The Sociological Value Of The Old Testament -- By: Owen H. Gates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:208 (Oct 1895)
Article: The Sociological Value Of The Old Testament
Author: Owen H. Gates


The Sociological Value Of The Old Testament

Prof. Owen H. Gates

A FEW introductory paragraphs may not be out of place. The writer is not anxious that the treatment of the subject should entitle it to constitute a chapter in a “Science” of Sociology. He will be content if he can suggest how men who are intent on the practical salvation of society can gain inspiration and information by the study of the Old Testament. It is not his fortune to have made a scientific study of the subject of Sociology, as will perhaps appear from what follows. He ventures nevertheless to use the word in the title, and a few times otherwise, in its natural, broad meaning. In searching after that which will be of practical value, the claim is ventured that he approaches nearer the demand of the day than to aim at accurate scientific perspective without regard to the practical. What is it which has set the schools of the country on the qui vive to see which can organize the first or best department of Sociology? Is it the discovery of a new subject for scientific study, like a new element in the sun or a new bug? Not at all. It is the grow-

ing recognition that society needs improvement, the quickened conscience of men on the subject, and a strengthened purpose to aid in the work. This purpose is the wave on which Sociology has risen to its present importance, and it will not wait for the schools to search through the sub-sciences and elaborate the science of Sociology, or for philosophers to coordinate the various social sciences and enunciate a philosophy of Sociology. Vast improvements have been made in the centuries past in the condition of man, and that by men who would have been really nonplussed if they had been challenged to show the “scientific credentials” of their systems.

Moreover, the world need not wait for new discoveries. Society is not in its present state because men are ignorant how it can be improved and must wait until scientific workers have invented some new methods. The fact is, that the great fundamental truths in regard to society are as old as philosophy. That among the researches of Sociology which is novel, may be important scientifically, but that which is practically important to the understanding and control of society, has formed the basis of all missionary, benevolent, and educational institutions which the world has ever seen. It is now and then occurring that views are tentatively propounded as to the underlying defects of society, which have been the stock in trade of theologians since theology was possible. When the human race was young, so says one old and respected authority, there was a crime committed which involved a large per cent of the world’s inhabitants. It was a murder. Th...

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