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CHAPT ER III,

FALLA ,CIES OF TiqE HI GHER CRITICISM.

BY FR ..t\.NKLIN

JOHNSON,

D. D.), LL. D~

The erro~s of the high ,er criticism of which I shall wri,te 1


pertain to its very substance. Those of a secondary charactet 1
the limits of my space forbid me to consider. My discussion <
might be greatly expanded by ,additional masses l of illustra- 1
tive n1aterial, and henc e I close it W'ith . a list of bool{s whic h t
I recommend to persons who may wish to pursue the subject <
further.

i
1

DEFINITION

OF ''THE I-IIGHER CRITICIS11.''

,(

As an introdu ction to the fundamental fallacie s of the


higl1er criticism, let me state what the higher criticism is, and
then what the higher critics tel1 us , they have, a chieved.
The name ''the higher criticism'' was coined by Eichhorn, j
who lived .from 1752 to 1827. Zenos,* after careful co11' ~
sideration, adopts the definition of the name given by its t
author: ''The discovery and verification of the facts regard' 1
in.g the origin, form and value o.f literary production s upon s
the basis of their inter11al characters.''
Tl1e higher critics ,are c
not blind to some other sources of argument. Th.ey ref er to r
histo ,ry where they can gain any polem ic advantage by do,ing i
so,. The background of the entire picture which they bring a
to us is the assumptio n tha t the hypothesis of evolution is i'
true. But after all their chief appeal is to the supposed evi~ l
I
dence of the documents themselves.
Other na ,1nes fot the ,movement have been sought. It has f
been calle d the ''historic view," o,n tl1e as,sumption that it rep"' f
resents the real hi,st ory of the Hebrew peopl e as it m11sthave ,
unfolded its ,elf by the order1y proce ,sses of l1un1an evolutiot1,,
d
*''The Elements of the Higher Crjticism~''
1

48

Fallacies of tlie Hig1her Criticism.

49

But, as the higher critics con tradict tl1e testim ony 0 all the
He brew historic documents which profess to be early, their
theory might better be called the ''u11historic view.'' The higher criticism has sometimes been called the ''documentary l1ypothesis." But as all schoo,ls of criti.cism and all doctrin,es of
e inspiration are equally h.ospitable to the sqpposition that tl1e
t biblical writers may have consulted documents, and may have
~ quoted them, the higher criticism ha s no special right to thi s
title. We must fall back, therefore, upon the name ''the high1 er criticism'' as the very best at our disposal, and upon the
t definition of it as chiefly an inspectio ,n of literary productions
in order to ascertain their dates, . their authors, and their value,
as they tl1emselves,. inte rpr eted in the light of the hypothesis
, of evolution, may yield the evidence.
iJ

''ASSURED RESULTS" OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM.

I turn 110w to ask what the higher critics p,rof ess to have
1
found out by this method of study . The ''assured resuits'' on
' which they congratulate tl1emselves are stated variously. In
radical than that given the m in Germany, though sufficiently
J, startling and destructive to arouse vigorous protest and a vig' orous demand for the evidences, which, as we shall see, have
' not been produced and cannot he produ ced. Tl1e less star tling
~ form of the ''assured results'' usually announced in England

' tty in these countries. Yet it should be noticed that there are
higher critics in this country and England who go beyond the
. principal "German representatives of the school in their zeal
' for the dethronement of the Old Testament and the New, in so
far as the se holy books are presented to the world as the very
: Word of God, as a special revelation from heaven.
' The following statement from Zenos* may ser-ve to introduce us to the more moderate form of the ''assuied results''
*Page 205.

50

The Fundam entals.

reached by the higher critics. It is concerning the analysi of


the Pentateuch, or rather of the Hexateuch, the Book of Joshua
being included in the survey. " The Hexateuch is a composite
work whose origin and history may be traced in four distinct
stages : ( 1) A writer designated a J. J ahvist, or J ehovist, or
J udean prophetic historian, composed a history of the people
of Israel about 800 B. C. (2) A writer designated as E. Elohist, or Ephraemi te prophetic historian, wrote a similar work
some fifty years later, or about 750 B. C. These two were
used separately for a time, but were fused together into JE
by a redactor [an editor], at the end of the seventh century.
( 3) A writer of different character wrote a book constituting
the main portion of our pre sent Deuteronomy during the reign
of Josiah, or a short time before 621 B. C. This writer is
designated as D. To his work were added an introduction and
an appendix, and with these accretions it was united with JE
by a second redactor, constituting JED. ( 4) Contemporaneously with Ezekiel the ritual law began to be reduced to writing. It first appeared in three parallel forms. These were
codified by Ezra not very much earlier than 444 B. C., and
between that date and 280 B. C. it was joined with JED by a
final redactor. Thus no less than nine or ten men were . engaged
in the production of the Hexateuch in its present form, and
each one can be distinguished from the rest by his vocabulary
and style and his religious point of view."
Such is the analysis of the Pentateuch as usually stated in
this country. But in Germany and Holland its chief representatives carry the division of labor much further. Wellhausen
distributes the total task among twenty-two writers, and Kuenen among eighteen. Many others re solve each individual writer
into a school of writers, and thus multiply the numbers enor-mou sly. There is no agreement among the higher critics concerning thi s analy sis and therefore the cautious learner may
well wait till those who represent the theory tell him just what
it is they desire him to learn.

