Page:A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges.djvu/30

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INTRODUCTION

turies before, in reducing oral tradition to writing, the author would inevitably have left the impress of his own style upon the stories far more deeply than is the case; the Deuteronomic peculiarities we have noted above would not be confined to the beginning and end of the tales. The greater or less unevenness of which we are always aware in passing from the introduction to the story which follows, is clearly the joint by which an older written source is united to the Deuteronomic preface.

If the author employed written sources, our next inquiry is, whether he made his choice among single tales or different collections of tales, or whether he took them all from some one older book. This question cannot be answered with entire certainty; it is quite conceivable that the cycle of stories about Samson, for instance, may have existed separately; but it is demonstrable, I think, that the author had before him an older work in which the exploits of a considerable number of the Israelite heroes were narrated;[1] and if this is true, it may very well be that this collection was his only source. It is easier to understand how a story like that of Samson should have been included in the Deuteronomic Book of Judges, if the author found it in the earlier work on which he based his own, than to imagine that he introduced it for himself from some other source.


A more minute examination of the introduction to the book (26–36), and of the setting of the several stories, especially those of Gideon (61–10) and Jephthah (106–16), brings out the fact that these parts of the work are not entirely homogeneous. The numerous repetitions and duplications, and the differences in point of view and phraseology, which, though slight, are unmistakable, show that more than one writer has had a hand in the composition.[2] Of this fact, which is recognized by most recent critics, two explanations may be given. One is, that the author or editor of the present Book of Judges, in incorporating 26–1631 in his own work, dwelt upon and emphasized the moral lessons of the history which his predecessor had enforced; the lack of unity and

  1. See next §.
  2. See the commentary on the passages indicated, and esp. p. 63f., 175 f., 181f. 275f.