The Fifth Chapter of Wellhausen’s Prolegomena -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:272 (Oct 1911)
Article: The Fifth Chapter of Wellhausen’s Prolegomena
Author: Harold M. Wiener

The Fifth Chapter of Wellhausen’s Prolegomena

Harold M. Wiener, M.A.

The fifth chapter of Wellhausen’s Prolegomena completes the “History of Worship,” which forms the earliest and most important division of this celebrated book. It is entitled “The Endowment of the Clergy,” and while it does not possess anything like the interest or the consequence of the first four chapters it yet claims consideration in this series of articles. In many respects it carries to their logical conclusions mistakes that we have had to examine in their earlier stages. It is thus natural to subject it to some consideration, although the topics with which it deals are in some instances incapable of satisfactory treatment because of the extreme scantiness of our material. The chapter itself is divided into two main sections, — the first dealing with certain offerings, the second with the Levitical cities.


The various kinds of offerings must, of course, be considered separately. This chapter is singularly difficult to deal with satisfactorily, for Wellhausen here surpasses himself in inaccuracy and confusion; as, for instance, when he writes, “In Deuteronomy the priests are entirely thrown upon the sacrifices if they are not exercising the priestly function they must starve (1 Sam. 2:36).”1 How or when

First Samuel became a part of Deuteronomy is not explained nor are we told why the denunciation which obviously applies only to a single house — that of Eli — should be extended to the other priestly houses which were not implicated in its guilt. The statement itself is contradicted on the preceding page, where we are informed that “at an earlier date the priests of Jerusalem received money from those who employed them (Deut. 18:8), but for this had the obligation of maintaining the temple.” This is an extraordinary falsehood, for Deuteronomy 18:8 reads: “They [i.e. Levites coming from the provinces] shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.” In Wellhausen’s hands this becomes a payment of money from those who employed them, coupled with an obligation of maintaining the temple, and that though, on the very next page, he alleges that they are entirely thrown upon the sacrifices.

In refuting such a discussion the only course open is to pick out the more or less salient points and treat of those — for the correction of every minor inaccuracy would consume space needlessly. The first matter of importance appears to be a compa...

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