Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/47

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47
BIBLICAL CRITICISM.

scripture—in differences of style and lexicology, and other linguistic features; it compares the information acquired by history and archaeology;[1] it enters, by an intimate acquaintance with the Hebrew text, into the peculiarities of thought, the psychological conditions, as well as the material environment, of the writers. The results of the present day have been attained by the application of such methods by an unbroken series of erudite Hebraists and profound thinkers from Eichhorn to Wellhausen. Though this sketch is intended only to summarize Rationalistic progress in England, it is absolutely necessary, in this section, to treat of the German schools, in which the progress in Biblical analysis has been mainly achieved.

It is often foolishly objected to the higher criticism by English hearers that it comes from Germany. Apart from the obvious frivolity of the objection (for, whatever may be said of the German systems which come here when they die, the living thoughts of that erudite and energetic nation are of great importance to us), it may be safely answered that German criticism may be traced to an English source. In 1774-8 a number of treatises by Reimarns propagated the ideas of the English Deists throughout Germany; these works, commonly called the "Wolfenbüttel Fragments," had a profound disturbing influence on the younger generation, though even their editor, Lessing, did not approve of the opinions they embodied. That they had an important influence, and thus directly prepared the way for the nascent "higher" criticism, is admitted by such writers as Lechler, Ritschl, Tholuck, and Dorner. Thus the present advanced stage of Biblical criticism in England may be traced back, through the activity in the German schools, to the Deistic teaching of the last century to which it is so often unwisely opposed in a deprecatory sense. In Germany the seed had more favourable conditions for growth. The tyranny of the

  1. Though there is much confusion in contrasting the terms "higher" and "lower" criticism, it is certainly not correct to say that the "higher" criticism is purely internal and philological. In spite of Professor Sayce's assertions, the higher critics do utilize the results of careful research in Assyriology and Egyptology. The "lower" criticism would seem to be a purely mechanical textual criticism, such as Bengel and Wetstein initiated, and Hug, Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf, etc., continue.