Secret Service Theologian


A DOUBTER'S DOUBTS about science and religion

(Chap. VII. P. 88 ante)

As already noticed, if the first chapter of Genesis speaks of "the Creation of the Universe" at all it is in the first verse. The very word "create" is not used again save in verses 21 and 27, which relate to the work of the fifth and sixth "days." And if the truth of evolution could be scientifically established, the evolutionist might appeal to the language of verses 11, 20, and 24 as affording proof that it has biblical sanction. And the word rendered "create" has as wide a range of meaning as its English equivalent. Neither in Hebrew nor in English does the word necessarily connote a making out of nothing. Just as counters may represent different values at different times, so is it with words; for words are only counters. And we need to keep this in view as we read Gen. i. and ii. For instance, we are told that God created man, and yet that He made him out of the dust of the earth.
Gen. 1. i is almost always read as though" created" were the emphatic word in the verse. But in the Hebrew the structure of the sentence throws the emphasis on GOD; and the Massorah intensifies this by inserting the Athnah, or pause mark, after the Divine name. The burden of the first verse is that GOD was the Creator. The second verse tells that at the time of which the narrative speaks the earth existed in a condition of desolation and emptiness. But Isa. xlv. 18 declares that this was not its condition according to the design of its maker. Of its earlier history we know nothing, save what geology may teach us : but the sequel describes the refitting and refurnishing of the planet as a home for the Adam race.
Our English version suggests that the heavenly bodies came into existence on the fourth day; and this, combined with the figment that they are mere satellites, has been seized on by infidels to discredit Scripture. But we must insist that the same canon by which all other writings are construed shall prevail in scriptural exegesis, viz., that when words bear different meanings, that meaning is to be accepted which is consistent with the context and with known facts And, as we have seen, Gen. 1. 14-18 may be the description of phenomena. My purpose here, however, is not to expound the Scripture, but merely to enter a protest against confounding what Genesis says with what men say about it.

(Chap. XII. p. 149 ante)
Professor Driver's Book of Daniel ("Cambridge Bible "series), which is an expansion of the "Daniel" section of his Introduction, reproduces the farrago of "errors" and arguments which were formulated by Bertholdt just a century ago, and have been the stock-in-trade of the rationalists ever since. Archeological discoveries have disposed of most of them, but still they serve their purpose. I have dealt with them elsewhere fully and in detail.' And even if they were all as weighty as most of them are frivolous, the Christian would brush them aside in view of the fulfilled prophecy of "the Seventy Weeks," and the fact that the book has been accredited by Christ.
The presence of Greek words in Daniel, we are told, "demands" a date for the book after Alexander's conquests. In Bertholdt's day the presence of Greek words in Daniel did seem to "demand" a late date for the book; for it was then supposed that there were ten such words, and that there was no intercourse between ancient Babylon and Greece. But in view of the discoveries of the last century, and the now admitted fact that the Greek words in Daniel are not ten, but only two, and these the names of musical instruments, the rejection of the book on philological grounds is in part an anachronism and in part a puerility.
A like remark applies to his list of "historical errors." When I last reissued my Daniel in the Critics' Den, Darius the Mede was the only "historical difficulty" which seemed to remain unsolved. But there appears to be no longer any doubt that this Darius was Gobryas, Governor of Kurdistan, the General who commanded the army of Cyrus that captured Babylon. Gobryas was the son of Cyaxeres (Ahasuerus in the Hebrew) and the brother and heir-apparent of Astyages, the last King of the Medes. (Xenophon calls him his son, in error, for Herodotus states that Astyages had no son.) In his youth he would have known Cyrus, who attended the Median Court; and this, combined with the fact of his kingly rank, may well have led Cyrus to trust and honour him. "Darius" was doubtless a "throne name" (like "Artaxerxes." Josephus mentions that he had another name among the Greeks). A most striking confirmation of this is supplied by a statement in Ezra vi. I, 2. The decree issued by Cyrus for the building of the temple, which could not be found either in the Chaldean or the Persian capital, was at last discovered in the capital of Kurdistan. How, then, could it have got to Ecbatana? The obvious solution of this enigma is that, for some reason or other, Gobryas was sent back to his own province, and that he carried with him the archives of his rule in Babylon. The language of Daniel ix. i clearly indicates that he was a vassal king (he "was made king over the realm").
The most important item in "the errors of Daniel" is the opening statement of the book, that in the third year of Jehoiakim Nebuchadnezzar besieged and took Jerusalem. But the ground on which this is rejected as a blunder is itself a blunder so grotesque that it deserves more than a passing notice.
Josephus gives an extract from the lost history of Berosus, which states that while on this expedition Nebuchadnezzar received tidings of his father's death, and that "he hastened home across the desert." And blindly following his German guides, Professor Driver's gloss on this is that the news reached him at Carchemish, after the battle in which he defeated the Egyptians, and that he returned from there to Babylon and never invaded Judea at all. But Carchemish is on the Euphrates; and "to hasten home" from Carchemish to Babylon across the desert would be as extraordinary a feat as if Professor Driver hastened home from London to Oxford across the county of Kent or Hampshire! The fact that the desert lay between Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon is conclusive proof that in his homeward journey he set out from Palestine. But this is only a part of the blunder. The extract from Berosus, which Professor Driver quotes, mentions expressly his Jewish prisoners. How could he have had Jewish prisoners if he had not invaded Judea? The Jews were not a party to the Battle of Carchemish. That battle, moreover, was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and after Nebuchadnezzar's accession (Jer. xlvi. ~ cf. xxv. i) ; whereas the expedition mentioned by Berosus and Daniel was in his third year, before his father's death. This, I may add, reconciles every chronological statement in the various books.

