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History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White

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of Chronicles, see especially Driver, Introduction to the
Literature of the Old Testament, pp. 495 et seq.; also
Wellhausen, as above; also Hooykaas, Oort, and Kuenen, Bible for
Learners. For many of the foregoing, see also the writings of
Prof. W. Robertson Smith; also Beard's Hibbert Lectures, chap. x.
For Hupfield and his discovery, see Cheyne, Founders, etc., as
above, chap. vii; also Moore's Introduction. For a justly
indignant judgment of Hengstenberg and his school, see Canon
Farrar, as above, p. 417, note; and for a few words throwing a
bright light into his character and career, see C. A. Briggs, D.
D., Authority of Holy Scripture, p. 93. For Wellhausen, see
Pfleiderer, as above, book iii, chap. ii. For an excellent
popular statement of the general results of German criticism, see
J. T. Sunderland, The Bible, Its Origin, Growth, and Character,
New York and London, 1893.


The science of biblical criticism was, as we have seen, first
developed mainly in Germany and Holland. Many considerations
there, as elsewhere, combined to deter men from opening new paths
to truth: not even in those countries were these the paths to
preferment; but there, at least, the sturdy Teutonic love of
truth for truth's sake, strengthened by the Kantian ethics, found
no such obstacles as in other parts of Europe. Fair
investigation of biblical subjects had not there been extirpated,
as in Italy and Spain; nor had it been forced into channels which
led nowhither, as in France and southern Germany; nor were men
who might otherwise have pursued it dazzled and drawn away from
it by the multitude of splendid prizes for plausibility, for
sophistry, or for silence displayed before the ecclesiastical
vision in England. In the frugal homes of North German and Dutch
professors and pastors high thinking on these great subjects went
steadily on, and the "liberty of teaching," which is the glory of
the northern Continental universities, while it did not secure
honest thinkers against vexations, did at least protect them
against the persecutions which in other countries would have
thwarted their studies and starved their families.[477]

[477] As to the influence of Kant on honest thought in
Germany, see Pfleiderer, as above, chap. i.

In England the admission of the new current of thought was
apparently impossible. The traditional system of biblical
interpretation seemed established on British soil forever. It
was knit into the whole fabric of thought and observance; it was
protected by the most justly esteemed hierarchy the world has
ever seen; it was intrenched behind the bishops' palaces, the
cathedral stalls, the professors' chairs, the country
parsonages--all these, as a rule, the seats of high endeavour and
beautiful culture. The older thought held a controlling voice in
the senate of the nation; it was dear to the hearts of all
classes; it was superbly endowed; every strong thinker seemed to
hold a brief, or to be in receipt of a retaining fee for it. As
to preferment in the Church, there was a cynical aphorism
current, "He may hold anything who will hold his tongue."[478]

[478] For an eloquent and at the same time profound statement
of the evils flowing from the "moral terrorism" and "intellectual
tyrrany" at Oxford at the period referred to, see quotation in
Pfleiderer, Development of Theology, p. 371.

For the alloy of interested motives among English Church
dignitiaries, see the pungent criticism of Bishop Hampden by
Canon Liddon, in his Life of Pusey, vol. i, p. 363.

Yet, while there was inevitably much alloy of worldly wisdom in
the opposition to the new thought, no just thinker can deny far
higher motives to many, perhaps to most, of the ecclesiastics who
were resolute against it. The evangelical movement incarnate in
the Wesleys had not spent its strength; the movement begun by
Pusey, Newman, Keble, and their compeers was in full force. The
aesthetic reaction, represented on the Continent by
Chateaubriand, Manzoni, and Victor Hugo, and in England by Walter
Scott, Pugin, Ruskin, and above all by Wordsworth, came in to
give strength to this barrier. Under the magic of the men who
led in this reaction, cathedrals and churches, which in the
previous century had been regarded by men of culture as mere
barbaric masses of stone and mortar, to be masked without by
classic colonnades and within by rococo work in stucco and papier
mache, became even more beloved than in the thirteenth century.
Even men who were repelled by theological disputations were
fascinated and made devoted reactionists by the newly revealed
beauties of medieval architecture and ritual.[479]

[479] A very curious example of this insensibility among
persons of really high culture is to be found in American
literature toward the end of the eighteenth century. Mrs. Adams,
wife of John Adams, afterward President of the United States, but
at that time minister to England, one of the most gifted women of
her time, speaking, in her very interesting letters from England,
of her journey to the seashore, refers to Canterbury Cathedral,
seen from her carriage windows, and which she evidently did not
take the trouble to enter, as "looking like a vast prison." So,
too, about the same time, Thomas Jefferson, the American
plenipotentiary in France, a devoted lover of classical and
Renaissance architecture, giving an account of his journey to
Paris, never refers to any of the beautiful cathedrals or
churches upon his route.

The centre and fortress of this vast system, and of the reaction
against the philosophy of the eighteenth century, was the
University of Oxford. Orthodoxy was its vaunt, and a special
exponent of its spirit and object of its admiration was its
member of Parliament, Mr. William Ewart Gladstone, who, having
begun his political career by a laboured plea for the union of
church and state, ended it by giving that union what is likely to
be a death-blow. The mob at the circus of Constantinople in the
days of the Byzantine emperors was hardly more wildly orthodox
than the mob of students at this foremost seat of learning of the
Anglo-Saxon race during the middle decades of the nineteenth
century. The Moslem students of El Azhar are hardly more
intolerant now than these English students were then. A curious
proof of this had been displayed just before the end of that
period. The minister of the United States at the court of St.
James was then Edward Everett. He was undoubtedly the most
accomplished scholar and one of the foremost statesmen that
America had produced; his eloquence in early life had made him
perhaps the most admired of American preachers; his classical
learning had at a later period made him Professor of Greek at
Harvard; he had successfully edited the leading American review,
and had taken a high place in American literature; he had been
ten years a member of Congress; he had been again and again
elected Governor of Massachusetts; and in all these posts he had
shown amply those qualities which afterward made him President of
Harvard, Secretary of State of the United States, and a United
States Senator. His character and attainments were of the
highest, and, as he was then occupying the foremost place in the
diplomatic service of his country, he was invited to receive an
appropriate honorary degree at Oxford. But, on his presentation
for it in the Sheldonian Theatre, there came a revelation to the
people he represented, and indeed to all Christendom: a riot
having been carefully prepared beforehand by sundry zealots, he
was most grossly and ingeniously insulted by the mob of
undergraduates and bachelors of art in the galleries and masters
of arts on the floor; and the reason for this was that, though by
no means radical in his religious opinions, he was thought to
have been in his early life, and to be possibly at that time,
below what was then the Oxford fashion in belief, or rather
feeling, regarding the mystery of the Trinity.

At the centre of biblical teaching at Oxford sat Pusey, Regius
Professor of Hebrew, a scholar who had himself remained for a
time at a German university, and who early in life had imbibed
just enough of the German spirit to expose him to suspicion and
even to attack. One charge against him at that time shows
curiously what was then expected of a man perfectly sound in the
older Anglican theology. He had ventured to defend holy writ
with the argument that there were fishes actually existing which
could have swallowed the prophet Jonah. The argument proved
unfortunate. He was attacked on the scriptural ground that the
fish which swallowed Jonah was created for that express purpose.
He, like others, fell back under the charm of the old system: his
ideas gave force to the reaction: in the quiet of his study,
which, especially after the death of his son, became a hermitage,
he relapsed into patristic and medieval conceptions of
Christianity, enforcing them from the pulpit and in his published
works. He now virtually accepted the famous dictum of Hugo of
St. Victor--that one is first to find what is to be believed, and
then to search the Scriptures for proofs of it. His devotion to
the main features of the older interpretation was seen at its
strongest in his utterances regarding the book of Daniel. Just
as Cardinal Bellarmine had insisted that the doctrine of the
incarnation depends upon the retention of the Ptolemaic
astronomy; just as Danzius had insisted that the very continuance
of religion depends on the divine origin of the Hebrew
punctuation; just as Peter Martyr had made everything sacred
depend on the literal acceptance of Genesis; just as Bishop
Warburton had insisted that Christianity absolutely depends upon
a right interpretation of the prophecies regarding Antichrist;
just as John Wesley had insisted that the truth of the Bible
depends on the reality of witchcraft; just as, at a later period,
Bishop Wilberforce insisted that the doctrine of the Incarnation
depends on the "Mosaic" statements regarding the origin of man;
and just as Canon Liddon insisted that Christianity itself
depends on a literal belief in Noah's flood, in the
transformation of Lot's wife, and in the sojourn of Jonah in the
whale: so did Pusey then virtually insist that Christianity must
stand or fall with the early date of the book of Daniel.
Happily, though the Ptolemaic astronomy, and witchcraft, and the
Genesis creation myths, and the Adam, Noah, Lot, and Jonah
legends, and the divine origin of the Hebrew punctuation, and the
prophecies regarding Antichrist, and the early date of the book
of Daniel have now been relegated to the limbo of ontworn
beliefs, Christianity has but come forth the stronger.

Nothing seemed less likely than that such a vast intrenched camp
as that of which Oxford was the centre could be carried by an
effort proceeding from a few isolated German and Dutch scholars.
Yet it was the unexpected which occurred; and it is instructive
to note that, even at the period when the champions of the older
thought were to all appearance impregnably intrenched in England,
a way had been opened into their citadel, and that the most
effective agents in preparing it were really the very men in the
universities and cathedral chapters who had most distinguished
themselves by uncompromising and intolerant orthodoxy.

A rapid survey of the history of general literary criticism at
that epoch will reveal this fact fully. During the last decade
of the seventeenth century there had taken place the famous
controversy over the Letters of Phalaris, in which, against
Charles Boyle and his supporters at Oxford, was pitted Richard
Bentley at Cambridge, who insisted that the letters were
spurious. In the series of battles royal which followed,
although Boyle, aided by Atterbury, afterward so noted for his
mingled ecclesiastical and political intrigues, had gained a
temporary triumph by wit and humour, Bentley's final attack had
proved irresistible. Drawing from the stores of his wonderfully
wide and minute knowledge, he showed that the letters could not
have been written in the time of Phalaris--proving this by an
exhibition of their style, which could not then have been in use,
of their reference to events which had not then taken place, and
of a mass of considerations which no one but a scholar almost
miraculously gifted could have marshalled so fully. The
controversy had attracted attention not only in England but
throughout Europe. With Bentley's reply it had ended. In spite
of public applause at Atterbury's wit, scholars throughout the
world acknowledged Bentley's victory: he was recognised as the
foremost classical scholar of his time; the mastership of
Trinity, which he accepted, and the Bristol bishopric, which he
rejected, were his formal reward.

Although, in his new position as head of the greatest college in
England, he went to extreme lengths on the orthodox side in
biblical theology, consenting even to support the doctrine that
the Hebrew punctuation was divinely inspired, this was as nothing
compared with the influence of the system of criticism which he
introduced into English studies of classical literature in
preparing the way for the application of a similar system to ALL
literature, whether called sacred or profane.

Up to that period there had really been no adequate criticism of
ancient literature. Whatever name had been attached to any
ancient writing was usually accepted as the name of the author:
what texts should be imputed to an author was settled generally
on authority. But with Bentley began a new epoch. His acute
intellect and exquisite touch revealed clearly to English
scholars the new science of criticism, and familiarized the minds
of thinking men with the idea that the texts of ancient
literature must be submitted to this science. Henceforward a new
spirit reigned among the best classical scholars, prophetic of
more and more light in the greater field of sacred literature.
Scholars, of whom Porson was chief, followed out this method, and
though at times, as in Porson's own case, they were warned off,
with much loss and damage, from the application of it to the
sacred text, they kept alive the better tradition.

