The Swan-Song Of The Wellhausen School -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:268 (Oct 1910)
Article: The Swan-Song Of The Wellhausen School
Author: Harold M. Wiener


The Swan-Song Of The Wellhausen School

Harold M. Wiener

The International Critical Commentary is making slow progress towards completion. Two new volumes have recently appeared, dealing with Genesis and Chronicles respectively. When it is remembered that the first instalment of the Commentary was published as long ago as 1895, that not half the books of the Old Testament have hitherto been treated in the series, and that in the advertisement at the end of Genesis no announcement is yet made of any engagement for a commentary on the book of Job, it will be felt that those responsible for the enterprise may justly be blamed for a tardiness that must impair the value of the publication as a whole. Our business, however, in this article is with a volume that has appeared — the long-expected commentary on Genesis. Its full title is “A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis” — a grave misnomer as will presently appear — and its author is the Reverend Principal John Skinner, D.D.

Regarded as a whole, the book is mainly a great and laborious collection of the guesses of a particular school of biblical students, made by a writer who has some literary feeling and is not devoid of humor, but entirely lacks originality and critical power, has no acquaintance with the methods of scientific textual criticism and not the vaguest idea of what independent research means. The British theological schools have unhappily been reduced to the level of an intellectual satrapy of the

German Empire, and those who lead them have never been taught to think for themselves. Thus all that Dr. Skinner can do is to collect the views of various German writers and to express his preference for one or another, occasionally suggesting some trifling modifications.

And yet he had an opportunity such as has never before fallen to any commentator on Genesis — for this is the first bulky new commentary on that book that has been published since the appearance of the larger Cambridge Septuagint — and Dr. Skinner had the chance of doing pioneer work on the text which might have given him lasting fame among biblical students, had he been equal to his undertaking. But that was not to be. He has indeed heard of the Cambridge LXX, and there are occasional references to it (e.g. pp. iii, 100, 261), while there are a few passages where, though it is not expressly mentioned, a presumption arises that it has been consulted (e.g. pp. 513, 532); but such cases are very few and far between. Generally speaking, it may be said that the larger Septuagint is of scarcely more use to Dr. Skinner than Dr. Swete’s edition would be, and that he has made no effort to utilize the rich new materials that it offers to the true critic...

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