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(incorporated) l82 FIFTH AVENUE

Copyright, 1894, by ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH &• COMPANY






Is the Biblical critic a dangerous, devouring beast ?

A good many think so : at least a good many have an impression to that effect, which is a quite different thing from thinking. Nevertheless, impressions often carry people farther than intelligent opinions ; and just because a mere impression, in seven cases out of ten, is untruthful, and because it cannot give a rational ac- count of itself, and therefore does the more mischief, it needs to be dealt with.


There is a story of a wag who laid a wager that he would break up a country menagerie and circus. Ac- cordingly, when the rustic crowd had duly inspected the elephant and the hyenas, and were seated round the arena eagerly awaiting the entrance of the clown and the bareback rider, he rushed into the ring, wav- ing his hat, and shouting : " Ladies and gentlemen, save yourselves ! The Gy-as-cutus has broke loose ! ! " Dire was the panic that followed ; numerous the bruises and scratches; appalling the damage to bonnets and draperies; but the tent was emptied at last, and the farmers and their wives and daughters were jogging homeward and congratulating each other on their es- cape, when it occurred to some of them to ask : " What is a gyascutus, anyway?"



The story very well illustrates one aspect of the popular attitude towards Biblical criticism. Upon the settled faith and tranquil content of a large body of Christians, breaks the cry, " The higher criticism has broken loose ! " It is charging, head on, with smoking nostrils, against the Bible ! It means destruction to the faith once delivered to the saints. Meanwhile few stop to ask, "What is higher criticism, anyway?" The majority run ; that is, they evade the question with some such irrelevant platitude as u The old Bible is good enough for me." A few more determined souls, never for a moment doubting that higher criticism, whatever it may mean, is something deadly, " set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide," and solemnly affirm that Higher Criticism must be exterminated and the higher critics suppressed.

Might it not be worth while to ask whether there is any reasonable ground for this panic? u What is the gyascutus ? " If we must fight a wild beast it is a great advantage to know the nature and the habits of the ani- mal, and whether he can do all the damage of which he is said to be capable. It is said that the devil, in the form of an ox, once met Cuvier, the naturalist, and threatened to eat him up, whereupon Cuvier replied, " Can't do it: graminivorous!" It might possibly appear, on a closer inquiry, that the Higher Criticism is not, on the whole, an evily disposed beast. It might possibly ap- pear, incredible as it may seem, that he delights to browse in the green pastures of the Word, and to drink of the still waters of Siloa's brook. It might be found quite unnecessary to chain or to muzzle him, even in the dooryards of the defenders of the faith.



If we try to define the impression which largely prevails concerning Biblical criticism, we find that it is substantially this : that criticism of the Bible means picking flaws in the Bible. Criticism, in the popular vocabulary, is synonymous with fault-finding, an utter- ly mistaken and one-sided conception. Again : that criticism of the Bible implies distrust of the Bible, or positive hostility to the Bible : that Biblical criticism is allied to infidelity : that a Biblical critic is a presump- tuous intruder upon holy ground, an ungodly agitator, who is bent on undermining the sacredness and author- ity of Holy Scripture : that his function is, per se, superfluous and reprehensible. " Why," it is asked, " should the Bible be criticised at alii Is it not a sacred book, inspired of God, an infallible manual, to be im- plicitly received and unquestioningly believed? Why cannot the critics let the Bible alone ? "

A few illustrations will show the use which is made of this impression in aggravating the popular sus- picion.

