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THE 

JEWISH QUARTEELY 
REVIEW 

Ootobee, 1906 

BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS 
INSTRUCTION. 

The question whether Biblical criticism is, on the whole, 
permissible in religious instruction has been in principle 
long decided. A religious instruction which from the out- 
set rejects all Biblical criticism is no longer possible at the 
present day. Even the lowest grade of religious teaching, 
which includes children up to the age of fourteen years, 
for whom it provides the elements of Biblical knowledge, 
cannot entirely dispense with Biblical criticism. There 
are passages in the Holy Writings which are no longer 
compatible with our conception of God and our idea of 
morality, and for that reason must be withheld from the 
scholars of the lower grade. I will mention here, by way 
of example, the curse in Lev. xxvi. 146°. and Deut. xxviii. 
15 ff. ; further, the cruelties practised during the conquest 
of Canaan by Joshua (Josh. vi. 21 ff., viii. 24 ff., x. 10 ff., 
22 ff.), the events in the time of the Judges which reveal 
a very low standard of morals, the narrative of the death 
of Ahaziah (2 Kings i. 9 ff.), the extermination of the house 
of Omri at the instigation of Elisha (2 Kings x, especially 
x. 28-30), and so forth, and so forth. When we, in the 
interest of the training of our youth to morality, simply 
omit such passages of the Holy Scripture in giving reli- 
gious instruction, we exercise, although without the know- 
ledge of the scholars, Biblical criticism. We condemn the 
passages omitted by us, and consider them not calculated 

VOL. XIX. B 



2 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

to aid us in the work of education. It is also Biblical 
criticism, unknown to the pupils, when in the religious 
instruction of the lower grade we pass over the story of 
Balaam's ass or some of the miracles of Elisha, because 
these narratives have neither poetical value nor any special 
moral worth, and at the same time presuppose a belief in 
the miraculous which we no longer find even in children 
from ten to fourteen years of age. In isolated cases, how- 
ever, the pupils even of this grade must be made conscious 
of this critical examination of the Holy Scripture if they 
are to understand certain incidents in the life of Biblical 
characters. The personality of Elijah, for example, can 
only win the interest of children from twelve to fourteen 
years old when his journey to heaven, as related in the 
Bible, is represented as one of those legends in which a 
people poetically glorifies the end of its great national 
heroes, since it cannot conceive their natural death. A 
comparison with the legend of Barbarossa asleep in the 
Kyffhduser will bring the whole incident thoroughly home 
to the pupils, and make the figure of Elijah still dearer 
and more familiar to them. I cannot see, either, why the 
narrative of the Book of Jonah shall not be described, even 
in this grade, as what it really is — a parable, which in the 
garb of poetry gives expression to one of the most sublime 
thoughts in the Holy Writings, the belief in God as the 
loving father of all men, who out of the fullness of his 
mercy grants forgiveness to his children without regard 
to their religious belief. And to give yet another instance 
— must not the Book of Job also be represented to children 
from thirteen to fourteen years of age as a poem which 
does not describe actual events, but with splendidly poetical 
creative power deals with the problem whether, notwith- 
standing the many injustices which life brings before our 
eyes, we can still believe in a just God of the universe? 

These examples may suffice. They should prove that even 
in the lowest grade of religious instruction, that is, in the 
case of children up to fourteen years — this grade includes 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 3 

the pupils of the elementary schools and of the lower 
classes of the secondary schools — it is impossible to refrain 
entirely from Biblical criticism. On the whole, Biblical 
criticism is here passive for the scholar ; the teacher omits 
at his own discretion 1 those elements in the Bible which 
stand in contradiction to our views at the present day, and 
so offers to the school Biblical history in a considerably 
abridged form. Only in the case of the examples cited 
above, Elijah, Jonah, Job, and the like, is Biblical criticism 
active for the scholar also ; he becomes aware that not all 
the events described in the Bible have actually taken 
place ; he learns to distinguish between poetry and reality, 
between legend and history. But this active participa- 
tion of twelve to fourteen year old children in the 
critical examination of the Bible may only be exercised 
in isolated cases, the choice of which must be left to the 
tact and skill of the teacher. A systematic criticism of 
the Bible at this stage of the religious instruction would 
be quite absurd, and would greatly jeopardize the results. 
For, on the one hand, children of fourteen years of age 
and under have not the ripeness of mind to be able to 
understand and judge critically a work like the Bible as 
a whole ; and, on the other hand, they master the subject- 
matter too insufficiently to be in a position to give it a 
general critical survey. Systematic criticism of the Bible 
pre-supposes maturity of mind and thoroughness of know- 
ledge ; where both conditions fail such criticism is out of 
the question. Therefore the aim of the religious teaching 
of the lower grade must be above all to give the pupils, 
with the help of a good Bible history, the knowledge of 
the most important parts of the Bible. The pupils of this 
grade must be so far advanced that every significant 
moment and important event in Biblical history, from the 
creation of the world to the end of the Biblical period, is 
familiar and also comprehensible to them. And not only 

