Moderate Criticism -- By: G. S. Griffiths

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 069:273 (Jan 1912)
Article: Moderate Criticism
Author: G. S. Griffiths


Moderate Criticism1

G. S. Griffiths

This work may be fairly described as a plausible but somewhat misleading presentation, from the “Moderate” standpoint, of the modern critical view of the Pentateuch. It is written throughout in a clear and eminently readable style. The subject-matter is well-arranged, and the book is furnished with copious indices and an excellent analysis. Every page bears witness to the author’s industry and literary skill. His general attitude towards the Old Testament Scriptures is one of profound reverence. He displays no sympathy with the extreme positions and reckless methods of some recent critics. His treatment of the subject is, marked by seriousness and moderation, and the appearance of great fairness. Perhaps its most notable quality is its air of invincible patience. The picture which it suggests is that of a singularly patient teacher instructing a group of critical but rather stupid pupils, answering their questions, wrestling with their difficulties, disposing of their objections, and anxious always that every detail should be made plain. For these and other merits of the book the credit rightly belongs to the author himself. Its defects, on the other hand, are partly due to the limits within which the work is compressed, but chiefly to the essential weakness of the cause which it represents.

The author states the critical theory in the form of three

Propositions: (1) The Pentateuch (he uses the term Hexateuch, but on grounds that are quite inadequate) contains passages of later date than the time of Moses and Joshua. (2) The Pentateuch is a composite work in which four documents (at least) can be distinguished. (3) The laws in the Pentateuch consist of three separate Codes which belong to different periods in the history of Israel; D being assigned to the reign of Josiah, and P to Ezra after the Return. The effective refutation in detail of these propositions and the various arguments by which they are here supported would require much more space than we can presume to occupy in this article. Besides, it is scarcely necessary in view of the work done by such writers as Green, Orr, G. L. Robinson, Wiener, and others. Several articles dealing fully with many of the most important points raised by Mr. Chapman have appeared in the Bibliotheca Sacra during recent years. But the following observations of a general character may be permitted.

With the author’s First Proposition as it stands no traditionalist would be inclined to quarrel. It is true that arguments against the Mosaic date of the Pentateuch based on the particular passages cited by Mr. Chapman have been sufficiently answered...

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