Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/50

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50

MODERN RATIONALISM.

Warburton had thrown out certain suggestions in connection with Job and the Song of Songs. Bishop Lowth had deviated a little from the traditional view of the prophets, contending that they spoke primarily to their own time; and Dr. A. Geddes had made a direct attack upon the old theory of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. He held that the Pentateuch had been written or compiled from a number of documents about the time of Solomon in Jerusalem. Dr. Geddes was familiar with the recent speculations on Genesis of his German contemporaries, and his own theory, which differs slightly from Eichhorn's, was taught for a long period in Germany. Westphal calls it the Geddes-Vater theory—it is usually called the "Fragmentary hypothesis," as we shall see. Dr. Geddes was a Roman Catholic priest, but he was suspended from sacerdotal functions when he published his "Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures" in the year 1800. He boldly announced the first postulate of Rationalistic criticism, which is now almost universally conceded: "Let the father of Hebrew be tried by the same rules of criticism as Greek history."

It would be expected that the good seed which was thus planted on British soil at the beginning of the century would have been carefully cultivated by the semi-Rationalistic school which we have seen to be so active in England even in the first half of this century. In point of fact, the history of criticism in England is almost a perfect blank until the appearance of "Essays and Reviews" in 1861; it is relieved only by the appearance of a few unimportant works, such as the "Book of Jasher," by J. W. Donaldson. This sterility, which reflects so little credit on our English universities, now that the results of the brilliant labours of the German scholars are freely accepted within and without the Church, is entirely due to the ecclesiastical and academic authorities.

At the end of the eighteenth century a Cambridge professor, H. Lloyd, meditated a translation of Eichhorn's "Introduction to the Old Testament" that had recently created a profound sensation in Germany. The authorities refused their sanction to the translation, and their opposition led to a decay of the Oriental studies which were absolutely necessary even to keep pace with the learned Germans. Thus it is that neither Hare, nor Dr. Arnold, nor Jowett,