The Hebrew Literary Genius: An Interpretation

The Hebrew Literary Genius: An Interpretation

The Hebrew Literary Genius: An Interpretation

The Hebrew Literary Genius: An Interpretation

Excerpt

Am well aware that this book will be strange and even repellent to two very different classes of readers. To the specialist in Old Testament criticism it will seem unscientific and even visionary and to the worthy people for whom their Bible is still Sacred Scripture and the Word of God it may well seem destructive of their basis for eternal truth and even frivolous. To these last let me say that I am far nearer their position than they may at first think, and that the specialist may quite possibly classify me and my book as reactionary. The truth, I think, is that while all precise doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy--in any degree at all--have for me gone by the board I have come more and more to recognize an eternal purpose in the history of the Hebrew people and a unique guidance behind them and in them. He who has once accepted the theistic position and realizes what it means will have little difficulty in taking this further step. I have therefore tried to show the Hebrew people expressing their innermost self--and selves--in their literature and to bring out very clearly that in the end this forces us back to the fact of Jehovah and His choice of them as His own peculiar people. What lies behind that fact I do not know, but it, as the Hebrews knew it, is an unshakable fact of history. It is, so far, unexplained and it seems unexplainable. The guesses at explanation, through a tribal god of the Kenites and the like, are simply ludicrous; and the story the Hebrews themselves told of the revelation in the Mount may be strange but is not ludicrous.

There the critical specialists will join issue with me at once. That I cannot help, for I begin from an essentially different philosophical and literary position. I am a theist and I can recognize what are the consequences of that position; I am a student of literature and I believe in taking peoples as they show themselves clearly in their literatures. I do not believe, either, that literature can be profitably studied in a concordance any more than botany can be profitably studied in horto sicco. It must be studied as a thing alive, bearing its own life in it and having its own laws of life. That holds of the literature of every people and it holds of the literature of the He-

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