How To Test The Story Of Jonah -- By: G. Macloskie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:286 (Apr 1915)
Article: How To Test The Story Of Jonah
Author: G. Macloskie


How To Test The Story Of Jonah

G. Macloskie

Princeton University.

Not long ago I emitted my scientific opinion that our Sabbath schools should not hastily condemn the narrative regarding Jonah until the facts were better understood than they are by us. And for this I was bitterly criticized in a New York magazine by somebody who knew nothing about the whale or about my opinions. Having made no rejoinder to this, I have been recently asked to summarize the case, in order to explain why it is necessary to take time for intelligent examination.

1. I wish to explain that the case is not to be decided by anybody’s ideas of what Inspiration signifies. There was a time when our views of plenary inspiration were deductively applied for all Biblical questions. But I am proud to be able to say that the distinguished leaders of Princeton Theological Seminary have led the way to reforming the methods, so as to give not scholastic routine, but true scientific evidence. The way in this improvement was opened by the late Dr. William Henry Green, in, his reply to Colenso’s attack on the chronology of the Pentateuch. By the help of historic and scientific evidence, as explaining the Old Testament, Dr. Green showed that Colenso was mostly correct. But the Pentateuch was not wrong: it was the interpreters who had gone astray by printing in our Bibles a so-called Biblical Chronology of their own invention. I wish that our critics could free us from this false chronology which we still find printed in our annotated Bibles.

2. The next steps in the reform were taken by my revered friends Professor Asa Gray of Harvard University and President James McCosh of Princeton University. The first showed how a scientist may be a Darwinian and at the same

time a devout Christian, which McCosh improved by explaining that Darwinism is not hostile to the Bible, but only an attempt, by the help of science and philosophy, to explain, or at least to illustrate, the divine method of creating new species of plants and animals. For all that we know, it may have been applied to- the origin of man himself, whom God may have thus created “after his own image.”

3. Most important was the appearance of a joint publication by the late A. A. Hodge and Professor B. B. Warfield, and afterwards indorsed by President Francis L. Patton, all from our Theological Seminary, warning us not to permit our interpretations to depend on any special theory of inspiration. We must test their value by comparing the statements of Scripture with all available external evidence, such as ancient history, biology, archaeology, geography, and philosophy.

Thus, in a case li...

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