Fal.la.cie.s of tlie Higher Criticism.

51

While some of the "assured results'' are tl1us in doubt, ccrw


tain things are matters of general agreement. Moses wrote lit- .
tie or nothing, if he ever existecl. A large part of the Hexateuch consists of unhi storical legends. We may grant that
~ Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael and Esau existed, or we may
deny this. In either cas~, what is recorded of them is chiefly
mytl1. These deni ,als of the trutl1 of the \Vritten records follow as matters of cour se from the late dating of tl1e books,
and the assumption that the writers could set down only th!
national tradition.
They may l1ave worked in part as collec ~
tors of written stories to be found here and there; but, if so,
these written stories were not ancient, and they were diluted
by stories transmitted orally. The se fragments, whether written or oral, must have followed the general law of national traditions, and have presented a mixture of legendary chaff, witl1
here and there a grain of historic truth to be sifted out by careful winnowing.
, Thus far of the Hexateuch.
The Psalms are so full of r efere11ces to the Hexateuch
tl1at they must have been written after it, and hence after' the
captivity, perhaps beginning about 400 B. C. David may pos-:
sibly have written one or two of them, but probably he wrote
none, and the strong conviction of the Hebrew people that he
was their greatest hymn-writer was a total mistake.
These revolutionary processes are carried into the New
Testament, and that also is found to be largely untrustworthy
as history,
as do~trine, and as ethics~ though a very good book,
,.
since it gives expression to higl1 ideals, and thus ministers to
the spiritual life. It may well have influence, but it can have
110
divine authority.
The Christian reader should consider
carefully this invasion of the New Testament by the higher
criticism. So Jong as the movement was confined to the Old
Testament tnany good Illen looked on with indifference, not
reflecting that the Bible, tho ,ttgh containing ''many parts'' by
many writers, and though recording a progressive revelation ,

52

TJze Fundamentals.

is, after all, one book. But the limits of the Old Testament
have long since been overpassed by the higher critics, and it is
demanded of us that we abandon the in1memorial teaching of
the church concerning the entire volume. The picture of
Christ which tl1e New Testa1nent sets before us is in many
respects mistaken. The doctrines of primitive Christianity
wl1ich it states and def e11ds were ,vell enougl1 for the time,
but have no value for us today except as they commend
themselves to our independent judgment.
Its moral precepts
are fallible, and v.re should accept them or reject them freely,
in accordance with the greater light of the twentieth century .
Even Christ could err concerning ethical qttestions, and neitl1er
His commandments nor His example need constrain us.

The foregoing 1nay serve as an introductory sketch, all too


brief, of the higher criticism, and as a basis of the discussion
of its fallacies, now immediately to fallow.

FIRST FALLACY:

THE ANALYSIS

OF THE PEITTATEUCH .

I. The first fallacy that I shall bring forward is its analysis of the Pentateuch.

1. We cannot fail to observe that these various documents


and their various authors and editors are only imagined. As
Green* has said, ''There is no evidence of the existence of
these documents and redactors, and no pretense of any, apart
from the critical tests wl1ich l1ave determined the analysis. All
tradition and all historical testimony as to the origin of tl1e
Pentateuch are against them. 'fhe burden of proof is wholly
upon tl1e critics. And this proof should be clear and convincil}.g in proportion to the gravity and the revolutionary character of the consequences ,vhich it is proposed to base upon it.''
2. Moreover, \ve kno\v ,vl1at can be done, or ratl1er what
cannot be done, in the analysis of composite literary productions. Some of the pla) S of Shakespeare are called his ''mi~ed
plays,'' because it is kno,vn that he collaborated with another
1

*''Moses and His Recent Critics,'' pages 104, 105.

Fallacies of the I l igher Criticism. .

author in their pro dt1ction . Th e vei )r keenest critic s have


sought to separa te his pa 1t in the se plays fro m the rest, b11t
tl1ey co,n fess that the r esul t is uncertainty and dis sat is faction.
Coleridge pro fesse d to distingu ish the passages cont ributed by
Shake spea re by a pro cess of feeling , but Macaulay pro nounced
this claim to be nonsense, a11dthe entire effort, whether ma de
by the analysis of ph ra seology and style, or by esthetic perce p~
tions; is an ad n1itte d fa ilure. And t11is in spite of the fact
that the style ,of Shal<espeare is one of the most peculiar and
inimitable. The Anglican Prayer Boole is anothet cotnposi te
production which the higher critics have often been invited to
analyze and dist.ribute to its various sottrces. Some 0 f the
authors of these sources lived centuries .apart. They are now
Wei.I known fr ,om t.he stt1dies of historians. , But the P raye r
Book itself does not reveal one of them, though its various
vocabularies and styles have been carefully interrogated. Now
if the analysis Of the Pentateuch can lead to such certaintie s,
why should not the analysi s of Shakespeare and the Prayer
Book do as much? How can men accomplish in a foreign lan~age what they cannot accomplish in th,eir own? How can
they accomplish in a dead language what they cannot accom. plish in a living language? How can they distinguish ten or
eighteen or twenty-two Collaborators in a small literary produc tion, when .they cannot distingui sh t,vo? These questions have
been asked many times, but the higher critics have given no
an,swer wh.at eve-r, pref ierring the ~afety of a learne,d s.ilence;
''The oracles are dumb.''
3. Much has been made of differences of vocabulary in the
Pentateuch, and elaborate lists of words have been assigned to
each of the supposed authors. But the se distinctions fade away
when subjected to careful scrutiny, and Driver admits that ''the
phraseoiogical criteria * * * are slight.'' Orr,* who quotes
1
tI is testimony, adds, ''They are slight, in fact, to a degree of
tenuity ' that of ten makes the recital of them .app,ear like trifling.''
.
.
1

54

The Fitndamentals.