A very eminent living divine was quoted some time ago as saying : " I see the divine authorship of the Bible as plainly as I see the authorship of the stars ; .... and when the critics pick away at the Bible, 1 say, 'Well, it is no great matter; if it gratifies them it does not hurt me. As long as all the universi- ties in the world combined are not able to make another Bible that shall be so cosmical in its range of appeal, and so mighty in its power over men and women, over


mind and heart and life, and over the growing civiliza- tion itself to which it ministers, I rest assured that this is God's book and not man's.' "

This statement is eloquent and telling. Moreover, it tells the truth ; and jet the truth is put in such a way as to create a wrong impression. Any Christian scholar would indorse what is said of the power of appeal and the evidence of divinity residing in the Bible itself, and also the contempt implied for a hostile, petty, captious criticism of the Bible. But the writer makes no dis- tinction between critics. His phrase, " the critics," is sweeping, and the whole passage implies a contemptu- ous tolerance of the Biblical critic as such. I do not assert that the author meant this ; but if he did not, his mode of expression was unguarded.

Another clergyman, also living, stated that in a cer- tain theological seminary the students were told, in the theological lecture-room, the truth about the divine in- spiration and authority of the Scriptures ; but that on coming under the hands of the New Testament pro- fessor, they were told that it was doubtful whether the last twelve verses of the second gospel were written by Mark.

Now both these statements were truthful, and yet they were combined in such a way as to make the whole statement false : that is to say, a contrast was made and emphasized which did not exist except in the writer's imagination. The impression he meant to con- vey was that sound, orthodox teaching in one depart- ment was offset by false and dangerous criticism in the other department. It was a cry of u gyascutus! " The writer was holding up a scarecrow. He may have be-


lieved in it, and have been as much scared as anybody, but it was a scarecrow none the less, and nothing else. Suppose the New Testament professor did say that, as he ought to have done if he did his duty, what of it? What is the gyascutus ? If the accuser did not know that Biblical students for years have observed a striking difference between the diction of those twelve verses and that of the rest of the gospel, leading them to suspect that those verses were by another hand, he was inexcusably ignorant of what, as a seminary gradu- ate and a public teacher of Scripture, he ought to have known. Suppose the verses were by another hand. What difference does it make ? The last verses of John's gospel are by another hand than John's. Moses cer- tainly did not write the account of his own death in Deuteronomy.

A certain professor in another theological seminary stated in his inaugural address that he had on his table twenty-five books (I think that was the number, but a few more or less makes no difference) from which he had been trying to find out what Higher Criticism is, and that he had been unable to discover. The state- ment was so startling that a dignitary on the platform who has made himself conspicuous in the war against the higher critics, declared that he could have told him that. We are bound to believe the Professor's state- ment, but it was a proclamation of his own ignorance and a significant comment upon his competency as an instructor of young men. Yet he is one of the men who utters diatribes against the higher critics, and swells the cry, " The gyascutus has broke loose ! "

Such illustrations might be multiplied almost indefi-


nitely. Similar utterances come from pulpits, from denominational journals, and from speeches in ecclesi- astical bodies. They all go to proclaim, not this or that position of Biblical critics, but the function of the Biblical critic, and the Biblical critic himself as such, and the science of Biblical criticism for the most part, as things to be suspected and kept at arm's length.

It may be freely granted, for the fact is notorious, that there is a criticism and a class of critics hostile to the Bible. The equipment of such critics is, in many cases, formidable. They are ripe scholars, deft and plausible reasoners, and vigorous thinkers. Their prin- ciples of interpretation are utterly rationalistic. They deny the supernatural in the evolution of Christian history : their aim is mainly destructive, and their con- clusions, if generally accepted, would practically rob the church of the Bible. But, while this is undeniable, how utterly unfair it is to make such critics alone rep- resentative of Biblical criticism : in other words, to throw all Biblical criticism and all Biblical critics indis- criminately into one pile, and to label the pile with the name of its worst and most dangerous element.


As already hinted, the term " Higher Criticism " awakens special apprehensions. One who might pos- sibly confront the name "critic" with reasonable com- posure, finds the chills running down his back at the mention of a higher critic. He is a gyascutus of a peculiarly large, ferocious, and destructive species.

