The Books Of The Old Testament Versus Their Sources -- By: Willis J. Beecher

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 056:222 (Apr 1899)
Article: The Books Of The Old Testament Versus Their Sources
Author: Willis J. Beecher


The Books Of The Old Testament Versus Their Sources1

Prof. Willis J. Beecher

The scholars who are investigating the literary character of the Old Testament books are now arrayed in two hostile camps, the men of each camp defending a certain tradition, and attacking the tradition of the opposite camp. On the one hand, an immense majority of those who have done some independent study in the matter, provided we count pastors of churches, and persons who study in connection with the various organizations for Christian work, still hold in the main to the ancient tradition. They accept the testimony of the Scriptures concerning themselves as fact, and regard them as mainly the work of a series of well-known authors, extending from Moses to Nehemiah. On the other hand, a majority of the men who have reached the ear of the public through scholarly printed treatments of these subjects, together with their very influential and intelligent body of followers, make a large discount in their acceptance of the statements of fact found in

the Old Testament, and attribute the books to a series of authors mostly unknown, beginning a good many hundred years later than Moses, and extending nearly to the Christian era. I am not here this morning to speak in the interest of either of these two encampments of men. My own position is emphatically with those who hold the older tradition, though with large variations from some of the views of some of its defenders, But I am not here to argue in favor of that older tradition as against those who reject it. I wish rather to present a matter in which I think we shall agree, provided we take pains to understand one another. If what I shall say is capable of an interpretation that favors one of the two camps rather than the other, I protest that such interpretation attributes to me a meaning that I do not intend.

As preliminary to the thing that I wish mainly to present, I hope that we shall agree on-another thing, namely, that each of these camps is the defender of a tradition. In other words, the advocates of the newer set of opinions have reached a stage in which their position is just as truly traditionary as is that of their opponents. This is to be understood, of course, without prejudice. Perhaps on the whole they are neither the better for it nor the worse. They have vindicated their claim to a recognized respectable place in the thought-movements of the world. They are no longer to be counted as sporadic, exceptional, revolutionary, with the presumption against them on that account; and, on the other hand, they have no right to claim that they differ from their opponents in that their views are based on investigation, while t...

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