Authorship of the Pentateuch

Part 3

By Rev. S. C. Bartlett. D. D., Professor in Chicago Theological Seminary


2. We pass to certain negative objections, which may be briefly despatched.

(i.) It is asserted that a Mosaic authorship is discountenanced by some striking omissions, indicating that documents or trustworthy reminiscences were wanting to the author. Among these are mentioned that no occurrences at the eighteen halting-places between Hazeroth and Kadesh are recorded; that no account is given of the descent or the death of Hur; that the accounts of Jethro are evidently fragmentary, and that there is a blank in the history respecting thirty-eight years in the wilderness. So reasons Dr. Davidson.

This style of objection scarcely calls for serious refutation. (1) There is no end to such demands. Why not fuller narratives of the immense lives of Adam, Methuselah, and other patriarchs; further accounts of Enoch, of Lamech, of Cain, and of Seth; more about Noah and his sons, the early life of Abraham, the pedigree of Melchisedek, additional events in Isaac's life, the history of Jacob and his family while Joseph was in Egypt, and of the four hundred years in Egypt? And so on ad infinitum. (2) It is in all cases preposterous to prescribe to any historian how he shall fore shorten his narrative. (3) The very omissions complained of are proofs of the unity and distinctness of the one writer's plan. He writes the history of God's revelation to his chosen people, and the proceedings preliminary. He care fully excludes foreign matter; and, from the necessity of the case, he gives that history in its salient features, essential facts, and characteristic marks. Nations and individuals brought into relationship with the chosen people, he describes more or less fully according to the closeness of the connection, and finally dismisses. Such historic facts of the chosen nation itself as have no bearing on his purpose, or are superseded by other statements, are omitted. Why minutely recount the occurrences at all the halting-places, if the most striking are narrated? Why should he relate anything more of Hur and Jethro than what concerns the purpose of his narrative? Why cumber his history with the thirty-eight comparatively uneventful years while they may have been quietly pursuing their rural occupations, spread out over the region southeast of Palestine, when the grand characteristic events — the deliverance, the law giving and organization, the gracious interposition and the judgments — are given in full? Why burden his graphic story with four hundred stagnant years in Egypt? The sacred historian understood his work better than the critic who requires a story to be told after the manner of Mistress Quickly.

(ii.) It is objected that there is not sufficient difference between the language of the Pentateuch and that of the books written about the time of the captivity to correspond with the interval of nearly a thousand years.

This is a matter of judgment on a question of degree. Dr. Davidson is too familiar with the Hebrew language to deny the fact of a difference: "We do not say that there are no diversities of language between the Pentateuch and later books; but that the differences are such as disagree with the fact of a thousand or nine hundred years' interval."1 Differences, then, are admitted.

But Dr. Davidson is obliged to admit more yet. "Nothing is proved by the list of forms peculiar to the Pentateuch, except that Moses wrote portions; and that these obtained a sort of sanctity which gave their diction some prominence. Later writers may have proceeded in part on the model of his usus loquendi."2

The question then is simply this: How much more difference ought there to be between the earlier and the later Hebrew? A question which would doubtless receive as many answers as there are critics. It is, however, asserted, in general, that so slight a difference in the lapse of a thou sand years would be without a parallel in the history of language. We answer:

(1.) If this were true, it is also true that the circum stances were without a parallel, (a) In general, a singular fixedness of oriental habits, such as has preserved in many respects the same manners and the same local names in Palestine for three thousand years, (b) The nation, as a whole, was for the greater part of the time bound to the same soil, with very slight relations to foreign nations — intentionally so. (c) The Hebrews were immediately encircled by tribes that used the same language with themselves, (d) Their mode of life remained substantially the same during that whole period; none of those advances in science, art, or modes of living took place which so rapidly change the speech of men. (e) Their institutions were designedly framed and fixed so as to maintain through their whole history the same great circles of thought and speech, and to keep all portions of the nation in annual (or rather tri- annual) contact with each other and the central seat of influence. (f) As Dr. Davidson suggests, their writers must have formed their style greatly on the constant use of the Pentateuch.

(2.) But secondly, the phenomenon is not without a parallel. Waiving all questionable examples (as of the Arabic and the Chinese), "the Syriac dialect of the second century in the Peshito or Syriac version, is the same as is read in Abulfaragius or Bar Hebraeus, a writer of the thirteenth."3 It is useless to reply (as does Dr. Davidson) that " the analogy is vitiated by the fact that the Syriac was gradually dying away after the Arabian conquest, and was therefore incapable of receiving new forms."4 The fact is admitted; but it is alleged that the circumstances were peculiar in this case. So they were in the other. If peculiar circumstances can in one case preserve a language substantially unchanged for a thousand years, they can in another. The objection is extinguished.

(3.) Finally, the objection is also annihilated by facts concerning the Hebrew which the objectors themselves admit. (a) It is admitted by this whole class of writers that we have genuine specimens of David's composition, less than half way from Moses to Malachi. De Wette admits as " undoubtedly genuine," Psalms vi., viii., xv., xxiii., xxix., xxx., xxxii., ci. Ewald, Psalms iii., iv., vii., viii., xi., xviii., xix., xxiv., xxix., xxxii., ci., ex. Hitzig iii., iv., vii., viii., xi., xiii., xv., xvi., xvii., xviii., xix.5 Davidson thinks these writers too restricted, and would add to the list some (e. g. xvi.) which they have excluded.6 Colenso would include many more.7 Even J. Olshausen, who is so chary of admitting David's authorship of any of the Psalms that he even denies the double testimony concerning Psalm xviii. (found in the psalm, and in the narrative 2 Sam. xxii.), is obliged to admit that of the " noble poem," 2 Sam. i. 19-27, "hardly any other than David could be the poet."8 Knobel, Tuch, and Bleek place the " Elohistic "portion of the Pentateuch as early as the time of Saul; Lengerke, in the time of Solomon; Stahelin, in that of the Judges or Saul. Now the lapse of time from David to Ezra was about six hundred years — a period when the nation was subjected to foreign influences vastly more than during the four hundred years previous; yet the Hebrew of Ezra and other later writers