I am not aware that the addition of the word " higher " materially affects the state of the case. Very


much more has been made out of that unfortunate ad- jective than has any basis in fact. I certainly have no stand to make for the term "Higher Criticism." I might be disposed to think it infelicitous, not suffi- ciently explicit or comprehensive. The distinction be- tween a lower and a higher critic is mainly technical. But to assume that because a term is not felicitous its meaning is therefore indefinite, is nonsense, and is in the face of all experience. Nothing is more capricious than the origin and application of names, and names stick, and have a sharp and definite meaning long after the circumstances of their origin have been forgotten. Higher Criticism means simply literary criticism, in- cluding all literary and historical questions raised by the composition and contents of the Biblical writings. Lower Criticism is textual criticism, embracing all that relates to the restoration of the Biblical text to its orig- inal form. Higher criticism has therefore a simple and perfectly definite meaning, understood by every scholar, and capable of being understood by any person of ordin- ary intelligence. As already hinted, a great deal too much has been made of the distinction between lower and higher criticism, so that the distinction has been magnified into a bugbear. The two go together. A sound literary criticism must always be based on a cor- rect text, and the ideal critic must always be both a lower and a higher critic. As a writer in the July number of the Contemporary Review justly observes, " It would be difficult to say why careful and learned discussion on grounds of internal evidence should be called ' higher' than equally careful and equally learned discussion on grounds of external evidence. Both,


evidently, are capable of fully exercising the highest powers of the human mind, though it is easier and cheaper to conduct the former badly, and a more deli- cate and difficult matter to perform it well."

Let me give a single illustration. A student reads the gospel of Mark in the original Greek text, and carefully observes its literary peculiarities its diction and style, its imagery, its phrasing, how far its diction is affected by the Hebrew tongue and by Hebrew moods of thought, and many other peculiarities. He finds in the history of Eusebius a quotation from a very early church father, Papias, to the effect that Mark wrote down the reminiscences of Christ's life as he heard them from Peter in his preaching or in private interviews with him. This leads him to investigate the genuineness of this passage of Papias, and to study the writings ascribed to Peter in the- New Testament. In these writings he discovers a great many of the char- acteristics which appear in Mark. Then he turns to the book of Acts in which several of Peter's speeches are reported, and which contains certain narratives which must have proceeded from Peter himself, such as the healing of the cripple at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison. In the style and diction of these he finds the same characteristics which appear in Mark and in the first Epistle of Peter. He draws from these compari- sons certain important and interesting conclusions ; as, for instance, that Papias was right, that Mark's gospel contains reminiscences of Christ's life and sayings drawn in great part from the testimony of Peter, and therefore of an eye-witness : that the first Epistle as-


cribed to Peter was really liis work : that there was a definite stream of Petrine tradition on which the author of the Acts drew. That is one of the simpler pro- cesses of Higher Criticism, but it will serve to illustrate the thing itself. It is a specimen of hundreds of in- quiries applied to both Testaments with a view to de- termine on internal grounds the authorship and the history of the composition of different books. No sane person imagines that there is anything impious, pre- sumptuous, heretical, or diabolical in such processes.


But let us now ask, What is criticism? since a misconception or partial conception of that word un- derlies much of the popular unrest concerning this subject.

Its fundamental idea is separation. It is derived from a Greek verb meaning " to separate." If I have in a basket fifty sound apples and twenty which are more or less rotted, and I put the sound apples into one pile and the rotten ones into another, that is criti- cism. But that process implies judgment, which pro- nounces an apple sound or unsound. Out of the pri- mary meaning of the Greek word, " to separate," grew the secondary meaning, "to judge," since judgment always implies a separation of the true from the false ; of the bad from the good ; of reliable evidence from doubtful evidence. In so simple a matter as that of the apples, the process of judgment is easy. If one were called upon to decide as to the respective quality of a dozen diamonds, more knowledge and practised


skill would be demanded ; and the sifting of the evi- dence on which turns the life or the death of an ac- cused man often requires the highest wisdom.

