The New International Encyclopædia/Hexateuch

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The New International Encyclopædia
Hexateuch
Edition of 1905. Written by Nathaniel SchmidtSee also Hexateuch on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

HEXATEUCH (from Gk. ἕχ, hex, six + τεῦχος, teuchos, implement, book). A term used to denote the first six books of the Bible, viz.: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. While Pentateuch (q.v.) as a title of the five books ascribed to Moses, and Octateuch as a designation of these with Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, go back to antiquity, Hexateuch is a modern term that has come into vogue chiefly through Kuenen and Wellhausen. It represents a critical view, according to which the Book of Joshua was compiled from the same sources as the Pentateuch, and once formed with it a separate work. This opinion presupposes the conviction that the Pentateuch is not the work of Moses, but a later compilation from sources of different age, which sources also appear in the Book of Joshua. The existence of such sources is thought to be proved by duplicate accounts of the same events and marked differences of representation, which differences do not occur indiscriminately, but appear in well-defined sections and in combination, a given point of view and certain marked characteristics of language and style invariably being found together. The following sources are now generally recognized: (1) A prophetic narrative, itself a combination of two distinct sources, one using Jehovah (Yahweh) as the divine name and hence commonly called J, the other using Elohim as the name of God and hence called E, the combination being designated as JE. It presents a succession of more or less closely connected narratives, beginning with the creation and extending to the conquest of Canaan. (2) A priestly document (P), covering the same period, but distinguished by the combination of narrative with legal ordinances. It is often called the ‘Priests' Code,’ although the name strictly belongs only to the legislative portions (i.e. certain of the laws in Exodus and those of Leviticus and Numbers). (3) The code of laws known as the ‘Book of the Covenant’ (C; Ex. xxi-xxiii). (4) Another code, the ‘Law of Holiness’ (H; Lev. xvii.-xxvi.). (5) The Book of Deuteronomy (D; also containing certain codes). The work of combination is commonly referred to a ‘redactor’ designated by R. These sources are in turn generally considered as composite, or at least to have undergone successive revisions before being combined into the Hexateuch as we have it. There is difference of opinion concerning the minutiæ of the analysis, the age of the documents, and their relation to each other, and the process or processes by which they have reached their final form. But scholars do not now question the existence of such sources; and they are in substantial accord as to what they are in the main, as indicated above. That the Pentateuch contains post-Mosaic material was seen by some writers as early as the second century, such as Ptolemy the Gnostic, and the author of the Clementine Recognitions. It was shrewdly intimated by Ibn Ezra (died 1167). Through Carlstadt (1520), Du Maes (1574), Pereira (1594), Bonfrère (1625), Hobbes (1651), Peyrère (1655), Spinoza (1670), Simon (1678), and Le Clerc (1685), the facts showing a later authorship of the Pentateuch were brought out. In 1753 Astruc published his epoch-making conjectures as to the documents possibly used by Moses in the compilation of Genesis. He had correctly observed that sections in which Elohim was used as the divine name differed in vocabulary, style, and thought from sections in which the name Yahweh was used, and concluded that they belonged to different documents, though some fragments could not be ascribed to either of these. Before the end of the century Eichhorn (1780) and Ilgen (1798) had further developed the documentary theory, the latter distinguishing between two sources using the name Elohim and leaving it an open question whether there was more than one writer using the name Yahweh, while Geddes (1792-1800) had framed a theory based on the existence of unrelated fragments recognized by Astruc. This theory was introduced in Germany by Vater (1802), and found an exponent in De Wette (1806), whose view that the divine names represented not so much different authors as different ages or schools of religious thought was destined to exercise a wider influence. He also suggested that an earlier epic was supplemented in later times. This led to the supplementary theory championed by Ewald and Tuch (1830). While De Wette himself and Gesenius (1815) still regarded the bulk of the legislation in Exodus and Leviticus as earlier than Deuteronomy, which they placed in the Exile, George (1835) and Vatke (1835) were led partly by a careful analysis of customs and ideas, partly by applying Hegelian principles of historic development, to the conviction that this priestly legislation was later than Deuteronomy, thus anticipating the position now generally held. The reaction led by Ewald against a too mechanical construction of history according to philosophical categories, and in the direction of a stronger emphasis upon personality, brought Hexateuchal criticism back to the documentary theory, while delaying for a time the recognition of Israel's historic development divined by the disciples of De Wette and by Reuss. This scholar in 1850 expressed his conviction that the priestly legislation was later than Deuteronomy, but without a definite conception of the Pentateuchal documents. Hupfeld in 1853 carefully defined the main sources of Genesis, making the necessary distinction between the two writers using the name Elohim. A correct characterization of Deuteronomy was given by Riehm (1854). A clear idea of the Priests' Code could only be obtained after the historical criticism of Reimarus (whose Wolfenbüttel Fragments were published by Lessing in 1777) had been resumed by Colenso (1860) and Nöldeke (1869). Before Nöldeke's work had appeared it was still possible for Graf (1866) to give to the legislative portions a post-exilic date, while leaving the closely allied matter in the pre-Deuteronomic period. This error was corrected by Kuenen (1866). The position reached by Reuss, Graf, and Kuenen was ably defended by Wellhausen (1876). His comparison between the regulations as to sanctuaries, festivals, priestly functions, and revenues in the different codes and between these and the historic and prophetic books was especially convincing. Budde (1883) observed that there was an earlier stratum within the Yahwistic documents which did not know of a deluge. The history of Israel was written from the new standpoint by Stade (1886). Dillmann embodied the results of documentary analysis in his learned commentaries on the books of the Hexateuch (1886-92), though he was unwilling to accept the priority of Deuteronomy except as regards some late additions to the Priests' Code. During the last decade most scholars have come to recognize the essentially post-exilic origin of the Priests' Code. The Book of the Covenant is considered the oldest of the codes and perhaps of the sources. It probably dates from early in the ninth century, B.C. It is generally held that the earlier Elohistic narratives originated in North Israel before the fall of Samaria in B.C. 722. The Yahwistic narratives show a marked preference for Judean heroes, sanctuaries, and traditions; hence many scholars assign them to the Kingdom of Judah before the reign of Josiah; others think they originated in the northern kingdom, but have been worked over in Judah. It is agreed that both the Elohistic and the Yahwistic documents received various additions from time to time. They were combined in the seventh century B.C. The difference of opinion as to their relative age has lost much of its positiveness and importance by the fact that, in case of duplicates, the originality is seen to be sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, and by the shifting of interest from the writers, who, after all, were chiefly collectors of stories, to the narrators who gave them a form and told them at the sanctuaries. It is especially Gunkel (1902) who has called attention to these aspects of the question. While Steuernagel has not won general recognition for his analysis of the Deuteronomic Code, it is commonly maintained that our present book has gone through at least two redactions, and this scholar has made it probable that the work introduced by Josiah as the law of Israel (see Josiah) had itself been compiled from smaller codes embodying decisions by elders, priestly oracles, and acknowledged rules of conduct. The code of Holiness is thought to belong to the time of Ezekiel (c.560 B.C.), and the combination of Deuteronomy and JE probably took place at about the same time. Most uncertainty still prevails in regard to the Priests' Code. While some scholars consider this code as having been introduced by Ezra and afterwards united with Deuteronomy and the earlier code-books (c.400 B.C.), others look upon the Code of Ezra as a compilation containing both the priestly documents and the previously existing ones. The general opinion is that the Priests' Code grew up in Babylon. Eduard Meyer regards Ezra as its author. But the unity of this book has long been questioned. Popper (1862) showed that Ex. xxxv.-xl. and Lev. viii.-x. are by a different hand from that which wrote Ex. xxv.-xxxi. Klostermann (1877) indicated a separate authorship for the Holiness Code (Lev. xvii.-xxvi.). Baentsch (1901) and Berthelot (1901) agree in regarding Lex. i.-vii. and Lev. xi.-xv. as independent minor codes. Graf (1871) and Maybaum (1880) suggested that the priestly writer was only a supplementer of the earlier text. Klostermann (1893) considered this writer as the editor of the Pentateuch. Schmidt (1902) also thinks that the so-called Priestly Document never existed as a separate code, but consists of a collection of laws, illustrative stories, annotations, and comments added to the already existing books by the priesthood in Jerusalem, chiefly during the Persian period. As the Book of Joshua has been subjected to a thorough priestly redaction, while the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings have only been edited by men writing in the spirit of Deuteronomy, the question naturally arises why Joshua should have fared differently from the rest of the ‘former prophets.’ The answer generally given is that the Priestly Document ended with the conquest of Canaan, and that the Book of Joshua was cut off from the once existing Hexateuch. But Eduard Meyer is probably right in holding that there never was any Hexateuch, but that the Law, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings once formed one great historic work. This seems to have been essentially a Deuteronomistic work. The additions made in priestly circles affected some facts more than others. As the section dealing with events up to the death of Moses came to be regarded as ‘the Law,’ the rest formed a class by themselves. The division of the Law into five parts probably does not go back to the time when the Book of Joshua formed a part of the great work. The term Hexateuch is therefore likely to disappear, while the observations that led to its use are seen to be accurate, and the theory framed to account for them is recognized as essentially sound.

