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VARIOUS MODES OF INTERPRETATION.

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storical, which was upheld by the Fathers of the Church, the Rabbins, and the older doctrinal divines, who insisted upon the narrative being a pure statement of fact and divine inspiration!

Next comes the figurative mode of interpretation, which is the most arbitrary, and is nearly allied to the allegorical: according to it a rationalizing view of the subject is taken, like that adopted by Less, Storr, Hezel, Rosenmüller the elder, Reinhardt and Eichhorn; the aid of the fancy is sought, and the myth is explained by the assistance of tropes or figures: thus, the voice of God represents the thunder, the Cherubim are the lightning, the miraculous trees are medicinal plants, and so on.

1 [Bishop Thirlwall, in the introduction to his translation of Schleiermacher's critical essay on the Gospel of St. Luke, observes, that the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures was once universally prevalent in the Christian church, and that according to it the sacred writers were merely passive organs or instruments of the Holy Spirit, which exercised its influence uniformly, indiscriminately, and without intermission, on their works. “This doctrine however,” he adds, “ has been so long abandoned, that it would now be a waste of time to attack it. When I say (continues the distinguished critic) that it has been abandoned, I mean of course only by the learned; for undoubtedly it is still a generally received notion; and when those expressions which long usage has consecrated are used in public respecting the Scriptures, they will most frequently, unless particular care be taken to qualify and restrict them, be understood in this strictest sense. Among theologians, however, this doctrine of literal inspiration has been long softened into a milder and more flexible theory. Instead of a uniform, unremitting, indiscriminate operation, the agency of the Spirit was represented as accommodating itself to circumstances, and assuming, as occasion required, two different forms. One of these was designated as the inspiration of suggestion, the other as the inspiration of superintendency; the object of the former was to reveal to the penmen of the Scriptures what was necessary to be revealed, that of the latter to secure them from any material error or mistake.” According to the first or suggestive mode of inspiration, every part of Scripture was supposed to have proceeded from a positive supernatural impulse, or miraculous agency, whilst, according to the second or superintending kind, the sacred writers were only considered to have composed their works under the superintending control of the Holy Spirit, which does not of necessity imply an active interposition.” - Introduction to Schleiermacher's Essay on St. Luke, p. xiii.]

as it

Allegory, like all other interpretations of Scripture which are called deep, sees a symbolical meaning in everything; and it is a readier instrument for an expositor, inasmuch may

be employed with less solid erudition. Philo and some of the Rabbins and Fathers of the Greek Church first adopted this mode of interpretation; and according to their views, death has a double sense, with reference both to the body and the soul; the tree of knowledge is a symbol of wisdom; man is reason, and woman is sensuality. According to other allegorical interpreters, the garden is woman, the fruit in the midst of the garden is marriage, and the sin of the first pair consisted in their marrying too earlyl: but from such an interpretation disputes arose with the Enkratites (or continent,) and others, respecting celibacy. No particular notice is required of an interpretation by Hezel and Gambergs, founded on the picture discovered by Norden, and converting this section of Genesis into an erroneous account of a hieroglyphical narrative.

Critics in recent times have unanimously decided upon the mythical interpretation, and even Thomas Burnet 4 did not hesitate to say that “prejudice and habit alone prevent our regarding the legends of Genesis in the same light with those of the rest of antiquitys." We have, as Gesenius observes, “a philosophical description before us, which youthful fancy formed at one time with poetic freedom, and at another time connected with traditions already in existence; whilst the solution of the problem [of the creation and early state of man] possesses the highest degree of ethical and practical importance.”

כל 5.

1 Clemens Alex. Strom. 3, 14. p. 554. 2 Ueber die Quelle der Mos. Urgeschichte. Lemgo, 1789. 3 Nysa, Eleutheropolis (Copenhagen), 1790. 4 Archæol. Philos. 2, 7. 5 Compare also Bauer, Hebr. Mythologie, p. 8.

Gesenius, with his vast stores of Hebrew learning, agrees with Winerl in determining that this philosophical account [of the origin of evil and of the termination of the golden age] is not of pure Israelitish growth; but we have now only to pay the closer attention to the primitive source and physical basis of the narrative, as no further explanations are given in Genesis, and all the efforts of that book are directed to the promotion of moral ends with reference to the Jewish people.