1 Uniform action in this respect is certainly desirable. 
B 2 



4 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

that ! The most important legal principles, moral lessons, 
and social precepts of the Pentateuch, as well as the greatest 
utterances of our Prophets (of the latter I mention Amos v. 
15, 21-24 ; vii. 7-9 : Hos. ii. 21, 32 ; vi. 4-6 ; xiv. 2-4 ; 
xi. 7-9 : Isa. vi. ; i. 1-30 ; v. 1-7 ; ii. 2-4 ; xi. 1-9 : 
Mic. vi. 2-8; Jer. i. 7, 9-14; xxii. 13-19; xxix; xxxi. 
15-20, 31-37: Ezek. xviii. 2-9; xxxiii. 10-11 ; xxxvii. 
13-14, 26, 27: Is. II. xl. 8-36; xliv. 13-30; lviii. 2-8; 
lvi. 3, 6, 7, &c), the finest Psalms and passages such as 
Job xxxi, must be read with reference to one another 
by the twelve to fourteen year old children in a special 
school Bible, then discussed in class, and partly also com- 
mitted to memory. In a word, the lower grade must 
advance the pupils so far that they have a thorough mastery 
of the contents of the Bible in its essential parts ; it must 
lay the foundation on which the work can be carried on 
further in the secondary schools. 

What the lower grade has thus prepared the intermediate 
grade then continues. To this belong boys from fourteen 
to sixteen years, who are to be found in the middle classes 
of our public schools. They are so far grounded through 
the previous instruction that they can engage more deeply 
in the study of the Bible, and with increasing maturity of 
mind are in a position also to form a critical estimation 
of it. For subject-matter the Prophets and the most im- 
portant of the Hagiographa are available ; as sole textbook 
there is the school Bible. And now is the time when the 
really critical treatment of the Bible begins. It is true that 
even at this stage a systematic Biblical criticism is out of the 
question, but, nevertheless, important questions relating to 
Biblical criticism are discussed in detail, thus effectively 
preparing the way for the systematic treatment of the 
material in the upper grade. In the foreground of the 
interest in the treatment of the Prophets are the question 
of verbal inspiration and the evolution of religious thought 
in Judaism from Amos to Malachi. So far as it is neces- 
sary for the comprehension of the whole, the date of the 



BIBLICAL CKITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 5 

separate books and the chronological order of the single 
chapters are drawn into the circle of discussion. The chief 
thing is that the scholars of this grade must learn to 
recognize that the Jewish religion is of gradual growth ; 
it has slowly developed in the course of centuries. This 
principle holds good also in the treatment of the Hagio- 
grapha ; in them also, therefore, the centre of gravity is to 
be found in the ideas expressed in the separate writings. 

Before then the prophetic books are discussed in class, 
the scholars must first be shown, by an introductory survey 
with reference to the remarkable passages 2 Kings ix. 11 
and 1 Sam. x. 10 f., in connexion with 1 Sam. ix. 6-10 and 
1 Kings xiv. % ff., that prophecy in Israel also only gradually 
developed. The seers of antiquity, prophesying in an 
ecstatic condition for money, have so little in common 
with the mighty preachers of morality of the eighth and 
seventh centuries, that Amos (vii. 14) even puts himself in 
conscious opposition to those soothsaying prophets. Here 
also, therefore, is the development from the lowest to the 
highest. When this is realized, the nature of the revela- 
tion must also be established. The scholars must be clear 
on this point, whether the belief in a verbal inspiration 
can be maintained, or whether it is not rather to be 
replaced by an idea more in accordance with our modern 
thought: by a comparison of the prophetic soul with 
that of the poet. This is best illustrated by a concrete 
example, and the most effective example has been given 
to us by Prof. Moritz Lazarus in his excellent essay on the 
prophet Jeremiah, an example to which I constantly refer 
my pupils, in order to put before their minds the exalted 
nature of prophetic inspiration, in a manner consistent 
with our modern views and as impressively as possible. 
I reproduce here, word for word, the call of Jeremiah 
(Jer. i) as represented by Lazarus: "Jeremiah is very 
young — a ->W. When he feels himself called to come 
forward as a prophet, a conversation takes place between 
him and God. It is the earnest reflection in his heart: 



6 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Canst thou do it? C I am still young and cannot speak', 
he says. He is very young then. But nevertheless his 
heart is already full of the thoughts which he has to make 
known. We can imagine that he has chosen to occupy 
his early years with reading the old prophets, Amos and 
Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, so far as they were accessible 
to him. . . . Thus the doings of the prophets sound 
legendary to him. He feels himself the more urged to 
come forward as prophet. And now his prophetic thoughts 
constantly take form and hover about him. He goes 
out into the open air. He sees an almond tree. The 
almond tree is called in Hebrew the ' tree of Awakening. ' 
A beautiful name : the almond blossom is the first to open 
in the Spring. Nature awakens with this blossom of the 
almond tree ; therefore it is called the tree of awakening. 
So when he now sees the form of the tree, he must think 
of the idea of awakening and being awake ; and at the 
same time also of the prophetic exhortation ; in the picture 
he sees, he hears God's promise: 'I will watch over my 
resolution, to fulfil it.' And involuntarily he must think 
further : ' That is it ! That is what it means ! ' and he hears 
in this the voice of God, 'Thou hast well seen!' And 
such a process is repeated. Whatever he beholds is trans- 
formed in his own thoughts." Such is Lazarus's repre- 
sentation of the call of Jeremiah. I have found that it 
offers to the students a substitute for the untenable belief 
in a verbal inspiration, which affords them the greatest 
satisfaction: they recognize the relationship of the prophetic 
soul with that of the artist ; they divine that in both the 
same revelation takes place. 