Now there is presented to us a collection of docu- ments known as the New Testament. On examining this collection we find ourselves compelled to sort out and classify and pass judgment on certain facts which attach to the different documents. For instance, we find that they have been composed by different authors and therefore exhibit different characteristics. We find that several of them are by the same author, and therefore exhibit similar characteristics. We find that reasons are assigned for suspecting that one or more of the documents were not composed by the author to whom they have commonly been ascribed. For ex- ample, we may hesitate, after weighing the evidence, to assign the Epistle to the Hebrews to Paul, or the second Petrine Epistle to Peter.

Again we find that there are two distinct elements running through all the documents of both Testaments. One of these is elevated, heart-searching, prophetic in short, divine: the other betrays the operation of human modes of thought, employs current forms of speech and statements based on scientific notions now obsolete; is marked at times by careless writing or error of detail an element which is distinctly human.

Similarly, we may find reason to inquire whether certain passages have not been inserted in the orig- inal documents. For example, is the story of the angel descending periodically into the pool of Be- thesda a part of the original narrative, or is it a popu-


lar legend, originally written in the margin by way of comment, and afterwards inserted in the text by some copyist ? Was the story of the woman taken in adul- tery a part of John's original gospel ?

All such matters force themselves upon the conscien- tious student. He cannot evade them. He must ex- amine them and form an opinion about them. He must dravv lines between the work of one author and the work of another ; between the original text and inter- polations ; between the genuine and the corrupted text ; between the human element and the divine. He is a critic in spite of himself. His criticism is not the outcome of individual caprice ; it is no diabolical con- trivance deliberately aimed at the integrity of Scrip- ture. It is simply the honest dealing of a fair and trained mind with phenomena which are patent. These phenomena are not imaginary, they are facts which de- mand explanation.

Criticism, in some form or other, begins the moment that one begins to study his Bible intelligently. No in- telligent person can regard the Bible as one solid block of divine truth of uniform texture and grain through- out. Its varieties assert themselves on the very sur- face. Its books belong to different eras and have their distinctive marks. They have grown out of different local circumstances, and have been shaped by them. The Psalms are the products of different ages and authors. The iirst Corinthian Epistle grew out of one set of events, the second out of another, and the Epistle to the Romans out of another. No one who overlooks these facts can understand his Bible ; but the tracing out and defining and classifying of these differ-


ences is criticism, and higher criticism. Criticism is not of scholars' making, but of the Bible's making, of God's making.

Suppose a critic makes a mistake, as he often does. Suppose a critic abuses the resources of scholarship, and employs them to undermine the sacredness and the au- thority of Scripture: such facts do not make against the value or the necessity of Biblical criticism, nor ex- pose it to just vituperation. The fact that a man now and then uses an axe for the murder of his neighbor, or hurts somebody by a careless stroke, does not prove that an axe is a bad and hurtful thing. On such a mode of reasoning we should be compelled to reject the Bible itself, since no book has been more abused or made the instrument of more mischief.

Such things are rudimentary and self-evident to schol- ars ; but I am not writing for scholars, neither am I set- ting up a man of straw for the purpose of knocking him down. The popular objection to Biblical criticism does not turn on the distinction between Higher and Lower Criticism, or on any other distinction within the field of criticism. It lies against Biblical criticism as such. The very name suggests mischief. Any critic is an in- truder on holy ground. The Bible is not a subject for criticism, and should be let alone.


Now our discussion has nothing to do with the adap- tations of the Bible to the lowly and uneducated. That it has a mission to such no one thinks of denying. If


the Bible were for scholars only, it would be useless to a very large part of the world. But there is a fearful amount of pious platitude in circulation, the general drift of which is to set believing ignorance over against critical study to the disparagement of the latter. The contrast between the " carping critic " and the rt hum- ble believer" has been worn threadbare, and like many such stock phrases, carries with it a falsehood. For while there are carping critics and humble believers, "carping" does not represent the whole body of Bibli- cal critics any more than "humble" represents the whole body of believers. In many cases it would be much more to the point to contrast the carping believer with the humble critic.

