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Journal, December, 1882.*

The New Testament Witness to the Author

ship of Old Testament Books.


A careful examination of this subject seems to be demanded by the conflicting and equally positive statements current in regard to

E. g. :

Turpie, (The New Testament View of the Old, London, 1872), who has given the matter the fullest consecutive treatment, assumes, almost without argument, that the language of the New Testament is decisive of questions of authorship, in the case of many important books of the Old Testament. Thus, (p. 124), when speaking of Rom. X. 20, 21,-" Isaiah is very bold and saith "—the citation being from Is. Ixv. 1, 2,—he remarks: “Paul thus lets us know the source whence the quotations are drawn. They are taken from Isaiah. Isaiah spake them.” On p. 130, he says: “The formula Javeló légel, 'David says,' followed by quotations from several Psalms, viz., xvi., xxxii., Ixix, and cx., shows us that he was the writer of them.” On p. 158, we read: ' From our Lord's words, then, ‘Have ye not read in the Book of Moses at the bush,' [Ma. xii. 26], I infer that Moses is set forth as the author of the Pentateuch." Similar remarks occur elsewhere in Turpie's book.

Prof. W. H. Green, D. D., says, (Moses and the Prophets, p. 345): "The history and legislation of the Pentateuch lies at the basis of all the subsequent history of the Old Testament. It is presupposed in

* The paper of the Rev. Dr. Craven has not been received.

the Psalms. It is presupposed in the prophets. Moses' authorship has the explicit sanction of our blessed Lord himself.”

In our popular religious literature, this argument is dwelt on with great emphasis.

On the other hand, there are other persons, of excellent Christian reputation, who are committed to the opinion that these questions are not settled by New Testament evidence. One of the most emphatic statements to this effect is from the pen of Prof. E. Benj. Andrews, of Brown University, (Hebrew Student, Dec., 1882, p. 100): “Let even Wellhausen's view be adopted: there are several ways in which, we are happy to think, every recorded utterance of Christ touching the Pentateuch might be explained in accord with the perfect truthfulness and supernatural character of his teachings."

The existence of opposite views on such an important matter may fairly justify a careful examination of the New Testament writings, with a view to deciding, if possible, which opinion is correct.

The examination proposes no further end than the simple testing of a particular argument. It is not an inquiry into the actual authorship of Old Testament books. Nor does it necessarily involve an answer to such an inquiry. For while it is true that if the New Testament argument is shown to be conclusive, the result will be to establish the authorship of the books in question, it is not true that the opposite decision would involve a denial of particular authorship. It would involve simply a denial that such particular authorship can be proved from the New Testament. For it is agreed on all hands, that the New Testament does not directly, and in terms, deny the particular authorship of any Old Testament book. It is perfectly conceivable, therefore, that the argument might be shown to be unavailable for the purpose for which it is employed, at the same time that the conclusions sought to be established by the argument were impregnable on other grounds. It is not the more general question as to the facts of authorship, but the more limited question as to the bearing of the New Testament argument, which now concerns us.

The inquiry is carefully to be distinguished from certain other more or less kindred questions with which it has been at times unfortunately confounded.

(a.) From questions as to the historical character of the Old Testament books, or any parts of them, and as to the New Testament witness to such character. For the purposes of our inquiry it might or might not be that such character is the fact, or that the New Testament proves it. That is a question by itself, and not involved in

the present discussion. So far as it may be necessary to take any position in the matter, the historical character of such Old Testament writings as claim to be history is here assumed.

(6.) From questions as to the inspiration, authority and canonicity of the Old Testament books, and as to the New Testament witness to these characteristics. These matters are fully and entirely assumed, at the outset of the discussion, and cannot, therefore, be raised in the progress of it.

(c.) From questions as to the inspiration, authority and canonicity of the New Testament books, and as to the binding force of teachings uttered by our Lord Jesus Christ, or by inspired men, and contained in the New Testament books. These matters, also, are fully and entirely assumed at the outset, so that whatever, on thorough examination, shall prove to rest on the authority of our Lord, or of the Holy Spirit speaking in and through inspired men, is thereby and at once raised out of the sphere of this discussion.

(2.) From all questions as to the meaning, interpretation, application, etc., of the Old Testament passages which are cited in the New.

We have simply to ask: What kind and degree of evidence is furnished by the New Testament as to the authorship of Old Testament books? It is plain that one may conceive of the evidence as being either conclusive, or non-conclusive; and if the latter, then as either purely negative evidence, or as presumptive evidence. If it is presumptive evidence, then the question as to authorship is not settled thereby, but must be finally decided in view of other testimony. This paper does not occupy itself, however, as has been already said, with other testimony, and it concerns us only to notice that it is perfectly conceivable that testimony from other sources may be such as to confirm any presumptive evidence which the New Testament may furnish, or, on the other hand, such as to destroy the weight of the presumption, and prove the opposite.

