The Outlook For Bible Studies In Bible Lands -- By: Edouard Naville

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 079:314 (Apr 1922)
Article: The Outlook For Bible Studies In Bible Lands
Author: Edouard Naville


The Outlook For Bible Studies In Bible Lands

Edouard Naville

The subject which has been proposed to me for this paper, is “The outlook for Bible studies in Bible lands.” It is certain that the discoveries which have been made during the last thirty years in the various fields of antiquity have considerably modified the views concerning literature. Take, for instance, Homer; the discoveries of Schliemann have completely upset the theories brought forward with a great deal of learning and scholarship by Wolf and others, but resting chiefly on the written text such as it had been preserved by the manuscripts. For we have now the remains of the civilization described by the poet; we see that the poem is not a compound of various documents describing an imaginary civilization without any historical connection. The palaces of the heroes of Homer have been brought to light. We know what their weapons were, we are acquainted with their way of living, and we have recovered part of their treasures. The Troy of the poet has been unearthed, the city before which took place one of the early episodes of the struggle between Europe and Asia, which struggle we still witness in our times.

This great change, this entirely new view of the early history of Greece has been evolved by excavations, by what we call archaeology, by bringing out of the earth, where they had been hidden for centuries, the remains of the epoch described by the poet. And it could then be recognized how completely his language harmonizes with what we can see at Mycenae or in Crete, how the manners and the way of life which he attributes to Ulysses or Agamemnon are not creations of the writer’s fancy, but are

the picture of what existed during his life; and all this disposes of the conception of the poems being merely mosaics of fragments of different origin and date put together by late compositors; and leads us to recognize the unity of the writing and the existence of the one author.

The results of excavations have had a similar bearing on the studies of the Old Testament, and the student will be more and more induced to follow the principles of what I may well call the new method, considering how entirely it diverges from the ruling system of Higher Criticism. He will locate a writing in the place where it was written, examining the events to which it was related, its main purport, its occasion, the persons for whom it was intended, and the influence it was calculated to have upon them.

In order to know the circumstances of the epoch in which the author wrote, the environment in which he was moving, the customs of his contemporaries, the excavations alone can give him the necessary information. If w...

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