In any case, the issue between pious ignorance and intelligent criticism of the Scriptures is an utterly false issue. While, as already remarked, the Bible has the power, under the influence of the Divine Spirit, to im- part to the lowly and the unlearned a rule and ideal of faith and duty, an incentive to fidelity, and a comfort in sorrow, it is a fair question how large a proportion of such results is due to the Bible alone without the in- tervention of the human teacher. The Bible never dis- parages knowledge. It emphasizes it and presses it on its readers as an object of diligent search. Whatever it may give to an ignorant faith, it gives far more richly to an intelligent faith. Hence, I repeat, it is pal- pably absurd to raise an issue between an intelligent criticism and a blind* and passive and credulous accept- ance of Scripture, assuming some special illumination on the part of the unlearned which puts him at advan- tage as against the scholar : to say that " the insight of


a saint is of more value than the skill of a gramma- rian." That may be or may not be. It is entirely possi- ble that an uneducated laborer, firmly grounded in the faith of Christ, might find in the gospel of John some- thing which the author of " Supernatural Religion " could not discover. None the less it remains true that there is that in Scripture which the mere insight of a saint cannot apprehend or deal with. There are cer- tain things which are revealed to the wise and prudent and are hidden from babes. If there is a region where the saint sees more and farther than the grammarian, there is also a region where the saint cannot see with- out the aid of the grammarian, and where the saint, if he attempts to play the role of interpreter or instructor, only makes himself and the Bible ridiculous. It is quite true that " the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God," and that "they are fool- ishness unto him "; but it is also true that the spiritual man needs something more than spiritual illumination to enable him to weigh the evidence for a reading, to correct a mistranslation, or to settle a question of gram- mar, history, or archaeology. The insight of a saint gives little or no help in determining the authenticity of Second Peter, or in explaining the meaning of bap- tism for the dead, and of the woman's having power on her head because of the angels. Piety, by itself, is helpless in the presence of such questions. Criticism alone cannot mount on textual and syntactical ladders to the beatific vision, but neither is pious ignorance winged for that flight.

The critical spirit and furnishing, balanced by a gen- uine faith, is that which always gets the best and the


most out of the Bible. To set these two against each other is to put asunder what God hath joined to- gether, and grossly to slander both God and the Bible. The true formula is not "criticism or faith," but " criticism and faith." The man who regards his Bible as something to be merely received passively and be- lieved unquestioningly, practically degrades into a child's primer the book which is adapted to stimulate and feed and train his best mental and spiritual powers. It is true that some people never get beyond the primer. Let us by all means be thankful for the primer, but let us not assert that the primer fills the place of literature. The Bible shows its divine charac- ter by inviting and encouraging the spirit of inquiry which is the foundation of all criticism. How a man can be in contact with God in a book or anywhere else and not ask questions it is hard to conceive.


Hence nothing can be more radically false than the position that the Bible is above criticism, and that it is the sacred duty of scholarship to let it alone : that it is a charmed thing, invested with a superstitious sanctity, fenced off from ordinary modes of investigation and treatment. That is a popular delusion which must be effectually dissipated before the Bible can take its true and high place in human thought. Such a seclusion of the Bible works more mischief than all the incursions of the most rampant and hostile criticism, because it belies the true character and intent of the Bible, which is most truly divine in being so intensely human. It has been evolved under human conditions: it has


developed itself co-ordinately with the history of the church and out of it : it communicates with men through ordinary human media : it uses human words and human figures of speech : it appeals to human qualities : it carries a revelation given " by divers portions and in divers manners" through individuals of different char- acters, temperaments, and attainments: its inspiration resides in characters rather than in documents, and finds its highest expression in the testimony of the God-man Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy. The medium of the revelation must be human if it is to be intelligible. If it is not intelligible it is not divine, and if it is human it must submit itself to critical tests such as are applied to other books. It cannot refuse the criteria appropriate to those human media through which God has chosen to transmit it. Hence the Bible is fairly subject to those literary, grammatical, historical, philo- logical, and psychological tests which are applicable to Homer or Dante or Shakespeare.