A hundred years after Bentley's main efforts appeared in Germany
another epoch-making book--Wolf's Introduction to Homer. In this
was broached the theory that the Iliad and Odyssey are not the
works of a single great poet, but are made up of ballad
literature wrought into unity by more or less skilful editing.
In spite of various changes and phases of opinion on this subject
since Wolf's day, he dealt a killing blow at the idea that
classical works are necessarily to be taken at what may be termed
their face value.

More and more clearly it was seen that the ideas of early
copyists, and even of early possessors of masterpieces in ancient
literature, were entirely different from those to which the
modern world is accustomed. It was seen that manipulations and
interpolations in the text by copyists and possessors had long
been considered not merely venial sins, but matters of right, and
that even the issuing of whole books under assumed names had been
practised freely.

In 1811 a light akin to that thrown by Bentley and Wolf upon
ancient literature was thrown by Niebuhr upon ancient history.
In his History of Rome the application of scientific principles
to the examination of historical sources was for the first time
exhibited largely and brilliantly. Up to that period the
time-honoured utterances of ancient authorities had been, as a
rule, accepted as final: no breaking away, even from the most
absurd of them, was looked upon with favour, and any one
presuming to go behind them was regarded as troublesome and even
as dangerous.

Through this sacred conventionalism Niebuhr broke fearlessly,
and, though at times overcritical, he struck from the early
history of Rome a vast mass of accretions, and gave to the world
a residue infinitely more valuable than the original amalgam of
myth, legend, and chronicle.

His methods were especially brought to bear on students' history
by one of the truest men and noblest scholars that the English
race has produced--Arnold of Rugby--and, in spite of the
inevitable heavy conservatism, were allowed to do their work in
the field of ancient history as well as in that of ancient
classical literature.

The place of myth in history thus became more and more
understood, and historical foundations, at least so far as
SECULAR history was concerned, were henceforth dealt with in a
scientific spirit. The extension of this new treatment to ALL
ancient literature and history was now simply a matter of time.

Such an extension had already begun; for in 1829 had appeared
Milman's History of the Jews. In this work came a further
evolution of the truths and methods suggested by Bentley, Wolf,
and Niebuhr, and their application to sacred history was made
strikingly evident. Milman, though a clergyman, treated the
history of the chosen people in the light of modern knowledge of
Oriental and especially of Semitic peoples. He exhibited sundry
great biblical personages of the wandering days of Israel as
sheiks or emirs or Bedouin chieftains; and the tribes of Israel
as obedient then to the same general laws, customs, and ideas
governing wandering tribes in the same region now. He dealt with
conflicting sources somewhat in the spirit of Bentley, and with
the mythical, legendary, and miraculous somewhat in the spirit of
Niebuhr. This treatment of the history of the Jews, simply as
the development of an Oriental tribe, raised great opposition.
Such champions of orthodoxy as Bishop Mant and Dr. Faussett
straightway took the field, and with such effect that the Family
Library, a very valuable series in which Milman's history
appeared, was put under the ban, and its further publication
stopped. For years Milman, though a man of exquisite literary
and lofty historical gifts, as well as of most honourable
character, was debarred from preferment and outstripped by
ecclesiastics vastly inferior to him in everything save worldly
wisdom; for years he was passed in the race for honours by
divines who were content either to hold briefs for all the
contemporary unreason which happened to be popular, or to keep
their mouths shut altogether. This opposition to him extended to
his works. For many years they were sneered at, decried, and
kept from the public as far as possible.

Fortunately, the progress of events lifted him, before the
closing years of his life, above all this opposition. As Dean of
St. Paul's he really outranked the contemporary archbishops: he
lived to see his main ideas accepted, and his History of Latin
Christianity received as certainly one of the most valuable, and
no less certainly the most attractive, of all Church histories
ever written.

The two great English histories of Greece--that by Thirlwall,
which was finished, and that by Grote, which was begun, in the
middle years of the nineteenth century--came in to strengthen
this new development. By application of the critical method to
historical sources, by pointing out more and more fully the
inevitable part played by myth and legend in early chronicles, by
displaying more and more clearly the ease with which
interpolations of texts, falsifications of statements, and
attributions to pretended authors were made, they paved the way
still further toward a just and fruitful study of sacred

[480] For Mr. Gladstone's earlier opinion, see his Church and
State, and Macaulay's review of it. For Pusey, see Mozley, Ward,
Newman's Apologia, Dean Church, etc., and especially his Life, by
Liddon. Very characteristic touches are given in vol. i, showing
the origin of many of his opinions (see letter on p. 184). For
the scandalous treatment of Mr. Everett by the clerical mob at
Oxford, see a rather jaunty account of the preparations and of
the whole performance in a letter written at the time from Oxford
by the late Dean Church, in The Life and Letters of Dean Church,
London, 1894, pp. 40, 41. For a brief but excellent summary of
the character and services of Everett, see J. F. Rhodes's History
of the United States from the Compromise of 1850, New York, 1893,
vol. i, pp. 291 et seq. For a succinct and brilliant history of
the Bentley-Boyle controversy, see Macauley's article on Bentley
in the Encyclopaedia Britannica; also Beard's Hibbert Lectures
for 1893, pp. 344, 345; also Dissertation in Bentley's work,
edited by Dyce, London, 1836, vol. i, especially the preface.
For Wolf, see his Prolegomena ad Homerum, Halle, 1795; for its
effects, see the admirable brief statement in Beard, as above, p.
345. For Niebuhr, see his Roman History, translated by Hare and
Thirlwall, London, 1828; also Beard, as above. For Milman's view,
see, as a specimen, his History of the Jews, last edition,
especially pp. 15-27. For a noble tribute to his character, see
the preface to Lecky's History of European Morals. For
Thirlwall, see his History of Greece, passim; also his letters;
also his Charge of the Bishop of St. David's, 1863.

Down to the middle of the nineteenth century the traditionally
orthodox side of English scholarship, while it had not been able
to maintain any effective quarantine against Continental
criticism of classical literature, had been able to keep up
barriers fairly strong against Continental discussions of sacred
literature. But in the second half of the nineteenth century
these barriers were broken at many points, and, the stream of
German thought being united with the current of devotion to truth
in England, there appeared early in 1860 a modest volume entitled
Essays and Reviews. This work discussed sundry of the older
theological positions which had been rendered untenable by modern
research, and brought to bear upon them the views of the newer
school of biblical interpretation. The authors were, as a rule,
scholars in the prime of life, holding influential positions in
the universities and public schools. They were seven--the first
being Dr. Temple, a successor of Arnold at Rugby; and the others,
the Rev. Dr. Rowland Williams, Prof. Baden Powell, the Rev. H.
B. Wilson, Mr. C. W. Goodwin, the Rev. Mark Pattison, and the
Rev. Prof. Jowett--the only one of the seven not in holy orders
being Goodwin. All the articles were important, though the
first, by Temple, on The Education of the World, and the last, by
Jowett, on The Interpretation of Scripture, being the most
moderate, served most effectually as entering wedges into the old

At first no great attention was paid to the book, the only notice
being the usual attempts in sundry clerical newspapers to
pooh-pooh it. But in October, 1860, appeared in the Westminster
Review an article exulting in the work as an evidence that the
new critical method had at last penetrated the Church of England.

The opportunity for defending the Church was at once seized by no
less a personage than Bishop Wilberforce, of Oxford, the same who
a few months before had secured a fame more lasting than enviable
by his attacks on Darwin and the evolutionary theory. His first
onslaught was made in a charge to his clergy. This he followed
up with an article in the Quarterly Review, very explosive in its
rhetoric, much like that which he had devoted in the same
periodical to Darwin. The bishop declared that the work tended
"toward infidelity, if not to atheism"; that the writers had been
"guilty of criminal levity"; that, with the exception of the
essay by Dr. Temple, their writings were "full of sophistries and
scepticisms." He was especially bitter against Prof. Jowett's
dictum, "Interpret the Scripture like any other book"; he
insisted that Mr. Goodwin's treatment of the Mosaic account of
the origin of man "sweeps away the whole basis of inspiration and
leaves no place for the Incarnation"; and through the article
were scattered such rhetorical adornments as the words "infidel,"
"atheistic," "false," and "wanton." It at once attracted wide
attention, but its most immediate effect was to make the fortune
of Essays and Reviews, which was straightway demanded on every
hand, went through edition after edition, and became a power in
the land. At this a panic began, and with the usual results of
panic--much folly and some cruelty. Addresses from clergy and
laity, many of them frantic with rage and fear, poured in upon
the bishops, begging them to save Christianity and the Church: a
storm of abuse arose: the seven essayists were stigmatized as
"the seven extinguishers of the seven lamps of the Apocalypse,"
"the seven champions NOT of Christendom." As a result of all this
pressure, Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the last of
the old, kindly, bewigged pluralists of the Georgian period,
headed a declaration, which was signed by the Archbishop of York
and a long list of bishops, expressing pain at the appearance of
the book, but doubts as to the possibility of any effective
dealing with it. This letter only made matters worse. The
orthodox decried it as timid, and the liberals denounced it as
irregular. The same influences were exerted in the sister
island, and the Protestant archbishops in Ireland issued a joint
letter warning the faithful against the "disingenuousness" of the
book. Everything seemed to increase the ferment. A meeting of
clergy and laity having been held at Oxford in the matter of
electing a Professor of Sanscrit, the older orthodox party,
having made every effort to defeat the eminent scholar Max
Miller, and all in vain, found relief after their defeat in new
denunciations of Essays and Reviews.

Of the two prelates who might have been expected to breast the
storm, Tait, Bishop of London, afterward Archbishop of
Canterbury, bent to it for a period, though he soon recovered
himself and did good service; the other, Thirlwall, Bishop of St.
David's, bided his time, and, when the proper moment came, struck
most effective blows for truth and justice.

Tait, large-minded and shrewd, one of the most statesmanlike of
prelates, at first endeavoured to detach Temple and Jowett from
their associates; but, though Temple was broken down with a load
of care, and especially by the fact that he had upon his
shoulders the school at Rugby, whose patrons had become alarmed
at his connection with the book, he showed a most refreshing
courage and manliness. A passage from his letters to the Bishop
of London runs as follows: "With regard to my own conduct I can
only say that nothing on earth will induce me to do what you
propose. I do not judge for others, but in me it would be base
and untrue." On another occasion Dr. Temple, when pressed in the
interest of the institution of learning under his care to detach
himself from his associates in writing the book, declared to a
meeting of the masters of the school that, if any statements were
made to the effect that he disapproved of the other writers in
the volume, he should probably find it his duty to contradict
them. Another of these letters to the Bishop of London contains
sundry passages of great force. One is as follows: "Many years
ago you urged us from the university pulpit to undertake the
critical study of the Bible. You said that it was a dangerous
study, but indispensable. You described its difficulties, and
those who listened must have felt a confidence (as I assuredly
did, for I was there) that if they took your advice and entered
on the task, you, at any rate, would never join in treating them
unjustly if their study had brought with it the difficulties you
described. Such a study, so full of difficulties, imperatively
demands freedom for its condition. To tell a man to study, and
yet bid him, under heavy penalties, come to the same conclusions
with those who have not studied, is to mock him. If the
conclusions are prescribed, the study is precluded." And again,
what, as coming from a man who has since held two of the most
important bishoprics in the English Church, is of great
importance: "What can be a grosser superstition than the theory
of literal inspiration? But because that has a regular footing it
is to be treated as a good man's mistake, while the courage to
speak the truth about the first chapter of Genesis is a wanton
piece of wickedness."

