Eschatology Of The Old Testament Apocrypha -- By: Edwin Cone Bissell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 036:142 (Apr 1879)
Article: Eschatology Of The Old Testament Apocrypha
Author: Edwin Cone Bissell


Eschatology Of The Old Testament Apocrypha

Rev. Edwin Cone Bissell

The apocryphal books of the Old Testament, which, under cover of a supposed hereditary right, found their way into the English Bible, and vanished so suddenly and noiselessly out of it, still await a hearing before the Christian scholars of England and America. When such a hearing comes it will doubtless have a widely different result from that which, on the fifteenth of February 1516, followed the deliberations of the Council of Trent; but, on the other hand, it will be quite as sure to reverse the unfair verdict of silence and neglect which among us has so long rested on these books. A reaction from the arbitrary decisions of the Tridentine ecclesiastics was to have been expected. But it would have been more just, if it had been less extreme. It would have been wiser if it had taken, as on the continent of Europe, the form of actual protest, of examination, and of a serious effort to separate the false from the true.

The claim to canonical rank may, indeed, be easily disposed of. But as literary productions of great age these works would still be worthy of attention. As contributions to the scanty annals of a most interesting period, for some parts of which they are almost the sole authority, they can never be otherwise than important. As a storehouse of philological and grammatical treasures, the works of Schleusner and Wahl, of Winer and Robinson, of Cremer and Grimm, show to what extent the New Testament exegesis is indebted to them. It is to the theologian, however, that they will ever have the greatest attraction and value. Without becoming a Darwin in theology one may hold that the type of doctrine found in the New Testament is not an opus per

saltum, but the crown of a development, every previous step of which it is worth our while seriously to trace. It is a long and eventful interim that lies between Malachi and John the Baptist, although these clarion voices, in the perfectness of their accord, seem almost like call and answering echo across it. During this time the Israelitish folk came in closest contact with every civilized people of the earth; achieved in the most heroic of struggles, and lost again, their national independence; determined the canon of the sacred books; evolved the order of the Scribes and the worship of the synagogues; began the so-called hedge around the law, which still exists in Mishna and Gemara; developed , in bitter strife over points of interpretation and precedent the later parties with their sharp antagonisms—was it likely that in the matter of religious beliefs, in understanding and explaining their own Scriptures, they would remain stationary? On such questions as those concerning pr...

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