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CRITICAL STUDY AND KNOWLEDGE
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
ON THE ANALYSIS OF SCRIPTURE.
ANALYSIS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
ON THE PENTATEUCH, OR FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES.
SECTION I. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE PENTATEUCH. 1. Title. - II. Argument of the Pentateuch. - III. Notice of other
Writings ascribed to Moses. 1. THE Pentateuch, by which title the five books of Moses are distinguished, is a word of Greek original, which literally signifies the five instruments or books; by the Jews it is termed Chometz, a word synonymous with Pentateuch, and also, more generally, the Law, or the Law of Moses, because it contains the ecclesiastical and political ordinances issued by God to the Israelites. The Pentateuch forms, to this day, but one roll or volume in the Jewish manuscripts, being divided only into parasches and siderim, or larger and smaller sections. This collective designation of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, is of very considerable antiquity, though we have no certain information when it was first introduced. As, however, the names of these books are evidently derived from the Greek, and as the five books of Moses are expressly mentioned by Josephus, who wrote only a few years after our Saviour's ascension, we have every reason to believe that the appellation of Pentateuch was prefixed to the Septuagint version by the Alexandrian translators.
1 Πεντατευχος, from πεντε, five, and τευχος, a book or νolume. 2 For an account of these divisions, see Vol. II. pp. 140-143. 3 In his Jewish Antiquities, Josephus terms the Pentateuch the “ Holy Books of Moses" (lib. x. c. iv. Ý 2.); and in his Treatise against Apion, (lib. 1. c. viii.) when enumerating the sacred writings of the Jews, he says that “ FIVF of them belong to Moses." – It is not certain that this distinction of the Pentateuch into five separate books was not known to and recognised by Saint Paul, (1 Cor. xiv. 19.) by the term five words. Jerome was of opinion that the apostle expressly alluded to them. Epist. ad Paulimim.
II. This division of the sacred volume comprises an account of the creation of the world, and of the fall of man, the outlines of the early annals of the world, and a full recital of the Jewish law, and of the events which happened to the Israelites from their becoming a distinct people to their departure out of Egypt, and their arrival on the confines of the land of Canaan, a period of two thousand five hundred and fifteen years, according to the vulgar computation, or of three thousand seven hundred and sixty-five years, according to the computation established by Dr. Hales. " It is a wide description, gradually contracted; an account of one nation, preceded by a general sketch of the first state of mankind. The books are written in pure Hebrew, with an admirable diversity of style, always well adapted to the subject, yet characterised with the stamp of the same author; they are all evidently parts of the same work, and mutually strengthen and illustrate each other. They blend revolution and history in one point of view; furnish laws, and describe their execution ; exhibit prophecies, and relate their accomplishment.”
III. Besides the Pentateuch, the Jews ascribe to Moses eleven psalms, from Psalm xc. to xcix. inclusive. There is however no solid evidence to prove that these psalms were composed by him ; for the title of the ninetieth psalm (** a prayer of Moses the Man of God,") which, they pretend, must be applied also to the ten following psalms, is not sufficient. The greater part of the titles of the psalms is not original, nor indeed very antient: and some of them are evidently misplaced: we find also in these psalms the names of persons, and other marks, which by no means agree with Moses.
Further, some of the antient fathers have thought that Moses was the author of the book of Job : Origen, in his commentary on Job, pretends that Moses translated it out of Syriac into Hebrew : but this opinion is rejected both by Jews and Christians. Besides, if this book had really been composed by Moses, is it likely that the Jews would have separated it froin the Pentateuch ?2
There are likewise ascribed to Moses several apocryphal books; as an Apocalypse, or Little Genesis, the Ascension of Moses, the Assumption of Moses, the Testament of Moses, and the Mysterious Books of Moses. The principal part of the “ Little Genesis” was transferred by Cedrenus into his chronological history :3 it was extant in Hebrew in the fourth century of the Christian æra, for we find it cited by Jerome; and some version of it should seem also to have been in existence in the sixteenth century, which was condemned as apocryphal by the Council of Trent. From the apocalypse just noticed, it has been pretended that Saint Paul copied Gal. v. 6. and vi. 15.: and it has been imagined that what is said in the Epistle of Jude (verse 9.), respecting the archangel Michael's contention with Satan for the body of Moses, was taken from the apocryphal ascension of Moses. Such was the opinion of Origen, who, though he cites it in another place, alludes to it as not being in the canon. All these pretended Mosaic writings however are confessedly spurious, and are supposed to have been fabricated in the early ages of Christianity.
1 Dr. Gray's Key to the Old Testament, p. 76. 5th edit. . The book of Job was composed many ayes before the time of Moses. See Chap. III. Sect. I. infra, of this volume.
3 Cedrenus, enumerating the authorities consulted by him, says that he "collected not a few things from the Little (Genesis, απο της Λεπτης Γενεσεως. Historia Compendiaria, tom i: p. 2. edit. Venct. 1729. Cedrenus frequently cites this apacryphal book in the course of his work,
On the difference between the Hebrew and Samaritan Pentateuchs, or rather editions of the Pentateuch, see Volume II. pp. 12, 13.; and for a view of the Genuineness and Credibility of the Pentateuch, see Volume I. pp. 50-67.
ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS.
1. Title. — II. Author, and date. III. General argument. - IV.
Scope. - V. Synopsis. – VI. Literal Sense of the first three Chap
ters of Genesis vindicated. 1. THE first book of the Pentateuch, which is called GENESIS (TENEZIE), derives its appellation from the title it bears in the Greek Septuagint Version, ΒΙΒΛΟΣ ΓΕΝΕΣΕΩΣ ; which signifies the Book of the Generation or Production, because it commences with the history of the generation or production of all things. The Jews name the books of the Old Testament, either from their authors, or the principal subject treated in them, — as the five books of Moses, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah, - or from the first Hebrew word with which they begin : thus, the book of Genesis is in Hebrew called nex BERESHIth, that is, in the beginning, from its initial word.?
II. Although nothing is more certain, than that this book was written by Moses," yet it is by no means agreed when he composed the history which it contains. Eusebius and some eminent critics after him have conjectured, that it was written while he kept the flocks of Jethro his father-in-law, in the wilderness of Midian. But the more probable opinion is that of Theodoret, which has been adopted by Moldenhawer and most modern critics, viz. that Moses wrote this book after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt and the promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai : for, previously to his receiving the divine call related in Exodus ii., he was only a private individual
, and was not endued with the spirit of prophecy. Without that spirit he could not have recorded, with so much accuracy, the history of the creation, and the subsequent transactions to his own time: neither could he have foretold events then future, as in the predictions concerning the Messiah, and those respecting the descendants of Ishmael
See the passages of Origen at length in Dr. Lardner's Works, vol. ii. pp. 483_ 512. 8vo. or vol. i. pp. 541-557. 4to.
Vatablus, in Crit. Sacr. Heidegger, Enchirid. Bibl. p. 17. Carpzov. Introd. ad Libros Biblicos Vet. Test. pp. 55, el seg.
* See this fact fully proved, supra, Vol. I. pp. 53--07.