. He possesses a rare insight into character, but does not have to the same degree the gift of divining historic probability, and seems to have no sense of the sacredness of a date. In his book events generally occur “about” a certain time, even when a more precise statement could have been made; too often dates are given wrongly, when an error was absolutely unnecessary. The Scythians, whom we know to have been friends and allies of the Assyrians, are said to have overwhelmed the city of Nineveh in 640 B. C. There is not the slightest evidence of any such event. The exile is placed at 590 once, and another time at 588. Both dates are wrong. Buddha is said to have been born "about 480," which is the probable year of his death. No patient seeker after chronological accuracy could have drawn up the list on page 165 or concluded his work with the group of wrong dates on pages 217, 218. The author does not seem to appreciate the ethical value of chronological correctness. On the other hand, he has a most commendable freedom from prejudice, and openness of mind. No cry of radicalism frightens him, and he learns from all scholars. He gives up the "patriarchs” and abandons
. the legends of a return under Cyrus; and in an analysis of Isaiah and Jeremiah he follows Cheyne and Duhm. His conception of Moses is peculiar. He was an Egyptian, who as a lad had seen "the level sunlight across the low growth” on the Sinaitic peninsula while tending his sheep in that region, later became a Levi, or Gentile attaché and camp-follower, when the Hebrews marched away from Goshen; and a leader, when, upon the death of the king's first-born, there had been a general slaying of the firstborn throughout the land “after a manner common among semibarbarous peoples.” There is no evidence in the etymology of "Levite" for this supposed Egyptian nationality of Moses. If it means "attaché” the analogy of the Sabean term would suggest that "attaché” of a sanctuary is the meaning; but that is doubtful. Professor Duff thinks that two rites came from Egypt, that of "circumcision, which was practiced by the father-in-law on a bridegroom," and that of Passover, which was a celebration of the intercalary days needed to square the so-called lunar with the solar year. Again there is no evidence that circumcision was practised by the father-in-law on the bridegroom in Egypt. Rather does it seem to have been restricted to the priesthood, at least to historic times. And the leap-feast was probably so called from the gamboling of the young at the time when the first born were offered. In Egypt there is no trace of such a growing feast of intercalary days; but it seems to have existed in Babylonia in later times. A very infelicitous etymological attempt is the explanation of Messiah as a frequentative passion meaning "One who is constantly anointed.” How could the Aramaic meshicha be a frequentative passion ? Lay readers who find in the index a name Adham below that of our long-suffering ancestor Adam should be warned against supposing that there were two different persons. Most other names are left in their English form. Only "Remal Yah" suggested the legitimate question whether theophonous names should not be treated uniformly.
It is to be supposed that Professor Craig intends to supplement this volume with one treating the Theology and Ethics of post-exilic Israel. The chapter in this volume dealing with “The Exile, 500 B. c. onward” is wholly inadequate. It is scarcely conceivable that after the careful attention bestowed by Professor Duff on the Yahwists and Eloists, the ethically most important work that has come down to us from Hebrew antiquity, the book of Job, is thus to be dismissed in a few words.
The plan was probably that Professor Duff should stop with the Exile. While it is somewhat difficult to gain a real conception of the growth of Israel's religious life and its ethical development from this volume, and occasionally there is an evident apologetic strain, as when the Yahwists are praised for "silently regretting and condemning" certain immoral practices, it should be gratefully acknowledged that, in his interpretation of the earliest Hebrew folk-lore, the prophetic and the pre-exilic legislation, Professor Duff has succeeded, to a remarkable degree, in discovering individual peculiarities, spiritual tendencies, and ethical ideals.
NATHANIEL SCHMIDT. CORNELL UNIVERSITY.
ASPECTS OF THE VEDANTA. Madras: Natesan & Co., 1904, pp.
This valuable little book contains seven essays by five Hindu scholars to which is added a reprint of a short article by the late Prof. Max Muller. I am inclined to think that the most interesting to Western readers will be the first essay, "The Vedanta in Outline" (Pandit Sitanath Tattvabhushan). In it there is given a very clear account of the difference between the three schools of Vedantic philosophy. Sankara taught that absolute Monism which is the only form of Vedantic philosophy which is wellknown in the West—a fact to be accounted for, probably, by the greater number of his disciples. A less extreme form is that of Ramanuja whose theory of the relation of God and the world, as here expounded, seems to have a striking resemblance to that of Lotze. The school of Madhva, again, is frankly dualistic on this question.
