Professor Eiselen On The Books Of The Pentateuch -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 074:294 (Apr 1917)
Article: Professor Eiselen On The Books Of The Pentateuch
Author: Harold M. Wiener


Professor Eiselen On The Books Of The Pentateuch

Harold M. Wiener

There lies before me a new book 1 by Professor F. C. Eiselen which is devoted to an introduction to the Pentateuch. It is the first of four volumes which are intended to deal with the Old Testament; the Law, Prophets, and Writings forming respectively the subjects of the first three, while the fourth will be devoted to the Old Testament Canon and Text, and to a consideration of the proper place of the Old Testament in the light of the conclusions reached by the professor. The temper of the discussion appears from a paragraph of the Preface: —

“On questions regarding which scholars are not in agreement the author tries to state his own view and to present the reasons upon which his view is based. And it may be stated in passing that he holds his views not because they agree with the views of other scholars, but simply because, to his way of thinking, they offer the most satisfactory explanation of all the facts in the case. At the same time he endeavors to be fair in presenting the arguments used in support of divergent opinions, for he believes that every student should have the

opportunity of estimating for himself the value of the arguments and of drawing his own conclusions” (p. 8).

Unhappily, however, though the author means well, it does not seem ever to have occurred to him that it is impossible for him to be fair to arguments with which he is totally unacquainted. And so it comes about that throughout the volume he is at fault through not having read or considered the facts and arguments which have been advanced of recent years — often in writings to which he himself refers. If Eiselen really wishes to carry out his purpose, let him undertake a complete and careful study of the literature of the last few years, deliberately weighing the points that have been made on each side and seeing how far they have been met by the other. He would learn of phenomena of which he does not yet entertain the slightest suspicion.

The study of the Pentateuch is at present in a stage of transition. For many years all who aspired to be regarded as “modern” had to do obeisance to the documentary and evolutionary theories. These were based on three main props: indifference to the facts of the textual history, the scantiness of the archaeological materials, and absence of the most rudimentary training in legal methods. Within the last few years much has been done to remove the bases of the theories. Textual investigations have been begun which have already revolutionized our conceptions of the transmission of the books of the Old Testam...

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