Old Wine In Fresh Wine Skins -- By: Howard Osgood

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 050:199 (Jul 1893)
Article: Old Wine In Fresh Wine Skins
Author: Howard Osgood


Old Wine In Fresh Wine Skins1

Rev. Howard Osgood

All criticism is an incitement to criticism. In the democracy of literature there are no lords with feudal rights and there ought to be no boors. All have equal rights to life, liberty, and the printing of opinions. It is an international democracy in which each one owes allegiance and service only to the truth as he sees it; even in his service respecting the rights of those who do not agree with him. Whatever is said in the following criticism pertains solely to the opinions expressed in the works reviewed, and not to any supposed further opinions by the authors.

These works in many respects have much in common. They both represent the same school of criticism. Their authors are eminent men who have won high rank by their abilities, attainments, and productions. These volumes were written in the past few years under limitations of space by the publishers, and were issued from the press about a year apart. It is not too much to say that both in England and Germany the best man of his school was chosen as the author. If one wishes to learn what is the present accepted criticism of the Old Testament in English and European

Protestant Universities, he must master these volumes, not merely for their agreements, but still more for their contradictions.

The most cursory reading will show that, contrary to the usual result, when equally learned Englishmen and Germans are compared, the palm for facile grasp of the most important points and their correlatives, for compactness of thought and expression, for vigor and clearness, for logical consistency, for square facing of the abysses inherent in this criticism, for a full view of the situation, must be awarded to the German, who accomplishes all this in less than two-thirds of the space occupied by the Englishman. The German has the great advantage of being on his native heath and moves freely in all this criticism. The Englishman labors under all the disadvantages of a foreigner. The highest praise that can be given to his work is that it is a serious attempt to soften and adapt Kuenen’s method and results to the foreign soil of English thought. Cornill and Kuenen have no qualms at all in declaring large parts of the Old Testament to be literary fictions, and also in denying truth to the historical narratives of the Pentateuch and early biblical books. Driver, on the contrary, pleads that “Deuteronomy does not claim to be written by Moses” etc., etc., and that it was customary in the Hebrew historians to put speeches made up by themselves in the mouths of their putative authors. But even in this case Deuteronomy would be what Kuenen...

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