Unity And Genuineness Of Deuteronomy -- By: Edwin Cone Bissell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 041:164 (Oct 1884)
Article: Unity And Genuineness Of Deuteronomy
Author: Edwin Cone Bissell

Unity And Genuineness Of Deuteronomy

Prof. Edwin C. Bissell

The surprise awakened by recent archaeological discoveries in Assyria and Egypt has left, as yet, little opportunity for gauging their proper scientific and religious value. That they are to be accorded a place of increasing prominence in the province of biblical criticism there can be no doubt. To have, in addition to Moses and the prophets, the testimony of such as have risen from the dead is a favor not granted to every age. The tone of assumption might well grow milder and the hand of violence less hasty in the presence of witnesses like these.

We read with less patience an hypothetical history of Israel dating simply from the period of the judges, with the storehouses of Pithom and their Exodus product, of bricks with straw and bricks without straw, just rising from the dust before us. We spare ourselves the strained attention needful to follow a fine-spun argument designed to prove the barbarity of the Mosaic period, with a voluminous literature in hand reaching back to the patriarch Noah, and representing in developed form every species of composition known to the Bible. We have something tangible with which to resolve, at least to make credible, many a so-called myth of Genesis in the diluvian slabs of our museums, covered with a contemporaneous literature, and artistic seals before us

which were worn by gentlemen of Ur of the Chaldees before the days of Abraham. We rise up, in short, from the reading of such a bock as Sayce’s Fresh Light from the Ancient Monuments,1 Schrader’s “Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament,”2 or Hommel’s volumes on “Die Semiten und ihre Bedeutung für die Kulturgeschichte,”3 or the works of Brugseh-Bey and Ebers on Egypt, with the feeling that notwithstanding the scholarly equipment and stubborn confidence of those assailing the historical genuineness of the Pentateuch, its defenders have no occasion to be daunted. As often before, the earth is helping the woman.4 Deductions have been based on a far from complete induction. The goddess Isis is represented on the Egyptian monuments with the crux ansata, or sign of life, in her right hand, and in her left, as a wand, a papyrus stem.5 And who shall say to what honor the humble papyrus leaf and its companion witnesses may yet come in the hands of that Providence which began with the beginning, and will go on with its great purposes to the end of human history?

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