2. Its Method and Result (cont’d). The facts available in the study of Scripture manuscripts do not warrant more than one author of Genesis. Nor does single authorship necessarily demand one single style of writing throughout. One author treating different subjects may very well reveal different styles appropriate to his themes. A university professor preparing a manuscript of a philosophy text-book writes in a style different from his successful efforts it poetry. A preacher’s pulpit style may be generally rhetorical, but his colloquial style, humorously practical. An electronics engineer would be forgiven for explaining his specialization in technical terms; yet we would expect him to come with a different style when addressing the literary club. A teacher does not write to his class in the same style in which he writes to his wife. Yet in Scripture God addresses His Church sometimes as “disciples” (learners) and at other times as His “bride.”
Further claim for this theory of diversified authorship is made on the basis of repetition in Scripture. There is said to be repetition of the Genesis 1 account of creation in Genesis 2. This is said to infer twin authorship of the repetitive passages. But that which is summarial and supplementary is not repetitive. The same may be said for Joseph and Pharaoh who had double dreams of the same prophesied events which applied separately to them. This does not suggest double authorship. Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, but the reiteration of it on the plain (Luke 6) does not imply different orators.
It must be admitted that these literary deductions came about only after thorough and scholarly examination of the Hebrew manuscripts and versions, together with the study of history, archaeology and contemporary writings. The facts, and all available material, with the possible exceptions of the latest findings in archaeology and the latest rebuttals of orthodox scholars, have been carefully examined and scrutinized. But the trouble is that the explanations given the objective facts and data consist of philosophies and hypotheses. From real phenomena we are led to learned suppositions.” The drawback, to Modernism, is the supernatural element in Scripture, and the rationalistic interpreters have always rejected it on the grounds that it is more of a detriment than an asset to the cause of Christian truth. The Old Testament was explained as an outgrowth of the myths and folk-lore of the heathen nations surrounding Israel. Over against this, we believe that the only explanation perfectly in agreement with the facts is that the Old Testament is the revelation of God. By “the revelation of God” we do not mean the self-accumulated information the human mind acquires in meditative gropings for God, thus making revelation a product of man’s intellectual achievement. But by revelation we mean the reception of truth at the disclosure, and on the authority of God. To us it is much more staggering to the human mind to believe that the compiling of the Pentateuch as we now have it came out of this labyrinthine patchwork of Modernism, than to believe the simple miracle of an original composition given by God through the hand of Moses.
3. Its Inaccurate Representations. Is there any central and basic argument appealed to in support of this smithereen-theory of the structure of Scripture? There is; the gist of it being that in Exodus 6:2 the E author states that the name Jehovah was not revealed until the time of Moses. Therefore, the passages in Genesis, where the name Jehovah appears, were not written by the person who recorded these Exodus words of God to Moses, for he would not put his name in the patriarchs’ mouths as though they were familiar with it. He would not, this means, create an anachronism, i.e., the misplacing of historic language, and assign it to a period earlier than when it came into existence. (Further illustration of an anachronism we have in the use of cannon in Shakespeare’s “King John,” as cannon were not employed in England until 100 years or more after his reign). Therefore it was a different writer, J, who made his contributions to the Book of Genesis at an age far later than the time of Moses. So the argument runs.
But it simply cannot be that by the name Jehovah, God was not known until after the call of Moses, for in this very chapter (Ex. 6) Moses’ mother, Jochebed, is mentioned, and her name consists of the abbreviated form of Jehovah: Jo plus chebhedh equals Jehovah isglorious. Besides, we may take Ex. 6:2 as a question (rather than a negative declaration), which was asked, “by My name Jehovah was I not known to them?” The question requires the self-evident answer that He was so known. Jochebed’s parents must have so known Him.¹ Intellectually they had this knowledge, but they did not know in the fulness of religious experience the complete significance of this name Jehovah. That could not be until their redemption from Egypt.