presents no such radical change of the language as would have made the Psalms difficult of apprehension by them. But this is not all. (b) These same critics are constrained to admit that portions of the Pentateuch are as old as the time of Moses. Such is the distinct admission of Dr. Davidson, as quoted above. De Wette says of Num. xxi. 17-18,27-30, "the following odes may be referred with certainty to the time of Moses."9 Knobel says that Moses gave laws, and that " he even published such laws in writing, e. g. the Decalogue; although to what extent he did it is uncertain."10 Bleek goes further, and specifies Exodus xxv. - xxxi.; Leviticus i. - viii., xi. - xv., xvi., xvii.; Numbers x. 1 - 8, xix. Davidson specifies more than twenty whole chapters which must have come from Moses with very slight change, among which he regards Ex. xxv. - xxxi., "as probably written down by him in its present state."11 Indeed, conceding, as these writers must, that Moses was the original lawgiver, and conceding too the universal habit of writing, it would be preposterous alike to deny that he committed portions of those laws to writing, and to assert that all his genuine productions must have disappeared from the " books of Moses." Accordingly, as Saalschiitz truly remarks, " the most sweeping criticism holds that some portions are the genuine productions of Moses."12 The objection, then, drawn from the language of the Pentateuch is annihilated by the admitted fact that portions of it are as old as Moses. The theory that a greater change must have taken place is refuted by the fact that it did not. And this consideration presses with greatest force on those writers who, like Knobel, find it most difficult to decide what is Mosaic in the Pentateuch and what is not. Should they attempt to evade by implying (with De Wette) a later revision, then we may inquire by what right they assume the process of revision so far as suits their convenience, and deny it any farther.

3. We proceed to a class of irrelevant objections. They really concern rather the quality of the composition than the question whether Moses was its author; but they are, some of them, so commonly alleged in this connection, and with so much of popular show, that they cannot properly be dismissed without notice.

(i.) The progressive character of the legislation is alleged against the composition of the Pentateuch by Moses. " It is derogatory to the divine perfections to suppose, as the advocates of the Mosaic authorship do, that Jehovah spoke to Moses enacting such and such rules, and sometime after changing or rescinding what he had expressly appointed. In making enactments for his people, the Almighty Legislator could not have proceeded in this way."13

This argument is brought " against the Mosaic author- ship"; and it well illustrates the random character alike of the assertions and the logic which are expended on this theme. (1) As to the fact itself — what is the whole course of revelation but a series of progressive disclosures, keeping pace with the changing circumstances as they were shaped by divine Providence, often accompanied (as at and after the flood) with the introduction of what might be called a change in the outward policy of government? And the New Testament dispensation — does it not include the repeal of a great mass of observances enforced for hundreds of years with the sternest of divine sanctions? Or will the objector deny all this too? (2) The progressive character of the legislation is really one of the strongest marks of authenticity. Laws engrafted on the changing circumstances, carry evidence, so far, of having originated in those circumstances; and Colenso even attempts to cast discredit on the legislation in the wilderness by citing provisions that contemplated the permanent home in Palestine. The en tire absence of enactments for transient uses and changing circumstances might have been handled with some effect. (3) Still, if there were force in the objection, it would bear, not on the question whether Moses composed the Pentateuch, but whether he had made a suitable representation of God and his methods.

(ii.) The "unsuitableness of sections and paragraphs often observable in the Pentateuch," is used to invalidate the testimony.14 "It is derogatory to the great lawgiver to suppose that he left the Pentateuch in its present form." Certainly it is refreshing to find this sudden appreciation of the intellectual qualifications of the man who was too short-sighted to have left a permanent record. If the Pentateuch is beneath him, what is worthy of him?

What then are these unsuitable things, so far as the specifications answer to the indictment? These: sometimes portions of the narrative are badly connected with each other; they do not properly continue the history; are located too early or too late; sometimes might be taken away with out being missed, or they even do violence to the context by breaking the thread of the narrative.15

We will not now discuss the propriety of the allegations, nor the special cases cited under them. The minute examination of passages would only divert attention from the irrelevancy of the objection. The allegations, true or false, may bear on the qualities of the writer, or his mode of composition; but (1) they have not the slightest bearing on the question whether Moses wrote the volume, unless we know beforehand just what kind of a composition Moses would write — a pretence which would be the height of folly. (2) The same allegations, sustained by striking in stances, could be made against each of the Gospels; interruptions of the continuity by sentences, paragraphs, chapters; the insertion of many things which could be omitted without being missed; statements made far away from the order of their occurrence, and sometimes from their natural connection. But who dreams of urging such considerations against their having been written by their reputed authors?

(iii.) Repetitions, duplicate accounts, diversities, and alleged contradictions, are said to disprove unity of authorship, and hence the authorship of Moses.

Repetitions may be freely admitted. They belong to the simplest method of narrative, and occur in the other books of the Old Testament. Yet there is usually some occasion for them. Sometimes they occur for the purpose of singling out and making prominent some particular circumstances of a general account. Sometimes they are made the means of transition from one topic to another. Occasionally they prepare the way for a new and striking fact. In other cases they are the means of resuming an interrupted narrative. These things mark an inartificial style, and nothing more. It is the highest form of art so to construct a narrative or other composition, that nothing shall be anticipated and nothing repeated or retraced. To this style of art the Bible makes no pretension.

In this sense also we may freely admit the existence of duplicate accounts, that is, of subsequent statements of transactions briefly referred to before, but now repeated and intentionally expanded for some other purpose in view. Here belong many of those instances which it has become the settled custom of German criticism to cite as contradictions. Thus the fuller account of the creation of man in the second chapter of Genesis, can be completely vindicated. It was unnecessary, and even superfluous, in the condensed survey of the course of creation in the first chapter; but it was the needful introduction to the narrative of the marriage institution and of the fall, which immediately follows. It cannot be shown to contain any contradiction, but is a suit able and timely expansion. Such repetitions, indeed, belong to every age.16

Among the repetitions which Knobel17 reckons as marks of different writers, we find the births of Seth and Enos twice mentioned, but for different purposes: once in connection with the family history of Adam (Gen. iv. 25, 26), again in the complete genealogical table of the patriarchs (v. 3, 6). The corruption of the earth is twice stated; once as the occasion of God's purpose of vengeance (vi, 5), again in connection with the communication of that purpose to Noah (vs. 11 - 13). So God's gracious intentions after the flood are twice recorded: first as the decision of his own mind when Noah made his acceptable offering (viii. 20, 21), again as his utterance to Noah on establishing a covenant with him (ix. 9 seq.). Numerous similar cases present so obvious reasons for the second allusion as to require no labored explanation.

