Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

or

the Christian era ; and further progress in our inquiries will disclose the important influence exercised by its contents on the evolution of Christianity.

As the claims of Hebrew Scripture to supernatural authority are, therefore, historically unattested, it remains for us to seek, in internal evidence, some reasonable proof of divine inspiration. It is futile to appeal for enlightenment to antagonistic sects anathematic Churches, for their conflicting creeds practically annul revelation. Let us therefore rather rely on the modern ideal of an omnipotent, omniscient, and beneficent Deity as an infallible criterion for testing the pretensions of all sacred literature ; for if ancient records of providential action conflict with modern conceptions of Divinity, we must inevitably reject their claims to inspiration, or admit the mutability, and consequent imperfection, of the Deity. We accordingly submit Moses and the prophets to the ordeal involved in following unsectarian questions :

I. Are the thoughts, words, and actions of Jehovah consistent with the attributes of infinite Divinity ?

II. Is the divine origin of Hebrew morality attested by superiority to all merely human systems of ethics ?

III. Do Hebrew annals sustain the theory of a chosen race, so highly favoured as to possess the supreme Deity as their temporal Ruler ?

9

CHAPTER II.

THE HEBREW DEITY.

I. ARE the thoughts, words, and actions of Jehovah consistent with the attributes of infinite Divinity ?

Modern research discovers in the Book of Genesis a composite work: Mosaic, not as the autogram of the Hebrew legislator, but as the editorial patchwork of the Restoration, mingling Semitic legends with cosmopolitan myths, and at once disclosing in the original the presence of at least two authors through distinctive names of the Deity-Elohim, equally applicable to heathen gods, and Jehovah, the personal name of the Hebrew Deity, unknown at least before the exodus, if not assignable to even a later period.

No knowledge of Hebrew is necessary for the discovery of two distinct narratives of the creation, divergent not only in the name but in the character of the Deity. The cosmogony of the first or Elohistic writer, ending with the third verse of the second chapter, is the sublime conception of some ancient bard, attributing the phenomena of nature to the personal action of the Deity accomplishing in days the work of ages.

Orthodox chronology has, until quite recently, assured us that this globe has not yet attained the age

i Exod. vi.

[ocr errors]

of six thousand years. But the unorthodox earth, yielding up its secrets to the curiosity of modern geologists, confronts inspired records with material evidence that countless ages elapsed during the evolution of the earth and its successive inhabitants, and that prehistoric man lived and died upon its surface in ages unknown to Mosaic chronology.

This inconvenient discrepancy between oracles traditionally divine and facts practically irrefutable has taxed the ingenuity of piety to originate theories of reconciliation between Scripture and geology, with no more satisfactory result than may be found in the suggestion that Mosaic records mean something very different from what they have been telling the world, in God's name, for more than two thousand years. A single day, clearly identified by morning and evening as four-and-twenty hours, is now accepted by Orthodoxy as a geologic age of indefinite duration ; and so startling an error on the part of a divinely inspired author is explained by the theory that the instruction of mankind in the science of geology is not included in the work of the Holy Ghost.

But Mosaic cosmogony has instructed the world in geology for more than two thousand years; and, if modern professors had lived in the age of Galileo, its divine authority would have condemned them to torture and death, unless prepared to admit, in penitential recantation, that the evidence of the rocks had been falsified by Satan himself, with the diabolical design of ensnaring the souls of presumptuous men impiously questioning Nature on subjects already set at rest, for ever, by the word of the Deity Himself.

If a human standard of truth demands words from human lips, imparting to the listener the veritable ideas in the mind of the speaker, shall we expect less from the voice of God, and accept as divine the Mosaic negation of natural law involved in the conception of Divinity accomplishing in a few hours the mighty works on which Nature has expended millions of years -a negation deemed infallible until the genius of man had extracted the secrets of Nature from the depths of the ocean and the bowels of the earth ? How much more prudent for the modern worshippers of a personal Deity to recognise in Elohistic cosmogony the poetic version of an ancient tradition, sublime in conception of divine power, but disclosing its merely human authorship in ignorance of Nature's laws, rather than stamp divine revelation with the character of Delphian oracles, uttering equivocating words susceptible of adaptation to the course of events !

If the compilers of Genesis had wisely restricted its contents to the narrative of the Elohist, they would have transmitted to posterity a conception of Divinity worthy of Hebrew genius; but, through the injudicious fusion of his work with that of the more credulous Jehovist, they debased the majestic image of Elohim by legends more characteristic of Olympian mythology than divine revelation.

Jehovah is a name prolific in interminable controversies, as to pronunciation, origin, and date of adoption by the Hebrews. It is variously written by modern Hebrew scholars—Yahvôh-Yehěveh—Yehveh-Yahăvâh, and Yahweh—a conflict of opinions which renders it quite unnecessary to disturb the equanimity of the

6

[ocr errors]

English Bible-reader by changing the familiar sound of
Jehovah.

The work of the Jehovist begins with the fourth verse of the second, and is carried to the end of the fourth chapter; to be again renewed through the interpolation of the Elohistic narrative. His version of the Creation and Fall of Man, borrowed through Persian from still more ancient mythologies, receives no confirmation from the Elohist, who tells us that · Elohim said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim created he him, male and female created he them.' And again, “ This is the book of the generation of Adam. In the day that Elohim created man, in the likeness of Elohim made he him, male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Elohim, being a plural noun, has been accepted by imaginative piety as the primeval annunciation of the Trinity. It is, however, a general term applied by other nations to the collective gods, inclusive of the Hebrew Deity; and the context, furthermore, indicates plurality of divinity through the androgynous essence of Elohim, who, in harmony with Egyptian and Indian theosophy, was personally masculine and feminine : • In the image of Elohim created he him, male and female created he them ... and called their name Adam.'

In the eyes of the Elohist, woman is not, therefore, the second-hand product of an Adamite rib, but an original creation after the same Divine Archetype as

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »