13 JANUARY 1906, Page 22

THE HIGHER CRITICISM.* WE are not able to define with

any exactitude Dr. Reich's position. He makes an indiscriminate attack on the "Higher Critics." Most of the names which he mentions are German; he singles out for censure among English writers Professors Cheyne and Driver, and speaks of Professor Sayce with modified praise. The moderate school—represented, we may say, by Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible—he passes over in silence. His language would often lead us to rank him with the traditionalist school, of whom the late Dean Burgon may be taken as the type, and to which, it is probable, the great majority of Christians in this country more or less consciously adhere. And yet he can be on occasion a critic himself. Not very long ago he introduced to the British public a work by an Italian jurist on " The Trial of Jesus," praising it without reserve. Yet his Italian client goes so far as to say that the story of the death of John the Baptist is not an authentic narrative, but has been made up out of sundry Hebrew legends. And in this volume he does on his own initiative something of a similar kind. A certain official in German East Africa has collected a number of legends from the Masai tribe which bear a very remarkable resem- blance to what we find in the Pentateuch. In these we are told how God created a man and a woman, and how he put these two in a Paradise, where they might eat of all the trees but one. All the details of the serpent story are given. Then there is a legend exactly like the murder of Abel by Cain, and others which tell of the Flood, the Ark, &c. Finally, we have an account of the giving of a law from the top of a mountain amidst clouds and thunderings. We have no inten- tion of questioning the truth of these very remarkable dis- coveries. Dr. Reich is quite positive about his countryman's good faith and competence. It is much to accept on testimony which, as far as we are aware, is unsupported. But let this pass. Dr. Reich goes on to say that if we want to account for these wonderful resemblances there are four alternative suppositions. The first three he rejects without hesitation. These are : (1) the Masai received these legends from the Hebrews ; (2) they received them from the Baby- lonians ; (3) they had them by independent revelation. We are, therefore, he contends, shut up to (4). This we will give in his own words

"The Babylonians, Hebrews, and the Masai, coming, as they all did, from Arabia, had those legends in common before the Chaldeans went, from Arabia, north-eastward to Babylonia ; the Hebrews, northward to Palestine; and the Masai, southward to what is now German East Africa. There is no fifth alternative. For the first alternative, the Hebrew origin of the Masai legends, there is not a shadow of evidence; nor is there any for the Babylonian origin of those legends—that is, the second alterna- tive. The third alternative, a separate revelation to the Masai nation, is completely irrelevant, either for the orthodox, who believe in revelation only as regards the Hebrews ; or for the Higher Critics,' who do not believe in revelation at all, whether to the Hebrews or to any other nation. Remains the fourth • (1) The Failure of the Higher Criticism. By Emil Reich, D.J. London : J. Nisbet and Co. [6s.]—(2) The Century Bible. Edited by Principal Walter F. Adeney, D.D. "Isaiah i-xxxix.," Edited by Owen C. Whitehouse, D.D. London . C. and E. C. Jack. [2s. 6d, net.]

alternative, or the common origin of the Hebrew, Babylonian, and Masai legends in the legends of Arabia."

But this many-sided migration of the "hardy, beautiful, gifted" people of Arabia—on p. 16 Dr. Reich speaks of them as a " negro tribe "—does not harmonise with the Biblical narrative. According to this, the ancestor of the Hebrew people travels westward from " 17r of the Chaldees," which, wherever it was, certainly was not in Arabia.

(Dr. Reich vigorously asserts the historical existence of Abraham, and we are in hearty accord with him.) His family dwells for three generations in Palestine, migrates thence into Egypt, multiplies in Egypt into a nation, and finally wins its way back to the dwelling-place of its ancestors, hearing on its progress the great proclamation of the Moral Law. How can this be made to agree with the fourth alterna- tive? Where and when did the Masai get their story of the Revelation from the Mountain ? They must have parted from

their Hebrew kinsmen after the Exodus. What of the common home in Arabia P

With Dr. Reich's next chapter, "The Argument from Border Nations," we find ourselves in gereral agreement. He argues that it was not from the great Empires that the world received its strong onward impulses, but from the small

tribes which had to struggle for their existence, the Hebrews, the Phoenicians, the Greeks. The presence of mighty forces outside constrained them to development in various directions,

and especially the making of great personalities. This argument is mixed up with much polemic against the " Higher Critics," a polemic that seems to us neither relevant nor mannerly ; but it is, we believe, substantially true. The mission of the Hebrews in the making of the world's history should, we think, be a cardinal article of faith.

Later on in his book Dr. Reich takes some trouble to examine the story of the Four Kings against the Five in Genesis xiv., and pronounces it to be genuine history. This agrees with the article s.v. in the Dictionary of the Bible. Dr.

Driver in his Genesis states the case in what seems to us a very moderate way, contrasting very favourably with Dr. Reich's tone and temper, and comes to the conclusion that, "though particular details are improbable, the campaign may in outline be historical." Does Dr. Reich commit himself to the details P We do not feel sure whether he does or does not. On the question of the Pentateuch, again, his position

is doubtful. He believes in the Mosaic authorship of the Five Books, and he rejects the critical theory which finds

in it a Jehovistic, an Elohistic, and a later Priestly document. But why does he reject it ? He shall speak for himself "Under these conditions it is mathematically certain that even if all the Bible critics should absolutely agree as to the authors of tho respective layers and sub-layers of the Bible ; which, of course, they are very far from doing ; even then nothing would be proved as to the Pentateuch being a cento. It would not be proved, because it cannot be proved. It is like asking a geometrician how many lines are in a plane of three feet square ? He cannot answer the question. You cannot count the number of lines in a plane ; a plane does not consist of lines. In the same way, a popular book of education, going through an untold number of copyists and generations, undergoing the greatest possible changes in form and structure, if not also in its religious and historical essentials, cannot now be reconstructed into its original constituent parts. Not now ; for we have at present only one of the latest versions of that text, and not a cento patched up from the works of the original author, or authors."

But this is really going a long way with the critics. Take, for instance, the Book of Leviticus. The " orthodox view is that the whole ceremonial code was given by Moses in the wilderness and put into force at once—probably the latter contention is now tacitly ignored—but if we are to understand that it underwent the "greatest possible changes" this is not far from supposing that Leviticus practically represents the Temple ritual. And this is the view which so orthodox a divine as Bishop Ellicott admitted into his Commentary on the Bible. We cannot congratulate the anti-Critics on their

new ally.

The little book which we have included in the scope of this

review seems to us an example of the moderate criticism which ought, we are sure, to be welcomed rather than repelled by those to whom the essentials of Christian belief are inestimably precious ; and Christian belief cannot surely afford to relinquish the Old Testament. We cannot enter into an examination of its details. Dr. Whitehouse's view, generally stated, is that the utterances of various teachers have come to be included under the common name of Isaiah. But this does not hinder him from- believing in the fact of a great Isaiah personality, a man of the highest character and genius, who was at once statesman and teacher. We cannot, it is true, accept all his dicta about particular passages. He seems to us to make pronouncements about interpolation, &c., which no Greek or Latin scholar would venture on in dealing with the classics ; but we can see that he is thoroughly reverent. The series to which Dr. White- house's book belongs is one of the greatest value. We see in the list of contributors the names of Adeney, Bartlet, Bennet, Davison, Horton, and Peake, to mention some of many ; if all these are to be included in Dr. Reich's ban, the cause of Biblical study, and, we may venture to add, of religion, will suffer greatly.