Imágenes de páginas

we have referred make such provision, and the experience of our own Church during the past quadrennium justifies its continuance. This is in harmony with the method adopted in the highest institutions of learning. Most of the colleges of the country accept certificates from academies and other schools which they regard as worthy. Theological seminaries accept a college diploma accompanied by a suitable certificate of Christian and ministerial standing for admission to their course of study. It is customary for literary institutions of all kinds to receive students ad eundem. These certificates give assurance that the candidates have been in residence at some worthy institution of learning and have passed its regular curriculum; they also discourage abridged courses, and thus prevent hasty preparation. This method also serves to strengthen our schools and colleges by paying them due respect and by making them careful as to those to whom they give their diplomas. This system has an excellent effect upon the whole character of the student's work, and induces consecutiveness in the course of study very helpful in promoting accurate scholarship. Most teachers would prefer the certificates of a competent faculty to their own examination of a candidate; those who have seen the student and have heard his recitations day after day necessarily know his qualifications in character and scholarship better than those who examine him only for a few hours.

It would also be well to enlarge the preliminary course for ad. mission to an Annual Conference. This is necessary in order to study with success many of the books now prescribed by the bishops. There are parts of that course on which a young man who has no knowledge of Hebrew and Greek cannot pass a satisfactory examina. tion except by the courtesy of the examiners. Even those books in the higher forms of literature and theology demand for their thorough mastery a preliminary course more extended than that now required for admission to Conference.

There should also be in theological preparation greater attention devoted to the mastery of the English language, especially to the study of the English Bible. Much as we should emphasize the study of the original languages, the day should never come when the Eng. lish Bible will not be dear to all our preachers. It was recommended by our fathers that the young preachers should study Young's Night Thoughts for the culture of style. We may smile at this advice, but it is not to be despised. The study of the best English authors will give force both to the thought and diction of the preacher. A better book, however, for the culture of style is our English Bible. In these days of Christian workers who are thoroughly trained for their special service, when the Bible is being expounded by the leaders of our Christian Associations and our Epworth Leagues, it is fitting that those who stand in our pulpits and give instruction to these workers should have had at least such train. ing as has been indicated.




THE apocryphal book of Jesus ben Sirach, commonly called "Ecclesiasticus,” has been attracting great attention of late among the higher critics of the world. For the past ten months column after column of the Expository Times has been devoted to the discussion of this book. The controversy, however, does not concern itself about the genuineness of Ecclesiasticus; for, by common consent, the statement made in the introduction to this apocryphon is regarded by all critics as true, namely, that the book was first written in Hebrew and afterward translated by a grandson of the author into Greek. It is needless to say that no scholar, up to about four or five years ago, claimed that we had a single page of the original text, but merely few isolated citations here and there in the rabbinical writings of the Jews-and, indeed, even these may have been derived from secondary sources. Our knowledge of the book as a whole was entirely derived from the versions, especially from the Greek translation.

Some years ago a celebrated Semitic scholar, Dr. Margoliouth, Laudian professor of Arabic at Oxford, a man thoroughly versed in both rabbinical and biblical Hebrew, translated the accepted Greek version into Hebrew. The result of his work was a revelation to himself, to nobody else; for he contended, on purely linguistic grounds, that the Hebrew from which the Greek had been made must have been rabbinical rather than classical or biblical. We have no desire at this time to review his arguments, but simply add that his conclusions had an important bearing upon historical criticism, especially as regarding the so-called postexilic portions of the Old Testament. He contended that such books as Daniel and Ecclesiastes could not have been written in the same age as Ecclesiasticus—that is, about the beginning of the second century before our era- since everything about these two canonical books, when compared with the writings of Sirach, shows that they must have been written centuries earlier, or about the time usually assigned them by conservative theologians. The critics of the modern school very naturally rejected such revolutionary deductions, and proved to their own satisfaction that the learned Oxford professor was nothing more than a consummate dreamer.

Scarcely had this war of words ended when two ladies from Eng. land while traveling in Palestine purchased from a dealer in antiquities several old manuscripts, among them a fragment of one in Hebrew which on closer examination turned out to be a leaf of a very ancient copy of Ecclesiasticus. While this leaf was being ed. ited and prepared for the press other similar leaves, brought by Professor Sayce from Egypt to England and deposited in the Bodleian Library, were brought to the notice of the public. These nine leaves found at Oxford are not only a portion of the same manu. script as that to which the leaf found by Mrs. Lewis belongs, but evidently a continuation of the same. The fact that the Palestinian leaf is somewhat mutilated at the bottom explains why verse 8 of chapter xl is wanting. To be more explicit, the first leaf has chap. xxxix, 15-xl, 7; the Oxford leaves, chap. xl, 9-xlix, 11.*

The Hebrew scholars of the world rejoiced greatly at the discovery of what most of them believed to be the original Hebrew of a book written between 200 and 170 B. C., since it enabled them not only to disprove Margoliouth's conclusions, but what was much more important, afforded them a standard by which they might compare the Hebrew of the early part of the second century before the Christian era with that used in the late Old Testament books, several of which, according to the more radical critics, have been written about the same time as Ecclesiasticus. Now, as the language of ben Sirach, as we see by these fragments, is as purely classical as that used in some of the canonical books, there is, we are assured with great plausibility, only one conclusion possible, namely, that such books as Daniel and Ecclesiastes must have been writ. in Sirach's age. Thus the matter stood for about three years, when Professor Margoliouth appeared once more on the field of battle. Early last summer he published a brochure entitled The Origin of the Original Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus. In this he boasts that he has, by a ruse, outwitted the higher critics of the radical school; that he has caught them napping and has led them into a miserable trap; and, further, that they have misdated a document, which they have been pleased to call "The Original Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus," by at least one thousand three hundred years. Professor Margoliouth does not mean that the critics maintain that these very leaves have come down from the time of Sirach, but rather that the fragments contain a true copy of the very words written by the author of Ecclesiasticus, some two hundred years before Christ, barring, of course, few unimportant corruptions incident to frequent copying and re-editing. Now, Professor Margoliouth claims that the fragments are not the original Hebrew at all, but rather a very indifferent translation made into Hebrew from other versions at least a thousand years after Christ; or, to be more specific, he contends that the fragment is a "retranslation into Hebrew out of a Syriac and Persian translation." He further maintains that “the translator was an Arab; at least Arabic was his native language; but he had learned Persian, and he lived after 1000 A. D.”

