Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/741

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lowed that the book of Jonah, so far from being the work of the prophet himself, can not have been written until the Assyrian Empire was a thing of the past; that the book of Daniel contains serious mistakes; that the so-called historical chapters of that book so conflict with the monuments that the author can not have been a contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus; that "the story of Belshazzar's fall is not historical"; that the book must have been written at a period later than that of Alexander the Great; and that it associates persons and events which are really many years apart. He also acknowledged that the book of Esther "contains many exaggerations and improbabilities, and is simply founded upon one of those same historical tales of which the Persian chronicles seem to have been full." Great was the dissatisfaction of the traditionalists with their expected champion; well might they repeat the words of Balak to Balaam, "I took thee to curse mine enemies, and behold! thou hast blessed them altogether."[1]

No less fruitful have been modern researches in Egypt. While, on one hand, they have revealed a very considerable number of geographical and archæological facts proving the good faith of the narratives entering into the books attributed to Moses, and have thus made our early sacred literature all the more valuable, they have at the same time revealed the limitations of the sacred authors and compilers. They have brought to light facts utterly disproving the sacred Hebrew date of creation and the

  1. For Prof. Brown's discussion, see his Assyriology, its Use and Abuse in Old Testament Study, New York, 1885, passim. For Prof. Sayce's views, see The Higher Criticism and the Monuments, third edition, London, 1894, and especially his own curious anticipation, in the first lines of the preface, that he must fail to satisfy either side. For the declaration that the "higher critic" with all his offenses is no worse than the orthodox "apologist," see p. 21. For important admission that the same criterion must be applied in researches into our own sacred books as into others, and even into the mediæval chronicles, see p. 26. For justification of critical skepticism regarding the history given in the book of Daniel, see pp. 27, 28, also chap. xi. For very full and explicit statements, with proofs, that the "Sabbath," both in name and nature, was derived by the Hebrews from the Chaldæans, see pp. 74 et seq. For a very full and fair acknowledgment of the "Babylonian element in Genesis," see chap, iii, including the statement that the expression in our sacred book, "The Lord smelled a sweet savor," at the sacrifice made by Noah, is "identical with that of the Babylonian poet," and "it is impossible to believe that the language of the latter was not known to the biblical writer," on p. 119. For an excellent summary of the work, see Dr. Driver's article in the Contemporary Review for March, 1894. For the inscription on the Assyrian tablets relating in detail the exposure of King Sargon in a basket of rushes, his rescue and rule, see George Smith, Chaldæan Account of Genesis, Sayce's edition, London, 1880, pp. 319, 320. For the derivation of the Hebrew Sabbath, not only the institution but the name, from the Chaldæan, see ibid., p. 308. For various other points of similar interest see ibid., passim, especially chaps, xvi and xvii; also Jensen, Die Kosmologie der Babylonier, and Schrader, The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament; also Lenormant, Origines de l'Histoire.