On any other ground the Bible can never be success- fully vindicated in the eyes of scholarly and fair- minded men. They will say ; It is all very well for the Bible to appeal to faith, but if it cannot also appeal to fact, and sound reason and common sense, it is not worth fighting over. It is easy enough for you to prove the book to be anything you claim, provided you are allowed to suppress all testimony save such as you choose to adduce. The Bible is pre-eminently histori- cal. It professes to relate facts and to relate them in sequence. If you refuse to have those facts tested by ordinary historical canons, you create a presumption of intentional falsification. You proclaim yourselves sus-


picious of the truth of Biblical history. The Bible is a literary product. It cannot evade literary tests : we laugh at a claim to an inspiration which exempts it from these or renders it superior to them. The Bible em- ploys logic, and appeals to human reason. Let us test its logic by the rules which we apply to Aristotle or to Bacon. The alternative of such criticism is passive acceptance on authority, and this we absolutely refuse. The Bible comes down into our homes and marts, speaking our language, clothed in our forms of thought, and peremptorily claiming absolute mastery. It utters commands, and promises rewards, and threatens penal- ties. If it has a divine right to speak thus, it condemns many of our opinions and practices. But if it com. mands and threatens and promises and condemns on our ground, it must vindicate itself on our ground. It shall not be allowed to throw stones and launch darts, and then retreat behind the walls of a supernatural sanctity, declaring that it will not have the temper of its mail tried by our spear-points.


Nothing can be more disastrous to truth than a de- fense upon false grounds. The work of the reverent critic is also made necessary by the professed friends of the Bible ; and the Bible has suffered more at the hands of these than from its declared enemies.

Nothing stands the enemy of Scripture in better stead than to have its friends and defenders assume un- tenable ground : to make claims for it which have no foundation in fact; for thus the true issues are con-


eealed ; the real danger to the enemy is evaded ; the conflict is shifted to ground where the assailant has a real advantage, and which the defenders themselves have furnished him.

For example, a challenger of the authority of Scrip- ture is met with the sweeping assertion that the Bible is authoritative because every word and line nas been so directly and infallibly inspired by God as to make it without error of any kind, verbal or historical. As a fact, the authority of the Bible does not rest upon verbal inerrancy, but upon something quite different and far higher and more convincing: but the defender chooses his own ground, and sacrifices the higher ground for the inferior and utterly indefensible posi- tion where the challenger is only too glad to carry on the fight. He turns the position, carries it by square and proved denial. He confronts the assertion with the Bible itself. He says that the Bible does contain errors of detail, and he points them out. He is en- tirely right. He scores a legitimate victory, and the defender of the Bible sustains a defeat which he need not have suffered if he had been wise enough to take different and higher and defensible ground. The case is all the worse when the representatives of a great Christian body, in council assembled, plant themselves upon this position, asserting the dogma of verbal in- errancy, and insisting that the teachers of the church shall accept and proclaim it under penalty of dis- franchisement. In registering for themselves an im- agined triumph, they register for themselves a crush- ing defeat, a verdict which a better educated sense of the character and claims of Scripture is certain to re-


verse within no long time. Meanwhile there is rejoic- ing in the tents of the enemy. The church has delib- erately selected a position where his batteries can rake it. It has arrayed its own scholarship against itself : it has brought down on itself the indignation of its most intelligent and fair-minded members, and has sensibly weakened its hold on their loyalty. It has solemnly committed hari-kari before a sneering crowd of atheists and rationalists.


