Imagini ale paginilor








I. Different Appellations given to the Scriptures. - II. General Dirisions of the Canonical Books. —III. Particularly of the Old Testament.

- 1. The Law. — 2. The Prophets. 3. The Ce

tubim or Hagiographa. - IV. Account of the Masora.- V. Modern Divisions of the Books of the Old Testament. - Chapters

and Verses. 1. THE collection of writings, which is regarded by Christians as the sole standard of their faith and practice, has been distinguished, at various periods, by different appellations. Thus, it is frequently termed the Scriptures, the Sacred or Holy Scriptures, and sometimes the Canonical Scriptures. This collection is called The Scriptures, as being the most important of all writings ; — the Holy or Sacred

Scriptures, because they were composed by persons divinely inspired; and the Canonical Scriptures, either because they are a rule of faith and practice to those who receive them; or because, when the number and authenticity of these books were ascertained, lists of them were inserted in the ecclesiastical canons or catalogues, in order to distinguish them from such books as were apocryphal or of uncertain authority, and unquestionably not of divine origin. But the most usual appellation is that of the Bible - a word which in its primary import simply denotes a book, but which is given to the writings of the prophets and apostles, by way of eminence, as being the Book of Books, infinitely superior in excellence to every unassisted production of the human mind.

II. The most common and general division of the canonical books is that of the Old and New Testament; the former containing those revelations of the divine will which were communicated to the Hebrews, Israelites, or Jews, before the birth of Christ, and the latter comprising the inspired writings of the evangelists and apostles. The appellation of Testament is derived from 2 Cor. iii. 6. 14.; in which place the words η παλαια διαθηκη and η καινη διαθηκη are by the old Latin translators rendered antiquum testamentum and novum testamentum, old and new testaments, instead of antiquum fædus and noTum fædus, the old and new covenants : for, although the Greek word da nun signifies both testament and covenant, yet it uniformly corresponds with the Hebrew word Berith, which constantly signifies a

Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 1–8. 410. vol. iii. pp. 137-140. Jalin, Ins trod. ad Vet. Fæd. p. 7.

covenant. The term “old covenant,” used by Saint Paul in 2 Cor. ü. 14. does not denote the entire collection of writings which we term the Bible, but those antient institutions, promises, threatenings, and in short the whole of the Mosaic dispensation, related in the Pentateuch, and in the writings of the prophets ; and which in process of time were, by a metonymy, transferred to the books themselves. Thus we find mention made of the book of the covenant in Exodus (xxiv. 7.) and in the apocryphal books of Maccabees (Macc. i. 57.): and after the example of the apostle, the same mode of designating the sacred writings obtained among the first Christians, from whom it has been transmitted to modern times. 2

III. The arrangement of the books comprising the Old Testament, which is adopted in our Bibles, is not always regulated by the exact time when the books were respectively written; although the book of Genesis is universally allowed to be the first, and the prophecy of Malachi to be the latest of the inspired writings. Previously to the building of Solomon's temple, the Pentateuch was deposited in the side of the ark of the covenant, (Deut. xxxi. 24—26.), to be consulted by the Israelites; and after the erection of that sacred edifice, it was deposited in the treasury, together with all the succeeding productions of the inspired writers. On the subsequent destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the autographs of the sacred books are supposed to have perished : although some learned men have conjectured that they were preserved, because it does not appear that Nebuchadnezzar evinced any particular enmity against the Jewish religion, and in the account of the sacred things carried to Babylon, (2 Kings kv. 2 Chron. xxxvi. Jer. liii.) no mention is made of the sacred books. However this may be, it is a fact, that copies of these autographs were carried to Babylon : for we find the prophet Daniel quoting the law (Dan. ix. 11. 13.), and also expressly mentioning the prophecies of Jeremiah (ix. 2.), which he could not have done, if he had never seen them. We are further informed that on the rebuilding, or rather on the finishing, of the temple in the sixth year of Darius, the Jewish worship was fully re-established according as it is written in the book of Moses (Ezra vi. 18.): which would have been impracticable, if the Jews had not had copies of the law then among them. But what still more clearly proves that they must have had transcripts of their sacred writings during, as well as subsequent to, the Babylonish captivity, is the fact, that when the people requested Ezra to produce the law of Moses (Nehem. viii. 1.), they did not entreat him to get it dictated anew to them; but that he would bring forth “ the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.”

