The German Attitude To The Bible -- By: W. H. Griffith Thomas

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 076:302 (Apr 1919)
Article: The German Attitude To The Bible
Author: W. H. Griffith Thomas


The German Attitude To The Bible

W. H. Griffith Thomas

No theological question has been given greater prominence through the war than that of the Bible. Before the war commenced in 1914, German thought and German teaching were widely accepted, especially in connection with the Old Testament. There is scarcely a Theological Seminary, a College, or a University in any English-speaking country where German teaching on the Old Testament was not perhaps the dominant and almost universally believed attitude. And even in connection with the New Testament, things were moving in the same direction.

Of course there were some people who, long before the war, did not follow this line. They did not think that German teaching on the Bible was everything that was said about it. They were, however, regarded as obscurantist, narrow, prejudiced, impossible, and guilty of that most terrible of modern sins — the sin of being unscholarly. And yet there is no doubt that the tendency of German thought in connection with the Bible for the last century, or thereabouts, has all been in one direction — that of questioning and often attacking its authority as the Word of God.

Now there can be no doubt that if we take the Bible — to use a modern phrase — at its face value, it claims to be a revelation from God. Without at this moment considering whether this claim is true, we may just take it as it stands. Nobody can read, for instance, Heb. 1:1, 2, without seeing that the Bible does claim for itself that it is a revelation from God. “God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets” — there is a claim for the Old Testament — “hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son.” And so the question is just this, “Has the war done anything to shake our confidence in this claim?” Or, if we like to

put it so, “Has anything emanated from Germany, or elsewhere, during the last century to give us ground for believing that the claim of the Bible is unwarranted?”

Let us consider some six points on which the Bible stands to-day, as it ever has stood, and will continue to stand.

I. The Unity Of The Bible

We hardly realize that the Bible is not a book, but a library. It is interesting to remember that the word “Bible,” though it is now applied to one Book, comes from a Greek term meaning “the books” —“ta Biblia” And when we see an edition of the Bible in various volumes, with one volume to Genesis, another to Exodus, and right on through the Bible, we begin to realize that it is a ...

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