Bibliography. Consult the later commentaries on the books of the Hexateuch: the introductions to the Old Testament of Bleek-Wellhausen, Cornill, Driver, König, and Wildeboer; the Hebrew histories of Kittel and Piepenbring, which include discussions of literary sources; the article “Hexateuch” by Cheyne in the Encyclopædia Biblia; id., by Wood, in the Hastings Dictionary of the Bible; Westphal, Les sources du Pentateuch (Paris, 1888-1892); Kuenen, The Hexateuch (Eng. trans., London, 1886); Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuch (Berlin, 1889); Roberttson Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (2d ed., Edinburgh, 1892); Addis, Documents of the Hexateuch (London, 1892-98); Holzinger, Einleitung in den Hexateuch (Freiburg, 1893); Klostermnnn, Beitrage zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Pentateuchs (Leipzig, 1894); Battersley-Carpenter, The Hexateuch (London, 1900); Kautzsch, Die heilige Schrift des Alten Testaments (Freiburg, 1896; Eng. trans., New York, 1899), a clear and concise survey of the sacred literature of the Hebrews. For arguments in support of the traditional view, consult Green, Moses and the Prophets (New York, 1883); id., The Hebrew Feasts (ib., 1886); and the series of articles by Harper and Green in Hebraica, vols. v.-viii. (1886-92). See the articles upon the books of the Hexateuch; also Elohist and Yahwist; Ezra; Ezekiel; Pentateuch.