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arise as to the fact, and it is said "the divinity could not have done as it is alleged," or, "the deed could not be divine." Then attempts are made to show either that these deeds were never done, and, therefore, the documentary record is not entitled to historical credibility, or that they were not done by God, and, therefore, to explain away the real contents of the book. In each of these cases, the critic may go fearlessly to work; look facts clearly in the face; acknowledge the statements of the old record, with the inconsistency between them and the truths of science; or, he may go to work under constraint; may blind himself to this inconsistency, and seek merely to unfold the original meaning of the text. This took place in Greece, where religion did not rest on religious documents, but had yet a sort of connexion with the mythological stories of Homer and Hesiod, and with others, which circulated from mouth to mouth. The serious philosophers soon saw that these stories could not be true. Hence arose Plato's quarrel with Homer; hence Anaxagoras gave an allegorical explanation of Homer, and the stoics naturalized Hesiod's Theogony, supposing it related to the operations of Nature. Others, like Evhemerus, humanized and applied these stories to men, who by great deeds had won divine honors.

Now with the Hebrews, their stability, and their adherence to the supernatural stand-point would, on the one hand, prevent such views being taken of their religious records; and on the other, render this treatment the more necessary. Accordingly, after the exile, and still more after the time of the Maccabees, the Hebrew teachers found means to remove what was offensive ; to fill up chasms, and introduce modern ideas into their religious books. This was first done at Alexandria. Philo, following numerous predecessors, maintained there was a common and a deeper sense in the Scriptures, and in some cases, the literal mean ing was altogether set aside; especially when it comprised anything excessively Anthropomorphitic, or unworthy of God. Thus he gave up the historical character, to save the credit of the narrative, but never followed the method of Evhemerus. The Christians applied the same treatment to the Old Testament, and Origen found a literal, moral, and mystical sense in all parts of the Scriptures, and sometimes applied the saying, "the letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive" to the former. Some passages, he said, had no literal sense; in others, a literal lie lay at the bottom of a mystical truth. Many deeds, he says,


are mentioned in Scripture, which were never performed; fiction is woven up with fact to lead us to virtue. He rejected the literal sense of those passages which humanize the Deity. But Origen went farther, and applied these same principles to the New Testament, where he found much that was distasteful to his philosophical palate. Here also he finds fiction mingled with fact, and compares the Homeric stories of the Trojan war, in respect to their credibility, with the Christian narratives. In both Homer and the Gospels, he would consider what portions can be believed; what considered as figurative; what rejected as incredible, and the result of human frailty. He, therefore, does not demand a blind faith in the Gospels, but would have all Christians understand, that good sense and diligent examination are necessary, in this study, to ascertain the meaning of a particular passage. But this heretical father was too cautious to extend these remarks, and apply them extensively to particular passages. The Scriptures fell into the hands of men who acknowledged something divine in them; but denied that God had made therein particular manifestations of himself. This was done by Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, who assented to much that is related of Moses and Jesus; while they found "lying legends" in other parts of the Bible.

Among the Greeks and Hebrews, whose religious literature was contemporary with the growth of the nation, the prevalence of allegorical interpretation of the sacred books proved that the oral forms of religion had died out, for the modern culture had outgrown the faith of the fathers of the nation. But in Christianity, the allegorical explanation adopted by Origen, and the peculiar opposition of Celsus taking place so near the birth of Christianity, prove that the world had not yet properly lived in the new form of religion. But, from the age after this time, when the rude Germanic nations, too rude to find any difficulty in admitting the most objectionable parts of the Old and New Testament, were conquering the Roman Empire, and becoming Christian at the same time, all proofs have disappeared, which would indicate the prevalence of a manner of interpreting the Scriptures, that arose from a radical discrepancy between the culture of mankind and the statements in these records. The Reformation made the first breach upon the solid walls of Ecclesiastical faith in the letter of the Bible. This was the first sign, that in Christianity, as formerly in Judaism

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and Heathenism, there was a culture sufficiently powerful to react upon the prevalent form of religion.

So far as the Reformation was directed against the Romish Church, it soon accomplished its sublime mission. But in relation to the Scriptures, it took the direction of Deism. Toland and Bolingbroke called the Bible a collection of fabulous books. Others robbed the Scriptural heroes of all divine light. The law of Moses was considered a superstition; the apostles were called selfish; the character of Jesus was assailed; and his resurrection denied by a "moral philosopher." Here belong Chubb, Woolston, Morgan, and the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist. These scholars were ably opposed by a host of apologetical writers in England and Germany, who defended the supernatural character of the Bible. But in Germany there arose a different class of men, who designed to strip the Bible of its supernatural character, and direct divinity; but to leave its human character unharmed. They would not call the alleged miracles, miracles, nor consider them as juggling. Thus Eichhorn opposed the Deists, who ascribed bad motives to the writers of Scripture, but denied that there was anything supernatural in the stories of the Old Testament. He saw that he must deny this of the Bible, or admit it likewise of all ancient religious documents; for they all claimed it. We are not to be astonished, he says, at finding miracles in these writings, for they were produced in the infancy of the world; we must interpret them in the same spirit that composed them. Thus he can explain the history of Noah, Abraham, and Moses, by natural events.