(Chap. XII. p. i6i ante)
As I wish to be fair to my opponents, I give here in extenso the concluding passage of the Preface to Professor Driver's Introduction. He writes
"It is objected, however, that some of the conclusions of critics respecting the Old Testament are incompatible with the authority of our blessed Lord, and that in loyalty to Him we are precluded from accepting them. That our Lord appealed to the Old Testament as the record of a revelation in the past, and as pointing forward to Himself, is undoubted; but these aspects of the Old Testament are perfectly consistent with a critical view of its structure and growth. That our Lord in so appealing to it designed to pronounce a verdict on the authorship and age of its different parts, and to foreclose all future inquiry into these subjects, is an assumption for which no sufficient ground can be alleged. Had such been His aim, it would have been out of harmony with the entire method and tenor of His teaching. In no single instance (so far as we are aware) did He anticipate the results of scientific inquiry or historical research. The aim of His teaching was a religious one; it was to set before men the pattern of a perfect life, to move them to imitate it, to bring them to Himself. He accepted as the basis of His teaching the opinions respecting the Old Testament current around Him: He assumed, in His allusions to it, the premises which His opponents recognised, and which could not have been questioned (even had it been necessary to question them) without raising issues for which the time was not yet ripe, and which, had they been raised, would have interfered scriously with the paramount purpose of His life. There is no record of the question whether a particular portion of the Old Testament was written by Moses, or David, or Isaiah, having been ever submitted to Him; and had it been so submitted, we have no means of knowing what His answer would have been. The purposes for which our Lord appealed to the Old Testament; its prophetic significance, and the spiritual lessons deducible from it, are not, as has been already remarked above, affected by critical inquiries. Criticism in the hands of Christian scholars does not banish or destroy the inspiration of the Old Testament-it presupposes it; it seeks only to determine the conditions under which it operates, and the literary forms through which it manifests itself; and it thus helps us to frame truer conceptions of the methods which it pleased God to employ in revealing Himself to His ancient people of Israel, and in preparing the way for the fuller manifestation of Himself in Christ Jesus".

I appeal to all spiritual Christians whether it is not a thorough misrepresentation of the Lord's ministry to assert that "the aim of His teaching . . . was to set before men the pattern of a perfect life." He could not but be the Great Exemplar, but this was purely incidental. His supreme aim was to fulfil "all things which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Himself."
And I appeal to all honest men whether the words quoted are not a flagrant misrepresentation of the question here at issue; which is not as to the authorship and date of writings accepted as inspired Scriptures, but as to whether the Mosaic books be priestly forgeries of the later period of the Monarchy. The Book of Jeremiah enlightens us as to the character of the priests of that era. Against them it was that his prophecies were mainly directed (see, e.g., i. i8; v. 31); and the "laity" had to intervene to prevent their murdering him (xxvi. 8, i6). Yet the "critical hypothesis" is that the books were concocted by these miscreants!
The great covenant name of God is deemed so sacred and held in such awe by the Jews that they never utter it even in public worship; and yet in Leviticus-the briefest book of the Pentateuch-it is used more than 300 times, and nearly 40 times we find the solemn formula, "Jehovah spake unto Moses." If this be not the authentic record of a Divine revelation, the wanton profanity of it is unspeakably infamous. It need not be said that Dr. Driver is incapable of either wilful misrepresentation or profanity; but it is evident that his mind is swayed by the superstitious belief that because" the Church" accredits the whole Bible as Divine it is immaterial whether its contents are the work of inspired prophets or of apostate priests. Certain it is that he and his co-editors and writers of the Bible Dictionary are the dupes of "current German notions respecting the Divine authority and revelation of the Old Testament." By thus acting as jackals to the German rationalists these men have lowered the standard of biblical scholarship on both sides of the Atlantic. But infinitely more deplorable is it that they have dethroned the Bible from the place it used to hold in every Christian home; and as the result "family worship"
-to use the good old term - is fast dying out. For the practical common sense of the Britisher and the American cannot be deluded by pious claptrap about the inspiration of writings which, if the "Higher Criticism" has proved its case, ought to be relegated to the Apocrypha. We are charged, forsooth, with superstitiously clinging to discredited traditional beliefs! My answer is, first, that such a taunt comes ill from such a quarter. Both Christian and Rationalist stand clear of superstition; but superstition alone supports the attempted compromise between infidelity and faith, which even their ally, Professor Cheyne, deplores in this Bible Dictionary school of critics. And further, "the assured results of modern criticism" will not bear examination by any one who is competent to test them (see Chap. XII. ante). The sham " Higher Criticism" will live only so long as it remains the preserve of the preacher and the pundit.
I will quote in conclusion the following bold and honest words of Dean Alford :-
"It is important to observe in these days how the Lord here includes the Old Testament and all its unfolding of the Divine purposes regarding Himself in His teaching of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. I say this, because it is always in contempt and setting aside of the Old Testament that Rationalism has begun. First its historical truth, then its theocratic dispensation and the types and prophecies connected with it, are swept away; so that Christ came to fulfil nothing, and becomes only a teacher or a martyr; and thus the way is paved for a similar rejection of the New Testament-beginning with the narratives of the birth and infancy as theocratic myths-advancing to the denial of his miracles-then attacking the truthfulness of His own sayings, which are grounded on the Old Testament as a revelation from God-and so finally leaving us nothing in the Scriptures but, as a German writer of this school has expressed it, "a mythology not so attractive as that of Greece." That this is the course which unbelief has run in Germany should be a pregnant warning to the decriers of the Old Testament among ourselves. It should be a maxim for every expositor and every student that Scripture is a whole, and stands or falls together. (Greek Testament, Matt. v. 18.)

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