The Triumph Of Assyriology -- By: A. A. Berle

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:208 (Oct 1895)
Article: The Triumph Of Assyriology
Author: A. A. Berle


The Triumph Of Assyriology

A. A. Berle

Boston, Mass.

When the first results of the marvelous discoveries which the study of the cuneiform inscriptions brought to light were offered to the critical world, they were received not only with skepticism as to their practical use, but not infrequently with positive derision as to their permanent value in the science of Old Testament criticism. Indeed, it may fairly be said that the non-critical public received these results and incorporated them into their fund of general biblical information with much greater readiness and hospitality than those from whom such a reception might legitimately have been expected. The reason for this is not entirely clear, unless it be that the results were so novel, and the inferences there from so startling and revolutionary, that the critics themselves, accustomed to bold generalizations, were nevertheless appalled at the radical nature of the conclusions which these discoveries suggested. So until even within thirty years there existed grave doubts in the minds of the most competent of the literary critics of the Old Testament as to the value of the cuneiform results. Since that time the systematic study of the inscriptions, the increasing information, and the constant advance in Assyriological science have all tended to allay these fears, so that there remain but few critics of first rank who are not willing at least to reckon with these results as a part of the Old Testament literary and critical problem.

By no means the least of the results which have been wrought by the cuneiform study has been the demonstration of the value, and indeed absolute necessity, of a thorough knowledge of Semitic archaeology as well as philology as a part of the necessary equipment for a sound Old Testament criticism. Received at first with coldness or attacked with vehemence, these results are now recognized as among the indispensable requirements of the higher critical investigations. In fact, the triumph of Assyriology has been even greater than this. The long-standing dicta of the purely literary critics have not only been shown frequently to be based upon literary and philological generalizations which had their basis only in the fancy of the literary critic, but to be in direct antagonism to the plainest historical facts as these have been revealed by the inscriptions and the monuments.

In the July number of the Contemporary Review, Canon Cheyne has a suggestive article, which reveals even more clearly than the increasing interest and attention to Assyriological study could demonstrate, how Assyrian history and archæology have put to flight the literary critics with their often flimsy guesses and insecure inferences. Pr...

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