Dr. Driver’s Proof-Texts -- By: G. Frederick Wright
BSac 55:219 (July 1898) p. 515
Dr. Driver’s Proof-Texts
The demand for a sixth edition of Dr. Driver’s “Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament” indicates an interest in the subject which warrants renewed attention to the arguments upon which his conclusions are based. The ability of the volume also amply accounts for the interest which it has aroused in Old Testament criticism; for it is, without doubt, the ablest defense which has yet been made in the English language of the inferences concerning the Old Testament which have been drawn by the Graf-Wellhausen school of critics; while the studious effort made by the author so to minimize the destructive tendencies of the German school as to allay the alarm produced by their radical and extreme statements does much to win public favor. Of the extent to which Dr. Driver is really successful in removing objections we will speak later.
From much which is appearing in current literature upon this subject, it is evident that the conclusions of this school of critics are already rapidly passing into the traditional stage, in which the statements are accepted upon authority, with little attempt to verify the references by which they are supported. The mass of readers will be in danger of accepting Dr. Driver’s book as they have formerly done the decrees of the councils of the Catholic Church or of the general assemblies of the Presbyterian Church,
BSac 55:219 (July 1898) p. 516
ascribing to them such infallibility that any questioning of the results seems presumptuous, and indeed scarcely less than sacrilegious. To question the correctness of conclusions agreed upon by so many eminent critics, and supported by such an array of references as darken the pages of Dr. Driver’s volume, is to incur an odium criticum which is coming to be no less effective in the suppression of independent investigation than the odium theologicum has been in past times.
Nevertheless loyalty to truth and to the right of private judgment demands that each one of us should assume the responsibility of proving all things, and holding fast only to what is good; for, the conclusions of critical investigators, like those of Congregational councils, should have no more weight than there is in the reasons underlying them. This responsibility is all the more imperative from the fact, that the conclusions of the prevalent critical school concerning the Old Testament do not depend upon newly discovered facts which are beyond the reach of ordinary students, but are arrived at by examination and analysis of documents which are in possession of all. We have the high authority of Professor W. Robertson Smith in his preface to Wellhausen’s “Prolegomena to the History of Israel,” for ...
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