When the students have thus grasped the nature of 
prophecy, the discussion of the separate prophets can be 
begun. I will explain, taking Isaiah as an example, how 
this discussion must be conducted by critical methods. In 
the first place, all those passages must be omitted which, 
according to the established results of scientific inquiry, 
are not to be attributed to Isaiah. I reckon among these, 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 7 

in addition to the second Isaiah, chapters xiii, xiv. 1-23, 
xxi, xxiv-xxvii, and xxxiv. The remaining chapters are 
read according to choice in the school Bible, and are 
discussed in detail during the lessons. For this method 
of treatment, the following order almost inevitably results : 
first, chapter vi as the Chapter of the Call. In the discus- 
sion of this chapter the leading ideas of the prophet are 
brought out: God as the Holy One -will by word and 
example of his prophet train also sinful men to holiness. 
But the majority are not equal to the task, they go to 
destruction through their moral weakness. 

Only a small remnant is left over, which is to be the 
bearer of the coming salvation ; out of it grows the future 
community of the pious. Chapters i-v and ix-xii are 
then read and discussed ; they form as it were the 
commentary to the leading ideas in the Chapter of the 
Call, and give the students an extraordinarily clear picture 
of the prophet's moral view of life. The students must 
be made to understand, however, the political activity of 
Isaiah also. For it is really nothing else than a trans- 
ference of his moral and religious ideas to the sphere of 
politics. Judah may not perish ; a remnant must be left 
as holy seed. For that reason God delivers his righteous 
from the power of their enemies. Steadfast trust in God 
is then what the prophet requires of his people. To 
illustrate these thoughts, chapters vii-ix. 6 (dating from 
the time of the war of Syria and Ephraim) should be read 
in particular, and then, with constant reference to the cor- 
responding political events, in chronological order chapters 
xxviii (dating from about the year 724), xx (from about 
the year 711), xviii, xxix, xxx, and xxxiii (about 705) 1 , 
as a complement to which chapters xviii and xix of 
a Kings should be added. In this way the students get 
a clear view of the character of Isaiah. They learn to 
understand and estimate the surpassing influence of this 

1 I give here the dates which are unanimously recognized by investiga- 
tors as correct for the separate prophetic utterances. 



8 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

extraordinary man on the whole public life of his time 
and on the moral and religious views of future races also. 
This object can only be attained, however, if the utterances 
of Isaiah are analysed, read, and discussed in the above 
indicated manner. I have always found that such an 
earnest, critical treatment not only makes the students 
alive to the greatness of our prophets, but also causes them 
especially to like and value the instruction in this part of 
the subject. The rest of the prophets are now treated in a 
similar way. Next in importance and interest stand Amos, 
Hosea, Micah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the second Isaiah. 
The chief object is to make the students recognize that 
our prophets have given to the world the highest religious 
conceptions. Starting from Amos, who did away with the 
idea of the national God and created the conception of 
the just God of the Universe, the way leads past Hosea, 
who teaches of the God of love ; past Isaiah, who preaches 
the holiness of God as a model for mankind; and past 
Jeremiah, who represents the devout heart of the individual 
as the ideal of Religion, to the second Isaiah, who speaks 
in the name of him whom he extols as the Almighty 
Creator of heaven and earth. Thus the students learn to 
grasp the ethical monotheism of our prophets. They 
recognize in the belief of the prophets, " the belief in the 
moral order of the world, in the validity of righteousness 
as the highest law for the whole world " ( Wellh., Isr. %i. 
jiid. Gesch., p. 113). The prophets become for them men 
who " although a product of their time, rise to a level of 
thought which holds good for all time . . . and who know 
that their work is not for the present" (loc. cit., p. 113). 
Of course, while these ideas are being traced in the 
prophetic writings, comparison is constantly made also 
with the moral lessons, principles of justice and social 
precepts in the Pentateuch, which have already been dis- 
cussed and partly committed to memory in the lower 
grade. The students in this way obtain gradually a 
definite store of moral and religious ideas, which they 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 9 

have drawn from the Bible, and which make the Bible 
valued by and dear to them. 

After the prophets have been thus treated critically and 
recognized by the students as the transmitters of great 
and eternal ideas, the most important of the Hagiographa, 
also from a critical point of view, are discussed in detail. 
The first to be taken into consideration are the historical 
writings, Ezra and Nehemiah, which must be taken through 
in immediate connexion with Ezekiel, since, in a certain 
sense, they continue the train of thought of this prophet. 
Ezekiel is the creator of the religious community, Ezra and 
Nehemiah gave this community solidity by the subjection 
of the people to the law. With unbending severity they 
removed from it all heathen influences. They are the 
" definite organizers of Judaism" (Wellh., 1st. u.jiid. Qesch., 
p. 177). This fact justifies the discussion of the books 
Ezra and Nehemiah in the religious classes of the middle 
grade immediately after the prophecies of Ezekiel. The 
two books of Chronicles, however, are not dealt with at 
this stage. There is no new matter to be obtained from 
them, and the biased representation of the history of the 
regal period, as it is set forth in Chronicles, cannot be 
offered to the students of the middle grade. For a sound 
judgment on the origin of this kind of historical writing 
and on the circumstances under which it arises can only 
be formed by the students when they have arrived at 
a clear general view of the whole ground of the Biblical 
writings, in accordance with the present position of the 
science of Biblical criticism. This, however, the religious 
instruction of the upper grade only can offer them. On 
the other hand, in the middle grade, in addition to Ezra 
and Nehemiah, the two books Jonah and Ruth must be 
discussed critically, the former from the so-called twelve 
minor prophets, and explained as literary products of the 
post-exilic period, in which once again the old prophetic 
spirit stirs, to raise a conscious protest against the severe 
separative measures of the school of Ezra. In this con- 