'

SEC'OND F ALLA,CY: Tl-IE T'HE0 RY OF EV0 LUTION


PLIED TO LITERAT 'URE AND RELIGION.
1

AP-

II. A second f undamen tal fallacy of the higher criticism is


its dependence on the theory of evolution as the explanat .ion
of the history of literature and of religion. The progress of
tl1e higher cri ticism towards its present state has been rapid
1
and assured since \Tatke discovered in tl1e Hegelian ph.ilosophf
of evolut .io,n a means . of biblical critic.ism. TJ1e Spenceriail
philosophy of evolution, aided and reinforced by Darwinism, has add ed greatly to the confidence of the higher critics,
As Vatke, one of the earlier members of the school, made the
hypothesis of evolution the .guiding presupposition of his crit2
ical work, so today does Professor Jordan, th e very latest representative o,f the higher criticism. ''The nineteenth century/'
he declares, ''has applied to the history of the doct1ments of
th e Hebr ,ew peopl,e it.s 0 Wll magic word, evolution~ T'he.
thought represented by that popular word has been found to
have a r,eal meaning in our investigations regardi11g, the relig~
ious life and the theological beliefs of Israel,'' Thus, were
there :no hypothesis of evo,lution, there would be no highet
criticis ,m. The ''assured resttlts'' of the high.er criticism hav'e
been gained, after all, not b,y an inductive study of the biblical .
books to ascertain if they present a great variety of styles and
vocabula ri es and religiott.s points of view. They have beell
attained by assuming that the l1yp,otl1esis of evolution . is true ,
and that t l1e religion ,of ' Israel must have unfolded itself by
a process of natural evolution. Tl1ey have been attained b)'
an intere st ed cross-examination of the biblical books to con4f
strain tl1em to admit tl1e hypothesi s of evolution. Tl1e imag
ination has played a large part in the process, and tl1e so-called
evidences. u.pon w'hich the ''assured results'' re,st are 1argel1
..
.
1

t~agina ry.

But the hypothesis of evolution, when applied to the his1


,

,
1''Die Biblische The ,ologie Wissenschaftlich Dargestellt.
2''Bib 'lical Critici sn1 and Modern Tl1,ought,'' T .. and 'T. Cla,rk,, 1909,
,I

..

55

Fallacies of ,the Highe Criticism .

tory of literature, is a falla ,cy~ leaving us utterly unable to


account for Homer, or Da ,ate, or Shakespeare, the greatest
~oef~ of the world, yet all o,f '.them writi~g in the dawn of tne
great literatures of the world. It is a fallacy wlien ap.P.lied to
the history of religion, leaving us utterly unable to account tor
Abraham and Moses and Christ, and requiring us to dr.ny tliat
tHe}tc0uld have been such men as the Bible declares them to .
h.a-v:e
been. The hypothesis is a f allaCy when applied te tile
history
of
the
human
race
in
general.
Our
race
has
made
p~og.
ress under the influence of supernatural revelation; but progFess under the influ,ence of supernatural revelation is one thing,
and evolution is another. . Buckle* undertook to account
for
,.
history by a thorough-going application of the hyp().thesis of
evolution to its problems; but no historian today believes that
he succeeded in his effort, and his work is universally :regarded
as a br,i,l,liant euriosity. 'fh ,e types of ' evol,tition advocated by
different liigher critics ate widely different from one another~
varyin,g f r,om the pure natt1rralism.of W e,1,lhausen to th,e tecognition of some f eeDle r:ays Ofsupernatural revelation; but the
hypothesis of evolution in any form, when applied tc;>human
history, blinds us anG renders us incapable of beli0lding the
glory of God in its more signal ma .nifestations.
.

THlRD FALLACY:

THE BIBLE A NATURAL BOOK

III. A thir-d fallacy of the higher critics is the doctrine


concerning the Scriptures which they tea ch. If a consistent
hypothesis of evolution is made the basis of our :religious
thinking, the Bible will be regarded as only a pFoduct of huma~
nature working in the field of religious literature. It will he
merely a natural book. If there are higher critics who recoil
from this application of the hypothesis of evolution and who
seek to modify it by recognizing some special evidences 0 the
divine in the Bible, the inspiration of which they speak rises
but little higher than the providential guidance of the w.Mters.
1

*'~H1
st ory o f

c1,v1"l'1zat101n

..

1
11

E ng 1an d-.''