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Others treated the New Testament in the same manner. But the first Christian Evhemerus, was Dr. Paulus. He makes a distinction between the fact related and the judgment or opinion respecting the fact; for example, between the fact and the writer's opinion respecting its cause or purpose. The two, he supposes, are confounded in the New Testament, for its writers, like others in that age, took a supernatural view, and referred human actions to the direct agency of God. The office of an interpreter is to separate the fact from the opinion about the fact. Paulus, accordingly, believes the Gospels, but denies the supernatural causality of the events related. Jesus is not the Son of God, in the ecclesiastical sense, but a good man; he works no miracles, but does kind deeds, sometimes by chirurgical skill, and sometimes by good luck. Both Paulus and

Eichhorn, in order to maintain the truth of the narrative, must refer it to a date as early as possible; thus the former admits that Moses wrote the Pentateuch on the march through the wilderness, and the latter believes the genuineness of the Gospels. Both of these sacrifice the literal history for the sake of the great truths contained in the book.

Kant took a different position. He did not concern himself with the history, but only with the idea the history unfolded; this idea he considered not as theoretical and practical, but only the latter. He did not refer it to the divine mind, but to that of the writer, or his interpreter. Christian writers, he says, have so long interpreted these books, that they seem to harmonize with universal moral laws. But the Greeks and Romans did the same, and made Polytheism only a symbol of the various attributes of the One God, thus giving a mystical sense to the basest actions of the gods, and the wildest dreams of the poets. In the same way the Christian writings must be explained so as to make them harmonize with the universal laws of a pure moral Religion. This, even if it does violence to the text, must be preferred to the literal interpretation, which, in many instances, would afford no support to morality, and would sometimes counteract the moral sense. Thus he makes David's denunciation of his foes signify the desire to overcome obstacles. But it is not necessary these ideas should have been present to the mind of the writer of the books.

Here, Mr. Strauss continues, was, on the one hand, an unhistorical, and on the other, an unphilosophical method of treating the Bible. The progressive study of mythology shed light upon this subject. Eichhorn had made the reasonable demand that the Bible should be treated like other ancient books; but Paulus, attempting to treat others as he treated the Bible, could not naturalize the Greek legends and myths. Such scholars as Schelling and Gabler began to find myths in the Bible, and apply to them the maxim of Heyne, "a mythis omnis priscorum hominum cum historia, tum philosophia procedit." Bauer ventured to write a Hebrew mythology of the Old and New Testament. A myth was defined to be a narration proceeding from an age, when there was no written, authentic history, but when facts were preserved and related by oral tradition. It is a myth if it contains an account of things, — related in an historical way, which absolutely could not be the objects of experience, such as events that took place in the supersensual world, or, which

could not relatively be objects of experience, such, for example, as, from the nature of the case, no man could witness. Or, finally, it is a myth if the narrative is elaborated into the wonderful, and is related in symbolic language.


Now the naturalistic method of interpreting the Bible could only be resorted to on the supposition of its historical accuracy, and that it was written contemporary with the events it relates. Accordingly, men who denied this carried out the mythical theory. The Pentateuch, says Vater, can be understood only on the supposition it was not written by eye-witnesses. De Wette declared still more strongly against the naturalistic, and in favor of the mythical hypothesis. To test the credibility of an account, he says, we must examine the writer's tendency. He may write history, and yet have a poetic tendency, and such is the case with the writers of the Old Testament. Fact and fiction are blended together therein, and we cannot separate them because we have no criterion or touch-stone, by which to examine them. The only source of our knowledge of events is the narrative relating the historical facts. We cannot go beyond this. In regard to the Old Testament, we must admit or reject these narratives; in the latter case, we relinquish all claim to any knowledge of the affairs related, for we have no other evidence respecting them. We have no right to impose a natural explanation on what is related as a miracle. It is entirely arbitrary to say the fact is genuine history, and the drapery alone is poetical; for example, we have no right to say Abram thought he would make a covenant with God, and that this fact lies at the bottom of the poetic narrative. Nor do we know what Abram thought. If we follow the narrative, we must take the fact as it is; if we reject it, we have no knowledge of the fact itself. It is not reasonable Abram should have such thoughts of his descendants possessing Palestine centuries afterwards, but quite natural, that they should write this poetic fiction to glorify their ancestor. Thus the naturalistic explanation destroys itself, and the mythical takes its place. Even Eichhorn confessed the former could not be applied to the New Testament, and Gabler, long ago, maintained, that there are in the New Testament, not only erroneous judgments upon facts, which an eye-witness might make, but also false facts and improbable results mentioned, which an eyewitness could not relate, but which were gradually formed by tradition, and are, therefore, to be considered myths. The

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