Here too belong some of those cases of fuller statement which have been cited as contradictions, not only by such writers as Knobel, Bleek, and Davidson, but by Kalisch too.18 Thus in the sixth chapter of Genesis, when Noah is commanded to build an ark, he is told in general that when it is finished, he is to take into it the animals, "two of every sort, to preserve them alive, male and his female." In the next chapter when the ark was finished and in readiness (one hundred and twenty years later, as many understand Gen. vi. 319), God repeats the general command to take two of every kind, male and female, with the more specific addition to take the clean beasts by sevens. And this is one of Kalisch's " irreconcilable " contradictions.

Here, however, we meet an attempt, made by Knobel, and others of that class, to smuggle in certain distinct narratives of different transactions as duplicate accounts of the same transaction clumsily and unconsciously introduced by an awkward compiler. Of the several instances selected by Dr. Davidson from Knobel's larger list, not one will bear a careful, few a casual, examination. Let us look at them. " Sarah is taken by Abimelech at Gerar (Gen. xx.), as she had been taken in Egypt by the king of the country (ch. xii.), with the intention of making her a wife. The same thing also happens to Rebekah at Gerar (ch. xxvi.)." But the reader will find the first two transactions widely separated both in time and place, connected with different monarchs, and with different circumstances throughout, except that Abraham repeated his unworthy device, because of the continuance of Sarah's extraordinary beauty, and that God again delivered the mother of the promised seed from pollution. He will also see that " the same thing" did not happen to Rebekah; but that while the feebler Isaac copied in Gerar the folly of his father, the monarch (whether the same man or his successor), as if rendered cautious by that mistake, did not take Rebekah, though Isaac was there u a long time"; but, on discovering the relationship, warned them of the possible consequences of their course, with perhaps even an allusion to the previous transaction (xxvi. 10). Dr. Davidson admits that " there is room for doubting the original identity of the facts." There is no room for confounding them. It may be singular that they occurred; and yet in such lands and such times it may not. Again, the narratives of Hagar's two departures (Gen. xvi., xxi.) are summarily pronounced " identical." But the one was before Ishmael's birth, the other when he was fifteen or sixteen years old (compare xvi. 15, xxi. 5, 8); the one was occasioned by Hagar's insolence, the other by her son's misconduct; one was a voluntary, transient flight, from which God directed her to return, the other a deliberate and final dismissal by Abraham under God's direction; in the first instance she had no trouble, in the second she almost perished with thirst. There is mentioned in each case a well (so often mentioned in the early narrative), and an angel with a communication from God; but in one case it was on the way to Shur, between Kadesh and Bered, in the other it was in the wilderness of Beer-sheba; the communications, and even the promises in the two cases are widely diverse, both in form and specification, and the results opposite. The recurrence of trouble between Sarah and Hagar cannot be matter of surprise, nor the mention of so important a matter as a well in the wilderness in both instances. Nor is the expanded repetition of God's promises a strange event. Yet these are the main points in common. So Knobel and Davidson would confound the two narratives of the quails (Ex. xvi., Num. xi.), though the one was at the wilderness of Sin, on the west of the peninsula, the other at some point east of mount Sinai; one in the second month of the first year, the other after the passover of the second year (Num. ix.); one in connection with the first fall of manna, the other when the people were weary of the manna (Num. xi. 6); one was, says Davidson, "as a boon of God, to satisfy the hunger of the people, and convince them of their dependence on God," the other in anger and judgment; one was at tended with no ill consequences, the other with a terrible plague. The only common point is the bringing of quails — birds which are still found in enormous quantities in that region and at that season of the year. The same writers insist on the identity of the miracles of bringing water from the rock (Ex. xvi., Num. xx); though one was before reaching Sinai, the other at Kadesh near Palestine, and in the following year; and the second is remarkably distinguished from the first by all the circumstances of the offence which excluded Moses from the land of promise. "The same name [Meribah] could not have been given twice," says Davidson. Why not, if it was equally characteristic and appropriate, and all the more readily that it had been once applied in a similar case?

In none of the above instances can the poor apology be made that one narrative is purely Elohistic and the other Jehovistic. They can be made so only by using the scissors.

A double description of the manna is said to be found in Ex. xvi. and Num. xi. The latter passage, however, simply contains a supplementary statement of its pleasant and useful qualities, and its divine mode of bestowal, called forth as a comment on the unthankfulness of the murmuring people. It contains no contradictions of the former notice, nor is a repetition of it. It is attempted to strengthen the case by affirming the latter passage to be Jehovistic and the former Elohistic (so De Wette, Davidson, Knobel); but this Elohistic passage contains the name "Jehovah" nine times, and Elohim as an independent name not at all.20

It is asserted that there are duplicate, and therefore conflicting, etymologies of the names Issachar (Gen. xxx. 14, 16, 18), Zebulon (vs. 19, 20), and Joseph (vs. 23, 24). But even a compiler must be a sad bungler who would thus unwittingly introduce incompatible etymologies in successive verses three times in one chapter. There is no occasion for the supposition. The first instance offers no indication of a double derivation. The fundamental word of Issachar is simply שָׂכָר hire;21 which applies, and is applied, equally to Sarah's hiring her husband and receiving her hire (i. e. its result) from God. In the other two instances we may freely recognize the characteristic paronomasia, whereby each name involves a double allusion — not by the unpardonable stupidity of jumbling together in the same verse contradictory statements, but by the felicity (as the Hebrew viewed it) whereby one name enwraps two coincident facts. The name "Zebulon" probably plays on both the words זָבָר, gift, and זְבַל dwells; and is the memorial of the sentiment," from this gift [or dowry] I see that my husband will dwell with me " (vs. 20). The name " Joseph," with its play upon אָסָף and יָסָףף, records in one word the twofold aspect of the one event which takes away the mother's reproach and adds a second son.22