.56

'Tl1e church doctri11e of the f11ll ins,piration of the Bible is


almost never held by the higher critics of any class, even of
the more bel.ieving. Here an d there we may discover one ,and
ano ther who try to save so1ne fragments of the church doc. trine, but they are few and far between, and the salvage to
which they cling is so small and poor that it is scarcely worth
while. Througl1out their ranl<s the stor m of opposition to the
sttperna tural in all its forms is so fierce as to leave little place
for the faith of the church that the Bible is the very Word
of Go d to tnan. , But the fallacy of this denial is e,v.ident to
every believer who r,eads the Bible with an open min1d. He
kno ,ws by an immediate consciousness that it is the prod uct of
the Holy Spirit. As the sheep know the voice of tI1e shep~
herd, so the matur e Christian knows that the Bible speaks with
a divine voic.e~ On this ground eve1y Chr ,istian can test the
value of the higher criticism for himself. The Bible manifests
itself to the spiritual perception of the Christian as in t.he fL1II~
est sense human, and in the fullest sense divine. This is tr t1e
o,f the Old Te stament, as well as of the New.
1

FOURTH FALLACY:

THE MIRACLES DENIED.

th ,e higher critics i.s f,ound in


their teachings concerning the biblical miracles. If the hypothesis of evolution . is appli ed to the Scriptures Consistently, it
will. lea,d us to deny, all the miracles which they rec,ord. But
if applied timidly and waveringly, as it is by some of the English and American higher critics, it will lead us to deny a
large part c,. the miracles, and to inject as much 0 the natural a.s is any w,ay po ssible into tl1e rest . We s,halI strai11
ou t as mt1ch of the gn .at of the supe rnatu1al as we can, and
swallow as much of the camel of evoltttion , as we can. vVe
shall probably reject all the miracl .es of tl1e Old Testa1nent,
explaining some of then1 as popt1lar legends , and otl1er a
co,i11cidences. In the New Testame11t we sha ll pick and ch,oose
a11d no two of us will agree concerning those to be rejected

IV.

Yet another fallacy

57

1al/aciesof the I-lighcr Criticism .

and those to be accepted.


If the higher criticism shall be
,adopted as the doctrine rof the church, believers] wil.l be left in a
distressing state of doubt and uncertainty concerning the narrative s of the fo ur Gospels, and unbelievers will scoff and mock.
A theory which leads to such wanderings of thought regard must
be
fallacious.
God
ing
the
supernatural
in
the
Scriptures

is no,t a God of co,nf usio11.


Among the higher critics who accept some of the miracles
there is a notable desire to discredit the virgin birth of our
Lord, and their treatment of this event presents a good example of tl1e fallacies of reasoning by means of which they would
abolish many of the other miracles. One feature of their argument may suffice a,s .an exhibition of all. It is the search for
~arallels in tl1e pagan mythologies. There are many instances
'tn the pagan stories of the birth of men from human mothers
and
divine
fathers,
and
the
higl1er
critics
would
create
the

impression that the writers who reco ,rd the birth of Cnrist
were influenced by these fables to emulate th.em, and thus to
secure for Him the honor of a celestial paternity.
It turns
out, however, that these pagan fables do not in any case pre sent to us a virgin mother; the cl1ild is alwa,ys the product
of commerce with a god who assumes a ht1man form for the
1
purposle. The d espair , of the higl1er criti .cs in t'his hunt for
events of the same kind is well illus ,trated by Ch e,yne,* who
cites tl1e record of the Babylonian king Sargon, about 3,800
B. C. This monarch represe11ts himself as having ''been born
of a poor mother in secret, and as not knowing his father."
There have been many millions of such instances, but we do
Nor does the BaDynot think of the mother ~ as virgins.
lo,nian story affirm that the mother of Sargon was a virgi11,
Oir ~ven that his fath er was a, g od. It is plain that Sargon
did not intend to claim a supernatural origin, for, after saying that he ''did . not know his father, '' he adds that ''the
brother of his f.ather Jived in the rt1ountains.'' It was a case

*''Bible Problems,'' p.a,ge 86..

1
,r

58
like n1uttitudes of others in "vhich childrer1, early orpl1an,ed,
have not known their fathers, bttt hav e known tl1e relation9
This statement of Sargon I quote f1om a
of tl1eir fathers.
tran slation of it n1ade by Cheyne himself in the ''Encycle:r
pedia Biblica.'' He continue s, ''There is reas.on to , suspect that
something similar was originally sa id by the Israelites of
Mose s.' ' To substantiate this he add , ''Se e Encyclopedia Biblica, 'Moses,.' section 3 with note 4.." On turni11g to this ref.erence t~e reader fi11ds
. t'hat the .article was written by Cheyne
himself,, and that it contain s 110 evidence whatever. ,
1

