Cheyne On The Psalter -- By: S. C. Bartlett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 049:194 (Apr 1892)
Article: Cheyne On The Psalter
Author: S. C. Bartlett


Cheyne On The Psalter1

President S. C. Bartlett

In this volume we have the Bampton Lectures delivered at Oxford in 1889, modified, enlarged, supplied with copious notes, and published in an octavo volume of 517 pages. It is the work of one who has long been engaged in the study and exposition of the Old Testament Scriptures, and has published several previous volumes. It is brimful of quotations, and references, and multifarious learning. The writer is familiar with the older and the more recent expositors, and to some extent with rabbinic writers, and shows a good acquaintance with classical and English literature. His work abounds in Scripture references,—some fifteen hundred of them to other parts of the Old Testament, and a much greater number to expressions in the Psalms. He has freedom and versatility of style, although chargeable with diffuseness, indirectness, and not seldom indistinctness. He has a system of his own, not at first apprehensible by the reader. It requires a good deal of reading fully to grasp his principles and method of argument, or to recognize the full results and bearings of his discussion, scattered as they are through the volume, and some of them rather assumed or implied than directly announced.

This last-mentioned fact, together with the size of the volume, and the great number of points, principal and subordinate, involved in his treatise, creates a difficulty in criticising it in a brief essay. To answer it thoroughly would require a volume of equal size. The writer himself alludes to so many changes of opinion (pp. 128, 130, 164, etc.), as to awaken an expectation that in some particulars he may yet answer himself. Indeed, to deal with the manifold details of the book might simply result in diverting attention to its fundamental qualities, and method of procedure. As a clear statement of facts is often found the best argument, so in this case a clear disentangling of the principles and method of the volume may be the best criticism. We proceed at once to the statement, with little attempt at formal reply.

The aim of this large and learned volume is to show that none of the Psalms was written by David or his cotemporaries; that the eighteenth is “the only possible pre-Exile psalm” (p. 258), the “earliest possible date” of that being the last days of Josiah or perhaps the Exile (p. 206); and that the larger part of them belong to Maccabean times, coming down as late as not only the time of Judas, but (p. 24) that of Simon Maccabeus, 142 B. C.

In maintaining this position, it is noteworthy, and marks a slight turn of the tide in Old Testament criticism, that the author does not rely prim...

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