These are the instances which Dr. Davidson has drawn out in detail. They wholly fail to make good his position.23

But we are further told that discrepant and contradictory statements are found, which indicate a diversity of author ship, and invalidate the testimony that Moses composed the book. But (1) if we grant the premise, this conclusion does not follow. It would affect rather the character of the composition — its correctness and its inspiration — than its authorship. For example: within about two years, three different works have appeared, bearing the name of Dr. Davidson — Biblical Criticism, the second volume of Horne's Introduction, tenth edition, and an Introduction to the Old Testament, — containing the most conflicting views and statements; yet there can be no reasonable doubt that they were by the same author. (2) The objection proves too much. All these critics necessarily suppose a final editor or " redactor," who combined his materials at discretion; omitting, inserting, transposing, recasting, with great labor and care. But the argument which would disprove the composition by a single mind, would also disprove the compilation by a single mind. The constructions which would make so wretched a blunderer of the accredited compiler of a great nation's history, laws, and institutions, must be perversions. Accordingly (3) the alleged discrepancies can be shown to be mostly captious. No doubt there are some points of real difficulty; not such as show diversity of authorship, but such as grow out of the brevity of the narrative, the omission of slight explanatory statements, and the lack of collateral sources of explanation. One can go over the narrative and find a multitude of passages where the omission of some one statement would create other similar difficulties. But the main part of these alleged discrepancies are captious. As they belong to the question, not of author ship, but of historic truthfulness and inspiration, we must dismiss them for the present.24

(iv.) The incorporation of pre-existing materials has often been urged as an overwhelming objection to the Mosaic authorship. We refer to the "document" theory, in some of its forms. Colenso declares that "this simple fact is enough to set aside the ordinary notion of the whole Pentateuch having been written by Moses, and as such coming to us, in every part, with the sanction arising from his divine mission."25

It would require a separate discussion to do full justice to the attempts of modern criticism to disintegrate the Pentateuch — its high pretensions, arbitrary methods, baseless assertions, illogical positions, and conflicting results. For our purpose it is not necessary. No progress is made by the objector in finding documents in the narrative, unless he can show that some of them are subsequent to Moses. No matter what genealogies or traditions, oral or written, the writer may have used, the universal testimony of antiquity is not invalidated or even assailed till it be shown that these sources themselves are certainly of later date than his time. Grant, if you will, a " redactor," with as many writings before him as Ewald could desire; that redactor may still have been Moses. This whole theory, therefore, leaves us where we were; it simply conjectures what materials were used by the author, and leaves the question who was the author intact. It brings us back to the one inquiry: Are there in these supposed documents or fragments any evidences of a later date than Moses?

Lest it should be supposed, however, that there is some mysterious potency in this boasted theory, we will not dismiss the subject without a few words on the inherent weakness of the weapon, though it does not even touch the mark.

In general, the only points on which the advocates of this document theory are agreed, are that the Pentateuch is mainly a compilation, of which the parts are quite discernible: but there is no general agreement what those parts are. There is more approach to unanimity as to the "ground-writing," or Elohistic portion in Genesis, because the use of the word "Elohim " is a partial guide as far as Exodus vi. 3. Yet there is much diversity here; and some, like Hupfeld and Davidson, advocate an older and a younger Elohist.

But aside from the fundamental failure in the result, it can be abundantly shown that the attempt to dissect the Pentateuch breaks down in the process.

(1.) Its fundamental principle is to the last degree arbitrary. It takes the liberty of breaking up all passages at will, no matter how close the connection, or how small the fragments, even down to sentences, half-sentences, and single words. Colenso only states the constant practice of De Wette, Hupfeld, Knobel, Davidson, etc., when he writes thus of the theory he adopts. "The Jehovist in fact may have revised what the Elohist had written, making his own insertions here and there, sometimes in long passages (as in the second account of the creation), sometimes in shorter ones (as in the small section about the deluge), sometimes interpolating two or three verses only, or even a single verse, or part of a verse, which makes its appearance in the midst of the older writing, and now and then in such a way as to make it difficult to assign precisely to each writer his own particular portion." Let the reader ponder carefully the above statement by a friend of the system, remembering that every allegation in- it can be abundantly illustrated from every advocate of the system, and he will see what a drifting fogbank is the whole system in its essential method.26

(2.) The system attempts to explain very simple facts by assumptions far more difficult, and even unaccountable. The theory holds that though the Elohist was perfectly familiar with the name " Jehovah," yet as that name was not impressively made known till the transaction in Exodus vi. 3, he refrains even from using it himself in the previous portions of his narrative. It was a singular scrupulousness, the more so, as Davidson admits that the name, after all, "was usual among the maternal forefathers of Jochebed."27 It is a caprice that no sacred writer or speaker adheres to in speaking of pre-Mosaic events. By his side we have the Jehovist, equally familiar with both names, with an opposite freak, predominantly avoiding the use of the other name. Then we have the redactor (if diverse from the Jehovist, as most hold), while taking the utmost liberties in combination and substitution, yet on the one hand so carefully respecting these two eccentricities that when inserting half a verse in one narrative from the other, he breaks the continuity of style and retains the different name of God, and on the other hand sometimes replacing whole sections of the Elohist (such is the theory) with a new use of the materials and a change of Elohim to Jehovah throughout. Meanwhile this Jehovist (or redactor) can with transient forgetfulness couple the two names twenty times in one section (Gen. ii. 4~iii. 24). Who will explain the explanation?

(3.) The divisions which the theory makes are self-refuting. The greatest liberties have been taken, and a variety of divisions adopted to prevent the so-called older sections from pre-supposing the later. But in vain. Keil has given an extended list of hiatuses in the Elohist, leaving his sub sequent narrative incomprehensible, and of references in that portion to statements contained only in the (supposed later) Jehovistic portion.28 Dr. Davidson replies, "the instances are fewer than he [Keil] supposes." But reducing the number will not destroy the fact.

