Essays In Pentateuchal Criticism -- By: Harold M. Wiener
BSac 65:259 (July 1908) p. 481
Essays In Pentateuchal Criticism
It is often said by supporters of the higher critical hypothesis at present current in many theological schools that the dominant theories are based on! the cumulative effect of a vast body of evidence adduced from many different lines of inquiry, and that, if modern scholarship be worth anything at all, the views of the Wellhausen school must be held to be established beyond all possibility of doubt. These contentions are not entirely baseless, although the truth is very far removed from the meaning of those who maintain them. It is the fact that the higher critics have purported to- conduct many different inquiries; but it is also the fact that they rarely succeed in making ant accurate statement on any subject that has a bearing on their main hypothesis. Indeed, if accuracy, care, thoroughness, impartiality, be essential elements in scholarship— and we apprehend that we shall find much support for the opinion that they are—these men are not scholars. Let there be no mistake as to our meaning. Nothing is further from our thoughts than to suggest that these writers have any consciousness of their own deficiencies. On the contrary, they are all of them sincerely impressed with the (supposed) excellence of the work done by themselves and their friends. They honestly believe that they are careful, accurate, impartial
BSac 65:259 (July 1908) p. 482
scholars, and that those who differ from them are either blinded by theological prejudice, or else unacquainted with the facts, or otherwise incapacitated from forming a sound judgment. All they regard their own laborious achievements, they are filled with honorable pride and admiration, and, believing themselves to be great scholars, they naturally fail to realize that any other view is possible.
Nevertheless, as already stated, we have been led to form a very different estimate of these men and their work. While recognizing the transparent sincerity that inspires most of them, we have found on occasions when we have tested their work that an overwhelming majority of their statements on relevant matters of fact were untrue,1 and to our mind the vast body of evidence adduced only supplies cumulative proof of the incompetence of those who advance it.
It is, of course, singularly easy to bring these divergent opinions to the test. If we be right in holding that an overwhelming majority of the relevant statements made by the critics are untrue, there can be no difficulty (given the necessary time) in bringing home to them such a body of false allegations on matters of fact as shall suffice to convince any impartial observer of their incompetenc...
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