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Chekrbichier historisit. Gjitha
o Enleitungen die kanonischerill.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, by
THEODORE PARKER, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
In my public lectures in this department of study, I have long felt the pressing necessity of preparing this work; and now I offer this Manual of the Introduction to the Old Testament to the great theological public, with the conviction that I have accomplished something for the students and friends of science. If this compendium contained nothing but a copious and condensed compilation of previous critical inquiries on the Old Testament, it might yet deserve a place beside that of Bauer, which is now somewhat old, or that of Augusti, which is not entirely complete, or that of Jahn, which is one-sided. And if no one should conclude to make it the basis of his academic lectures, — and, on account of its peculiar opinions, this is not to be expected, yet the condensed style of a compendium renders it convenient for many to read in preparing such exercises; and perhaps it may render this science — which is, besides, somewhat dry — attractive to such as have been frightened by the prolixity and breadth of other treatises. But I am myself persuaded that in some parts I have advanced the science, and in others have brought it back to the right way. However, it is not for me to determine how far I have succeeded in the first; but I may rather take to myself, with some confidence, the negative merit of the second.
It is well known that, from the very beginning, in company with the good spirit of free inquiry, the pernicious fondness for vain and arbitrary combinations and hypotheses has been brought into the department of Biblical Introduction, and has extended to such a degree, that some opinions have passed for undoubted truths, in the great theological world, which yet have no foundation, save what they receive from the wit and the persuasive power of their author; and that, by this means, some inquiries have passed over, almost entirely, from the historical ground into the department of hypothesis. Recently, too much deference has been paid to this spirit, which weakens the healthy force of genuine historical investigation; and thus the burden of hypotheses, under which Biblical Introduction languishes, has been much increased in recent times. In opposition to such a method of inquiry, I have endeavored, above all, to adhere firmly to the pure matter of fact, or to bring back inquiry to this point, when it had wandered therefrom. For example, the history of the canon — which, since Semler's time, has not been able to extricate itself from the confusion of ideas into which it has fallen — has been brought to the light for the first time; and the history of the Alexandrian version has been at least restored to the place whither Hody had previously advanced it. Since his time, no actual progress has been made in this department, though many vain hypotheses have been added. So, in the history of other versions, the reader will not find direct and new investigations, but this same adherence to what is a matter of fact, and capable of proof. Similar hints for conducting us back to the true path are also afforded by the history of the text, in its present new arrangement, which harmonizes with the results of Gesenius's investigations in the history of the Hebrew language and character.
In the inquiries on the separate books, I have often opposed the theory — which has been carried too far — that they are composed of separate portions. This is the case with the book of Daniel and the book of Wisdom.“ I am indebted to the hints of my friend Gesenius for the reasons which induce me to abandon Bertholdt's view of the former; and, in offering the
* (Here the author refers to his introduction to the Apocrypha, not translated in the present work.]
theory that the book of Wisdom is composed of successive fragments, I have gratefully availed myself of a public lecture of my friend Lücke, delivered here in Berlin. With these exceptions, my readers may expect to find my views of some books of the Old Testament - which have long been decried — still unchanged in their essential features. And, since here they are given in connection with my views of the whole Old Testament, it will at least be conceded that they afford a connected historical picture, which is consistent with itself, and with the rest of history; and also that the valuable results of Gesenius's labors in the criticism of language coincide therewith in important points.
The highest point to which the historical criticism of the Bible aspires, and to which it should at least clear the way, is to render the productions of biblical literature intelligible in their historical relations and peculiarities. I have conscientiously endeavored to effect this. The point of view which I have taken for this end will not be preferred by all. Certainly it will surprise some, that, with the exception of a few spurious productions, I consider the predictions of the prophets — which have hitherto been commonly regarded as disguised historical descriptions - as actual presentiments of the future, though without denying their limited extent in history, or without attributing to their authors a superhuman degree of infallibility. It is certainly one-sided to judge these old seers by the spirit of our times, and to deny that they made even the attempt to foretell. It is self-evident that it is of great importance to the criticism and exposition of the prophets, which supposition is followed.
Since all literature must be conceived of as a whole, and taken in connection with other history, I have therefore endeavored to classify the books of the Old Testament according to the views of the Hebrews, and to observe the relation to their manner of life at different periods of history, and, to that effect, have considered each book in reference to the place it bears in the canon. On the supposition that there is the closest connection between form and substance, I have