Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

anthropomorphic for the then mental status of the people, were softened down, or passages which implied an opprobrium upon David, or other personages whom it was in the sacerdotal interest to exalt, were slightly altered. Gradually these translations became as stereotyped as the original text which called them forth, and they were, from time to time, committed to writing. The chief of these translations is the Targum of Onkelos, corresponding to the Greek Akilas. Then the Targum of Jonathan, corresponding to the Greek Theodoteon (i. e. God given). Then the Jerusalem Targum. No one of the three embraces the entire Old Hebrew Scriptures, but the whole together cover the Canon of the Old Testament.

The sources of the third or Hebrew branch of the language are the Old Testament, the passage in Plautus in Phænician, and Phænician monumentary inscriptions. Of the Canaanitish we have nothing except what few words of this dialect are found in the Old Testament. It may be stated, in concluding this brief summary, that the Semitic languages resemble each other more closely than do the Aryan.

In the following translation, the words in brackets are from King James' version, where it differs from the one here given. In the transcription the apostrophe is used, where in the Hebrew the vocal Sh’va occurs. The hyphen is placed between syllables, where the Hebrew division of syllables differs from the English. The vowels are to be sounded as in Italian. The letter y” is always a consonant, and “ch” is to be pronounced as in German.

INTRODUCTION.

The under

THERE comes a time in the development of a Theology, when certain traditional beliefs begin to be. doubted and then rejected by a constantly increasing number of its adherents. The doubt and the rejection are the result of more experience and more light. It is becoming clearly to be seen that a Theology has its phases of growth, during which it becomes greatly modified so far as extraneous points of belief are concerned. At the bottom, the recognition of a Power lying reason for behind the things we perceive with our senses, under- Religion. lies all Religions, the Jewish and Christian creeds included. All else in religious beliefs belongs finally to Science to investigate and to establish. In fact it is by a kind of science that dogmas arise. Far down they are built upon human experience, but once formed and hardened by time they import into a wiser generation the accumulated mistakes of the past. To recognize these errors and to endeavor to free Religion from the odium of teaching them, seems to me a plain duty of the intellect.

The Hebrew Bible.

Far is it from my thought to commit the mistake made by the blind upholders of Religion or its equally ill-advised opponents, of considering the Bible on the one hand as solidly good, or, on the other, as solidly bad. The Bible, besides literary excellence of the highest character, contains much that is in accord with our best nature, that comforts and sustains us in our struggle to lead a noble self-sacrificing life. But we should not overlook the other sacred books entirely. It will do us good to remember that verse in the Koran, which says: “Let there be no violence in religion,” a verse we miss in the two testaments. And we should not forget that Mohammedanism has its strong side for good in its resolute denunciation of idolatry and polytheism, and that on this road which man has made through the entangling thickets of religious beliefs, Islam ranks next to Judaism, and is in so far entitled to our respect and regard. Indeed, there can be no doubt that the reversion in religion to a lower type exhibited by Mormonism, is sought to be justified by the polygamous and polytheistic element in the Bible. But those parts of the Bible which teach morality and a pure conduct it seems foolish to reject. Certainly one feels like taking all one can from a book like the Bible, in which we all have a right and which has descended, a stream of ideas and experiences, from a long past, the commingling of the flow of many centuries of thought.. We should be tolerant of what may appear defects in:

the Bible, in order to take a just attitude toward that: A just attitude towards book, and to relieve ourselves of the charge of hasty

criticism on one side or the other. All this does not. prevent our studying the Bible and its origin apart from the lesson it conveys. At present we see how it

the Bible.

lures the mass of people, setting before them bread and wine, doing them good, and then transforming them into idolaters unawares. The companions of Ulysses are fabled to have retained their human minds in the bodies of the swine into which the enchantress Circe had changed them, and something like this is seen to happen with those who have fallen under the solid sway of the Bible. We know them, tender and true, under this strange disguise. Ah, if they could only throw it off and become reasonable as well as loving! Matthew Arnold says that he who would read his Bible to advantage, must study other books as well, and he who only reads the Bible, cannot understand it fully.

The beautiful prayer: Lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord! is in reality best uttered by those who are doing something in the direction of working for light. To pray in this way and then to turn our backs to the light must be both stupid and wrong. We can now no longer expect the light to come from anything but right-thinking and right-acting, and our test of what is best in these directions must come from the knowledge we gain from the best books and the teachings of our experience through our senses. The danger of Protestantism lies in its opposition to the light for which it prays.

Some of us seem to be contented to live less perfect lives, occupied with the task of adapting ourselves to the immediate wants and conditions which surround

Others strive to look beyond these and to ascertain the general drift of humanity in politics, religion, art and science. Nothing can be more fatal to the individual than a mis-conception of this drift, a failure to make out clearly the actual condition of affairs and

us.

necessary to ascertain the ten

their nearer outcome. Yet these mistakes are made

daily. They come from imperfect generalizations Knowledge to drawn from a misconception of the existing state of dency in human things. At the bottom they are the result of defective affairs. knowledge in the department in which they are made.

But, indeed, something of all departments of human thought should be known by the man who attempts a generalization in any; so many-sided are we and so wide is now the elbow-room we have forced ourselves into in this world. But every thinker works with a more or less restricted subject matter. His abilityto let new light into his subject depends upon his knowledge of related affairs, and his work will be most effectual for good when he labors to bring his particular subject into a correspondence with things as they are seen to be in other departments.

If there is one subject which now seems more im

portant than another, it is the bearing of our recogniEvolution tion of the process of Evolution upon the existing state and our religi

of our religious creed. It is not that the teachings of Christ are to be rejected, or the morality of the Hebrew Bible to be condemned, but that we are to correct our views as to the way in which existing plants and animals, including man, came to be what they are to-day. For Astronomy and Geology the struggle is. nearly over. Out of this struggle has sprung the fatal error of believing that our knowledge in these branches does not contradict Genesis, or that a reconciliation is possible. But with Biology the struggle is now on, and before people will generally admit, that here too development reigns, that there is not necessarily anything more miraculous in the first appearance of life on this globe than in the appearance of a rock-formation,

ous creed.

« ZurückWeiter »