IO THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

nexion only do the students learn to understand rightly 
the great value of the two small books as regards the 
history of religion. The book of Daniel is also treated 
in a critical manner in this grade, being referred, according 
to the universally accepted results of scientific inquiry, 
to the time of the Maccabean struggle, in which it was 
composed as a book of consolation, to inspire with courage 
the Jews fighting with all their strength for their national 
and religious existence. Only by such a method of treat- 
ment is it possible to interest the students very greatly 
in the book of Daniel, which would otherwise be quite 
incomprehensible. In the case of the other books of the 
Hagiographa also, especially as far as their date is in 
question, considerations of Biblical criticism arise through- 
out. It is doubtful whether these considerations should 
have weight also in the treatment of the books in question 
in the religious instruction of the middle grade. In the case 
of the Psalms, for example, mention may certainly be made 
of the fact that notwithstanding the superscriptions, not 
a single psalm can be positively ascribed to David ; nay, 
even that most of these songs probably only came into 
existence in the post-exilic period, but too much weight 
must not be attached to this question. For ultimately, 
as far as the religious effect of the Psalms is concerned, 
it is a matter of no importance who composed them ; they 
remain gems of devotional poetry, whether they came into 
existence before, during, or after the Exile. It would be 
quite absurd, in dealing with single psalms in the school, 
to discuss the date of their composition. These are special 
questions which do not come within the scope of religious 
instruction. The same applies to the Proverbs of Solomon 
and Koheleth. It may perhaps be pointed out in the case 
of these also, that they were not composed by him to whom 
the Bible attributes them, but here also more than this 
is not desirable. The religious instruction must not become 
a battle-ground for the hypotheses of religious science. 
For the same reason, in the treatment of the Book of Job, 



BIBLICAL CBITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION II 

we should object to a discussion of the question whether 
the speeches of Elihu were part of the original work, or 
a later interpolation. That would be in fact to go far 
beyond the limits of the school, and to enter on foreign 
ground without heightening thereby the students' apprecia- 
tion of the religious and poetic value of the book. The 
delight which the poem gives us is not affected by the 
genuineness or spuriousness of the speeches of Elihu, nor 
is the consistency of the whole imperilled. In other words, 
Biblical criticism in religious instruction must be exercised 
with prudence. It must not be an end in itself, but must 
always remain the means to an end. It should always 
be taken into consideration where it seems necessary for 
a more intimate understanding of the Biblical writings 
(cf. the above-cited examples), but where the intellectual, 
ethical, or poetical worth of a book of the Bible can be 
perceived without a critical examination, it must always 
be avoided. This applies not only to the middle but also 
to the upper grade of religious teaching. 

This upper grade includes the higher classes of our 
secondary schools, that is to say, young people of from 
sixteen to nineteen years of age, until their entrance on 
their University course. These students are so advanced 
by the previous instruction that they have mastered the 
subject-matter of the Bible in its most essential parts; 
moreover, the critical examination of the Prophets and 
separate books of the Hagiographa has made them realize 
the importance of Biblical criticism for the just appreciation 
of the holy writings. 

Thus the foundation is laid on which the work in hand 
can be brought to a temporary conclusion. The upper 
grade completes what the other two grades have prepared : 
it gives a connected and comprehensive picture of the 
gradual production of the Biblical writings from the earliest 
time to the composition of Chronicles, it draws the separate 
elements of the Pentateuch into the circle of its discussion, 
and points out the characteristic signs of these elements. 



12 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

In a word, it presents a systematic criticism of the Bible. 
This is the more feasible, since the students of this grade 
possess not only the earnestness in study but also the 
maturity of mind necessary for such a method of consider- 
ing the Bible. The school Bible, of course, no longer 
suffices as a textbook ; it must be replaced by a good 
unabridged edition of the Holy Scripture (naturally not in 
the original, but in the vernacular). 

