The English Bible as Literature

The English Bible as Literature

The English Bible as Literature

The English Bible as Literature

Excerpt

The Bible in recent times has passed through two distinct phases and is entering upon a third. There was a period when it was regarded as an infallible authority, the divine element was emphasized and the human overlooked; then came the age of the critic with his eager search for authors, dates, and documents; his main contentions having been established, his battle is losing its heat and absorbing interest. Now we are entering upon the era of appreciation. Educators are beginning to realize that Hebrew literature is not inferior to Greek and Roman in cultural value. One can here study the best of a racial literature, unified by a developing thought and a continuous quest into an epic, the world's noblest epic. With the 'Iliad' it shares the very distinct advantage of coming from a comparatively simple society where the important issues of life are seen in their fundamental principles and may be stated with clarity and simplicity.

Many of the books published to promote the appreciation of the Scriptures classify their contents according to literary types. The disadvantage of this method is apparent. It is analytical and fails to communicate the total effect of the writings. The power of all great literature lies in the impression which the drama or the story as a whole makes upon the mind. The compelling magic of any one of Shakespeare's tragedies is not in the artistry and insight of isolated passages, but in the atmosphere and spirit of the whole. The sub-

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