Our attention is particularly called to the widely spread idea of an Evil Being in serpent-shape', and this enigma is explained in the most satisfactory manner by referring to the astrological foundation of the Zend religion, which was closely associated with the soil and climate of Bactria and northern Media, towards which countries the whole of the narrative points. The fundamental features of the Chaldee-Persian religion, and of other Asiatic modes of faith, need not be detailed here, as we have examined them at length in another works, and we shall have to recur to them in the myth of the deluge. We may observe, however, that in the religions of Asia the myths are for the most part founded on the course of the Sun in the zodiac, which was observed at a very early period, as Dupuis has proved in a work of eleven volumes, containing undisputed arguments though but little critical acumen.

It will be sufficient here to mention, that the representation of four ages and periods of the world is copied from the four seasons of the year ; that the sun sinks gradually down

1 Realwörterbuch, p. 342; Encyclop. p. 360.

Gen. iii. 1.

2

3

Ites Indien, ii. 295, 297.

from his summer reign into the region of winter; there seems to be persecuted by a hostile principle, and dies; and that with the spring, or after longer periods, as in the later development of the Messianic idea, the sun is born anew as the Saviour. To designate autumn, or the approaching bad season, the Asiatics placed a serpent in the heavens; and with this, Krishna, as the sun, has a combat, in the same way as in the Scandinavian mythology Thor fights with the dragon and Odin with a serpent, which last animal stands in the heavens!. Autumn is represented still more palpably to the senses on Mithric monuments, by a tree with ripe fruits, near the serpent and scorpion, accompanied by a genius with an inverted torch. So also, on ancient maps of constellations, the heavenly Virgin appears crushing underfoot the head of the great hydra: and on the side of spring, there stands a youth with a raised torch close to the bull, whom, as the symbol of the earth, Mithras (the Sun) cleaves with his dagger. Similar ideas are found in Theban sculpture and in the representation of Hercules at the tree of the Hesperides, from which a serpent hangs down. The whole originates from north-western India, downward through northern Persia, where in the autumn the soil is so covered with scorpions, serpents and vermin, that in ancient times the inhabitants were obliged to abandon some provinces on this accounts. It is said in the Zendavesta“, that Ahriman created the serpent in winter, that Ormuzd and his creation are attacked by serpents, and that man especially struggles against the Evil One in exterminating these vermin together with rank and poisonous plants, which are the creation of Ahriman. Even in the time of Herodotus! the chief festival was the extermination of creeping vermin, and it was called, according to Agathias, the destruction of evil things (τήν των κακών αναίρεσιν), which agrees with similar festivals in the north-west of India. Epic narrative makes mention of a serpent-sacrifice (Sarpasatra) in Cashmere, in order to exterminate serpents, and Colonel Tod on Udipur4 mentions a similar ceremony, Nágapanchami, for the chief of the serpents, in which certain herbs are strewn on the threshold, to prevent the intrusion of vipers. It is manifest that these illustrations throw a clear light on the myth of Genesis, and first give to it its proper meaning; but the information thus gained, added to many other reasons, fix a late date for the composition of this narrative,-a conclusion to which Heinrichs had been early led by a consideration of its style and of the ideas contained in it.

1 Indien, i. 249.

2 See a coin of Antoninus in Spanheim on Callimachus, p. 670, which Rosenmüller quotes.

3 See Pliny, viii. 29. Aristot. de Mirabilib. Auscult. c. 26, and Beckmann. 4 Zendav. ii. 299.

All the descriptions of the second section of Genesis belong to Iran (or Persia]: Paradise is a kind of royal park, beyond which the earth is barren and sterile, and has first to be brought into cultivation by the sweat of the brow. Woman brings forth with pain, which curse seems to extend only to the inhabitants of the north, and to those nations which have long exchanged the savage state

1 [The Persian Magi think it highly meritorious to destroy serpents, ants and the different species of reptiles.] Herod. i. 140.

? In Kleuker, Appendix ii. 148.

3 Frank, Vyasa, p. 139, and his Chrestom. Exord. Mahabh. verse 9. Compare Ayeen Akber, ii. 148.

4 Rajasthan, i. 580.

5 De antiquo illo documento quod secundo Geneseos capite exstat. Göttingen, 179

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