FIFTH

FALLA CY:
1

THE TESTIM 0NY 0F ARCHAE 0LOGY


DENIED.
1

V. The limitation of the field of research as far as pos"


sible to the biblical book as literary productions l1as retl"
dered many of the higher critics reluctant t 0 admit the new
light derived from archaeolo gy. This is granted by Cheyne."
''I have no wish to deny,'' he says,, ''that the so-called ~highet
critics' in the past were as a rule suspicious of Assyriology as
a young, and, as they thought, too self-assertive . science, and
th.at many of tho se. who no,w recognize its con.tribt1tion,s to
knowledge are somewhat too mechanical in the use of it, a11d
too skeptical as to the influence of Babylonian culture in reta~
tively early time s in Syria, Palestine an ,d even Arabiaj''
ThiS
grudging recognition 0f tl1e te stimo ny of archaeology may ~
observed in several detail s.
1. It was said that tl1e Hexateuch must have been fo1111e
chiefly 'by the gathering up of oral traditions, because it i
not to , be suppo sed that the early Hebrews pos sesse d the art
of writing and of keeping records. But the entire progress of
archaeological study refutes tl1is. n pa1ticular the discover>'
of the Tel el-Amarna tablet s has sho wn that writing in cunei
.s an,d. in th,e Assyrio-Baby]onian language wa
for1n c11a1acte1
comn1on to tl1e e11tire biblical wor ld long before the exodt1
1

*''Bible Prob letns,'' pao-e 142.

- -----=--~

--

--

------ - - - -

--- -

Fallac,ies of tlte HigJie1' Criticisnt.

59

The discovery was tnade by Egyptian peasants in 1887. There


a1"e more than three hundr ed tab lets, which came from variot1s lands,, including Babylonia and P1
al.estine . Q,th,er find .s
l1ave added tl1eir testimony to tl e fact that writing and the
p1eserv ati.on of reco1ds wer e tl1e peculiar pas ,sions of the an-c-iient civiliz ed World, Under the , co,nstraint of the overwhelm ing evidences, Professor Jordan writes as follows:
''The
question as to tl1e age of writing never played a great part
in the discussion.''
He falls back on the supposition that the
'
nomadic life of the early Hebrews w oul d prevent . them from
acquiring the art of writing. He treats us to such reasoning
as the following: ''If the fact that writing is very old is such
., po iwerfu1 argument when taken alo,ne, it mig ht enab1e you to
prove th ,at Alfr ,ed the Gte,at w1..ote Shakespeare's p1ays,."
2. It wa s easy to treat Abraham as a mythical figure
,vl1en the early records of Baby lonia were but little known.
The entire coloring of those chapters of Genesis which ref er
to Mesopotamia could be regarded as the product of the imag ination. Tl1is is no longer the case. Thus . Clay,* writing of
Genesis 14, says : ''The tl1eory of tl1e late origin of all the
. Hebrew Scriptures prompted the Critics to declare this narra-
ttve to 'be a pure i11vention of a later H ebrew writer. * * *
The patriarchs were relegated to the . reg io,n of myth and
legend. Abraham \vas made a fictitious father 10 the Hebrews.
. * * * Even the po litical situatio1 1 was declared to be incon sisten t with fact. * * * Weighing carefully the position
taken by the critics in the light of what has been revealed
thro ,ugh the decipl1erment of the cuneiform inscriptions, we
find that the very foundations upon which their theories rest,
with reference to the point s that could be te sted, totally disapip ,ear. T 'he trutl1 is, tl1at wl1e1
,ever a11y1ight l1as 'been tl1rown
upon the subje .ct throu .gl1 excav,ations1, their l1yp otheses have
.1 .
..
nvar1ably been found wanting.''
Bttt the higl1er er1tics are
1

II

*''Light
1

on the Old Test ame11t from Bab,et. 1907. C'la~ is Assistant


P rofessor an,d Ass ,istant Curator iof the Baby lo nia11 Section, Depart11er1t of ArchaeoloJUt, in the Univers ity ,of' Pennsylvania .

still reluctant to admit this 11ewlight. Tht1 s Kent says, 'Tl1e


pri tnary value of tl1ese storie s is didactic and reli giou s, ratt-1e
r
than historical .''
3. T'l1e books ,of Jo shua and Jt1dge s hav e been re g arde d by
the higher critic s as unh istoric al on the grou1td th at their por ..
traiture of the political, reli gious, and social condition of P'al
estine in the. thirteenth centu1 y B. C. is incredible. This can ...
not be said any long er, for the recent excavations in Palestine
have shown us a land exactly like tl1at of these boolcs. The
portraiture is so precise, and is drawn out in so many rnin11te
lin eaments, that it cannot be the product of oral tradition
floating down thr ough a thousand years. In w11at details tl1e
accuracy of the biblical picture of early Palestine is ex hibit ed
2
may be seen perhaps best in the excavation s by Macalister a.t
Ge.zer. Here again there are absolutely no discrepancies
between the Land and the Book, for tl1e L and lifts up a tl1ou...
sand voices to testify that the Bo,ok is history and not legend.
4. It was held by the higher critics that the legi slation
which we cal .I. Mosaic could n.ot have been p r '0 duce d b,y Moses,
since his age was too early for such codes. This reasoning
was completely negatived by the discovery of the Code of
8
Hammurabi, the Amraphe1 of Genesis 14. This code is vet~
differ ent f :ro 1n tl1.at of Mos es; it is more systematic; and it i.s
at least seven hundred years earlier than the Mosaic legisla-1

ti,on.

