The Old Testament Revelation of God and the Ancient-Oriental Life -- By: A. Noordtzij

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:280 (Oct 1913)
Article: The Old Testament Revelation of God and the Ancient-Oriental Life
Author: A. Noordtzij

The Old Testament Revelation of God and the Ancient-Oriental Life1

Dr. A. Noordtzij

It is a happy omen that the conviction is more and morn gaining ground that Israel cannot be understood without a thorough knowledge of the world of culture in which it has taken a place, however modest, — a happy omen, just because for many years the opinion has prevailed that Israel can be known when the course of its history and, in connection with it, the rise from Israel of our canonical scriptures are re-construed along the lines of Hegel’s philosophy. And this change should be hailed the more gladly in the measure in which the application of the Hegelian principia proved the more fatal to the recognition of the peculiar character of Israel. For evolutionary speculation identified logical and historical development, and interpreted all religions as development stadia of absolute thought. In this it forgot not only that spiritual development has an independent character of its own, by which alone it can be known, but also that this development can take place in the direction of truth as well as in that of falsehood; so that its falsification and degeneration can also be called development. And under the influence of this evolutionary speculation Israel’s religious life was degraded to the hypothetical level of the surrounding nations, from which

depth of animism and fetishism, polydemonism and polytheism, under the leadership of the prophets, it attained for itself an ethical monotheistic conception of God. In connection with this, of course the Old Testament scriptures, which give an entirely different portraiture of the history of the old covenant people, and resist in every way the principia of evolutionists as being flagrantly antagonistic to their content, had to be divided into an almost endless series of fragments and for the most part assigned to much later times. The patriarchs and Moses were enveloped in mythical vapors and turned into phantoms, the relation of law and prophets was inverted, the reality of the contents of these scriptures was denied, and the entire system of the canonical books of the Old Testament made into a forgery, which has no equal.

Meanwhile it is noteworthy that it has taken so long a time for the conviction to make its way among us, that Israel cannot be considered apart from the relation with the Ancient-Oriental culture-world. Already since the middle of the last century, and in consequence of excavations which took place in the valley of the Nile, in the plains of the Euphrates-Tigris, in Palestine and Syria, and lastly also in the original sites of the Hittites, the curtain which for centuries has hidden the Ancient-Orien...

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