Proposed Reconstruction Of The Pentateuch1 -- By: Edwin Cone Bissell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 040:157 (Jan 1883)
Article: Proposed Reconstruction Of The Pentateuch1
Author: Edwin Cone Bissell


Proposed Reconstruction Of The Pentateuch1

Rev. Edwin C. Bissell

If we discover among us in these days any disposition to underrate or relatively disparage the Old Testament, any tendency to neglect it in our theological schools, we must see, too, that Providence is signally interposing on its behalf, and vindicating for it the highest claims to our attention. It is safe to say, bating from the statement whatever you please for any partiality one might have for favorite studies, that not a few of the problems with which the minds of thoughtful men are grappling to-day directly concern the Hebrew Scriptures. It is the Book of Genesis that we couple in our thinking with certain puzzling questions of geology and cosmography. It is the same book that serves as point of departure for the still mooted subject, when human history had its beginning, and how it began. It is to the Old Testament chiefly that the science of archaeology, opening up in our day so broad a field and awakening in its devotees so inspiring an ardor, comes to lay down its store of gathered facts and illustrations. From old Sepharvaim of the Books of Kings and Isaiah some of the latest treasures of monumental literature have been welcomed to our Western world. It is significant, too, that an eminent Assyriologist published,

not long ago, as the result of special study in this department, a discussion of the question — more practical in its bearing than might appear — Where was Paradise?2 And it is not geography or history or chronology alone that these priceless records are teaching us. They are enriching our lexicons and correcting our grammars as well. It is an open secret that there are in the sacred text not a few words, Hebrew and Aramaic, whose meaning as yet has only been surmised, and that a single Psalm of less than forty verses has thirteen so-called ἅπαξ λεψόμενα, words that do not elsewhere occur in the Bible. Hence, it is a gladdening consideration that scholars are now in process of constructing from these same monuments of the past lexicon and grammar of a closely allied Semitic tongue older, it is claimed, and more archaic in its forms, than any other known to man, and of such a character that the vocalization of every word has been exactly preserved.

And as if all this were not enough to quicken our flagging zeal, and teach us that the Hebrew Scriptures can never be divorced from the Greek Scriptures in our reverential study, the heaviest cannonading of biblical criticism is just now heard among these earliest records of our faith. Around the Gospels and Epistles there is...

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