The storm howled on. In the Convocation of Canterbury it was
especially violent. In the Lower House Archdeacon Denison
insisted on the greatest severity, as he said, "for the sake of
the young who are tainted, and corrupted, and thrust almost to
hell by the action of this book." At another time the same
eminent churchman declared: "Of all books in any language which I
ever laid my hands on, this is incomparably the worst; it
contains all the poison which is to be found in Tom Paine's Age
of Reason, while it has the additional disadvantage of having
been written by clergymen."

Hysterical as all this was, the Upper House was little more
self-contained. Both Tait and Thirlwall, trying to make some
headway against the swelling tide, were for a time beaten back by
Wilberforce, who insisted on the duty of the Church to clear
itself publicly from complicity with men who, as he said, "gave
up God's Word, Creation, redemption, and the work of the Holy

The matter was brought to a curious issue by two
prosecutions--one against the Rev. Dr. Williams by the Bishop of
Salisbury, the other against the Rev. Mr. Wilson by one of his
clerical brethren. The first result was that both these authors
were sentenced to suspension from their offices for a year. At
this the two condemned clergymen appealed to the Queen in
Council. Upon the judicial committee to try the case in last
resort sat the lord chancellor, the two archbishops, and the
Bishop of London; and one occurrence now brought into especial
relief the power of the older theological reasoning and
ecclesiastical zeal to close the minds of the best of men to the
simplest principles of right and justice. Among the men of his
time most deservedly honoured for lofty character, thorough
scholarship, and keen perception of right and justice was Dr.
Pusey. No one doubted then, and no one doubts now, that he would
have gone to the stake sooner than knowingly countenance wrong or
injustice; and yet we find him at this time writing a series of
long and earnest letters to the Bishop of London, who, as a
judge, was hearing this case, which involved the livelihood and
even the good name of the men on trial, pointing out to the
bishop the evil consequences which must follow should the authors
of Essays and Reviews be acquitted, and virtually beseeching the
judges, on grounds of expediency, to convict them. Happily,
Bishop Tait was too just a man to be thrown off his bearings by
appeals such as this.

The decision of the court, as finally rendered by the lord
chancellor, virtually declared it to be no part of the duty of
the tribunal to pronounce any opinion upon the book; that the
court only had to do with certain extracts which had been
presented. Among these was one adduced in support of a charge
against Mr. Wilson--that he denied the doctrine of eternal
punishment. On this the court decided that it did "not find in
the formularies of the English Church any such distinct
declaration upon the subject as to require it to punish the
expression of a hope by a clergyman that even the ultimate pardon
of the wicked who are condemned in the day of judgment may be
consistent with the will of Almighty God." While the archbishops
dissented from this judgment, Bishop Tait united in it with the
lord chancellor and the lay judges.

And now the panic broke out more severely than ever. Confusion
became worse confounded. The earnest-minded insisted that the
tribunal had virtually approved Essays and Reviews; the cynical
remarked that it had "dismissed hell with costs." An alliance was
made at once between the more zealous High and Low Church men,
and Oxford became its headquarters: Dr. Pusey and Archdeacon
Denison were among the leaders, and an impassioned declaration
was posted to every clergyman in England and Ireland, with a
letter begging him, "for the love of God," to sign it. Thus it
was that in a very short time eleven thousand signatures were
obtained. Besides this, deputations claiming to represent one
hundred and thirty-seven thousand laymen waited on the
archbishops to thank them for dissenting from the judgment. The
Convocation of Canterbury also plunged into the fray, Bishop
Wilberforce being the champion of the older orthodoxy, and Bishop
Tait of the new. Caustic was the speech made by Bishop
Thirlwall, in which he declared that he considered the eleven
thousand names, headed by that of Pusey, attached to the Oxford
declaration "in the light of a row of figures preceded by a
decimal point, so that, however far the series may be advanced,
it never can rise to the value of a single unit."

In spite of all that could be done, the act of condemnation was
carried in Convocation.

The last main echo of this whole struggle against the newer mode
of interpretation was heard when the chancellor, referring to the
matter in the House of Lords, characterized the ecclesiastical
act as "simply a series of well-lubricated terms--a sentence so
oily and saponaceous that no one can grasp it; like an eel, it
slips through your fingers, and is simply nothing."

The word "saponaceous" necessarily elicited a bitter retort from
Bishop Wilberforce; but perhaps the most valuable judgment on the
whole matter was rendered by Bishop Tait, who declared, "These
things have so effectually frightened the clergy that I think
there is scarcely a bishop on the bench, unless it be the Bishop
of St. David's [Thirlwall], that is not useless for the purpose
of preventing the widespread alienation of intelligent men."

During the whole controversy, and for some time afterward, the
press was burdened with replies, ponderous and pithy, lurid and
vapid, vitriolic and unctuous, but in the main bearing the
inevitable characteristics of pleas for inherited opinions
stimulated by ample endowments.

The authors of the book seemed for a time likely to be swept out
of the Church. One of the least daring but most eminent, finding
himself apparently forsaken, seemed, though a man of very tough
fibre, about to die of a broken heart; but sturdy English sense
at last prevailed. The storm passed, and afterward came the
still, small voice. Really sound thinkers throughout England,
especially those who held no briefs for conventional orthodoxy,
recognised the service rendered by the book. It was found that,
after all, there existed even among churchmen a great mass of
public opinion in favour of giving a full hearing to the reverent
expression of honest thought, and inclined to distrust any cause
which subjected fair play to zeal.

The authors of the work not only remained in the Church of
England, but some of them have since represented the broader
views, though not always with their early courage, in the highest
and most influential positions in the Anglican Church.[481]

[481] For the origin of Essays and Reviews, see Edinburgh
Review, April, 1861, p. 463. For the reception of the book, see
the Westminster Review, October, 1860. For the attack on it by
Bishop Wilberforce, see his article in the Quarterly Review,
January, 1861; for additional facts, Edinburgh Review, April,
1861, pp. 461 et seq. For action on the book by Convocation, see
Dublin Review, May, 1861, citing Jelf et al.; also Davidson's
Life of Archbishop Tate, vol. i, chap. xii. For the
Archepiscopal Letter, see Dublin Review, as above; also Life of
Bishop Wilberforce, by his son, London, 1882, vol. iii, pp. 4,5;
it is there stated that Wilberforce drew upon the letter. For
curious inside views of the Essays and Reviews controversy,
including the course of Bishop Hampden, Tait, et al., see Life of
Bishop Wilberforce, by his son, as above, pp. 3-11; also pp.
141-149. For the denunciation of the present Bishop of London
(Temple) as a "leper," etc., see ibid., pp. 319, 320. For general
treatment of Temple, see Fraser's Magazine, December, 1869. For
very interesting correspondence, see Davidson's Life of
Archbishop Tait, as above. For Archdeacon Denison's speeches,
see ibid, vol. i, p. 302. For Dr. Pusey's letter to Bishop Tait,
urging conviction of the Essayists and Reviewers, ibid, p. 314.
For the striking letters of Dr. Temple, ibid., pp. 290 et seq.;
also The Life and Letters of Dean Stanley. For replies, see
Charge of the Bishop of Oxford, 1863; also Replies to Essays and
Reviews, Parker, London, with preface by Wilberforce; also Aids
to Faith, edited by the Bishop of Gloucester, London, 1861; also
those by Jelf, Burgon, et al. For the legal proceedings, see
Quarterly Review, April, 1864; also Davidson, as above. For
Bishop Thirlwall's speech, see Chronicle of Convocation, quoted
in Life of Tait, vol. i, p. 320. For Tait's tribute to
Thirlwall, see Life of Tait, vol. i, p. 325. For a remarkable
able review, and in most charming form, of the ideas of Bishop
Wilberforce and Lord Chancellor Westbury, see H. D. Traill, The
New Lucian, first dialogue. For the cynical phrase referred to,
see Nash, Life of Lord Westbury, vol. ii, p. 78, where the noted
epitaph is given, as follows:

Lord High Chancellor of England,
He was an eminent Christian,
An energetic and merciful Statesman,
And a still more eminent and merciful Judge.
During his three years' tenure of office
He abolished the ancient method of conveying land,
The time-honoured institution of the Insolvent's Court,
The Eternity of Punishment.
Toward the close of his early career,
In the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council,
He dismissed Hell with costs,
And took away from the Orthodox members of the
Church of England
Their last hope of everlasting damnation."


The storm aroused by Essays and Reviews had not yet subsided when
a far more serious tempest burst upon the English theological

In 1862 appeared a work entitled The Pentateuch and the Book of
Joshua Critically Examined its author being Colenso, Anglican
Bishop of Natal, in South Africa. He had formerly been highly
esteemed as fellow and tutor at Cambridge, master at Harrow,
author of various valuable text-books in mathematics; and as long
as he exercised his powers within the limits of popular orthodoxy
he was evidently in the way to the highest positions in the
Church: but he chose another path. His treatment of his subject
was reverent, but he had gradually come to those conclusions,
then so daring, now so widespread among Christian scholars, that
the Pentateuch, with much valuable historical matter, contains
much that is unhistorical; that a large portion of it was the
work of a comparatively late period in Jewish history; that many
passages in Deuteronomy could only have been written after the
Jews settled in Canaan; that the Mosaic law was not in force
before the captivity; that the books of Chronicles were clearly
written as an afterthought, to enforce the views of the priestly
caste; and that in all the books there is much that is mythical
and legendary.

Very justly has a great German scholar recently adduced this work
of a churchman relegated to the most petty of bishoprics in one
of the most remote corners of the world, as a proof "that the
problems of biblical criticism can no longer be suppressed; that
they are in the air of our time, so that theology could not
escape them even if it took the wings of the morning and dwelt in
the uttermost parts of the sea."

The bishop's statements, which now seem so moderate, then aroused
horror. Especial wrath was caused by some of his arithmetical
arguments, and among them those which showed that an army of six
hundred thousand men could not have been mobilized in a single
night; that three millions of people, with their flocks and
herds, could neither have obtained food on so small and arid a
desert as that over which they were said to have wandered during
forty years, nor water from a single well; and that the butchery
of two hundred thousand Midianites by twelve thousand Israelites,
"exceeding infinitely in atrocity the tragedy at Cawnpore, had
happily only been carried out on paper." There was nothing of the
scoffer in him. While preserving his own independence, he had
kept in touch with the most earnest thought both among European
scholars and in the little flock intrusted to his care. He
evidently remembered what had resulted from the attempt to hold
the working classes in the towns of France, Germany, and Italy to
outworn beliefs; he had found even the Zulus, whom he thought to
convert, suspicious of the legendary features of the Old
Testament, and with his clear practical mind he realized the
danger which threatened the English Church and Christianity--the
danger of tying its religion and morality to interpretations and
conceptions of Scripture more and more widely seen and felt to be
contrary to facts. He saw the especial peril of sham
explanations, of covering up facts which must soon be known, and
which, when revealed, must inevitably bring the plain people of
England to regard their teachers, even the most deserving, as
"solemnly constituted impostors"--ecclesiastics whose tenure
depends on assertions which they know to be untrue. Therefore it
was that, when his catechumens questioned him regarding some of
the Old Testament legends, the bishop determined to tell the
truth. He says: "My heart answered in the words of the prophet,
`Shall a man speak lies in the name of the Lord?' I determined
not to do so."