In short, from the origin of the h igher criticism till tl1i!,


present tiQte the discoveries in the field of archaeology have
given it a successioti. of serio u s blows. The l1igber critics w re
shocked when the passion of the ancient world for writing and
the preservation of docume nts was discovered. Th ~ y were
shocked when primitive Babylonia appeared as the land of
Abraham. They were shocked when early Palestine appeared as
the land of Joshua and. the Judges. They were shocked whefl
1Biblica,l World, Dec., 1906.

2''Bible Side-Lights from the i i ound ,of G,ezer~t


'
a()n this matter see any dictionary 0 the Bible , art~ ~,Amraph el~.'
1

...

I
I

61

Fallacies of the Higher Criticism

Amraphel came back from tl1e g1aveas a real historical characte.r,, beari ng,l1iscode of laws. They were sho cke.d wl1en the .stele
of the Pharaoh of the eX.Odus was read, a11dit was proved that
he knew a people called Israel, that they had no settled place
of abode, that t]1ey were ''without grain'' for food, and that
in these particulars they were quite as they are represented by
the S,criptures to l1ave been wl1en tl1ey had fled from Egypt
into the wilderness.* Tl1e embarrassment created by these
discoveries 'is manifest in many o.f the recent writings of the
higher critics, in which, however, tl1ey still cling heroically to
their analysis and their late dating of the Pentateuch and their
confidence, in the hypo ,t'hes.is of' evolution as tl1e key of al l
history.
.
1

SIXTH

FALLACY:

THE

PSALMS WRITTEN
EXILE.

AFTER

THE

VI. The Psalms a.re usually dated by the higher critics


after the exile. The great majority of the higher critics are
agreed here, and tell us th ,at thes ,e varied a,nd touching and
magnificent lyrics of religious experience all come to us from
a period l,ater than 450 B. C. A few of the critic ,s admit an
earlier origin of three or f our of tl1em,but they do this waVeringly, grudgingly, and against the general consensus of opi11ion among their fellows. In the Bible a very large number
of the Psalms are ascribed to David, and these, with a few
insignificant and doubtful exceptions, are denied to him and
brought down, like the rest, to the age of the second temple.
This leads me to the following observations:
1

*The higher critics usually . slttr over this remar1-cab1einscription,


and give u,s neither an accurate translation nor a natural interpreta!ion of it. I have , therefore, sipec.ial pleasure in quoting th,e follow1ng 'r om D,r ,iver, ''Authority and Archaeology,'' page 61 : "'Whereas
the other places named in the inscription all have the determinative
for 'country,' Ysiraal has the d,eterminative for 'men': it follows that
the referenc ,e is not to the land . of Isra ,el, but to Israel as a tribe or
P:ople, whether migratory, or on the march~', Thus tbis distinguished
higher critic sanctions the view of tI1e reeord which I have adoptedo
,He represents Maspero a11d Naville ,as doing the same .
1

.,

62

,,

..

1. Who wrote the Psal111s? Here the higl1e1 critics have


no answer. Of the peri o,d fro111 400 to 175 B,. ,c. we are ill
al111ost total igno rance~ Jo,sepht1s kn.ows, .almo st n.othing about
it, nor has any other writer told us more. Yet, according to
the theory, it was precisely in these centuries of silence, whell
tlrie Jews had no gre,a.t writ ers, that they pro dt1ced th,is magnifice11toutburst of sacre ,d song .
2. This is the more remarkab ,le when we consider the well
known men to whom the tl1eory deni es the autl1orship , of a11
,y
of the Psal111s.
. The list i:ncludes such names as Mo,ses,, David,
San1uel, Nathan, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the long list
of preexilic prophets. We are asked to believe that th,ese men
co1np0.sed no P .sa1ms., and that the en tir e ,collec,tio n was conll!
tributed by men so obscure that th,ey have left no single na1ne
by which we can identify th em with their work .
.3. Thi s, will appear still more extr .a,ordina1-y if we co11
sider the times in which, it is said, no Psalms were produced,
and contrast them with the times in which all of tl1em were
produced ,. The times in which no,ne were produced were the
g ,reat tim es, the times of growtl1, of mental ferment., of ,co11quest, of imperial expansion, of disast ,er, arid of recovery. Tl 1e
times in whicl1 none were produced were tl1e times of the
splen,djd temple o,f Solomon, . with its s.ple:ndi,d worship. 'TI1e
tin1es in which none were prod .uced were the heroic ti1nes of
Elijah and Elisha, when the people of Jehovah struggled for
their existence against the abominations of the pagan gods,
On the other h,and, t'he times whicl1 ac.tually produced th,e111
were the times . 0 growing legalism, of obscurity, and of inferior abilitie s. All this is incredible. We could believe it only
if we first came to believe that the Psalms are works o,f slight
literary and religious value. This is actually done by Well
hausen, who says,,* ''They certainly are to the sm .allest e tent
original ., a'nd , are for 'the most part imit1ations which illttstrate
the saying abot1t much writing.', The Psal1ns are not all 0f atl
4

l)Quoted by Orrt ''The Problem o,f


r

t]1e

Old Testament,~, page 43,5..