This is only one of hundreds of illustrations which show the mischief wrought by the assumption of false positions by the defenders of Scripture. A true and sound criticism is imperatively demanded at this point, a constructive criticism, to set forth what the Bible really is, and what the Bible really says. Thoughtful Bible-readers would be more awake to this necessity if they could be made to see how terribly the Bible has been overlaid and obscured and twisted and misread throughout the entire history of the church. It is one of the most disheartening and humiliating records in the history of religion. Some one once said of the Dutch people that a sufficient proof of their greatness lay in the fact that they were above water at all ; and it might with equal truthfulness be said that one of the strongest evidences of the divine origin and quality of the Bible is its survival of its expounders. It has suf- fered more from its friends than from' its enemies. The great, distinctive fact which, along with much that is reverent, earnest, and scholarly, marks the his-


tory of Biblical exegesis down to the Reformation pe- riod, and which reasserts itself subsequently, is the practical rejection of the actual Bible, and the persist- ent effort to run it into the moulds of tradition, mysti- cism, philosophical speculation, scholasticism, and eccle- siastical dogma. This is no loose assertion. It is a matter of historical fact which any competent student can verify for himself, and it is by no means a thing of the past only.

The Bible has been practically turned against itself. It has furnished ideas which men have developed after their own fashion and to serve their own ends, insisting that the Bible was constructed after that fashion and for those ends. The Bible has been cited in justifica- tion of every conceivable monstrosity of speculation, of every theological nightmare, of every refinement of cruelty, of every whim of crank or fanatic, of every ghastly moral or religious hobby which has disfigured Christian history.

" The Devil can quote Scripture for his purpose."

"in religion What damned error but some sober brow "Will bless it and approve it with a text, Hiding its grossness with fair ornament."

The Jewish translators of the Old Testament, about three hundred years before Christ, whose Greek trans- lation was the Bible of Christ's and Paul's times, garbled the original Scripture in order to make it more acceptable to Gentile readers, and to conceal its blows at their own national conceit. They inserted rabbini- cal legends, they struck out or changed passages which


reflected upon the character of Jewish heroes or ex- posed the moral delinquencies of their ancestors.

In the days of Christ the Old Testament Scriptures were so overloaded with the enormous mass of rabbinic interpretation and comment, that the law itself was su- perseded and despised. The plainest sayings of Scrip- ture were resolved into another sense, and it was de- clared by one of the Rabbis that he who renders a verse of Scripture as it appears, says what is not true. It was assumed that the Pentateuch was a continuous enigma, and that a meaning was to be found in every monosyllable, and a mystic sense in every hook and flour- ish of the letters. Jesus was literally justified in say- ing, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect through your tradition."

In the succeeding period Scripture suffered at the hands of allegorical interpretation, by which the law of Moses and the histories of Scripture became well-nigh unrecognizable. Genesis was declared to be a system of psychology and ethics, and the different individuals who figure in that book Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, denote different states of the soul. The Church Fathers Irenseus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexan- dria, Origen alter, misquote, introduce Jewish leg- ends, and resolve the plainest statements and narrations into allegory. Anything which Origen thought could not be literally true, such as the stories of Noah's drunkenness and Lot's incest, any Old Testament pre- cept which seemed to him unjust, he interpreted in a mystical sense.

In the period from the seventh to the twelfth cen- turv, the church claimed to be the sole infallible inter-


preter of Scripture, and treated the study of the orig- inal tongues as little better than a crime. In the scho- lastic era, the Bible served as the handmaid of Aris- totle. We are suffering to-day from the new scholasti- cism of the post-Reformation era, built on party creeds, and fettering and emasculating a sound exegesis by an arbitrary and dictatorial confessionalism. The seven- teenth century formulas identified inspiration with me- chanical, literal, verbal infallibility ; called the writers of Scripture " amanuenses of God," " hands of Christ," "scribes and notaries of the Holy Spirit," "living and writing pens." It was asserted formally that the very vowel-points and accents of the Hebrew Bible were divinely inspired, an assertion which was substantially reiterated in the presence of the New York Presbytery by one of the prosecutors of Dr. Briggs.