About fifty years after the rebuilding of the temple, and the consequent re-establishment of the Jewish religion, it is generally ad

1 Jerome, Commont. in Malachi, cap. ii. op. tom. iii. p. 1816.

2 Dr. Lardner has collected several passages from early Christian writers, who thus metonymically use the word Testament. Works, 8vo. vol. vi. p. 9. 4to. vol. iii. p. 140.

mitted that the canon of the Old Testament was settled; but by whom this great work was accomplished, is a question on which there is a considerable difference of opinion. On the one hand it is contended that it could not have been done by Ezra himself; because, though he has related his zealous efforts in restoring the law and worship of Jehovah, yet on the settlement of the canon he is totally silent; and the silence of Nehemiah, who has recorded the pious labours of Ezra, as well as the silence of Josephus, who is diffuse in his encomiums on him, has further been urged as a presumptive argument why he could not have collected the Jewish writings. But to these hypothetical reasonings we may oppose the constant tradition of the Jewish church, uncontradicted both by their enemies and by Christians, that Ezra, with the assistance of the members of the great synagogue (among whom were the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, did collect as many copies of the sacred writings as he could, and from them set forth a correct edition of the canon of the Old Testament, with the exception of his own writings, the book of Nehemiah, and the prophecy of Malachi; which were subsequently annexed to the canon by Simon the Just

, who is said to have been the last of the great synagogue.

In this Esdrine text, the errors of former copyists were corrected: and Ezra (being himself an inspired writer) added in several places, throughout the books of this edition, what appeared necessary to illustrate, connect, or complete them. Whether Ezra's own copy of the Jewish Scriptures perished in the pillage of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, is a question that cannot now be ascertained : nor is it material, since We know that Judas Maccabæus repaired the temple, and replaced every thing requisite for the performance of divine worship (1 Mac. is. 36–59.), which included a correct, if not Ezra's own, copy of the Scriptures. It has been conjectured, and it is not improbable, that in this latter temple an ark was constructed, in which the sacred books of the Jews were preserved until the destruction of Jerusalem and the subversion of the Jewish polity by the Romans under Titus, before whom the volume of the law was carried in triumph, among the other spoils which had been taken at Jerusalem. Since that time, although there has been no certain standard edition of the Old Testament, yet, since both Jews and Christians have constantly had the same Hebrew Scriptures to which they have always appealed, we have every possible evidence to prove that the Old Testament has been transmitted to us entire, and free from any material or designed corruption.

The various books contained in the Old Testament, were divided by the Jews into three parts or classes the Law

the Prophets and the Cetubim, or Hagiographa, that is, the Holy Writings : which


1 Prideaux's Connection, part i. book v. sub anno 446. vol. i. pp. 329-344, and the authorities there cited.' Carpzov. Introd. ad Libros Biblicos Vet. Test. pp. 24. 308, 309. 2 Bishop Tomline's Elements of Christian Theology, vol. i. p. 11. Josephus de Bell. Jud. lib. vii. c. 5. 05.


division obtained in the time of our Saviour, and is noticed by Josephus,” though he does not enumerate the several books.

1. The Law (so called, because it contains precepts for the regulation of life and manners) comprised the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, which were originally written in one volume, as all the manuscripts are to this day, which are read in the synagogues. It is not known when the writings of the Jewish legislator were divided into five books : but, as the titles of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are evidently of Greek origin, (for the tradition related by Philo, and adopted by some writers of the Romish church, that they were given by Moses himself, is too idle to deserve refutation,) it is not improbable that these titles were prefixed to the several books by the authors of the Alexandrian or Septua. gint Greek version.

2. The PROPHETS, which were thus designated, because these books were written by inspired prophetical men, were divided into the former and latter,3 with regard to the time when they respectively flourished : the former prophets contained the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings, the two last being each considered as one book ; the latter prophets comprised the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and of the twelve minor prophets, whose books were reckoned as one. The reason why Moses is not included among the prophets is, because he so far surpassed all those who came after him, in eminence and dignity, that they were not accounted worthy to be placed on a level with him : and the books of Joshua and Judges are reckoned among the prophetical books, because they are generally supposed to have been written by the próphet Samuel.