(4.) The chief statements on which the dissection is at tempted will not bear examination. It is not true that the name "Jehovah" was unknown till the declaration in Ex. vi. 3. That passage can be shown on sound principles to mean only that God was not before adequately made known in the character which that name imports. The name itself is not only put by the writers in the mouths of men from Eve downward, but proper names were certainly com pounded with it prior to the time indicated in Exodus. No one denies (we believe) that it is found in Jochebed, the mother of Moses (Ex. vi. 20); hardly any in Moriah (Gen. xxii. 2, 8, 14). The book of Chronicles also furnishes the names Azariah, Abiah, Ahjjah, Reaiah, Jonathan, Rephaiah, and others, prior to the time of Moses. The method of dealing with these cases is summary. Colenso denies the derivation of Moriah, against Delitzsch, Knobel, and Gesenius, as well as the drift of the narrative in Genesis xxii.; he pronounces. Jochebed an interpolation, and the names in Chronicles inventions of the chronicler.29 Dr. Davidson attaches "little weight" to the statements of the chronicler, because "the Hebrews often altered old names for later ones." For Moriah he would change the reading, without the slightest authority; but Jochebed, he is obliged to admit, " shows a trace of the name "Jehovah" in the pre-Mosaic period, — but he adds, "it had not then received any special significance."30 The admission, though ungracious, is as fatal as it is inevitable.

In like manner lists of phrases have been designated as belonging respectively to the Elohistic and the Jehovistic writers. But Keil has shown that these characteristic words and phrases are either (a) in some respect different, or (b) not used exclusively by either writer, or (c) found only in one or two passages.31 Here again Dr. Davidson is obliged to admit that " some of the phrases that are considered peculiar to one writer may be found now and again in the other. Our argument is based on the prevailing, not the exclusive, usage in each."32 This is a yielding of the point.

(5.) The positions assumed cannot be consistently carried out. It is conceded, as we have seen, that the distinguishing characteristics of style are not entirely characteristic. Even in the names of the Supreme Being there occur very puzzling cases of intermingling. Accordingly it is found necessary to concede that, the Jehovist occasionally uses the name "Elohim " because of its appropriateness, as Gen. iii. 2-5; ix. 27.33 But as the same liberty cannot so well be granted to the Elohist, whenever it is necessary to get rid of the word "Jehovah," the passage, though but a single clause and however closely connected with the narrative, is cut away. All these critics cast out half of verse 16 in Genesis vii. and verse 29 of chapter v. Hupfeld removes an intermediate half-verse for this purpose in Gen. xii. 4; xxv. 16, 21. Tuch, Knobel, Delitzsch, remove all of chapter xix. except verse 29. Tuch drops from the connection Gen. xii. 7. Knobel removes xvi. 2; xxv. 21-23; xxix. 3; vii. 5, and parts of the following verses; x. 25; xii. 8; xiii. 10, 18; xxxix. 2. He carries so sharp a knife that in chapter xxi. he not only cuts off the first half of verse 1, but cuts out the " Jehovah " of the last clause to leave the remainder to the Elohist; and in like manner he informs us that the whole of chapter xvii. " except יְחוָֺה in verse 1, is an unchanged portion of the ground-writing." Tuch also in these pas sages refers all except the name " Jehovah " to the Elohist. An easy way of maintaining a theory.

Such dilemmas as the above are commonly avoided when practicable by assigning connected passages that contain both names to the Jehovist, who is endowed with the liberty to employ both if necessary. This liberty is often the largest liberty: Thus, Gen. xx. contains the name "Elohim" five times (vs. 3, 6,7,11,13,17), and that of Jehovah twice (vs. 4, 18.); yet Knobel makes the whole passage Jehovistic, against Tuch and Delitzsch, the former of whom declares that the whole color of the language and mode of view make it Elohistic. This dilemma, and the devices to meet it, are well illustrated in the connected section, Gen. xxviii. 10-xxxiii., in which both names of God occur quite abundantly, Elohim largely preponderating, with certain characteristics of style, which, as Tuch maintains, point out the Elohist. Knobel, however, cuts the knot, by assigning eleven and a half verses (detached from each other) to the Elohist, some thirty-four verses in six different portions, to the Jehovist ; twelve detached passages or verses to a "law book," thirteen other sections, verses, and half-verses to a "war-book," which the Jehovist uses here and elsewhere, and which account for some of the older peculiarities. Tuch, on the other hand, not being prepared with this device, and constrained by the inner connection of chapter xxx. with chapter xxix. (though the latter contains a Jehovistic passage) ascribes nearly the whole section to the Elohist, removing only the most troublesome portions. Delitzsch takes an intermediate position, referring most of chapters xxxi., xxxii., and xxxiii. to the Elohist. And this brings us to remark that,

(6.) The methods of argument which the advocates of this theory employ, are singularly loose, and even vicious. The division relies largely on the distinctive names of God. Yet when the names would involve the theorists in difficulty, the Jehovist has infinite liberty of exchange, till, after Ex. vi. 6, the distinction is supposed to be obliterated, and whole passages (e.g. Ex. xvi. 9-26)34 containing only the names of Jehovah are pronounced Elohistic. Again, as we have seen, the Elohistic portions are summarily cleared of single verses, half-verses, and even, if need be, of the solitary word "Jehovah" (Gen. xvii. 1; xx. 1.), to make them conform to the scheme.

