Joshua, Act 2, No. 27b: Thus far our cause is favourd

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The sustained interest with which this large audience followed the attempt to lay before them an outline of the problems, the methods, and the results of Old Testament Criticism is sufficient proof that they did not find modern Biblical Science the repulsive and unreal thing which it is often represented to be. The Lectures are printed mainly from shorthand reports taken in Glasgow, and as nearly as possible in the form in which they were delivered in Edinburgh after final revision.

Of course it is not possible for any sound argument to adopt in every case the renderings of the English Version. The appended notes are designed to complete and illustrate the details of the argument, and to make the book more useful to students by supplying hints for further study.

I have made no attempt to give complete references to the modern literature of the subject. Indeed, as the Lectures have been written, delivered, and printed in three months, it was impossible for me to reconsult all the books which have influenced my views, and acknowledge my indebtedness to each. My effort has been to give a lucid view of the critical argument as it stands in my own mind, and to support it in every part from the text of Scripture or other original sources.

It is of the first importance that the reader should realise that Biblical Criticism is not the invention of modern scholars, but the legitimate interpretation of historical facts. I have tried, therefore, to keep the facts always in the foreground, and, when they are derived from ancient books not in every one's hands, I have either given full citations, or made careful reference to the original authorities.

In all true religion the new rests upon the old. The current treatment of the Old Testament has produced a widespread uneasy suspicion that this history cannot bear to be tested like other ancient histories. The old method of explaining difficulties and reconciling apparent contradictions would no longer be tolerated in dealing with other books, and men ask themselves whether our Christian faith, the most precious gift of truth which God has given us, can safely base its defence on arguments that bring no sense of reality to the mind.

Yet the history of Israel, when rightly studied, is the most real and vivid of aU histories, and the proofs of God's working among His people of old may still be made, what they were in time past, one of the strongest evidences of Christianity. It was no blind chance, and no mere human wisdom, that shaped the growth of Israel's religion, and finally stamped it in these forms, now so strange to us, which preserved the living seed of the Divine word till the fulness of the time when He was manifested who transformed the religion of Israel into a religion for all mankind.

The living God is as present in the critical construction of the history as in that to which tradition has wedded us. Criticism is a reality and a force because it unfolds a living and consistent picture of the Old Dispensation; it is itself a living thing, which plants its foot upon realities, and, like Dante among the shades, proves its life by moving what it touches.

Aberdeen, Uh April The Text of 1 Sam. Hebrew Fragments preserved in the Septuagint. Maccabee Psalms in Books I. The Fifty-first Psalm. I am not here to defend my private opinion on any disputed question, but to expound as well as I can the elements of a well-established department of historical study. It would be affectation to ignore the fact that in saying so much I at once enter upon ground ol controversy. The science of Biblical Criticism has not escaped the fate of every science which takes topics of general human interest for its subject matter, and advances theories destructive of current views upon things with which every one is familiar and in which every one has some practical concern.

It would argue indifference rather than enlightenment, if the great mass of Bible-readers, to whom scientific points of view for the study of Scripture are wholly unfamiliar, could adjust themselves to a new line of investigation into the history of the Bible GODS WORD AND without passing through a crisis of anxious thought not far removed from distress and alarm.

Commentary on Joshua - Keil & Delitzsch - David Cox

The deepest practical convictions of our lives are seldom formulated with precision. They have been learned by experience rather than by logic, and we are content if we can give them an expression accurate enough to meet our daily wants. For in rough practical formulas, in the working rules, if I may so call them, of our daily spiritual life, the essential is constantly mixed up with what is unimportant or even incorrect. We store our treasures of conviction in earthen vessels, and the broken pipkin of an obsolete formula often acquires for us the value of the treasure which it enshrines.

The persuasion that in the Bible God Himself speaks words of love and life to the soul is the essence of the Christian's conviction as to the truth and authority of Scripture.

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This persuasion is not, and cannot be, derived from external testimony. No tradition as to the worth of Scripture, no assurance transmitted from our fathers, or from any who in past time heard God's revealing voice, can make the revelation to which they bear witness a personal voice of God to us.

The element of personal conviction, which lifts faith out of the region of probable evidence into the sphere of divine certainty, is given only by the Holy Spirit still bearing witness in and with the Word. But then the Word to which this spiritual testimony applies is a written word, which has a history, which has to be read and explained like other ancient books.

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How we read and explain the Bible depends in great measure on human teaching. The Bible itself is God's book, but the Bible as read and understood by any man or school of men is God's book plibs a very large element of human interpretation. We are aware that some passages are obscure, and we do not claim divine certitude for the interpretation that we put on them.

But we are apt to forget that the influence of human and traditional interpretation goes much further than a few obscure passages. Our general views of the Bible history, our way of looking, not merely at passages, but at whole books, are coloured by things which we have learned from men, and which have no claim to rest on the self-evidencing divine Word. This we forget, and so, taking God's witness to His Word to be a witness to our whole conception of the Word, we claim divine authority for opinions which lie within the sphere of ordinary reason, and which can be proved or disproved by the ordinary laws of historical evidence.

We assume that, because our reading of Scripture is sufficiently correct to allow us to find in it the God of redemption speaking words of grace to our soul, those who seek some other view of the historical aspects of Scripture are trying to eliminate the God of grace from His own book. A large part of Bible-readers never come through the mental discipline which is necessary to cure prejudices of this kind, or, in other words, are never forced by the necessities of their intellectual and spiritual life to distinguish between the accidental and the essential, the human conjectures and the divine truth, which are wrapped up together in current interpretations of Scripture.