But none of these considerations availed in his behalf at first.

The outcry against the work was deafening: churchmen and
dissenters rushed forward to attack it. Archdeacon Denison,
chairman of the committee of Convocation appointed to examine it,
uttered a noisy anathema. Convocation solemnly condemned it; and
a zealous colonial bishop, relying upon a nominal supremacy,
deposed and excommunicated its author, declaring him "given over
to Satan." On both sides of the Atlantic the press groaned with
"answers," some of these being especially injurious to the cause
they were intended to serve, and none more so than sundry efforts
by the bishops themselves. One of the points upon which they
attacked him was his assertion that the reference in Leviticus to
the hare chewing its cud contains an error. Upon this Prof.
Hitzig, of Leipsic, one of the best Hebrew scholars of his time,
remarked: "Your bishops are making themselves the laughing-stock
of Europe. Every Hebraist knows that the animal mentioned in
Leviticus is really the hare;. . . every zoologist knows that it
does not chew the cud."[482]

[482] For the citation referred to, see Pfleiderer, as above,
book iv, chap. ii. For the passages referred to as provoking
especial wrath, see Colenso, Lectures on the Pentateuch and the
Moabite Stone, 1876, p. 217. For the episode regarding the hare
chewing the cud, see Cox, Life of Colenso, vol. i, p. 240. The
following epigram went the rounds:

"The bishops all have sworn to shed their blood
To prove 'tis true that the hare doth chew the cud.
O bishops, doctors, and divines, beware--
Weak is the faith that hangs upon a HAIR!"

On Colenso's return to Natal, where many of the clergy and laity
who felt grateful for his years of devotion to them received him
with signs of affection, an attempt was made to ruin these
clergymen by depriving them of their little stipends, and to
terrify the simple-minded laity by threatening them with the same
"greater excommunication" which had been inflicted upon their
bishop. To make the meaning of this more evident, the
vicar-general of the Bishop of Cape Town met Colenso at the door
of his own cathedral, and solemnly bade him "depart from the
house of God as one who has been handed over to the Evil One."
The sentence of excommunication was read before the assembled
faithful, and they were enjoined to treat their bishop as "a
heathen man and a publican." But these and a long series of other
persecutions created a reaction in his favour.

There remained to Colenso one bulwark which his enemies found
stronger than they had imagined--the British courts of justice.
The greatest efforts were now made to gain the day before these
courts, to humiliate Colenso, and to reduce to beggary the clergy
who remained faithful to him; and it is worthy of note that one
of the leaders in preparing the legal plea of the com mittee
against him was Mr. Gladstone.

But this bulwark proved impregnable: both the Judicial Committee
of the Privy Council and the Rolls Court decided in Colenso's
favour. Not only were his enemies thus forbidden to deprive him
of his salary, but their excommunication of him was made null and
void; it became, indeed, a subject of ridicule, and even a man so
nurtured in religious sentiment as John Keble confessed and
lamented that the English people no longer believed in
excommunication. The bitterness of the defeated found vent in
the utterances of the colonial metropolitan who had
excommunicated Colenso--Bishop Gray, "the Lion of Cape Town"--who
denounced the judgment as "awful and profane," and the Privy
Council as "a masterpiece of Satan" and "the great dragon of the
English Church." Even Wilberforce, careful as he was to avoid
attacking anything established, alluded with deep regret to "the
devotion of the English people to the law in matters of this

Their failure in the courts only seemed to increase the violence
of the attacking party. The Anglican communion, both in England
and America, was stirred to its depths against the heretic, and
various dissenting bodies strove to show equal zeal. Great pains
were taken to root out his reputation: it was declared that he
had merely stolen the ideas of rationalists on the Continent by
wholesale, and peddled them out in England at retail; the fact
being that, while he used all the sources of information at his
command, and was large-minded enough to put himself into
relations with the best biblical scholarship of the Continent, he
was singularly independent in his judgment, and that his
investigations were of lasting value in modifying Continental
thought. Kuenen, the most distinguished of all his contemporaries
in this field, modified, as he himself declared, one of his own
leading theories after reading Colenso's argument; and other
Continental scholars scarcely less eminent acknowledged their
great indebtedness to the English scholar for original

[483] For interesting details of the Colenso persecution, see
Davidson's Life of Tait, chaps. xii and xiv; also the Lives of
Bishops Wilberforce and Gray. For full accounts of the struggle,
see Cox, Life of Bishop Colenso, London, 1888, especially vol. i,
chap. v. For the dramatic performance at Colenso's cathedral,
see vol. ii, pp. 14-25. For a very impartial and appreciative
statement regarding Colenso's work, see Cheyne, Founders of Old
Testament Criticism, London, 1893, chap. ix. For testimony to
the originality and value of Colenso's contributions, see Kuenen,
Origin and Composition of the Hexateuch, Introduction, pp. xx, as
follows: "Colenso directed my attention to difficulties which I
had hitherto failed to observe or adequately to reckon with; and
as to the opinion of his labours current in Germany, I need only
say that, inasmuch as Ewald, Bunsen, Bleek, and Knabel were every
one of them logically forced to revise their theories in the
light of the English bishop's research, there was small reason in
the cry that his methods were antiquated and his objections
stale." For a very brief but effective tribute to Colenso as an
independent thinker whose merits are now acknowledged by
Continental scholars, see Pfleiderer, Development of Theory, as

But the zeal of the bishop's enemies did not end with calumny.
He was socially ostracized--more completely even than Lyell had
been after the publication of his Principles of Geology thirty
years before. Even old friends left him, among them Frederick
Denison Maurice, who, when himself under the ban of heresy, had
been defended by Colenso. Nor was Maurice the only heretic who
turned against him; Matthew Arnold attacked him, and set up, as a
true ideal of the work needed to improve the English Church and
people, of all books in the world, Spinoza's Tractatus. A large
part of the English populace was led to regard him as an
"infidel," a "traitor," an "apostate," and even as "an unclean
being"; servants left his house in horror; "Tray, Blanche, and
Sweetheart were let loose upon him"; and one of the favourite
amusements of the period among men of petty wit and no
convictions was the devising of light ribaldry against him.[484]

[484] One of the nonsense verses in vogue at the time summed up
the contoversy as follows:

"A bishop there was of Natal,
Who had a Zulu for his pal;
Said the Zulu, 'My dear,
Don't you think Genesis queer?'
Which coverted my lord of Natal."

But verses quite as good appeared on the other side, one of them
being as follows:

"Is this, then, the great Colenso,
Who all the bishops offends so?
Said Sam of the Soap,
Bring fagots and rope,
For oh! he's got no friends, oh!"

For Matthew Arnold's attack on Colenso, see Macmillan's Magazine,
January, 1863. For Maurice, see the references already given.

In the midst of all this controversy stood three men, each of
whom has connected his name with it permanently.

First of these was Samuel Wilberforce, at that time Bishop of
Oxford. The gifted son of William Wilberforce, who had been
honoured throughout the world for his efforts in the suppression
of the slave trade, he had been rapidly advanced in the English
Church, and was at this time a prelate of wide influence. He was
eloquent and diplomatic, witty and amiable, always sure to be
with his fellow-churchmen and polite society against
uncomfortable changes. Whether the struggle was against the
slave power in the United States, or the squirearchy in Great
Britain, or the evolution theory of Darwin, or the new views
promulgated by the Essayists and Reviewers, he was always the
suave spokesman of those who opposed every innovator and
"besought him to depart out of their coasts." Mingling in
curious proportions a truly religious feeling with care for his
own advancement, his remarkable power in the pulpit gave him
great strength to carry out his purposes, and his charming
facility in being all things to all men, as well as his skill in
evading the consequences of his many mistakes, gained him the
sobriquet of "Soapy Sam." If such brethren of his in the
episcopate as Thirlwall and Selwyn and Tait might claim to be in
the apostolic succession, Wilberforce was no less surely in the
succession from the most gifted and eminently respectable
Sadducees who held high preferment under Pontius Pilate.

By a curious coincidence he had only a few years before preached
the sermon when Colenso was consecrated in Westminster Abbey, and
one passage in it may be cited as showing the preacher's gift of
prophecy both hortatory and predictive. Wilberforce then said to
Colenso: "You need boldness to risk all for God--to stand by the
truth and its supporters against men's threatenings and the
devil's wrath;. . . you need a patient meekness to bear the
galling calumnies and false surmises with which, if you are
faithful, that same Satanic working, which, if it could, would
burn your body, will assuredly assail you daily through the pens
and tongues of deceivers and deceived, who, under a semblance of
a zeal for Christ, will evermore distort your words, misrepresent
your motives, rejoice in your failings, exaggerate your errors,
and seek by every poisoned breath of slander to destroy your
powers of service."[485]

[485] For the social ostracism of Colenso, see works already
cited; also Cox's Life of Colenso. For the passage from
Wilberforce's sermon at the consecration of Colenso, see Rev. Sir
G. W. Cox, The Church of England and the Teaching of Bishop
Colenso. For Wilberforce's relations to the Colenso case in
general, see his Life, by his son, vol. iii, especially pp. 113-
126, 229-231. For Keble's avowal that no Englishman believes in
excommunication, ibid., p. 128. For a guarded statement of Dean
Stanley's opinion regarding Wilberforce and Newman, see a letter
from Dean Church to the Warden of Keble, in Life and Letters of
Dean Church, p. 293.

Unfortunately, when Colenso followed this advice his adviser
became the most untiring of his persecutors. While leaving to
men like the Metropolitan of Cape Town and Archdeacon Denison the
noisy part of the onslaught, Wilberforce was among those who were
most zealous in devising more effective measures.

But time, and even short time, has redressed the balance between
the two prelates. Colenso is seen more and more of all men as a
righteous leader in a noble effort to cut the Church loose from
fatal entanglements with an outworn system of interpretation;
Wilberforce, as the remembrance of his eloquence and of his
personal charm dies away, and as the revelations of his
indiscreet biographers lay bare his modes of procedure, is seen
to have left, on the whole, the most disappointing record made by
any Anglican prelate during the nineteenth century.

But there was a far brighter page in the history of the Church of
England; for the second of the three who linked their names with
that of Colenso in the struggle was Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean
of Westminster. His action during this whole persecution was an
honour not only to the Anglican Church but to humanity. For his
own manhood and the exercise of his own intellectual freedom he
had cheerfully given up the high preferment in the Church which
had been easily within his grasp. To him truth and justice were
more than the decrees of a Convocation of Canterbury or of a
Pan-Anglican Synod; in this as in other matters he braved the
storm, never yielded to theological prejudice, from first to last
held out a brotherly hand to the persecuted bishop, and at the
most critical moment opened to him the pulpit of Westminster

[486] For interesting testimony to Stanley's character, from a
quarter from whence it would have been least expected, see a
reminiscence of Lord Shaftesbury in the Life of Frances Power
Cobbe, London and New York, 1894. The late Bishop of
Massachusetts, Phillips Brooks, whose death was a bereavement to
his country and to the Church universal, once gave the present
writer a vivid description of a scene witnessed by him in the
Convocation of Canterbury, when Stanley virtually withstood alone
the obstinate traditionalism of the whole body in the matter of
the Athanasian Creed. It is to be hoped that this account may be
brought to light among the letters written by Brooks at that
time. See also Dean Church's Life and Letters, p. 294, for a
very important testimony.