Professor Margoliouth sent copies of the pamphlet to some of the

* Here we may mention that two other fragments of Sirach (in Hebrew) were recently discovered in the British Museum : the one containing chaps, iil-xvi, and the other chap. xxx, 11-li, 30. As these have no relation whatever to the above mentioned, we shall say nothing concerning them except that they are regarded by Pro fessor König as genuine Hebrew.

learned periodicals, and with this a challenge to the critics to disprove his conclusions. Having thus assailed the enemy upon his own territory, and having held up the critics to ridicule, it is but natural that several distinguished Hebraists should enter the lists, among them Professor König of Rostock, Bacher of Budapest, Schecter of Cambridge, Bickel of Vienna, and others less known. Professor Bickel leans strongly to the views of Margoliouth; so does Israel Levi, who, in an article in the Revue des Études Juives,, argues with great learning that the Cambridge and Oxford fragments cannot be of Cairene origin. Levi does not accept all the arguments of the Oxford professor, but arrives at the same conclusions independently. Thus, should the critics overthrow Margoliouth's position, they will still have to reckon with the French Jewish savant. Among the periodicals which have opened their columns to the critics we may name the Jewish Review, the Critical Review, the Expository Times, as well as some French and German organs of the learned societies. Professor König, especially, has written at great length in the Expository Times, and has published a book on the subject. He strongly opposes Margoliouth at every point, and he scouts the idea that the fragments found can be anything but original Hebrew. He does not, however, deny that there may be some glosses and corruptions and many marginal notes made centuries later by copyists who may have had other copies or, indeed, other versions before them for comparison. He also admits that there are some Arabic words, which, however, were taken by the original writer from the Arabic tribes surrounding Palestine about 200 B. C. He stoutly contends that the fragments show no traces whatever of Persian. Professor Bacher, though in the main agreeing with König, yet in his article on Margoliouth's pamphlet frankly says, “Parts of this brochure are capable of stupefying one at the first moment, and certainly testify to the acumen and intelligence of their author.”

In reading these learned papers one is struck at once with their inconclusiveness. Though written for the most part in a scholarly manner, it is evident that learned men are trying to prove what they do not know. This, by the way, is very true of much of the biblical criticism of our day. No one can read Professor Margoliouth's pamphlet without wondering at the audacity of its author, nor can one look through the lengthy articles of Professor König without being convinced that the arguments of his opponent cannot be brushed away with a few strokes of the pen. But whether Margoliouth or König be right concerning the origin of the fragment of ben Sirach, the discussion which has centered about the question proves very conclusively that such historical criticism, notwithstanding the vain boasts and claims of some higher critics, is far from being one of the exact sciences. König constructs his theory out of very slender threads, and adduces very weak arguments to show that the fragment must be the original Hebrew.



It is now twelve years since Bishop Thoburn was given episcopal supervision of India and Malaysia. In his address at the last session of the Central (General) Conference of India he reviews the advance of the work within this period, and notices the policy of the free admission of the Indians to the ordained ministry. This will not strike some of our readers with force. Yet it was long and earnestly debated in the early years of the Mission as to whether these native preachers could be trusted with the responsibilities of membership in the Annual Conference, where they would soon outnumber the Americans and might at any time outvote them on questions of policy or finance. Bishop Thoburn maintains that it has been wise on the whole to admit them freely, though many and grievous mistakes have been made in the selection of individuals. He declares it was better “a thousand times” to have accepted the present policy than to have waited through long years in comparative idleness for the appearance of better candidates who were never likely to come. We must give the people a Christian Church, he says, with wide open doors and common privileges free to all believ. ers. The promotion of Indian preachers to be presiding elders has shown the people that, if India is to be converted, hundreds of preachers and officers must be taken from the common ranks.

The expansion of the work under Bishop Thoburn's administra. tion has been rapid and great. When he entered office he had with Bishop Hurst just gained the reluctant recognition of the work at Singapore; now we have the Malaysia Conference and the more dis. tant Philippines. Besides, while this episcopal supervision extends to the gates of Tibet on the north, all through northern and western India the preachers have penetrated towns and villages where twelve years ago they had no thought of going. Among the special manifestations of development Bishop Thoburn finds the presence of enthusiasm which was not found in the early days of the work; this enthusiasm he holds to be essential to successful Christian labor. Now, he says, vast audiences are stirred with deep religious feeling as they join in singing songs of praise, and specially when singing what might be called the Christian war songs of the coming crusades which are to bring India to Christ.

The bishop himself is a bundle of intelligent enthusiasm. But he always recognizes his bearings, and so he adds: “We are still liv. ing in the day of small things, comparatively; but these tokens of progress and of increasing life and strength assure us that during the brief period now closing we have been accumulating mental, moral, and spiritual material which will prove of invaluable service in the early years of the coming century.” Much interest will also

« AnteriorContinuar »