It remains only to add, as a last preliminary remark, that in the examination of passages in detail, while the importance of distinguishing between the language of Christ and that of the inspired New Testament men may easily be exaggerated, there is still some advantage in treating them separately.

The question before us is essentially one of exegesis, and we shall be prepared, in a few moments, to inquire as to the meaning of particular passages. The fact, however, that the number of passages is so small, may be regarded as one among several indications that it was not a prime object of the New Testament speakers and writers, or of the Holy Spirit, presiding over its composition, to teach the authorship of Old Testament books. *

Assistance has been derived, in making the above table, from Böhl's Alttestamentliche Citate, and Turpie's Old Testament in the New. The number of citations is difficult to fix with accuracy. It is believed that the table is approximately correct.

On the other hand, it is not to be wondered at, that, living as we do in the midst of a venerable tradition in regard to the authorship of Old Testament books, the citations under the names of particular persons which the New Testament makes from the Old should lead us, antecedently to all detailed examination, to the inference that the writers and speakers who thus cite regarded the persons named as the authors of the books in which the words cited stand. The chief condition to the validity of this inference is the absence of evidence to the contrary. For it must be clear that the natural deduction from New Testament language, in the absence of contrary evidence, does not necessarily determine the question as to the natural deduction in the face of such evidence.

These considerations to some extent balance each other, and we leave them for the present behind, in order to inquire into the New Testament facts.

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* The following table will show how the case stands: Genesis is cited 28 times. Under Moses' Exodus

33 Leviticus

I2 Deuteronomy

41 I and 2 Samuel


Samuel's i Kings


Author's Job

i time. Psalms

68 times.

David's Proverbs

6 "

Author's Ecclesiastes

I time. Isaiah

61 times.

Isaiah's Jeremiah


Jeremiah's Hosea


Hosea's Joel

Joel's Amos

Amos' Micah

I time.

Micah's Habbakuk

4 times.

Habbakuk's Haggai

I time.

Haggai's Zechariah's

6 times.

Zechariah's Malachi

5 "


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The following books of the Old Testament are, by citation or otherwise, connected in the New Testament with the names of particular men: Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy (name of Moses), Samuel (+), Psalms (name of David), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Joel. Of these, Jeremiah's name occurs in such a connection but twice; those of Samuel (if at all), Daniel, Hosea and Joel, only once each. It will be convenient to begin with this lowing the order of the names in our English Bibles.

SAMUEL. Acts iii. 24: “All the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken they also told of these days.” No Messianic prophecy is attributed to Samuel in the Old Testament, and it has accordingly been doubted whether there is reference here to any word or writing connected with his name. It might mean “from the days of Samuel," so that the first of the prophets referred to must have lived at or about the time of Samuel. But the earliest recorded prophecy from near that time is Nathan's, (2 Sam. vii. 12-16), and, when that was uttered, Samuel had been many years dead, (1 Sam. xxv. 1). The reference cannot be to the prophecies of David in the Psalms, for in that case we can hardly doubt that David himself, and not Samuel, would have been named. Further, although it may be said that Samuel was the founder of the order of prophets, it does not need an investigation of this matter to convince us that the words as they stand, on their most natural interpretation, include Samuel among those who testified of the Messianic times. The expression is a peculiar one: και πάντες δε οι προφήται από Σαμουήλ και των καθεξής όσοι ελάλησαν και κατήγγειλαν τας ημέρας ταύτας. . If the phrase xal toy xa0,- is to be taken literally, the whole expression means, "the prophets from Samuel and (from) those who followed [him] "; for " Samuel " and "those who followed him ” are in the same construction. More than this, they form one group, for the preposition is not repeated. An interpretation must therefore be found which will suit them both. If àrù denotes simply a prior limit of the time within which oi apoçi,tau prophesied, then of zabis are not represented as prophesying, any more than Samuel is. But of xalis must certainly include Nathan and David. Nathan's prophecy (referred to above) is quite explicit, and David is repeatedly cited by Peter himself (who utters Acts iii. 24) as a prophet of the Messiah, so that it is utterly improbable that these should be ignored. But if o{ za085s are regarded as prophesying, then there is no exegetical ground for excluding Samuel from the same category. We may compare Luke xxiv. 27: àpsájuevos ånd

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