The third of the high ecclesiastics of the Church of England
whose names were linked in this contest was Thirlwall. He was
undoubtedly the foremost man in the Church of his time--the
greatest ecclesiastical statesman, the profoundest historical
scholar, the theologian of clearest vision in regard to the
relations between the Church and his epoch. Alone among his
brother bishops at this period, he stood "four square to all the
winds that blew," as during all his life he stood against all
storms of clerical or popular unreason. He had his reward. He
was never advanced beyond a poor Welsh bishopric; but, though he
saw men wretchedly inferior constantly promoted beyond him, he
never flinched, never lost heart or hope, but bore steadily on,
refusing to hold a brief for lucrative injustice, and resisting
to the last all reaction and fanaticism, thus preserving not only
his own self-respect but the future respect of the English nation
for the Church.

A few other leading churchmen were discreetly kind to Colenso,
among them Tait, who had now been made Archbishop of Canterbury;
but, manly as he was, he was somewhat more cautious in this
matter than those who most revere his memory could now wish.

In spite of these friends the clerical onslaught was for a time
effective; Colenso, so far as England was concerned, was
discredited and virtually driven from his functions. But this
enforced leisure simply gave him more time to struggle for the
protection of his native flock against colonial rapacity and to
continue his great work on the Bible.

His work produced its effect. It had much to do with arousing a
new generation of English, Scotch, and American scholars. While
very many of his minor statements have since been modified or
rejected, his main conclusion was seen more and more clearly to
be true. Reverently and in the deepest love for Christianity he
had made the unhistorical character of the Pentateuch clear as
noonday. Henceforth the crushing weight of the old
interpretation upon science and morality and religion steadily
and rapidly grew less and less. That a new epoch had come was
evident, and out of many proofs of this we may note two of the
most striking.

For many years the Bampton Lectures at Oxford had been considered
as adding steadily and strongly to the bulwarks of the old
orthodoxy. If now and then orthodoxy had appeared in danger from
such additions to the series as those made by Dr. Hampden, these
lectures had been, as a rule, saturated with the older traditions
of the Anglican Church. But now there was an evident change.
The departures from the old paths were many and striking, until
at last, in 1893, came the lectures on Inspiration by the Rev.
Dr. Sanday, Ireland Professor of Exegesis in the University of
Oxford. In these, concessions were made to the newer criticism,
which at an earlier time would have driven the lecturer not only
out of the Church but out of any decent position in society; for
Prof. Sanday not only gave up a vast mass of other ideas which
the great body of churchmen had regarded as fundamental, but
accepted a number of conclusions established by the newer
criticism. He declared that Kuenen and Wellhausen had mapped
out, on the whole rightly, the main stages of development in the
history of Hebrew literature; he incorporated with approval the
work of other eminent heretics; he acknowledged that very many
statements in the Pentateuch show "the naive ideas and usages of
a primitive age." But, most important of all, he gave up the
whole question in regard to the book of Daniel. Up to a time
then very recent, the early authorship and predictive character
of the book of Daniel were things which no one was allowed for a
moment to dispute. Pusey, as we have seen, had proved to the
controlling parties in the English Church that Christianity must
stand or fall with the traditional view of this book; and now,
within a few years of Pusey's death, there came, in his own
university, speaking from the pulpit of St. Mary's whence he had
so often insisted upon the absolute necessity of maintaining the
older view, this professor of biblical criticism, a doctor of
divinity, showing conclusively as regards the book of Daniel that
the critical view had won the day; that the name of Daniel is
only assumed; that the book is in no sense predictive, but was
written, mainly at least, after the events it describes; that
"its author lived at the time of the Maccabean struggle"; that it
is very inaccurate even in the simple facts which it cites; and
hence that all the vast fabric erected upon its predictive
character is baseless.

But another evidence of the coming in of a new epoch was even
more striking.

To uproot every growth of the newer thought, to destroy even
every germ that had been planted by Colenso and men like him, a
special movement was begun, of which the most important part was
the establishment, at the University of Oxford, of a college
which should bring the old opinion with crushing force against
the new thought, and should train up a body of young men by
feeding them upon the utterances of the fathers, of the medieval
doctors, and of the apologists of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries; and should keep them in happy ignorance of the
reforming spirit of the sixteenth and the scientific spirit of
the nineteenth century.

The new college thus founded bore the name of the poet most
widely beloved among high churchmen; large endowments flowed in
upon it; a showy chapel was erected in accordance throughout with
the strictest rules of medieval ecclesiology. As if to strike
the keynote of the thought to be fostered in the new institution,
one of the most beautiful of pseudo-medieval pictures was given
the place of honour in its hall; and the college, lofty and
gaudy, loomed high above the neighbouring modest abode of Oxford
science. Kuenen might be victorious in Holland, and Wellhausen
in Germany, and Robertson Smith in Scotland--even Professors
Driver, Sanday, and Cheyne might succeed Dr. Pusey as expounders
of the Old Testament at Oxford--but Keble College, rejoicing in
the favour of a multitude of leaders in the Church, including Mr.
Gladstone, seemed an inexpugnable fortress of the older thought.

But in 1889 appeared the book of essays entitled Lux Mundi, among
whose leading authors were men closely connected with Keble
College and with the movement which had created it. This work
gave up entirely the tradition that the narrative in Genesis is a
historical record, and admitted that all accounts in the Hebrew
Scriptures of events before the time of Abraham are mythical and
legendary; it conceded that the books ascribed to Moses and
Joshua were made up mainly of three documents representing
different periods, and one of them the late period of the exile;
that "there is a considerable idealizing element in Old Testament
history"; that "the books of Chronicles show an idealizing of
history" and "a reading back into past records of a ritual
development which is really later," and that prophecy is not
necessarily predictive-- "prophetic inspiration being consistent
with erroneous anticipations." Again a shudder went through the
upholders of tradition in the Church, and here and there threats
were heard; but the Essays and Reviews fiasco and the Colenso
catastrophe were still in vivid remembrance. Good sense
prevailed: Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, instead of
prosecuting the authors, himself asked the famous question, "May
not the Holy Spirit make use of myth and legend?" and the
Government, not long afterward, promoted one of these authors to
a bishopric.[487]

[487] Of Pusey's extreme devotion to his view of the book of
Daniel, there is a curious evidence in a letter to Stanley in the
second volume of the latter's Life and Letters. For the views
referred to in Lux Mundi, see pp. 345-357; also, on the general
subject, Bishop Ellicott's Christus Comprobator.

In the sister university the same tendency was seen. Robertson
Smith, who had been driven out of his high position in the Free
Church of Scotland on account of his work in scriptural research,
was welcomed into a professorship at Cambridge, and other men, no
less loyal to the new truths, were given places of controlling
influence in shaping the thought of the new generation.

Nor did the warfare against biblical science produce any
different results among the dissenters of England. In 1862
Samuel Davidson, a professor in the Congregational College at
Manchester, published his Introduction to the Old Testament.
Independently of the contemporary writers of Essays and Reviews,
he had arrived in a general way at conclusions much like theirs,
and he presented the newer view with fearless honesty, admitting
that the same research must be applied to these as to other
Oriental sacred books, and that such research establishes the
fact that all alike contain legendary and mythical elements. A
storm was at once aroused; certain denominational papers took up
the matter, and Davidson was driven from his professorial chair;
but he laboured bravely on, and others followed to take up his
work, until the ideas which he had advocated were fully

So, too, in Scotland the work of Robertson Smith was continued
even after he had been driven into England; and, as votaries of
the older thought passed away, men of ideas akin to his were
gradually elected into chairs of biblical criticism and
interpretation. Wellhausen's great work, which Smith had
introduced in English form, proved a power both in England and
Scotland, and the articles upon various books of Scripture and
scriptural subjects generally, in the ninth edition of the
Encyclopaedia Britannica, having been prepared mainly by himself
as editor or put into the hands of others representing the recent
critical research, this very important work of reference, which
had been in previous editions so timid, was now arrayed on the
side of the newer thought, insuring its due consideration
wherever the English language is spoken.

In France the same tendency was seen, though with striking
variations from the course of events in other
countries--variations due to the very different conditions under
which biblical students in France were obliged to work. Down to
the middle of the nineteenth century the orthodoxy of Bossuet,
stiffly opposing the letter of Scripture to every step in the
advance of science, had only yielded in a very slight degree.
But then came an event ushering in a new epoch. At that time
Jules Simon, afterward so eminent as an author, academician, and
statesman, was quietly discharging the duties of a professorship,
when there was brought him the visiting card of a stranger
bearing the name of "Ernest Renan, Student at St. Sulpice."
Admitted to M. Simon's library, Renan told his story. As a
theological student he had devoted himself most earnestly, even
before he entered the seminary, to the study of Hebrew and the
Semitic languages, and he was now obliged, during the lectures on
biblical literature at St. Sulpice, to hear the reverend
professor make frequent comments, based on the Vulgate, but
absolutely disproved by Renan's own knowledge of Hebrew. On
Renan's questioning any interpretation of the lecturer, the
latter was wont to rejoin: "Monsieur, do you presume to deny the
authority of the Vulgate--the translation by St. Jerome,
sanctioned by the Holy Ghost and the Church? You will at once go
into the chapel and say `Hail Mary' for an hour before the image
of the Blessed Virgin."

"But," said Renan to Jules Simon, "this has now become very
serious; it happens nearly every day, and, MON DIEU! Monsieur, I
can not spend ALL my time in saying, Hail Mary, before the statue
of the Virgin." The result was a warm personal attachment between
Simon and Renan; both were Bretons, educated in the midst of the
most orthodox influences, and both had unwillingly broken away
from them.

Renan was now emancipated, and pursued his studies with such
effect that he was made professor at the College de France. His
Life of Jesus, and other books showing the same spirit, brought a
tempest upon him which drove him from his professorship and
brought great hardships upon him for many years. But his genius
carried the day, and, to the honour of the French Republic, he
was restored to the position from which the Empire had driven
him. From his pen finally appeared the Histoire du Peuple
Israel, in which scholarship broad, though at times inaccurate in
minor details, was supplemented by an exquisite acuteness and a
poetic insight which far more than made good any of those lesser
errors which a German student would have avoided. At his death,
in October, 1892, this monumental work had been finished. In
clearness and beauty of style it has never been approached by any
other treatise on this or any kindred subject: it is a work of
genius; and its profound insight into all that is of importance
in the great subjects which he treated will doubtless cause it to
hold a permanent place in the literature not only of the Latin
nations but of the world.

An interesting light is thrown over the history of advancing
thought at the end of the nineteenth century by the fact that
this most detested of heresiarchs was summoned to receive the
highest of academic honours at the university which for ages had
been regarded as a stronghold of Presbyterian orthodoxy in Great

In France the anathemas lavished upon him by Church authorities
during his life, their denial to him of Christian burial, and
their refusal to allow him a grave in the place he most loved,
only increased popular affection for him during his last years
and deepened the general mourning at his death.[488]

[488] For a remarkably just summary of Renan's work, eminently
judicial and at the same time deeply appreciative, see the Rev.
Dr. Pfleiderer, professor at the University of Berlin,
Development of Theology in Germany, pp. 241, 242, note. The
facts as to the early relations between Renan and Jules Simon
were told in 1878 by the latter to the present writer at
considerable length and with many interesting details not here
given. The writer was also present at the public funeral of the
great scholar, and can testify of his own knowledge to the deep
and hearty evidences of gratitude and respect then paid to Renan,
not merely by eminent orators and scholars, but by the people at
large. As to the refusal of the place of burial that Renan
especially chose, see his own Souvenirs, in which he laments the
enevitable exclusion of his grave from the site which he most
loved. As to calumnies, one masterpiece, very widely spread,
through the zeal of clerical journals, was that Renan received
enormous sums from the Rothschilds for attacking Christianity.