63

Fallacies of the Higher c, ,itici.sm..

equally high degree of excellence, and there are a few of them


which might give some faint color of justice to this depreciatio,n of the entire collection.. But as a whol e they are exactly
the reverse of this picture. Furthermore, they contain absolutely no legalism; but are as free from it as are the Sermon
on the Mot1nt and the Pauline epistles. Yet further, the writ:ers stand out as personalities, and they must have left a deep
imp r ession upon their fellows. Finally, they were full of
the fire of genius kindled by the Holy Spirit. It is impossible
for us to attribute the Psa.lms to the unknown m,ediocrities of
tl1e period which followed the restoration.
4. Very many of the Psalms plainly appear to be
ancient. They sing of early events, and have no trace of alltt
s1on to the age which is said to have produced them.
5. The large number of Psalms attributed to David l1ave
attracted the special attention of the higher critics. They are
denied to him on various ground s. He was a wicked man, and
hence incapable of writing these praises to the God of righte- .
ousness. - He was an iron warrio,r and statesman,, and hence not
gif'ted with the emotions found in thes,e productions., Ile wa,,s
so busy with the cares of conquest and administration that he
had no leisure for literary work. Finally, his conception of
God was utterly different from that which moved the psalmists~
The larger part of this catalogue of inabilities is manif est1y erroneous. David, with some glaring faults, and with a
single enormous crime, for which he was profoundly penitent,
w.as one of the nobles,t o, men. He w1as indee,d an iron. warrior and statesman, but also one of the inost emotional of all
great historic characters. He was busy, bttt busy men not
seldom find relief in literary occupations, as Washington, during the Revolutionary War, poured forth a .continual tide of
letters, and as Cresar, Marcus Aurelius, and Gladstone, while
burdened with the cares of empire, composed immortal bool<:s.
The conception of God with which David began his ca.reer was
indeed narrow (1. Sam. 26 :19). But did he learn nothing
1

-~

--

T.lie Fu1idamentals.

in all his I.ater experiences, a.nd his ass,ociati ons with: nol
pr:iests and prophets? He was certainly teac hable: did G
f Ml to make use of him in further revealing Himself to Hi
peo_ple 1 1:o deny these Psalms to David on the giound of h'.i
limited vieWs of God ill his early life, is this not te deny th.a
God ma.de sucaessive revelations of Himself wher.e~er He
found suitable channels?- If., further, we consider the unq.uestioned skill of E>avid in -tl1e, music of his, nation and nis age
( I. Sam. 16 :14-2 5), this will consti tuie a Presupposition in
favor of his interest in sacred song. If, finally, we consider
his personal career of danger and deli\'erance, this will appear
a~. the natural means of awakening in hill:}the spirit of varied
religious poetry, FI.is. times were much like the Elizabethan
~ried, which ministerecl unexampled stimulus to the English

min&
From all thi~ we may; turn to the singIar \i!eri
'dict of Professor ~orel:an: ''if ' a man says he cannot see why D,avid could
not hae written Psalms 51 and 139, you are compe)led to r~ly
as politely as possible that if he did write tnem: then any man
,can write anything.'' So also w:e may say, ''as politely as po-ssiale,'' tnat it Shakespeare, witn his ''sm:tll Latin and les.s
Greek,'' did write ]1is incomparaole dran1as, ''then any man
can write anything' ' ; that if Bickens, witn his mere elementary education, did write his great nove,Is, '' then any man can
w1iteanything''; ,and tnat if Linooln, who had no early school
ing, did write his Ciettysburg address, ''then any ran can wnite
anything.''

SEVENTif F'ALLACY:

DEUTERONOMY N0 :F WR1TTEN B~
MOSES.
1

!:I. One 0 the fixed p@ints of tl1e higher criticism is


'i.ts theory of th.e ori ,gin of lleuteronomy. Jln I., Kings 22 we
Davetile hist0ry of the fi~d.ing of the book o: the law in the
temple, which was being repaired. Now the higher c~itics
pi-esent th,is finding, not ~s the discovery of ' an ancient docu

Fallacies of the Higher Criticism.

65

ment, but as the finding of an entirely new document, which


had been concealed in the temple in order that it might be
found, might be accepted as the production of Moses, and
might produce an effect by its assumed authorship. It is not
supposed for a moment that the writer innocently chose the
fictitious dress of Mosaic authorship for merely literary purposes. On the contrary, it is steadfastly maintained that he
intended to deceive, and that others were with him in the
plot to deceive. This s~tement of the case leads me to the
following reflections:
1. According to the theory, this was an instance of piou
fraud. And the fraud 1nust have been prepared deliberately.
The manuscript must have been soiled and frayed by special
care, for it was at once admitted to be ancient. This supposition of deceit must always repel the Christian believer.
2. Our Lord draws from the Book of Deuteronomy all
the three texts with which He foils the tempter, Matt. 4 :1-11,
Luke 4 :1-14. It must always shock the devout student that
his Saviour should select His weapons from an armory founded
on deceit.
3. This may be called an appeal to ignorant piety, rather
than to scholarly criticism. But surely the moral argument
should have some weight in scholarly criticism. In the sphere
of religion moral impossibilities are as insuperable as physical
and mental.
4. If we turn to consideration of a literary kind it is to
beobserved that the higher criticism runs counter here to the
statement of the book itself that Moses was its author.
5. It runs counter to the narrative of the finding of the
book, and turns the finding of an ancient book into the forgery
9 a new book.
6. It runs counter to the judg1nent of all the intelligent
tnen of the time who learned of the discovery. They judged
the book to have come down fron1 the Mosaic age. and to be
from the pen of Moses. vVe hear of no dissent whatever.