To relieve the harshness of the process, we are again in formed that the critics do not rely solely or mainly on the use of the names, but on other co-ordinate circumstances35 — the phraseology and circle of thought. When we approach the phraseology, this too, as a distinctive mark, slides from under us, and we learn that the phrases are not absolutely peculiar to the separate writers, but" our argument is based on the prevailing, not exclusive, usage in each."36 And when both the word "Elohim" and the style too (Gen. xxix. xxx.) should belong to the earlier writer, but the passage is encumbered with the Jehovistic name in part, Knobel can divide the difficulty by giving a part of the earlier portion to the Elohist and portions to two other writings used by the Jehovist; the same convenience of which Davidson avails himself in giving both to the Jehovist and the Elohist " several brief documents."37

Meanwhile the allegation of a different circle of ideas pervading the different writers is sustained by a process which is hard to be distinguished from reasoning in a circle. Thus, all passages bearing certain resemblances in style, sentiment, and subject are culled out and ascribed to one author; others to another writer; till as many authors are found as are needful for the emergency ; then all conflicting names, passages, and clauses even, are pronounced to be interpolations of the supplements or from some other document, — a second Elohist being even invented for the purpose by Hupfeld and Davidson, — and are summarily removed; and after all these disintegrations and manipulations, to make certain sets of passages homogeneous with each other and diverse from the remainder, it is concluded that there are certain diverse channels of thought and expression, indications of diverse authorship. The truth of this description is capable of abundant illustration, and will presently appear. Specimens of harmonizing like the following can be cited to any extent. Knobel declares that the expression נָשָׂא קוֺל (lifts up the voice) is met with only in the Jehovist; and having found two alleged cases (Gen. xxvii. 38; xxix. 11) he forces the third by cutting away the last half of xxi. 17 from its connection, and referring that to the Jehovist. In the same chapter, verse 14, he removes the single phrase, " putting it on his shoulder," as characteristic of the "overlaborious" Jehovist, — in regard to whom the theory is that he is more minute in his description than the Elohist. The same acute writer, in order to carry out the position that the Elohist never deals with Levitical matters, such as the distinction of clean and unclean, rends away the first half of Gen. vii. 8 from the passage preceding and following. Davidson declares that the expression "angel of God" and "angel of Jehovah" never occur in the Elohist; and in order to escape the force of Gen. xxi. 17; xxxi. 11, he pronounces the first, notwithstanding the invariable use of Elohim before and after, to belong to the redactor, and the second, similarly situated and twice containing the word Elohim, to a second Elohist, Knobel despatches these cases by his " Rechtsbuch."

Consider the following statement by Davidson and the instances cited: " There is a Levitical tone [in the Jehovist] which it is useless to deny by quoting a Levitism in Elohistic passages which are not Elohistic at all; for cleansing in Gen. xxxv. 2, belongs to the redactor; the erection of altars, xxxiii. 20, xxxv. 1 - 7, is in the Jehovist and redactor; burnt offerings and drink offerings, Gen. xxii. 13, xlvi. 1, are in the Jehovist and junior Elohist; vows and tithes, Gen. xxviii. 20, xxxv. 1-7, are in the junior Elohist; the appearance of angels, xxi. 17, 18, xxxviii. 12, is in the redactor and junior Elohist."39 The reader who shall care fully follow the connection of most of these passages, will be at a loss to know by what legerdemain these points are carried, till he reads the excisions of Dr. Davidson's table.40 He will then see in the first case (Gen. xxxv. 2) the necessary four verses struck out from the Elohist [by Knobel three and a half]; in Gen. xxxiii. 20 one verse separated and assigned to the Jehovist;41 in Gen. xxxv. verses 1-4 assigned to the Elohist, 5 to the Jehovist, 6 and half of 7 to the younger Elohist, 8 and parts of 7 and 9 to the redactor; in Gen. xxii. verse 13, ascribed to the junior Elohist, and verse 14 to the Jehovist; in chapter xlvi. four and a quarter verses (1-5 containing the name Elohim four times) referred to the redactor, three fourths of the next verse (vs. 5, containing no names of God) to the Jehovist, the next two verses (6, 7, containing no name of God) to the Elohist, the next four verses and a half (8-12, containing part of the genealogy only) to the junior Elohist, half of verse 12 to the redactor, then twelve verses (the remainder of the genealogy) to the junior Elohist, and seven to the Jehovist; in Gen. xxviii. he will see a chapter cut up into sections convenient for the theory, viz. vs. 1 - 9, 10 - 12, 13 - 16, 17 - 22, ascribed successively to the Elohist, younger Elohist, redactor, younger Elohist; Gen. xxx v. a variegated patchwork of fifteen different pieces, extending from one or two words to five verses each, ascribed to four different writers:42 Gen. xxi. similarly shredded into thirteen fragments, ascribed again to four different writers in such violent modes as to meet the exegencies of a theory. It is easy to frame a specious theory when there is liberty to shape all the facts to the occasion, to assume the most convenient number of writers, to assign them certain convenient traits, and then to break up connected narratives, and remove even refractory words and clauses at pleasure, in proof of those traits. But sound reasoners will hold that to assert the existence of separate writers in one continuous narrative on the ground of obvious distinctive traits, and then to cut up that continuous narrative literally piecemeal in order to make out those obvious distinctive traits, is but a thinly-covered process of reasoning in a circle.

We have said thus much on the untenableness of this theory, rather that we may not seem to evade the subjects than from the necessities of our argument. It avails nothing to show the marks of various writings or traditions in the Pentateuch, unless it can be shown that some of these writings are posterior to Moses. The great lawgiver might still be the Jehovist, the supplementer, or the redactor who used those pre-existing materials, and gave his great name and authority to the narrative thus formed.43

