The History Of Research Concerning The Structure Of The O.T. Historical Books -- By: Archibald Duff

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 037:148 (Oct 1880)
Article: The History Of Research Concerning The Structure Of The O.T. Historical Books
Author: Archibald Duff


The History Of Research Concerning The Structure Of The O.T. Historical Books

Prof. Archibald Duff

Many scholars in our country are desirous of ascertaining the character of the recent discussions on the Historical Books of the Old Testament. The new theories are sometimes advocated, and sometimes opposed, without knowing exactly what they are. It is the object of the present Article not to defend them, and not to refute them, but simply to state them, and to mention some of the arguments by which they are thought to be upheld. In future Articles these new theories may be discussed more at length, and the objections against them may be stated more fully.

There is a theory long well-known to foreign Old Testament scholars as the Graf-Hypothesis. It says, to use here very general terms for what will be minutely described hereafter, that the Pentateuch in its present form may date from the post-exilic period. It may have been edited, as we now have it, about the year 450 b.c. The construction of a gorgeous ritual, and the publication of a wonderful religious history may have been a product of that age of formalism which followed the exile, and grew rank on the decay of what the great kings and preachers had built. The hypothesis says that the structure of the Pentateuch favors this view, for the book is composite, and some parts of it are younger than others. The Pentateuch is a result of literary accretion, and such literary accretion would be natural if it accompanied and reflected a process of ritual accretion. For, if the ritual were continually growing, if new sacerdotal ceremonies were ever being developed in that age of sacerdotal observance, then there would ever and anon be something new for

the recorders of the priestly regulations to record. The theory says, if these recorders believed it duty to perpetuate every ritual custom as yet unrecorded, by incorporating a rule for it with rules already written, then in process of time exactly such a composite book would result, exactly such a literary accretion as we possess in the Pentateuch. Such a growth of the record could go on for generations at the hands of priests, because priests are always persuaded that their functions are sacred, and, indeed, divine. Priests, says the theory, always believe that God has ordained them to perform the functions which they do perform, although they be observing not only the traditions received from their predecessors, but also some rules which have taken form under their own hands. Indeed, when a priest has made some advance from the ceremonial of the past, and has become fully accustomed to the new rule, he easily justifies the advance as a development which God always desired. Priestly men ge...

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