The Old Testament Problem Part 3 -- By: A. Noordtzij

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 098:390 (Apr 1941)
Article: The Old Testament Problem Part 3
Author: A. Noordtzij

The Old Testament Problem
Part 3

Dr. A. Noordtzij

(Translated from the Dutch especially for Bibliotheca Sacra by Miner B. Stearns, Th. M.)

(Concluded from the January-March Number, 1941)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 9–20, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–12 respectively.}

V. The Untenableness of the Presuppositions of Wellhausen’s School (cont)

3. The Religious-Historical Presuppositions.

It is obvious that this recovery of the ancient world and the light it threw on the religious ideas of the peoples involved, also placed new materials at our disposition for the investigation of the nature and character of Israel’s religion, thereby giving a better and clearer insight into the third aspect of the Old Testament problem.

(1) An Unsolved Question. Bewitched as men were by the idea of development from the lower to the higher, they thought they could posit the same rudimentary ideas at the beginning of Israel’s religion as they did for similar nations (for Israel was of course an ancient people!). Hence efforts were made to find animistic or fetishistic, totemistic or polydemonistic lines of thought in ancient Israel. Pfleiderer rejoiced over this effort to theologize Darwinism, and to make the course of Israel’s development mount from the depths of nature-worship up to the heights of an ethical monotheism.1 He declared that he considered it an advantage that now everything had become “understandable,” “a clear development, analogous to that of other history, nowhere interrupted by miracles, and nowhere breaking the continuity of events by incidents which do not logically follow what precedes them.” He forgot, however, that the first duty of science is not to represent things as “understandable,” but to set forth the reality.

At this point it may be said that those who hold Jahwism for a nature-religion should also explain how it, in contrast with all similar religions, became an ethical one.

If they do not explain this, then the personality of Amos and the ethical monotheism of the other prophets become an insoluble enigma. Then must one seek wisdom in the shrug of the shoulders with which Wellhausen answers the obvious question: Why did not Chemosh, the supreme god of Moab, for example, triumph over all his competitors, and become the God of righteousness and Creator of heaven and earth? (Israëlitische und Jüdische Geschichte, 4th ed., p. 36). It is clear that this gives very little satisfaction. A solution that ends with a big question-m...

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