Authorship Of The Pentateuch -- By: Samuel C. Bartlett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 021:84 (Oct 1864)
Article: Authorship Of The Pentateuch
Author: Samuel C. Bartlett


Authorship Of The Pentateuch

Samuel C. Bartlett

(Continued from page 550.)

2. We pass to certain negative objections, which may be briefly despatched.

(i.) It is asserted that a Mosaic authorship is discountenanced by some striking omissions, indicating that documents or trustworthy reminiscences were wanting to the author. Among these are mentioned that no occurrences at the eighteen halting-places between Hazeroth and Kadesh are recorded; that no account is given of the descent or the death of Hur; that the accounts of Jethro are evidently fragmentary, and that there is a blank in the history respecting thirty-eight years in the wilderness. So reasons Dr. Davidson.

This style of objection scarcely calls for serious refutation. (1) There is no end to such demands. Why not fuller narratives of the immense lives of Adam, Methuselah, and other patriarchs; further accounts of Enoch, of Lamech, of Cain, and of Seth; more about Noah and his sons, the early life of Abraham, the pedigree of Melchisedek, additional events in Isaac’s life, the history of Jacob and his family while Joseph was in Egypt, and of the four hundred years in Egypt? And so on ad infinitum. (2) It is in all cases preposterous to prescribe to any historian how he shall foreshorten his narrative. (3) The very omissions complained of are proofs of the unity and distinctness of the one writer’s plan. He writes the history of God’s revelation to his chosen people, and the proceedings preliminary. He carefully excludes foreign matter; and, from the necessity of the case, he gives that history in its salient features, essen-

tial facts, and characteristic marks. Nations and individuals brought into relationship with the chosen people, he describes more or less fully according to the closeness of the connection, and finally dismisses. Such historic facts of the chosen nation itself as have no bearing on his purpose, or are superseded by other statements, are omitted. Why minutely recount the occurrences at all the halting-places, if the most striking are narrated? Why should he relate anything more of Hur and Jethro than what concerns the purpose of his narrative? Why cumber his history with the thirty-eight comparatively uneventful years while they may have been quietly pursuing their rural occupations, spread out over the region southeast of Palestine, when the grand characteristic events — the deliverance, the lawgiving and organization, the gracious interposition and the judgments — are given in full? Why burden his graphic story with four hundred stagnant years in Egypt? The sacred historian understood his work better than the critic who requires a story to be tol...

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