The Philosophy of the Old Testament

The Philosophy of the Old Testament

The Philosophy of the Old Testament

The Philosophy of the Old Testament

Excerpt

We are indebted to the Hebrew writers of the Old Testament for the moral and religious ideals of Western culture fully as much as we are to the Greek philosophers for those ideas from which our scientific views of life and the world are derived. In many respects, however, we have placed greater emphasis on the Greek contributions to our civilization than on those elements given to us by the Hebrews. Ours is a scientific age, and we have been inclined to attach more significance to the currents of thought which form the background of this particular outlook. Nevertheless, we need to bear in mind that the scientific perspective, important as it is for understanding contemporary culture, is not the only way to view modern life. The moral ideals of an age constitute a vital part of its civilization, and this is also true of the religious interpretations of life which find expression in the culture of a people. It is for these reasons that an understanding of the philosophical ideas in the Old Testament is highly relevant at the present time.

This book is a detailed and thoroughly documented introduction to the philosophy of the Old Testament. It is an attempt to present impartially the significant ideas expressed in the various parts of this literature. It is not written as an apology in support of all or any of these ideas; neither is it intended to discredit any of the views found in the Old Testament. The aim of the book is to aid the reader in understanding the materials which are there. The evaluation of these ideas, like those which belong to any literature, must be left to each individual.

There are difficulties which must be overcome if the Old Testament is to be approached in the spirit of philosophy. For one thing, no fixed or final conclusions about any of its teachings can be accepted in advance. The ideas which one finds expressed in the literature must be evaluated in each instance on the basis . . .

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