Now the principal question can be raised: What is to 
be gained by such a treatment of the Bible in the upper 
classes of our public schools ? Is the value of the Biblical 
writings heightened by it in the eyes of the students, or 
is there not perhaps rather a danger that, through the 
critical analysis of the separate books, the whole may lose 
its elevated character, and the religious idea generally be 
prejudiced ? I consider the question important enough to 
discuss it somewhat fully. From the outset we must 
reject the idea that the critical and scientific discussion 
of a book, so important and so rich in contents, could 
endanger its real value. Earnest scholarly labour has 
never yet injured a great literary work ; rather does it 
constantly help to elucidate and make more effective the 
difficult passages of the work as well as its beauties. This 
applies to all instruction in the upper classes of our 
secondary schools in literature and the history of civiliza- 
tion ; this applies also to the critical treatment of the 
Bible. Those of a contrary opinion do not seem to value 
very highly the intrinsic worth of the Biblical books ; 
otherwise they would allow the religious and moral ideas 
which we draw from the Holy Writings, at least so much 
virtue as to be able to stand critical examination. Since, 
therefore, the principal objections to systematic criticism 
of the Bible in the upper grade are disposed of, the critical 
study of the Bible in this grade must, in my opinion, be 
carried on systematically and brought to a temporary 
conclusion, for urgent reasons both external and internal. 

First, the external reasons. Already a purely scientific 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 1 3 

interest is aroused. When once the critical treatment of 
the Prophets in the middle grade — and I think that I have 
pointed out that no other treatment is possible in this grade 
— has awakened understanding and appreciation of the 
critical consideration of the Bible generally, we cannot stop 
half-way. What is begun must be carried to a conclusion. 
I believe also that the natural interest of the students 
themselves will make the completion desirable. For he 
who once knows that the prophetic books are not each 
from one hand only, will ultimately recognize that the same 
is the case with other books of the Holy Scripture. And 
from this recognition will arise the desire to receive 
information also on the origin of the Pentateuch, and the 
gradual development of the religious ideas contained in it. 
But even where this is not the case the obligation remains 
of further critical instruction in it. For it is supremely to 
our interest that those who throughout their whole course 
of education are destined to undertake one day the spiritual 
guidance of our community should form a clear judgment 
on the value and significance of the book which we have 
given to the civilized world as our greatest treasure, the 
Bible. Every educated Christian is instructed to-day in 
the history of the Biblical writings, and should we Jews 
be inferior to men of another faith in the knowledge of our 
own peculiar treasure? Long enough have we been 
obliged to submit to this just reproach. It is high time 
for us to remove the cause of it. 

Weightier still than the external reasons, seem to me the 
internal reasons for the systematic completion of the critical 
instruction in the upper grade. Above all, the following : 
Any outsider who carefully reads the Holy Scripture is 
struck by the many repetitions, contradictions, and incon- 
sistencies in the Bible. These repetitions, contradictions, 
and inconsistencies are at once comprehensible on a critical 
examination of the Biblical text. The reader learns to take 
them for what they are : the natural result of a fusion into 
one uniform whole of the separate elements of the Biblical 



14 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

writings which came into existence at different periods of 
time. And what is unavoidable in every work put 
together in this fashion appears in the Bible also ; it can- 
not but show traces of its gradual formation. To impress 
this character on the minds of the maturer students in 
the interest of the just estimation of the Holy Scriptures 
is, however, the chief object of the critical instruction in 
the Bible imparted to the upper grade. This object cannot 
be considered of too much importance. I said above that 
it made no difference to the religious effect of a psalm in 
what period it was composed, and I say so again ; but in 
judging the Bible as regards literature and the history of 
religion, it is by no means indifferent, whether we calmly 
accept the contradictions, inconsistencies, and repetitions 
contained in it, and thereby naturally lower the value of 
the Biblical books, or whether we by earnest critical exami- 
nation seek to understand these peculiarities and overcome 
the difficulties. Every objective thinker must admit that 
the latter way is the only practicable and suitable one to 
obtain a just appreciation of the Bible. And if we gain 
this object in the case of the students of the higher grade 
by means of critical instruction in the Bible, we may, 
I think, congratulate ourselves on the results. Who could 
dispute, moreover, that the critical treatment of the Biblical 
writings leads also to a deeper understanding of the poetical 
beauties which constantly call forth our admiration in 
different sections of the Holy Scripture. The high poetical 
value — to cite only one example — of the naive accounts of 
the Jahvist can only by a critical method be plainly revealed 
to the students. This applies also to the gradual develop- 
ment of the Jewish conception of God. Only a critical 
estimation of the Biblical books enables us to understand 
the gradual passage of the Jewish conception of God from 
the depths of the anthropomorphic views of primitive times 
to the splendid heights of the ethical monotheism of our 
prophets. These are, I think, considerations which show 
that the completion of the critical instruction in the Bible 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 15 

in the upper classes of our public schools is really an 
urgent necessity. No more is needed for its justification ; 
only on its extent, on the limits which must be assigned 
to it, and beyond which it must not go, are a few remarks 
still to be made. This above all : the critical teaching of the 
Bible in schools must never aim at critical hair-splitting, 
because the student is not equal to it ; nor may it lose 
itself in trifling peculiarities, which are of importance to the 
investigator but only perplex the student. Also, it cannot 
be often enough or sharply enough emphasized that the 
school is only concerned with giving a clear general idea 
of the development in accordance with the undisputed 
results of inquiry. Only what has already found general 
recognition in the authoritative scientific world may be 
regarded. 

