The Sadducean Christians Of Damascus -- By: G. Margoliouth

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 069:275 (Jul 1912)
Article: The Sadducean Christians Of Damascus
Author: G. Margoliouth


The Sadducean Christians Of Damascus1

G. Margoliouth

In an article which was commenced in the Expositor for December, 1911, and concluded in its number for March, 1912, I aimed at giving an answer to all the chief objections that have been raised by various writers against the interpretation of Dr. Schechter’s Zadokite document which I offered in the Athenæum for November 26, 1910. Each of my principal critics had, however, written so exhaustively on the entire subject, and had, moreover, built up so elaborate a theory of his own on the meaning of the ancient text under consideration, that it was impossible to deal seriatim with all important details in an article that was designed as a defense of my own theory rather than as a special attack on any of the positions occupied by my learned opponents. When, therefore, the editor of Bibliotheca Sacra offered me the opportunity of replying in a separate paper to Dr. W. H. Ward’s article on the “Zadokite Document” in the number of this Quarterly for last July, I gladly determined to act on his suggestion as soon as time should permit.

I must, however, before taking up the various threads of the controversy, express my appreciation of the method followed by Dr. Ward in his effort to discover the true bearing

of the document. He started without the least prejudice against the theory advocated by myself, nor had he at the outset (with the exception, I think, of a partiality for the Pharisaic hypothesis suggested to him by Professor Louis Ginzberg) any special propositions of his own to defend. He did his best throughout to look consistently at every side of the complex problem, and he registered everything that he considered .to favor the Judæo-Christian theory with as much readiness as the indications which appeared to him to point in the opposite direction. Criticism of this kind is always pleasant to read or to listen to. One remains throughout on a foundation of fact, and the duty of trying to interpret the extant data without bias one way or the other is never lost sight of.

But how is it that so excellent a method may, nevertheless, lead to results that must be described as untenable? The answer is, that criticism is, in some respects, not unlike the working of a problem in arithmetic or algebra. For just as it is possible to follow a perfectly correct method, say in a problem of compound interest or of geometrical progression, and yet miss the right answer by making a mistake in some detail of the calculation, or by neglecting to take account of one factor or another, so may one pursue a critical inquiry in a thoroughly approved general mann...

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