Folk-Lore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend and Law

Folk-Lore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend and Law

Folk-Lore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend and Law

Folk-Lore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend and Law

Excerpt

It has been suggested to me that an abridged edition of Folk-lore in the Old Testament might be welcome to a number of readers who have neither the means to buy nor the leisure to read the original edition in three portly volumes. In deference to this opinion I have accordingly prepared the present abridgement by omitting some chapters altogether and shortening most of the rest. In particular, to gain space for the text, I have struck out almost all the footnotes, containing the references to authorities, except in a very few cases where a word of explanation seemed desirable, or where, in quoting from the Old Testament, I deemed it necessary to give my reasons for adopting a reading different from that of the Authorized or the Revised English version. Readers who desire to learn the source of any particular statement must therefore consult the volumes of the larger edition, which is fully documented.

It was observed by Renan that to a philosophical mind, occupied with the investigation of origins, the human past offers but three histories of primary interest--the history of Greece, the history of Israel, and the history of Rome. To these three histories, which all rest on the evidence of written documents, we may now add at least a fourth, to wit, the history of mankind in ages and in countries to which the art of writing was unknown. For since the time when Renan gave to the world his great history of Israel and of early Christianity, our knowledge of the human past has been vastly enlarged and enriched, on the one hand, by the discoveries of prehistoric archaeology, and, on the other hand, by a more exact study of savage races, who represent for us more or less accurately the various stages of social evolution through which the ancestors of the civilized races passed long ago. Taken together, these comparatively new sciences lift to some extent the veil which . . .

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