In spite of all resistance, the desire for more light upon the
sacred books penetrated the older Church from every side.

In Germany, toward the close of the eighteenth century, Jahn,
Catholic professor at Vienna, had ventured, in an Introduction to
Old Testament Study, to class Job, Jonah, and Tobit below other
canonical books, and had only escaped serious difficulties by
ample amends in a second edition.

Early in the nineteenth century, Herbst, Catholic professor at
Tubingen, had endeavoured in a similar Introduction to bring
modern research to bear on the older view; but the Church
authorities took care to have all passages really giving any new
light skilfully and speedily edited out of the book.

Later still, Movers, professor at Breslau, showed remarkable
gifts for Old Testament research, and much was expected of him;
but his ecclesiastical superiors quietly prevented his publishing
any extended work.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century much the same
pressure has continued in Catholic Germany. Strong scholars have
very generally been drawn into the position of "apologists" or
"reconcilers," and, when found intractable, they have been driven
out of the Church.

The same general policy had been evident in France and Italy, but
toward the last decade of the century it was seen by the more
clear-sighted supporters of the older Church in those countries
that the multifarious "refutations" and explosive attacks upon
Renan and his teachings had accomplished nothing; that even
special services of atonement for his sin, like the famous
"Triduo" at Florence, only drew a few women, and provoked
ridicule among the public at large; that throwing him out of his
professorship and calumniating him had but increased his
influence; and that his brilliant intuitions, added to the
careful researches of German and English scholars, had brought
the thinking world beyond the reach of the old methods of hiding
troublesome truths and crushing persistent truth-tellers.

Therefore it was that about 1890 a body of earnest Roman Catholic
scholars began very cautiously to examine and explain the
biblical text in the light of those results of the newer research
which could no longer be gainsaid.

Among these men were, in Italy, Canon Bartolo, Canon Berta, and
Father Savi, and in France Monseigneur d'Hulst, the Abbe Loisy,
professor at the Roman Catholic University at Paris, and, most
eminent of all, Professor Lenormant, of the French Institute,
whose researches into biblical and other ancient history and
literature had won him distinction throughout the world. These
men, while standing up manfully for the Church, were obliged to
allow that some of the conclusions of modern biblical criticism
were well founded. The result came rapidly. The treatise of
Bartolo and the great work of Lenormant were placed on the Index;
Canon Berta was overwhelmed with reproaches and virtually
silenced; the Abbe Loisy was first deprived of his professorship,
and then ignominiously expelled from the university; Monseigneur
d'Hulst was summoned to Rome, and has since kept silence.[489]

[489] For the frustration of attempts to admit light into
scriptural studies in Roman Catholic Germany, see Bleek, Old
Testament, London, 1882, vol. i, pp. 19, 20. For the general
statement regarding recent suppression of modern biblical study
in France and Italy, see an article by a Roman Catholic author in
the Contemporary Review, September, 1894, p. 365. For the papal
condemnations of Lenormant and Bartolo, see the Index Librorum
Prohibitorum Sanctissimi Domini Nostri, Leonis XIII, P.M., etc.,
Rome, 1891; Appendices, July, 1890, and May, 1891. The ghastly
part of the record, as stated in this edition of the Index, is
that both these great scholars were forced to abjure their
"errors" and to acquiesce in the condemnation--Lenorment doing
this on his deathbed.

The matter was evidently thought serious in the higher regions of
the Church, for in November, 1893, appeared an encyclical letter
by the reigning Pope, Leo XIII, on The Study of Sacred Scripture.

Much was expected from it, for, since Benedict XIV in the last
century, there had sat on the papal throne no Pope intellectually
so competent to discuss the whole subject. While, then, those
devoted to the older beliefs trusted that the papal thunderbolts
would crush the whole brood of biblical critics, votaries of the
newer thought ventured to hope that the encyclical might, in the
language of one of them, prove "a stupendous bridge spanning the
broad abyss that now divides alleged orthodoxy from established

[490] For this statement, see an article in the Contemporary
Review, April, 1894, p. 576.

Both these expectations were disappointed; and yet, on the whole,
it is a question whether the world at large may not congratulate
itself upon this papal utterance. The document, if not
apostolic, won credit as "statesmanlike." It took pains, of
course, to insist that there can be no error of any sort in the
sacred books; it even defended those parts which Protestants
count apocryphal as thoroughly as the remainder of Scripture, and
declared that the book of Tobit was not compiled of man, but
written by God. His Holiness naturally condemned the higher
criticism, but he dwelt at the same time on the necessity of the
most thorough study of the sacred Scriptures, and especially on
the importance of adjusting scriptural statements to scientific
facts. This utterance was admirably oracular, being susceptible
of cogent quotation by both sides: nothing could be in better
form from an orthodox point of view; but, with that statesmanlike
forecast which the present Pope has shown more than once in
steering the bark of St. Peter over the troubled waves of the
nineteenth century, he so far abstained from condemning any of
the greater results of modern critical study that the main
English defender of the encyclical, the Jesuit Father Clarke, did
not hesitate publicly to admit a multitude of such
results--results, indeed, which would shock not only Italian and
Spanish Catholics, but many English and American Protestants.
According to this interpreter, the Pope had no thought of denying
the variety of documents in the Pentateuch, or the plurality of
sources of the books of Samuel, or the twofold authorship of
Isaiah, or that all after the ninth verse of the last chapter of
St. Mark's Gospel is spurious; and, as regards the whole
encyclical, the distinguished Jesuit dwelt significantly on the
power of the papacy at any time to define out of existence any
previous decisions which may be found inconvenient. More than
that, Father Clarke himself, while standing as the champion of
the most thorough orthodoxy, acknowledged that, in the Old
Testament, "numbers must be expected to be used Orientally," and
that "all these seventies and forties, as, for example, when
Absalom is said to have rebelled against David for forty years,
can not possibly be meant numerically"; and, what must have given
a fearful shock to some Protestant believers in plenary
inspiration, he, while advocating it as a dutiful Son of the
Church, wove over it an exquisite web with the declaration that
"there is a human element in the Bible pre-calculated for by the

[491] For these admissions of Father Clarke, see his article The
Papal Encyclical on the Bible, in the Contemporary Review for
July, 1894.

Considering the difficulties in the case, the world has reason to
be grateful to Pope Leo and Father Clarke for these utterances,
which perhaps, after all, may prove a better bridge between the
old and the new than could have been framed by engineers more
learned but less astute. Evidently Pope Leo XIII is neither a
Paul V nor an Urban VIII, and is too wise to bring the Church
into a position from which it can only be extricated by such
ludicrous subterfuges as those by which it was dragged out of the
Galileo scandal, or by such a tortuous policy as that by which it
writhed out of the old doctrine regarding the taking of interest
for money.

In spite, then, of the attempted crushing out of Bartolo and
Berta and Savi and Lenormant and Loisy, during this very epoch in
which the Pope issued this encyclical, there is every reason to
hope that the path has been paved over which the Church may
gracefully recede from the old system of interpretation and
quietly accept and appropriate the main results of the higher
criticism. Certainly she has never had a better opportunity to
play at the game of "beggar my neighbour" and to drive the older
Protestant orthodoxy into bankruptcy.

In America the same struggle between the old ideas and the new
went on. In the middle years of the century the first adequate
effort in behalf of the newer conception of the sacred books was
made by Theodore Parker at Boston. A thinker brave and of the
widest range,--a scholar indefatigable and of the deepest
sympathies with humanity,--a man called by one of the most
eminent scholars in the English Church "a religious Titan," and
by a distinguished French theologian "a prophet," he had
struggled on from the divinity school until at that time he was
one of the foremost biblical scholars, and preacher to the
largest regular congregation on the American continent. The
great hall in Boston could seat four thousand people, and at his
regular discourses every part of it was filled. In addition to
his pastoral work he wielded a vast influence as a platform
speaker, especially in opposition to the extension of slavery
into the Territories of the United States, and as a lecturer on a
wide range of vital topics; and among those whom he most
profoundly influenced, both politically and religiously, was
Abraham Lincoln. During each year at that period he was heard
discussing the most important religious and political questions
in all the greater Northern cities; but his most lasting work was
in throwing light upon our sacred Scriptures, and in this he was
one of the forerunners of the movement now going on not only in
the United States but throughout Christendom. Even before he was
fairly out of college his translation of De Wette's Introduction
to the Old Testament made an impression on many thoughtful men;
his sermon in 1841 on The Transient and Permanent in Christianity
marked the beginning of his great individual career; his
speeches, his lectures, and especially his Discourse on Matters
pertaining to Religion, greatly extended his influence. His was
a deeply devotional nature, and his public prayers exercised by
their touching beauty a very strong religious influence upon his
audiences. He had his reward. Beautiful and noble as were his
life and his life-work, he was widely abhorred. On one occasion
of public worship in one of the more orthodox churches, news
having been received that he was dangerously ill, a prayer was
openly made by one of the zealous brethren present that this
arch-enemy might be removed from earth. He was even driven out
from the Unitarian body. But he was none the less steadfast and
bold, and the great mass of men and women who thronged his
audience room at Boston and his lecture rooms in other cities
spread his ideas. His fate was pathetic. Full of faith and
hope, but broken prematurely by his labours, he retired to Italy,
and died there at the darkest period in the history of the United
States--when slavery in the state and the older orthodoxy in the
Church seemed absolutely and forever triumphant. The death of
Moses within sight of the promised land seems the only parallel
to the death of Parker less than six months before the
publication of Essays and Reviews and the election of Abraham
Lincoln to the presidency, of the United States.[492]

[492] For the appellation "religious Titan" applied to Theodore
Parker, see a letter of Jowett, Master of Balliol, to Frances
Power Cobbe, in her Autobiography, vol. 1, p. 357, and for
Reville's statement, ibid., p. 9. For a pathetic account of
Parker's last hours at Florence, ibid., vol. i, pp. 10, 11. As
to the influence of Theodore Parker on Lincoln, see Rhodes's
History of the United States, as above, vol. ii, p. 312. For the
statement regarding Parker's audiences and his power over them,
the present writer trusts to his own memory.

But here it must be noted that Parker's effort was powerfully
aided by the conscientious utterances of some of his foremost
opponents. Nothing during the American struggle against the
slave system did more to wean religious and God-fearing men and
women from the old interpretation of Scripture than the use of it
to justify slavery. Typical among examples of this use were the
arguments of Hopkins, Bishop of Vermont, a man whose noble
character and beautiful culture gave him very wide influence in
all branches of the American Protestant Church. While avowing
his personal dislike to slavery, he demonstrated that the Bible
sanctioned it. Other theologians, Catholic and Protestant, took
the same ground; and then came that tremendous rejoinder which
echoed from heart to heart throughout the Northern States: "The
Bible sanctions slavery? So much the worse for the Bible." Then
was fulfilled that old saying of Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg:
"Press not the breasts of Holy Writ too hard, lest they yield
blood rather than milk."[493]

[493] There is a curious reference to Bishop Hopkins's ideas on
slavery in Archbishop Tait's Life and Letters. For a succinct
statement of the biblical proslavery argument referred to, see
Rhodes, as above, vol. i, pp. 370 et seq.

