The Advent of Textual Criticism -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:277 (Jan 1913)
Article: The Advent of Textual Criticism
Author: Harold M. Wiener


The Advent of Textual Criticism

Harold M. Wiener, M.A.

Conservatism has won a signal victory. Wellhausen, the leader of the higher critical school, who formerly believed the documentary theory to be invulnerable, has admitted that it has a “sore point.” In 1905 he was still confident that he had, shown investigators the right road.1 In 1908 he was constrained to admit the existence of the sore point. In 1912 he has given authority for this admission to be published. It is, therefore, not a mere stray dictum, but represents the permanent and abiding conviction of years. The “sore point” is the evidence of the Septuagint as to the textual tradition of the Divine appellations in Genesis, and the man who has won this admission from Wellhausen is

Johannes Dahse, who has now published the results of many years of research in his “Textkritische Materialien zur Hexateuchfrage I,”2 the most important contribution to the Pentateuchal question that has come from Germany for many years.

Wellhausen is not the only well-known German professor whom Dahse has influenced in this matter. Kittel, who formerly shut his eyes to the evidence of the versions, now sits in the congregation of converts. In January, 1912, the second edition of the first volume of his “History of Israel” appeared, and in a footnote to pages 255–256 he discusses Dahse’s earlier article. As a contribution to the study of the question, Kittel’s note is of small value; for it betrays the author’s unacquaintance with much of the literature of the subject, and puts forward arguments which could not have been used by anybody familiar with that literature. But as a sign of the times it is very important. Kittel says, that Dahse is right in blaming the commentators and divisive theorists for having paid too little attention to the textual materials. He also concedes that, in Genesis ii.-x., the designation of the Deity in the Massoretic text has little decisive force for division into sources. This also applies to some other portions of the Pentateuch. Doubtless further acquaintance with the literature will drive Kittel from more of his old opinions. Meanwhile it may be noted that he was sufficiently impressed to set the question of the usage of the Divine appellations as a prize subject at Leipzig for the year 1911–12. Once the method is recognized as correct, the downfall of the documentary theory is merely a question of time.

Before dealing with the book itself, I desire to say a few

words about the somewhat cu...

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