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But those who are called in providence to systematic and scholarly study of the Bible inevitably come face to face with facts which compel them to draw distinctions that, to a practical reader, may seem superfluous. Consider what systematic and scholarly study involves in contradistinction to the ordinary practical use of the Bible. A detached passage is taken up, and attention is concentrated on the immediate edification which can be derived from it. Very often the profit which the Bible -reader derives from his morning or evening portion lies mainly in a single word of divine love coming straight home to the heart.

And in general the real fruit of such Bible-reading lies less in any addition to one's store of systematic knowledge than in the privilege of withdrawing for a moment from the thoughts and cares of the world, to enter into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the God of love and redemption reveals Himself to the heart, and where the simplest believer can place himself by the side of the psalmist, the prophet, or the apostle, in that inner sanctuary where no sound is heard but the gracious accents of divine promise and the sweet response of assured and humble faith.

Far be it from me to undervalue such use of Scripture. It is by this power of touching the heart and lifting the soul into converse with heaven that the Bible approves itself the pure and perfect Word of God, a lamp unto the feet and a light unto the path of every Christian. But, on the other hand, a study which is exclusively practical and devotional is necessarily imperfect.

There are many things in Scripture which do not lend themselves to an immediate practical purpose, and which in fact are as good as shut out from the circle of ordinary Bible-reading. I know that good people often try to hide this fact from themselves by hooking on some sort of lesson to passages which they do not understand, or which do not directly touch any spiritual chord. There is very respectable precedent for this course, which in fact is nothing else than the method of tropical exegesis that reigned supreme in the Old Catholic and Mediaeval Church.

People satisfy themselves in this way, but they do not solve the difficulty. Let us be frank with ourselves, and admit that there are many things in Scripture in which unsystematic and merely devotional reading finds no profit. Such parts of the Bible as the genealogies in Chronicles, the description of Solomon's temple, a considerable portion of Ezekiel, and not a few of the details of ritual in the Pentateuch, do not serve an immediate devotional purpose, and are really blank pages except to systematical and critical study.

And for a different reason the same thing is true of many passages of the prophetical and poetical books, where the language is so obscure, and the train of thought so difficult to grasp, that even the best scholars, with every help which philology can offer, will not venture to affirm that they possess a certain interpretation.

Difficulties of this sort are not confined to a few corners of the Bible. They run through the whole volume, and force themselves on the attention of every one who desires to understand any book of the Bible as a whole. And so we are brought to this issue. Augustine in his hermeneutical treatise, De Dodrina Christiana Bk. This use of Scripture is full of personal profit, and raises no intellectual difficulties.

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But it does not do justice to the whole Word of God. It is limited for every individual by the limitations of his own religious experience. Eeading the Bible in this way, a man comes to a very personal appreciation of so much of God's truth as is in immediate contact with the range of his own life.

But he is sure to miss many truths which belong to another range of experience, and to read into the inspired page things from his own experience which involve human error. No man's inner life is so large, so perfectly developed, in a word so normal, that it can be used as a measure of the fulness of the Bible. The Church, therefore, which aims at an all-sided and catholic view, cannot be content with so much of truth as has practically approved itself to one man, or any number of men, all fallible and imperfect.

What she desires to obtain is the sum of all those views of divine truth which are embodied in the experience of the inspired writers.

Joshua, HWV 64: Act II: Recitative: Sure I'm deceiv'd, with sorrow I behold (Caleb, Othniel)

She must try to get the whole meaning of every prophet, psalmist, or apostle, not by the rough-and-ready method of culling from a chapter as many truths as at once commend themselves to a Christian heart, but by taking up each piece of Biblical authorship as a whole, realising the position of the writer, and following out the progress of his thought in its minutest details. And in this process the Church, or the trained theologian labouring in the service of the Church, must not be discouraged by finding much that seems strange, foreign to current experience, or, at first sight, positively unedifying.

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  • It will not do to make our notions the measure of God's dealings with His people of old. The systematic LECT. When he has done this, the practical use will follow of itself. Up to the time of the Eeformation the only kind of theological study which was thought worthy of serious attention was the study of dogma. People's daily spiritual life was supposed to be nourished, not by Scripture, but by the Sacraments. The experimental use of Scripture, so dear to Protestants, was not recognised as one of the main purposes for which God has given us the Bible.

    Joshua, Act 3, No. "The great Jehovah is our awful theme, sublime

    The use of the Bible was to furnish proof texts for the theologians of the Church, and the doctrines of the Church as expressed in the Creeds were the necessary and sufficient object of faith. The believer had indeed need of Christ as well as of a creed, but Christ was held forth to him, not in the Bible, but in the Mass. The Bible was the source of theological knowledge as to the mysterious doctrine of revelation, but the Sacraments were the means of grace.

    The Eeformation changed aU this, and brought the Bible to the front as a living means of grace.

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    How did it do so? Not, as is sometimes superficially imagined, by placing the infallible Bible in room of the infallible Church, but by a change in the whole conception of faith, of the plan and purpose of revelation, and of the operation of the means of grace. Saving faith, says Luther, is not an intellectual assent to a system of doctrine superior to reason, but a personal trust on God in Christ, the appropriation of God's personal word and promise of redeeming love.

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    • God's grace is the manifestation of His redeeming love, and the means of grace are the means which He adopts to bring His word of love to our ears and to our hearts.