Criticism: What It Is and What It Is Not -- By: George B. Michell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 092:368 (Oct 1935)
Article: Criticism: What It Is and What It Is Not
Author: George B. Michell


Criticism: What It Is and What It Is Not

George B. Michell

Formerly British Consul General at Milan1
Author of The Historical Truth of the Bible

In the present reaction against the uncompromising materialism of the 18th and 19th centuries and in the tendencies of many of the leading scientists of today to accept at least a metaphysical idea of “God,” as also in the doubts now thrown on “Evolution,” there is much to be thankful for. We must be, however, wary of being too sanguine, and of thinking that the victory is on the way to be won. I see no signs of repentance on the part of Modernists, still less of any relaxation of hostility against the Bible, or of abandonment of the boasted “assured results” of the Higher Criticism.

On the continent of Europe, however, it appears that a revulsion is being felt in some quarters. An important little work of 80 pages only has been put forth lately (in German) by Dr. A. Noodtzij, Professor of the Old Testament in Utrecht University, on “The Riddle of the Old Testament,” of which a long review was published by the “Revue Biblique” in January, 1935. In this the reviewer remarks, “We would blame ourselves if we did not draw attention to the excellent work of M. Noordtzij, of which the significance will be

measured when we reflect that it comes from that University of Utrecht which was formerly, with Kuenen, the advanceguard of the independent criticism.”

According to this critique Dr. Noordtzij’s work traverses the whole of the groundwork on which Wellhausen’s system was founded, religious, cultural, historical, and concludes that “the history of religions contradicts the Wellhausian scheme of evolution.” It is tempting to give long extracts from the powerful little work, which one hopes is symptomatic of a wholesome change of heart in other leading universities also.

But I have another, perhaps drier and less fascinating, subject in hand at present. Not less important, however, inasmuch as it undermines the Wellhausian system below its very roots, and shows that it is not Criticism at all, but a one-sided attack on the Word of God, giving no fair play to the other side, but employing all the tricks of the pettifogging attorney to gain his own case “by hook or crook,”-not to mention that it is completely out of date, and refuted by all modern discoveries.

It is much to be deplored that the popular use of the terms “critic,” “critical,” “criticize,” “criticism,” should have degenerated into mere fault-finding, and an attitude of suspicion, if not of active host...

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