Time and space would alike fail to depict what the Bible has endured at the hands of popular expounders, half-trained or untrained, in sensational sermons, in motto-texts, in expositions, the atrocities of which would fill volumes, in which the preacher may be seen " rid- ing furiously," Jehu-like, across country, some rampant fancy of his own. There is too much truth in the re- mark of a living scholar, that " preachers have become privileged misinterpreters."

The foregoing is only a slight and imperfect sketch. The details are innumerable, and are frightful to any sincere lover of the Bible. They prove, however, the imperative need of a sound, devout, scholarly, cour- ageous, searching criticism applied to restore to the church the Bible as it is. They go to show that the best modern criticism is a new Protestantism which


faces the real Bible and labors to clear away the mountains of trash under which church councils, theo- logical systems, and individual conceits have buried it. It is high time that a new face should be put on this matter; that the true critic should be recog- nized as a restorer and not as a destroyer : not as the impostor in the Arabian story, going about and offer- ing to give new lamps for old ones, but as the true magician, holding up in the face of the dogmatists, pulpit mountebanks, false interpreters, packed councils, and heresy hunters of all ages, past and present, the old Word, which " is a lamp unto the feet and a light unto the path."


We often hear it said : " The old Bible is good enough for me ; " and the phrase carries with it a savor of mingled pathos, piety, and humility which is very captivating to an untrained sense. The old Bible is good enough for you ! So it ought to be good enough for you or for any one else. But you mean by the " old Bible " the Bible with a multitude of perver- sions, false interpretations, false applications, false theo- ries of its origin and purpose sticking to it and encrust- ing it like so many barnacles. When you say that the old Bible is good enough for you, you mean that you would rather have the barnacled Bible than the pure original. You mean that you do not want the barna- cles disturbed ; and that you regard any attempt upon the barnacles as impertinent presumption. You mean that you are too indolent or too ignorant to face and examine the results of scholarly criticism, and that you


resent the intrusion upon your indolence and the ex- posure of your ignorance. You strike at the men who come to give you the real thing which you affect to prize. You call them hard names and drive them from your fellowship; and you probably think that you are doing this in the interest of Christian peace and truth. You are terribly deceived. You do not want the old Bible ; but the Bible of the schools, of the alle- gorists, of the scholastic theologians, of the sensational preachers. The old Bible is not good enough for you.


But is it true, can it be shown to be true that the higher critic is a restorer and not a destroyer? Can any real advance in Biblical knowledge, any substantial helps to Biblical interpretation, any sounder theories of interpretation, any new light upon the historical rela- tions of Scripture, any effective vindication of assailed books of either Testament be pointed out as the work of the higher critics ? In reply it may be said, sum- marily, that nearly every real advance in the methods of Biblical study, and nearly every most solid and im- portant contribution to both the interpretation and the defence of Scripture in the last century, is due to higher criticism. In the bitter, unchristian, and utterly undis- criminating attack upon the higher Biblical criticism, many of the leaders and promoters of that attack have been like a man who is living on the riches of his bene- factor and endeavoring to poison him at the same time. For they are using freely in their defences of the faith, in their homilies, in their Bible-classes, in their written articles, results which have been won for them by the


higher critics. The pulpits generally throughout the country are to-day dispensing arguments and statements and defences founded upon the results of higher criti- cism. And if one were disposed to turn the tables and to enter upon heresy-hunting, he might easily iind grounds for a most edifying array of presentations to ecclesiastical courts, in the books which perhaps the ma- jority of their members are using, and which some of them are publicly recommending. Let any one, for example, study Funk and Wagnalls' advertising circu- lar of Meyer's Commentary, and note the authors of the numerous hearty indorsements which appear therein. And yet Dr. Meyer never hesitates to say that a .New Testament writer has made a mistake. He denies the authenticity of Matthew's gospel and of the Pastoral Epistles, and resolves into poetical legend