Accordingly, it is proper to add, Christian scholars have very extensively held a simple view of the case, which alike accords with the belief that Moses was the author, and meets the phenomena which have been used to frame these untenable theories. They hold that Moses, like others of the sacred historians, received by revelation only such materials as were to be had in no other way; but that all matters which lay within his observation, or other ordinary means of knowledge, were ascertained by him in the usual way. No man supposes that his genealogical statements came otherwise than from genealogical records or traditions. The events of his own time he saw in person. The history of Abraham's warfare (in Gen. xiv.) may be as old a chronicle as Ewald and Bunsen would have it — stamped as it is with peculiarities and antique modes of description. There can be no valid reason for objecting to the supposition that such an event as the flood, which left its impress on the whole human race, may have been handed down in a distinct and truthful shape in the line of the covenant; especially as the narrative itself bears so strongly the marks of being the account of an eyewitness. And when we consider that, according to the Bible, but part of a generation intervened between Adam and Noah, we need not be staggered at the suggestion that even the earlier narratives of Genesis may contain accounts handed down from the most ancient times, and that Moses may have used them as modern historians their trustworthy material, oral and writ ten, often in the language of the original. Thoughtful scholars have recognized some diversity of phenomena in the Pentateuch, authorizing them to go so far as this. But be those materials less or more, they furnish no more occasion to deny the proper authorship of Moses than do similar methods that of Lamartine, Thiers, or Alison. It is emphatically denied that the composition can be divided out into a set of diverse narratives merely edited together. It is also denied that the names " Elohim " and " Jehovah " require any such supposition to explain their use. The names have different shades of meaning, which regulated their earlier, and to some degree their later use. The name אֱלהִם is the more general term designating " God," either the strong one or the being to be feared in the fulness [intensive plural] of his being and attributes, as the ommipotent author and governor of all. יְהוָֹה (more probably יַהְוֶה or יַהֲוֶה) strictly designates God as manifesting himself, unfolding his character and being; God in his revealed character and covnanted relations to man.44 In describing the work of creation God is named by the more general term. In setting forth his relation to man (Gen. ii.) he is designated by his more special name, and this is coupled with the former (יְהוָֹה אֱלתִם to identify the God of creation as the same who was after ward revealed to Israel. The change of names in the second chapter is, as Kalisch and Delitzsch have shown, a real progress. " By the use of the name 'Jehovah' the narrative advances a very important step towards the peculiar theocratic character of the Pentateuch; but by combining it with Elohim, it reminds also of the omnipotent Creator. The God of the universe is the God of Israel, but the God of Israel is at the same time the Governor of the whole world. [He adds virtually, that Jehovah was a name of deeper awe; and proceeds.] That this was really the idea of the Hebrew writer is evident from the striking fact that in the whole conversation with the serpent, not Jehovah Elohim but simply Elohim is used (iii. 1-5); it would have been a profanation to put the holy name of God in the tempter's mouth, or to pronounce it before his ears. Thus the identity of Jehovah and Elohim having been once impressed, it was not necessary to repeat this composition, except on peculiar occasions. Wherever it is subsequently employed, it adds pathos and sublimity to the ideas; but the nature of this emphasis is always colored by the context in which it occurs."45 The respective names of God are subsequently used, often with a clear reference to their distinctive meaning, and often indiscriminately. It is therefore unnecessary for Hengstenberg and Hvernick to persist that the names are always carefully discriminated in the use; and impossible for Davidson to force upon the advocates of Moses's authorship the alternative of an invariable discrimination or no discrimination at all.46 It is ridiculous to assert that there must be such peculiar exigencies in every instance as to require the one term pre-eminently, or that such a writer, intent on other thoughts, must always be pondering subtile shades of fitness in the selection of two terms, either of which is adequate. It is precisely as with the two principal names of the Saviour in the New Testament. Jesus was the personal name, Christ the official. Now in the first chapter of Matthew, we have the first three times, the second twice, both together twice, discriminately used. But are we to force this nice distinction through the whole New Testament, or even any one writer of it? By no means. The narrators commonly use the personal appellation, even where the transactions were seemingly official. The epistolary (and later) writers commonly use the official name, even where the personal epithet would be in strictness more appropriate; and while frequently using the names, single and conjoined, with undoubted discrimination, they more commonly used them much alike.

The view we have thus indicated meets all the exigencies of the case. In regard to the use of God's names, it escapes the necessity of forcing a peculiar significance into every casual allusion, and it avoids arbitrary and violent disintegrations of a connected narrative to sustain a drifting theory. In regard to other peculiarities of portions of the narrative, it offers a fair solution of the phenomena, and leaves to the unanimous testimony concerning the authorship its proper weight.

Nor is this view of the materials which Moses may have used a novel opinion. Dr. Colenso expresses some amazement at finding Mr. Rawlinson advocating this opinion, "so differing from the ordinary view."47 But wider knowledge would have mitigated his surprise. This view, in substance, is as old as Vitringa,48 was adopted by Le Cene, Calmet, Bishop Gleig,49 advocated by Rosenrniiller,50 received by Jahn,51 Turner,52 Bush,53 Stuart,54 apparently by Prof. Barrows,55 and Prof. Lewis,56 as well as by Mr. Rawlinson,57 and others. But whether this mode of view be accepted or not, it re mains true that no showing of diverse elements employed in the composition invalidates the position that Moses is responsible for the book, as such, unless it be shown that some of those constituent portions were certainly later than his time, or for other reasons could not have passed under his hand.

Here we must rest our argument for the authorship of the Pentateuch, without allowing ourselves space for a closing review of the discussion. It will be seen that the systematic policy of the objectors has been to hurl all manner of missiles, taken at random, in the hope that some of them may reach the mark. It will also be seen that out of that whole mass of materials, scarcely more than half a dozen passages, lying on the surface of the narrative, could fairly suggest the thought of a later hand; and that these can be accounted, on intrinsic probabilities, general testimony, and special indications, as superficial glosses, without for a moment disturbing the concurrent testimony of all antiquity that Moses was the responsible author of the Pentateuch.


1) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 104.

2) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 105. The italics are ours.

3) Jahn's Introduction, 75.

4) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 104.

5) De Wette's Introduction, 4 269.

6) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. II. pp. 2S5 - 257.

7) The Pentateuch, etc., Part II. pp. 182, 187, 190, 192.

8) Olahaoien's Die Psalter, Einleitung, p. 8.

9) De Wetto's Introduction, 149.

10) Knobel's Numbers, etc., p. 592.

11) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 109.

12) Saalschiitz, Das Mosaische Recht, Vorwort, p. 29.

13) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 75.

14) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 88.

15) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. pp. 89, 90.

