Imagens da página

collected of the creation, the patriarchs, the flood, the captivity in Egypt and the Exodus; also of the conquest of Canaan in the period of the Judges. An hundred years later on, another editorial compiler made a somewhat similar collection of stories, folk-lore and primitive history. In the middle of the eighth century B.C. the first of our great literary prophets wrote the books named after them: Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah. A hundred years later again, about 650 B.C., appeared the book of Deuteronomy; Jeremiah, just before the Exile, and the books of Kings; then in the order of their appearance, Ezekiel—the priest-code—the re-editing of much of the history—the books of Chronicles and their continuation in Ezra and Nehemiah-the Psalms Proverbs—the "Wisdom Literature” generally, and Daniel at the end around 165 B.C. Esther perhaps was even a little later in date. About this order of succession in general, as far as I know, there is no longer any dispute among Old Testament scholars. None date anything later than Daniel or Esther, nor anything older than the old songs and stories in the tenth or twelfth century.

This question of dates has been complicated all along with questions of authorship. Here again an equally Istriking consensus of opinion prevails among Old Testament scholars. Most of the books of the Old Testament have been put together by a culling process out of earlier writings—they are not, in other words, composed or written by any one man--the most that any one man has done is to decide what to take and what to leave when the task of merging two or more previous accounts of the same events has fallen to him. In this matter of authorship, what is right and proper today is very different from the practices in vogue when the Old Testament was written. The modern writer also uses the books of others—very commonly, he has to alter more or less the ideas of these other writers to make them square with his own convictions. He is careful to distinguish between these altered positions, expressed in his own language, by the use of quotation marks when he copies in the exact words of any other author. Some Old Testament authors, notably the authors of Kings and Chronicles, also follow this practice. But most of them pursued a simpler and more primitive method. Narratives that covered the ground to their satisfaction they embodied practically as they stood. Duplicate accounts of the same event or occurrence, too good to be lost, they copied and set down in the same document with sometimes such additions, subtractions, or other alterations as were necessary to make them fit together; they even wove them together into a single story. This may seem strange to us, because of our modern idea of ownership in literary products, and of plagiarism, and our modern methods of book-making which have changed the styles and standards in all these matters. But Old Testament scholars have long been agreed that most of the Old Testament was made in this other and quite different way.

Familiarity with the fact that there are two stories of creation in the first chapters of Genesis makes one wonder why it took scholars so long to discover it. The first story begins with darkness and a watery chaos, with the creation of plant and animal life, the creation of man and woman, passes to and ends with the statement that God looked at his six days' work of creation, pronounced it satisfactory, and rested on the seventh day,—"and the heavens and the earth were finished,” man and woman, animals and all. After this obvious ending, one is surprised to find that in the next verse or two the same story begins to be told again, only with decided differences. For the fourth verse of the second chapter states that everything was very dry, and that therefore there was as yet no life in the earth, but that the Lord God then caused a mist to go up from the earth, and out of the soil, thus made tractable, he molded a man, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. If one does not suspect at first that this is a second and distinct story of creation, but imagines the same author is simply repeating himself the differences between the stories soon grow too sharp for this supposition. In the first story the world is a watery chaos, and the first task is to get the water under control and the dry land made; in the second the reason given for not beginning the work earlier is that the ground is too dry; before anything more can be done, the mist must be made to rise from the ground. The order of creation in the two stories is different. In the first story the animals are made first; and then the man and the woman together and at the same time; in the second, man is made first and then the animals in the hope that among them will be found some one fit to be the companion of man. The animals pass before the man, who looks at them and bestows a name upon each, but among them all there is no companion fit for him. The man is then thrown into a deep sleep; when he awakes he sees by his side a creature whom he greets as "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”

A more extended examination of these two stories of creation reveals other characteristic differences. Simple as it may seem, it was a real discovery when


attention was first called to the fact that the writer of one of these stories always uses the name Elohim for God, while the other as uniformly uses the word Jahweh. The question then rose, did this mean two writers originally and did this same difference extend further into the book of Genesis, or was it the work of one mind, after the creation-stories? Every intelligent reader must have been disturbed by the discrepancies in the story of the flood. Why should it say that the flood lasted forty days, and then give the dates by year and month and day which, as one can easily foot up, make a little more than a year? Why should it say in one verse, that the animals went in two of each kind, and in the next that they went in by sevens? And why do we have here also these same two different names for God? Take all the verses that use the name Jahweh for God in the flood-story, all those that distinguish between the clean and the unclean beasts; that say "seven by seven," "forty days and forty nights,”—add such verses as plainly belong with them; the result is one complete and consistent account of the food with no repetitions and contradictions in it. Then take the verses that use the name Elohim for God; that say "two by two”; and that give the day of the month and the year and make the whole flood a year long-add to these the verses that plainly go with them—the result is another story of the flood. The two accounts differ in important respects, but each is complete and consistent in itself and without repetitions or contradictions. Then, if the reader will com

•One of these two names is translated by our word “God” and the other by our word “Lord,” but our interchangeable use of both of them in common speech as a name for the Deity has obliterated all difference for the English reader.

pare his own rough work with the way Old Testament scholars arrange the two, he will see where the verses go that he has not been able to place. His little experiment will have convinced him that the narrative of the flood contains two stories by the same two authors who wrote the two accounts of creation; with this difference, that the two stories of creation were merely arranged, end to end, and no attempt made to dovetail them into each other; whereas in the flood-narrative an attempt is made to weave them into one story.

Space does not admit of more of these illustrations; and I must apologize if these two are too tediously familiar. Once started it is hard to stop for a score of passages come to mind to which this clue applies. We are told that on a temporary sojourn in Egypt, Abraham lied about Sarah, his wife, and said she was his sister—and Pharaoh took her to his house. Eight chapters later, it is said that while Abraham was in Gerar, he told Abimelech, King of Gerar, the same story about her, with the same consequences. Observe now that in one of these stories the word Jahweh is used and in the other the name Elohim, and we conclude they are the one story, told twice again by our two authors.? Similar duplications with slight differences

. meet one again and again. There are two accounts of the naming of the town of Beersheba—Abimelech appears in both stories, but Abraham in one and in the other Isaac after the death of Abraham. In one of these stories, the name Elohim is used and in the other, the name Jahweh. Jacob names the town of Bethel twice; twice God changes his name from Jacob to

'The exactly similar story told about Isaac in Gerar and Abimelech, “king of the Philistines,” is doubtless another version of the same original incident.

« AnteriorContinuar »