The Prophets Of Israel And Their Place In History To The Close Of The Eighth Century, B.C.: Eight Lectures By W. Robertson Smith, LL.D. -- By: Israel E. Dwinell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 041:162 (Apr 1884)
Article: The Prophets Of Israel And Their Place In History To The Close Of The Eighth Century, B.C.: Eight Lectures By W. Robertson Smith, LL.D.
Author: Israel E. Dwinell


The Prophets Of Israel And Their Place In History To The Close Of The Eighth Century, B.C.: Eight Lectures By W. Robertson Smith, LL.D.

Rev. Israel E. Dwinell

This work covers the mission of Elijah, Elisha, the Books of Amos and Hosea, and parts of Micah and Isaiah. It has many of the characteristics that marked the preceding publications of Professor W. Robertson Smith. If it had been the first of the series it might have attracted as much attention as they did. But his views have now lost much of their novelty, and cease to startle. There is, moreover, no such attractiveness in the style or vigor of treatment as to be an independent source of interest. It is one of those works which beguile the reader and lead him to think that he is getting hold of some valuable truth or profound analysis, which, however, soon passes out of sight and gives place to something else, leaving him at the end quite at a loss as to the definite ground passed over and the exact nature and value of the results reached.

The writer does not seem to grasp the whole subject and hold it before his vision at once. He approaches it from different points of view, and fails to give the reader the key to his positions, or to take him understandingly to the changed point of outlook. The words are used carefully and accurately. The sentences are generally clear. The paragraphs individually give out, some of them a definite meaning, some an equivocal one. But the chapter as a whole is quite dubious. There is no clear perspective in the treatment. The various parts of the picture are introduced without respect to their relative distances from the spectator, like the different parts of a landscape in a Chinese painting.

If the writer sees things clearly, he does not enable the reader to do it. He suggests the thought that there is something kept back. He leads us around a fine elucidation of history and prophecy in the age of the prophets,’ but does not take us into it, showing us only glimpses of it here and there.

The naturalistic view of the Old Testament religion which clearly enough runs through the book is not brought out in bold relief, but lurks in plausible statements, in subdued colors and tints, well calculated to deceive the reader and lead him to an unconscious acceptance of positions at length which, if stated clearly and in logical form, with their real premises, would be instantly discredited. It is a work which persons of an enthusiastic turn, fond of novelty, adventurous in speculation, and not grounded in their faith or much troubled with discrimination, are quite likely to be carried away with. It may, therefore, be well worthy of careful critical consideration in the interest of truth and the knowledg...

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