Yet throughout Christendom a change in the mode of interpreting
Scripture, though absolutely necessary if its proper authority
was to be maintained, still seemed almost hopeless. Even after
the foremost scholars had taken ground in favour of it, and the
most conservative of those whose opinions were entitled to weight
had made concessions showing the old ground to be untenable,
there was fanatical opposition to any change. The Syllabus of
Errors put forth by Pius IX in 1864, as well as certain other
documents issued from the Vatican, had increased the difficulties
of this needed transition; and, while the more able-minded Roman
Catholic scholars skilfully explained away the obstacles thus
created, others published works insisting upon the most extreme
views as to the verbal inspiration of the sacred books. In the
Church of England various influential men took the same view.
Dr. Baylee, Principal of St. Aidan's College, declared that in
Scripture "every scientific statement is infallibly accurate; all
its histories and narrations of every kind are without any
inaccuracy. Its words and phrases have a grammatical and
philological accuracy, such as is possessed by no human
composition." In 1861 Dean Burgon preached in Christ Church
Cathedral, Oxford, as follows: "No, sirs, the Bible is the very
utterance of the Eternal: as much God's own word as if high
heaven were open and we heard God speaking to us with human
voice. Every book is inspired alike, and is inspired entirely.
Inspiration is not a difference of degree, but of kind. The
Bible is filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit of God; the
books of it and the words of it and the very letters of it."

In 1865 Canon MacNeile declared in Exeter Hall that "we must
either receive the verbal inspiration of the Old Testament or
deny the veracity, the insight, the integrity of our Lord Jesus
Christ as a teacher of divine truth."

As late as 1889 one of the two most eloquent pulpit orators in
the Church of England, Canon Liddon, preaching at St. Paul's
Cathedral, used in his fervour the same dangerous argument: that
the authority of Christ himself, and therefore of Christianity,
must rest on the old view of the Old Testament; that, since the
founder of Christianity, in divinely recorded utterances, alluded
to the transformation of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, to
Noah's ark and the Flood, and to the sojourn of Jonah in the
whale, the biblical account of these must be accepted as
historical, or that Christianity must be given up altogether.

In the light of what was rapidly becoming known regarding the
Chaldean and other sources of the accounts given in Genesis, no
argument could be more fraught with peril to the interest which
the gifted preacher sought to serve.

In France and Germany many similar utterances in opposition to
the newer biblical studies were heard; and from America,
especially from the college at Princeton, came resounding echoes.
As an example of many may be quoted the statement by the eminent
Dr. Hodge that the books of Scripture "are, one and all, in
thought and verbal expression, in substance, and in form, wholly
the work of God, conveying with absolute accuracy and divine
authority all that God meant to convey without human additions
and admixtures"; and that "infallibility and authority attach as
much to the verbal expression in which the revelation is made as
to the matter of the revelation itself."

But the newer thought moved steadily on. As already in
Protestant Europe, so now in the Protestant churches of America,
it took strong hold on the foremost minds in many of the churches
known as orthodox: Toy, Briggs, Francis Brown, Evans, Preserved
Smith, Moore, Haupt, Harper, Peters, and Bacon developed it, and,
though most of them were opposed bitterly by synods, councils,
and other authorities of their respective churches, they were
manfully supported by the more intellectual clergy and laity.
The greater universities of the country ranged themselves on the
side of these men; persecution but intrenched them more firmly in
the hearts of all intelligent well-wishers of Christianity. The
triumphs won by their opponents in assemblies, synods,
conventions, and conferences were really victories for the
nominally defeated, since they revealed to the world the fact
that in each of these bodies the strong and fruitful thought of
the Church, the thought which alone can have any hold on the
future, was with the new race of thinkers; no theological
triumphs more surely fatal to the victors have been won since the
Vatican defeated Copernicus and Galileo.

And here reference must be made to a series of events which, in
the second half of the nineteenth century, have contributed most
powerful aid to the new school of biblical research.


While this struggle for the new truth was going on in various
fields, aid appeared from a quarter whence it was least expected.

The great discoveries by Botta and Layard in Assyria were
supplemented by the researches of Rawlinson, George Smith,
Oppert, Sayce, Sarzec, Pinches, and others, and thus it was
revealed more clearly than ever before that as far back as the
time assigned in Genesis to the creation a great civilization was
flourishing in Mesopotamia; that long ages, probably two thousand
years, before the scriptural date assigned to the migration of
Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, this Chaldean civilization had
bloomed forth in art, science, and literature; that the ancient
inscriptions recovered from the sites of this and kindred
civilizations presented the Hebrew sacred myths and legends in
earlier forms--forms long antedating those given in the Hebrew
Scriptures; and that the accounts of the Creation, the Tree of
Life in Eden, the institution and even the name of the Sabbath,
the Deluge, the Tower of Babel, and much else in the Pentateuch,
were simply an evolution out of earlier Chaldean myths and
legends. So perfect was the proof of this that the most eminent
scholars in the foremost seats of Christian learning were obliged
to acknowledge it.[494]

[494] As to the revelations of the vast antiquity of Chaldean
civilization, and especially regarding the Nabonidos inscription,
see Records of the Past, vol. i, new series, first article, and
especially pp. 5, 6, where a translation of that inscription is
given; also Hommel, Geschichte Babyloniens und Assyriens,
introduction, in which, on page 12, an engraving of the Sargon
cylinder is given; also, on the general subject, especially pp.
116 et seq., 309 et seq.; also Meyer, Geschichte des Alterthums,
pp. 161-163; also Maspero and Sayce, Dawn of Civilization, p. 555
and note.

For the earlier Chaldean forms of the Hebrew Creation accounts,
Tree of Life in Eden, Hebrew Sabbath, both the institution and
the name, and various other points of similar interest, see
George Smith, Chaldean Account of Genesis, throughout the work,
especially p. 308 and chaps. xvi, xvii; also Jensen, Die
Kosmologie der Babylonier; also Schrader, The Cuneiform
Inscriptions and the Old Testament; also Lenormant, Origines de
l'Histoire; also Sayce, The Assyrian Story of Creation, in
Records of the Past, new series, vol. i. For a general statement
as to earlier sources of much in the Hebrew sacred origins, see
Huxley, Essays on Controverted Questions, English edition, p.

The more general conclusions which were thus given to biblical
criticism were all the more impressive from the fact that they
had been revealed by various groups of earnest Christian scholars
working on different lines, by different methods, and in various
parts of the world. Very honourable was the full and frank
testimony to these results given in 1885 by the Rev. Francis
Brown, a professor in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at
New York. In his admirable though brief book on Assyriology,
starting with the declaration that "it is a great pity to be
afraid of facts," he showed how Assyrian research testifies in
many ways to the historical value of the Bible record; but at the
same time he freely allowed to Chaldean history an antiquity
fatal to the sacred chronology of the Hebrews. He also cast
aside a mass of doubtful apologetics, and dealt frankly with the
fact that very many of the early narratives in Genesis belong to
the common stock of ancient tradition, and, mentioning as an
example the cuneiform inscriptions which record a story of the
Accadian king Sargon--how "he was born in retirement, placed by
his mother in a basket of rushes, launched on a river, rescued
and brought up by a stranger, after which he became king"--he did
not hesitate to remind his readers that Sargon lived a thousand
years and more before Moses; that this story was told of him
several hundred years before Moses was born; and that it was told
of various other important personages of antiquity. The
professor dealt just as honestly with the inscriptions which show
sundry statements in the book of Daniel to be unhistorical;
candidly making admissions which but a short time before would
have filled orthodoxy with horror.

A few years later came another testimony even more striking.
Early in the last decade of the nineteenth century it was noised
abroad that the Rev. Professor Sayce, of Oxford, the most eminent
Assyriologist and Egyptologist of Great Britain, was about to
publish a work in which what is known as the "higher criticism"
was to be vigorously and probably destructively dealt with in the
light afforded by recent research among the monuments of Assyria
and Egypt. The book was looked for with eager expectation by the
supporters of the traditional view of Scripture; but, when it
appeared, the exultation of the traditionalists was speedily
changed to dismay. For Prof. Sayce, while showing some severity
toward sundry minor assumptions and assertions of biblical
critics, confirmed all their more important conclusions which
properly fell within his province. While his readers soon
realized that these assumptions and assertions of overzealous
critics no more disproved the main results of biblical criticism
than the wild guesses of Kepler disproved the theory of
Copernicus, or the discoveries of Galileo, or even the great laws
which bear Kepler's own name, they found new mines sprung under
some of the most lofty fortresses of the old dogmatic theology.
A few of the statements of this champion of orthodoxy may be
noted. He allowed that the week of seven days and the Sabbath
rest are of Babylonian origin; indeed, that the very word
"Sabbath" is Babylonian; that there are two narratives of
Creation on the Babylonian tablets, wonderfully like the two
leading Hebrew narratives in Genesis, and that the latter were
undoubtedly drawn from the former; that the "garden of Eden" and
its mystical tree were known to the inhabitants of Chaldea in
pre-Semitic days; that the beliefs that woman was created out of
man, and that man by sin fell from a state of innocence, are
drawn from very ancient Chaldean-Babylonian texts; that
Assyriology confirms the belief that the book Genesis is a
compilation; that portions of it are by no means so old as the
time of Moses; that the expression in our sacred book, "The Lord
smelled a sweet savour" at the sacrifice made by Noah, is
"identical with that of the Babylonian poet"; that "it is
impossible to believe that the language of the latter was not
known to the biblical writer" and that the story of Joseph and
Potiphar's wife was drawn in part from the old Egyptian tale of
The Two Brothers. Finally, after a multitude of other
concessions, Prof. Sayce allowed that the book of Jonah, so far
from being the work of the prophet himself, can not have been
written until the Assyrian Empire was a thing of the past; that
the book of Daniel contains serious mistakes; that the so-called
historical chapters of that book so conflict with the monuments
that the author can not have been a contemporary of
Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus; that "the story of Belshazzar's fall is
not historical"; that the Belshazzar referred to in it as king,
and as the son of Nehuchadnezzar, was not the son of
Nebuchadnezzar, and was never king; that "King Darius the Mede,"
who plays so great a part in the story, never existed; that the
book associates persons and events really many years apart, and
that it must have been written at a period far later than the
time assigned in it for its own origin.

As to the book of Ezra, he tells us that we are confronted by a
chronological inconsistency which no amount of ingenuity can
explain away. He also acknowledges that the book of Esther
"contains many exaggerations and improbabilities, and is simply
founded upon one of those same historical tales of which the
Persian chronicles seem to have been full." Great was the
dissatisfaction of the traditionalists with their expected
champion; well might they repeat the words of Balak to Balaam, "I
called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast
altogether blessed them."[495]

[495] For Prof. Brown's discussion, see his Assyriology, its Use
and Abuse in Old Testament Study, New York, 1885, passim. For
Prof. Sayce's views, see The Higher Criticism and the Monuments,
third edition, London, 1894, and especially his own curious
anticipation, in the first lines of the preface, that he must
fail to satisfy either side. For the declaration that the
"higher critic" with all his offences is no worse than the
orthodox "apologist," see p. 21. For the important admission
that the same criterion must be applied in researches into our
own sacred books as into others, and even into the mediaeval
chronicles, see p. 26. For justification of critical scepticism
regarding the history given in the book of Daniel, see pp. 27,
28, also chap. ix. For very full and explicit statements, with
proofs, that the "Sabbath," both in name and nature, was derived
by the Hebrews from the Chaldeans, see pp. 74 et seq. For a very
full and fair acknowledgment of the "Babylonian element in
Genesis," see chap. iii, including the statement regarding the
statement in our sacred book, "The Lord smelled a sweet savour,"
at the sacrifice made by Noah, etc., on p. 119. For an excellent
summary of the work, see Dr. Driver's article in the Contemporary
Review for March, 1894. For a pungent but well-deserved rebuke
of Prof. Sayce's recent attempts to propitiate pious subscribers
to his archaeological fund, see Prof. A. A. Bevan, in the
Contemporary Review for December, 1895. For the inscription on
the Assyrian tablets relating in detail the exposure of King
Sargon in a basket of rushes, his rescue and rule, see George
Smith, Chaldean account of Genesis, Sayce's edition, London,
1880, pp. 319, 320. For the frequent recurrence of the Sargon
and Moses legend in ancient folklore, see Maspero and Sayce, Dawn
of History, p. 598 and note. For various other points of similar
interest, see ibid., passim, especially chaps. xvi and xvii; also
Jensen, Die Kosmologie der Babylonier, and Schrader, The
Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament; also Lenormant,
Origines de l'Histoire.