'I'lie F undamental ,s.

7. It . seeks support in a variety of reas~ns, such as style, l

historical discrepancies, and legal contradi~tions,


prove of little sub,stance when examine ii fairly.
'

all of which c
(

EIGHTH FALLACY: THE PRlESTLY LEGISLATION


. .
EN ACTED UNTIL THE EXILE.

1J

NO i

vrn :.

:Another case of ' fargery is found in the ori.gin of


tile priestly legislation, if we are to believe the higher .ctitics, 1
This legislation is c0ntained ~n a large number of passageS 1
scattered through Exodus, Leviticus, and Number~. It has
1
do chiefly with the... ta:bernacle and its worship, with the duties;
of the priests and Levites, and with the relaitions of the peo, ple to the inst~_tutions of religion. It is attributed ta Moses in l
scores of places. It ~as a strong coloring of the Mosaic ag' l
and of the wilderness life. 1t affirms the existenCe of the ta!b-1
ernacle, with an or derly a dministr.ation of the ritual serviees, :
But this is all imagined, for .the legislation .is a late produotioo,
Before the . exile there were temple services and a priesthood,
with cer:tain re . ations concerning them, either or,t or Writ"
ten, and use w:as made of this tradition ; but as a w:hole the leg..
islation was enacted by such. men as Ezekiel and Ezra during :
and
immediately
after
the
e:XileJ
or
about
444
B.
C.
T
.
h
e
name
..
of Moses, ~he fiction of a tabernacle, and the general coloiing
of the Mosaic age, were given it in order to render it authori"
tative 3":ndto secure the ready obedience of the nation. ~ut

now:

1. The moral objection .here is insupevable. The supposi"


tio n of f~rgery, and of forgery so cunning, sOelaborate, an~
so min -ute~ is abhorrent. It the forgery hacl been invented and

execute~ by .wicked men to promote so1ne scheme of selfish"


ness, it would have been less Odious. But when it is presented
to us as the expedient of holy me11, for the advancement of
the religion of .the God of righteousness, which af terwarclS
blossomed out into Christianity, we must vevolt.

2. The theory gives us a portraiture of such men

67

Falla1cies of the Higher Criticism.

of B

.
. 0
aal or of Chemosh ; 1t was certai nly not worthy of the
dishonor
them
when
.
w
e
attribute
~rophets
of
Jehovah
and
we
1t to '
. them and place tl1em upon a Jow plane oii craft and cun. i

'

never beore heard of.

n irksome 1n the extreme, and 1t would not have been lightly

not hear of any revolt, or even of any criticis1n.

ed them in their more moderate forms, that they may be


. een and weighed without the re1narkable extravagances which

at1

r1st1an faith.

. B ,. .
NO MIDDLE GROUN.D. .
.lt u~ lll1ght
we
11ot
accept
a
part
of
this
system
of
thought
.
.

arm and little good .

Tlie Fundame1 ,itals

'

2.

The majority of those who struggle to stand here find


it iippo ,ssible to do so, and give themselves up to the current .
There is intellectual consistency in the ]o,f ty church doctri11e
of inspiration.
There may _he intellectual consistency in the
doctrine that all things have had a natural origin and history,
unde1 the general providence of God, as distinguished froill
His supernatural revelation of Hi1nself through ,holy men, ~
and especially througl1 His co~equal S )n, so that the Bible is
as little supe1natural as the ''Imitation of Cl1rist'' or the ''PiJ ..
grim's Progress.''
But there is no position of intellectal con" (
sistency between these two, and the great mass of those who l
try to pause at various points along the descent are swept 1
down with the current. The natural vie,v of the Scriptures ,
is a sea which ha s been ri sing higl1er for three-quarters of a (
century. Many Christians bid it ,velcome to pour lightly over 1
the walls which the faith of tl1e ehurch has always set up 1
against it, in the expectation that it wi11 prove a healthul ane!l 1
helpful stream. It is already a catarac ~ uprooting, destroying, (
and slaying.

APPEND IX.

Those who wish to study these fallacies further are advised


to read the following books ,:

"The Problem of the Old Testament ,'' a:JJd


''The Bible Und ,er Fire .''
'''Ar,e the Critics Ri.g11t?''
''The Negative Cr:ticis111and the 01d T ,est3"
ment.' '
''The Bible in tl1e Light of Today."

ORR.

It.

MOLLER.
SCHMAUK.

CROSLEGH.

V AR10U 'S AUTHQ ,RS,. ''Lex Mosaica..'''

GREEN.
CHAMBERS .
BLO~IFIELD.
RAVEN.
S YCE.

"The Higher Criticism of the Pentat euch.''


''Moses and His Recent Critics.''
1
"The o ,td Testanient and the New Criticisn1,'
1
' '0 'ld Testament I 11trodu.ction. '
"The Earlv History of the Hebrews.,, ,
1