After these general remarks, I will now sketch briefly 
the range of the subject-matter and the manner of its 
treatment in the upper grade. First, the position of Moses 
towards the Pentateuch must be discussed before the 
students, and then it is, I think, best to admit without 
reserve from the outset, that we can no longer state with 
certainty whether the Pentateuch comes directly from 
Moses, or what portions of it are due to him. One point, 
however, must remain beyond all doubt, that Moses, as the 
deliverer of Israel from the yoke of Egypt, gave his people 
their belief in Jehovah, the God of Israel. On what do we 
base this view before the students ? On facts handed down 
by tradition. Kautzsch rightly observes in his Abriss der 
Geschichte des alttestamentlichen Schrifttwns : " No nation 
has ever said of itself without reason that it had been 
ignominiously enslaved by another nation, none has ever 
forgotten the days of its deliverance. And so for all time 
the memory endured in Israel that once they were led out 
by Jehovah, the God of their fathers, with strong hand 
and stretched out arm from Egypt, from the house of 
bondage, and that it was specially on their passage through 
the Eed Sea that they felt the mighty protection of their 



l6 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

God. As His instrument, however, Jehovah had made use 
of a man, whose like was never found again. He had 
taught his people to consider it their greatest pride to 
be called the people of this God, their greatest joy to extol 
Him and honour Him with sacrifices and gifts." I think 
the position assigned to Moses by such a conception of 
history is one so important, that the mighty personality of 
this matchless leader of his nation loses none of its glory 
thereby. After this explanation those poetical passages 
out of the Holy Writings must be read which, in accord- 
ance with the universal judgment of all investigators, must 
be considered the oldest parts of the Bible. I mention 
here the song of Deborah and the parable of Jothana in 
the time of the Judges, David's lament over Saul and 
Jonathan, as well as his lament over Abner, and the parable 
of Nathan in the time of David; further, the blessing of 
Jacob and the utterances of Balaam, which, according to 
the prevailing view, date from the age of Solomon. Refer- 
ence must also be made to the Book of the Wars of Jehovah 
(Num. xxi. 14) and the Book of the Righteous (Josh. x. 
13 f. and 3 Sam. i. 18), which, as older sources, likewise 
belong to this period. Then the "Book of the Cove- 
nant" (Exod. xxi-xxiii), taken down in writing in about 
850, is discussed more particularly, as it contains the 
codified moral lessons and rights founded upon the custom 
of that time. And now come the two great sources, 
which stand out in the Pentateuch and in Joshua, and 
relate primitive Biblical history: the Jahvist, dating 
from the ninth century before the Christian era, and the 
Elohist, which was composed about a century later. 
Of course, in the discussion of these sources time must 
not be wasted on isolated facts. The instruction must 
only give a general view. After the names of the sources 
have been explained, reference must be made first of all 
to their especial characteristics ; in the Jahvist to the naive 
unaffectedness and plain simplicity displayed in the narra- 
tives. The fall of man, the visit of the angels to Abraham 



BIBLICAL CEITIOISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 1 7 

in the grove of Mamre, the destruction of Sodom, the 
journey of Eliezer to Mesopotamia, the suing for the hand 
of Rebecca, and, finally, the second journey of Joseph's 
brothers to Egypt, in the Jahvistic representation of them, 
work on the reader so much by the natural, unaffected 
manner in which the subject-matter is treated that they 
must be read by the students as delightful examples of 
the Jahvistic narratives. At the same time, it must be 
emphasized that the representation of God in the Jahvistic 
source is not yet quite free from anthropomorphism (cf. 
Gen. ii, iii, xviii ; xxxii. 34 ff., and the passage J.E. in Exod. 
xxiv. 9 ff.). Nevertheless the conception of God and the 
moral point of view of the Jahvist may in general be rightly 
described as on a high level of civilization. The chief 
thing to be noted in the Elohist is that its conception of 
God is already essentially more abstract. Also, " in exter- 
nals it gives its narratives a more religious stamp " (Cornill, 
Einl. in das A. T„ p. 47). To illustrate this difference the 
example mentioned by Cornill, 1. c, E., Gen. xx. 1-17, xxi. 
33-32, should be compared in the school with the parallel 
narrative of J., Gen. xxvi. 1-33. For passages in J. and E. 
relating to the Law, the two versions of the Decalogue, 
Exod. xxxiv. 10-36 (already designated by Goethe as the 
older Decalogue) and Exod. xx. 3-17 must be read and 
discussed. 

The third element of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy, 
which was found in the year 631 in the reign of Josiah 
during some repairs to the temple, has now to be dealt 
with. It seems necessary, however, first to consider again 
the value of the religious ideas of the prophets Amos, 
Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah, who were active in the period 
between the rise of J. and E. and the discovery of D., 
and who have been already discussed in the middle grade. 
In this way only do the students rightly understand the 
continuity of the whole. In the treatment of Deuteronomy, 
inquiry into the extent of the original Deuteronomy is of 
course to be deprecated as much as would be, in the 