3. The Cetubim or HagiogRAPHA, that is, the Holy Writings, comprehended the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah (reckoned as one,) and the two books of Chronicles, also reckoned as one book. This third class or division of the Sacred Books has received its appellation of Cetubim, or Holy Writings, because they were not orally delivered, as the law of Moses was; but the Jews affirm that they were composed by men divinely inspired, who, however, had no public mission as prophets : and the Jews conceive that they were dictated not by dreams, visions, or

1“ These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things might be fulfilled which are written in the Law, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” (Luke xxiv. 44.). In which passage by the Psalms is intended the Hagiographa; which division beginning with the Psalms, the whole of it (agrecably to the Jewish manner of quoting) is there called by the name of the book with which it commences. Saint Peter also, when appealing to prophecies in proof of the Gospel, says —"All the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." (Acts iii. 24.) In which passage the apostle plainly includes the books of Samuel in the class of prophets.

2 Contr. Apion. lib. i. $ 8.

3 This distinction, Carpzov thinks, was borrowed from Zech. i. 4.—“Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried." - Introd. ad Lib. Bibl. Vet. Tost. p. 146.

4 The Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, are, in the modern copies of the Jewish Scriptures, placed immediately after the Pentatouch ; under the name of the five Megilloth or volumes. The Book of Ruth holds sometimes the first or second, and sometimes the fifth place.


voice, or in other ways, as the oracles of the prophets were, but that they were more immediately revealed to the minds of their authors. It is remarkable that Daniel is excluded from the number of prophets, and that his writings, with the rest of the Hagiographa, were not publicly read in the synagogues as the Law and the Prophets were : this is ascribed to the singular minuteness with which he foretold the coming of the Messiah before the destruction of the city and sanctuary (Dan. ix.), and the apprehension of the Jews, lest the pub lic reading of his predictions should lead any to embrace the doctrines of Jesus Christ.

The Pentateuch is divided into fifty or fifty-four Paraschioth, or larger sections, according as the Jewish lunar year is simple or intercalary; one of which sections was read in the synagogue every Sabbath-day : this division many of the Jews suppose to have been appointed by Moses, but it is by others attributed, and with greater probability, to Ezra. These paraschioth were further subdivided into smaller sections termed Siderim, or orders. Until the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Jews read only the Law; but the reading of it being then proliibited, they substituted for it fifty-four Haphtoroth, or sections from the prophets. Subsequently, however, when the reading of the law was restored by the Maccabees, the section which had been read from the Law was used for the first, and that from the Prophets, for the second lesson. These sections

? were also divided into Pesukim, or verses, which have likewise been ascribed to Ezra; but if not contrived by him, it appears that this subdivision was introduced shortly after his death: it was probably intended for the use of the Targumists or Chaldee interpreters. After the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, when the Hebrew language had ceased to be spoken, and the Chaldee became the vernacular tongue, it was (as we have already remarked”) usual to read the law, first in the original Hebrew, and afterwards to interpret it to the people in the Chaldee dialect. For the purpose of exposition, therefore, these shorter periods were very convenient.

IV. Originally, the text of the Sacred Books was written without any breaks or divisions into chapters or verses, or even into words ; so that a whole book, as written in the antient manner, was in fact but one continued word. Many antient Greek and Latin manuscripts thus written are still extant. The sacred writings having un

1 Hottinger's Thesaurus, p. 510. Leusden's Philologus Hebræus, Diss. ii. pp. 13 -22. Bishop Cosin's Scholastical Hist. of the Canon, c. ii. pp. 10, et seq.

2 Of these divisions we have evident traces in the New Testament ; thus, the section (sepeoxy) of the prophet Isaiah, which the Ethiopian eunuch was reading, was in all probability, that which related to the sufferings of the Messiah. (Acts vii. 32.) When Saint Paul entered into the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, he stood up to preach after the reading of the Law and the Prophets (Acts xiñ. 15.), that is, after reading the first lesson out of the Law, and the second lesson out of the Prophets. And in the very discourse which he then delivered, he tells the Jews that the Prophets were read at Jerusalem on every Sabbath-day, that is, in those lessons which were taken out of the Prophets. (Acts xiii. 27.)

3 See pp. 3, 4. supra of this volume.

4 In Vol. III. Chap. III. Sect. IV. we have given a table of the Paraschioth or Sections of the Law, together with the Haphtoroth or Sections of the Prophets as they are read in the different Jewish Synagogues for every sabbath of the year, and also showing the portions corresponding with our modern divisions of chapters and verbes.


« ÎnapoiContinuă »