No less fruitful have been modern researches in Egypt. While, on
one hand, they have revealed a very considerable number of
geographical and archaeological facts proving the good faith of
the narratives entering into the books attributed to Moses, and
have thus made our early sacred literature all the more valuable,
they have at the same time revealed the limitations of the sacred
authors and compilers. They have brought to light facts utterly
disproving the sacred Hebrew date of creation and the main
framework of the early biblical chronology; they have shown the
suggestive correspondence between the ten antediluvian patriarchs
in Genesis and the ten early dynasties of the Egyptian gods, and
have placed by the side of these the ten antediluvian kings of
Chaldean tradition, the ten heroes of Armenia, the ten primeval
kings of Persian sacred tradition, the ten "fathers" of Hindu
sacred tradition, and multitudes of other tens, throwing much
light on the manner in which the sacred chronicles of ancient
nations were generally developed.

These scholars have also found that the legends of the plagues of
Egypt are in the main but natural exaggerations of what occurs
every year; as, for example, the changing of the water of the
Nile into blood--evidently suggested by the phenomena exhibited
every summer, when, as various eminent scholars, and, most recent
of all, Maspero and Sayce, tell us, "about the middle of July, in
eight or ten days the river turns from grayish blue to dark red,
occasionally of so intense a colour as to look like newly shed
blood." These modern researches have also shown that some of the
most important features in the legends can not possibly be
reconciled with the records of the monuments; for example, that
the Pharaoh of the Exodus was certainly not overwhelmed in the
Red Sea. As to the supernatural features of the Hebrew relations
with Egypt, even the most devoted apologists have become
discreetly silent.

Egyptologists have also translated for us the old Nile story of
The Two Brothers, and have shown, as we have already seen, that
one of the most striking parts of our sacred Joseph legend was
drawn from it; they have been obliged to admit that the story of
the exposure of Moses in the basket of rushes, his rescue, and
his subsequent greatness, had been previously told, long before
Moses's time, not only of King Sargon, but of various other great
personages of the ancient world; they have published plans of
Egyptian temples and copies of the sculptures upon their walls,
revealing the earlier origin of some of the most striking
features of the worship and ceremonial claimed to have been
revealed especially to the Hebrews; they have found in the
Egyptian Book of the Dead, and in various inscriptions of the
Nile temples and tombs, earlier sources of much in the ethics so
long claimed to have been revealed only to the chosen people in
the Book of the Covenant, in the ten commandments, and elsewhere;
they have given to the world copies of the Egyptian texts showing
that the theology of the Nile was one of various fruitful sources
of later ideas, statements, and practices regarding the brazen
serpent, the golden calf, trinities, miraculous conceptions,
incarnations, resurrections, ascensions, and the like, and that
Egyptian sacro-scientific ideas contributed to early Jewish and
Christian sacred literature statements, beliefs, and even phrases
regarding the Creation, astronomy, geography, magic, medicine,
diabolical influences, with a multitude of other ideas, which we
also find coming into early Judaism in greater or less degree
from Chaldean and Persian sources.

But Egyptology, while thus aiding to sweep away the former
conception of our sacred books, has aided biblical criticism in
making them far more precious; for it has shown them to be a part
of that living growth of sacred literature whose roots are in all
the great civilizations of the past, and through whose trunk and
branches are flowing the currents which are to infuse a higher
religious and ethical life into the civilizations of the

[496] For general statements of agreements and disagreements
between biblical accounts and the revelations of the Egyptian
monuments, see Sayce, The Higher Criticism and the Monuments,
especially chap. iv. For discrepancies between the Hebrew sacred
accounts of Jewish relations with Egypt and the revelations of
modern Egyptian research, see Sharpe, History of Egypt; Flinders,
Patrie, History of Egypt; and especially Maspero and Sayce, The
Dawn of Civilization in Egypt and Chaldea, London, published by
the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1894. For the
statement regarding the Nile, that about the middle of July "in
eight or ten days it turns from grayish blue to dark red,
occasionally of so intense a colour as to look like newly shed
blood," see Maspero and Sayce, as above, p. 23. For the relation
of the Joseph legend to the Tale of Two Brothers, see Sharpe and
others cited. For examples of exposure of various great
personages of antiquity in their childhood, see G. Smith,
Chaldean Accounts of Genesis, Sayce's edition, p. 320. For the
relation of the Book of the Dead, etc., to Hebrew ethics, see a
striking passage in Huxley's essay on The Evolution of Theology,
also others cited in this chapter. As to trinities in Egypt and
Chaldea, see Maspero and Sayce, especially pp. 104-106, 175, and
659-663. For miraculous conception and birth of sons of Ra,
ibid., pp. 388, 389. For ascension of Ra into heaven, ibid., pp.
167, 168; for resurrections, see ibid., p. 695, also
representations in Lepsius, Prisse d'Avennes, et al.; and for
striking resemblance between Egyptian and Hebrew ritual and
worship, and especially the ark, cherubim, ephod, Urim and
Thummim, and wave offerings, see the same, passim. For a very
full exhibition of the whole subject, see Renan, Histoire du
Peuple Israel, vol. i, chap. xi. For Egyptian and Chaldean ideas
in astronomy, out of which Hebrew ideas of "the firmament,"
"pillars of heaven," etc., were developed, see text and
engravings in Maspero and Sayce, pp. 17 and 543. For creation of
man out of clay by a divine being in Egypt, see Maspero and
Sayce, p. 154; for a similar idea in Chaldea, see ibid., p. 545;
and for the creation of the universe by a word, ibid., pp. 146,
147. For Egyptian and Chaldean ideas on magic and medicine,
dread of evil spirits, etc., anticipating those of the Hebrew
Scriptures, see Maspero and Sayce, as above, pp. 212-214, 217,
636; and for extension of these to neighboring nations, pp. 782,
783. For visions and use of dreams as oracles, ibid., p. 641 and
elsewhere. See also, on these and other resemblances, Lenormant,
Origines de l'Histoire, vol. i, passim; see also George Smith and
Sayce, as above, chaps. xvi and xvii, for resemblances especially
striking, combining to show how simple was the evolution of many
Hebrew sacred legends and ideas out of those earlier
civilizations. For an especially interesting presentation of the
reasons why Egyptian ideas of immortality were not seized upon by
the Jews, see the Rev. Barham Zincke's work upon Egypt. For the
sacrificial vessels, temple rites, etc., see the bas-reliefs,
figured by Lepsius, Prisse d'Avennes, Mariette, Maspero, et. al.
For a striking summary by a brilliant scholar and divine of the
Anglican Church, see Mahaffy, Prolegomena to Anc. Hist., cited in
Sunderland, The Bible, New York, 1893, p. 21, note.

But while archaeologists thus influenced enlightened opinion,
another body of scholars rendered services of a different
sort--the centre of their enterprise being the University of
Oxford. By their efforts was presented to the English-speaking
world a series of translations of the sacred books of the East,
which showed the relations of the more Eastern sacred literature
to our own, and proved that in the religions of the world the
ideas which have come as the greatest blessings to mankind are
not of sudden revelation or creation, but of slow evolution out
of a remote past.

The facts thus shown did not at first elicit much gratitude from
supporters of traditional theology, and perhaps few things
brought more obloquy on Renan, for a time, than his statement
that "the influence of Persia is the most powerful to which
Israel was submitted." Whether this was an overstatement or not,
it was soon seen to contain much truth. Not only was it made
clear by study of the Zend Avesta that the Old and New Testament
ideas regarding Satanic and demoniacal modes of action were
largely due to Persian sources, but it was also shown that the
idea of immortality was mainly developed in the Hebrew mind
during the close relations of the Jews with the Persians. Nor
was this all. In the Zend Avesta were found in earlier form
sundry myths and legends which, judging from their frequent
appearance in early religions, grow naturally about the history
of the adored teachers of our race. Typical among these was the
Temptation of Zoroaster.

It is a fact very significant and full of promise that the first
large, frank, and explicit revelation regarding this whole
subject in form available for the general thinking public was
given to the English-speaking world by an eminent Christian
divine and scholar, the Rev. Dr. Mills. Having already shown
himself by his translations a most competent authority on the
subject, he in 1894 called attention, in a review widely read, to
"the now undoubted and long since suspected fact that it pleased
the Divine Power to reveal some of the important articles of our
Catholic creed first to the Zoroastrians, and through their
literature to the Jews and ourselves." Among these beliefs Dr.
Mills traced out very conclusively many Jewish doctrines
regarding the attributes of God, and all, virtually, regarding
the attributes of Satan.

There, too, he found accounts of the Miraculous Conception,
Virgin Birth, and Temptation of Zoroaster, As to the last, Dr.
Mills presented a series of striking coincidences with our own
later account. As to its main features, he showed that there had
been developed among the Persians, many centuries before the
Christian era, the legend of a vain effort of the arch-demon, one
seat of whose power was the summit of Mount Arezura, to tempt
Zoroaster to worship him,--of an argument between tempter and
tempted,--and of Zoroaster's refusal; and the doctor continued:
"No Persian subject in the streets of Jerusalem, soon after or
long after the Return, could have failed to know this striking
myth." Dr. Mills then went on to show that, among the Jews, "the
doctrine of immortality was scarcely mooted before the later
Isaiah--that is, before the captivity--while the Zoroastrian
scriptures are one mass of spiritualism, referring all results to
the heavenly or to the infernal worlds." He concludes by saying
that, as regards the Old and New Testaments, "the humble, and to
a certain extent prior, religion of the Mazda worshippers was
useful in giving point and beauty to many loose conceptions among
the Jewish religious teachers, and in introducing many ideas
which were entirely new, while as to the doctrines of immortality
and resurrection--the most important of all--it positively
determined belief."[498]

[498] For the passages in the Vendidad of special importance as
regards the Temptation myth, see Fargard, xix, 18, 20, 26, also
140, 147. Very striking is the account of the Temptation in the
Pelhavi version of the Vendidad. The devil is represented as
saying to Zaratusht (Zoroaster): "I had the worship of thy
ancestors; do thou also worship me." I am indebted to Prof. E.
P. Evans, formerly of the University of Michigan, but now of
Munich, for a translation of the original text from Spiegel's
edition. For a good account, see also Haug, Essays on the Sacred
Language, etc., of the Parsees, edited by West, London, 1884, pp.
252 et seq.; see also Mills's and Darmesteter's work in Sacred
Books of the East. For Dr. Mills's article referred to, see his
Zoroaster and the Bible, in The Nineteenth Century, January,
1894. For the citation from Renan, see his Histoire du Peuple
Israel, tome xiv, chap. iv; see also, for Persian ideans of
heaven, hell and resurrection, Haug, as above, p. 310 et seq.
For an interesting resume of Zoroastrianism, see Laing, A Modern

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