16) Bancroft, in his History of the United States, first sketches the influence of Calvin on Europe (Vol. I. p. 266); he afterwards (pp. 277, 278) expands and defines the subject; and still later (Vol. II. pp. 459-463) sets forth the political influence of Calvinism. Real's History of the Puritans gives a notice of Wiclifs, Tyndale's, and Cranmer's Bibles (Chap. I.), and later in the volume (Part II. Chap. II.) a more complete account of English translations, covering the same field, but with variations of statement which require some thought to harmonize. Such things are of constant occurrence.

17) Knobel on Numbers, etc., pp. 497, 498.

18) Kalisch on Genesis, pp. 83, 183, etc.

19) So Delitzsch, Gcrlach, Rosenmller, Hofmann, Kurtz, Luther, Jerome, the Targums; against Ewald, Tuch, Baumgarten, Kalisch, Hvernick, Knobel, with Philo and Josephus, who interpret it of the future length of human life.

20) This whole process in the Old Testament will remind the reader of similar attempts to confound diverse transactions in the Gospels: e.g. Matth. ix. 32-34 and xii. 22-30; xiv. 15-21 and xv. 32-38 (comp. xvi. 9-10); Matth. xxvi. 6-13 and Luke vii. 36-50; Luke ix. 1 seq. and x. 1 seq.; John U. 14-17 and Matth. xxi. 12, 13; John iv. 26 - 54 and Luke vii. 1-10.

21) It is variously conjectured in its precise form, either יַשׁ שָׂכָר, or "יִשָׂא שָׂכָר, or יִשָׁכָר. The Keri and Chethiv are different.

22) No Hebrew scholar is ignorant of this alliterative tendency in the Hebrew mind. The name Isaac (יצְהַק shall laugh) is played upon in four different ways: Abraham's laugh of wonder and pleasure (Gen. xix. 17), Sarah's laugh of incredulity (xxiii. 12), Ishmael's mocking laugh (so probably xxi. 0), and Sarah's laugh of unmingled joy (xxi. 6, 7). So a collection of various allusions in one word is supposed by Ellicott (Life of Christ, p. S6) and others to be found in the word Ναζωραῖος, Matth. ii. 23. De Wette finds a twofold reference

23) He refers summarily to additional cases less available.

24) We had intended but for the length of this Article, for the render's satisfaction to give some specimens to show their nature. But we must omit them.

25) Colenso on the Pentateuch, Part I. p. 62.

26) Illustrations will appear in the sequel. See, however, the loose and helpless mode in which Davidson defines his position. After giving us a Jehovist, an Elohist, a younger Elohist, and a Redactor, ho says: " It is pretty clear there were one or more writers between the. Eloliist and the Jehovist" (Vol. I. p. 42). "It ii probable that the Elohist used several brief documents, betides oral tradition. So too the Jehovist may have done, for this reason traces of older documents appear in these two" (p. 46).

27) Vol. I. p. 20. The reader will also observe, that as the special disclosure (Ex. vi. 3) was made to Moses, so there is nothing whatever in the use of the names to conflict with his authorship.

28) Keil, Einleitung, pp. 77-80. For example, a hiatus between Gen. ii. 3 and v. 1 seq., since without the fall the corruption of all flesh (vi. 11-13) is an enigma; for God had created all things good, very good (i. 9, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). So many other cases. By reason of the reference of Gen. v. 29 to iii. 17, the critics cut it away. Gen. v. 3 refers to iv. 25; xvii. 20 to xvi. 10; xix. 29 to xiii. 10-13, xviii. 17-22; xxi. 9 to xvi. 15, etc. There is some practical difficulty in selecting these references; for each new " critic," as soon as he is embarrassed by any allusion of the kind, cuts it away, whether it be a sentence or a clause. Each new writer is compelled to make some new dissection.

29) Colenso, Part II. pp. 130, 131.

30) Introduction, Vol. I. 18.

31) Keil, Einleitung, pp. 102-108.

32) Introduction, Vol. I. p. 30.

33) Knobel on Gen. ix. 27.

34) De Wette, who refers most of the first half of the chapter in this way, says it is known to be Elohistic from the accurate date (v. 1) and the consecration of the Sabbath.

35) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 18.

36) Ibid., p. 30.

37) Ibid., p. 46.

39) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 28.

40) Davidson's  Introduction, Vol. I. pp. 58-61.

41) Knobel is a bold dissector. In this troublesome chapter he assigns the adjacent verses 16, 18, 19, W, respectively to the Elohist, the Kaiegsbuch, Rochtsbuch, and Jehovist.

42) Knobel makes ten sections of this chapter. Similar pieces of patchwork are made of chapters x., xxxi., xxxii., xxxvii., xli.; some of them still more minute. In chapter xli. Davidson carries the process of abrasion so far as to make some forty detached pieces, greater or less; Knobel, twenty.

43) Delitzsch and Kurtz actually make the supplementer to be a contemporary of Moses and Joshua.

44) Two etymologies are given of אֱלהִים: from אוּל, to be strong, with Gesenius, Tuch, and others, or from a root still existing in Arabic, he worshipped, with Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, Keil, and others. the name "Jehovah," also, has been differently explained. The two fundamental views worthy of attention rest cither on the radical idea of being, i.e. the existent, hence self-existent, eternal, immutable, so exhibited in the fulfilment of his promises; or on the idea of becoming, "he who becomes or will become," not in existence, but in manifestation, unfolding himself to his people, historically revealed. For our purpose it is needless now to enter more fully on the subject.

45) Kalisch on Genesis, pp. 103, 104.

46) Davidson's Introduction, Vol. I. p. 24. "No middle coarse can be followed. The one writer always used the two names indiscriminately, or he did not," etc.

47) Colenso. Part II. pp. 120, 121.

48) Cited by Rosenmller, Scholia on Genesis, p. 46.

49) Cited by Turner on Genesis, p. 16.

50) Scholia on Genesis, p. 44.

51) John's Introduction, 15.

52) Turner on Genesis, p. 16.

53) Bush on Genesis, Vol. I., Introduction, p. xxxiii.

54) Stuart on the Canon of the Old Testament, p. 54.

55) Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. XIV. p. 85.

56) Lewis's Divine-Human, p. 224.

57) Aids to Faith, p. 288.