vol. xix. c 



l8 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

discussion of J. and E., the division into J. and J 1 , or 
E. and E 1 . Here, also, there can really be only a general 
view of the whole. The following must be noticed above 
all as characteristic signs of Deuteronomy — the centraliza- 
tion of the worship of God, commanded in chapter xii, 
which was to lead to a decided change in the religious life 
of the Jews, then the command for the obliteration of all 
heathen elements from the service of Jehovah (cf. chap. xii. 
39 ff., xiii. 17 ff.), the celebration of the festivals in the central 
sanctuary in Jerusalem (chap, xvi), and, consequent on the 
centralization, the transference of the priests of the high 
places to the capital. The reasons also of these proceedings 
must be discussed ; it was desired to put a stop to the 
crime of idol worship, which was no doubt carried on in 
many local sanctuaries; the conditions which were pre- 
valent, especially in the reign of Manasseh, had produced 
Deuteronomy. It was hoped that by declaring in Deutero- 
nomy the worship in the high places to be unlawful, 
the recurrence of the disgraceful conditions which were 
quite usual under the son of Hezekiah might be prevented 
for ever. Further, light must be thrown on the relation 
between the former priests of the high places and their 
colleagues in Jerusalem. Reference must be made to the 
fact that D. prepares the way for the distinction between 
priests and Levites, which is strictly carried out in P. 
Finally, attention must also be called to the prophetic 
spirit, which is revealed in numerous passages of Deutero- 
nomy and especially in chapters vi. 4-9, x. 1% ff, xxiii. 
16, 17, and xxiv. 6 ff., finds splendid expression. In imme- 
diate connexion with D., the book of Jeremiah must then 
be again discussed with the students, because it proves 
how little popular the religious reforms of Josiah had 
become. Idolatry with all its base customs were again 
flourishing (Jer. vii. 6-9, xvii. f.), and the people had no idea 
of conversion. Therefore Jeremiah foretold the destruction 
of Jerusalem, and the course of events proved him in the 
right. The year 586 was the year of the fall of the 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 19 

national independence of Judea; the flower of the nation 
wandered into exile in Babylon. During the exile, how- 
over, the prophet worked whom Wellhausen appropriately 
calls "the connecting link between Prophecy and Law" 
{Prol., p. 427) : Ezekiel. His religious ideas have already 
been discussed in the middle grade. The repetition of 
them in the upper grade is nevertheless the more impera- 
tive, because only through Ezekiel does the way from D. 
to P. become comprehensible. Chapters xl to xlviii need 
not even be read. A short summary of their contents is 
enough. The students must certainly learn to know the 
text of xliv. 9ff., because it is in this passage that the 
strict distinction between priests and Levites, for which 
D. laid the foundation, was extraordinarily emphasized. 
In connexion with Ezekiel, the fusion of J., E., and D., 
which may have taken place in this period, may now be 
mentioned. Also the revision and conclusion of the 
historical work which begins with the death of Joshua 
and ends with the liberation of the captive Jehoachin 
(Judges, 1 and a Sam., 1 and a Kings), must be brought 
forward here as an achievement of the Babylonian exile. 
Although time would not admit of a more detailed discus- 
sion of the books in question, a short description of the 
religious pragmatism prevailing in them would not be out 
of place. 

As a connecting link between Ezekiel and P., the Holiness 
Code (Lev. xvii-xxvi), dating from about 550, deserves 
olose consideration in the school if only for the sake of its 
contents. In it " the moral ideas of the Prophets and their 
conception of religion operate very powerfully. . . . Above 
all it shows that from the holiness of Jehovah, ethical 
commands are derived and religious customs are turned 
to humanitarian ends, above all that righteous ethical 
conduct is derived from a righteous heart, and this results 
from religion; cf. Lev. xix. 15-18, especially verse 18: 
' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, I am the Lord ' " 
(Stade, Biblische Tkeologie des Alien Testaments, p. 301). 

a 



20 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

Before the continuation of the Holiness Code in P. is 
described, the "great unknown" of the Babylonian exile 
must now again be mentioned, of whom Cornill rightly 
says in his Israelitischer Prophetismus, p. 131 : "He must 
in many respects be considered the most brilliant jewel 
of the prophetic literature. All the great and noble ideas 
of the prophecy before his time are gathered together in 
him as in one focus, and he gives them out with the most 
charming refraction and the most wonderful play of light 
and colour: for he is an artist of form of the first rank, 
a master of language and diction, with few to equal him." 

And now, as the coping-stone of the development of the 
history of religion in the Pentateuch, the Priestly Code ! 
This requires a particularly thorough discussion before the 
students, since it entirely does away with the earlier repre- 
sentations of the origin of the five books of Moses. It 
must first be pointed out that P. is identical with the 
book of the Law brought from Babylon by Ezra in the 
year 458, to which the community was solemnly pledged 
in the year 444. Later, about 400, it was blended in the 
Pentateuch with J., E., and D. into one book. Of course 
all the parts of the five books of Moses belonging to P. 
cannot be treated in the school-lessons. It must suffice 
to observe generally that the whole of the third book, with 
the exception of the Law of Holiness, which may neverthe- 
less be regarded as the first element of P., further numerous 
chapters of the fourth book, many paragraphs from the 
first and second books, and finally, isolated passages of the 
fifth book are recognized undoubtedly as part of P. In 
the first book, the story of the Creation (chap, i to ii. 4 b) 
should be especially mentioned. 