The same author has a very interesting essay on “The Vedantic Doctrine of Future Life,” in which the theory of pre-existence is defended with great skill.
The two essays of the late Mr. M. V. Aiyar deal with "Some Reasons for the Study of the Vedanta" and "The Ethics of the Vedanta.” On page 76 Mr. Aiyar has an interesting discussion
” on the relation of morality to the rejection of the personality of God by the school of Sankara.
Prof. Rangachariyar writes on “The Vedanta Religion," and Swami Saradananda on the "Theory and Practice of the Vedanta.” These essays necessarily cover, more or less, the same ground as those previously mentioned, but the discussion of the same subjects from a slightly different point of view assists the reader to form more definite conceptions.
On page 121 a parable is given from the Vedas, "Two birds of bright golden plumage, inseparable companions of each other, are sitting on the same tree, the one on the higher and the other on the lower branches of it. The upper bird, not caring to taste the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree, sits majestic in his own glory, and sees the lower one tasting the fruits. As the lower bird gets the taste of the bitter fruit of the tree, he grows disgusted and looks up to the splendid vision above him of the upper bird, and draws himself nearer to him. ... So on he advances till at last when he reaches the upper bird the whole vision changes, and he finds himself to be the upper bird who was sitting in all splendor and majesty all the time.” This has a most remarkable resemblance to the main idea of Attar's poem, translated by Fitzgerald as “The Bird Parliament.” And yet it seems impossible that a Mohammedan of the thirteenth century could have known the Vedas.
The last essay in the book—“The Vedanta for the World," by Swami Vivekananda-consists mainly of practical advice to the Hindu population of India. The whole book is worthy of careful study by everyone interested in theology or philosophy.
J. Ellis McTAGGART. TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
PRIMITIVE LOVE AND LOVE-STORIES.
By Henry T. Finck. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899. Pp. xvii, 851.
Seventeen years ago the distinguished musical critic of the New York Evening Post published a volume entitled "Romantic Love and Personal Beauty.” In this work he propounded the theory that unselfish, supersensual love is a distinctly modern sentiment, the result of a long development of man's sexual relations. The book was received in many quarters with strong expressions of disapproval, supercilious sneers, or good-natured banter. If some construed it into an attack upon holy matrimony, an institution honorable among all men and divinely ordained in the state of man's innocence, others were disposed not to take the author seriously. Surely, love must be as old as the human race. Admirers of classical antiquity deemed it sufficient to mention the names of Leander and Hero, Ulysses and Penelope, Hector and Andromache, to put a quietus upon this preposterous theory. The Indian dramatists were brought into the field. Weapons were drawn from the Bible, especially from the Song of Songs, to ward off this invasion of a new field by the dreaded evolutionist. There were those cruel enough to suggest that the theory had not even the merit of being new, seeing that Hegel had long ago presented it in his "Æsthetics."
The present work is devoted to a refutation of such criticisms and a further defense of the theory. It is a serious study of a most important question. An enormous amount of material has been collected and examined. Various aspects of the problem have been carefully considered, and numerous works dealing with the growth of the institution of marriage have been consulted. The whole subject is treated with much frankness, yet with such delicacy of touch that the book can be heartily recommended to all classes of readers.
It is, of course, impossible, even for the best equipped and most indefatigable student, to gain such a mastery of all the data upon which judgment must be passed in this case as to carry conviction to every mind. No man possesses so wide an acquaintance with all extant literatures, even through translations, that he can speak with absolute authority of what they contain. The subtlest of all things most easily evaporates in a version. There is no telling what treasures may be still buried under ground. Since this book was published, the oldest law code in the world has been brought to light, revealing the legal rights of a woman in Babylonia, about 2250 B. C., to divorce an undesirable husband or, when divorced herself, to marry “the man of her heart." What may be known through literary documents is, after all, but a small part of the life lived by the countless millions that have peopled the earth. Our competence to deny well nigh all of these the experiences of mental, sentimental, altruistic, super