The Higher Criticism And Messianic Prophecy -- By: Edward Hartley Dewart

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:234 (Apr 1902)
Article: The Higher Criticism And Messianic Prophecy
Author: Edward Hartley Dewart


The Higher Criticism And Messianic Prophecy

Rev. Edward Hartley Dewart

The prominent place given to prophecy in the Bible makes a right conception of its character and purpose a matter of the greatest importance. “The moral instruction it contains, the great events it announces, the revelation of the divine character and of the nature, establishment, and purpose of the kingdom of God which it affords, —all combine to invest prophecy with the profoundest interest.” This estimate applies with special point and force to Messianic prophecy, because of its relation to the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the fullness of time “came to seek and to save that which was lost”

There are two extremes that should be avoided in the study and exposition of prophecy. One class finds in the Bible more minute predictions and literal fulfillments than a sober and scholarly exegesis will justify. They almost assume to be prophets themselves, by the confidence and minuteness with which they apply predictions of Scripture to past and future history. Another class of expositors either repudiate supernatural prediction of future events, or silently ignore it, and substitute an ideal paraphrase of biblical prediction and fulfillment, which is based upon a theory of evolution that does not seem to require the direct action of a living personal God to account for prophets or prophecy. We are not shut up to the acceptance of either of these extremes. We are simply bound to accept as act-

ual prediction and fulfillment whatever is proved by proper evidence, and is in harmony with the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. Those who make a hobby of such minute and literal interpretations and applications of prophecy are fairly open to condemnatory criticism. But it is not just to represent those who reject theories of prophecy that ignore the supernatural, as if they held views which placed Bible prophecy on a level with divination or fortune-telling.

Much has been written about the origin of prophecy. One would suppose that among believers in a divine revelation there could be little diversity of opinion on such a point Some, as if animated by a desire to depreciate Old Testament prediction, have assumed that it arose from a natural desire to foresee the future; and that prophecy was common to all the great primitive religions. It is utterly absurd to suppose that any curiosity about the future could have developed into the prophetic vision that gave to the world the Hebrew prophecies, or that they can be accounted for by ascribing them to keen insight or poetic genius. That prophecy was common among other nations, and not peculiar to the Hebrews, is contrary to the facts. The heathen divinatio...

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