Colenso On The Pentateuch -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:79 (Jul 1863)
Article: Colenso On The Pentateuch
Author: Anonymous


Colenso On The Pentateuch1

[In our April Number we inserted an Article from Professor Bartlett on the Historic Character of the Pentateuch. In our next Number we shall publish an Article from the same author on the Authorship of the Pentateuch. The following is Professor Bartlett’s Notice of the work which has occasioned this discussion.]

Dr. Colenso has issued two parts of his discussion, and a third is promised.

Part I. has attracted much attention, for several reasons. It comes from a bishop of the church of England. It is bold in its statements. The positions are all palpable. Some of the points, moreover, are adroitly put, at least for immediate effect. The volume would have been more effective for the purpose in view, had a considerable portion of it been sup-

pressed inasmuch as many of its objections are too manifestly invalid or unfair. Christian readers also, however unlettered, would be placed on their guard by the final result which the writer reaches in his relations to Christianity. Men who cannot solve a historic difficulty, can yet know certainly the work and influence of a present Saviour and the unspeakable value of his religion. Christ and Christianity are living facts. Still this volume will be and is welcomed by a large class of persons, as a new accession to the popularized forms of cavil.

The proper method of dealing with such difficulties as are here raised, is to view them in connection with a broad discussion of the general subject. For it is always part of the logical legerdemain of such treatises to fix our attention on the pennyweight of difficulty which they place with much ado in one scale, and to hide the hundredweight of evidence which reposes quietly in the other.

If we were briefly to characterize the effective qualities of the volume we should specify: first, great boldness of unfounded assertion and assumption; second, a deliberate refusal to understand the Pentateuch from its own points of view, — more particularly a determined refusal to recognize (1) common idioms of speech; (2) the writer’s own mode of conception; (3) explanations found in the volume; (4) explanations too obvious to require mentioning; (5) explanations possible and plausible.

I. Among the unfounded assertions and assumptions which are made the basis of cavils are several statements in regard to tents. It is said (p. 9 7) that they must have been “made of skins,” although various passages of the Pentateuch imply the art of weaving both linen and hair cloth (Ex. 35:25, 26;

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