The students must understand that the religious ideas 
set forth in P. are the conclusion of the religious views 
unfolded in D: and Ezekiel. It is essential to empha- 
size the fact that the centralization of the worship of 
God, which is commanded in D. as something quite new, 
already appears in P. as a matter of course. The central 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 21 

sanctuary in Jerusalem has here its prototype in the taber- 
nacle. " The tabernacle, about which all the pre-exilic 
literature is silent, ... is only a projection of the central 
sanctuary of Deuteronomy, that is, of the temple of Solomon, 
into the Mosaic period " (Cornill, Einl. in das A, T., p. 63). 
The position of the priests has become quite different. 
The separation between priests and Levites introduced in 
D. and continued by Ezekiel is represented in P. as quite 
a matter of course, having already been instituted by 
Moses ; the High Priest appears invested with princely 
authority as the head of the divine community. The 
priests, who formerly discharged their duties as royal 
officials, have now become the first men in the state. 
Worldly power has been displaced by spiritual power. 
The festivals have lost all their old signification as harvest 
festivals; they are celebrated because Jehovah has com- 
manded it. The sacrifices also have been changed ; instead 
of the old meal-offerings, which now recede quite into the 
background, appear burnt-offerings and sin-offerings ; the 
reconciliation of the individual and the community with 
Jehovah is effected by sacrifice. Even the ground is sacred 
to Jehovah, and this thought finds expression in the cele- 
bration of the Sabbath and the jubilee year. Thus the 
Priestly Code created the divine state, the self-contained 
religious community, Judaism. " It gives the final result 
of the development in the national religion under the 
influence of circumstances and the Prophets from the 
destruction of Samaria and the time of Isaiah. It is the 
product of the prophetic regulation of worship which began 
in the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah, increased very greatly 
during the exile, and triumphed after the exile. It goes 
past Ezekiel back to Deuteronomy. It takes the last step, 
Deuteronomy the first " (Wellh., Isr. w.jud. Gesch., p. 184). 
In this way must the character of P. be illustrated before 
the students, and the description supported by the corre- 
sponding scriptural passages. Finally, the manner of repre- 
sentation peculiar to the Priestly Code must be sketched, 



22 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

above all, its efforts to make the conception of the deity as 
abstract as possible, and to avoid all anthropomorphism ; 
then its external characteristics — the passion for giving 
an exact date for every fact, the enumeration of many 
pedigrees, the exact statement of number and measure, 
and so forth, peculiarities which make it possible even 
for those who are less expert to recognize parts of P. in 
the five books of Moses. Finally, it must be pointed out 
to the student that P. can only have been composed during 
the Babylonian exile, since none of the pre-exilic literature 
betrays any idea of its existence (cf . especially Jer. vii. 22). 
It is quite impossible that the prophets and priests could 
have overlooked a work of such supreme importance. 
Thus the students learn to recognize what the Priestly 
Code really is, a product of the development from Deutero- 
nomy to Ezra, formed to protect the divine community 
from decay. And by such a conception they learn also to 
estimate its value. They will learn to make the judgment 
of Wellhausen their own : " The prophetic ideas did not 
give the means for the foundation of a community ; on 
the contrary, they themselves needed a support that they 
might not be lost to the world. The law provided this 
support ; out of originally heathen material a coat of mail 
of monotheism was forged. . . . Poetry suffered, but 
morality freed and elevated itself. . . . The sublime con- 
sequences of the discipline to which the Jews submitted 
themselves must not be overlooked. ... In the chaos of 
the empire of the world, in which nations and also religion 
and morality melted away, they stood firm as a rock in the 
sea" (Wellh., Isr. u. jiid. Oesch., pp. 189 f. and 207). 
I think that we may be satisfied if the students arrive at 
such a conclusion by themselves ; Biblical criticism, how- 
ever, is the path which must lead to this end. 

Finally, I must remark that in connexion with P. the 
two books of Chronicles also must be discussed in the 
lessons, and especially characteristic passages must be 
compared with the parallel narratives in the books of 



BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION 23 

Samuel and Kings. The students then learn to recognize 
in Chronicles an historical work which applies the views of 
P. to the events of earlier centuries, and arbitrarily re- 
moulds the matter handed down to them to suit these. 
" The favoured transmitters of the national history are holy, 
and the history must be entirely edifying, and especially 
display the pragmatism of a just, divine rule. . . . What is 
not fitting in this religious pragmatism is passed over in 
silence " (Cornill, Einl. in das A. T., p. 373). It must be 
pointed out, however, to the students that this kind of 
historical writing is not necessarily conscious falsification. 
We may rather suppose that the chronicler borrowed un- 
changed from the authorities cited by him matter which 
had already a bias, for the reason that in this form it 
corresponded best to his views. One thing the students 
must certainly realize — the work is not a historical 
authority. 

With the discussion of Chronicles the critical considera- 
tion of the Bible closes. All the subject-matter to be 
treated in the upper grade, the extent of which I have 
sketched above, occupies a course of three years. Only in 
such a period of time, and only when lower and middle 
grades have prepared the way in the manner I have 
indicated, is it possible to attain the desired object. And 
it is possible. I myself have for a number of years 
given instruction in this way, and it is with satisfaction 
that I state that the results may be described not only as 
good, but even as excellent. The students have accepted 
with earnestness the subject-matter put before them, and 
have applied themselves to it with understanding. I myself 
also take a great interest in the work of instruction, espe- 
cially in the upper grade, and value it very highly. Nor 
have I up to the present day observed any injurious 

by-effects. 

Felix Coblenz. 

Bielefeld.