Since we have so many diverse documents, written by so confusing an array of compilers, as E and the three subordinates of his school, J and the three lesser J’s, C (covenant code), D, P and his subjects, with no one knows how many R’s (editors), how can we believe that there is an unanimity of thought running between them whatsoever? How may we be sure of the identity of the J passages in distinction from the E, etc; when the destructive critics do not agree among themselves? De Wette, Knobel and Bleek say one thing, Stahelin another, Kuenen with still a different opinion; Ewald has his peculiar view, and Hartmann, Bohlen and Wellhausen, although agreeing with each other, differ from all the rest. For while denying that Moses was the author of Genesis, of either the J or E sections, or that he was even the compiler R, some critics attribute the authorship to Samuel, some to Hilkiah, others to Jeremiah, still others to Ezra, others to someone after the captivity, while a few hold Genesis to be a collection of the labors of all these mentioned. How then may we even speak of aModernistic theory, when that has not earned the recognition and reputation of a theory which is only a private opinion held among scores of conflicting opinions and jumbled irrelevancies?
4. Its Attack on Old Testament History. One of the most time-worn contentions of this modernistic theory (?) is that the religion of the Old Testament, and the Book of Genesis in particular, make “no claim to being in any way supernaturally furnished,” and that “the early narratives of Genesis respecting the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood are based upon myths and traditions which the Israelites inherited in common with other branches of the Semitic family.”²
It has always been naturalism’s pet argument, in the attempt to be rid of the supernatural element, to affirm that the Old Testament has very little, if any, historical accuracy. Its basis is therefore not historical, but mythological. The Creation the Fall, the Flood are not objective, historical events; but since these accounts so closely resemble the popular legends then current among the surrounding heathen nations, they must have had their origin there and were adopted therefrom, and eventually came to be regarded as part and parcel of Israel’s own religious fictions. These accounts do have value, in that they stimulate imagination as to what the history of Israel may have been like; but they are useless as a guide to historical truth. Unoriginal Israel simply acquired its religion gradually from long exposure to the prevalent, environing heathen cultures. “The labors of Rawlinson, Lenormant, George Smith, Schrader, Sayce and others have shown indisputably the affinity of the Israelite with the Chaldean cosmogony.”³
Mark, it is not, as we Reformed would say, “the affinity of the Chaldean legends to the Israelite cosmogony,” which is the fact, but the statement, as modern criticism makes it, means, as the word “affinity” stresses, that the Israelite records have a connection through causal relation with the Chaldean, i.e., the Chaldean source is the cause and origin of the Israelite stream. But is this the correct picture? The Flood legends, indeed, are found among every people, but these fabled accounts do not in any way gain an ascendancy over the pseudepigrapha (false writings), to say nothing of the fact that they come nowhere near the high quality of Holy Scripture. But is it reason to argue that because there are legends of the Flood everywhere in the world showing similarities to the biblical account, that therefore the biblical account itself must be a legend and of legendary origin? One may as sensibly aver that because there are Coca-Cola signs in every foreign country in the world bearing resemblances to similar signs in our country, that therefore Coca-Cola must be of foreign origin! Furthermore, how would the Chaldeans, Greeks, Hindus, Phyrygians, Chinese, Polynesians, Mexicans and Cherokee Indians all in dependently stumble on the same myth, if theirs was not a tradition of the same historical event?
5. Its View of Science and Scripture. Another favorite attack upon the Word of God is to argue that the Book is not a scientific treatise, but an expression of certain tribal beliefs and religious aspirations of past ages. The implication is that the Bible is not in harmony with science, not any more than a collection of Babylonian superstitions would be. It is filled with errors which contradict the findings of science, so that the best we can do with the biblical material is to “interpret it in a new way” and consider it “as the highly symbolical expression of a truth which was intuitively perceived by its redactor or by the sages who communicated it to him.”4 The Flood as related in Genesis, according to such reasoning, is not an inspired record of a universal deluge, but an allegory meant to reveal a natural aversion on the part of God toward violence and injustice.
But it is not the Genesis record which conflicts with true science; it is philosophy, of one brand or other, which does. Facts do not conflict with Scripture, nor does Scripture ever conflict with facts, but unwarranted interpretations of the facts do. Science has never been able to controvert the biblical account of the universal Flood, nor has it made such an attempt. Only certain philosophers have done so, or certain anti-Christian scientists who allowed themselves to depart from the field of true science for the dead-end alleys of speculation. Not the Scripture, but the self-confident critic is in the wrong. . . .
¹ Old and New Testament Biblical Theology, G. Vos, p. 73, Theol. Sem. of the Reformed Episcopal Church, 1934.
² Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, II, Genesis, p. 146, Scribner’s, N.Y. 1900.
4 Human Destiny, Lecomte du Nouy, 112, Longmans, N.Y., 1947.